In the 2021-22 school year, The Hill School will see a multitude of changes – from improvements around the campus to some shifts in the academic schedule.
Headmaster Zack Lehman said that the school is planning to complete several projects that could not be finished because of COVID-19. Next year, Hill plans to make full use of the Shirley Quadrivium Center, when social distancing and classroom size limits will no longer be necessary.
The science, history, and world language classes taught there are going to be moved to either the Academic Building or the Quadrivium next year, and the Dell Science modular building is being eliminated. A temporary dorm will be built in its place to house up to 28 fifth and sixth form girls.
John Giannikas, dean of community life, said that the new “bespoke” custom dormitory would potentially last for four years, depending on how quickly the funds will be raised to build the new four-dormitory complex near Wendell, which is expected to be completed by fall 2023.
Even though it is a temporary building, it will look exactly like a permanent dorm – “You can’t tell,” Giannikas said. The dorm will be surrounded by an artificial garden facing the Dell and will have air conditioning, new furniture and multiple common rooms. Giannikas said that the dorm “will likely become a very popular destination.”
Apart from the new temporary dorm, a number of landscaping and renovation projects are planned for this summer and the next academic year.
The Brickhouse by Dutch Village is being turned into the Warner Center for Spiritual Life and Equity. It will become a gathering space for students to “celebrate, plan club events and discuss matters of spiritual life and equity,” Lehman said. He added that there will be some comfortable seating, a big TV screen, a renovated outdoor area and a kitchen. Rev. Kristi Adams will assume the dean of spiritual life and equity position next year, and her office will be located in the Warner Center.
The renovation of the Headmaster’s Garden by the class of 1971 is planned to begin this summer and be completed by Lawrenceville Weekend next fall. “There will be a permanent pergola – a place for students to gather; there will be nicer seating; there will be an outdoor fireplace (in addition to the fire pits), and they are restoring it to its original design,” Lehman said.
Other changes on campus include Robins House in Dutch Village getting a new common room, renovation of the Chapel’s stained glass, the conversion of the mailroom into a new Student Leadership Center, the renovation of the Dell Field bleachers, and the improvement of infrastructure in a number of dorms.
When it comes to academics, Hill will try to revert to its former practices – remote learning will not be a general option, for instance. Academic Dean Katy Hudak said, “Those OWL cameras are going in the closet, and we’re going to lock the door.” The weekly academic schedule is expected to return to “a mix of short and long classes,” something similar to what it was pre-COVID. It is expected to become available to the students before the end of the year.
Lehman believes that there have been some “silver linings” this year, as it pertains to academics, particularly H-Term. The new educational program will happen next year as well, in between the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. Students will be able to take school-offered classes or take an internship, but the final structure of the period is still being developed.
Overall, the final ambition is to come back to the orthodox Hill experience. “It is certainly our hope to return to normal – in terms of how we interact as a community,” Lehman said.