School Notes: Crossroads Gets $1 Million Boost for Financial Aid

Tuesday, January 21, 2014
At Crossroads Academy’s annual Martin Luther King Day commemoration, just after the seventh graders performed a speakchorus about the rhetorical devices in King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Sean Gorman, chairman of the school’s board of trustees, introduced the school’s founder.

“Here in the Upper Valley, 25 years ago, a small group of families joined together because they also had a dream,” Gorman said in welcoming school founder Mary Beth Klee to the assembly.

That dream, Klee said, was a private grade school dedicated to “core knowledge” and “core virtues,” where students would build their character by reading, and often memorizing essential texts, and learning compassion, integrity, charity and other fundamental values. All of the presentations at the assembly were sung or recited from memory.

Since its founding in 1991, Crossroads has struggled to share this vision across the economic spectrum. Tuition for the K-8 school on Route 10 in Lyme stands at $15,800 for grades one through eight, and $9,250 for kindergarten. While the school spends about $270,000 a year on financial aid, this year only 27 of the 131 students at Crossroads are receiving financial help from the school, Jean Behnke, longtime head of school, said in an interview.

So her announcement, after Klee spoke, that an anonymous donor from outside the school community had given $1 million to bolster the school’s endowment for financial aid was warmly received by the assembled parents, faculty and supporters.

The gift is the largest in the school’s history, Behnke said. Invested wisely, it will provide around $50,000 a year in financial aid money and could plant the seed for more donations.

That would be a help. As things stand, Behnke has to scramble to find the financial aid money every year. “A lot of that is funded by me finding people to donate year to year,” she said. And some of the need goes unfunded, which means the school absorbs it in its budget.

“We need about $5 million to completely fund financial aid, but this is a big step in the right direction,” Behnke said.

Even so, that would fund only the school’s current level of financial aid. Behnke said the school has to tell families every year that its financial aid program is exhausted.

“We always have more need for financial aid than we have resources to meet it,” she said. The school’s website notes that “Crossroads aspires to be a school available to all families.”

Behnke’s plan to step down at the end of the 2014-15 school year lends the gift extra importance, Gorman said in an interview.

“We’re at the beginning of a transition,” he said. The gift represents “a strong endorsement of what’s come before and a great platform for what comes next.”

Thanks to the gift, the new head of school won’t have to spend so much time hunting for financial aid, Behnke said.

Neither Gorman nor Behnke would reveal the donor’s identity.

“Obviously we are extremely grateful,” Gorman said. “It’s exactly the kind of help we need to continue to expand the education that we offer.”

Student Honors

A quintet of Upper Valley students earned academic honors for the 2013 fall semester at Connecticut College. Natalie Clark, a senior from Norwich, Charles Dickey, a senior from West Lebanon, and Kristina Harrold, a sophomore from New London, were named to the Dean’s Honors list, a recognition for students who have earned a grade point average of at least 3.65. Laura Sanderson, a senior from Hanover, and Alexander Woods, a sophomore from Hanover, were named to the Dean’s High Honors list, a recognition for students who have earned a grade point average of at least 3.77.

∎ Samuel Finley of Fairlee, a math major at SUNY Potsdam, was named to the President’s List for the fall term for maintaining a GPA of 3.5 or higher.

∎ The fall semester Dean’s List at Bryant University, in Smithfield, R.I., includes the following area residents: Michael Dulac, freshman, White River Junction; Andrew Kebalka, freshman, Lebanon; Amy Koh, freshman, White River Junction; Edward Redpath, senior, Norwich; Katlyn Wyatt, freshman, Springfield, N.H.; and Nima Zhaxi, sophomore, Lebanon.

∎ Nichols College in Dudley, Mass., named the following area students for fall term honors: Zachary Bishop of Enfield, Dean’s List; Christina Drake of Lebanon, Dean’s List; Ross Dutille of Enfield, Dean’s High Honors; Dylan Moye of Canaan, Dean’s High Honors.

∎ The following Upper Valley students were named to the Dean’s List for the Fall 2013 semester at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester: Megan Hess and Raphael Hirsch, of Lebanon; Ashley Hopp, Heather Machia and Amanda Marshall, of North Haverhill; Kayla Tanguay, of Claremont; Danielle Murray, of Enfield; Alexandra Moran, of West Lebanon; Walter Fischer. of Newbury, Vt.; Amanda Maurier, of South Royalton; Joseph Brulotte, of White River Junction.

∎ Hanover resident Caroline Ruth Ketcham was named to the fall Dean’s List at UNC Asheville.

∎ Bryce D. Lloyd, a resident of Hartland and a graduate of Sharon Academy, was named to the fall Dean’s List at Alfred University in Alfred, N.Y.

∎ The following area students were named to the Dean’s List at New England College in Henniker, N.H., for the fall semester: Jessica Barnum, of Taftsville, Michaela Doyle, of Thetford Center, and Stephanie Parker of Windsor.

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The gift is the 
largest in the school’s history, Crossroads Head of School Jean Behnke said. Invested wisely, it will provide around $50,000 a year in financial aid money and could plant the seed for more donations.