Keystone Science School moves into new 5,900-square-foot home
Years from now, those close to the Keystone Science School might look back on spring 2019 as a pinnacle moment for the school, a real turning point or a serious game-changer.
The major development comes with the school moving into a new 5,900-square-foot building with new classroom and administrative space following a successful fundraising campaign that netted nearly $4 million.
Needless to say, the school’s staff is grateful for the upgrades. They feel like the new building not only houses enough room to support the school’s current operations, but has more than enough to grow the school’s mission and numbers well into the future.
Led by O’Bryan Partnership, construction on the building, called “Tieken Place,” began last June, and staff moved in at the end of March. The work came in on time and under budget, said Ellen Reid, the school’s executive director, as she celebrated a grand opening last week with her staff and many of the donors who made it all possible.
Altogether, Tieken Place holds 5,900 square feet of potential for the Keystone Science School, paid for by 178 donations from individuals, foundations and a limited number of businesses. The school’s capital campaign exceeded its $3.9 million goal by $50,000, and as campaign organizers led a toast during its grand opening ceremony, they said it generated more money than any other fundraising effort they know of in the community.
“I’ve watched what they were doing all along, and I’m extremely pleased,” said Howard Carver, who served as campaign chair and donated to the effort. “I think we’ve made the right move. … This is just the start is the way I think about it; this is the first step in a long journey.”
Keystone Science School teaches scientific principles and leadership skills to young people, teachers and community members through hands-on experiences in nature. The nonprofit school offers interactive science education programs on the site of Old Keystone Village, with a 23-acre campus serving as an outdoor laboratory and home for a broad base of diverse programing. Facilities include modern log-style dormitories, a central dining hall, an outdoor amphitheater and an observatory. For more information, visit KeystoneScienceSchool.org.
Tieken Place is dissected into seven distinct areas creatively named The Atrium, The Nook, The Mind Field, Carver Teaching Lab, Room of Excellence, Granite Grill and The Treehouse.
After making one’s way through the The Atrium — or main entrance — they will happen upon The Nook, a multifunctional conference room that’s great for small meetings and classes that’s been decorated with a nod to the school’s founder, Robert W. Craig.
Beyond The Nook lies The Mind Field. If it’s explosive in there, it’s because the room is booming with ideas and features new office space with an open floor plan and desks arranged in small pods. What’s more is it has a few creative — yet comfortable — workspaces apart from the typical office settings that can house up to 24 full-time, year-round school employees.
Named in honor of Sue and Howard Carver, the Carver Teaching Lab is one door away from The Mind Field, and the lab actually splits into two separate classrooms. At Keystone Science School, students often start their days inside a classroom before heading out to apply what they’ve learned in the field, and they should make great use of this new space.
Across the building are the Room of Excellence and Granite Grill. The grill is a new staff kitchen, a welcome addition considering the instructors’ cabins do not have their own kitchens, while the Room of Excellence offers even more classroom space, along with a place for the instructors to craft their curriculum and collaborate. Like so many other rooms inside the building, the Room of Excellence is punctuated by natural lighting coming through large windows with great views of the school’s campus and surrounding landscape.
Perhaps, though, no view at the school is better than that perched atop the second floor in The Treehouse, another multifunctional room that has more comfortable seating, large windows and an 85-inch flatscreen TV.
In addition to Tieken Place, the campaign also brought the science school a new trail outside the building, an instructor cabin and a less-than-glamorous but necessary trash enclosure.
One of the reasons staff enjoy the new facilities so much is that they have running water and are critter-free. Before, the old cabins lacked certain basic amenities and were infamous for small visitors.
Moreover, the new facilities give the school opportunities where they previously didn’t exist. The staff was divided among the old cabins, always feeling like they were working on top of each other with instructors frequently having to hold classes in cramped quarters.
“One of the things we lacked before we had this building was collaborative space,” Reid explained, adding that, with the successful capital campaign, the school has a wealth of new space that will serve “all parts of their day” by catering to a variety of administrative needs and school activities.
“The day we moved in was the best day of my 12-year career here,” she continued. “To see staff feel like they’re in a place that inspires their work — that they weren’t in a cramped quarter with no running water, that they weren’t freezing — it was total joy for me.”
Also, the school’s staff was previously somewhat removed from the rest of the school’s campus with the cabins positioned near the backend of the property, out of sight of most school activities and the students.
Now, Tieken Place is set toward the front entrance, affording staff great views of the students, school activities and the overall campus, which Reid said provides an added layer of security for the school.
“If there’s anything to highlight, it’s how grateful we are that people support us from all parts of this community,” Reid said, emphasizing how wonderful it feels to see the school has such strong supporters.
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