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School plans open house; launches registration for fall

From left, Christine Rogers, Raechel Gilyeat and Carolyn Sumpter enjoy the sun between art projects at the temporary home of the new Stillwater School at Haller Point (the former Country Charm Dairy) on East Gilman Street in the northwest corner of Arlington. -
From left, Christine Rogers, Raechel Gilyeat and Carolyn Sumpter enjoy the sun between art projects at the temporary home of the new Stillwater School at Haller Point (the former Country Charm Dairy) on East Gilman Street in the northwest corner of Arlington.
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ARLINGTON Organizers of a new private school in town, Jane Cassady, Tasha Branch and Caroline Sumpter, are now enrolling students for their first kindergarten class. The Stillwater School is part of Haller Point, a new village-concept community development at the former Country Charm Dairy Farm.
Stillwater will open for kindergarten this fall in the little yellow house at Gilman Street and Alcazar Avenue, at the entry to the future Haller Point community and will expand to K-8 in September, 2009, in a state-of-the-art school inside the renovated dairy barn.
The big news is that Stillwater School has been accepted into the Expeditionary Learning Program, Cassady said.
ELP is a nationally-renowned school reform model endorsed and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Cassady said.
The discovery-based school promises an intimate kindergarten class with a 12 to 1 ratio of students to teacher.
The school is a small part of our new village concept of development, said Tasha Branch, whos partner in the development project, Levon Yengoyan, is Cassadys husband.
We are so excited to bring a school of this caliber to the community, Branch said. We are thrilled to be accepted to use this model that teaches kids to think, not simply to test well.
Due to a delay in the remodel of the barn, we are starting this year with kindergarten only, Cassady explained.
Stillwater School will be a powerful independent elementary school, Cassady said.
She was excited to report last week that they have found the perfect teacher, who has moved to Arlington from Hawaii.
She is very experienced and enthusiastic teacher and will bring warmth and creativity to the classroom, Cassady said.
The third partner, Sumpter is an artist who will provide classroom assistance to the teacher.
We are looking forward to starting our son, Cormac in the school, she said. We think it will be a great program, where he can explore who he is and express what he learns.
The credo of Stillwater School, We are crew, not passengers, reflects a proactive program where students move out of the classroom into the community and the outdoors for meaningful learning.
Cassady suggests picturing kindergartners interviewing the owner of the former Country Charm Dairy, who continues to live on the site, Hank Graafstra, to get a first-hand account of the history of his Country Charm Dairy and then creating a book to record and show the history of the farm in the beautiful Stillaguamish Valley.
Picture these same children exploring the river outside their doorstep and becoming experts on the birds of the Stillaguamish Valley, who are able to describe the life cycle, habitat, and specific features and needs of the birds.
Growing an innovative, independent school from scratch is a daunting task, Cassady said.
But the community response has been fantastic. Each new student enrolled and the excitement of the parents keeps us clear in our purpose to keep our children curious, passionate and engaged in the exploration of their world.
She said they had considered postponing their opening until next year, but didnt want to lose those people who are already excited.
The school is offering an open house Thursday, May 15 or check out the Web site at www.stillwaterschool.org.

Stillwater School is offering fun art workshops on Sundays during the Haller Point Farmers Market along with other presenters through the summer.
May 11 Ben Curley will read from and sign his childrens books.
May 18 Ron Kasprison will demonstrate watercolor painting.
May 25 Stillwater School celebrates creativity Rock, Paper, Scissors.
June 1 Denton Massage School on the benefits of massage and offers free chair massages.
June 8 Mary Margert Herzog on cooking fresh and eating local for health.
June 22 Marbling with Stillwater School.
June 29 Watercolor show and demonstration by Ron Kasprison.

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