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Apr 28, 2017

St. Stephen's Celebrates Completion of Moody Foundation Project

On April 26, the St. Stephen’s Episcopal School, Austin, community gathered to celebrate the school’s 20-year collaboration with the Moody Foundation and to dedicate the final phase of the Moody Walk project on campus. The Lower Moody Walk dedication ceremony marked the culmination of four different site projects implemented throughout the past 20 years, beginning with the creation of the first phase of Moody Walk in 1998 and ending with phase four, which was completed in January.

The service of dedication and thanksgiving began with an invocation by Jim Crosby ’70, alumnus and lay chaplain, who called upon those present to offer thanks for the new campus space, which has regenerated the campus landscape by adding pedestrian corridors and campus green spaces from the top of “The Hill” to St. Stephen’s Creek at the lowest point on campus.

Following a reading of Psalm 127 by Ellen Osborne Ray ’86, alumna and executive chair of the board of trustees, Head of School Chris Gunnin welcomed attendees to the new community space. “From the founding of St. Stephen’s, our school community has recognized that being surrounded by God’s majestic kingdom compels us to live noble and sacred lives,” he said. “Today we gather to celebrate the beauty of our campus, to be reminded of our responsibility to care for this earth and our resources, to pull ourselves out of the business of our lives to pause, to reflect, to breathe and to worship. And we gather to thank all those who had a hand in the creation of this special space.

“We especially want to recognize the Moody family’s decades-long dedication to St. Stephen’s,” Gunnin continued. “Among their many gifts, their longstanding commitment to helping shape the slopes, contours and waterways of campus has enabled us to engage in vital improvements to the land while respecting the natural environment.”

Gunnin also thanked Joan Hyde, founder of Resource Design in Austin, who has overseen master planning and landscape design at the school for the past 25 years. Following his remarks, St. Stephen’s chaplain, the Rev. Todd FitzGerald, led the more than 900 attendees in prayer before consecrating Lower Moody Walk. “Peace be to this place and to all who enter here,” he exclaimed.

Following the event, Christine Aubrey, associate head of school for advancement, reflected on the significant campus improvements gained from the Lower Moody Walk project, including handicap-accessible parking, pool access and a picnic area; connection to handicap-accessible routes throughout the rest of campus; a revised roadway for updated emergency access; a large deck adjacent to the pool for school community and competitive swim team use; an attractive new pool fence for enhanced campus safety; and an updated resident faculty parking lot that is safer, more efficient and environmentally sound. 

“Lower Moody Walk encapsulates the important work that we began with the Moody Foundation more than 20 years ago,” Aubrey noted. “Thanks to Joan Hyde’s insights and through periodic updates to the Master Site Plan over time, the guiding principles — to create a compact academic village, replace cars with pedestrian spaces between buildings, capture views of the Hill Country beyond, preserve the Live Oak canopy, and emphasize native plants and indigenous building materials — have remained foundational to campus planning and development, resulting in a campus unity and legibility guided by the land.”