MICDS Receives $21.5 Million Donation, the Largest Gift in the School’s History
MICDS has received an unprecedented gift of $21.5 million from the JSM Charitable Trust and James S. McDonnell ’54 and Elizabeth Hall McDonnell ’58. The gift will be used to construct a new facility on the Upper School campus dedicated to science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The McDonnells’ gift is the largest donation to MICDS in the School’s 152-year history of Mary Institute, Saint Louis Country Day School and MICDS. Previously, the School’s largest gift also came from the JSM Charitable Trust – a $5 million donation in 1996 for the construction of the McDonnell Athletic Center.
This remarkable gift will allow MICDS to offer engaging, hands-on, application-based coursework in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as significant research opportunities in these disciplines. The gift is important for all students, regardless of their chosen career, and these experiences may lead more students to pursue these disciplines professionally. Beyond that, MICDS remains committed to offering unparalleled professional development opportunities both for its own faculty as well as others in both the public and private sectors locally and nationally.
Meeting the Challenge and Moving Forward
Studies show that students in the United States currently rank 17th in science and 25th in math out of 34 developed countries, lagging behind China, Japan, Russia and England. MICDS seeks to prepare today’s students for the world in which they will live and lead, and must ensure they are confident, competent and compassionate citizens of a global world.
This presents an important challenge, a challenge that the School is confronting head on with science and math curricula introduced last year that align with the new National Science Standards and Common Core Standards for Mathematics. As MICDS introduced this new, inquiry-based approach to teaching math and science, the School realized its current facilities were not up to the challenge. Teachers have been unable to fully deliver this new curriculum because of space and equipment restraints. This new facility will address this pressing need.
Strong foundational knowledge and skills in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics will serve all students well, and allow those who pursue these fields a significant advantage going into higher education and into the workplace. These have become essential 21st century skills.
The 2009-2014 Strategic Plan provides a clear roadmap and compelling charge. As MICDS continues to seek significant resources to realize fully the vaulting vision of the Strategic Plan, this gift gives the confidence to move forward to ensure the best possible learning opportunities for MICDS students of today and tomorrow.
About the Building
Though the design process will continue for the next several months, there is one word to describe the facility: spectacular! The 52,000 square foot building will feature science and math rooms deliberately mixed together, including 1,200 square foot “clabs” – spaces that combine traditional classrooms with laboratories conducive to hands-on learning. The learning spaces will feature break out areas for small group problem-solving, and the biology and physics labs will feature research benches that can be moved and reconfigured for different lessons. All of the classrooms are approximately 30% larger than those typically found in high schools.
MICDS also plans to include two special research areas within the new facility. One will be a Plant Science Clab outfitted with a greenhouse and growth chambers for work in that area; the second will be a large research laboratory which will allow ongoing and important collaborations between MICDS students and bench scientists from the St. Louis area. The School will invite local researchers to our facility so students can learn side-by-side from them, helping prepare children for careers as St. Louis continues to emerge as a leader in plant and life sciences.
The building will also feature a number of green initiatives to reduce the facility’s impact on the environment and its use of resources, while also serving as a demonstration model for student learning. Depending on further fundraising, MICDS will pursue the highest possible LEED™ (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification offered by the U.S. Green Building Council. The lofty vision for this facility includes sustainable and renewable systems such as solar collectors, geothermal windows, renewable systems, photovoltaic cells that collect and make energy, educational demonstration wind turbines, a white roof that reflects sunlight and limits heat gain, and even edible landscaping. The facility will even feature a “dashboard,” both in the foyer and online, that allows students to see how much energy the building is collecting and using at any given time.
MICDS hopes to begin construction in the summer of 2012, pending additional fundraising and approvals. The existing Mathews Hall on the Upper School campus will be razed to make room for the new facility. The new building will be enduring and endearing, building upon the traditional campus. The materials and details – such as chimney detail in the existing campus which will be reflected in the new design – will make sure that this state-of-the-art science and mathematics building ages gracefully and blends seamlessly into the campus.
Please review the building Fact Sheet.pdf and view the architectural renderings included with this announcement.
The Generosity of the McDonnells
The McDonnell family has been affiliated with MICDS for more than 90 years. An aviation pioneer and founder of the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation, the late James S. McDonnell, Jr. was chairman of the St. Louis Country Day School Board of Trustees and was instrumental in the school’s relocation from what is now Lambert-St. Louis International Airport to the land adjacent to Mary Institute, leading to the merger of the two schools. James S. McDonnell III graduated from St. Louis Country Day School in 1954, and his wife, Elizabeth Hall McDonnell, graduated from Mary Institute in 1958.
MICDS has been extremely fortunate to have Jim and Libby McDonnell involved in the life of the School in so many meaningful ways - as students, alumni, trustees, parents and grandparents. The McDonnells said, “Supporting MICDS is an intensely personal experience because this School has been such a significant part of our lives for many years. We are pleased to support this new facility that will benefit not only our own grandchildren, but generations of students for years to come.”
Jim McDonnell added “My father was one of the principal architects of MICDS as it is today and we are happy to follow in his footsteps and do our part to improve the School for the future.”
Time and time again, the McDonnells have stepped up to ensure that MICDS takes bold action and they have generously provided the resources necessary to provide an unparalleled experience for our students. They believe in the vision and mission of MICDS, and the School could not be more grateful for their support and this truly transformative gift.
PRESS CONFERENCE AUGUST 30, 2011
Lisa Lyle, MICDS Head of School
Bob Shaw, MICDS JK-12 Science Department Chair
Amy Scheer, MICDS JK-12 Mathematics Department Chair
Dr. Steven Miller, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Express Scripts. Member, MICDS Board of Trustees
Jim Childress, Centerbrook Architects and Planners