The student news site of Brimmer and May School | Chestnut Hill, MA

The Gator

The student news site of Brimmer and May School | Chestnut Hill, MA

The Gator

The student news site of Brimmer and May School | Chestnut Hill, MA

The Gator

BREAKING: $26 Million Campaign Unveiled

The School just entered the public phase of its “Building Our Tomorrow” campaign, quietly launched in 2020, which seeks to replace the existing Thompson Gymnasium with a cutting-edge Recreation and Wellness Center.

Recreation and Wellness Facilities
Recreation and Wellness Center

The existing 8,880 sq. ft. Thompson Gymnasium was built in 1972 and houses one court, a limited spectator area, inadequate fitness center and locker rooms, and lacks adequate storage and appropriate spaces for Lower School Physical Education and gross motor activities. Concurrent with the 2021 Campus Master Planning process, Brimmer engaged architects who have helped the School envision a 26,000 sq. ft. Recreation and Wellness Center.

The new gymnasium will house one college regulation competition court and two practice/competition courts, a multipurpose junior recreational space, two volleyball courts, 300-seat bleachers that greatly increase spectator capacity (up from 50), a state-of-the-art fitness room, locker rooms for both home and visiting teams, and training facilities.

Fitness, Health and Wellness Suite

In addition to the state-of-the-art fitness room, the proposed building offers a suite of offices for athletic trainers, mental health and wellness counselors, the School nurse, the Athletic Director, and department staff.

Multi-Use Classrooms

The new building will house four to six additional classrooms for Middle and Upper School programming (which can also serve as meeting spaces), providing the School with much-needed flexible and functional multi-use spaces to supplement the Hastings Center. These classrooms combined with the new junior gym will also address the need for an early childhood movement space and a dedicated, accessible home for Extended Day.

Event and Community Space

The entrance to the new building will offer a showcase lobby that doubles as social and study space. An ideal location for students to gather throughout the day, the lobby will also offer the perfect space for alumni functions and community events. Adjacent to the lobby, flexible classrooms can be opened up into larger rooms for alumni and board meetings, smaller parent gatherings, and full grade activities. Combined with the 300 seat capacity gymnasium, this building will double Brimmer’s event and community space and offer locations for speakers, performances, exhibitions, gatherings, and more.

“It’s kind of mind-boggling to think that we have enough donors at this little tiny school to give us $25 million,” Director of Development Elizabeth Smith said, adding that the School has just another million to raise before they reach their goal.

Head of School Judith Guild and Smith are confident about securing the next $1 million needed this fall, before securing the necessary permits to begin construction by the spring of 2025.

“Mrs. Smith and I really believe this community is capable of pulling this forward to be optimistically starting as soon as spring of 2025,” Guild said.

“The School’s response to the global pandemic revealed that while progress has been made on many fronts, significant investments are required in order to bring to life the School’s vision for excellence,” the campaign website says.

The new Recreation and Wellness Center will feature a college-regulation competition court, two practice/competition courts, a multi-purpose recreational area, two volleyball courts, 300-seat bleachers (up from 50), a cutting-edge workout facility, locker rooms for both home and visiting teams and enhanced athletic trainer space and equipment.

It’s kind of mind-boggling to think that we have enough donors at this little tiny school to give us $25 million.

— Director of Development Elizabeth Smith

The campaign also seeks to enhance the existing Endowment for Faculty Compensation and Teaching Excellence, which allowed faculty salaries to increase in the last four years.

Smith and Guild note that they have had faculty input on the new design and will continue to have conversations with faculty about their collective vision for this new space.

“Our faculty were our number one goal and so we worked on that first,” Guild said. “We have to be able to pay our faculty competitive salaries in order to have the best faculty here.”

Importantly, tuition dollars are not being allocated for the campaign, Guild said, which is being fully funded by the generosity of multiple donors, including alumni, community families, and private foundations.

This is the School’s largest capital campaign since the addition of the Hastings Center in 2017, which raised $8.1 million.

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  • The Hastings family poses for a family photograph before Emma ’19 receives her diploma. L-R: Mark, Michael ’18, Emma, Matthew ’18, Lisa.

  • Head of School Judith Guild announces the “Building Our Tomorrow” campaign to students before Upper School lunch today.

  • The community claps at the “Building Our Tomorrow” video.

  • Board of Trustees Chairman Chris Chou, Chair, P ’29, ’33 addresses the community about the new “Building our Future” campaign.

  • Leslie Stimmel Guggiari ’73 addresses students about seeing the original Thompson Gymnasium go up. She also offered excitement for the new Recreation and Wellness Center.

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Mark and Trustee Lisa Hastings offered the biggest single gift in School history, having pledged $7 million for the new building during the quiet phase of the campaign.

“Philanthropy is a priority for our family,” the Hastings family, also including Emma ’19 Michael ’18 and Matthew’18, said in an email to The Gator. “We are grateful to Brimmer, not only for our children’s experience, but for the entire community. It gives us joy to invest in the future of Brimmer. We wholeheartedly believe in the mission. The Brimmer experience is transformational. We are inspired by the teachers, administrators and especially by the Head of School, Judy Guild.”

The family has been granted naming rights for the new building, which is yet to be determined.

“We are so grateful to Mark and Trustee Lisa Hastings for their lead pledge for the New Recreation and Wellness Center,” Smith said. “The Hastings continue to make a transformative impact at Brimmer long after their own children graduated.”

The new building will also contain Event & Community Spaces and Multi-Use Classrooms, which will function as added classroom space for each division.

“Those classrooms will be flex classrooms, so you might teach in them, but it won’t be housing the same classes every day,” Guild said, who added that even with the new space, there are no existing plans to increase student enrollment or hire additional faculty or staff.

Guild also hopes the new space will alleviate the challenges posed by several existing classrooms that have limited capacity.

“These classrooms, combined with the new junior gym, will also address the need for an early childhood movement space and a dedicated, accessible home for Extended Day,” according to the School’s site.

The School also envisions a “Showcase Lobby” with benches and furniture to host various events and offer students additional space to collaborate and relax in.

In addition to a new Lobby, the larger court space will allow the School to host two practices simultaneously or hold practice during a non-varsity level game.

Not to mention, the additional bleacher space will allow more community members to come support the sports games and open up opportunities for the School to host more games.

“When you think about a 300-seat bleacher situation, suddenly you can have the entire school, or you can have a big group of alumni, in there, versus we’re confined by the space that we have right now,” Smith said.

While the School has only fully designed about 25 percent of the project, Guild is also eager to launch into the next phase.

“We’re pretty excited about it,” Guild said. “It’s been a lot of work for us. But it’s been really good work.”

Editor’s note: The Gator will release more updates on the project as it progresses and more information is released. The featured video was also produced by Brimmer and May School.

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About the Contributor
Amelia Bowman
Amelia Bowman, Editor-in-Chief
Amelia has been on The Gator for five semesters, since the start of her freshman year. She enjoys writing op-eds, current events, and reviews. In her spare time, she loves reading, watching movies, and rock climbing.  

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