The call arrived May 21st. The Brown Foundation, a Chinquapin Prep supporter since its inception, had awarded the school $1,500,000 for our capital project, the cornerstone of which is a girls’ dormitory. The squeals and screams of pure elation (mine and Marilu’s!) could be heard all over campus. The largest gift in the school’s history, the Brown grant means everything for a vision that has been a long time in the making. For over 30 years we have bused girls to and from the campus while their male classmates have been able to avail themselves of proctored study halls, teachers in close proximity and a precious hour or so more of sleep every night. A recent parent survey shows that 75% of those with daughters are willing to allow them to board on campus.
We currently have six high school girls living on campus in the former director’s house. A week rarely goes by without another girl approaching me about living there too. While we try to accommodate short term requests for special circumstances, I can’t say yes to the long term requests because we simply don’t have the room. And I hate that. It isn’t right that the girl who has to help take care of her siblings at home can’t be free of distractions here, but her brother can. It isn’t right that the girl who represents the school on the volleyball and track teams (and gets home at 9 PM some nights because of it) can’t spend a little more time on her homework instead of being on the road. But mostly it isn’t right that we teach equity but haven’t been able to model it.
It isn’t right that the girl who has to help take care of her siblings at home can’t be free of distractions here, but her brother can.
How wonderful to say that those days are coming to an end! While we are still in the infancy of the campaign, we have raised over $2 million to date. The building committee is busy drawing and redrawing plans. The campaign committee, headed by board member Will Mathis, is strategizing and determining how best to raise the $11 million project budget. It is a busy, wonderful, exciting time to be part of Chinquapin Prep.
Though the need for girls’ boarding drives this campaign, other campus needs will also be addressed. A new dining hall will accommodate more students, and the current dining hall will be re-purposed as a student center and performing arts area – something we have never had. The gym will receive some TLC in the form of a new ceiling, remodeled bathrooms and a new floor in the upstairs classrooms. The boys’ dorm needs a common meeting space and improved lighting. We plan to remodel the current girls’ day facility to provide for a new administration building and turn the current office into a new 6th grade classroom. Improvements in drainage, sewer system operations, and security will aid the whole campus.
I hope that you can join us in making this vision a reality. Your support throughout the years has made the school a shining example of what education for children from poverty can accomplish. As our campaign logo declares, we really are “Growing Excellence” for all of our students.