St James expansion taking shape

November 24, 1997


Staff Writer

ST. JAMES - A $4.5 million expansion of St. James School, driven by a steady student population increase, is taking shape at the 155-year-old private facility.

The centerpiece of the project is a new $2 million library that will accommodate future growth, school officials said. The expansive, richly decorated building has 18,000 volumes, but has a capacity for 25,000 books, school officials said.

The ground level of the library, which opened Oct. 13, has classrooms and display areas for the school's archives.

St. James was forced to close during the Civil War because the conflict drained the student body, according to school officials.


Among the school's artifacts are journals written by the school's founder, John Barrett Kerfoot. In the journals, Kerfoot talks about taking food to soldiers during the Battle of Antietam, said Jane DiGirolamo, director of development at St. James.

Other improvements to the school include renovations to Powell Hall, where the library used to be located, expansion of Kemp Hall to include a student activity center, renovation of the Laidlaw Infirmary and construction of a $1 million girls' dormitory.

St. James initially was a boys' school, but began accepting girls 17 years ago. The school began accepting girls as boarders seven years ago.

Those changes, coupled with the addition of the seventh grade, have increased the school's population from 130 to 185, said Headmaster Stuart Dunnan.

"The school has gone through a real revival in the last five years," said Dunnan.

The girls' dormitory, still under construction, will be able to house 50 students, school officials said.

The money for the project was donated by friends of the school. Donations were tracked on a replica of a large curved window in the new library. Each pane of the window represented a "window of opportunity" for donors to give up to $10,000 to the school.

Although associated with the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Maryland, St. James School accepts students from all backgrounds. Officials said the school has avoided "academic elitism" prevalent in some similar schools by accepting youths with good character who are willing to work hard.

The school's mission is to provide a superior college preparatory education for students. Tuition ranges from $9,800 for day students to $16,800 for boarders.

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