On November 20, our hardy Windward families braved crisp but sunny weather to gather as a community for an open house and the naming of Westchester Lower School in honor of Dr. John J. Russell.
The festivities kicked off with a touching outdoor ceremony honoring former Head of School and current Special Projects Advisor to The Windward Institute Dr. Russell. As Head of School, he presided over a period of unprecedented growth for The Windward School, including the opening of the Manhattan campus in 2015, which nearly doubled Windward’s enrollment and expanded access to its transformative program. An anonymous donation, the single largest gift in Windward history, helped realize the construction of the Westchester Lower School campus, and the donor had the foresight to request that the gift honor Dr. Russell’s legacy.
Head of School Jamie Williamson, former board chair Devon Fredericks, and Board Chair Patricia L. Wolff made remarks before dedicating the campus to Dr. Russell and revealing the campus signage. Ms. Wolff expressed, “Dr. Russell has literally changed and impacted thousands of lives, and, as a parent of one of these students, I am eternally grateful.” During his moving acceptance speech, Dr. Russell discussed his lifelong career focus on not only supporting those with language-based learning disabilities but also advancing literacy outcomes for all.
Families were then invited to explore the school and enjoy popcorn, burgers, hot dogs, hot chocolate, and ice cream. In the gym, children and adults availed themselves of the many games and activities provided for the occasion, including air hockey, foosball, skee ball, Ms. Pacman, hoop shooting, pinball, and more. Windward’s sense of community shone through the day’s events, with everyone seeming to relish the opportunity to gather in person and connect with one another.