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For Immediate Release
August 27, 2002

Jason Wolfe
(207) 775-5115

Web Site:

Gould Academy Preparing to Open $4.4 million McLaughlin Science Center

Dedication ceremony Sept. 28 to feature student-built robot cutting the ribbon, tours and science symposium; event open to the public

BETHEL, Maine - Gould Academy students will return this fall to find a new, $4.4 million, state-of-the-art science center on campus, made possible by a generous challenge gift from the grateful family of a former student.

When classes begin September 9 at Gould, the new 22,000-square-foot McLaughlin Science Center in Bethel will be among the most comprehensive science-education facilities in Maine and throughout New England.

Long known for its competitive skiing and innovative arts, computer technology, and experiential programs, Gould broke ground in April 2001 on the new center using the school's two yoke-trained oxen hitched to an antique plowshare to highlight the school's deference to the past. Next month, however, in a nod to the future, alumni from throughout the U.S., parents, teachers, community leaders and the public attending the Sept. 28 dedication ceremony will see a student-built robot perform the ribbon cutting.

"It will be a great day, to see the fulfillment of our dreams of a world-class science facility built right here in Bethel, Maine," said Harry H. "Dutch" Dresser, Jr., a 23-year veteran at Gould who serves as the Associate Head of School and is the lead advocate of the advancement of science and technology there.

Challenge Grant Matched by Parents, Alumni and Trustees

The McLaughlin Science Center began with a $2 million challenge gift from the McLaughlin family of Saratoga, California, who will fly to Maine to attend the ceremony. Gould Academy trustees, alumni and parents were already in the middle of a $15,875,000 capital campaign for plant and endowment when word of the McLaughlin challenge arrived. The group embarked on an intense, year-long effort to match the $2 million, which was accomplished in 11 months, enabling the project to be completed on budget and ahead of schedule.

"Glen and Ellen McLaughlin were motivated by the extraordinary two-year Gould experience of their son, Glen W. McLaughlin, who graduated as valedictorian of the class of 1988," said Dresser, who was one of the boy's teachers and mentors.

The younger McLaughlin went on to study electrical engineering at Carnegie Mellon and Stanford universities, earning bachelor's and doctorate degrees, respectively. He is presently the chief technical officer at Novasonics, Inc. in Mountain View, Calif., a developer of high-quality handheld ultrasound units for several medical applications. His father is a prominent venture capitalist who has founded 15 companies and served on more than 30 corporate boards. His mother, Ellen McLaughlin, is herself a former teacher and strong advocate of the teaching of science in secondary schools.

The McLaughlins have supported Gould Academy ever since their son graduated in 1988, the elder McLaughlin having served two terms as a trustee of the school. In a letter to Gould containing an earlier gift from the family, the parents wrote, "This commitment to Gould Academy is done in appreciation of the Gould experience as evidenced by the development of our son during his years in Bethel. We sent Gould a talented but shy child lacking in self-esteem, and he returned to us a confident and accomplished young man."

New science center to boast unique features

When classes get underway in September, students walking into the expansive science center will first encounter the center's new massive celestial sphere, a 900-pound kinetic sculpture made of stainless steel and bronze, resting on a polished granite base. The sphere is similar to those used in the 17th century to teach the concepts of coordinate systems in astronomy. Students and teachers can use it to see and compare the earth's relation to the planets and other celestial bodies from its exact location in Bethel, Maine.

"For centuries it has been recognized that placing the Earth at the center of the visible universe isn't an accurate representation, but this Earth-centered view of the universe has long been used by celestial navigators in determining their positions on the Earth," said Dresser. "If the body is visible through the McLaughlin Science Center windows, you'll be able to sight just past the Earth and the body you've positioned to see the real body in the heavens outside," said Dresser, who designed the sphere and teaches a class in celestial navigation. The sphere design engineer was Richard Slattery of Gilead, Maine, a parent of a current Gould Academy student.

Another unique feature of the new building is the clock face in the 29-foot-high lobby. The clock is the original north face of the Gehring Hall Tower Clock built in 1925 and is made of milk glass containing a mineral (no longer used in glass formation) that creates an orange, amber glow when backlit. Restoration of the clock face as well as the clockwork that tolled the bell in Gehring's tower until just prior to the building's renovation in 1999 was made possible by a major gift of another parent whose son graduated with the younger McLaughlin in 1988.

Also, many of those involved in the design and construction of the new science center have a connection in some way to Gould and Bethel. For example, the general contractor, Bangor-based Nickerson & O'Day, is owned by Jack Kelley, a class of 1961 graduate. And the electrical design engineering firm, Lee Carroll Electrical Engineers of Gorham, N.H., is owned by Lee Carroll, a 1955 Gould graduate. The architectural firm, Smith, Reuter, Lull Architects, is based in nearby Lewiston, Maine, and the principal architect on this project is James Reuter of Bethel.

The McLaughlin Science Center features a 56-seat auditorium, five large lab classrooms (one is home to an on-site ground water testing system), two computer-related labs, a state-of-the-art network systems center, three prep rooms, a seminar room, faculty room, technology office, and a large aquarium and a greenhouse. Eight faculty members will work in the building, and students taking one or more of the 20 science or computer technology courses will attend classes there. The science classrooms used to be housed on the second floor of Hanscom Hall, the main classroom building - in an area less than one-fourth the size of the new center.

Contractor and alumnus Jack Kelley said the new McLaughlin Science Center reflects the character of Gould Academy. "I've been involved in the construction of more than 50 buildings like this in my 35-year career," he said. "None of these facilities has embodied the essence of an institution as does the McLaughlin Science Center. When I'm in the building, I can feel its energy."

Dedication ceremony on September 28 to feature robot, tours, symposium

The daylong dedication event on September 28 begins at 10:15 a.m. with remarks by Headmaster Daniel A. Kunkle and Dr. Harry Dresser, Jr., followed by keynote speaker Dava Sobel, an author (Longitude and Galileo's Daughter) and former science writer for the New York Times.

After Sobel's remarks, Trustee President Alan B. Ordway will speak, followed by Glen McLaughlin, and the robot ribbon cutting ceremony. A science education symposium is slated for the afternoon. Students will give tours of the new building, and refreshments will be served. The event is open to the public and the media.

Founded in 1836, Gould Academy is a private boarding and day school that provides a traditional and innovative college preparatory education to about 230 students in grades 9-12. Nearly half the students are from Maine, another 15 percent from throughout New England, and the remaining from other parts of the U.S, Europe and Asia. The mission of Gould Academy is to inspire young men and women to achieve high standards in their academic, artistic, and athletic pursuits; to demonstrate responsibility to the community; and to explore the natural world.

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(NOTE TO MEDIA: Contact Beryl Wolfe at Wolfe PR, 207-775-5115 or, for photos of the new building or to arrange for photos of the event. In addition, a professionally shot B-roll to be delivered if cannot make it to Bethel for the event. Photos of the labs, building construction process and the current finished front of the building are also available. Additional factual information is available at the Gould logo at Thank you!)

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