Griffin Reveals Plans to Improve Facilities

Dollar Zhu and Neville Lee

In an interview with the Magnet, Head of School Steve Griffin revealed plans to improve our campus that include both programs to better support our international students and facilities to provide students more comfort and opportunity.

In the past year, the MacDuffie community has undergone a self-study preparing for a committee from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges to judge the school for accreditation.  In this self-reflection, the faculty started to pay more attention to supporting students of different backgrounds.

“Every one of our teachers should be a student support and ELL teacher inside of their classroom to integrate students who are learning English and support students who need support,” said Griffin.

Therefore, the MacDuffie teachers will have 15 hours of ELL training this school year, which is covered through a half day in August, half days in January and June and three additional faculty meetings this year. In partnership with an educator from UMass Amherst, the program is directed by ELL Department Chair Dawn LaRochelle to train our teachers to support international students more effectively.

Other improvements were made on MacDuffie facilities; two new vans were purchased, providing a more comfortable ride for sports teams and the boarding department.

The major projects the school is working on include a turf field and the creativity arts center. Over the summer, MacDuffie increased its land area to a total of 254 acres of land. Some of this space will be used for the turf field that should be built by the spring of 2018.

In addition, MacDuffie has seen a 10% drop in enrollment from last year. This resulted in the decrease in our school’s budget. Griffin elaborated on this situation.  

“Some of the savings had to be budgeted, because we’ve shrunk, and some the staff that left were not replaced. Some items that were budgeted came out of our self-study that were related to the increase in the number of students.”

Many students hope for more improvements in facilities. In an interview, Student Body Vice President Paul Oh brought attention to problems such as space.

“We should build more for students and seniors as well. The small area, the senior lounge, there is no point, there is nothing different from the student center.” Paul suggested that there be an additional designated area for students to spend time with friends. As a border, he also mentioned having air conditioning in the sweltering dorms at night and a greater selection of activities for boarders on weekends.

Paul also noted the change MacDuffie has undergone in three years. He mentioned that improvements in the cleaning staff, the water fountains, and the faculties have attempted to improve the lives of everyone in the community.

In speaking to Griffin, there is of course is a process that needs to be undergone before changes are confirmed. It would start with the approval from the owners of the school, and then the building of the plans and framework.

“I think that the facility needs to match the quality of the education. When people choose to come to MacDuffie right now, it’s all about the people. They get a sense of connection,” Griffin said, explaining the drive for change.

“The issue is the people that don’t choose us, are probably taking a first look at the facility and not getting to that deeper level of understanding the people here.”

There is common agreement in understanding that change needs to be made in our community to make the school a better place for all of us, and MacDuffie has taken progressive steps to improve the facilities for the student body.