Country Day Begins Construction on Carey Family Amphitheatre

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Country Day Begins Construction on Carey Family Amphitheatre

Outdoor Performance Area

Outdoor Performance Area

Outdoor Performance Area

Outdoor Performance Area

Hailey Spaeth

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By Hailey Spaeth ’17, Arts Editor

Anyone who has stepped foot near Country Day since our return from spring break has noticed the changes in our campus’s landscape. Not only are we beginning construction on the new Athletic Complex as well as a new Early Childhood House, but there is a giant pit where our North Lawn used to be. This gaping hole will soon be the Carey Family Amphitheatre. A process started over a year and a half ago, the amphitheater is set to be completed in time for our seniors to graduate there. Some students are doubtful of this new space’s usefulness. On the other hand, Head of the Upper School Stephanie Luebbers believes the outdoor theatre will be a “neat way to have upper school connect with outdoors and community in multiple ways.”

The process started at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year with Dr. Robert Macrae, former head of school, approaching Ms. Luebbers about writing a letter asking for a grant from the Edward E. Ford foundation, an organization based in Brooklyn that works towards “encouraging and improving secondary education by independent schools in the US.” Although the foundation provided half the money needed to build the theatre, we needed to raise the money to “match” their donation. Ms. Deborah Floyd, English teacher here at Country Day, worked alongside Ms. Luebbers and Mr. Femia (former drama and choir teacher) to hold a fundraising “Night of the Arts.” Amongst the many people attending the event were A.K. and Gibby Carey. The two are parents to late teacher Fred Carey, who was killed in a drunk driving accident in February of 2014. Ms. Floyd had married Mr. Carey only four months prior. Longstanding patrons of the arts, the family decided to match the donation provided by the EE Ford foundation. Although Mr. Carey is certainly on everyone’s minds when it comes to this project, Ms. Floyd stated that “It’s not necessarily dedicated to Fred.” The amphitheater commemorates the entire Carey family—Mr. Carey’s three other siblings attended the school and his father has a permanent position on our board of trustees.

Construction on the project began over spring break, and Ms. Luebbers says that construction is aiming to be finished in the first week of May. The outdoor arena will not be used in the weeks prior to graduation in order to let the turf and sod settle. The design was initially for a modern, sleek amphitheater similar to the style in which our Upper School has been built. The plans have since been changed to have an earthier feel, although the stage and seating will still be concrete. According to the Cincinnati.com article, trees will surround the area and there will be  lighting on the risers and near the trees. This will allow for events at night, as mentioned by Ms. Luebbers. She says that she envisions the space being used for late-night Shakespeare plays, as well as for events such as Dahlapalooza and Brockstock. Even during the school day, she wants classes to venture out there to use the space as an outdoor classroom. Ms. Floyd echoes this idea, imagining lecturing about Walt Whitman while sitting in the amphitheater. The place obviously has a multitude of uses and hopefully will be utilized more often than just for drama productions and for graduation. The hope is that students will continue to spend leisure time there just as they previously have on the Adirondack chairs of the North lawn. There will be a large area of lawn so that students can still pass a Frisbee or play a game of soccer. Students are also encouraged to spend time in the amphitheater during free bells.

Many students are unsure about this new change to the North field. Maggie Bernish ’16 is anxious about it being done in time for her graduation and |”[doesn’t] think it’s a realistic timeline.” Skylar Boggs ’18 thinks that “there was nothing wrong with the space before” and “enjoyed hanging out on the lawn during free bells.” In informal conversation, students have expressed that they are not opposed to the idea of an amphitheater, but have a hard time envisioning how the project is going to turn out. On the other hand, Lily Hill ’17 believes “it will be a great space to advance the reach of the drama department.” All in all, Ms. Luebbers really wants this outdoor amphitheater to be a place that “wraps its arms around our community” and where faculty, students, and administrators alike can spend time together. Despite students’ uncertainties, the amphitheater is bound to be a great tribute to not only our beloved teacher Mr. Carey, who was an avid lover of the outdoors, but to his entire family.


 

Sources:

http://www.eeford.org/

http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/local/indian-hill/2016/03/02/cincinnati-country-day-school-build-amphitheater/81200070/