Upon closure, Four Winds School looks to future opportunities

Math tutor Alethea Tschetterwood works with Lily Thorp, 11, at Four Winds School in Gill in March. School Director Hattie Adastra is seated to the right.

Math tutor Alethea Tschetterwood works with Lily Thorp, 11, at Four Winds School in Gill in March. School Director Hattie Adastra is seated to the right. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Four Winds School at 54 French King Highway in Gill.

Four Winds School at 54 French King Highway in Gill. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Owen Brown and Ainer Lautzenheiser study at Four Winds School in Gill in March.

Owen Brown and Ainer Lautzenheiser study at Four Winds School in Gill in March. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By SAM FERLAND

For the Recorder

Published: 06-12-2024 3:30 PM

GILL — Four Winds School has officially closed its doors following the end of the 2023-2024 school year and a final liquidation sale last weekend, with a goal of raising money in hopes of reopening somewhere new in the future.

“I think a better location would have been huge,” said Four Winds School Director Hattie Adastra, who also served as the only teacher. “We’re hoping to theoretically reopen at some point.”

The closure of the independent school at 54 French King Highway that taught students in sixth to eighth grade was due to declining enrollment that began during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The one-room school, which would normally have 14 students, ended the year with seven students enrolled. Four Winds School has served students from Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties as well as southern Vermont since 2000.

Adastra attributes the declining enrollment to both the pandemic and the lack of transportation available to students from around Franklin County. The school was able to stay open during the pandemic due to several grants and the commitments made by students and staff.

“An issue we had all along was a lack of transportation,” Adastra said. “I feel like the fact that the program had continued to thrive for years in Gill with none of our own transportation, no public transportation and not on the way to anything is a testament to the program.”

Adastra said she hopes the school might find a new location that is more centrally located in Franklin County, such as somewhere in Greenfield, where it can reopen within the next year. Money from the liquidation sale will go toward a potential reopening and closing costs on a building.

“I am sad to see our students go,” Adastra said, mentioning that students would often stay late after school to spend more time there after the closure was announced. “That was the hardest part of this all.”

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