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Manlius Pebble Hill to construct new $2.8 million learning center

DeWitt – Manlius Pebble Hill School plans to build a $2.8 million state-of-the-art library, media and technology center on the east side of its DeWitt campus, overlooking the lower soccer field and joined to the existing science center.

The project is being paid for through a capital campaign that has raised $9.7 million for the school’s endowment, along with campus construction and renovations.

School officials say the new center will be designed for the way students today gather information and learn in the 21st century. It will incorporate flexible information-gathering and study spaces, a multimedia and distance learning classroom, group study rooms and an adaptable technology infrastructure.

It will be named in honor of Bradley McNeil, a former student who died in a motorcycle accident in Spain 11 years after graduating from MPH in 1993.

Construction on the nearly 9,300-square-foot building, known as a “Learning Commons” will start in June and should be completed before the start of school in fall 2014.

It will incorporate numerous “green” features, including infiltration devices to absorb and filter storm water collected from the roof., windows with light shelves that reflect and diffuse a portion of natural sunlight; and energy-efficient interior lighting which will automatically dim artificial lights as natural sunlight enters through the windows.

This is the second new building to be financed by the schools’ capital campaign. The school’s Center for Early Learning, which opened in 2006, houses the MPH pre-K and kindergarten program.

Fundraising continues for construction of a student center expected to open in the fall of 2014, along with a new playground and campus renovations. Further construction – including a second gymnasium and a new performing arts center – is included in the school’s extended master site plan.

Scott Wiggins, head of school at MPH, says the design of the new building reflects a global shift toward education that relies on collaboration and technology.

Students “success in the world will depend on that ability to share information and work in tandem with others to innovate and problem solve,” he said. “Our new Learning Commons will be the hub of academic endeavors of all kinds, including online and distance learning. “

For example, MPH plans to join the Malone Schools Online Network, a consortium of 48 independent schools, which will allowi MPH students to take courses offered by other member schools in real time with students across the country.