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Many Benefits Offered Through Exercise Science Lab at Bridgeport

Photo by Kim North Working on the treadmills are Bridgeport students Kayla Nowakowski, foreground, and Hailee Aubrey.

BRIDGEPORT — The nearly $500,000 Raymond C. Stewart Exercise Science Lab has been up and running inside the Bridgeport Exempted Village Schools building since the start of the school year.

“The Raymond Stewart Exercise Science Lab has offered our students the opportunity to prepare for a wide variety of science-based majors and professions. The lab is a state-of-the-art facility, and it allows for the student to apply their acquired knowledge theoretically and, more importantly, practically,” Bridgeport schools Superintendent Zac Shutler said. “The district is extremely grateful for Mr. Stewart’s generous donation.

“We have recently applied the finishing touches to the lab’s main entrance. You will notice Mr. Stewart’s name and image every time that you enter the lab, and we also included a brief biography on the plaque noting how his love of science led to his many career opportunities. His generosity left a lasting legacy.”

The 2,000-square-foot structure came about when Stewart gifted $400,000 to the district. He was the valedictorian of the Class of 1954 and went on to become a successful patent attorney. A 24-inch by 36-inch pewter-colored plaque will adorn the wall to the right of the lab’s main entrance. The words Raymond C. Stewart Exercise Science Lab will be raised 4-inch letters.

Stewart, who was inducted into the Bridgeport Alumni Association Hall of Fame in 2011, received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Ohio State University in 1958 and his master’s degree in chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley in 1960. Eight years later he was awarded his law degree from Georgetown University, and his patent law career started that same year.

In 1971, Stewart founded his own law firm, together with Joe Kolasch, forming Stewart and Kolasch Ltd. In 1976, Birch, Stewart, Kolasch and Birch LLP was created. BSKB has grown over the years from a very small firm in Falls Church, Virginia, to the No. 3 patent firm in the country.

Stewart, 80, died April 26, 2016, at Inova Fairfax Hospital after battling Parkinson’s disease. The resident of The Virginian Retirement Community was predeceased by his wife, Marie Grace Stewart, in 2009.

“He thought so much of the Bridgeport school district, where he came from and where his education began. He wanted to give back to the district that he felt helped produce his success,” Shutler said of Stewart. “He wanted it to be used in some realm of science, and we are very grateful for that. His life’s work and the money he accrued to give back to the district is something that benefits generations and generations of kids from here on out.”

According to Shutler, the donation came with the stipulation that it had to be used for some type of science and had to be used in the high school.

“As a board and a district, we sat down and thought, ‘What could give the most students here the benefit in the most amount of years?'” Shutler said. “We put all of that into the equation. What will benefit the most students for the longest time? We also looked to see what our district was missing to help kids.

“An exercise science lab was something that we thought would benefit the most kids for the longest duration of time,” he continued. “We’re going to create essentially a living lab, where science teachers can go in there and do biometric experiments where we can use the Apple watches and just connect it to the iPad program to track fitness and movement … a variety a things.

“It will also be set up as a true lab and be used as a classroom to instruct with some light fitness equipment as well.”

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