With a similar team to last year's, Big Blue has high expectations and will not only look to regain the #1 state ranking, but also win the county and state championships.
Our Pottersville Campus
Photo: An aerial view of the Pottersville, N.J. campus.
June 17, 2021
Dear Members of the Pingry Community,
The festive Commencement celebrations of last weekend have come and gone, and the first, glimmering few days of Summer Break are upon us—congratulations! Before you settle into a well-deserved repose, we would like to first share some momentous news.
We are pleased to share that, following considerable deliberation and due diligence on the part of the Administrative Team and the Board of Trustees, we are in the final stages of acquiring the campus of the Purnell School, located in the Pottersville section of Bedminster Township. This property will serve as an extension of our existing campuses. Recognizing that Pingry celebrated its 160th birthday this academic year, the acquisition is indisputably historic—so, too, we are confident, are the opportunities it will afford for generations of students to come.
Advancing Our Mission
This most recent acquisition of Purnell School’s campus is another pivotal moment in the school's history. The decision, which follows Purnell School’s February 2021 announcement that it will cease operations upon completion of the 2020-21 academic year, after 57 years in operation, is not only firmly rooted in the goals laid out in the School’s 2018 Strategic Plan, it provides a tangible, physical response to it. The 82-acre Pottersville Campus—a 20-minute drive from the Basking Ridge Campus and a 40-minute drive from Short Hills—will provide a unique space for all Pingry students and faculty, K-12, to more profoundly build upon the pedagogical aspirations the school has set forth: immersive, hands-on learning experiences; innovative, place-based education; community engagement; and student well-being.
Scheduled to open under Pingry operations this coming fall, with a multi-year roll-out plan anticipated, the new campus is also a highly cost-effective, time-efficient realization of many components of our long-term buildings and grounds plan. With 22 buildings, the Pottersville Campus will allow us to immediately implement many of our goals for physical plant expansion at a fraction of the time and cost.
Central to Pingry’s story over the last 160 years is how steadily and thoughtfully it has charted its future in order to advance its mission and vision. When the Pottersville Campus became available this past February, the Board of Trustees and Administrative Team, in conjunction with a Task Force composed of a few members of the community, worked from March through May to determine whether the acquisition would indeed propel us forward strategically. Earlier this month, we decided to pursue the purchase. Deliberate, reasoned strategy aligned fortuitously with opportunity, and we seized it. If the 2018 Strategic Plan answers what Pingry’s future holds, and innovative, immersive learning experiences answer how, the Pottersville Campus resoundingly answers the question of where.
Celebrating Our New Campus
A key asset of the new campus, and what especially drew us to the opportunity, is its residential buildings. A former boarding school, Purnell features 125 dormitories and 19 residential houses for faculty and staff, which will allow for short-term student and faculty stays, opening the door to all sorts of deeper, on-site engagements. Class trips, student retreats, cross-division collaboration, global exchange programs, guest artists- and experts-in-residence, leadership training, and faculty and staff housing are just a few of the many uses and opportunities that will be afforded.
Like our Basking Ridge and Short Hills Campuses, the new campus also shares similar attributes—community and collaboration spaces, classrooms and labs, an indoor athletic facility, a performing arts building, a community “quad,” and several athletics fields—all of which will complement and help to advance our robust K-12 programming. As students engage in more immersive learning, they will take more risks, demonstrate intellectual bravery, navigate setbacks, stick with tasks, and discover their own pathways to learning—the Pottersville Campus will open the door to a wholly new dimension of student preparedness for life beyond Pingry.
But we are not only excited by the opportunities this new campus will afford our students. We are thrilled by what it means for our committed, creative faculty. As their collective emphasis on place-based education and experiential learning—learning by doing—continues to grow, they will now have a dedicated, truly unique space in which to explore these approaches further. Empowered to implement their innovative, evolving curricula, they can dream even bigger.
Building Our Community
Nearly 70 years ago, in 1953, Pingry made the first of several bold decisions that would largely determine the school’s success as we know it today. It moved from the Parker Road Campus in Elizabeth to the Hillside Campus. Twenty years later, it merged with Short Hills Country Day School in order to provide a dedicated campus for a lower school. This same year, in 1974, the school made the transition to coeducation, as the girls from the Short Hills Country Day School (which was co-ed) became Pingry students. A decade after that, the school relocated once again, this time to Basking Ridge.
This is Pingry’s story, its strength, and its legacy: At every crossroad in its history, including this one, it has foreseen need, grasped opportunity, and made changes to sustain its growth and deliver on its mission for its students, faculty, and families.
While our own excitement is no doubt apparent, we recognize that this is significant news for members of our community to take in. Questions and concerns will arise, most notably, we anticipate, surrounding tuition and enrollment. Please rest assured that no increases on either front are taking place at this time; indeed, no increases are necessary. The acquisition of this new campus, which occurred after a great deal of deliberation, represents a sound and responsible financial decision, one that was made with the fiscal health of the school top of mind.
Many more questions will follow, we realize, and we look forward to engaging more directly with the entire community to answer them. We will be in touch about upcoming opportunities to visit the campus and engage in discussion once the acquisition is complete; in the meantime, please take a moment to share your initial thoughts in this Google Form.
As Summer Break gets underway, we sincerely hope that this news provides a galvanizing send-off. A timely note worth considering: Last weekend, we celebrated our most recent alumni, the Class of 2021. Among them were 16 Pingry “lifers,” who were about to enter Kindergarten when another significant campus change took place: the construction of the Middle School, which was completed in 2007. In the timeline of Pingry’s history, countless changes big and small have shaped who we are as a school. Despite these changes, we have always been a single community, connected by shared ideals, shared passions, and now, a new, shared campus. While today’s news constitutes but a moment on Pingry’s grand timeline, as we continue to journey along it, we treasure the chance to do so together.
Head of School
Jeffrey N. Edwards '78, P '12, '14, '18
Chair of the Board of Trustees
Ian Shrank '71
Current Vice Chair,
Incoming Chair of the Board of Trustees