On Friday, October 1, the Canterbury community celebrated the official opening of the Steers Center with a Ribbon Cutting ceremony, attended by students, faculty, staff, trustees, donors, alumni from the Class of 1971, contractors, architects, and even Mayor of New Milford Pete Bass. The crisp and bright fall afternoon provided the perfect backdrop for the occasion, and the event was livestreamed for those who were unable to attend in person.
The ceremony opened with a prayer by Sacristans David Salazar ’22 and Alex Schneider ’22, followed by a welcome from Head of School Rachel Stone. “The Steers Center has galvanized our campus center with the Wallace Mall and the Chapel of our Lady, sitting squarely at the heart of the academic, athletic, artistic and residential branches of our community,” Rachel affirmed. She went on to thank trustees Bob ’71 and Lauren Steers P’11 for their vision and generosity to bring the project to life: “Consistently and amazingly throughout, the collaboration, generosity, and vision of Bob and Lauren Steers were both steadying and inspirational. From the blue sky Board session with post-its; the color palette, furniture, and facade discussions in their living room; the day they climbed into the ceiling of the foyer when the building was close to complete; and their unwavering commitment to the student experience, their presence has made all the difference.”
Rachel continued, “Now the Steers Center stands as a physical and philosophical representation of what centers and differentiates Canterbury: excellent and innovative academics paired with student life programming driven by students, all set within an enduring framework of values and a commitment to ethical leadership that has been carried forward by Canterbury’s Catholic heritage and founding in 1915.” Rachel went on to share: “Today we also celebrate the naming of the gorgeous, game-changing student center—an area that reflects the breadth and depth of love, generosity, and devotion to Canterbury of Nick ’88 and Joelle Ragland P ’21. For the first time publicly, we are very proud to announce that the Steers Center Commons is now officially named the Ragland Commons.”
Rachel then introduced President of the Board of Trustees Bob Steers ’71, P ’11, who addressed the community and guests. “As our students all know, this is first and foremost a building that is intentionally located in the heart of campus. But more important than the location is what goes on inside, which touches every aspect of student life—starting with the magnificent Ragland Commons, which we are celebrating today. It is a place where students gather and which encourages community, friendships, collaboration, and inclusion. The D’Amour Center for Faith, Service & Justice is focused on ethical leadership, service, social justice, and faith, all of which are critical building blocks for developing young students into tomorrow’s leaders. We are proud to have the Coleman Digital Media Lab, the Innovation & Design Lab, and many additional spaces to encourage innovation and growth.” Bob went on to thank those without whose help this transformational project would not have been possible, including the Ragland and D’Amour families for their extraordinary gifts; the distinguished alumni who generously contributed, including Greg Coleman ’72, Bill Wallace ’57, The Heart Foundations, The Woodward Foundation, and The Gladys Brooks Foundation. Also among those acknowledged were Geoff Gaunt from S/L/A/M Collaborative and his architectural team; Justin Giampaolo of Burlington Construction and Greg Oneglia of Burlington’s parent company O&G; Canterbury Business Manager Steve Carleton; and Founder and Principal at Surepath Construction Services, LLC Andrew Messinger. Bob’s remarks concluded with special thanks to his wife, Lauren, whose extraordinary involvement in every aspect of the project ensured its successful and magnificent completion.
Following the ribbon-cutting, students were dismissed to their athletic practices and afternoon activities, and guests were invited to celebrate in the Steers Center with tours followed by cocktails and dinner. Several members of the Class of 1971 were present for the event as part of their 50th Reunion, taking place the same weekend.