On the morning of January 9, 2019, a crowd of St. Mark’s community members gathered outside of a gleaming new building. After years of planning and construction, the Winn Science Center was ready to be opened. Just before cutting the ribbon, Steve Winn ’64 addressed the audience: “I’ve seen what you are capable of over the past 50 years. Now it’s time to think about the next 50 years and the thousands of young dreamers who will delight us by graduating from this institution and change our future forever.”
In the year since Steve Winn made those remarks, Marksmen have begun to realize the limitless possibilities provided by the Winn Science Center.
Over the course of 365 days, the Winn Science Center transformed from an empty building into an integral part of daily life on campus. Its hallways, labs, and classrooms are alive with energy as Marksmen and their teachers explore their curiosities and expand their minds.
“It’s hard to overstate the impact the Winn Science Center has had on our science program," said Fletcher Carron, Stephen M. Seay ’68 Science Department Chair. "Across the board, our classes and activities have been elevated to a new standard of excellence. Our teachers have loved the modern teaching spaces and the extra support available for their programs. Combined with the opening of the McDermott-Green Science Building, these facilities have ushered in a new generation of science education at St. Mark’s.”
Since its opening, the Winn Science Center has sparked a thrilling expansion of the St. Mark’s science program. Modern classrooms and labs have elevated the quality of daily lessons, from updated audio/visual tools to collegiate level laboratory technology. The Addy Family Maker Space and Mosle Family Workshop have filled with STEM equipment, from computer kits to laser cutters, as Maker Space Director Stewart Mayer encourages boys to meld science with imagination. For the first time in St. Mark’s history, Lower Schoolers are learning science in the same building as the “big guys,” under the guidance of Lower School Science Specialist Matt Dillon.
While this building is first and foremost a science center, it has also truly become a community space. The study areas in the Winn atrium and the glass connector are always buzzing with student collaboration and study. The spacious lobby, with its wrap-around balcony and giant video wall, is capable of hosting large events, such as the BEST Robotics Competition Kickoff. With all-new technology, the planetarium has become a multi-discipline teaching tool, offering educational programs that extend into history and humanities. In the past year, the planetarium has hosted more than 125 shows for both students and guests from across the Dallas area, including local schools and Scout troops. Just last month, Planetarium Director Dr. Steve Balog presented several holiday-themed planetarium shows for the public, welcoming more than 330 guests.
Following the October 2019 tornado, the Winn Science Center was integral to St. Mark’s ability to quickly resume classes and activities. As Decherd Auditorium and the Black Box Theater undergo repairs, the Science Lecture Hall has become the largest indoor meeting space on campus. A slate of events, from Senior Exhibitions and class meetings to drama rehearsals, have been relocated to the Lecture Hall. The Fourth-Grade Drama Program held its November production of Shakespeare at the foot of the stairs in the Winn lobby – the perfect setting for Romeo and Juliet’s famous balcony scene. After the tornado destroyed hundreds of trees across campus, environmental science teacher Dan Northcut ’81 collected fallen bur oak acorns. He then showed the first-grade class how to plant those acorns in the Arthur Douglas Greenhouse. In a decade, when those Marksmen walk across the Commencement stage, their acorns will have grown into saplings and may even replace the trees that were lost.
At the Winn Science Center's ribbon-cutting ceremony in January 2019, Eugene McDermott Headmaster David W. Dini addressed the Marksmen in the audience: “Boys, this building is for you. Make the most of it. Dream big. The future is truly in your hands.”