Poultney alternative school plans to expand
By Josh O’Gorman
STAFF WRITER | July 13,2013
JOSH O’GORMAN / STAFF PHOTO
The LiHigh School is expected to close soon on this property at 28 Depot St. that most recently was home to the Station Bakery and Café in Poultney.
POULTNEY — A local alternative school is moving to a downtown landmark, with plans to expand its course offerings and build even stronger ties with the community.
Officials with the LiHigh School are expected to close soon on the property — located at 28 Depot St. — that most recently was home to the Station Bakery and Café. LiHigh director Greg Rosenthal hopes the move will raise the school’s profile in the area.
“Even though we’ve been on Main Street and we’ve been running this program here for seven years, we’re still a well-kept secret. This will be our coming-out party,” said Rosenthal of the school, which offers an entrepreneurship course of study and a therapeutic program for students with cognitive and physical disabilities.
Now, with the purchase of the Depot Street property, LiHigh School is expanding its course offerings to include a culinary arts program. As Rosenthal led a tour of the property Tuesday afternoon, he pointed out the commercial kitchen previously used by the operators of the Station Bakery and Café and rejoiced in its potential.
“There are just so many things we can do here,” said Rosenthal, who opened LiHigh School seven years ago as a satellite location of the Bellcate School, a private school in Essex Junction that Rosenthal called “the model school in the state for working with kids with disabilities.”
The building was originally constructed in 1917 as a station for the Delaware and Hudson Railroad. The 1,860-square-foot building sits on 0.22 of an acre and was fully renovated in 2004, according to Lister Mary Jo Teetor. The property, owned by Bruce Ferguson, was most recently assessed by the town at $213,000. LiHigh School is purchasing the property for $180,000.
Nancy Duncan, who until last month operated the Station Bakery and Café, has relocated to a new location on Main Street and expects to reopen by the end of the month.
As for his plans for the new property, Rosenthal envisions the culinary arts program will draw students from both the entrepreneur and therapeutic programs, as well as being able to stand on its own.
“We want this to be as much of a seed-to-plate project as possible,” said Rosenthal, with plans to first have a takeout window and later enclose the outdoor patio to create a seating area for diners.
The very name LiHigh (pronounced lee-high) epitomizes Rosenthal’s approach to education. “Li” is a Chinese word used by stone carvers when working with jade. Each piece of jade contains the essence of its potential — its Li — and the carver must listen to the stone’s Li to shape it correctly.
Rosenthal takes a similar approach to his students, crafting individual lesson plans and building close relationships to help each student reach his or her potential.
“That’s when students are willing to take risks. Without that, students will never be willing to venture outside their comfort zones, and that’s where the real learning happens,” Rosenthal said. “I believe the community makes the best classroom, and right now, with this new property, I feel like the sky’s the limit for what we will be able to do.”
For more information about the LiHigh School, visit www.lihighschool.org.