By Ethan Forman
---- — DANVERS — St. John’s Prep’s new, $22.1 million high-school academic building is not just about bricks and mortar, said Headmaster Ed Hardiman and Principal Keith Crowley.
It’s really the cornerstone of a vision of how the Xaverian Brothers-sponsored, Catholic prep school plans to educate young men in the 21st century. This includes more collaborative learning and the addition of a middle school.
Yesterday evening, school officials held a groundbreaking ceremony for the five-story building, which will have 30 classrooms. Site work began several weeks ago.
The building, going up on the site of the former tennis courts on Spring Street, should be ready by August 2015.
The new building, which does not have a name as yet, will be a STEM building, devoted to science, technology, engineering and math. It will have six full-sized science labs, six mini-science labs, three computer labs, and offices for administrators, counselors and nurses. The world languages department also will be housed here, in part because learning languages engages the same part of the brain as the study of math, school officials said.
At the heart of the new building, on the first floor, will be a new robotics area. There will also be a fabrication or “fab” lab. Both are aimed at helping students use what they learn in various courses in real-world applications.
St. John’s Prep will keep its focus on liberal arts, fine arts and religious studies, Hardiman and Crowley said, with students’ “moral development” also front and center as it adds to its science offerings.
To help students and teachers collaborate, the building will have a soaring, two-story lobby where people can congregate, and work spaces that can be rearranged as needed. The wide-open, fifth-floor faculty office will allow teachers from different subjects to interact with one another.
The building is the first phase of a four-part strategic plan called Prep 20/20. In addition to the new STEM building, the school plans to build a new wellness facility in the next few years, grow its endowment, and add a middle school for 300 students in grades six through eight in September 2015. An existing building will be renovated to house the middle school.
The Prep has 1,150 students and does not plan to increase enrollment at the high school, Hardiman said. Tuition next year is expected to be $20,555.
Boston-based Flansburgh Architects designed the building, Hardiman said, with construction managed by Windover Construction of Manchester.
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.