October 13, 2021

School Matters 10/13/2021

Hun Launches Performing Arts and STEM Centers

The Hun School of Princeton last month celebrated the opening of its new Breen Performing Arts Center and DAYLO STEM Center, the culmination of a $9 million project.

The 13,500-square-foot STEM Center and theater underwent a complete reconstruction beginning in the winter of 2019 to modernize the facilities and outfit them with the tools and technologies of contemporary working labs and performance venues. 

“These new campus landmarks are not only beautiful, but they will also become lively centers of campus life and provide our students and teachers important new vehicles for the dynamic, experiential development that are so essential in the performing arts and STEM fields,” said Head of School Jonathan G. Brougham.

The theater features a new lobby built with green materials, reconfigured seating and a center aisle, new changing rooms and a scene shop, a new sound and lighting booth, and improvements to the lighting and acoustics. Highlights of the new STEM center include up-to-date technology, a living laboratory, collaboration spaces, and flexible design. The complex also incorporates a two-story courtyard, electric car-charging stations, and an improved driving and parking configuration.

Hun Science Department Chair Jacqueline O’Gorman explained how a visit to the labs at Bristol Myers Squibb became one source of inspiration for the design.  “We asked them what they look for in new hires. They said, ‘Two things: the ability to collaborate and be creative.’ We knew we needed to create spaces where students could interact with one another, create with one another, and actually access one another with ease,” O’Gorman said.

Longtime Hun supporters Ed and Lynn Breen donated $5 million, the largest single gift in the school’s history, to help launch the project, and a $1 million gift from Danna and Ben Weiss supported the funding of the DAYLO STEM Center.

Princeton Montessori School Promotes Sustainability

The Princeton Montessori School is pursuing an array of eco-friendly initiatives this fall under the direction of its newly appointed sustainability manager and ecology teacher, Gery Juleff.

So far Juleff has led the school in signing a solar energy agreement, relaunching their Farm-to-School program, repairing their vegetable garden, and recommitting to composting. He is currently working with colleagues to develop a comprehensive school sustainability plan for the future. 

“The Montessori philosophy encourages children to bond with the earth so that they learn to care about it, make good choices, and become advocates for environmental sustainability,” said Princeton Montessori School Head Michelle Morrison.

The school signed a contract last month for the installation of a solar array, a group of solar panels, that will take place during spring break, with the solar array fully functioning by the end of the school year.

Once installed the panels will reduce the school’s CO2 emissions by about 3,000 metric tons over the 20-year agreement, and, according to a Princeton Montessori School press release, the school could save $500-800,000 in electricity bills during that time. 

“It was a great learning experience,” Juleff said. “I have written an informal how-to guide based on my experience, which I hope will show other schools and organizations that installing solar is really doable and will bring significant benefits.”

Pennington STEM Girls Develop Marketing Strategies

The Pennington School’s Girls in STEM club has been working on developing a marketing strategy for the rollout of a product they created earlier this year: their award-winning, patent-pending hybrid sanitary napkin.

They are hoping their project will become a philanthropy target for corporations, which will provide the materials, tools, sewing, and business training for displaced women in Malawi and elsewhere to produce the hybrid pad as a source of income. 

On September 24, the Girls in STEM attended a workshop in which they made progress in branding and marketing the hybrid sanitary napkin, identifying their target audience, and developing a mission.

The hybrid sanitary napkin project began several years ago when Susan Wirsig, director of Pennington’s Applied Science Certificate Program, visited Dzaleka, a refugee camp in Malawi, and saw the challenges that girls in the camp face, including economic hardship, lack of sanitary ways to dispose of waste, water shortages, and inadequate access to menstrual products.  Girls in Dzaleka often miss school while menstruating because of these challenges, and in some cases drop out of school altogether.

Wirsig, the Pennington Girls in STEM club, and girls in Dzaleka all teamed up to try to solve this problem, designing and testing a hybrid menstrual pad that is part reusable, part disposable.

In July of this year, Girls in STEM won the grand prize in the Lemonade Stand Contest, a competition sponsored by Whalebone Magazine and Faherty Brand, for their hybrid sanitary napkin initiative. The prize included $20,000 in cash a $40,000 marketing budget, and three one-hour mentoring sessions with the Faherty CEO.