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Swallowtail moves to Cornelius, Emmaus closes for good

COURTESY PHOTOS - Swallowtail kindergarten teacher Ms. Josclyn paints her new room in preparation for the school year. Swallowtail Waldorf School and Farm, which offers pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade education, moved into the old Emmaus Christian School building in Cornelius over the Fourth of July weekend.

Staff members have been painting, decorating and knocking out a few walls and windows to make the space more open. Still to come: a designated movement room, music room, science lab and library. Staff will also work on the playground, plant trees and install raised garden beds.

Since starting out in a one-room Gales Creek schoolhouse in 1995, the school has gradually expanded and moved in and out of leased spaces. Most recently, Swallowtail Waldorf School and Farm operated out of Hillsboro Friends Church near downtown Hillsboro.

“There’s been a high demand for enrollment but we’ve been totally maxed out and have had a waiting list,” said Swallowtail Outreach and Enrollment Coordinator Brenda McCoy. “Now we’ll be able to grow as large as we want to.”

That would be around 225 students total, McCoy said, so administrators could still guarantee small class sizes. It will likely take a few years, though, to reach that number -- about 160 students will be enrolled in Swallowtail this fall.

Swallowtail is a member of the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, which encourages students to learn math, science and language arts through experiences. A local example is Swallowtail's “Farm Mondays” at a school-owned farm off Northwest Camp Ireland Street in Hillsboro. The farm is also open to home-schooled students.

Swallowtail purchased its Cornelius building for about $3.2 million with a $1 million down payment from an anonymous donor.

“This is the space we consider our dream school,” McCoy said of the building at 460 S. Heather St.

Swallowtail leaders are running an ongoing capital campaign for improvements and projects such as finishing an auditorium space on the building’s third floor. They’re hoping to raise $175,000 throughout the next fiscal year.

Emmaus Christian School vacated the building at the end of the school year after a nearly 20-year residency. The school is now defunct.

Emmaus officials told the News-Times in January they would be searching for another space closer to Hillsboro. But a recent letter addressed to Emmaus Christian School families, supporters and alumni stated the school would be closing after 38 years due to lack of money and insufficient student enrollment.

“So at this point the Board has agreed, unanimously, that we have done all that we can do, and it is time to close the school,” the letter read. “We would love to leave Emmaus with positive memories, and close the doors to allow us to remember all the love, and not the struggle or hardship.”

The Daisy Blossom Room at Swallowtail School is an inviting and comfortable room for kids.

Stephanie Haugen
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