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Friday, February 22 , 2019, 11:39 pm | Fair 43º

 
 
 
 

Crane Country Day School Cuts Ribbon on Campus Expansion, New Design & Engineering Center

School's largest building project to date includes new classrooms, an engineering center and an amphitheater

Crane Country Day School students check out the new amphitheater that was unveiled Tuesday as part of the campus expansion project. Click to view larger
Crane Country Day School students check out the new amphitheater that was unveiled Tuesday as part of the campus expansion project.  (Dani DeVries / Noozhawk photo)

Tuesday marked more than the end of winter break for students at Crane Country Day School in Montecito, as the campus unveiled the completed Oak Tree Quad project and Phil von Phul Design and Engineering Center.

The $4.5 million project was recently finished after a 10-month construction process, and the 32,560-square-foot addition to the campus is the largest building project in the school’s 88-year history.

The Oak Tree Quad, named for the large 100-plus-year-old oak situated in the center of the project, was part of a larger capital campaign that included a new eco-friendly parking lot, a laptop program for the upper school, and an endowment increase to $6.5 million from $4.8 million. About 250 students attend the K-8 school at 1795 San Leandro Lane.

The new quad includes four 710-square-foot classrooms for the upper school students, a 300-seat amphitheater shaded by the namesake oak tree, new administrative offices, two unisex bathrooms, an English garden, outdoor decks, new landscaping, and a small study adjoining the two English classrooms featuring floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and a fireplace.

Perhaps the most exciting addition to the campus is the 2,032-square-foot Phil von Phul Design and Engineering Center. The building was named for Crane’s beloved science and geography teacher who lost his battle to pancreatic cancer in 2015.

Von Phul, known fondly as VP, was a teacher for 33 years who embraced experiential learning, and started an engineering club at Crane prior to his passing.

His wife Colleen was present at the ribbon cutting ceremony to witness the building be dedicated in his honor.

Eighth grade student Finnegan Walker cuts the ribbon to the Crane Country Day School’s new buildings on Tuesday. Click to view larger
Eighth grade student Finnegan Walker cuts the ribbon to the Crane Country Day School’s new buildings on Tuesday.  (Dani DeVries / Noozhawk photo)

Before the final project was revealed, several of Crane’s student council members addressed the student body, faculty, parents and visitors.

Eighth grader Catherine Kim who lives in Ojai noted that she faces a long ride to school each morning, but the drive is “well worth it,” to be able to attend Crane.

Following a brief address by Head of School Joel Weiss, it was time to cut the ribbon. Bringing out a splendidly large pair of scissors, Weiss drew the name of a student council representative to unveil the project. 

Eighth grader Finnegan Walker was selected and, after a countdown by fellow students, finally broke the barrier separating the students from the Oak Tree Quad. As the ribbon fell, hoards of students rushed to check out the new addition to campus.

The new Phil von Phul Design and Engineering Center is named after a late teacher who started an engineering club at Crane Country Day School. Click to view larger
The new Phil von Phul Design and Engineering Center is named after a late teacher who started an engineering club at Crane Country Day School. (Dani DeVries / Noozhawk photo)

Following the rush to tour each of the new spaces, a school assembly was called to christen the amphitheater. Students gathered around as Weiss addressed the crowd, acknowledging all the time, work, and money that went into making the project a reality.

After thanking donors for their support of the project, Weiss thanked Alayna Fraser and Ken Radtkey of Blackbird Architects for their work in designing the project, Steve Pivato of Frank Schipper Construction Company for their countless construction hours, and project supervisor Cameron Carey for ensuring the entire project ran smoothly.

The ceremony ended with a musical performance by the students. The upper school singers shared their beautiful rendition of “Hallelujah” and the lower school students belted out a cheery version of “Magic To Do,” to break in the new amphitheater.

After a few brief announcements, students were dismissed, some of them heading to have classes in the new buildings immediately.

Noozhawk intern Dani DeVries can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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