Village School continues as valued community member in Royalston

  • Parents and children arriving at the new Village School building for a Tuesday Tour recently.

  • CROWD - Quite the crowd showed up for the Village School’s opening day on September 5th, which began with a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the opening of their 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.

Published: 9/14/2018 9:17:56 AM

Judging from the turnout at the opening of The Village School’s new $2 million schoolhouse, the people of Royalston have something to be proud to host.

The nearly 30-year-old independent school, which now educates about 65 pupils in preK through grade 6, is built on a philosophy of balance in human development that blends concern for the physical, intellectual and emotional growth of their students — all with a strong connection to nature. These ideas were based on the 1970s teachings of an English education innovator name John Bennett, and later on the influences of other landmark educational leaders like Maria Montessori, Elizabeth Bennett, A.L. Stavely, and the Waldorf organization.

Millers River Educational Cooperative says it incorporates into its curriculum music, art, fairy tales and a strong sense of community and direct contact with nature. In 1998, the cooperative purchased the Camp Caravan property in Royalston for a new home of the Village School, and for a campus for practical adult education, as envisioned by John Bennett.

It took nearly three decades, but The Village School of Royalston is now in its new home on Route 68.

More than 100 people attended a ribbon-cutting earlier this month, including the 65 students who will inaugurate the new schoolhouse. Among the school’s supporters was a former student who has since moved on through college.

Selectboard member Deb D’Amico, herself a former educator and school administrator, expressed support for the school’s decision to remain in Royalston, continuing its presence in community life.

State Rep. Susannah Whipps, I-Athol, and state Sen. Anne Gobi, D-Spencer, attested to the school’s value to the region. There was an inspirational reading by Native American elder Jim Farnham. The school, in its respect for nature, often invites guests with connections to area tribes to participate in important ceremonies.

And the education collaborative isn’t finished quite yet.

The building project will also include a hexagonal, timber frame common room, large enough for the entire school and its families to gather for the annual capstone play, lantern walk and other whole-school events.

The 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 planned are two cabins for dormitory space, and continuing education programs for teenagers and adults through the Camp Caravan Center for Continuous Education.

The Village School clearly has found a valued niche in this small rural community over the past three decades, and we wish its teachers, staff, students and supporters all the best as they move toward their fourth decade educating local children.

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