Botsford School controversy
Posted at: 05/23/2012 5:10 PM
| Updated at: 05/23/2012 6:09 PM
By: Ray Levato | WHEC.com
For years, The Botsford School in Pittsford was the place to learn ballet and classical dance. But the former Botsford building is about to be torn down for expansion at St. John Fisher College and that’s triggered an outpouring of emotion and sadness from former students.
News10NBC heard from former students from all over the country and there’s one theme, it was a special place where the finest teachers in the world came to teach. But the inspiration and vision, Enid Botsford, died and her husband remarried and ended up selling the property to his neighbor, St. John Fisher.
The e-mail being circulated by former Botsford students calls it a great loss to Rochester and the country. They call Enid Knapp Botsford a pioneer, who was way ahead of her time. And the legacy she left is tied to a building now being readied for demolition.
In its place, St. John Fisher will erect the new Victor Salerno Center for American Enterprise, which will house the College's Bittner School of Business.
News10NBC spoke by phone with Debra Bricker who studied dance at Botsford and inspired her artistic experience.
Bricker said, “I've studied and danced all over the world and it was one of the most incredible spaces for dance. You felt special there. You felt better. You were in a beautiful space.”
Janet Wentling, Botsford School of Dance co-director, said, “Certainly it housed tears of joy, frustration, memories, all kinds of experiences for so many people. And that is a shame that any building is torn down.”
Wentling is co-director of the current Botsford School of Dance at its new location in Penfield.
Wentling said, “But that doesn't change. That philosophy can continue. The tradition of teaching and instilling values, the beauty of art, of dance, of ballet, of classical dance training and excellence can still continue.”
Sarah Jane Clifford is the former Botsford student who bought the school.
Clifford said, “We hired the best teachers that we could and have continued the tradition of Miss Botsford. And just because you leave a home does not mean that a family must change.”
The college has used the former dance studio for a variety of offices. St. John Fisher President Dr. Donald Bain says the college appreciates the history and legacy of Mrs. Botsford, but what made Botsford building special for dance could no longer serve the needs of students.
Dr. Donald Bain said, “Our business, accounting, marketing and finance, really all of our students at the college, the service that's going to provide certainly justifies the construction of the new building there.”
Former Botsford students say the current school can’t match up to their experience. One student said the school had changed long before it was sold to the college.