On Saturday July 12, 2014, SouthSide Early Childhood Center (SSECC) celebrated its long awaited Grand Opening. While there are still a few things to complete (i.e. the City of St. Louis still needs to finish the right of way project to replace curbs, trees and sidewalks), the building is now up and running. For Oculus and Southside, this has been a journey that started over three years ago. To have a facility that better reflects & supports their mission has been a dream of Southside for well over a decade. The project took many twists and turns and had many hurdles to clear, but on Saturday we all celebrated a lot of hard work, commitment, and dedication by all the participants from donors to staff to the Oculus team that through a lot of creative and tireless work got this project to the finish line.
The building design is a stunning, light-filled school that blends seamlessly with the surrounding architecture while supporting SouthSide’s mission in serving our community. The new entry area is flanked by an open stair to the upper level and includes a check in desk and the SSECC history wall. The new building gives the staff and program the tools needed to truly support the community. New classrooms allow for teachers to focus their attention on the kids in a really wonderful environment that has an abundant amount of natural light and ample views to the outside. Infant and toddler classrooms open directly to outside play spaces to expand the learning environment to the outside. The new facility now has designated spaces for people and supporting activities such as therapy services provided by the Belle Children's Services of the St. Louis Arc. The design features state-of- the-art classrooms, an interior play and gross motor room, a teaching kitchen for the children, support spaces such as laundry facilities as well as administrative offices, staff lounge, training facilities, nature-oriented playground with vegetable and herb garden and numerous opportunities for learning.
The Grand Opening featured several key Board Members, the Executive Assistant to the Mayor of the City of St. Louis, Tom & Carol Voss Honorary Capital Campaign Committee Chairs/major donors as well as the Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster.