Campus Seasonal Shots
Campus Seasonal Shots
Campus Seasonal Shots
Campus Seasonal Shots
Maintaining a Beautiful Blair
Ashley Schreyer

Picturesque.
Scenic.
Idyllic.
Members of the Blair community can describe campus in many different ways. As the end of the year hustle and bustle weaves into daily life at the School, it is important to take a breath, look around and realize how fortunate it is to call this place home.

No visitor to Blair Academy can leave the hilltop without remarking on the beauty of the 463-acre campus. A few years ago, Architectural Digest named Blair among the most beautiful private high schools in the United States. With a rolling golf course, 11 dorms, state-of-the-art athletic and educational facilities, faculty housing and everything in between that Blair has to offer, only one question remains: Who takes care of it all?

To find the answer, we sat down with Facilities Director Dave Schmitt. After 30 years working at the School—from the Canteen to the business office to facilities—Dave has seen his fair share of all things Blair. In chatting with him and Grounds Supervisor Dan Andrus, a clearer picture formed of all the hard work and effort that goes into making Blair the well-manicured institution it is today.

Q: Blair is a massive campus. Who takes care of everything?

A: [Mr. Schmitt] In the maintenance department we have an electrician, a plumber and four general maintenance guys who take care of everything from painting to carpentry. The Boiler House Heating Plant has a crew of four and Jonathan maintains the sewer plant.

[Mr. Andrus] The grounds crew consists of Craig Stocker, Kyle Thomas, Dan Celli, Andy Gramberg, Steve Fields and myself. We spread tasks out and work together as a team to try and get everything that needs to be done for the week. You will find Craig on the golf course (even on days he is not working) taking care of most duties associated with keeping the course playable and in great shape. The rest of the guys are responsible for maintaining the athletic fields, trash removal, campus maintenance and anything else that may come about on a normal day. We all take turns working weekends from March to November to take care of golf course duties and to make sure campus is in top shape.

Q: The facilities departments have accrued quite some tenure collectively. What do you attribute that to?

A: [Mr. Schmitt] It’s a good thing. We don’t have a lot of turnover. It’s really a great place to work, there aren’t many places like Blair.

[Mr. Andrus] The team and I had a get together with [Head of School] Peter G. Curran several weeks ago and I think we figured out the total years of working at Blair between everyone on the grounds crew was around 171 years or so. To me that is staggering. I attribute it to everyone on the crew getting along very well and enjoying coming to work at a beautiful facility. We all take pride in what we do and enjoy helping preserve a campus full of history.

Q: Which season is the hardest for the grounds crew?

A: [Mr. Andrus] They all have their challenges, especially when you are fighting Mother Nature. In spring, we see things waking up and starting all over again. During fall, our hard work comes to a peak, and it gives us a good opportunity to repair areas that may need it. Summer can be a struggle—trying to keep everything looking good in the heat and humidity. We put in extra hours during these months in hopes that it pays off later, once everyone returns in the fall. Winter can sometimes be just as busy as the other months. If the weather is conducive, we are out trimming or removing trees. If we are not able to work outside, we are fixing or servicing machinery to get it ready for the next growing season. This is also the time of year where we look at many aspects of the department and see what worked and what didn't to see where we can make improvements. We are always trying to get better.

Q: Describe a typical school day for the grounds crew.

A: [Mr. Andrus] That is a tough one, they never seem typical! We usually try to clean up or check the campus before classes start, and then during the day, we try to accomplish tasks that will not disrupt class. We usually have a list of jobs for the week, and then I just try to figure out where they fit the best with the school schedule and the weather.

Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?

A: [Mr. Andrus] I enjoy that everyday is not the same, which I think helps you keep on your toes. I enjoy looking for potential issues and then trying to come up with a solution that can ultimately make things easier for the crew. I also enjoy the science part of the job, trying to balance nutrients in the soil so that it produces better turf, trees and flowers.

Q: What’s one thing the Blair community can do to show our appreciation for your department?
 
A: [Mr. Andrus] Get out and enjoy the campus and everything it has to offer but don't forget to clean up after yourself when you're done!

Q: Visitors frequently remark on how beautiful Blair is—who deserves the credit?

A: [Mr. Schmitt] It’s everybody, truly. We have pride in our work and the campus reflects that.

As this year comes to a close, we thank Mr. Schmitt, Mr. Andrus and all those who work to make Blair’s community a thriving and beautiful place to live and learn. 
 

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