Verba Volant, Scripta Manent

The Hill News

Verba Volant, Scripta Manent

The Hill News

Verba Volant, Scripta Manent

The Hill News

Chapel renovations causes students to adjust to a new place of reflection

Media: Faisal Choudhri ’24
Due to construction, weekly chapel meetings have been contentiously moved to the CFTA

After the last verse of the hymn is sung and the 6th former, with their crisp blazer and heavy beating heart, walks towards the podium to deliver their ten-minute talk, the view looks a bit different. That’s because the chapel, the space where reflection and inspiration are found, is being renovated this year, resulting in the Hill community meeting twice a week in the Center For The Arts instead.  

Construction began in September of 2023, but talk of renovation was being held since the fall of the 2022-2023 academic year, when the CFTA was chosen as the best option for chapel. “Those of us involved in chapel programming agreed that our goal was to replicate, as much as possible, the chapel experience in the CFTA, so that when we go back to Alumni Chapel, it feels familiar,” explained The Reverend Anne Confer Martens ‘02, Warner Associate Chaplain. 

The decision for chapel to be held in the CFTA resulted in some emotions from students, especially 6th formers giving chapel talks. One shock is “having the songs up on the screen because it is very different from chapel, and sitting on the stage, seeing everyone staring at the screen  does not have the same effect and closeness,” stated Abby Hicks ’24, this year’s first chapel speaker.    

With the new Alumni Chapel receiving 90 more seats, the closeness of chapel not only this year is being questioned. While giving her chapel talk, Belle DiCampello ’24, felt that “it was a little less personal because I couldn’t necessarily see the faces of who I was talking to as much, especially the people who sit in the back.” Even though the closeness of chapel is a little diluted, the tightness of Hill has yet to be affected.   

Hicks explained that Nicholas Malinak, her former Speech and Debate teacher, reached out before her chapel talk. “He emailed me and said to look for two or three familiar faces and it’ll make the space feel a lot smaller, and that’s what I did and it made it feel like I was talking to a small group of people.”  

Part of the reason for the renovation was to make chapel feel smoother like it had in previous years, as the enrollment at Hill has increased. Last year, 3rd and 4th form students switched from the Alumni Chapel to the Dining Hall for the chapel period. With the chapel next year having the capacity to hold 580 people, the renovations are going to take some time.  

“The main challenge in the renovation process was making sure the addition and existing chapel integrate seamlessly so that the atmosphere continues as it has been over the years. Therefore, architectural style and construction materials must be replicated throughout the process,” detailed Collin Wood, Senior Director of Campus Operations. Once this was finalized, getting the construction started was much easier.  

This construction not only means a bigger chapel, but it means the third form won’t be able to experience chapel in the Alumni Chapel as third formers. Haley Elliot’27 mentioned that on her tour and revisit day she was unable to visit the chapel. But, luckily she was able to see her older sister Kerry Elliot’23 give her chapel talk and experience a glimmer of what chapel in the chapel building is like. Haley Elliot expressed, “I am very excited to be able to have chapel in the Alumni Chapel. Chapel is different when everyone is there rather than half of the school being there. After its renovations are made, the whole school will be able to fit in at once and I think that it will make a big difference.” 

Charlie Hewitt ’25 said this big difference also means a lot to many fifth formers, who’d rather be in a space where every one can gather together as that is the point of chapel. Confer Martens touched on this subject as well, providing this as another reason to host chapel in the CFTA. A third reason influencing this decision was the previous use of the CFTA for chapel. Chapel was held in the CFTA for six weeks in the fall of 2018, when the roof of the Alumni Chapel needed to be repaired.  

The renovations are set to be completed by June 1, 2024. Though students from across forms have had their fair share of emotions, overall chapel is still chapel. It is a time, where for two days a week, thirty minutes a day, we are together as a community. As Haley Elliot explained, echoing the voices of the student body, “The setting of where the chapel talk is taking place is not the important part. It is what the speaker is saying that’s important to pay attention to.” 

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About the Contributor
Emerson Leger '25
Emerson Leger '25, Off-Campus Editor

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