New $14.5M school raises the bar

Dear Grammar community member, 

“Wow, it’s really happening!”

This is the constant refrain I have heard since the excavators pulled down the Tower Road Campus theatre and removed the parking lot fence and hedge, exposing just how much our campus had grown when we purchased a portion of the residential property to the north. 

Now can we fully appreciate the scale of our One Grammar vision for a unified and expanded Halifax Grammar School on Tower Road – a new, 21st Century home in which our teachers and students come together inspired by our foundational premise to challenge conventional thinking and aspire to excellence.

To be clear, ours is a case of needing, not wanting, a single, new building. In addition to requiring significant repairs, Atlantic Street has been too small for some time now: senior students work in hallways, while prep students overflow into portables. We pay to rent gym and auditorium spaces. 

While a unified and expanded Tower Road campus will improve conditions and eliminate or reduce many existing operating costs, its real benefit will be as the platform on which we pursue the next 25 years of Grammar excellence.

In addition to a state-of-the-art “learning commons,” a double gymnasium, science labs, a media arts room, and collaborative workspaces that support teaching excellence, the new building will also provide Grammar and the broader community new spaces for athletics, the arts, and community events.

The numbers

The project’s capital costs of $14.5 million will cover construction, land purchases, furniture and equipment, professional services, and an appropriate contingency. Always pleased to lead our independent school peer group, ours is almost certainly the largest community investment in an independent school in the history of Nova Scotia.

It is important to note that our contractor, Armour Construction Ltd., is issuing tenders for subcontracts, billing for labour and materials at cost, has capped construction costs, and is running an “open book” project. These measures help minimize costs, eliminate variability for much of the project expenses, and ensure accounting transparency. Savings realized through these measures will be passed on to Grammar. We are grateful to Armour Construction Ltd. for their incredible support.

Your elected Board has approved the One Grammar financial plan and, on behalf of our campaign cabinet co-chairs – Grammar parents Armour Group Ltd. CEO Scott Armour McCrea and KPMG Managing Partner Douglas Reid – I am pleased to report that, so far, we have raised more than 75% (~$11 million) of our capital costs from the following sources:

  • the proceeds of the Atlantic Street Campus sale;
  • a successful and ongoing major gifts campaign;
  • internal funds, and
  • 100% campaign participation of Grammar faculty, staff and board members.

Proudly independent, Grammar has always been, and continues to be, 100% funded by you – our Grammar community members. We receive no government funding and, as such, are free to chart our own course to excellence – as we have done since our twenty-two founders opened the doors almost 60 years ago.

The “quiet” or major-gifts phase of our fundraising campaign is going well, and we are preparing to launch the public campaign this fall – so please stay tuned for more information.

Scholarships and student aid

In addition to mortgaging their homes to purchase the first Grammar School building in 1958, our founders dug into their pockets to cover tuition for some talented students who couldn’t otherwise afford it.

So it is no surprise that there has been significant interest in expanding the campaign to include an endowment for scholarships and student aid – a commitment that started the day we were founded – to recognize and encourage excellence in our four pillar areas (academics, altruism, arts, and athletics), and to ensure Grammar remains accessible to those in our community who have talent but lack means.

Our One Grammar vision is big; it’s time has come, and it’s the right thing to do. But it’s also bigger than just a smart new building on a single campus or helping students to excel.

A vision beyond bricks and mortar

Ours is a vision of Grammar playing a critical role in helping Nova Scotia realize its great potential as a thriving, culturally rewarding place to live, learn, work and play. As Nova Scotians, this is our chance to cultivate the potential of our community’s talented youth, because talent drives generations, organizations, and communities forward toward a brighter future.

During the summer, please take the time to talk to your family and reflect on what Grammar has meant for you and your community.

Have a wonderful summer. I look forward to seeing you at the annual Ice Cream Social on September 14.

Sincerely, Steven Laffoley '84


@HalifaxGrammar #OneGrammar #EngagingExcellence

PS: Please click here to view the media release that we will distribute later today. 

Click here for Grammar’s Engaging Excellence campaign, One Campus vision, and drawings

General project facts:

  • Regional Council approved our plan unanimously, with support from City staff, the Peninsula Halifax Planning Advisory Committee and the Heritage Advisory Committee.
  • The broader Halifax community will benefit from our new gymnasium (league games, tournaments) and theatre/multipurpose room (live performances, meetings).
  • We are preserving and updating our original, historic Tower Road School building.
  • We maintain an open dialogue with you, our neighbours and other stakeholders, to inform you of our progress and to better understand and address your interests and concerns on an ongoing basis.