Alverno Heights Academy Celebrates Opening of Learning Technology Center

 

When Alverno Heights Academy Head of School, Julia V. Fanara P’01, P’03, P’05, first approached the school’s Board of Trustees about updating the school library, she was hoping for new carpet, a fresh coat of paint, and maybe some new furniture—just the basics. What the school ended up with was far more than what Ms. Fanara, or even the Board of Trustees for that matter, could ever envision.

“After discussing the matter as a Board and considering all of the available options, we came to the conclusion that the Library needed more than just some paint and carpet but instead needed a complete redesign,” said Ken Farfsing P’00, Chair of the Board of Trustees. “The original building was completed in the early 1970s and while we wanted to maintain the architectural integrity of it, we also wanted to do what we could to bring it into the 21st century.”

From there a plan was set in motion to completely remodel the school’s Library while maintaining the original structure of the building. Architects Gonzalez and Goodale and Kaplan Construction were hired to create a design that would bridge the divide between the past and the future by transforming the early 1970s library into a 21st century Learning Technology Center, which would seek to support Alverno’s ever growing STEM and academic curriculum.

“The Library was one of our primary meeting spots on campus not just for our students but for our faculty and staff as well,” said Head of School, Julia V. Fanara P’01, P’03, and P’05. “We use it for classes, independent study, faculty meetings, AP exams, and host admissions events because of its central location on the campus, it really is a focal point of campus life. When the Board of Trustees approved the redesign, it opened up a whole new realm of possibilities for not just the space but our school community as well.”

With a beautiful mid-century modern design created by Gonzalez and Goodale, Alverno began the process of preparing the Library for construction in June 2016. The old furniture was donated, books were placed in storage, the KATV room was dismantled, and offices packed up for what was expected to be a brief respite.

By mid-September, construction was well on its way with decades of carpet being stripped away and a dropped ceiling removed. Suddenly, original windows long hidden by dry wall were exposed and old glass removed to make room for new. Then the Librarian, Counseling Service, and College Counseling Offices were gutted and space reassessed for a new layout. The old KATV room was raised to be on one level and new walls began to take shape.

As construction goes, things always take longer than planned; however, as the new Learning Technology Center began to take shape it was clear that this was a building truly worth waiting for.

As final touches of carpets, lights, and furniture went in, the excitement and anticipation among the campus community was clearly palpable. When construction fencing came down, the entire school clamored for a look as they waited for a final anticipated delivery of lights that took longer than expected.

By the end of April, just in time for Advanced Placement Exams, the Learning Technology Center was finally open to the student body. To say the students were excited would be an understatement but there is no doubt that Ms. Fanara and the Board of Trustees were even more excited to see the project completed.

“Although it took longer than expected, I know we would all agree that it was well worth the wait,” said Ken Farfsing P’00, Chair of the Board of Trustees. “The final project matches the rendering almost exactly and this new space will provide incredible opportunities for the students at Alverno.”

With all the details in place and all the lights finally delivered, Alverno hosted an official Ribbon Cutting and Dedication for the Learning Technology Center on Thursday, June 15. Members of the community including the Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, parents, alumnae, donors, and friends of Alverno were on hand to celebrate the most significant renovation in Alverno’s nearly 60-year history.

As the building was blessed, by past parent Deacon Manuel Valencia, and the ribbon cut away, there was nothing but excitement, anticipation, and surprise as many of the guests caught their first glimpse of this new state-of-the-art facility. Each took their turn wandering around the building, sitting on the new furniture, and imagining a day in the life of a scholarly Alverno girl in the LTC. With individual meeting rooms/classrooms, modular furniture, new offices, and enough electrical access for over 60 devices the building is certainly prepared for the 21st century learner.

“I am so incredibly grateful to the Board of Trustees, donors, and friends of Alverno Heights Academy who helped to make this project a reality,” said Julia V. Fanara P’01, P’03, & P’05, Head of School. “Without their commitment and investment in the future of this campus, this project would not have been realized. I also want to thank our students, faculty, and staff who went without a prime campus location for nearly a year and waited in anticipation as we experienced delays. This new facility is the beginning of a new era for Alverno Heights Academy and we are just getting started. We look forward to a bright future continuing our mission of empowering each young woman to be exactly the person she wants to be.”

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