The Village School of Royalston begins 29th year

  • Quite the crowd showed up for the Village School’s opening day on Sept. 5, which began with a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the opening of a new, $2 million building. Faculty and staff welcomed 65 students for the 2018-2019 school year. Located on the grounds of the former Camp Caravan, the independent day school focuses the curriculum on kindness, and contact with nature. Mary C. Barclay

  • Deb D’Amico, left, representing the Royalston Selectboard, welcomed the Village School administration, faculty, staff, students, and families, to the town of Royalston. The brand new building, designed by Black Water Architects of Cambridge, opened last week for the 2018-2019 school year. A former educator and administrator, D’Amico was enthusiastic in her support of the school’s focus on kindness and contact with nature, and their decision to make Royalston their permanent home. To her right are Director Rise Richardson, K-1 teacher Martin Brown, and guest reader Jim Farnham. Mary C. Barclay

  • Kindergartner Luke Lyman, 5, hams it up for the camera on the first day of school. He, and many of the 65 students, took advantage of the prop put out by the Village School of Royalston, which celebrated the Sept. 5 opening of a brand new building for the 2018-2019 school year. Mary C. Barclay

  • NEW SECRETARY – Jessica (Putney) Schanz, posing for her first-day-of-school picture, was recently selected to serve as secretary for the Village School of Royalston. She was on hand on September 5th for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, commemorating the opening of the 2018-2019 school year, and the opening of the new building. Mrs. Schanz was involved with the school for many of the years they were located in the Raymond Building on Royalston Common. —Mary C. Barclay

  • Among the guests at the ribbon-cutting ceremony held this past Wednesday at the Village School in Royalston were state Rep. Susannah Whipps, left, D-Athol, state Sen. Anne Gobi, D-Spencer. Both legislators have members of the Village School family in their districts. Mary C. Barclay

For the Athol Daily News
Published: 9/10/2018 11:41:13 PM

ROYALSTON — It took nearly three decades, but The Village School of Royalston is now in its forever home, on the grounds of the former Camp Caravan, on Route 68, just north of the village of South Royalston.

More than 100 people attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony last week, including the school’s 65 first-ever students, their families and friends, and local and state dignitaries.

Director Rise Richardson opened the ceremony with a roll call of all connected to the Village School. Many hands were raised when parents were called on; same for students, both past and present.

An impressive number of hands were raised for those who have or currently work for the school. One graduate — one who has also graduated college — was able to attend, and received a round of applause.

Selectboard member Deb D’Amico, herself a former educator and school administrator, welcomed Village School administration, faculty, staff, students and families, on behalf of the town of Royalston. She expressed enthusiastic support for both their decision to call Royalston home, and for their curriculum, which is based on kindness and contact with nature.

State Rep. Susannah Whipps, R-Athol, representing communities in the 2nd Franklin District, along with her colleague and good friend, State Sen. Anne Gobi, D-Spencer, representing communities in Worcester, Hampden, Hampshire, and Middlesex counties, both spoke, speaking to the value of education and welcoming the Village School to Royalston. Both legislators represent families who are members of the Village School community.

An inspirational reading was given by Native American elder Jim Farnham, who selected one of the works by Hafez, the 12th century Persian poet noted for his lyric poetry. The Village School, in recognition of a shared respect for nature, often invites guests with connections to area tribes to participate in important ceremonies.

If ever there were doubts about the student-focus of the Village School, they were put to rest when the actual ribbon-cutting ceremony took place. Anyone and everyone was invited to participate in cutting the blue crepe paper “ribbon” stretched across the entire front and side of the visitors’ entrance.

With Rise wielding giant ceremonial scissors, and some 50 or so others armed with a mish-mash of home and school-supplied scissors, the group counted down, and everybody cut their section of ribbon. Amid the loud cheering and applause, teachers shepherded their students in for the first day of classes in the brand new, beautiful Village School building.

The Village School, designed by Black River Architects of Cambridge, is currently in the second phase of construction, and raising the last thousands of $2 million needed finish the building and grounds.

During the next phase, expected to cost about $300,000, a full two-thirds of that is going to build a hexagonal, timber frame common room, large enough for the entire school and their families to gather for the annual capstone play, lantern walk and other whole-school events.

With the remaining $100,000, the Millers River Educational Cooperative intends to complete the restoration and winterization of three outbuildings for arts and crafts, a performing arts stage and auditorium, and a dance studio. Also included in phase three are finishing two cabins for dormitory space, and instituting continuing education programs for teenagers and adults through the Camp Caravan Center for Continuous Education. For more information on the Village School, to tour with a potential student, or to make a donation, contact Director Rise Richardson at 978-249-3505,, or The Village School; 253 South Royalston Road; Royalston, MA 01368.

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