Grand Opening showcases grand achievements
October 14, 2019
Featuring an elaborate ice sculpture, live painting artists and more, the Upper School Grand Opening on Oct. 12 celebrated the official completion of the Upper School.
“The construction of the Upper School represents an enormous achievement for the school. We now have state of the art facilities in virtually every department. We’ve got the best students, teachers and facilities,” Head of School Bryn Roberts said.
Guests arrived at about 6:30 p.m., while student volunteers and faculty showed up an hour or more before the event to set up their displays. Seniors Ashley Su and Celeste Parke-Reimer arrived at 5:30 p.m. to prepare for a live painting demonstration in the upper level of the Schilling Center.
“I got my boards and papers ready, and me, Celeste and Mr. Lowman moved easels over to the Schilling Center, where we were gonna be standing for the rest of the night,” Su said.
Su painted a picture of a woman looking away from the viewer against a blue backdrop, cherry blossoms blooming above her head.
“I started with an idea of what I wanted to do, and then I sketched it out. Before, I was really nervous and stressed because I wanted to show people something good, and I was scared I was going to mess up. After I got going, I started taking a more creative stand and started caring a little bit less. A couple of people stopped and asked a few questions…but most people just walked by and complimented it. I feel like it was less of a showcase and more of me getting time to do something I like,” she said.
“I think that as a whole, it’s important to just showcase as many different types of work as we can,” Upper School Art teacher Stefanie Motta said.
Seniors Nina Smetana and Ananya Narayan, members of A Capella, performed songs for audiences six times throughout the night for each rotation. It was A Capella’s first performance with new ninth-grade members this year.
“The first time was sort of nerve-wracking, but by the sixth performance we had done it so many times that we could probably sing our set list in our sleep. And at that point sleeping was exactly what we were ready to do,” Smetana said.
Narayan found herself enjoying her role in the Grand Opening.
“It was a lot of fun to sing for everyone, and everyone had such a good time listening to us too,” she said.
At the Poetry Out Loud station, juniors Gavin Kimmel, Nikolas Liepins and Upper School English teacher Philip de Sa e Silva shared their knowledge of poems with guests through recitations and discussions.
Kimmel said, “We talked about poetry with them and introduced them to what Poetry Out Loud was. We did recitations of our poems from last year, and it was kind of fun to revisit those. Then we took turns talking about poems that we wanted to do this year. So we recited them once and then talked about them and we opened it up to our guests to see if they had anything to say.”
The input was helpful: “Some of the insights that people gave us were really, really cool,” Kimmel said, “because not only was it an outside perspective, but people had personal connections to the poems.”
Over at the language department, Chinese students invited guests to play Mahjong, a traditional tile-based game, while the French students presented the work they did on Jean Giraudoux’s “The Madwoman of Chaillot,” the upcoming fall play.
Senior Aidan Lanz was there as a French student: “We got to talk to some of the parents and donors about the projects we were working on in French and about the exchange we went on last year. They shared some of their stories too and we had a good time.”
Advanced Science Research’s display included the scientific posters that students competed in the Twin Cities Regional Science Fair with last February.
The night ended at 9 p.m. As students and guests alike trickled out through the Huss doors, senior Ananya Narayan offered her thoughts: “It was a great opportunity to show everything that the school has to offer.”