Fourth grade student Kylee, of Tilton, was one of the many prospective students who toured Sant Bani School in Sanbornton during their Open House last Saturday. Kylee enjoyed the zebra finches she found living in their science lab, and hopes to one day soon attend classes at the private school. (Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
January 25, 2012SANBORNTON — Sant Bani School is touted as a nurturing educational environment, which began holding classes in 1973 in headmaster Kent Bicknell's home before expanding into other buildings constructed over the years.
During their Open House last Saturday morning, "encouraging," "supportive," "creative," and "focused" were just some of the words used by students, staff and alumni when more than a dozen families came out to learn about opportunities offered by the Kindergarten through 12th grade private school.
Sant Bani not only teaches the basics in education, but also expands on a child's individuality and interests in life, including community service as a large part of its curriculum.
Tilton residents Jae-ann and her fourth grade daughter, Kylee, were among those who toured Sant Bani last weekend, and Kylee was thrilled with all she heard, quite anxious to be accepted for entry to the school.
"This is the third open house we've attended, and hopefully, we'll be able to get her in here when she's in sixth grade," her mom said.
The school is acclaimed for not only its educational opportunities, but also for the smaller class sizes. Kylee is on the waiting list, and has high hopes there will be an opening in the near future.
"I just really want to go here. I love everything they do, and I can learn so much here, I think," said Kylee.
"This is a kinder, gentler learning environment that supports everybody. Who knows where I'd be today if I could have gone to school here?" she said.
Senior Adison Lintner has been attending Sant Bani since he was 13, and is glad he has had the chance to expand his learning experience and grow through the programs offered at the school.
"I attribute my public speaking skills and the all-around confidence I have today to Sant Bani School," Lintner said. "Graduation is going to be bittersweet because we're like a family here."
School days begin at 8 a.m. with Morning Session, where the agenda varies from week to week. Lintner said the older students are currently reading a Harry Potter novel with a teacher who reads the narrative while students read character dialogue.
"Sometimes, we have a jazz band presentation, or the chorus — a number of things can happen at Morning Session. It changes all the time," he said.
Classroom time offers many opportunities also. Sant Bani has courses in all major subjects and older students have the chance to expand their horizons through advanced courses or Independent Study programs.
"We have one student who wants to go into Physical Therapy, so she's doing an anatomy class for independent study right now," Lintner said.
Others are creating a robot to dispense ice cream sundae toppings, and some challenge themselves in their open block times with strategic computer or board games, weaving, knitting, photography and more.
Lintner said Sant Bani boasts a great science program, and language arts are also important. With a multi-cultural student body, the school offers French, Spanish and English, but studies in Russian and other languages can be arranged.
"It varies with the interest of the students," he said.
Families who send their children to Sant Bani soon discover that education is a family affair.
Willow, a seventh grader, was one of the guides for last week's tour, and said everyone is involved.
"We don't have a cleaning staff, so the students all have jobs to do in the afternoons, and parents come (on a rotation schedule) and help clean on the weekends," she explained.
Many of the parents are alumni, and also participate as teachers or through other staff positions.
Sant Bani hosts a multi-sport athletic program where everyone is welcomed to participate. One alumni, Emily, said she was not athletically inclined in her high school years, but took part in sports through the encouragement of her classmates and the staff.
"I did my best, and that's always celebrated here, no matter how well you do," she said.
Some from Sant Bani do very well, though, as evidenced through two alumni who went on to become U.S Olympic athletes.
Three buildings, sprawling athletic fields, gardens and woodlands make up the 200-acre property off Osgood Road in Sanbornton. The Lower Building houses grades K-2, while third through fifth graders attend class in the newly renovated Upper Building, and older students are located in the Main Building, which is separated into two wings.
Besides local students from across the state, Sant Bani also has an international community, with students currently enrolled from Switzerland, Ghana, Denmark, Korea, Taiwan, Germany and even tiny Lesotho, on the southern tip of Africa.
Admissions Director Susan Dyment said early grade levels often have a waiting list, as families look to get their children a boost in education through their limited class sizes.
"We encourage anyone who has a younger child, especially Kindergarten level, to apply before the priority deadline on Feb. 15 to increase their chance of admission," Dyment said.
Applications, however, are accepted at any time. High School openings, she said, are more readily available because of the flexibility in older students' schedules, which still allows close student-teacher interaction.
Those interested in Sant Bani School are encouraged to visit their Web site at www.santbanischool.org and to request a personal tour during any school day. Tours can be arranged by calling 934-4240.