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Crane Country Day School Breaks Ground on New Buildings, Engineering and Design Academy

This $10 million construction project is the largest ever in the Montecito private school's history and will add 6,100 square feet of classroom space

Crane Country Day School eighth graders Natasha Weiss, Hana Harvey, Jack Morouse, Tommy Brittingham and John Rigsby-Shelburne celebrate the groundbreaking on Tuesday that will begin construction on new classrooms and an engineering and design center on campus, which will take 10 months and is the largest construction project in the school’s history.
Crane Country Day School eighth graders Natasha Weiss, Hana Harvey, Jack Morouse, Tommy Brittingham and John Rigsby-Shelburne celebrate the groundbreaking on Tuesday that will begin construction on new classrooms and an engineering and design center on campus, which will take 10 months and is the largest construction project in the school’s history. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Under a sprawling 100-year-old oak tree at the heart of the Crane Country Day School campus in Montecito, several hundred students and their families gathered to watch a groundbreaking for a set of buildings that will house a brand new engineering and design program, among other subjects.

The building will house students as they partake in a yet-to-be developed curriculum that will be created in partnership with Dos Pueblos High School’s Engineering Academy over the next year.

On Tuesday morning, the school broke ground on the project, which includes new classrooms and what officials say will be a state-of-the-art engineering and design center, the largest construction project in the school’s 88-year history. 

The independent school, located at 1795 San Leandro Lane in Montecito, educates students from kindergarten to eighth grade and will be adding 6,100 square feet with the additions.

The buildings are expected to take 10 months of construction for use in fall 2016, and will house a 2,000-square-foot engineering and design center, which be a home for students to learn a new curriculum focused on engineering, design and robotics.

Two English classrooms, complete with a fireplace and study, as well as two math classrooms, an amphitheater, bathrooms and new offices are all included in the plans

Over the past two years, the school raised $4.5 million for the construction. 

Before the groundbreaking, Head of School Joel Weiss spoke to Crane parents about the new engineering department and the trend in education to emphasize STEAM subjects: science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics.

“We’ve been doing this as a school long before I got here,” he told parents in the school’s auditorium. “We’re not just jumping on a bandwagon, we’re deepening this style of learning.”

Crane Country Day School Head of School Joel Weiss speaks on Tuesday. Click to view larger
Crane Country Day School Head of School Joel Weiss speaks on Tuesday. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Core subjects including English and math will also have “first-rate facilities,” Weiss said. 

Weiss explained more about the public-private partnership with the successful Dos Pueblos High School’s Engineering Academy and officials say that the partnership will allow each school to draw on the other’s strengths.

Younger students will be exposed to the value of a STEAM-emphasized curriculum while Crane will be able to draw on the expertise of DP’s already established program, he said.

Crane has hired two teachers, Joe Donahue and Sabina Funk, who will work at Dos Pueblos for a year at Crane’s expense and then bring their expertise to Crane when the school’s building is ready.

In an earlier statement from Crane, Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy Director Amir Abo-Shaeer said that the academy was excited to partner with the school.

“We are just now completing our first year of full expansion of the DPEA to 400 students and the Crane partnership will accelerate our efforts to reach out to elementary schools by several years,” he said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper 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.

Building plans include a state-of-the-art design and engineering center around the oak tree quad of Crane Country Day School in Montecito. Click to view larger
Building plans include a state-of-the-art design and engineering center around the oak tree quad of Crane Country Day School in Montecito.  (Crane Country Day School photo)

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