campus news and events

Colby-Sawyer College to Dedicate New Windy Hill School, a Green Building that Celebrates Teaching and Learning

With the dedication of the new Windy Hill School on Thursday, Oct. 14, at 3 p.m., Colby-Sawyer College reached an important milestone in its history. The program founded in 1976 to serve as a laboratory school for the college's Social Sciences and Education Department now has a beautifully designed home of its own – one that celebrates the magic and imagination of childhood.

The new Windy Hill School was funded through an anonymous donor family's $1 million challenge gift which inspired another $1 million in donations from college alumni and friends, parents of current students, and even from former students of the school. The celebration featured tours of the building, a reception and addresses by Anne Winton Black '73, '75, chairman of the Colby-Sawyer College Board of Trustees; President Tom Galligan; and Associate Professor Janet Bliss, who has directed the Windy Hill School since its inception.

The two-story building, which sits on a grassy hillside overlooking Mount Kearsarge, is a vibrant and welcoming place filled with natural light, lovely maple woodwork, and colorful furniture, rugs and art work. It was designed with children in mind, with built-in lofts to play and hide in, low, round windows in the doors to spy through, and images of hot-air balloons, kites, planes and other flying things to watch as they hover overhead in the ceiling tiles.

In keeping with Colby-Sawyer's commitment to creating an environmentally sustainable campus, the school was also designed and built to provide a healthy and safe environment. The building offers high visibility of the outdoors through large windows and doors with windows, and was designed to conserve energy and water, according to Ingrid Nichols of Banwell Architects in West Lebanon, N.H. By using materials that don't contain volatile organic compounds, the architects and builders sought to ensure high-quality air throughout the school. The college, with assistance from Banwell Architects, will apply for LEED certification – the recognized standard for “green” buildings – for the Windy Hill School.

“It was not only the vision of the architects — it was a collaborative effort of everyone at Windy Hill and the college, along with the builders, North Branch Construction, to create a school built on a human scale that meets the needs of the children and of the college students and teachers,” says Nichols. “We worked together to create a building that fits into the overall campus and respects the buildings and the environment around it.”

Today the Windy Hill School serves 85 area children through its Toddlers, Nursery School, and Primary Programs and provides after-school programs for grades one to three and summer programs for children up to age six. Each year 30 to 40 Colby-Sawyer College students, mainly Child Development and Psychology majors, become involved in the school to learn about young children and the institutions that support them, as well as to observe and engage in the children's learning, alongside their teachers and mentors.

-Kimberly Swick Slover