Bishop Strachan School opens cutting-edge addition

Bishop Strachan School cut the ribbon to its 64,000-square foot wing, Sept. 12, ushering in a new era of cutting-edge education that will have streams of academia well served.

For freshman head of school Judith Carlisle it was the ideal way to get her headship started off in the right direction.

Announced as the replacement to Deryn Lavell in December, Carlisle started her duties bright and early Aug. 1, appropriately with a buildings committee meeting.

She travelled to Toronto via Oxford High School in England and Dover Grammar School for Girls, and has achieved high ratings for both of her former homes.

Not that she’s taking any credit for the work her predecessor has done. She said she’s very happy to be part of the celebration, one that coincides with the school’s 150th anniversary.

“What a fantastic opportunity for me, to swing into town just in time for the big party,” she said, with a laugh. “Really, I thought my role on the day was to acknowledge the huge community effort into creating this fantastic new building, and in time to celebrate that 150 years of pioneering education for girls and young women with this cutting-edge building.”

Million-dollar donation

And Carlisle cannot laud the Forest Hill community enough for their interest in helping the Lonsdale Avenue school out.

The school set a fundraising goal of $35 million and one of the largest contributors, Edmond and Gloria Foundation, chipped in $1 million.

“I have been absolutely knocked out by the generosity of spirit in the local community,” she said. “To have a campaign supported with such generosity in terms of the finances and the time and energy of our volunteers.”

On hand for the opening ceremonies were Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Carlisle and board chair Cindy Tripp.

Included in the wing expansion are the Frum Soklowski/Geri Cynamon atrium lobby, BSS general store, rehearsal studio, Manuela Neto Furtado Lecture Hall, five idea labs, royal gym, a green roof, art studio, faculty resource rooms and a theatre.

When it comes to any further plans for expansion or redesign, Carlisle suggested now was the time to take a step back and plan how to use the new facility.

“This is a fertile place for ideas. What is great is that is a natural moment to take pause. It’s a wonderful new building. We have a new principal of the junior school,” she said. “It’s good to pause and structure what’s next.”