Progress on the Sale of the Lower School


Sameer Vidwans, Staff writer

After 50 long years using the Lower School Campus, it’s time for a change. In order to bring the Lower School into the 21st century, a new building will be constructed next to the MS/US campus! As Bill Baczkowski, the Associate Head for Finance and Operations, said, “the reuniting of all divisions on one campus will ultimately lead to a more united school.”

Many people have raised the question of where the tennis courts and baseball fields will go if the Lower School will be right next to the Middle and Upper School. The lower four tennis courts will remain where they are, and the other two tennis courts will be moved closer to the lower four. As for the baseball field, it “will be moved off campus to a still to be determined site that will be leased. Separating the baseball field and tennis courts ultimately solves an existing safety issue of foul balls going into the tennis courts.” The current lower school is approximately 50 years old, constructed in the 1970’s, so this new state of the art building will be a fresh start to 21st century learning.

The lower school building will be built where the baseball and field hockey fields are right now. It will be two stories tall, with the younger kids on the first floor, and the older kids on the second, similar to how it is right now (with the youngest kids on a lower floor than the older ones). On the outside, there would be a courtyard, as well as three different playgrounds. A gym would be built into the hill that separates the baseball and football fields.

The Lower School will be constructed next to the US, “reuniting all divisions on one campus.” Mr. Baczkowski stated that this “modern facility makes use of newer technology and will provide state of the art learning environments for all students.” Julie Rodowsky, the Head of Lower School, stated her excitement for the new building, saying “a new building could provide more flexible learning spaces and be more environmentally efficient.” A more environmentally friendly building is a better choice for the future ahead of us.

As for the sale of the building? Mr. Baczkowski stated, “We currently have an agreement of sale to sell most of the existing lower school property to the Incyte corporation. The sale will increase the financial sustainability of the school through endowment, and will provide the brand new state of the art modern lower school facility to replace an aging building in need of infrastructure updates.” The track and the bermuda fields are not part of the sale, and will remain.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has delayed the progress of the Lower School building by about 6 months. Despite the delay, WFS will continue moving forward with the new Lower School, as this building is necessary for the next 275 years of Friends. Regardless of any nostalgia we may have for the current building, a new one is necessary for a better school environment. The new building will not only improve the state of our Lower School, but of the rest of the school as well. A more united WFS “will lead to more and better cross-divisional collaboration”, as Mr. Baczkowski says. Considering the current Lower School is a good walk away, being this close will definitely increase collaboration. There is a lot to be finalized, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get excited about a newer addition to Wilmington Friends!

As the Board of Trustees said in their original letter from 2019, “It took vision and courage to move from 4th & West to Alapocas in the 1930s and to acquire the current lower school property in the 1970s. Now, as we approach our 275th anniversary, it is our responsibility to keep moving forward, knowing that the soul of our institution is not dictated by our physical structures, but enhanced by them.” Continued from page 10 An important aspect of accessibility that WFS is very proponent of is education on disability and ableism in our community. WFS strives to be an inclusive place for all, and has organized many assemblies, group meetings, and other projects to try and inform and reduce ableism in our school. Something that has been suggested by students and faculty is a seminar where different people can voice their concerns and ideas on accessibility and ableism in our school. We need to listen to those with disabilities and try to accommodate their needs and implement their ideas into WFS. If everyone keeps their eyes and ears open, then the world can become a more unified and inclusive place for all.