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January 2, 2014

Phillips Academy eyes $11M wellness center

School aims to break ground on Andover campus this fall

ANDOVER — Phillips Academy, in the midst of a $50 million renovation and rejuvenation effort, is proposing to add another building to its sprawling, hilltop campus with the pending construction of an $11 million medical center.

The Rebecca M. Sykes Wellness Center, named for the boarding school’s former associate head of school, will bring mental and physical health services together into one building, while also providing space for health and wellness classes such as yoga, school officials said.

The 17,000-square-foot, two-story center will be located at 15 Salem St. adjacent to Bullfinch Hall, according to Larry Muench, director of facilities at Phillips.

The project, which honors Sykes who left Phillips last summer following 40 years of service to become president of the Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation, will be paid for through fundraising, with the school already securing $6.5 million in commitments, Muench said. Ground-breaking is planned for this September.

“We are trying to bring 21st century care to Phillips students, faculty and staff,” said Amy Patel, the new medical director at Phillips.

The project will unite medical and mental heath services, now located in opposite corners of campus, in a central location, stressing to students the importance of the mind-body connection to health and well-being, she said.

“We will bring everything under one roof, which brings us in line with the evolving model of health care,” Patel said. “It’s more of a proactive approach. Part of what we’ll be doing is educating, to help students recognize the signs and symptoms of illness.

“There are inherent stresses of being teenagers, especially at a school like Phillips. But the effects can be mitigated. We will teach proactive ways of dealing with stress, such as nutrition, sleep, mindfulness and wellness. It will be a holistic approach in terms of a whole body approach to wellness and illness.”

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