Jan. 18 witnessed the arrival of a new classroom building for Salmonberry School. A crane, barged over from Anacortes lifted a building in two halves over a 30’ utility pole and delicately nestled it onto its foundation. With this new arrival, Salmonberry increased its on-campus capacity from 45 to 60 students.
Salmonberry School has sat in its current location on North Beach Road since 2001. The independent holistic K-6th grade school started modestly with 9 students occupying a remodeled home and art studio. The next year the school expanded south acquiring and redesigning a thrift store building from its neighboring property. Since then, the school’s enrollment has grown steadily from 20 to 30 to 40 students. In recent years Salmonberry has stretched its physical limits, fully utilizing its three classrooms and witnessing more applicants than it could enroll.
“Obviously the school is serving a need in this community. Over two decades, Salmonberry has become an important part of the educational landscape of San Juan County. And increasingly we are working with families who are moving to Orcas Island in part to take advantage of the outstanding local educational offerings,” noted Salmonberry’s Head of School and co-Founder, Paul Freedman.
A year ago it became clear that if the school did not expand its capacity, a large number of children would be turned away. The school drew from its accrued resources, tapped its committed supporters and community philanthropists and executed a private loan to realize the funds needed to expand. After months of planning and pushing through unexpected delays at various WA State offices required to approve this new construction, the permits were in place and the building finally arrived. And the school’s vision was largely realized in a single afternoon.
“We have so many people to thank for this addition. To all the donors, Trustees, parents and teachers, we are so grateful for your support,” said Freedman. “We are so proud of what we have done and will continue to do. And even with this addition, we will always be a little community school with a big heart.”
Now the local subcontractors are hard at work readying the space for occupancy, and the “Eagles class” of fifteen 9-13 year-olds who have been gratefully occupying rented space at Camp Orkila all fall, are poised to return to campus and join their friends and siblings, the “Salmon, ” “Otters,” and “Cedars.”
Salmonberry now serves 60 students in four classrooms with 8 full time teachers. Applications are available for a very limited number of new admissions: www.salmonberryschool.org.