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Northwood School shows off new building at soft opening

December 6, 2013
NAJ WIKOFF - Correspondent , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Northwood School has a new education center, entrance and campus commons, all unofficially unveiled for friends and neighbors Friday, Nov. 22.

These three elements are the latest component of the 175-student private school's master plan. They also represent a major step forward in deepening and grounding Lake Placid's educational community, a critical facet of the region's economy.

Northwood is normally a quiet neighbor. From time to time the accomplishments of its hockey and ski teams make the local news, its students are a near daily presence at the Olympic Center, and often one of its signature dark blue buses can be seen parked down near the end of Lower Cascade Lake, a mini mecca for rock and ice climbers, but its successes (or challenges) rarely are a topic of public fodder.

Article Photos

Northwood School’s new education center (Photo by Naj Wikoff)

Headmaster Ed Good, Northwood's Board of Trustees and faculty are happy to keep it that way as their primary business is educating high school students. Quite a number of graduates have gone on to achieve great success in sports, including Olympic bronze medalist Andrew Weibrecht of Lake Placid.

The tranquility of its immediate neighbors was disturbed a bit over a year ago when the school cut a new winding drive up from Mirror Lake Drive. Heretofore school buses heading off to various sporting events, delivery trucks, and other vehicles entering and departing off lower Northwood Road created a gauntlet for students walking between the girls dorm/arts center, science building and main building. With the new entrance, the school was able to eliminate that traffic and dedicate the corridor to pedestrian use only. In its place are a wide path, benches and other landscaping that now links the new and old buildings in an overall campus-like setting.

At the top of the new drive is a pair of twin buildings designed to fit right in with the overall architectural aesthetic.

This, the new educational center, was the setting for the Nov. 22 reception that provided the first public glimpse of the state-of-the art facility and new pedestrian walkway.

"This not the grand opening or the dedication; we will have formal dedication in June when the Board of Trustees convenes here," said Good. "This is a welcome and open house to neighbors, friends and people who were integral in the construction of this building. The Academic Center contains two interconnected 5,000-square-foot classroom buildings, seven classrooms and two offices per building housing the humanities, history, foreign language departments. It is part of the campus master plan that has three phases: shutting of vehicular traffic up through the middle of the campus, building a new access road and constructing of these buildings.

"This is a completely wireless facility as is the rest of our campus. In every room there is a wall that has a sheen on it. You can write on it, project movies or text on it, and you can erase it the next day. Every classroom is outfitted with a computer projector, a wireless computer and stereo speakers."

"These classrooms are great," said John Spear. "You have this wall that you can write on instead of having to use a black board or a white board. I was teaching students about memory this week. I wanted them to keep the work we were doing and build on it every day. I was basically able to create a whole mural of notes on memory. I could use the entire wall as high as I could reach and as a low as I can go.

"Often I project what is on my iPad and use a stylus to draw on it. I will mark up a poem, for example, save it and send it off to the students. All my paper grading is now by iPad. They send me a PDF, I put it up in editor and I can write on it just as if I am handwriting a note. I can record my notes to the student and send it back. They can see my mark-up, push a button and hear my verbal comments about their paper."

"Northwood has been a substantial part of my life," said Van Pine, chairman of the board. "I made lifelong friends while here. When I went to college and graduate school, what I had gleaned from my Northwood experience provided great propulsion there and after I had been out for a long time. Two of my sons graduated from Northwood. It meant positive things for them as well. Northwood and Lake Placid have always held a dear spot in my heart."

"The goal for this facility was to supply some good classrooms, to let the other, what had been classrooms, take up a little of the slack on the campus," said Gary Green, Class of 1955 and chairman of the Facilities Committee. "We developed a master plan several years ago thinking about where we should locate classrooms, where we should locate faculty housing, and where we should locate additional student housing. These are the first of where we might want to be in 50 years. We want to follow a path so we know where we are going (rather) than randomly building facilities from time to time."

"I think Northwood was a place where my son learned to be independent and responsible. It gave him an amazing foundation for college, and an incredible network of friends and friendships that he carries on," said Trustee Diane Scholl. "It was an all-around great experience for him. I joined the board because I love Northwood and I like to give back because I so appreciate the quality of education and the quality of life in general it gave my son."

"It used to be the bells would ring and all the students would march along the halls of the main building," said Tom Broderick. "What this has done is moved them out between the buildings and created a more Zen-like peaceful feel. Now when there is a change in class it is very subtle. It's created a much nicer environment for teaching."

"These buildings are long overdue," said Good. "Their focus is on academics as that is our reason for being after all. The school is dedicated to the education of kids; that's our top priority. We think these buildings will bespeak that for many years to come."



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