Preserving & advancing
local education in southern vermont



Our goal is to establish an independent school in Ludlow that will continue the education of middle and high school students once Black River High School (BRHS) closes in 2020.


Black River Independent School graduates have the confidence, resourcefulness and skills to pursue a life of purpose, personal fulfillment and ongoing learning.

We offer a challenging and meaningful academic program that balances: active exploration, adventure, interrelated curriculum, authentic and joyous engagement.

We cultivate the personal qualities of each student to become a wholehearted human being with integrity, open communication, strong moral character, physical well being, and appreciation of creativity.

We instill an appreciation of the relationships between individuals, societies and the natural world. We embrace and role model the principles of democratic governance, stewardship of the environment, respect for human dignity, and service as a way of life.

By providing an atmosphere of intellectual, artistic, and physical challenge within the warmth of a nurturing community, we develop in our students the confidence and skills they will need  to meet the complexities of their future.


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Global Breadth of Perspective


Black River students will learn to develop a broad sense of the world through a curriculum that encompasses a diversity of 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 BR, where students, in partnership with adults in the community, will help shape school policy. We will incorporate students’ voices and values through Personal Action opportunities and student government in the Middle School, and Town Hall Meetings and community planning meetings in the High School.


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 

BR develops in students the appreciation of physical fitness and personal growth through the challenge of outdoor adventures. From 7th grade through 12th, they will explore local access to the outdoors, take field trips and camping trips to regional wilderness areas, and participate in the outdoor curriculum as it is woven into daily classes. In the High School, they will have the opportunity to complete an extended wilderness expedition. They will have opportunities to join outdoor adventure clubs which may include activities such as rafting, skiing, sea kayaking, and rock climbing. Throughout their time at BR, students will be provided with opportunities to hike the Long Trail in Vermont, learn how to collaborate in a small group setting, problem-solve, empathize, and believe in themselves and others. 


Personal Action


Personal Action or, “situationally appropriate action that directs or guides a group to set and achieve certain goals.” BR encourages students to discover the importance of leadership in making a positive contribution. Students will be able Lead and participate in small teams. Students will demonstrate good community behavior and habits— take initiative and remain respectful and inclusive of team members, balance group and personal goals, and remain respectful and inclusive of their team members. Students will serve as a team in a variety of roles: self leader, peer leader, designated leader, and active follower. Students will make sound decisions and display a tolerance for adversity and uncertainty. Students will demonstrate self awareness and display initiative by setting and achieving goals. Students will participate in Student government. High School students will have formal leadership training in a variety of classes and participate in town and community government.

Engagement in Community

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.



Recent Agendas & Minutes

All minutes and agendas for our meetings are posted to this site.

  • August 8 (BRHS, 6:30pm) Agenda & Minutes


Get Involved

Join us at our meetings to make your voice and vision heard, and help us shape the school. 

Please check out our calendar for upcoming events and meetings. All weekly meetings are held at Black River High School Library.



Black River Independent School will open its doors in August 2020 and take students from grades 7 – 12. Children whose parents or guardians are residents of Ludlow or Mount Holly, will be eligible to attend the school using their school choice tuition vouchers. There will be NO out-of-pocket tuition for these children if they choose to attend the school. 

If you are a local resident in Ludlow or Mount Holly and you have children who will be of the right age to attend Black River Independent School in 2020 or in subsequent academic years, please fill out the following form to let us know if you’re interested in enrolling your child at the new school.


Our goal is to establish an independent school in Ludlow that will continue the education of middle and high school students once Black River High School (BRHS) closes in 2020.

Our current steering committee consists of residents, parents, and educators. We welcome everyone who is interested in joining in the effort to open Black River Independent School. Please consider attending one of our meetings.


Our Commitment

we are committed to…

  • Developing an innovative independent school that provides the best possible education for the children of our community, a school that strives for excellence and brings out the personal best in every student, a school that will attract new families to our communities.

  • Working towards a smooth transition from the current public school to an independent school by providing continuity of the programs offered including special education.

  • Offering competitive compensation and benefits to retain excellent and committed staff and attract new highly qualified and motivated staff.

  • Providing transportation for all students in Ludlow and Mount Holly who choose to attend Black River Independent School.

  • Developing a strategic plan for the school that builds on the strengths of the current school and expands on those strengths. Such a plan will include collaborations with local non-profit institutions, universities and businesses, as well as a financial sustainability proposal.

In the midst of an educational sea change, we have an opportunity to create a brand new school that’s innovative, nimble, efficient and engaging
— Colin McKaig