When Head of School Tom Main moved to the Ridgefield Academy campus in July 2018, he immediately identified a need to resurface the aging turf field which had long surpassed its 10-year life expectancy. He shared his plan with the Board of Trustees and parents in the school community and within a year’s time, a major gift effort was underway. Thanks to the support of a handful of generous donors, today a newly resurfaced field, filled with environmentally-responsible, acrylic-coated sand, provides a state-of-the-art athletic facility for students in the private preschool-grade 8 school.
Plans for the new field and fundraising campaign were drawn in fall 2019. Of particular interest to donors was the removal of the crumb rubber infill, which is consistent with the Academy’s on-going efforts to make environmentally appropriate choices in the best interest of the community. Director of Facilities and Security Larry Curry comments, “We were interested in moving away from the crumb rubber infill that is present in many of these turf fields. We researched a number of infill options such as cork, coconut shell, and olive pit filling, each of which required specific maintenance and upkeep. We landed on using an antimicrobial, acrylic-coated sand infill that offers a superior playing surface with minimal maintenance. It’s the top-of-the-line infill for turf fields.”
With funding in hand by Spring 2020, work on the field began during the summer, and was completed just in time for the start of the new school year. “The timing could not have been more perfect,” states Clinton Howarth, Head of Middle and Upper School. “With school back in session full time, having a resurfaced field provides students with a place to expend some energy, take much-needed mask breaks, and engage in athletic activities that adhere to our current safety guidelines.”
Earlier this month the school invited donors to campus to enjoy a physically-distanced ribbon-cutting ceremony. Named Heus Field after Jim Heus, the Academy’s first head of school, donors marveled at the soft surface, bright new lines, and beautiful surrounding landscaping. “Now more than ever, people want to be outside but also in a warm and welcoming environment,” commented Rachel Sondheimer, Chair of the Board of Trustees. “The new Heus Field at Ridgefield Academy serves this dual purpose for our students and our families as well as the broader community. It also brings out the kid in all of us. You get down there and can't help but want to run around.”
Students from preschool to middle school now enjoy the field nearly every hour of the day. “One of the many great things about Ridgefield Academy is the tremendous support we receive from our parent community,” comments Tom Main. “Parents join our community by choice, and know that by opting in they play an integral role in helping to enhance the educational experience for every child. That role includes everything from volunteering at school events to helping to provide funding to support mission appropriate initiatives for the school. The challenges that COVID-19 has brought reminds us of the value of teamwork, and this project, which was a team effort in every way, is a perfect example of that.”
Heus Field is also home to a number of local athletic teams and clubs such as Ridgefield Youth Field Hockey, CT Wolves Lacrosse, Prime Time Lacrosse, and Westchester Warriors Lacrosse who rent the facility for team practices and tournaments. For more information about facility rentals, please contact Paul Desiano: pdesiano@ridgefieldacademy,org or 203-894-1800 x115.
For more information about Ridgefield Academy or Landmark Preschool, call Associate Head of School and Director of Enrollment David Suter at 203-894-1800 x112 or visit www.ridgefieldacademy.org (K-Grade 8) or www.landmarkpreschool.org (Preschool 2s - 4s).
*Image caption: Rachel Sondheimer (Board Chair) and Tom Main (Head of School) cut the ribbon during a recent donor ceremony celebrating the resurfacing of Ridgefield Academy's Heus Field.