Open house held at new $2.2M Village School facility

  • Young visitors to the Village School open house Saturday in Royalston enjoying activities in one of the school’s new classrooms. staff photo/Greg Vine

  • Youngsters enjoy snacks provided to those who attended the open house at Royalston’s Village School on Saturday. —Greg Vine

  • The Village School in Royalston held an open house Saturday to welcome current and prospective students to its new $2.2 million facility on South Royalston Road. The property was once a part of Camp Caravan. staff photo/Greg Vine

For the Athol Daily News
Published: 2/11/2019 10:00:13 PM

ROYALSTON — Thirty years ago, the Village School preschool opened its doors in Royalston. On Feb. 9, the school – which has grown to serve youngsters in preschool through grade 6 – held an open house to celebrate the near-completion of its first year in a new $2.2 million facility constructed on the grounds of the former Camp Caravan. The school previously had occupied the old Raymond School near the town common.

“Our first day of school was September 4,” said Director Rise Richardson. “The teachers moved in about three weeks before and started personalizing their classrooms, moving furniture around, and figuring out the best configurations for the kids. We had a big moving day on August 4. We had people showing up with trucks, people volunteering, it was just amazing. Work started at 7:30 in the morning and we were all done by noon. We had thought it would take us at least a couple of days.”

The entire project cost $2.2 million. Richardson said. “We have a loan from Athol Savings Bank. The rest was fundraising and donations. I’d say about half of it was a loan, because the bank wouldn’t let us start until we had raised about half the money.”

The director went on to explain the school serves students from many surrounding towns, not just Royalston. Still, she said, being located in a small community makes fundraising a challenge. “Sometimes people choose our school and they bring their kid and it’s a great fit. Sometimes they come to us in kindergarten or first and second grade because their kid is miserable. When their kid is served here and is happy here and they’re learning, the parents are incredibly grateful. And that includes grandparents. So, over the years we’ve built up a base of people with incredible gratitude for what the school has provided to their children or grandchildren and who have been willing to donate to see we continue to provide that for future generations. We have two or three major donors and then a ton of people who give what they can.”

Richardson said a pancake breakfast and auction organized by parents and held each for year for nearly the past 20 years raised around $160,000 for the building project.

“This year we have 63 kids,” she said, “last year we had 53, so we’re growing.”

Richardson said tuition for a full-time student is just over $10,000 – the first time it has reached that mark – and $5,000 for pre-k students.

“For an independent school that’s pretty low,” she said, “but we have to serve this area.”

When asked why parents choose to send their children to the Village School, instead of leaving them in public schools, Richardson said, “The bottom line is they want their children to develop a love of learning. That really is something we try to instill in all our students.”

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