Nearly a decade in the making, the Spence 412 Athletic and Educational facility officially opened on Friday, September 10 with a ribbon cutting ceremony in the morning and an afternoon community celebration. The 65,000-square-foot, six-story building at 412 East 90th Street is the home to Spence athletics, performing arts, entrepreneurship, student life, and K-12 ecology and interdisciplinary learning.
Head of School Bodie Brizendine, joined by a group of Spence trustees, led the ribbon cutting ceremony that brought together community members, administrators, and professional partners including architects, the construction team, and owner’s representatives who were instrumental in supporting and building Spence 412.
Following the ceremonial ribbon cutting, guests, many of whom were seeing the building for the very first time, gathered in the rooftop garden for a reception and brief presentation. “Heartfelt thanks from myself, the Board of Trustees and the entire Spence community for what you have allowed to happen for the girls here today, and the girls who will be here for a long time,” Board of Trustees President Bill Jacob said.
Jacob also shared the wonderful surprise that in recognition of her extraordinary leadership in bringing 412 to fruition, the Board of Trustees have named the eco center The Brizendine Center for Ecology. The center spans the top floor of the building with a classroom lab, an outdoor garden, a teaching kitchen and a greenhouse. The decision to designate that particular space in Brizendine’s honor “ties into what gets her up every morning at 4:30 on behalf of all of us: teaching and learning,” Jacob shared.
Brizendine took the podium to express her great appreciation for all who helped pave the way for this moment, contributing their time, ideas and resources. “There are so many stars in this room who made this happen, and the galaxy is wide,” Brizendine emphasized. “It was the right team, and the right people, at the right time.”
Generations of students will have the opportunity to deepen their engagement with athletics, ecology and the arts thanks to the generosity of Spence community members, Brizendine underscored, echoing Jacob’s sentiments. “All of you did it, not necessarily for your children, because they’re leaving. You did it for the next ones that are coming. You gave for the future of the School in a way that speaks to your affection and your commitment to each and every student, now and in the future.”
Friday afternoon brought the 412 facility into full motion with nearly 500 community members taking part in the opening event, designed to showcase the entire 412 facility. Students, parents, teachers and staff filled the gym spectator seating area and cheered on the Varsity Volleyball team playing for the first time in their 412 home court. A duet of electric guitar and cello performed in the Student Center stage, highlighting the student life opportunities for the third-floor space designed for studying and social and casual gatherings. Another group of aspiring Upper School entrepreneurs who are planning to run Spencer’s Cafe were also on hand on the third floor to talk about their business planning. The Dance and Drama programs held their first auditions in the Multipurpose Room that is now home to their afternoon rehearsals and future residencies and performances. Perched on the top floor of the recently named Brizendine Center for Ecology, Eco-Fellow team members provided insights about the planting tables for hydroponics and aquaponics, as well as the outdoor garden.
In her remarks during the ribbon cutting ceremony, Brizendine shared a recollection from 10 years ago, standing on the roof of the dilapidated rental building that once occupied the site. The spectacular facility that now stands here is “beauty and purpose in equal measure,” Brizendine shared as she raised a toast to the community that made it all happen.