It all came down to the wire today. Finally at 3:30 this afternoon, we received the necessary approvals to open Sturgis West tomorrow. We are truly excited for this year to begin and look forward to seeing the new halls of West filled with students. In addition to excitement about the new building, we are also excited that our junior class of 100 students will have the opportunity to be the first class at Sturgis West to experience an International Baccalaureate “IB for All” education.
Before I see you at the Sturgis West Convocation tonight, let me fill you in on recent news from West. Our first faculty professional development sessions took place last week. Eric Hieser has hired outstanding new teachers who spent last year in such places as Ghana, Indonesia, China and Brazil. Conversations during our meetings were rich with international perspectives. I am confident the new faculty members will fit in beautifully with the staff at Sturgis West. On Friday afternoon, faculty went on a tour of Sturgis West. As the new West teachers watched their colleagues walk through the building and hear them shriek with excitement, they knew that they were part of something very special.
Many teachers were overcome with emotion as they saw light pour in through the windows. The classrooms seem enormous compared to our space last year. A few tears were shed as teachers walked through the hallways and saw the open spaces, the library and the faculty work area. The amphitheater is gorgeous and will be used as a gathering spot on the first day for class meetings.
The patio is finished and soon grass will be planted on the Sturgis West Green which will serve as a space for students to gather, relax, play and study. The West faculty was amazed to see the beautiful spaces created for the Visual Arts, Music and Theater.
Last Friday afternoon, we learned the building would be available on Saturday morning for a few hours if we wanted to start moving. Mr. Hieser asked me if West teachers might be willing to help get classrooms ready by moving furniture. Although the forecast called for a perfect beach day, he was hoping some staff might give up an hour of their time to help get the new building ready.
After long days of meetings and professional development workshops, I did not know what type of turnout we could expect on the last Saturday of summer. Paul Marble, Sturgis East Principal, also asked East faculty if they might be interested in lending a helping hand. When I arrived on Saturday, I was amazed to see 20 teachers from East and West willing to give up a few hours to help move tables, boxes and chairs into the new classrooms. As the elevator was not working, there was some heavy lifting as teachers walked up and down stairs with classroom materials for three hours.
After last year, I can attest to the fact that people are brought together by overcoming adversity. Watching East and West faculty lift heavy boxes up and down stairs in a building without air conditioning, I could see bonds of friendship beginning to form. As Mr. Hieser always says to his faculty, the work at Sturgis is hard, but it is worth it. Walking through the hallways and seeing classrooms full of desks, chairs, tables and whiteboards, it was evident that the work last Saturday morning was hard, but as we prepare to open the doors to 300 Sturgis West students, it is clear the effort was worth it.
I look forward to seeing you soon at Convocation!