The blustery fall morning was filled with excitement and anticipation as Canterbury officially broke ground on its new building and announced its name.
Members of the Canterbury community gathered at the construction site to celebrate the first shovel, signifying the actualization of years of planning for this important project. Trustees and invited guests were some of the first at the site, and were soon joined by all students, faculty, and staff, creating a crowd more than 400 strong of enthusiastic supporters.
Head of School Rachel Stone addressed the community and expressed her gratitude for those who have made the Hilltop Projects possible. “It has been amazing to watch as this new building begins to emerge. From footprint to foundation, we can already see how it will sit at the nexus of our academic, spiritual, and community life. As I walk by each day, I am also reminded that this site is a symbol of growth, promise, and a school that is loved and sustained by many.”
Mrs. Stone continued: “Along those lines, I would like to acknowledge the leadership and partnership of our Board of Trustees who, with steadfast purpose, untiring commitment and generous support, ensured that we would arrive at this moment. I am especially grateful to a small, working group of Trustees—Lauren and Bob Steers ‘71, P’11; Nancy Mulheren P’03 ‘13; Nick Ragland ‘88, P’21; and Kevin Fee P’18, ‘19, ‘21, ‘23—who shared wisdom and expertise and helped us navigate myriad decisions throughout the process.”
Mrs. Stone went on to acknowledge the donors who helped make certain the Hilltop Projects could be realized, including the School’s alumni who have donated 85 percent of the total dollars raised. The Head of School also gave thanks to Michele and Donald D’Amour, P ’93, ’98, G ’20, ’22, ’23 who generously donated in support of the new building and for whom the new M. & D. D’Amour Center for Faith, Service and Justice—included within the building—will be named.
Mrs. Stone then announced the naming of the building in honor of Trustees and life-long Canterbury supporters, Lauren and Bob Steers ’71, P ’11. “In recognition of their lead philanthropic gift, their deep care for and investment in our students and faculty, and their invaluable leadership and service on our Board of Trustees, it is my honor and privilege to announce the naming of the Steers Center. This new building will move Canterbury School boldly forward into the future, and so it is truly fitting that it bear the Steers name.”
Members of the Sixth Form Council were then invited to the podium, where Abby Omaña ’20 spoke on behalf of Canterbury’s students, thanking Mrs. Stone for including them in the project and thanking the Steers for all they have done—and continue to do—for Canterbury. “The Steers Center will embody both opportunity and excellence, not only for many of today’s students but also for every future generation of Saints. The gift of this building will help us achieve our biggest dreams and empower us to be better people. It’s a great time to be a Saint...and it’s only going to get better!”
Mr. Steers was then invited to share his remarks. Addressing the student body, he said: “I sincerely hope that the Steers Center will do great things for Canterbury’s future. But—Canterbury’s true greatness lies in its unique ability to instill character and value in young women and men. This School transformed my father’s life and it transformed my life. Lauren’s and my commitment is based on the belief that Canterbury’s mission—to develop moral leaders for a complex, secular world—is more critical now than ever. It has been a real privilege for Lauren and I to play a part in making the Steers Center a reality. It is our very strong opinion that Canterbury has never been in better hands and the future has never been brighter. I feel that you are all very lucky to be in this place, at this time, at this School. Go, Saints!”
Following the speeches, Fr. Mark Connell offered a benediction for the building and blessed the construction site. Lauren and Bob Steers, Nick Ragland, and Rachel Stone turned the soil on the site while students revealed the Steers Center banner.
The momentous day was made possible by the efforts of several partners who helped guide the master planning process and are directly responsible for the creation and construction of the Steers Center. Rachel Stone and the Board of Trustees also extended their gratitude to: Geoff Gaunt and S/L/A/M Collaborative, Inc.; Andrew Messinger and Surepath Construction; Justin Giampaolo, Jim Nardi and Burlington Construction; the Oneglia Family and O&G Industries; Mayor Pete Bass and the Town of New Milford; and Tom Gilbane ’65 and Gilbane Construction.
To read more about the naming of the Steers Center, click here.