Friday, September 6, 2013

School sets new enrollment record

Community School showing continuous growth

Express Staff Writer

Community School enrollment continues to climb.
Express graphic by Kristen Kaiser

    For the second year in a row, the independent Community School in Sun Valley has set a new record for enrollment.
    Head of School David Holmes said Wednesday that enrollment for this school year is 379 students in grades pre-kindergarten through 12. That’s only a 2.7 percent increase over last year’s enrollment of 369 students, but that was also a record enrollment year.
    Enrollment has continued to climb over the past several years. The school had 289 students at the start of the school year in 2009, 294 in 2010 and 327 in 2011.
    Holmes attributes the increase to the boarding school dormitory in Warm Springs, to the Sun Valley Ski Academy and to an increasing number of families who move to the area because of Community School.
    “We’ve had a number of families that came up here only because the school was here,” Holmes said. “I do believe the school is a factor in driving the economic base of the Wood River Valley forward.”
    Holmes said he is especially pleased with high-school enrollment. There are 153 students in grades 9-12 this year—there were 150 last year, 122 the year before that and 98 the year before that.
“The boarding school was a big factor,” he said.
This year, the dormitory, or the school’s residential program, has 23 high-school boarders, the same number it had last year. In 2011, the first year of the residential program, the dormitory had only eight students.
Of the 23 boarding students, 13 of them are enrolled in the Sun Valley Ski Academy, seven are international students and three are “domestic boarders” who came to the Community School because of its track record in providing a good education.
The Ski Academy, started in 2011 as a partnership with the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, provides athletes with both athletic training and an academic education.
    “Skiers are here to take advantage of the great coaches and mountains here,” Holmes said. “But they also are here to take advantage of a great private school. That’s a niche we have in the skiing world—the combination of great skiing and a great education program.”
    Holmes said the 13 Ski Academy students living in the dormitory come from nine different states, including one from Connecticut, but most are from states closer to Idaho. One skier is from Canada.
    “It’s amazing; we’re just drawing from all over the West,” he said.
    Out of this year’s enrollment, Holmes said 72 of the students are new to the Community School. Thirty-nine are from the area but are new to the school, while 33 are new to the Wood River Valley.
    “They’re either here for the boarding school or from families who moved here to have their kids enroll in the Community School,” Holmes said.

School opening delayed
Because of the Beaver Creek Fire, the Community School opened on Tuesday, a week later than was originally scheduled. “We had so many displaced parents and kids because of the fire,” said Head of School David Holmes. “A good deal of our staff, who live in mid-valley or Hailey, had to get out of there. That’s another reason we held off start of school for a week.”

Terry Smith:

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