Olney Friends School is growing, thanks to the generosity of a neighboring Quaker congregation.
Several years ago, Stillwater Monthly Meeting gave nearly an acre of land for construction of the former Barnesville Independent Elementary School. A reversion clause in the deed, however, meant the land and the building again became the property of the Stillwater Monthly Meeting after BIES closed.
Stillwater members subsequently decided to transfer the deed for the 15-year-old, 10,000-square-foot structure to Olney.
"We recognize the substantial investment of the BIES board in this property and wish to honor their vision and efforts," the meeting states. "Transferring this building to Olney will allow it to continue to be used for education by a school that shares our values."
The building is situated near the entrance to the Olney campus within walking distance of the Main building and dormitories. School officials have decided to dub the site The Stillwater Science Center at Olney Friends School and to renovate the building to include modern laboratory spaces. Science and math courses are scheduled to begin there in August.
"We at Olney Friends School are enormously grateful to our friends and neighbors at the Stillwater Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends who have given us the priceless gift of space and opportunity," said Olney Head of School Charlie Szumilas. "The former Barnesville Independent Elementary School building offers us almost 10,000 square feet of elementary classroom space that we are repurposing for high school labs and classrooms. This new space will allow us to expand our program possibilities immeasurably."
Founded at Mount Pleasant, Ohio, in 1837 by the Ohio Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, Olney Friends School constructed a new building and moved to Barnesville in 1876. The building was gutted by fire in 1910, but classes continued and the facility was rebuilt. It still serves as the school's main instructional building today. The age of the facilities has limited the school's options for expansion and installation of modern equipment.
"This new space breathes fresh life into our abilities to fulfill our mission," Szumilas said. "We will move science and mathematics out of crowded quarters in the basement of our Main Building and enhance our curricular offerings in the areas of math and science."