The Merryhill School site in South Davis, vacant for nearly a year, soon will be alive again with the voices of eager young learners.
The Peregrine School — a private, nonprofit program that operates a preschool in West Davis and an elementary school in South Davis — will move its elementary program into bigger quarters at the former Merryhill site this summer. It’s on Lillard Drive just east of Cowell Boulevard.
In the process, Peregrine will add a toddler program and a preschool this year and eventually expand its elementary program from grades K-6 to K-8.
The West Davis preschool program will continue as is.
“We want to create an established and well-sited progressive school for this region,” said Lorie Hammond, Peregrine’s academic director. “We have had this temporary site on Galileo Court (formerly occupied by the Sacramento City College Davis Center) until now, which has limited our possibilities. The move will potentially triple the size of our elementary program, and give us the kind of grounds that are part of the vision for the school.”
Hammond, who is a professor emeritus at Sacramento State, said the new toddler program “will be one of the very few toddler programs in town.” And the new preschool program in the former Merryhill site is intended to attract some of the families currently on the waiting list for Peregrine’s West Davis preschool.
“(The West Davis site) has been a 70-kid preschool program with a waiting list of about 85 kids for the past two or three years,” Hammond said. That program was launched in 2007.
Hammond described the Peregrine program as “child-centered, project-based learning” with a smaller class size than is typically found in a public school setting.
“It is a comprehensive education that includes Spanish, the arts, things like yoga and dance,” she said. “And we are very strong in science and technology.”
She added that the larger quarters at the new campus should allow the school to offer a soccer program at some point, as well as space for dance.
“There will be 25 new staff positions eventually,” as the Peregrine program expands over two or three years to fill its new space, Hammond said. “We will start by adding 15 positions over the summer and fall, mostly preschool teachers, plus one elementary teacher, some aides and a little more administrative staff.”
The school’s current South Davis site on Galileo Court has four classrooms and a limited amount of outdoor play area. The former Merryhill site has 14 classrooms and an athletic field as well as some garden space. Hammond said she hope to network with neighborhood groups “so that the community can use some of our space after school and in the evenings, so that it becomes a kind of community center.”
Carrie Fisher-Stone, Peregrine’s administrative director, said the elementary program, launched in 2011, has grown from 17 students in 2012-13 to 35 students in 2013-14.
“At the moment, we are looking to add about 50 students total for the elementary program next year,” Fisher-Stone said.
She said that the expected configuration will be two classrooms for the toddler program (18-30 months), two classrooms for the Escualita program (ages 2-4), two classrooms for the Primaria program (ages 4-6) and one classroom each for kindergarten, grades 1-2, grades 3-4 and grades 4-6.
The remaining rooms will be used as office space, a teacher lounge and a science/art room. A classroom is being reserved for future use serving grades 7-8.
Merryhill’s parent company, Nobel Learning Communities, closed the elementary school last summer due to low enrollments and the lease on the building coming to an end.
Peregrine will hold an informational session at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 13, offering an overview of preschool and toddler programs, and another session at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 20, featuring an overview of the elementary school program. There are also regular weekly tours at both of Peregrine’s current sites. Open houses at the new South Davis site will start in June.
For more information, visit www.peregrineschool.org or call 530-758-8845 (West Davis preschool) or 530-753-5500 (South Davis elementary).
— Reach Jeff Hudson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8055.