ST. PETERSBURG - Since its opening in 1968, the Canterbury School of Florida has undergone many transformations, with rooms, wings and buildings added as space, educational advances and enrollment dictated.
A Fine Arts Center was built about 10 years ago on the Knowlton Campus, which educates students in grades 5-12. Baseball, football and soccer fields were constructed from a thicket of woods in 2005.
And two years ago, a state-of-the-art, free-standing Marine Science Center was erected on campus. The center's programs include touch tanks, hands-on marine biology lessons and the school's very own research boat.
But of all the recent developments, Headmaster Mac Hall is most proud of the new upper school expansion project, completed in December, with a formal unveiling in January. The Knowlton Campus is located ay 990 62nd Ave. NE.
“What it’s helped us with the most is...it gave us an area for our high school (kids) to call their own,” Hall said recently. “And every teacher now has their own room. So everyone has benefitted.”
The new addition is 18,000 square feet, and it naerly doubles the size of academic space on the Knowlton campus. (Canterbury's lower school is located at the Hough Campus, on Snell Isle.)
Funded by a grant from local investment banker and philanthropist William Hough and his wife, Hazel, the $3 million high school addition now serves as a home base for the upper school students and teachers.
Phase One of the project took about one year to complete, beginning with the groundbreaking last March and culminating with the grand opening this January. It features seven classrooms, two offices, a conference room and an upper level, which is ready to house a Media Center.
“It’s been a perfect addition for us right now, and it’s just been tremendous," Hall added.
The building has all the amenities students and teachers could hope for, including a seniors-only lounge, outdoor patio, canteen, and state-of-the-art desks and Smart Boards.
Now upper-class students, who previously had to share classrooms, locker spaces and common areas with underclassmen, has a place to call their own. Likewise, teachers without permanent classrooms, who had to wheel their supplies on carts from one room to another, also have their own work and teaching areas.
“It hasn’t been a question of adjustment, it’s just paradise,” English teacher Joyce Brown said. "I finally have a classroom that’s all mine. I can organize it, I have a closet – it’s just beautiful.”
The project most likely marks the ends of major expansions for the school, since much of its boundaries are restricted from development because of wetlands.
But Phase Two of the project, which includes opening the new media center, is still incomplete, pending more funding; Hall has a tentative deadline of August to complete the project.
The school has an ongoing capital campaign to raise money to equip the media center and ready it for opening. The school is soliciting families of students, alumni and friends of Canterbury School in its capital campaign.
"Participating in this campaign will help provide outstanding facilities for current and future students. Support this important effort now," says a message on the school's website, where people can make donations online.
“If anyone wants to donate to the cause," Hall says, "they can contact me.”