On Monday, Aug. 30, Saint Thomas Academy held a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating an extensive renovation of its legacy building, Founders Hall. The 3-month, $6-million project transformed the building in use since 1965, re-imaging the space for 2021.
“Founders Hall is such an iconic piece of who we are at Saint Thomas Academy – it is our original building,” said Kelby Woodard, headmaster of Saint Thomas Academy. “This project was really a complete transformation of the space. It is the future of Saint Thomas Academy, yet within our history and our legacy. It now provides a more dynamic learning environment for the boys that better facilitates today’s college prep curriculum.”
The building now has new, larger classrooms, several with glass walls that look into the court and bring light inside the rooms. All the classrooms have new furnishings that allow for flexible seating arrangements for individual and group study. A new HVAC system will improve comfort as well as air quality in the building. Several new meeting and lounge spaces for both students and faculty will support collaboration and camaraderie.
“As a board, we have prioritized campus improvements that support our academic platform,” said Dan Kubes ’87, chair of the Saint Thomas Academy Board of Trustees. “This significant undertaking was in support of education. It backs and supports the faculty and staff. It provides a better place to learn and teach. It reinforces our commitment to quality academics.”
The project also facilitated the creation of the Institute of Science and Engineering, with the Academy’s Innovation Center as its hub. Opened in 2017, the Innovation Center allows students to ideate, evaluate and fabricate working prototypes with the latest technologies to address multi-faceted problems in capstone-type projects. Combined with the Institute’s new classrooms, lab space and the latest technologies, the Academy is well positioned to prepare students for successful engineering careers after graduation.
“I am so excited to use this new space – it’s pretty amazing,” said Bobby Cunningham, a senior at Saint Thomas Academy. “Thank you, Saint Thomas Academy and Mr. Woodard. This is going to be great.”
Perhaps most anticipated is the new quad area in front of Founders Hall. The Academy plans to use the outdoor green space for daily formation, events, classes and outdoor dining as weather permits.
This year’s renovations were phase I of a multi-year campus improvement plan.