PHOTO: Breaking ground on BGA’s Center for Arts and Entrepreneurship were (from left) Tyler R. Berry IV, ’87, Trustee, former Board Chairman; Hallie Heiter, Director of the Entrepreneurial Leadership Program; Kurt Winstead, current Board Chairman; Will Kesler, Head of School; and Jennifer, Helm, Chair of the Fine Arts Department. / Photo submitted
Battle Ground Academy broke ground Thursday on a 37,000-square-foot building that will house the school’s theater program and serve as the home for BGA’s growing Entrepreneurial Leadership curriculum.
The Sondra Morris and Robert N. Moore Jr. ’52 Center for Arts and Entrepreneurship is named in honor of the late Moore, a BGA alumnus and former board member, and Morris, a longtime friend of the school and close companion of Moore.
“This groundbreaking is the direct result of the strategic plan we implemented five years ago,” BGA Head of School Will Kesler said. “This is a game-changer for BGA and for education in this area with our new theater and auditorium, state-of-the-art maker space and set design area. We will now have ample breakout rooms, classrooms and spaces for the type of learning we expect to see in the future, which dovetails perfectly with our Entrepreneurial Leadership program.”
The Center for Arts and Entrepreneurship is expected to be completed in 14 months. It is the centerpiece of The Campaign for BGA: Creating Our Future $24 million capital campaign with $16.2 million raised to date. Other initiatives in the campaign include increasing the school’s Endowment Fund, enhancements to BGA’s Lower School and renovations to the Upper and Middle Schools, including a new dining hall.
“We are very fortunate to have alumni, friends of BGA and parents step up in the initial phases of the campaign to get us to this point,” Kesler said. “In addition to Sondra and Bob, Bill Armistead, a 1969 graduate, and Jon, Kathy and Amy Yarbrough have been leaders in this campaign. Jon, a successful entrepreneur in his own right, has provided critical leadership in the development of the Entrepreneurial Leadership program.”
Launched in 2015, BGA’s Entrepreneurial Leadership is one of the few four-year comprehensive entrepreneurship programs being offered by high schools in the country. It equips students with skills and mindsets to creatively solve real-world problems through hands-on active learning.
The Entrepreneurial Leadership Center will occupy two floors of the building. This space will have four classrooms, four breakout rooms and departmental offices. It will also have a “maker” space and set design area to be used by students in both Entrepreneurial and drama.
The centerpiece of the facility is a 550-seat theater and auditorium to be used by the school’s drama departments. It will house school productions, as well as outside programs.
“The Center for Arts & Entrepreneurship will create a vibrant center of creative thought for all students. It will be a place for our community to gather for shows, assemblies, speakers and performances,” Kesler added. “Students will be able to be more involved behind the scenes in the theater arts with set design, rigging, lighting and effects, and performances on stage will be elevated by the support our artists will enjoy from the facility.
“In addition, its classrooms, collaborative spaces, offices, and maker-space will serve as a home for one of the most innovative educational programs in the country — the Entrepreneurial Leadership Program. Ultimately it will complete the original vision for this campus, and allow us to start thinking about ‘what next?’”
The Center for Arts and Entrepreneurship will be constructed adjacent to BGA’s Middle School on Echo Lane. It will be behind the Fine Arts building, where space will be reconfigured to provide dressing rooms and rehearsal space.