The year 2020 was one that few could have anticipated. Challenges abounded, and at Church Farm School in Exton, the school community pulled together to ensure challenges didn’t overshadow triumphs.
The Class of 2020 was celebrated through a streaming graduation program that honored longstanding traditions; classes, meetings, Chapel services, and other events were successfully transitioned online; in place of the school’s beloved Christmas Pageant, a documentary was released; and fundraising in the time of COVID-19, while difficult, proved that affection for the school could weather a crisis.
In September 2020, the school completed its Campus Modernization Project, which had kicked off with a groundbreaking ceremony in May 2019. On Dec. 31, 2020, the school finished its $6.5 million capital campaign, entitled “For the Boys,” raising almost $6.7 million for the project.
“Exceeding your capital campaign goal in any given year is always a great achievement,” said Jon Knorr, CFS’s Director of Development. “Exceeding it during a pandemic is nothing short of extraordinary. This is a statement by our donors, who truly believe we are preparing young men to lead productive and fulfilling lives. We are particularly grateful to our Board of Directors and our Capital Campaign Taskforce, led by co-chairs John Bellis Jr. and Richard Gherst.”
“I am truly gratified by the wonderful support we received from so many Church Farm School donors, which enabled us to complete this important project on time and within budget,” said Bellis. “The new campus look, the new facilities, and enhanced safety for the students sets the school on the path to a bright future.”
“I particularly appreciate the vision and confidence of our fellow directors, who authorized this project and then supported it with constant encouragement and extraordinary personal financial commitment,” said Gherst. “The generosity of our board members was the key to terrific support from alumni, friends, and the community at large. I also applaud the administration and staff who managed the construction and brought it to a very successful conclusion.”
The Campus Modernization Project has transformed the school in three key areas: functionality, accessibility, and safety. The school’s entrance is reoriented to the south through an addition to the school’s main academic building, Greystock Hall. The addition, with the Hamilton Atrium as its centerpiece, houses the Head of School and Admission offices, a dining center expansion and terrace, a new boardroom, and an elevator, making the building fully ADA-compliant.
Existing spaces have also been reconfigured. The tunnel beneath Route 30 connecting the south and north campuses now enters directly into a new Student Life area, one of many new gathering and collaboration spaces that were part of the project.
Another significant enhancement is the conversion of a former transportation garage and woodshop adjacent to the school’s Founder’s Pavilion into the Buck Family Center for the Arts, named for the family that generously supported its creation. The bright, modern building houses the arts faculty together for the first time, with state-of-the-art spaces in support of the program, which includes choir, band, digital photography, piano, music tech, clay, painting, and much more.
Finally, a new road, Shreiner Way, creates an entrance and exit from the school from the less-traveled Valley Creek Boulevard. The school’s parking lot was expanded, and a former pass-through road has been landscaped to create a courtyard, as well as multiple walking paths, to safely traverse from one building to another.
“The ‘wow’ factor of the many new and exciting spaces is evident in the eyes and skip in the step of our students,” said Head of School The Rev. Edmund K. Sherrill II. “From the new Buck Family Center for the Arts and Hamilton Atrium that welcome all into a new entranceway, to the Gina Bissell Student Center, and other spacious gathering spaces, we are taking great delight in the educational opportunities these spaces will provide to connect us more deeply and vibrantly. Church Farm School is blessed by a community supporting our students’ future, and we are exceedingly grateful for this profound belief and remarkable gift.”
The irony, of course, is that, presently, very few have been able to see the school’s transformation, save for the school’s faculty, staff, food service provider Sodexo, and the nearly 55 students who participated in the school’s on-campus option for the first semester, when all classes met remotely.
That will change in February, when most of the school’s young men in grades 9-12 will return to complete the school year. A hybrid option will enable a handful of students to continue learning remotely through the end of the year. CFS remains a closed campus to visitors right now, but plans to host a Community Day and Dedication in the fall, when its community of faculty, staff, students, parents, donors, alumni, and friends, along with prospective families, can come together to celebrate this milestone achievement and explore the campus.
Until then, you can schedule a virtual visit with either the school’s Admission or Development teams by calling 610-363-7500 or clicking here for photos, videos, and more.