Gift enhances education at Westchester | Life

As I traverse the beautifully tree-lined road on my way to Westchester Country Day School, I think of one of my favorite poems, written by Robert Frost, “The Road not Taken.” The ending of that poem reads, “Two roads diverged into a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” Education is a key to taking that road.

As I arrive on the beautiful Westchester campus, my heart is full as I imagine the many lives uplifted through education. The school is in a magnificent country setting located within High Point but also near the perimeters of many Piedmont Triad communities.

I don’t remember the last time, if ever, that I had visited Westchester Country Day School, but this was for a very special occasion. It was to celebrate education and the generosity and vision of a High Point family.

My destination on campus was the library. As I entered, construction materials abounded, ladders stood tall among the exposed ceiling pipes. The renovation had begun. This was the reason for the celebration. It was to dedicate the transformational Qubein Education Center. High Point University President Nido Qubein and first lady Mariana Qubein committed $1 million to transform the traditional media center into a modern learning hub. This includes a robotics lab, a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) center and other versatile areas to foster learning and creative projects.

All the Qubein children — Ramsey, Deena, Cristina and Michael — attended Westchester Country Day. Several of their grandchildren currently attend the school.

My friend Susan (Andrews) Fagg is the director of development at Westchester and served as emcee for the event. Susan has a 24-year history with Westchester as both a parent and staff member. Most recently, she directed the school’s annual fund and previously served in several roles, including assistant director of development, special events and parent engagement. I didn’t realize that.

With the entire Qubein family listening, well most of them, as the toddlers, well, were toddlers, and “quiet time” was not yet in their vocabulary. Fagg thanked the visionaries of the transformational education center, “Dr. Qubein and his lovely wife, Mariana.” She welcomed the rest of the Qubein family, Ramsey, Deena and her husband, Dr. Brad Samuel, Cristina and her husband, Cole Buckfelder, and Michael and his wife, Morgan (Miller). She did not even attempt to name the young grandchildren, who she referred to as “the grands.” The Qubein family were coordinated, donning the blue-and-white color theme, the official school colors of Westchester Country Day School Wildcat nation.

She introduced Mary Keever, the interim head of school, Tom Van Dessel, the chair of the school board, Amy Caputa, director of library and media, Windley Dunbar (Smith & Dunbar), Peter Freeman (Freeman Kennett Architects) and Terry Andrews, director of technology.

Keever said, “Dr. and Mrs. Qubein have passed on the gifts of loyalty, service, kindness, and academic curiosity to their children. We are grateful that you share these gifts with us and are continuing to make our Wildcat nation even stronger.”

Keever then told of a tradition in the construction industry, “It comes from Northern Europe and symbolizes the transition.” That tradition is the signing of a construction beam that is placed in a pivotal spot of the new structure. Keever added, “This beam symbolizes the strength of the Qubein’s family commitment.”

Qubein said, “Our family is proud to contribute to Westchester, a school that aligns with our belief in the transformative power of education by emphasizing critical thinking, creativity, and innovation. These are the skills we emphasize in the students at High Point University, and we are pleased to see Westchester also committing to teaching the life skills that will prepare students for a successful future.”

Qubein’s commitment to education is not limited to Westchester. He recently through HPU invested in public school education with a large grant to Oak View Elementary School to upgrade its media center. Oak View is the school where I serve as a high-impact tutor. That generosity symbolizes a belief in the young scholars’ futures. I and everyone at Oak View Elementary are extremely thankful to Qubein and HPU. Just like the renovated library at Westchester, the upgraded media center at Oak View Elementary will inspire students in creative thinking in their educational journey. I love all my scholars at Oak View Elementary. Many of them receive a “good morning” bark as they arrive at school from Bailey the Yorkie and a friendly wave from his owner, who faithfully walks him and says that, “Bailey loves to wear his adorable sweaters.”

A ceremonial HPU check to Oak View was presented during the last men’s home basketball game of the regular season. Oak View Principal Bennie Bradley and Assistant Principal Erin Johnson accepted the generous check with much gratitude. Also receiving checks that evening were the High Point Fire Department and the United Way of Greater High Point. In addition, HPU students give over 500,000 hours of community service to local organizations each year.

The basketball game was a whopper, so close, and HPU eventually won in a nail-biting overtime. The game also saw HPU being crowned the regular season Big South Conference champions. Coach Alan Huss pulled off an incredible first season. More about him in a later column.

At Westchester, Van Dessel spoke about the wider implications, “This renovation is of strategic importance as we see what’s happening in the Carolina Core. People are moving into this area. We’re trying to attract families. The competitive advantage for High Point and for our school is to provide these opportunities, show that there are options in education, and so these types of projects are critical.” He thanked Qubein as a visionary in our community who gives support financially but also with a passion. Van Dessel added, “Dr. Qubein has a passion for helping us and challenging us to think bigger and be better than we are today.”

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