Building for the Next 100 Years

Over the last six years, Rippowam Cisqua School’s Master Plan has been the driving force behind every significant physical improvement on both campuses, including the Meyers Fields expansion, the new entrance to the Lower Campus, and the renovated fifth and sixth grade wing.

As the School approaches its one-hundredth year, the renovation of the Upper Campus marks the final phase – a comprehensive and exciting project that includes a new Library and Media Center, a new Dining Hall, an Innovation Center, a Courtyard Amphitheater, new art studios, and new science labs.

There has never been a better time to be at Rippowam Cisqua School!

Topping Off Ceremony

On Thursday, March 9, the RCS Upper Campus community cheered loudly as a large crane hoisted one of the final roof panels up over the new Library and Media Center that will open in September 2017. Before the panel was raised, every student and faculty member was handed a red or blue Sharpie so that they could sign the panel and leave a permanent mark on the new Upper Campus.

What is a “Topping Off”? It is a celebration of real progress and a construction project tradition – one that may have started in early Scandinavia where home builders would commemorate the raising and setting of the last (and highest) wooden beam with a meal or a party. In the United States, we see the tradition continue most commonly with very large projects and skyscrapers. Often the last steel beam is painted white and signed before it is raised.

Library and Courtyard Demolition Time Lapse Video

The time lapse video below is taken from a camera mounted on the second floor of the Tower outside Mr. Lillis’s old Latin classroom. This space will ultimately become the Innovation Center (first floor); Media Center (above it); and outdoor amphitheater. 

The New Ninth Grade House

The Art House was transformed into a new space for our ninth grade program, with two new classrooms and a ninth grade lounge. 

Cushman House Restoration

The six-month restoration and renovation of historic Cushman House, which sits near the Music House on the north end of the RCS Upper Campus, is complete! In September 2016 Cushman House became the new home of the RCS Admissions Office, Advancement Department, and Centennial Archive.

The School worked closely with the Historic Building Preservation Commission to date the building and to ensure that the project preserved the historic character and any remaining historic architectural features. The commission believes that the southern structure is nineteenth century with some original beams dating back to before 1900. The northern portion is believed to have been moved to its current location from another property at a later date.

A Sense of Community While Under Constuction

There's a buzz on campus. Students and faculty are excited about the Upper Campus construction project and the transformative new spaces that they'll have at Rippowam Cisqua School next year  and, as Julia Lowe '17 shared in the fall issue of Ripped Pages, how the backhoes and excavators have all "brought us closer together." 

November 3, 2016  There’s something different about this school year so far; the community seems closer, more cohesive. When I think about why this is, the reason jumps out: construction. One might question how construction can bring a community closer, but think about this year versus last, and the change is apparent. Classroom space is limited, as the school has lost over ten classrooms due to the changes. Nevertheless, we are doing a great job at utilizing the available space. These limitations force the student body and faculty to spend more time together and for students of different grades to meet and interact more, fostering stronger relationships. While construction goes on during the school day, the students seem to be secure and adjusting well to the situation.

In the past, there were not many students involved in the school newspaper. This year, there are over 20 students. The influx may be caused by people becoming comfortable trying new things. After all, the best environment is one where all individuals feel comfortable being themselves. While students at Rippowam have always been encouraged to step out of their comfort zone, it is up to the individual student to decide whether they are going to take part in the Allied Art class they are truly interested in, or the one that all their friends have joined. Most students at Rippowam are open to joining an Allied Art they’ve never taken, no matter how many friends join.

The supportive atmosphere has a major impact on students and the trust they have in colleagues and teachers. On Monday, October 31, the ninth graders hosted the annual Halloween assembly. Teachers responded by coming to the ninth graders and commenting on how calm and laid back the Halloween assembly had been. One teacher said it felt like the ninth grade was having a casual conversation with the school, instead of sounding as though they were reading from a script. The ninth grade had a dance break during the assembly where students from all grades were encouraged to get onstage and dance. It was obvious that the students are open to being themselves and taking part in activities. This could be a result of the ninth grade class being more relaxed, but I believe it is from the time we have spent as a close-knit community in a small space.

Coming back to school this year, I was worried there would be negative impacts on the Ripp community due to construction. But in fact, it has done the opposite; it has brought us closer together.