What’s happening with the Graded Campus Project?


Credits: Graded and Zanettini

Since being given the greenlight to begin construction in September 2013, The Graded Campus Project has neared the completion of its second phase of operations. Phase 1 of the project, which included a full-scale renovation of the Lower School playground and gym, was concluded in February 2015, and Phase 2 was scheduled for completion this month. However, due to delayed licensing from São Paulo’s city hall (Prefeitura de São Paulo), the official opening will only take place in January 2017. The second stage of the project will feature a new main entrance/donor wall, parking complex, Student Center, main athletics field, small athletics field, track, main bleachers, small covered gym, and maintenance building. To find out more about this project, The Talon interviewed Graded’s superintendent, Mr. Richard Boerner.

The Talon: What will the next phase of the project entail?

Mr. Boerner: […] The [Graded Campus Project] is broken up into 10 phases. The next phase, Phase 3, will be the construction of a new athletics gymnasium complex. It will include a competitive main gymnasium with bleachers, [similar to] the main gym we have now—except it will include two side-by-side courts, so we’ll be able to play 2 games simultaneously or one huge game.

The Talon: Does that mean the current gym complex will be demolished?

Mr. Boerner: Yes. [The new gym] will basically be in that space. The main gym will have two huge sliding doors that open onto the Student Center. We can [also] close them because it’ll be air-conditioned. It’ll also have a swimming pool, a five-lane swimming pool, three tennis courts on the rooftop, separate showers for students and adults, a training room with rehab equipment and ice and things to work on injuries, and an aerobic fitness studio.

The Talon: What is the estimated date for completion?

Mr. Boerner: Well, optimistically, we would love to finish it by January/February 2018.

The Talon: What’s delaying the project? Government licensing?

Mr. Boerner: No, all of the permitting process is approved for the entire project; what we’re waiting on is funds. We have close to enough money raised [for this phase], but we’re going to need a little bit more money to be donated in order for us to move faster. Otherwise, we’ll probably start construction in December 2017, which would mean it would be ready by January of 2019 […]. So, [January-February 2018] is our optimal goal, but the plan is to have it finished by January 2019.

The Talon: Could you elaborate on how the project is being financed?

Mr. Boerner: We have our own funds, which build in our capital fund, which we use to pay for the project. In addition, we have donations and gifts from families and businesses. [When we have enough money from those two together], we launch the project.

The Talon: You mentioned that the Campus Project is planned to have ten phases. What’s next?

Mr. Boerner: The next two areas of focus will be the cafeteria. We want to completely transform it into a new dining experience for students. The auditorium will come after that—to make it bigger and more modern.

The Talon: How do you think that Phase 2 will contribute to the “Graded Experience”?

Mr. Boerner: I think that it’s going to give kids more access and more opportunities for health and fitness education. By adding, [for example], a really well-developed climbing wall, meaning we’ll be able to do that type of thing from K-12 […]. The fields will be better and we’ll be able to play year-round because [it’s turf] and we won’t have issues with the mud. We’re going to start a track and field program because we’ll have a legitimate, quality four-lane track. We’ll have a smaller field where we can do all kinds of 7-a-side games. We’ll [also] have a beach volleyball pit. There’s just going to be a greater variety of options to, hopefully, meet the interests of the kids.

Another thing that I think is really great about it is the Student Center. Not only do we get all this athletic-event space, but we get a proper Student Center that’s large enough to handle a large group of attendees for an event. The amphitheater can become a new outdoor arts/performing area: there could be theater performances, poetry recitals, a million things. There’ll be a nice cafeteria there, a school store to sell school spirit gear, bathrooms, and seating for over 140 people. It’ll be an area you can be in and hang out in for quite some time. Finally, on the field there’ll be a large LED screen which will be like a scoreboard, but also a video monitor, so we intend to have family movie nights to bring lower school kids […].

The Talon: Is there any space for student-run activities to take advantage of this new area?

Mr. Boerner: Yes, absolutely […]. One of the hopes that we have for GradedLive is that, because we’ll have this huge 10×4 meter screen, they’ll live-broadcast events. They could even have introduction game videos, so when you introduce the starting lineups for the soccer teams─BAM, there are all the kids. There’s all this opportunity to use technology for some really cool purposes.

One other novel idea that we have—and I wouldn’t want this to be perceived as decided, because it isn’t—but we have 101 students graduating this year, and fitting them all on the auditorium stage is a real problem […]. So, we might be considering graduation out on the field. So then you’ve got this huge video screen that we could be live-streaming on and people could be watching from a covered area in case it rains.

The Talon: Are we going to need more staff to deal with this bigger area?

Mr. Boerner: Yes, in fact we’ve already planned and budgeted for additional security guards, and also cleaning and maintenance for the building. One of the important things that we want to pay attention to is that, as we build new facilities, we want to maintain them at that new quality for a long time. We want to be thoughtful and use preventative maintenance methods instead of reactive─so we’re going to have to staff more people.

The Talon: Will operating costs for these new areas increase tuition?

Mr. Boerner: It will not directly increase tuition, no. It’s already been built into the long-range plan. We knew that these construction projects were coming and we prepared for these types of things. And we’re not talking about a massive increase in staff—just a few additional people.