In some ways, I can hardly believe I am writing this letter.
What began as a seed of an idea – opening a new school – often felt like an impossible dream. At times, it seemed like it would never come to fruition. It was too complicated, too expensive, and then there was a pandemic. Somehow, in the face of much adversity, we held our vision. Community members became supporters, supporters became donors, and by the end of the summer of 2020 our dream had become a reality. Perhaps you have seen the students on the front lawn of the high school building yourself. Students who, up until this September, might have had a very different school experience this year. These students now have the opportunity to pursue rigorous, local education in the same community where they live. And now the answer to the question in everyone’s mind can finally be answered: “Yes, this is really happening!”
We have carried this goal almost across the finish line. But we aren’t there yet. We need the continued support of the community behind us to ensure that our pilot program becomes an approved independent school.
Black River Independent School is open and operating, serving 17 local students from Ludlow and Mount Holly. Our Head of School, Kendra Rickerby, fondly refers to the students as “Trailblazers.” And that they are. The definition of a trailblazer is “a person who makes a new track through wild country.” With the very real challenges we face as a community and a society, we need trailblazers now more than ever.
The past several weeks have been ripe with opportunities for growth as we embark on our inaugural year. Students participated in their first community service event, portering at the Antique Show. They have been working hard at developing their personalized learning goals through Empower Learning, the school’s Learning Management System. Green Mountain Rock Climbing engaged them in two days of outdoor learning including a canoe trip as well as rock climbing. And it is only November!
As a board, we couldn’t be more proud of the accomplishment of opening the school. It was no small task and required years of hard work to bring to fruition. And although we are thrilled with what we have been able to achieve, we know that the real work is just beginning. In order to meet our next goal, achieving approval from the State of Vermont Board of Education as an independent school, we will need to continue our weekly meetings. We will need to continue networking. We will need to continue volunteering and recruiting and fundraising. We will need to do all of this while upholding the vision of our educational pillars as well as ensuring, above all, a safe and healthy academic environment.
We need you.
As not only a board member but as a fellow community member and parent, I ask you to consider a gift in support of Year 2 of the Black River Independent School. When you make a donation, not only is it fully tax-deductible, but you can feel confident that your generosity is helping to build a school dedicated to developing trailblazers for the future. With the unknown terrain and uncertainties we are all facing each day, what could be a better investment?
Yours in service,
Board of Trustees
Black River Independent School