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Portledge in the Now.

Athletic & Wellness Center: Coming Soon

by Simon Owen-Williams
The Athletic & Wellness Center is the architectural representation of a vision that focuses on student learning and how this connects to their well-being. The impact of these programs on students will be pronounced. As a result of the wellness programming, they will be more adaptable, calmer under stress, better able to communicate their needs, confident, creative, decisive, innovative, and purposeful in their approach to life. 
What are the uses of the expanded multi-purpose court?
Primarily, this expansive space will be used by the whole school for the purpose of athletics and physical education. During the winter months, we will be able to hold multiple concurrent practices for basketball and combine these activities with other team sports’ needs. The space is also designed so that during inclement weather, soccer, baseball, and lacrosse can hold indoor practices in the Fall and Spring. The space itself is approximately 8,000 square feet, allowing it to be divided in two. The adjacent locker rooms will allow for separate changing rooms for home and visiting teams and office spaces and rooms for referees to use prior to games.

The building will also provide an exciting opportunity for summer program use. Once the building is complete, we intend to return with our summer programming (summer of 2024), and the Athletic and Wellness will be at the heart of that relaunch.

What will the new fitness center feature, and what is the approximate sq. footage?
Spanning almost 1,300 sq feet, the new fitness center will be equipped with the latest in personal training equipment as well as a weight and conditioning space. This facility will allow individual athletes to train in specific areas of need and provide the opportunity for teams to work out together if the weather is inclement.

Currently, the Athletic Hall of Fame is housed in the T-area of the Wellington gym. The lobby of the AWC will be the new home of the Athletic Hall of Fame. We are excited to recognize our alumni and their athletic legacy in this new space, honoring our past as we celebrate our future. 

Who will work in the office spaces?
The office spaces on both floors of the building will be more or less dedicated to those members of the Athletic Department. Naturally, the Athletic Director will have a dedicated space and will provide an administrative presence in the building during the school day. Other staff members will have office spaces as a part of the classrooms housed in the technology and innovation  wing adjacent to the multipurpose area.

What is happening in the Innovation Wing? 
One of the most exciting opportunities presented by the building is that it allows us to continue to expand our STEAM offerings significantly. Our science, robotics, and mathematics teams have all been incredibly successful in Long Island competitions in recent years, and this facility represents the evolution of those programs. In conjunction with professional development, workshops, and new materials and technology, these spaces will be equipped with state-of-the-art facilities that will enhance the learning profile of all students.

There are four classrooms on the upper level of the building. What classes will be offered in these spaces? Can you explain the technology that we will have in these spaces?
Each class will have a dedicated purpose. The new science laboratory will allow us to focus on our anatomy and physiology offerings and provide space for our International Baccalaureate Biology program. With time, this lab will also house the Anatomage board allowing for highly sophisticated simulations regarding work on the human anatomy. This will be particularly attractive to those students who may be thinking about a career in medicine or science.

In addition, we are adding an immersive interactive space. This high-tech classroom space will house our Artificial Intelligence research laboratory and also allow for a classroom where scientific research is of central importance. 

The third classroom will be dedicated to teaching health and wellness in a more traditional sense. Students will be taught to build wellness skills, manage stress, develop strong mental and emotional wellness, learn about nutrition, the importance of a physically active lifestyle, how to make good decisions regarding drug and alcohol use, etc. Eventually, there will be sections taught regarding entrepreneurial skills and leadership development in this classroom, connecting the current International Baccalaureate offering in Economics and the Peer Leadership Program to be launched in 2023.

Finally, the largest classroom space will house the Mindfulness area. Here students and faculty will work on techniques designed to help them prepare for high-stakes testing and other stressful tasks, as well as yoga and other mindfulness practices using our RULER curriculum, which was developed at Yale University and is currently being introduced in the Lower and Middle Schools.

What are the new wellness offerings in the Athletic and Wellness facility?
As mentioned, the new building allows us to offer many new courses. Highly trained and qualified individuals will teach each. Our wellness curriculum is being developed and will be launched as part of a new department whose dedicated focus will be on this area of school life. The Peer Leadership Program, the RULER mindfulness program, and a new Physical Education Curriculum are some specific ways in which this is currently happening.

The construction timing of the building could not be better as we all recognize that much needs to be done following the very difficult time we have all experienced with the recent pandemic. Much work is ahead of us as we attempt to restore the wellness of our children. These programs will, in turn, better prepare students for success in college. While Portledge remains committed to high levels of academic rigor, we also recognize that the so-called ‘soft’ skills are also very important to success in school and life beyond.
This building is the architectural representation of a vision that focuses on student learning and how this connects to their well-being. The impact of these programs on students will be pronounced. As a result of the wellness programming, they will be more adaptable, calmer under stress, better able to communicate their needs, more confident, more creative, more decisive, innovative, and purposeful in their approach to life.
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