The Mountain School

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The Mountain School
Vershire, VT
United States
Type Private
Established 1984
Oversight Milton Academy
Headmaster Alden Smith
Grades 11
Enrollment 45

The Mountain School of Milton Academy is a selective independent semester program that provides academically motivated high school juniors from across the country the opportunity to live and work on an organic farm in rural Vermont, United States. Located in Vershire, Vermont, The Mountain School was originally a four-year residential high school started in 1963 by Mac and Doris Conard. It was unique in its combination of first-class college preparatory studies and ecology-oriented hands-on farm experience. Mac and Doris, ready to retire after 20 years, sought a buyer who would maintain the mission of the school, and in 1984 found such a buyer in a group of teachers from Milton Academy, led by David and Nancy Grant. The Grants as co-directors reopened the school as a semester program, retaining the character and mission but allowing high school students from around the country to attend for one semester of their junior year. Today, students still attend for one term (fall or spring) during their junior year in high school, or the fall term of their senior year. 45 students are enrolled.

The Mountain School offers a variety of academic classes. All students take English and Environmental Science, and electives include U.S. History, Chemistry, Physics, a variety of Math courses, Art, Humanities and Languages. In addition to five academic classes, the Mountain School provides students with an opportunity to explore the community around them by integrating speakers and panels into the curriculum. Students explore the social structure of the school itself as well. Currently, the faculty and staff is made up of 26 individuals, 13 of whom live on campus, some with families of their own.

The Mountain School is also a working organic farm. The farm provides the majority of food for the school and is tended to by the students, teachers and three farm managers. In addition to a garden with a full harvest, the school has turkeys, chicken, sheep, beef cattle, pigs, and a llama. Students take care of all aspects of the farm with daily chores (morning and night) as well as a three-hour afternoon work period, six days a week.

Work doesn't end when the students leave. A full summer crew of alumni or other interested parties spend the summer working on raising the new animals (born during spring semester), working on the vegetable harvest and, most importantly, haying.

In the summer of 2003 alums from all years, as well as many of their family members, converged on Vershire in early August for a barn raising.

During 2014 and 2015 an extensive array of solar panels was built at The Mountain School which offset nearly all of its electricity usage. This project is in line with The Mountain School's mission of 'knowing a place' and 'caring for that place.'

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Coordinates: 43°57′16″N 72°20′11″W / 43.954437°N 72.33642°W / 43.954437; -72.33642