About 400 students, staff, parents and guests were present Thursday morning as Quest Academy, an independent school for gifted students located in Palatine, officially opened its new West Campus with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The addition of the 3.68-acre outdoor West Campus at 530 N. Plum Grove Road more than doubles the school's footprint and enables the school's faculty to "bring what we do inside to the great outdoors," said Head of School Ben Hebebrand.
The campus includes an amphitheater for performing arts and storytelling; an athletic field; a court for basketball and racket sports; outdoor classrooms featuring growing gardens; and an open-area shelter, among other features.
Faculty members plans to use the outdoor campus for activities including investigating microscopic organisms; learning the French and Mandarin Chinese names of flora and fauna; sketching, drawing and painting objects in nature; and physical education.
"I truly believe that this expansion in these economic times is a testament to the relevance and need of our mission," Hebebrand said.
"The evidence suggests that children who have the opportunity to engage in outdoor learning as well as regular physical activity can experience enhanced cognitive capacity," he said. "If turning off the electronics can help turn on the brain, we believe an entire campus dedicated to such enrichment will be an incredible resource for gifted education at Quest."
At the groundbreaking last spring, the school announced a campaign to raise $1.5 million to help pay for the campus.
"Early gifts to the 'Take Root' campaign have already put this effort above $1 million -- a great indicator of the community's passionate support for expanding Quest Academy's footprint to include outdoor learning facilities," said Campaign Chair William Markey, who also serves as the school's Development Committee chair. "We are well on our way toward reaching our goal to raise in excess of $1.5 million."
Founded in 1982, Quest Academy serves more than 290 students, with a faculty and administration of 54. The independent day school for children from preschool through eighth grade admits students who show evidence of exceptional intellectual capability. It prepares them for competitive higher education programs and productive professional careers while inspiring a lifelong love of scholarship and appreciation of the arts.
For information, visit questacademy.org.