From the first day the Aspen Country Day School opened as an independent school, students were taught in a variety of classrooms, ranging from rustic cabins to trailers.
While the level of education always has remained high, some of the classroom structures were missing crucial amenities, such as restrooms and consistent heat.
In many ways, the campus felt like a puzzle missing a few pieces.
That all changed with the start of the school year and the opening of the newly remodeled Aspen Country Day School.
Until this year, the campus housed classes in separate cottages and trailers. With the addition of the new 18,765-square-foot Lower School building, that all has changed as the preschool and elementary students are now taking classes in the same building together.
“The Lower School building gives the kids a stronger sense of community,” said Carolyn Hines, the school’s director of advancement and communication. “From the first day, you could see that the kids love it.”
The school built nine new buildings on the campus in nine months. Several structures stand out, especially the trio of drama, music and art buildings on the shores of the Great Pond.
Aspen Country Day School was founded in 1969 and has a current enrollment of nearly 200 students, ranging from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.
The school property covers 25 acres, with about 5 acres dedicated to the classroom structures that make up the campus. The other 20 acres will remain in their natural state of forests, ponds and hillsides.
Long before ground was broken for the new buildings, school officials considered the option of moving to a different location, but tradition trumped that idea in many ways. With many graduates still living in the area and now sending their kids to the school, the identity of the school is tied strongly to the location.
Aspen Country Day School is raising $50 million for the campaign, with $35 million to buildings and furnishings, and $15 million for long-term endowment for financial aid and programs in academics, arts and outdoor education.
The school had been renting the property from the Aspen Music Festival and School, but by raising its own money for the rebuilding project, Aspen Country Day now will gain 50 percent ownership of the campus buildings.
“The kids still have plenty of outdoor time,” Hines said. “But now they also get to enjoy a 21st-century classroom experience.”
One of the main goals with the new school design was to keep the center of the campus pedestrian- and kid-friendly, and that goal appears to be met.
A new pedestrian bridge was added to access the middle school section of the campus. The current campus layout makes it easy to access any building on the school grounds.
“Everyone here is very proud of the new campus,” Hines said. “It gives us a balance with our rigorous academic standards, our connection to outdoor activities and the creative arts we offer. In many ways, the school parallels the Aspen way of life, centering on a sound mind and body.”