Lower School and Solly School Building Dedication
An internal dedication at the lower school was held to give glory and honor to God for the completion of the space and celebrate the families that made the new wing a reality. The largest capital project in the history of Lipscomb Academy and Lipscomb University, the Stephens and Griffith families donated $16.5 million towards building the 22,000-square-foot addition at the lower school which includes the new Solly School.
Amanda Price |
In April 2019, Lipscomb Academy broke ground on the new facility on Harding Place which now houses the fifth-grade wing, learning commons, dining hall, academic learning center, and the Solly School. Dr. Brad Schultz, head of Lipscomb Academy, reminded the Board of Trustees and special guests in attendance that it is common to underestimate the learning environment. “An innovative and inviting space can boost children’s minds and spirits. Our students have a sense of pride and excitement about their learning space.”
Dr. Schultz specified each new space is significant in how it contributes to the overall learning for the students that utilize it. “The right learning environment can boost the mood of a child, reduce their stress and anxiety, and inspire their minds. We have been fortunate to already see the impact in the classroom this year. And our students have a sense of pride and excitement in this space.”
What happens on the inside of the building and overflows into the classrooms is the most important. In the Solly School, a saying is written on the wall to remind all why Lipscomb Academy stepped into the Solly School. “‘You are fearfully and wonderfully made,’ and it is important for all students to know they belong here,” continued Dr. Schultz. “In the fifth-grade wing, the construction of the flexible learning space and laboratories leads to collaboration, enthusiasm, and exploration. And the Learning Commons has now become the educational hub of the school encouraging creativity and design and the exploration of adventures hidden in the pages of books old and new classics.”
Walt Leaver, vice president for Lipscomb University relations, shared with guests, “The late Bill Stephens was known for giving generously to people and programs that were dedicated to spreading the Kingdom of God. He initiated the conversation with Lipscomb in 2011 and made a $10 million commitment, the largest donation he had ever made to any organization, in honor of his wife Neika Stephens.” Bill witnessed the heart that Neika had for the children at the lower school, and his gift was a testament to the adoration he had for his wife and for his commitment to spread God’s Word through the vessel of Lipscomb Academy, an institution built on Christ.
Due to the pandemic, large group chapels have not been able to occur until this month. At the lower school, Neika was asked to be the first large group chapel speaker for the year, and Neika chose her favorite story to share with the students - the bleeding woman. Neika revealed how the woman used her talents for God’s glory. When Melanie Grogan, director of lower school spiritual formation and mustang life, recounted the story during the dedication ceremony, she said, “The use of Neika’s gifts are for God’s glory, and she shines bright for Jesus.”
Pam and Jim Griffith donated $6.5 million to build the Solly School, an inclusive school for children with disabilities. Named in honor of their grandson Solly Rodan, a pediatric stroke survivor, their daughter Camie Rodan said, “My parents’ passion is to help kids. That generosity, that passion to help kids has just translated into helping children with disabilities because of the impact that Solly has had on our lives. That’s where the Solly School was built out of -- the need to provide an inclusive education for children with disabilities in the Nashville area.”
“In a time when families are desperate for schools to advocate for their children, the Solly School is a place to celebrate and educate students with disabilities,” stated Dr. Janna Woodason, director of the Solly School. Dr. Woodason thanked the Griffiths for being an example of what it means to be root in Christ and for providing the donation to build a school in Nashville for exceptional children.
Melanie Grogan shared, “We pray that all future and current students of the Solly School recognize their identity comes from being a child of God and nothing else. As a school, we seek to provide opportunities for them to grow in every area of their lives, to surpass every limitation that is placed on them and to flourish socially, emotionally, and spiritually. [The Griffith’s] gift was intended to bless [students]” enrolled in the Solly School. “And at the same time, we want you to know as a result of your gift, many, many Lipscomb students’ lives are being touched by our Solly students. You have modeled generosity and inclusion, and it is planting seeds all over our building.”
Dr. L. Randolph Lowry, Lipscomb University president, reiterated, “It takes those to have the vision, those that can be brought into the vision and believe that it can be accomplished, and then it takes those that actually do the really hard work to make it happen.” The vision for the lower school expansion started a decade ago, and Dr. Lowry expressed to Neika Stephens, “If there is an indication of love for the place, your love has been demonstrated in your patience but also our tenacity together as we moved through all of those years to this moment.” To the Griffith, Dr. Lowry thanked them for their extensive generosity and said, “Vision coming behind love - that’s a pretty powerful combination.”
“We are beyond blessed to be recipients of gifts that will have a generational impact on our students from the Stephens and the Griffiths. Their joint vision of the academy and its expansion will introduce countless students and families to the love of Christ. What a blessing that is!” concluded Dr. Schultz.