News Briefs

The Sharon Academy celebrates 20 years

launches capital campaign for funding, expansion

SHARON –– The Sharon Academy (TSA), an independent school serving grades 7-12, announced May 1 the kick-off of a two-part, multi-million dollar capital campaign to fund financial aid, professional development, student services and eventually expand the school’s facilities. The announcement by Head of School Michael Livingston at the school’s 20th birthday celebration publicly marks the first phase of the campaign.

Over $750,000 in gifts and pledges has already been raised toward an initial goal of $1.5 million, thanks in part to a generous matching pledge of $300,000 from the Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation of Hanover, N.H.

“This campaign is a strong statement of support for our small school model where every student is known, valued, and challenged,” Livingston said. “TSA will continue to serve the needs of area students for a long time to come –  as both an academically challenging and supportive learning community.’’

“The newly announced financial aid fund will enable a wider range of families to attend TSA and help maintain socio-economic diversity,” explained Livingston. Eighty-five percent of TSA students attend from Vermont towns that offer a form of school choice rather than operate their own middle school or high school. Under current Vermont law independent schools like TSA can only charge the towns a low tuition rate set by the state. Annual contributions from families and other donors help TSA cover the remaining educational costs above the charged tuition. While TSA keeps tuition low, families wishing to choose TSA from “non-sending” towns must cover the full amount and often require financial assistance. The financial aid fund will increase assistance to families in need.

In addition to financial aid, the campaign will raise money to:

  • Advance professional development for faculty to further strengthen their work in meeting the diverse needs of students;
  • Support student services, such as special education and a writing center that offers support in research, writing, presentation, and time management;
  • Create a trail system for walking, running, cross-country skiing, and hiking, while preserving the school’s sugarbush and deer yard;
  •  Draw up plans for a middle school building and a second athletic field;
  • Raise a barn for a variety of outdoor education offerings and storage of sports and outdoor equipment.
  • A second phase of development, to be funded by a $3.5 million campaign, involves:
  • Improving science labs. With feedback from alumni, TSA science has broadened to include nine science course offerings: Biology I, Modern Biology, Conceptual Physics, Classical Physics, Advanced Physics/Intro to Dynamics, Chemistry I and II, and two environmental science courses. Lab space must be expanded for learning comfort and safety;
  • Building a kitchen to provide meals to students (including free student lunches) and serve as a classroom and gathering space;
  • Creating a “makerspace” and art studio for large-scale constructions, physics and engineering projects, sculptures and set building;
  • Improving energy efficiency and safety.
  • At the 20th anniversary celebration, School Founder Judy Moore toasted the school. “Volunteerism and community is TSA — from the beginning to today. When we started out, we just had benches and blackboards and dedicated families,’’ Moore said. “And to my great happiness, TSA has remained true to our frugal and humble roots and our community values. Last year over 4,000 hours were logged by parent volunteers.”

“It is wonderful,” she added, “that we are building a strong foundation for our next 20 years.’’

“We hear time and time again that TSA alumni stand out as thoughtful and articulate communicators, able to advocate for themselves and others,” Livingston said. “This fundraising campaign will give our staff, faculty and students more tools to keep our student-focused educational model working – training our young people to become the productive citizens and leaders our world needs.”

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