Town Talk Features

Having a Field Day

As important as hitting the books and learning in the classroom are, it’s equally critical that schools provide their students with the resources they need to stay active. We reached out to two local schools to learn about how they are making improvements to their athletic and recreational facilities. See how they’re helping their students get in the game.

kirk day school
This school year, students at Kirk Day School are enjoying a new outdoor space. The independent Christian elementary school installed a turf field in a location previously occupied by a parking lot. “We wanted to make sure our children had a green space to play,” head of school Taylor Clement says. “We have a playground with a fall surface, but we needed more so kids wouldn’t have to play soccer or football on blacktop. Before, they could be outside and active, but now, they can do it in a place that is safer and more conducive to their play.”

The turf field was installed over the summer. “The biggest surprise was how many layers of dirt and gravel go under the top one,” Clement notes. “To be able to drain and withstand the elements while being sustainable, the construction is deeper and more involved than you might expect.” KDS worked with Ideal Landscape and Kirkwood Fence to complete the project, and the school’s director of technology and special projects, Steven Lee, played a pivotal role in organizing it. The initiative also provided an unexpected opportunity for other improvements. “The retaining wall, landscaping and fencing all provided the chance to beautify the area,” he explains. “The project was more successful than we hoped for.”

Since the start of school last month, Clement says the field has been in constant use between recess, P.E. classes and athletic practices. He’s also looking forward to being able to use the space for outdoor events in the future. “Winston Churchill once said to never waste a crisis, and our board made the most of needing more outdoor space,” he says. “Our students now have the perfect place to engage and play, and they know it’s made for them. We’re grateful to our generous community that wanted to see this project come to fruition. We’re blessed by the support.”

principia school
When Shawn Brown took the position of athletic director at Principia School in 2015, he found plans for a new gym that dated back to 1998. The need for an update to the school’s athletic facilities was clear, and now, that vision is becoming a reality with the construction of the Simon Athletic Complex, which is expected to be completed in late spring 2022. “The new gym will really allow the students to develop their skills while providing the resources they need,” Brown says. Along with increasing space for activities and locker room capacity, the new building will include a state-of-the-art weight room and fitness center. “At Principia, we’re big on character education, so there also will be a character lab,” he notes. “It’s a place where we can start the conversation about what character means on the field or court.”

Along with the new gym facilities, the coeducational day and boarding school is improving its outdoor athletic resources as well. The school currently has five fields, and when the project is completed, there will be nine, including a new multipurpose water-turf field. “The technology behind all of the fields is state-of-the-art and makes them very playable,” Brown explains. “Materials-wise, there will be no difference between Principia’s baseball field and what the Cardinals play on at Busch Stadium.”

Brown notes that organizing the school’s athletic programs has been difficult during construction of the new facilities, but the inconvenience will be well worth it. “I’m looking forward to having an inviting space that students and the community will be excited to visit and use,” he says. “It will be great to get to play a night football game under the new LED lights, and hopefully, we can host some great community events that inspire people to learn more about what a great school Principia is. Seeing this project come to fruition has been awesome.”

Photos courtesy of Kirk Day School and Principia School

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