Most groundbreaking ceremonies involve local dignitaries in hard hats digging in with golden shovels. Waterford Country School's groundbreaking yesterday for its new gymnasium was a much bigger occasion. It involved heavy equipment which dug deep. It seemed fitting.
The Country School, which serves children with special needs from all over the state, has been in need of a new gym for about three decades. Indeed, the Board of Trustees and Executive Director Emeritus David B. Moorhead, who served the school for 30 years, said they'd planned to build it for at least that long.
Moorehead recalled that, when the old "rec center" was damaged by a fire, community members worked together to build a new roof as a "stop gap" until there could be a new gym. At the time, everyone anticipated a new gym would be in place about five years later.
In the intervening years, however, more pressing needs arose. The school needed four new cottages, safe homes, and other school renovations that took priority. Now the campus is beautiful, said Executive Director William Martin, but "more and more the gym stuck out like the school's sore thumb."
Now the old gym, which was a converted barn, is gone and new construction is set to begin. The school anticipates the new gym/activity center will be open in nine months. So far, the school has raised $1,779,771 to build the project, which is about 85 percent of the total cost. Fundraising efforts continue to cover the $503,229 remaining.
The gym is named for football great Otto Graham, who served on the Waterford Country School's Foundation for many years until his death.
"This is a dream fulfilled for Waterford Country School and a dream fulfilled for Otto Graham," said Moorehead.