Major renovations and campus improvements were made this summer at Blessed Sacrament Huguenot School thanks to more than a $1 million donation from Richmond residents Keith and Kathleen Brower in memory of their granddaughter, Arabella Stuart Brower.
Arabella toured Richmond area schools when she moved with her family to the city in 2012. According to her grandparents, “She fell in love with Blessed Sacrament Huguenot School. The beautiful 40-acre campus, the faculty, the students’ vibe and small class size, were the reasons she chose to attend the school starting in the 8th grade.”
Sadly, she died of an undiagnosed heart condition in September 2015 before graduating, but the outpouring of love and support by her peers in the Class of 2016 greatly moved her family. So much so that the Browers established two full tuition scholarships for female students following in Arabella’s footsteps at the school beginning in 2017. During visits to the BSH campus since then, the Browers saw more that could be done to help students at the school, and they asked what could they do, leading to their most generous gift of support.
Over the summer, the entire exterior of the school was repainted, new windows installed, aging sidewalks replaced, the front entranceway renovated and a host of minor carpentry repairs completed. A state-of-the-art playground was added for students in the lower school. When students came back to classes this fall, they were thrilled.
The technology infrastructure was upgraded with enhanced servers and campus-wide wireless access points. New Chromebooks were provided for more than 60 students as part of a multi-year Chromebook acquisition process that will put students on the leading edge of digital learning. In addition, Smartboards were installed in kindergarten to grade 5 classrooms. The school’s website has also been updated and logo refreshed.
More to Do at the School
A million dollars is a start, but the Browers realize that BSH needs more than that to complete the upgrades to the facilities and classrooms. Multiple other projects include renovating and repurposing the old gym into an arts and science center and student activity/cafeteria facility, refurbishing the tennis courts and locker rooms, replacing roofs, and the list goes on. So beginning in the 2019-2020 school year and for the next three years, the Browers have set up a matching challenge where they will match dollar-for-dollar up to $150,000 a year for all parent, grandparent, alumni, business and foundation grants above an aggregate total of $75,000 per year.
“We have lived all over the world and seen a lot of different schools,” said Keith Brower, a retired Army Colonel. “At Blessed Sacrament Huguenot School there is a unique aura; it’s like coming home every time we are there. At school events we have been extremely touched by the appreciative comments and gratitude displayed by many BSH parents and students – it is a special place.”
Their hope is that this matching challenge will spur giving and provide access to grants from local businesses and foundations that will accelerate the renaissance on-going at what they call “the unknown gem in Powhatan County.” Mrs. Brower said, “It is our hope that this challenge will generate 3 to 4 times the historical annual giving for each of the next three years and continue the momentum at BSH – it is how we want to keep Arabella’s spirit alive at this place that was so special to her and provide the best educational experience for all the children.”
For more information on Blessed Sacrament Huguenot School and to join in supporting additional improvements, contact Head of School Paula Ledbetter, M.Ed. at (804) 598-4211 ext. 516.