In 2000 the Board of Trustees completed a Strategic Plan which committed to major improvements in our arts and athletic facilities and to building our endowment. In 2004 the Visual and Performing Arts Center opened, and earlier that year the Board again committed to moving ahead with the construction of an Athletic Center. And here we are. The Athletic Center is complete, our endowment has experienced significant growth, and the entire campus has a fresh and exciting new look.
The Visual and Performing Arts Center has created classroom and performing arts spaces that support what has since the school’s founding been an ambitious and successful arts program. Beaver graduates who have gone on to excel in the arts include among others: Jane Alexander ’57, award-winning stage, film and TV actress who also served as Head of the National Endowment for the Arts; Gretchen Dow Simpson ’57, whose drawings have graced several dozen New Yorker covers; Tammy Grimes ’51 who had an outstanding career on Broadway; Ellen Driscoll ’70, a world renowned installation artist whose most famous public piece, As Above So Below, can be seen in Grand Central Station and whose artwork is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum; Matt Selman ’89 who has received fame as a writer and producer for The Simpsons; Brad Falchuck ’89, a writer for the TV series NipTuck, and Pat Carroll ’00, who stars in Brian DePalma’s highly-anticipated new film Redacted.
I should also note that Selman and Falchuck, along with classmate Andrew Barrett, drawing on their friendship forged at Beaver and a commitment to social action, started The Young Storytellers Foundation bringing nationally acclaimed writers to give playwrighting workshops at inner city schools in Los Angeles. These are just a few of Beaver’s graduates who have gone on to experience success in the arts.
And now, with the opening of our new Athletic Center, we look ahead to successful years in athletic programs and at the same time honor our past athletes who have gone on to succeed in athletics beyond Beaver. Athletic success goes all the way back to the ’30s with Frannie McElwain Wakeman ’32, who was an accomplished horseback rider, skier, tennis player, field hockey player and golfer. In 2003 the New England Women’s Athletic Fund recognized Mrs. Wakeman’s many contributions to furthering women in sports by inducting her into the New England Women’s Sport Hall of Fame.
Beaver teams have achieved greatness in many areas over the years including winning six straight Eastern Independent League baseball titles between 1982 and 1987, culminating in a NEPSAC championship in that last year. In the ’90s five different Beaver teams won a total of twelve championships: Girls’ Basketball ’90-’91, Boys’ Basketball ’91-’94, Girls’ Tennis ’92 and ’96, Wrestling ’92, and Boys’ Soccer ’97-’99. More recently Beaver has won the EIL Golf championship in six out of last seven seasons; the Boys’ Tennis team has been co-champions of EIL for the two seasons, and the Boys’ Basketball team as won EIL titles in ’01, ’02, and ’03. In addition, the Girls’ Soccer team captured a NEPSAC championship in 2001.
And there have been more stories of individual success since Mrs. Wakeman’s era. Wayne Turner ’95, who went on to play college and professional basketball, holds the NCAA record for most appearances in NCAA tournament games. He returned to assist with our varsity basketball team last year. Caitlin Fisher ’00, after scoring 2,000 points in basketball here at Beaver, went on to play soccer at Harvard, then semi-pro soccer in Brazil while completing a Harvard Fellowship and launching a health program for girls. Beaver remains the only school in the state to have two 2,000-point scorers in Turner and Fisher. Perhaps another first: in 1998 Turner and his Beaver classmate, Stacy Hart, both played on NCAA championship teams. Turner was the starting point guard for the University of Kentucky, and Stacy was the goalie for Hartwick’s field hockey team.
Others who have gone on to succeed in college Division I, II, or III sports include: Paul Connors ’00 who played soccer at Vassar and semi-pro soccer in Jamaica; Kirk Dinnall ’01 starred for four seasons at the University of Virginia, one of the most high-powered men’s soccer programs in the country; Lindsay Bucci ’05, who plays lacrosse at Babson; Molly Swain ’07 will be playing Division I lacrosse at Boston University; Alice Binns ’07 who is the starting goalie on the Hobart William Smith soccer team.
This Athletic Center not only provides a much-needed facility for our programs and athletes of all abilities, but also emphasizes Beaver’s commitment to athletics as an integral part of a student’s education and of the culture and values of the school. In athletics students develop individual and team skills and they learn what it is like to achieve goals they thought were not possible; they learn to rebound from the disappointment of defeat and they practice essential life skills such as teamwork, sportsmanship, fairness, self discipline, courage, hard work and humility. And so tonight we celebrate the history of athletics at Beaver and challenge our current and future student athletes to add to this legacy with this new Athletic Center.