Pearson Athletic Center Named in Honor of Celebrated Alum

By Emma Caramazza ‘20 and Blair Penn ‘21

Sidwell’s athletic center was recently renamed in honor of alumnus David “Sandy” Pearson ’52, who recently made a five million dollar donation to fund real estate, as well as an additional one million dollars to support the Athletic Director’s position.

Pearson graduated from Sidwell in 1952 and has fond memories of his time at the school. He played on the tennis team, went to social events and enjoyed his classes. Pearson emphasized that the 49 students in his graduating class “were all friends.” 

Pearson’s five million dollar contribution was used to help buy the Washington Home property, a purchase that will facilitate the consolidation of Sidwell’s Lower, Middle and Upper Schools back onto one unified campus site again.  All three schools had been located on one campus until 1963, when the Lower School was forced to move to its current Bethesda campus due to the school’s major expansion. 

“[Pearson is] so generous, that he has given a gift to Sidwell Friends every year since he graduated in 1952,” Head of School Bryan Garman said. 

Pearson thought it was important to have all the schools on the same campus, the way it was when he was at Sidwell. 

“The opportunity to buy the Washington Home and consolidate everyone on Wisconsin Avenue was not to be passed up,” Pearson said. 

When a donor gives to Sidwell, it is usually for a specific cause, Garman said. “There are different ways of giving. There’s the annual fund which goes towards financial aid, and professional development for teachers,” Garman said.  There are also donations like Pearson’s, which are  meant to buy real estate or to fund a faculty member’s position. 

Keith Levinthal, Sidwell’s new athletic director, and Garman both agreed that Pearson’s contribution deserved to be honored. Since Pearson had an interest in athletics, they decided naming the athletic center after him would be the best way to express their gratitude. 

“The new Athletic Center signage on the building exterior and in the lobby highlight the history of the school’s athletic facilities and the generosity of the two people who have been honored with gifts to name the athletic facilities: David Kenworthy ’55 and David “Sandy” Pearson ’52,” Levinthal said. “One quickly sees how grateful [Pearson] is for his Sidwell Friends schooling and the opportunities this education provides. He truly understands the responsibility that alumni have to ensure the school’s future.” 





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