History of Pine Hill
Pine Hill opened its doors for the first time in September of 1972, in a nineteenth century schoolhouse in Wilton Center. It was the realization of a dream held for many years by founder Ann Pratt, a graduate of High Mowing School.
Nineteen students enrolled and the school’s tuition was $300. When 55 children enrolled the next year, the school rented the Unitarian Red House in old Wilton Center. Teachers got plenty of exercise — changing classes meant a quarter-mile hike from one building to the other.
The third year (with 95 children and five grades) an old farmhouse on the Bennington Battle Trail was bought. The school held its first Thanksgiving assembly in the barn. Teachers and children were still hiking back and forth to the yellow schoolhouse. Throughout these fledgling years there was an outpouring of enthusiasm and energy from parents and teachers.
On Sunday, February 20 of that year, disaster struck. A fire engulfed and destroyed the farmhouse. On Monday morning the entire school community gathered in a circle around the old building to say good-bye. Faculty began planning the next step. Once again, the school was housed in other buildings
It soon became clear that Pine Hill had a great number of generous friends around the world. Money came in from individuals, parents, businesses, and institutions; faculties from other Waldorf schools sent donations. The school kept going. Another fundraising campaign began for a new building, to be designed by architect Jim Chapman.
When construction began in the spring of 1984, the work crew included many parents and friends. The school opened its doors in September 1985, with the auditorium still unfinished. All went well for the next three years. Enrollment grew to 220. Another milestone was passed in the fall of 1986, when woodworking classes began to meet in the Manual Arts building. Work resumed on the auditorium.
A second trauma
Then on October 21, 1988, the day the last coat of sealer had been put on the stage floor, a fire destroyed the newly completed auditorium and severely damaged the east and west wings. Again the school community was required to rally its forces, and it did.
Energy and strength were needed — more than ever — to meet the emergency and to keep the school strong and healthy. The school had now been called upon to rise from the ashes twice. Through the enthusiasm, strength, and generosity of parents, teachers, and friends, this was accomplished, and in November of 1989 the children and faculty moved into the present building.
On track again
The years since have been years of growth and consolidation. The 337 seat auditorium made it possible for the community to gather for meetings, assemblies, plays, and concerts, and host cultural events for the wider community. Volunteer parents tiled the hallways, installed playground equipment, built furniture, landscaped the grounds. In every way, parents continue to be a major force in the life of the school.
Now, in the twenty-first century, Pine Hill has come to maturity. Its parents, teachers and students continue to share their enthusiasm and generosity and the school has a bright future in which to foster the talents and promise of its students — and encourage them to help build a better world beyond these walls.