Wednesday, August 27, 2014

New charter school set to open Sept. 2

Syringa Mountain School nearly at enrollment capacity

Express Staff Writer

Shown here are some of the students, grades K-5, who will attend Syringa Mountain School, Blaine County’s new state-funded charter school, when it opens on Sept. 2. Courtesy photo

    Syringa Mountain School, Blaine County’s new state-funded charter school, announced this week that the school has nearly met its capacity and goal of 165 students.
    The school, for students K-5, has been in the formative stages for the past two years. Now, the school is set to open on Tuesday, Sept. 2, with 19 part-time and full-time staff members.
    School Director Mary Gervase reported in a news release that the school has attracted “families from as far away as New Mexico, Georgia, Montana and California, and as near as Fairfield, Richfield, Shoshone, Boise and Carey.”
    “The school’s population also includes children who have attended our public and private schools, as well as a core of home-schooled children,” Gervase stated.
    She stated that the school still has a few student vacancies, except for the third grade, which has reached capacity.
    Syringa will use the Waldorf educational methodology, offering an alternative to students and parents in Blaine County. The school describes Waldorf as an “academically rigorous liberal arts curriculum presented in a developmentally and arts-integrated context. The method emphasizes educating the whole child—head, heart and hands—through sustainable living, gardening, farming, experiential learning and minimal use of technology in the early grades.”
    The school is located in a former warehouse for storing antique automobiles in south Hailey. Construction is nearly complete to turn the building into a fully-functioning educational facility.
    Gervase stated that the building has been “transformed into the most unusual learning spaces, which must be seen to really appreciate.”
    “This has truly been a labor of love as parents and community members have donated hundreds of hours working tirelessly every Tuesday and Saturday throughout the summer, creating natural play spaces, laying out biodynamic garden beds, staining the concrete floors, mounting chalkboards and lazuring the classroom walls,” Gervase stated.
    Greg Bloomfield, Syringa board chairman, stated that volunteers and donations are essential to the school’s success.
    “With state funding a paltry $4,500 per student, and the inability of charter schools to access local taxes, local businesses have come to the rescue, providing greatly discounted or free services toward the remodeling of the school facilities,” Bloomfield stated.
    He said assistance also came from the city of Hailey, which leased an adjoining property to the school for $1 per year for the creation of demonstration gardens and play spaces.
Terry Smith:

To celebrate its opening, Syringa Mountain School invites the community to an open house from 5:30-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 4. The school is located in a green, two-story building at 4021 Glenbrook Drive in south Hailey. “Come for a quick tour or stay for a cup of tea and chat with the SMS families and staff,” said school Director Mary Gervase.


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