Hillel Day School has begun an “Open Space, Open Minds” athletic capital campaign to help fund the expansion and enhancement of Hillel’s outdoor athletic facilities.
Currently, Hillel lacks a quality field that students can use year-round and after inclement weather, said Amy Schlussel, Hillel’s Director of Advancement — Admission & Giving. The current field is also uneven, and Hillel students need a safe playing surface for athletes of all ages.
The project includes replacing the current grass with synthetic turf and enlarging the size of the current field to accommodate 11 versus 11 soccer play. The all-season field will be 107 yards long and 72 yards wide, large enough to accommodate Hillel’s sports teams, yet flexible enough to host youth sports teams. These upgrades will improve safety, extend usage, enhance competitiveness and engage community use. The field will be multi-use, which means it can accommodate soccer, lacrosse, football and field hockey, just to name a few. The field will be funded by the Sue and Alan Jay Kaufman family.
Another major feature of the campaign will be the addition of two multi-purpose courts. These courts will provide the opportunity for students to play basketball, volleyball, pickleball, floor hockey, four-square and other gross-motor sports. These multi-purpose courts will be funded by Lori and Maurice Pogoda.
“That will be fenced in so that it also allows our youngest learners to be out in the front playing without the fear of the ball or kids going into the parking lot,” Schlussel said.
A major feature of the campaign is the installation of a new track. Currently, Hillel does not have a standard running track. Once completed, Hillel will have a two-lane track surrounding the athletic field.
The Little Red Schoolhouse, a historical landmark, is synonymous with Hillel Day School, once housing kindergarten. After a recent flood, the schoolhouse has sat dormant. Included in the athletic campaign is the plan to convert the Little Red Schoolhouse into a hub for athletic support and activity. The kitchen and bathrooms will be updated to allow for student-led concessions and spirit wear sales and to also serve as a renovated meeting place for students, parents and staff.
A goal has been set to raise $3 million by Sept. 1. All donations will be matched by the Kaufman family. The campaign went public June 1 and has already raised $2 million.
Schlussel believes the project is a game-changer and something that’s been on the minds of school leaders for a while.
“Since 2014, we’ve renovated every inch of the school on the inside to make it a tool for 21st century learning with our vision to be innovative and creative; the outside should be the same,” Schlussel said.
“With the pandemic, we’ve seen how important it is for kids to be outside and active and the benefit it has for mental health,” she added. “Our tagline is, ‘Mind and soul. Better together,’ and this is why the athletic campaign is ‘Open Space, Open Minds.’ We want the kids to be outside much more and have usable space.”
Hillel is inviting the community to make a meaningful gift at any of the giving levels, with numerous naming opportunities and all donors recognized on an outdoor donor installation. To give, visit www.hillelday.org/giving/open-space-open-minds-athletic-capital-campaign or contact Amy Schlussel at (248) 539-1484.