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Dalton Grows Up: An Evening of Exploration (and Fun!) Community Members Celebrate a Historic Construction Project

After five years of planning and 2 ½ years of construction, Dalton’s largest construction project in the history of the school was completed in early September 2019 — on time, on budget and ready for the first day of school!

This transformation at 89th Street impacted 32,000 square feet of space — adding the 13th and 14th floors (12,200 square feet) dedicated to STEAM work and renovating and repurposing five other floors (4, 10, 10M, 11 and 12).
To celebrate, Dalton community members gathered together in early-November at Dalton Grows Up to explore the new facilities. Visitors on the 14th floor were irresistibly drawn to the delicious aromas of freshly baked bread and cookies wafting from our state-of-the-art teaching kitchen, where Computer Science teacher (and trained chef) Charlie Forster Stewert baked all night long.
 
Nearby, in glass-walled classrooms with soaring city views, world language students and their teachers demonstrated the creative use of puppetry (including a large turtle who hails from the Galapagos) and Virtual Reality technology in the curricula. The wide-open collaborative space on the 13th floor was buzzing with students showing off their robots’ capabilities, while 3D printers hummed on the periphery. In Computer Science, students showed visitors whimsical digital projects made by programming that reflect their interests such as a rocketship game fabricated in-house with the laser cutter, a pizza and ice cream project made using JavaScript where the user could add toppings, or the “banana piano” made using the electronic invention tool “Makey Makey.” Meanwhile, in the science center, students encouraged visitors to grab a microscope and do some investigating or visit the resident snake! The10th floor visual arts and dance studios were bustling hives of activity: Using a traditional wheel, students made ceramic art while a 3D ceramics printer methodically created pottery, much like a spider spinning a web. A few doors away, students painted with watercolors making beautiful, ethereal artwork. Across the hall in the new dance studio, 20 middle schoolers performed African Diaspora dance forms propelled by a steady, energetic percussive beat. Visitors on the 4th floor learned about the extensive print and digital resources available in the new centrally located middle and high school libraries.
 
“It was an exhilarating evening! The new floors and classrooms were light and welcoming; the enthusiasm of the students and the teachers was infectious; the level of learning seemed high-as-the-sky,” said Carla Rich ’52. “I liked to think that perhaps all of us had our horizons broadened.”
 
Many curious alumni, who returned to see the new facilities, had joyous, selfie-taking reunions with former teachers. Some chose to make this evening a family outing and numerous multi-generational groups were spotted.
 
Earlier in the evening, a ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the official opening of The Ellen C. Stein Center for Collaborative Learning (floors 10-14), named in honor of Dalton’s former Head of School. Now in his second year, Head of School Jim Best said, “Ellen brought this space to life…[leading] this project from its earliest days. She started the Centennial Campaign and raised an astonishing amount of money in support of it...Her vision was that the spaces of Big Dalton would be a contemporary expression of The Dalton Plan. They’d be flexible, versatile, and focused on students. They’d invite collaboration, promote the free flow of ideas and people, and cultivate connections between floors, departments, and community members...The future is here thanks to Ellen Stein.”
 
Jim also toasted the Centennial Campaign co-chairs, committee and donors for generously supporting this truly transformative project with their time, resources, and determination. He noted that the Campaign has $10.7 million to go before it finishes this June 2020; our community’s energy, excitement, and belief in what we’re doing — and why it’s important — will get us over the finish line.
 
By all measures, this undertaking was a remarkable, collaborative achievement. In our 101st year, Dalton goes forth unafraid ready to face challenges, embrace possibilities, and prepare students to fully engage with an ever-changing world.
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(K-3) 53 East 91st Street, New York, NY 10128
(4-12) 108 East 89th Street, New York, NY 10128