St. John’s Preparatory School in Danvers is setting itself apart as a leader on the North Shore with its emphasis on fostering lifelong habits of health and wellness among its students, in grades 6 through 12. Set to open in the fall of 2017, St. John’s Prep’s Wellness Center will become an integral hub for students on campus. As headmaster Ed Hardiman puts it, the innovative center will allow the school’s goal of “educating the whole person in the process of self-discovery” to be fulfilled in the truest sense.
In 2013, the school announced Prep 20/20, which is the school’s strategic plan for expanding and developing what they are able to offer their students. Including the construction and new programming for the Health and Wellness Center, Prep 20/20 includes their new middle school program for students in the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades, a state-of-the-art academic building for the high school, and a plan for the growth of their endowment. Combined, these different aspects come together to allow the school to focus on their mission of a holistic education.
Wellness, to St. John’s Prep, means incorporating the “spiritual, emotional, and aesthetic, which will help create healthy decision makers and allow them to balance the stressors of daily life,” says principal Keith Crowley. The Wellness Center will give students the space they need to be physically active, year-round, and reflect on their growth, their mental health, and their relationships with others. Beginning with the class of 2021, mandatory wellness programming will become a part of the school’s curriculum. This may mean taking part in a physical activity, such as yoga or martial arts, or it may manifest itself in other ways, such as stress management seminars or mindfulness meditation. The programming and the center itself are flexible and are focused around health and community in every sense of the words.
The Wellness Center will serve every student, teacher, and member of the staff on the St. John’s Prep campus, rather than solely student athletes. Headmaster Hardiman pointed out that “there is a direct impact on all 1,500 students and 250 faculty and staff—this center will be for everyone.” The center, and the programming accompanying it, will lend itself to a stronger sense of community for the students of St. John’s Prep, who will have the opportunity to come together through new, shared experiences where untapped talent will shine through.
St. John’s Prep educates students from 80 communities in Massachusetts and this new center will only serve to connect those students more to one another. The school’s plans to fundraise $25,000,000 through philanthropic donations in the community, and they hope to meet this goal within the next six months, having already raised $19,500,000 toward their goal. The multipurpose center will incorporate a new fitness space, an elevated track for walking and jogging, a meditation room, a four-court fieldhouse with an indoor track and basketball courts, an eight-lane swimming pool, gallery space to display student artwork, and multi-purpose rooms. Additionally, the Wellness Center will house the offices for new staff additions to accommodate the new programming, such as a director of wellness, who will work to integrate the school’s concept of wellness across the St. John’s Prep campus, two wellness program and facilities coordinators, a director of the aquatic center, and a coordinator of recreational sports. These new staff additions will not only work to ensure wellness is practiced in the daily life of each student on campus, but they will also work to coordinate partnerships with community-based organizations on the North Shore so that students can come together with community members in very positive ways.
Steve Cunningham, the assistant head of school for facilities, who is overseeing the construction of the center, sees the building as “a connecting piece, which brings together different architectural components on campus.” The 78,000 square foot building will serve as a connector, sitting in the center of campus, overlooking the main football stadium and incorporating spaces that will create “opportunities to come together, celebrate, and understand wellness as an integral part of development,” says principal Crowley.
St. John’s Prep’s vision for the education of its students will allow for a fuller experience for the students as they make their way through their high school years, preparing them to become resilient, balanced young men.
St. John’s Prep
72 Spring St., Danvers