Whether students or faculty members, donors or staffers, all members of the Rivers community seem to have the same impulse when they walk through the doors of The Revers Center for Science and Visual Arts: They look up. The building’s soaring atrium, airy spaces, and gravity-defying staircase all draw the eye skyward, as visitors take in the new building’s stunning features.
The evening of Thursday, January 16, offered boundless opportunities to observe the phenomenon, as The Revers Center opened its doors for an official dedication event. Lead donors, trustees, faculty, and other community members gathered for cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, music, presentations, and a glimpse of the vast potential for learning, creating, and collaborating found within the Rev’s walls.
It was the culmination of the long, challenging process that brought The Revers Center into being. From the launching of the FutureMakers campaign through the many months of planning and the lengthy period of construction, building The Rev has been an extraordinary demonstration of collective effort, and the January 16 event was a moment to pause and thank the many supporters of Rivers who made it all possible.
Head of School Ned Parsons, addressing the assembled crowd of about 160, spoke of witnessing the process unfold. “Every single day for the past year and a half, I stopped by the construction site to check on the project—on my way to work, and then again on my way home.” One evening, he recalled with a laugh, he even came within moments of finding himself getting locked inside the building, since his “visits” were often conducted somewhat surreptitiously.
Parsons noted that the project began with a dream and a vision—a vision of what the school could accomplish with academic facilities that matched the extraordinary quality of its faculty and the learning experiences it offers.
“We recognized then—as we do now—that our exceptional academic program is driven by our outstanding faculty—and not by the spaces where they teach,” Parsons said. “At the same time though, together we had a dream of an environment just like this, one optimized for state-of-the-art learning, one that could unleash the full potential of a Rivers education, and one that would support and strengthen opportunities for our teachers and students for generations to come.”
Leslie Fraser, dean of faculty, spoke of visitors’ tendency to look upward as they enter. “You can’t be in the space and not feel excited about learning,” she said. She quoted the sentiments of several faculty members who are thrilled about their new teaching spaces, among them Science Department Chair Jeff Meropol, who said, “It gives you the feeling of unlimited possibilities,” and Interdisciplinary Studies Chair Julian Willard, who noted, “The light, open design of this building really enhances the kind of imaginative free-thinking and the collaborative work processes that sit at the heart of the interdisciplinary program.”
Parsons held a Q&A session with lead donor Dan Revers, who lent his name to the project, and Campaign Chair Dan Kraft, whose support was also key. Both Dans seconded the excitement expressed by other speakers and the pride of having helped usher in a new era for Rivers.
Parsons kicked off the evening with a poignant toast to faculty member Dan McCartney, whose unexpected death earlier in the month cast a long shadow over the campus. Raising a glass in his honor, Parsons told the gathering that McCartney would have loved the evening’s party and would have wanted to be remembered with the same joy that informed his life.
It was a night to celebrate—but not a night to rest on our laurels. The final speaker, board chair Harley Lank, told the crowd, “We’re not finished yet,” as he outlined the plans for the next phase of the campaign. Additional fundraising will enable comprehensive upgrades to the Middle School facilities and a reconfiguring of the entrance to campus. The board had voted earlier that day, he announced, to start work on the Middle School renovations this coming summer.
Departing guests took one last look at the space, received a parting gift of a plant that echoes the building’s green, sustainable “living wall,” and passed an enormous, illuminated “Thank You” sign that had been erected on the turf field outside. All in all, the new building and the coming improvements to campus point to one certain conclusion: Things are looking up at Rivers.
Enjoy a full gallery of photos from the evening on the Rivers SmugMug website.