Large, open learning spaces with lots of natural light and state-of-the art technology are among the features at Detroit County Day School’s newly expanded middle school building in Beverly Hills.

Members of the school community took a look Friday inside the building west of Lahser as they celebrated the completion of the first phase in a $33 million multi-campus project. The renovations for the private school are a result of a fundraising campaign.

“We are so fortunate to be here,” Headmaster Glen Shilling told the group gathered at the steps of the school’s new addition. “This is a spectacular moment for us historically in our over 100-year history… We are so fortunate to have the best faculty in the world and we’re trying to provide them with the teaching and learning facilities for our students to be able to be innovative and creative in what they will do in their lives both now as students and as future leaders.”

Last October, the school broke ground on the 50,000-square-foot addition, which ties into the existing 63,000-square-foot middle school building constructed in 1991. That project costs $14 million. The expansion moves the grade 5 students into the building as they join grade 6 students into one wing. The other wing houses grades 7 and 8.

It was almost two years ago that the decision was made to kick off a fundraising campaign with a request for funding for a cornerstone, said school board trustee Jonathan Boos. The fundraising effort was named the VIVID Capital Campaign. 

A lot has changed since the middle school building opened in 1991, Boos said.

“What hasn’t changed though is the need for really consistent school leadership and world-class faculty and staff,” he said. “This school has always had that. And with that is the need for world class facilities so that the faculty and staff and leadership can provide just a world class education for all of our students. The school needed to be expanded and brought into the 21st century.”

Another year from now, Boos said he expects to be at another ribbon cutting for renovations for the lower school, will consolidate pre-K through fourth grade into one building on Maple Road in Bloomfield Hills. The groundbreaking for the $18 million project is scheduled for Oct. 10.

The nearby upper school will also see some renovation from the campaign with a $1 million project that will include expanded teacher spaces and a film studio.

During a tour Friday, Tina Mangalick, director of Major Gifts for the school, pointed out  a new innovation gallery that showcases student art work, a spacious music room with separate, smaller practice rooms as well as a cafeteria with large windows overlooking a new playground and basketball court.

Mangalick also noted advancements in the classrooms.

"What's great about these rooms is that you look at these walls," she said. "These walls are all foldable, magnetic, writable and sound proof." 

Fifth grader Hugh Aaron, 10, said one of the first things he noticed was that the school has more open space. He's also a fan of the new art room.

"There's more learning opportunities in the classrooms because they've been remodeled," Aaron said while standing in a student common area. "This area, you could work here. Also you could meet with your friends here to do something."

Aaron mentioned that his two older brothers attend classes in the original wing. While he thinks it's cool to be closer to them, he points out an added benefit. 

“I could brag to them that this school was a lot nicer than theirs,” he said.

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN

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