You might say it was a night to remember; but for the more than 900 people in attendance, it was more like a night of remembering. On January 28, Principia families, alumni, and community members gathered to celebrate the grand opening of the new Bill Simon Field House on the Principia School campus.
Featuring ribbon cutting ceremonies for each of the 20 named spaces (many in honor of extraordinary coaches, leaders, and mentors in Principia School's history) and remarks by luminaries and honorees, including Chief Executive Barbara Blackwell (HON'22), Head of School Dr. Merry (Pease) Sorrells (C'79), honoree Jane (Herrmann) Harrison (US'78, C'82), and a rousing keynote by former Trustee and Chief Executive Stuart Jenkins (US'78, C'83), the day commemorated the spirit of love, teamwork, competition, and excellence that has characterized Principia’s athletics program for over a century.
Approximately 700 Principia alumni, parents, and supporters turned this dream into a reality. While the 89,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility generated plenty of buzz—NBC affiliate KDSK proclaimed it “the most impressive facility in the state,” adding, “we haven’t seen anything like it at a St. Louis high school”—the Principia community remained focused on the qualities embodied by its namesake and the numerous character educators honored within.
Expounding her singular approach to character education, Jane Harrison likened children to flowers, growing from bud to blossom. “The job of coaches and educators is to give students the space to express their innate capabilities,” she said, adding, “I see my job as giving them a little water and a lot of sunshine.”
At the ribbon cutting for the Brian Morse Team Room, former students, players, and family gathered to reminisce and reflect on the man many of them considered a transformative figure. Two former players and captains, Keith Stone (US’81) and Jordan Poznick (US’90 C’94), spoke of Coach Morse’s combination of grit and kindness. “The man embodied grit before the term was overused,” Poznick stated.
And in the final speech of the evening, Jenkins reflected on the significance of naming the field house after Coach Simon: “Putting Bill’s name on this building is a permanent act of service,” he proclaimed. “But we cannot honor him simply by putting his name on a building. If we want his name to mean something, we need to embody the qualities that made Bill, Bill.”