[Q&A] Roberts addresses future construction goals


Mimi Geller

Construction on the Randolph campus won’t stop with the Schilling Center.

With the opening of the Schilling Center in the fall of 2018, it may seem that St. Paul Academy and Summit School has satisfied its construction goals. On the contrary. Head of School Bryn Roberts describes SPA’s upcoming construction of the Randolph campus, with a focus on athletics.


Q: What are the upcoming desires for SPA construction with regards to the athletic program?

A: What we would really love to do is move Drake Arena and put it on the land between the Huss parking lot and Fairview. It just fits. Then, we want to use the land for where Drake Arena currently occupies for a field house. In the logic of putting the field house there, and we’ve got plans and a general sense of what we would do with this, it would be very easy to connect Briggs gymnasium with a walkway between the two. We know we need a new field house because we have so many basketball teams.


Q: Why wasn’t there an emphasis on an athletic program update sooner?

A: In the total cost of the Upper School: Huss, Schilling and all the renovations, it will be in the low 60 million dollar range. Since 2011, we’ve raised 70 million, but people weren’t interested in committing to donate to the rink at that time. They were perfectly happy to do academic buildings and the fine arts program, it’s one of the pillars of our academics, but they weren’t as interested at doing the rink but we are going to take a run at it now.


Q: In what ways does SPA hope to improve athletic facilities?

A: We’ve known since before I was hired that there was a significant issue with the athletic facilities. They were old and they were aging and we knew that because the campus had really grown, we needed an updated facility to take care of our athletic needs. The next major capital initiative will return to that question. We would like to move the arena, we would like to build the fieldhouse. Right now we’ve got essentially one gym, and a small gym and that’s for 600 students. So we’ve got all the Middle and Upper School basketball teams, boys and girls in the Middle School and young men and women in the Upper School competing to use one court. We would love to have a better exercise facility and a better place for home games. The only logical place to put the fieldhouse is the spot occupied by the rink because we want the two field houses to be next to each other. The other major initiative on athletics is we would like to take the football field and soccer field and flip it with the baseball fields which has been a plan for a while. We would like baseball where Lang field is. We would like to do that because we can’t put lights on Lang field. If we were to do that and move the football/soccer fields so it’s where baseball [is], you put stands on the side of the hill and they are far enough from Hartford and far enough from the homes on Fairview so it won’t be a source of disturbance for the neighborhood. That would enable us to have night time soccer and athletic events.


Q: How should students appreciate and stay patient with upcoming construction?

A: I think it’s good for folks to appreciate the evolution of the school. One of the hallmarks of SPA, when you think about it, [is that] we’ve been graduating people since 1900. What they have bequeathed to us over the years has been a passion for excellence, but how you define excellence in education changes and is constantly evolving. The school has been good at meeting the changes and absorbing them. It’s always good to remember where we came from. It’s also important to remember that individuals have contributed enormously, teachers, donors, supporters, this is a 60 million dollar project to rebuild the Upper School. It’s going to give us an opportunity to engage in programs differently. It’s always good for people to know the roots of where they came from. I also think it’s good for people to have an appreciation for folks like Hugh Schilling, John and Ruth Huss, Andy and Lynn Redleaf, and hundreds of others who have supported the school. If you know where you’ve come from and you can appreciate the past, it helps where you are and where you are going. I want kids and the faculty to understand that this is a remarkable place and people created this world for us. The school is built on the shoulders of people who came before us. I hope people who come to school here are connected. We just didn’t spring out of the ground, it was the consequence of a lot of hard work.