Cranleigh School opens new academic building named after former headmaster

Tessa van Hasselt and Kate Adie at the opening ceremony of the new van Hasselt Centre academic building at Cranleigh School SUS-190430-092905001
Tessa van Hasselt and Kate Adie at the opening ceremony of the new van Hasselt Centre academic building at Cranleigh School SUS-190430-092905001

A ceremony was held last week to open an innovative new academic building at Cranleigh School which has been named after one of its former headmasters.

The van Hasselt Centre was launched by the chair of governors and guest speaker Kate Adie on Thursday April 25 before crowds of parents and Old Cranleighans who enjoyed tours of the new facility.

Situated at the heart of the school, the modern building - which has been sensitively integrated into the established heritage buildings - will provide a healthy natural learning environment for many new generations of children.

It houses humanities classrooms and is a base for the Cranleigh Futures department, including careers, mentoring and UCAS support, as well as the new communal and cafe spaces for pupils and an English library.

Current headmaster Martin Reader said: “If we think we can influence the world, how bizarre it would be not to consider the influences it has on us. That is why the study of humanities and literature and social science is essential for our future. We are really foolish if we think our future is determined by only scientific or technological understanding.”

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The building has been named after Marc van Hasselt, a teacher of geography and recipient of the Legion d’honneure for his part in the D-Day landings, who was headmaster of Cranleigh between 1971 and 1982.

The building’s plaque was unveiled by his widow, Tessa.

During the ceremony, guest speaker and international journalist Kate Adie, best known for breaking news from global conflict, spoke about the importance of the humanities and liberal arts in building tolerance and preparing pupils to understand the world and its cultures.

She urged pupils to be curious about the world and said manners would get them further in life than almost anything else.

She said: “Conflict and intolerance are a feature of our current society and the rise of the far right and nationalist identities mean that travel is becoming harder, not easier.

“There are more borders now than there were 30 years ago. True global citizenship will come only from cultural understanding and a wish to place one’s humanity above one’s affiliations.”

The event also included the opening of the new Leggitt Library which took place inside the new building.

The dedication included a plaque and seat unveiling, a tribute to former English teacher, Paul Leggitt, who has been described as a ‘brilliant teacher who inspired both the brightest and the more flickering’ by former pupils.

The van Hasselt Centre has been shortlisted for both the education category of the Building Design Awards and the South East category of the Royal Institute of British Architects Awards.


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