Written by Steven T. Szilagyi (Kiski '88)
Associate Headmaster for Institutional Advancement
During the last decade, The Kiski School has thoughtfully focused on comprehensively updating and improving the campus as well as redesigning the curriculum and programmatic offerings at the School. The many recent upgrades implemented at Kiski have constituted a veritable Renaissance for the institution. This phase of the School’s life which is now often referred to as the “Kiski Renaissance” has strengthened the School and our educational community in many potent and rewarding ways. The Kiski resurgence has inspired us to continuously improve the overall educational experience for all at the School.
The renaissance has simultaneously motivated us to focus on attracting and retaining the best students and faculty and to bolster the School’s financial position. Kiski is now entering the final phase of our five-year, $27 million capital campaign known as Leadership for the 21st Century. The final campaign fundraising phase is supporting the renovation and expansion of Vlahos Hall dormitory and eventually will transition Kalnow Hall into a new Zeigler Science and Engineering Center. Funding will also allow for several other high-impact campus improvement projects including the construction of new faculty housing units, the renovation of the Turley Dining Hall, and substantial upgrades to Sheesley Hall dormitory.
Now, looking back, it’s beneficial to note the early phases of our campus improvement plan were funded through the $12 million raised during the initial capital raising endeavor which was quietly launched in 2003. These crucial campus upgrades featured the renovation and expansion of two major dormitories: McClintock Hall and Daub Hall. Additional capital improvements benefitting the residential and learning experiences at Kiski included an internal renovation of Heath Hall (the main classroom building) and upgrades to Rogers Fine Arts Center. And, as part of the campaign for Kiski, the construction of the Swank Student Center provided a major positive addition to the quality of life on campus.
In 2010, with insightful input and ideas from students, faculty, alumni, the Kiski Board of Visitors, and the Board of Trustees, a comprehensive Campus Master Plan was developed providing a detailed ten-year strategic outlook focused on additional improvements that would become beneficial to the “living and learning environment” at Kiski. This strategic improvement plan included new construction and the repurposing and remodeling of many existing and heavily used buildings. The plan also included strategic guidance related to extensive renovations that were needed in older facilities as well as designs for new traffic and pedestrian flows that have improved access, convenience, and security on campus.
Goals were implemented for new funding and endowment growth, faculty salaries and enrichment, technological innovation, and student financial aid and scholarships. The strategic plan for Kiski became the centerpiece for the current $27 million capital campaign which has been overseen by our Capital Campaign Co-Chairs: Sandy Mellon and Russ Swank ’67; and the Chairman of our Development Committee: Marc Robertshaw ’72.
In 2011, with many thanks to the loyal and thoughtful leadership of Roger Kishman ’62 and generous financial support from the Class of 1962, the School’s vision for a new and creative place to teach and learn came to fruition by way of the “Class of 1962 Outdoor Classroom.” The Outdoor Classroom is an intimate stone amphitheater with views of the local rivers and bucolic farmland surrounding Kiski’s campus. Both students and teachers have enjoyed holding classes outside in this special classroom. It has been a wonderful addition to the educational experience at Kiski. In addition, recent funding has assisted in developing an outdoor leadership studies area and ropes course. This will continue to have a positive impact on the Kiski Leadership Institute for Boys.
By the end of 2013, several key components of the Campus Master Plan were completed, including the renovation and expansion of MacColl Hall dormitory. This dormitory is a modern, energy-efficient living space that incorporated a “living laboratory” for the study of energy efficiency. Since the capital raising continued to move forward in a robust and rewarding fashion, the Beano Cook Outdoor Athletic Facility was designed and built. In addition, during this time, Kiski purchased and installed an ultra-modern electronic key and security system in all campus buildings. Also, the design and implementation of the gorgeous new entry way to the campus was completed.
Without question, the crowning achievement of Kiski’s campus renewal program and current $27 million capital campaign is the renovation and expansion of the indoor athletic facility. The Ross Athletic Center is the focal point for all athletic and fitness activities. The athletic center, which was opened in August of 2015, features several new and upgraded sections including the field house, a multi-use gym, a fitness center, and a newly renovated natatorium and indoor basketball gymnasium. The building also holds updated locker rooms, meeting rooms, a snack bar, and new wing dedicated to our Athletic Hall of Fame. Everyone at the School has been enjoying the benefits of this new indoor athletic center and it will serve students, alumni, faculty, and friends of Kiski well for many years to come.
As we renew the physical condition of the campus and strengthened finances, dramatic changes to the content and methodology of the academic curriculum have been taking place as well. At Kiski, we know how boys learn best and have continued to successfully integrate state-of-the-art and practical skills and theory, particularly in the teaching of science, technology, the arts, and entrepreneurialism.
Some funding that has been raised as part of our capital campaign has been directed toward academic classes and programs focused on the teaching of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics). For example, the Innovation Lab and Makerspace areas opened in September of 2015. Looking forward, it’s important to note that the Innovation Lab is also home to our new entrepreneurial course known as the Inventionland Institute. Through this creative institute all students are introduced to current technologies and innovations that will be used in the future to impact all lives on a local, national, and global level. Improvements such as these have created great momentum for Kiski; consequently, the next stage of the capital campaign focuses on transforming Kalnow Hall into the new Zeigler Science and Engineering Center to support the growing focus on 21st Century Education and academic offerings dedicated to scientific innovation, robotics, and the study of STEAM.
The Kiski Renaissance has been made possible by the ongoing loyalty and financial generosity of the Board of Trustees, the Board of Visitors, alumni, current and past parents, grandparents, students, teachers, and friends of the School, including several local foundations who have embraced the School’s educational mission. To help to make these many exciting and rewarding improvements a reality for the School, we are pleased to confirm that our past two capital campaigns have so far raised an impressive $40.7 million for campus improvement projects, educational programs, and the endowment. We remain deeply thankful to all who continue to be actively engaged with and generously invest in the School’s future. We look forward to spending time with you on campus soon.