Groundingbreaking Ceremony for New Arts Center


Elizabeth Perry, Photography Editor

Poly Prep held a ground-breaking ceremony in early October to celebrate the official beginning of construction of the new arts center. According to Head of Upper School Sarah Bates, the building is expected to be in use by September 2023. The event — which was held directly in front of the construction site by the alumni building — focused on the major shift in Poly dance, performing arts, music, and visual arts programs that will result from the new facilities, which will offer an additional 10,000 square feet of space. 

The ceremony featured musical performances from Poly students and alumni. In addition, Audrius Barzdukas, the head of school, spoke along with the heads of each artistic department. Members of the board of trustees, financial contributors, and students attended the event. 

“I want the community, alumni, and students to see something bright and new and shiny and modern for arts. It’s not just money getting poured into the athletics; it’s not just renovations of classrooms. We take our arts seriously,” said Bates. 

In former years, the arts department has utilized smaller spaces on campus. 

“Last school year my dance class took place in the squash courts for both semesters because the middle school needed the dance studio. We didn’t have mirrors to see ourselves and were often distracted by people playing squash while our teacher played music out of his speaker,” said sophomore Sadie Schoenberger, the Head Arts Editor for the Polygon. 

Over the past several years, there has been talk of a new performing arts center within the administration. Once there was enough funding, the construction of the new building — which has a 10-million-dollar budget — began in the summer of 2022. “We finally got to the point where Mr. [Keith] Wiggs, who is our director of major gifts, and Ms. [Peggy] Cook, who is our chief [advancement]  officer — she oversees basically all of the fundraising officers — made a huge push about a year and a half, two years ago,  that the money that they were trying to raise was enough to start construction on the performing arts space,” Bates said. 

“It’s very exciting that this arts center is being built here at Poly and hopefully will give so many students the opportunity to utilize it and express themselves and learn and grow as students and as artists.””

— Paul Rudd

The new arts center will hold both practice and performance spaces including a multi-use performance space that is more than double the size of the current dance studio. It is fully equipped for dance and performing arts classes, programs, and rehearsals according to Bates. The lobby of the new building will function as a gallery for the visual arts department, displaying all types of student work. Daniel Herwitt, visual arts teacher, said he looks forward to giving students the opportunity to “showcase work in a gallery setting that is well-lit and that feels separate from the school.” 

“It will also give students the opportunity to put together a show or have a thesis show,” Herwitt said.

The music department will be gaining their own expansion as well. After many years in the current band room on the downstairs level of the main building, the music department will be able to fit more students in the practice room, expanding the department as a whole. Daniel Doughty, the director of music, said he was excited to see the project he had seen in the works for many years come to life. “I started 17 years ago and there was talk of building a new building then. It’s been going on for a long time,” Doughty said. 

Paul Rudd, a world-renowned actor who attended the groundbreaking ceremony, said “When I think about what arts education did for me when I was in high school, it provided a place and a platform to learn about acting, theater, to try this out for the first time.” 

“It’s very exciting that this arts center is being built here at Poly and hopefully will give so many students the opportunity to utilize it and express themselves and learn and grow as students and as artists,” Rudd added.