A milestone for the Paul R. Cramer Center for the Arts
The Paul R. Cramer Center for the Arts, which opened in 2002, is home to Steward's visual and performing arts. The building, considered one of the finest creative arts facilities in central Virginia, houses the 500-seat Lora M. Robins Theatre, 110-seat Blackbox Theatre, Carolyn R. Brandt Art Gallery, and art and music classrooms for Lower, Middle, and Upper School students.
Sweet Treats and Festivities
On October 5 from 3:30-4:30 p.m., the School will honor the Cramer Center’s 20th anniversary with a schoolwide event. Join us on the Upper School terrace and along the Colonnade for cupcakes and lemonade; musical performances by the chorus, pep band, faculty, and staff; and fun spin-art and mask-making projects! All Steward families are invited; no RSVP is needed.
About the Paul R. Cramer Center for the Arts
In 1997, during the School’s 25th-anniversary celebration, there was a surprise announcement about an anonymous $15 million gift to Steward. At the time, it was the largest single gift ever made to a private day school in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Original documents stipulated that two-thirds of the gift was to be used for a fine arts center named in honor of Paul R. Cramer, who served as Head of School from 1975-94. Thanks to the anonymous donors’ generosity, Wilton Hall, the Athletic Center, and the Cramer Center were built between 1997 and 2002, transforming the campus and the School community.
A Commitment to Future Generations
Director of Development Jenni Booker Baker said, “We continue to be profoundly grateful for the anonymous $15 million gift. A group of inspired donors envisioned and believed in a more robust Steward educational experience and made a commitment to future generations of Spartans. Since then, every day our community enjoys a campus reflected by a love for learning and the arts, where faculty and students gather, lifelong relationships are formed, and experiences lead to exceptional growth for our students.”
She added, “Philanthropy at Steward enables us to reach our potential and beyond. We joyfully celebrate the tradition of giving and are thankful for those who invest in Steward, providing life-changing learning and preparation for our talented and deserving students.”
Spartans of all ages learn in an environment that nurtures creativity, and the Paul R. Cramer Center for the Arts provides the perfect backdrop for artistic expression. The building’s performance spaces, the Lora M. Robins Theatre and BlackBox Theatre, are used year-round by Spartans of all ages. Students can learn about tech design and lighting; stagehands build sets for the School’s theatrical productions; actors shine onstage; choral and band students share their musical talent; and audiences are captivated by a wide variety of inspiring performances. Plus, Spartans in all divisions grace our stages for schoolwide events, including Oratorical, Grandparents and Special Friends Day, and Senior Speech presentations.
A Community Treasure
Lower School Theatre and Upper School Acting Teacher Craig Smith, who started teaching at Steward the year that the Cramer Center was built, reflected on the Center’s impact on the School community.
“Over the years, the growth in the arts at Steward has been tremendous,” he said. “The number of classes in the arts and the number of students taking arts-related classes has always been a point of pride for us. As the School continues to grow, so does the quality of the arts in both performances and graphic works.”
Lower School Visual Arts Teacher Lynn Zinder, who has taught at Steward for 30 years, said the Cramer Center (“my home!”) enriches the Steward community in countless ways.
“Thanks to the Cramer Center, we have so many more programs and opportunities to offer students,” she said. “For example, our budding artists can use the kilns in the Center to create large pieces of pottery.” She added, “Everyone who sees the Center is amazed by it. The space is so important … but it’s the Steward community that brings it to life.”