Preserving & advancing

local education

in southern vermont

The Black River Independent School Committee (BRISC) is a group of community LEADERS, EDUCATORS, BUSINESS OWNERS, AND PARENTS, WHO ARE WORKING to OPEN A NEW 7-12 SCHOOL IN LUDLOW, VERMONT in AUGUST of 2020.

Screen Shot 2019-08-02 at 9.23.16 AM.png


Students from the rural Vermont towns of Ludlow and Mount Holly will lose access to local education, when Black River High School (BRHS) permanently closes its doors, in June of 2020.

The Black River Independent School Committee (BRISC) is raising money to open a new middle and high school in Ludlow, VT that will accept state tuition dollars and private funds to enroll local, school choice, and other students.



Black River Independent School will accept students in grades 7 – 12 for the 2020-2021 school year.

For ZERO out-of-pocket expense, residents of Ludlow or Mount Holly will be eligible to enroll at Black River Independent School with their school choice tuition vouchers.

Non-resident students are also eligible to enroll.

If you are a local Ludlow or Mount Holly resident and interested in enrollment, please complete the following form to connect with Black River Independent School.

Screen Shot 2019-08-02 at 9.23.16 AM.png


Black River Independent School will offer a rigorous and meaningful education that balances college preparatory learning with vocational training and outdoor exploration.

We teach respect for the individual, society, and the natural environment, and instill in students the values of strong moral character, integrity, open communication, creativity, and physical well being. We nurture each student’s unique personal qualities and cultivate well-rounded adults, through the principles of democratic governance, environmental stewardship, community leadership, and compassionate engagement.

Students graduate with the confidence, skills, and resources to thrive in a complex world and to pursue a life of purpose, personal fulfillment, and ongoing learning.


Global Breadth of Perspective

Black River students are exposed to a broad sense of the world, through a curriculum and school governance structure that celebrate a diversity of ideas and perspectives. The school will incorporate members of the greater community as educators. Curriculum will focus on a wide variety of cultures, religions, languages and the challenges of socioeconomic diversity. Students will see themselves both as rooted inhabitants of Vermont, and as global citizens with a responsibility to be creative problem solvers for current and future generations.


Democratic Participation & Justice


Active participation in democracy is essential to Black River Independent School, where students will partner with adults in the community to shape school policy and curriculum. They will exercise their voices and values, through opportunities for Personal Action, participation in student and community government, town hall-style school meetings, and more.


Environmental Stewardship

Students will connect to wild places and will gain an understanding and respect for the natural world through the curriculum and practicum. Students will be able to: Explore the natural world through observation and application of ecological concepts, and develop a sense of place built in relationship to experiencing wilderness. Students will be able to articulate an environmental ethic and understand land management and environmental issues. They will learn about minimizing their impact on the environment, and learn the difference between avoidable impact and unavoidable impact. 


Outdoor Adventure 

Black River Independent School develops in students an appreciation for physical fitness and personal growth. By participating in an outdoor curriculum that is woven into their daily classes, middle and high school students will learn to collaborate in small group settings, empathize, problem-solve, and develop confidence in themselves and others.  All classes will utilize local access to the outdoors and host day and overnight trips to regional wilderness areas, such as the Appalachian Trail (Long Trail). High school students will have the opportunity to complete an extended wilderness expedition and to join outdoor adventure clubs and activities, such such as rafting, skiing, sea kayaking, and rock climbing.


Personal Action


Black River Independent School encourages students to discover the value of effective leadership to positively impact their communities. Students will serve on teams, in a variety of roles designed to build decision-making strategies to tolerate adversity and uncertainty. By setting and achieving goals, they will develop self awareness and critical communication skills, such as how to take initiative, behave inclusively, offer constructive criticism, and set personal boundaries. Participation in student government will be available to all grades; high school students will receive formal leadership training and engage local civic organizations.

community engagement

A person living within a community considers every opportunity, in all aspects of everyday life, to provide for the needs of others and to take action in society. They seek to ensure that their impact, and the difference they make in the world, are positive. Socially-responsible decision-making infuses every area of their life from employment and business to personal, financial and domestic decisions.

Black River develops in students the qualities of service work and compassion. Through engagement and service, they will learn about and make connections with those in need in local communities. Students will make a significant commitment of time during their school career in service to the School and to the wider community, and these experiences will be integrated into the academic curriculum.


get involved

Join brisc’s WEEKLY meetings, and help shape black river independent school’s CURRICULUM AND POLICIES

Watch our calendar for upcoming events and meetings. Board meetings are held every Thursday at 6:30pm at Black River High School Library and are open to the public.



What is the cost of tuition?

When a Vermont student in a school choice town enrolls at Black River Independent School, their state tuition allowance follows them, and they pay zero extra costs for tuition. The 2018-2019 average school choice tuition per student (grade 7-12) is $15,618.00, according to the Vermont Agency of Education.

Is Black River Independent School accredited?

Vermont requires a school to be in operation for at least one year, before it may be considered for accreditation. At that point, the school may initiate an approval process, that includes site evaluations and iterative reviews of short and long term strategic plans and takes 18 months to two years to complete.

How will my child’s success be measured?

Being an independent school empowers Black River to utilize both proficiency-based and traditional grading options. Each student’s progress will be considered, according to their personal learning plan and individually from their peers.

Will athletics be offered?

Black River Independent School may establish one member-to-member school per season. BRISC plans to develop partnerships with other area schools to offer a broad spectrum of sports programs.

Will transportation be offered?

Students will be transported in vans, for their safety and geographical flexibility.

My child requires educational services. Will you follow IEPs and 504s?

Black River Independent School plans to hire an education coordinator to work with families ensure equal access to quality education.

Will lunch and breakfast programs be offered?

Yes. Additionally, we plan to engage all students in culinary programs to prepare a portion of served meals for their peers. We plan to build the capacity to host and serve dinners to students and their families, to help foster a strong community.

Is the current Black River High School building up to code?

The current Black River High School building has been inspected and is up to code.

Screen Shot 2019-08-02 at 9.23.16 AM.png


The Black River Independent School Committee (BRISC) Board is comprised of community leaders, residents, educators, and local parents committed to preserving and advancing middle and high school education in Ludlow, VT.


Ph.D. Philosophy, Real Estate Agent, and resident of Andover, VT.

Patrick Pullinen, VICE CHAIR

Educator and resident of Ludlow, VT.

Kristen Garvey, Treasurer

Parent of two LES students and resident of Ludlow, VT.


BRHS alumna, Okemo Mountain School Social Sciences teacher, and resident of Ludlow, VT.

John Bannon, Member

BRHS history teacher, parent of two BRHS students, and resident of Weston, VT.

Suzy Buckley, Member

Parent of a BRHS student and resident of Ludlow, VT.

Joann MACKE wilson, Member

Local small business owner and parent of a current BRMS student.

summers eatmon-williams, committee Member

BRHS alumna, former Senior Field Staff at NOLS and Course Director for the Athenian Wilderness Program.

Sue Starr-Adams, Committee Member

Former school board member and resident of Mount Holly, VT.

heather tucker, committee Member

Member of the Ludlow Selectboard, parent of two LES students, and resident of Ludlow, VT.


Recent black river independent school committee MEETINGs

Meeting Minutes

October 3, 2019 (BRHS, 6:30pm)


September 26, 2019 (BRHS, 6:30pm)


September 19, 2019 (BRHS, 6:30pm)

September 12, 2019 (Pizza fundraiser held, in lieu of formal meeting)


September 5, 2019 (BRHS, 6:30pm)


  • Preserving and advancing high quality, affordable, and accessible education and practical training for our community’s future leaders. Black River Independent School will guide our youth to embrace their best selves, and enhance life in the Okemo Valley region.

  • Establishing collaborative programming that elevates college preparatory learning equally alongside vocational apprenticeship and outdoor exploration.

  • Building and expanding on strengths in the current public school curriculum offered by Black River Middle and High Schools.

  • Facilitating a seamless transition for all students, by continuing critical Black River High School programs, such as special education.

  • Providing inclusive student transportation options.

  • Attracting and retaining exceptional teachers, administrators, and other educators, by offering competitive compensation packages and a positive, engaging work culture.



Black River Independent School Committee (BRISC)

PO Box 485

Ludlow, VT 05149

Phone: (802) 546-1365

Thank you, for your support.