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FEBRUARY 2013

Dwight School Forges Innovative Community Partnership, Rejuvenating East Harlem Athletic Facility

Dwight School Gym
Photo credit: Barbara Marks Architect

By late spring this year, the East Harlem community and students at Dwight School will have a newly rejuvenated state-of-the-art sports facility, thanks to the school’s renovations and its new partnership with 1199 Housing Corporation.

Dwight School, a leading independent school located on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, entered into a 20-year lease with 1199 Housing Corporation, the owner of the East River Landing housing cooperative, for a recreational facility located at 108th Street and First Avenue in East Harlem. The comprehensive athletic facility, to be upgraded by Dwight and called the Dwight School Athletic Center, will be a truly innovative community partnership, benefiting both Dwight students and the residents of the East River Landing cooperative.

The 40,000-square-foot Athletic Center features a regulation-size high school gym, which will see the addition of bleachers to seat 200; a 25-yard swimming pool; exercise rooms; locker rooms and saunas; and a rooftop space, which will be recast to house two tennis courts. The Center is slated for operation in late spring 2013.

Dwight School Pool
Photo credit: Barbara Marks Architect

“This is an exciting opportunity to create shared value for our neighbors in the East Harlem community and for the students and faculty of Dwight by enhancing this facility,” said Dwight School Chancellor Stephen Spahn. “While synergy and social utility for all parties are the driving forces behind every innovative community partnership we have undertaken for the last 50 years, ultimately, we measure our success by the number of young people whose lives we touch in a positive way. Our goal is to eliminate barriers and to make the world a better place for all.”

“We are pleased to have consummated the lease with Dwight School for the Athletic Center. We believe that it will bring a significant economic benefit to the East River Landing cooperative, and a personal benefit to our residents who will be able to share in the use of the upgraded facility,” said William Dames, President of 1199 Housing Corporation.

“Chancellor Stephen Spahn, who I have known from my early days as a school physical education and athletic director, has always been a pioneer. His vision has given life to a number of exciting public-private partnerships and programs that bring different cultures together,” said Jan Ryan, Facilities Coordinator for Randall’s Island Field Group, LLC. “Chancellor Spahn immediately envisioned how this facility could enhance the Dwight experience for students and bring the facility to life for residents of the cooperative complex. It’s the latest expression of his creativity and commitment to improving and sharing limited resources.”

Mike Bailey, former Director of Youth Sports at Asphalt Green, and former Head Coach of the women’s track & field team at the University of Southern California, will oversee the Dwight School Athletic Center. He brings extensive experience in sports and fitness operations to the new venture. Dwight will use the Center on weekdays for physical education and swimming classes; team practices and games for basketball, volleyball and tennis; and after-school and summer day camp programs. Joint student-resident programs such as Saturday sports clinics may be developed and the enhancements made to the facilities will bring fitness, learning and greater quality of life for residents of all ages.

In addition, Dwight will offer scholarships to qualified residents in need and introduce them to Dwight’s unique “spark of genius” educational philosophy, which fosters the development of every child’s individual talents or passions. A sport may be a student’s “spark of genius,” as was the case for Olympian Race Imboden ’11. He is the #1-ranked fencer in the USA Men’s Foil Division, who pursued his passion for fencing while a Dwight student and competed in the London 2012 Games.

Celebrating its 140th anniversary this year, Dwight offers a unique educational experience from preschool through grade 12 based on the school’s three pillars: personalized learning, community and global vision. Graduates attend leading colleges and universities around the world, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, MIT and Oxford. #

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