Ola Oladitan ’24 and the Student Arts Council celebrate the Centennial Arts Center.

On September 28 and 29, 2023, Concord Academy celebrated the official groundbreaking for the Centennial Arts Center. The reconfiguration of West Campus began over the summer with the renovation and relocation of several faculty houses to the western edge of CA’s land to form the new Academy Village. This development will situate the Elizabeth B. Hall Chapel at the physical as well as experiential center of CA as it creates space for the performing arts center currently under construction. When it is completed in 2025, the purpose-built new facility will support creative and collaborative interdisciplinary learning for all students.

At a Thursday evening celebration at his home, its deck overlooking the arts center work site, Head of School Henry Fairfax welcomed Concord Academy trustees and friends. He shared his gratitude for all who have steered and supported the Centennial Campaign and who jointly developed the vision for this project, which will unlock new possibilities for education and expression at CA.

“We are here because we believe in CA’s future,” Jen Burleigh ’85, co-president of the Board of Trustees, remarked. “Whether you are an alum, a parent who saw your child’s life transformed by CA, or someone who works here and sees the magic happen every day, we understand what CA does for students.”

Board co-president Jennifer Pline P’13 ’15 shared her own experience of witnessing the “transformative schooling experience” her children received at CA. She also highlighted the energy, investment, and effort over more than two decades that have sustained this longterm vision for CA’s campus, which is now coming to fruition.

Board of Trustees Co-President Jen Burleigh ’85 toasts the future of CA. 

The following day, CA held a groundbreaking ceremony for students, faculty, and staff during an assembly in the Performing Arts Center. The CA Singers performed a beautiful a cappella rendition of the Beatles’ “Blackbird”—a foretaste of the inspiration and possibilities that lie ahead for the CA community.

This occasion gave student leaders an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of the Centennial Arts Center to future generations of CA students, whether or not they would participate in classes and productions in the new building personally.

“It will contribute to the very essence of our school, shaping the culture of collaboration and creativity in new ways,” said Student Head of School Jessie Ma ’24, who described the Centennial Arts Center as a physical form of “wrapping our values of love of learning, common trust, and kindness around every student who uses the space.” 

She acknowledged the opportunities students have today thanks to the generosity of preceding classes: “We all play a role in paying it forward.” While her class would not experience the new building role as recipients and contributors, she said, “we are part of a community where each class contributes something unique to the legacy of CA, ensuring that future students can enjoy all that this community can offer. … Together, we look forward to a future where creativity and kindness flourish.”

Members of the Student Arts Council also spoke about the importance of the performing and visual arts to CA’s culture, as well as to them as individuals interested in dance and music, architecture and sculpture, and more, who have immersed themselves in these arts at CA and experienced new ways of belonging.

They also looked ahead with excitement. “This new place is going to give all of us an opportunity to do more than we ever imagined,” Ola Oladitan ’24 said. “It will serve as not just a hub for the arts but also for other subjects. Students can record podcasts for English and history projects. We can record videos for film and language classes. … We’re able to think big. Matter of fact, we’re able to think huge.”

Nick Brady ’24 said, “We share a passion for interdisciplinary arts, deeply rooted in the CA community. … We, representing a myriad of student interests, stand with immense pride on the cusp of a new era for the arts at CA and commend the school’s unwavering commitment to nurturing every individual’s artistic passion.”

After a brief slideshow of the work that had gone into moving faculty housing, preparing the site of the planned Centennial Arts Center, and pouring its foundation, students moved into the Stu-Fac to celebrate with apple cider and construction-themed cookies.

Head of School Henry Fairfax takes the podium.

CA Singers deliver an inspiring performance.

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