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The Wayland Community Kicks off the School Year with a Celebration for the Opening of Burnham Hall

Shelley Greenwood `73 and Betsy Burnham Wallman `71 holding the ribbon during the Burnham Hall Ribbon Cutting celebration

On August 20, students from across the U.S. and around the world arrived in Beaver Dam in preparation of the upcoming school year. This fall, move-in day at Wayland Academy looked a lot different than it has in the last three decades...especially for the group of 64 girls entering their junior and senior year—the very first students to wheel their suitcases into Wayland’s brand new, state-of-the-art residence facility. 

Burnham Hall officially opened to the Wayland community on Friday, Aug. 12. More than 100 alumni, trustees, faculty, staff, supporters, and Beaver Dam community leaders returned to campus for the celebration, which was complete with tours of the building and a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony. 

“Wayland is so much more than a school for so many families—including my own,” said Betsy Burnham Wallman. The building is named in honor of her parents, John and Betty Burnham. 

“Living on the Wayland Academy campus as a high schooler gave me—and later on, my daughter—the time and space we needed to discover our own talents and passions. I gained the independence, confidence and preparation to succeed in the college of my choice and in my career. But most importantly, my time at Wayland left me with meaningful friendships with people I’m still close to today.” 

Wallman, who now resides in Madison, graduated from Wayland Academy in 1971. When her daughter, Maya, approached high school, Betsy and her husband, Charles, nudged Maya toward Wayland. 

“The commencement ceremony in 2021 felt just as inspiring and exciting as it did in 1971—maybe even more so!” beamed Wallman. “It’s my hope that this building becomes a space where students for generations will learn, grow, make an impact, and carry on our special Wayland traditions.” 

The two-story, 30,000-square-foot building is centrally located on Wayland’s main campus in Beaver Dam. Burnham Hall has 30 double-occupancy rooms for boarding students, plus a limited number of single rooms for student prefects. Modern two- and three-bedroom faculty apartments are on each floor, featuring oversized windows with bright, natural light. 

As visitors enter Burnham Hall, they are greeted by the main staircase that overlooks the lounge, which features a grand fireplace. 

“The building was designed from the ground up with today’s student in mind,” says Janel Vertz, Burnham Hall owner’s representative and Wayland CFO. “With 75 percent of our students being away from their families for most of the school year, we have the responsibility — and unique opportunity — of ensuring our students not only thrive academically but socially and emotionally too. Burnham Hall is one of four residence halls on campus where students and Wayland can feel safe and comfortable relaxing after class, connecting with peers, and seeking support from a caring adult in a space that feels like home.” 

The planning phase of Burnham Hall began in 2017, with a groundbreaking held in August of 2021. Prior to its completion last month, the main residence hall for girls was Warren Cottage—built in 1888 as the second building on campus. Today, Wayland’s 167-year-old campus consists of 15 buildings across its 55-acre campus. Burnham Hall is the first building in more than 30 years to be added to the campus. 

Burnham Hall is the hallmark of the three-prong Wayland Made campaign, which Wallman co-chairs alongside fellow trustee Shelley Greenwood, Wayland class of 1973, of Chicago. The campaign launched its public phase earlier this year with a goal of raising $10 million, with $9 million committed to date. 

“The Wayland Made campaign is a bold, inspiring reflection of the Academy’s commitment to excellence in education,” said Jason Warnick, Wayland Academy Head of School. “The Wayland trustees, former Head of School Emeritus Joe Lennertz H`86, former Advancement Director Emeritus Judy Hill H`08, HGA Architects (Milwaukee), The Boldt Company, and many others crystalized a formidable vision for Wayland’s future with the inception of the Wayland Made campaign.” 

After Burnham Hall, the second aspect of the Wayland Made campaign is to increase the Academy’s endowment, which drives the Academy as it delivers excellence in education in a dynamic and diverse community. This includes scholarships for local, domestic, and international students, as well as attracting talented and dedicated faculty. 

The third goal of the Wayland Made campaign is a reinvigorated Discovery Hall, Wayland's science education building. Renovations include updated biology labs, as well as a multi-purpose facility equipped with the technology needed to continue preparing Wayland graduates for careers in cutting-edge industries of science and technology. 

Wayland Academy was founded in Beaver Dam in 1855 with the completion of Wayland Hall, which is now a Wisconsin State Historical Landmark. In any given year, Wayland’s small class sizes, rigorous academic program, an array of Advanced Placement offerings, active STEAM program, and global community attract students from all over the world in an innovative and engaging learning environment. 

  • Burnham Hall
  • Wayland Made