As Camphill Special School celebrated our fiftieth anniversary in 2013, we turned to the realization of a long held dream. In 2006 we began talking about creating a new building that would be a beautiful home to our programs for our kindergarten students. The kindergarten program had been in existence for a decade at that time, but its size waxed and waned because the facilities available for use were old, cramped, and not well suited to the purpose. Since the early years of childhood are the most important to the child’s development, having a beautiful building as the foundation for a robust kindergarten program became a priority for the school.
Nine years and $1.7 million later, the Meadowsweet Early Learning Center is complete. The 5000 square foot building is flooded with sunlight, has classrooms that are bright and full of natural materials, a gorgeous dining room, a full service commercial kitchen for organic lunches, and peaceful therapeutic spaces. The playground, which will be gradually installed in the coming months, is large and stretches into the wooded hillside below our main schoolhouse. There is plenty of space for play, and the trees, flowers, insects, and woodland animals will all be a part of the children’s daily experience.
The project has been an exciting one, with lots of helping hands. From the outset Tom and Lauren, from Carnevale Eustis Architects, kept us focused on implementing their design faithfully. Enthusiastic donors and board members have made the building process possible without the school needing to borrow money or take out construction loans. The students at the Transition Program at Beaver Farm produced 3000 beautiful wall tiles for bathrooms and countertops under the watchful eye of Lauren Geiger, the pottery teacher. Jennifer Nilsen, a board member at the school, brought her design skills to bear on the interior finishes and colors. Our friend from Camphill Scotland, David Newbatt, painted the murals inside Meadowsweet, and Robert Logsdon lazured the classroom walls which are now a work of art in themselves. Steve Thomas, the uncle of one of our students and a professional trail builder, spent three days making wonderful pathways through the forest that connect Meadowsweet with the schoolhouse. CH&E, our construction firm, kept the project going through a veritable Siberian winter, and had it finished in time for the new school year. Volunteers from Vanguard have landscaped the site, which is now full of colorful perennials to attract the bees and butterflies.
Now the building is bursting at the seams with the children, and all that remains is to say thank you to all of you who have believed that this was possible, and then dug deep to make it a reality for our children.