Opening the Doors

Hundreds of students, faculty, parents, alumni, Trustees, and friends gathered on the morning of January 9, 2019, in front of the north entrance of the new Winn Science Center, for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the 50,000 square-foot facility. The moment marked the culmination of the first phase of a multi-year building project and the next step in St. Mark’s commitment to providing outstanding facilities that inspire innovative research, instruction, and learning.
“Today is indeed an incredible milestone for St. Mark’s as, once again, we reach for the stars, renew our commitment to innovation, and look to the future with a genuine sense of hope and optimism,” said Eugene McDermott Headmaster David W. Dini. “Boys, this building is for you. Make the most of it. Dream big. The future is truly in your hands.”

David then introduced Steve Winn ’64, who, together with his family, provided the seed gift that ignited a dream and inspired 60 other families to support the Science Center Project. Steve thanked donors and project leadership for their generosity and highlighted the impact St. Mark’s had in his own life. “When I came to St. Mark’s, I didn’t realize that this place is not just about getting an education – it’s about developing what really matters in life: character, education, fitness, friends, passion, persistence. This building is a physical structure and its construction is amazing. However, it is sterile and inanimate, until you add the faculty and the boys who will blossom into young men under its stars.”

The Headmaster invited members of the Winn Family, Board of Trustees President Clark Hunt ’83, Stephen M. Seay ’68 Science Department Chair Fletch Carron, and Student Council President Landon Wood ’19 to join him in cutting the ribbon and welcoming the boys into their new building.

The Winn Science Center’s modern classrooms, laboratories, greenhouse, maker space, lecture hall, and theater-style planetarium are among the environments that will serve as incubators for students to explore disciplines including engineering, robotics, DNA science, bioengineering, and computer science. The world-class facility will also serve as a gathering space for Marksmen and faculty.

The Winn Science Center stands in the footprint of the former C-Wing of the Science and Mathematics Quadrangle, built in1961 through the leadership of Eugene McDermott and Cecil H. Green, Texas Instruments Co-Founders and former Presidents of St. Mark’s Board of Trustees. Those facilities and others inspired TIME magazine to call St. Mark’s the “best equipped day school in the country.” It was the Quadrangle that sparked a young Steve Winn’s desire to become a St. Mark’s student nearly 60 years ago and fostered his passion for education. “My dream formed the first time I saw it,” said Steve, “and I became fixated on becoming a part of St. Mark’s.”
    • The Class of 2028 tours the new Winn Science Center.

      The Class of 2028 tours the new Winn Science Center.

The Quadrangle also inspired Alan Stern ’75, Principal Investigator of NASA’s New Horizons mission, which has explored Pluto and beyond. Upon learning of today’s opening ceremony, Dr. Stern, while still traveling the world sharing data from his team’s historic flyby of Ultima Thule, shared these sentiments: “The Winn Science Center is going to be an amazing resource for all young Marksmen, but most particularly so for those interested in STEM. What a great milestone the opening represents!”

The ribbon-cutting ceremony marked a major step forward for St. Mark’s. With the 50,000 square-foot Winn Science Center now open and occupied, crews have begun renovating the existing 25,000 square-foot McDermott-Green Physical Science Center. The entire project should be completed in time for the start of the 2019-2020 school year.

The Winn Science Center will benefit students beyond the sciences and beyond St. Mark’s. Within the copper dome, the new 80-seat state-of-the-art planetarium will allow teachers to transport students into the stars and much more, with programs available for every subject from biology to history. With one of the few planetariums in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, St. Mark’s expects to welcome students from across the community. Local teachers participating in the St. Mark’s Teacher Institute will also have learning opportunities in the building, as will DISD middle-school students who attend the tuition-free St. Mark’s Brendan Court ’06 Summer Enrichment Program.

Photos: The First Week in the Winn Science Center