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Memorial Building: Not Just a Memory

The Memorial Building renovation is progressing as scheduled and should be completed by mid-summer, in time for the 2014-15 school year. The opening of the renovated Memorial Building marks a new chapter for the arts at Deerfield. Indeed, “the Visual and Performing Arts Department is on the verge of an exciting new dawn,” said Jennifer Whitcomb, department chair.

The new building will feature both renovated and new facilities including a reconstructed art gallery, a 180-seat chamber concert hall, a new dance studio, an architectural loft, several new art studios, a digital media-studio and a music production studio. The building will also contain the renovated Black Box Theater and the Large Auditorium, now with a three-sided balcony. In addition, construction for its state-of-the-art acting lab, numerous practice rooms and an abundance of new support facilities such as script libraries, dressing rooms, a resource room, a costume construction room, and a green room, is underway.

“Fusing the traditional with a contemporary edge, the new arts building will be a vibrant hub where students can immerse themselves in creative and academic study,” added Ms. Whitcomb.

Because the Memorial Building houses the dance studios, art studios, music practice rooms, and the Black Box, these had to be relocated and rethought due to construction.

“Last year, dance classes were held in the dance studio of the Memorial Building, and this year classes are in the Stolzfus room, the Kravis and on the third floor of the Main School Building,” explained Maegen Killeen ’14, a dancer in the senior dance ensemble.

This year’s dancers have also needed to adjust to the stage of the White Church on Main Street, where interim performances have been held.

“It was a major adjustment,” admitted Killeen. “The [White Church] is a much smaller space, and the audience is literally four feet away.”

“As a senior it is upsetting that our last year we didn’t get our dance studio, but I think it will be worth it for upcoming students, because the art building is going to be amazing,” she adds.

Will Darling ’15, an active participant in the theater program and a member of the Mellow-Ds, has grown accustomed to the new art locations. “The Mods have been a pretty good space for Mellow-Ds practices, and the smaller rooms create a more intimate setting,” he said.

“I look at this year as a transitional year,” added Darling. “You have to pay your dues before you get the nice new building. I am really excited for next year.”

Chloe So ’14, currently in Post-AP Studio Art, is looking forward to continuing her art career at Deerfield in the new Mem. “With the arts in a centralized location next year, more students can enjoy some of the amazing works students have produced, and that will hopefully promote the arts at Deerfield,” she said.

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