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North Carroll Community School looks forward to expansion in new building

More than 10 years after opening, the North Carroll Community School is working toward a new, larger facility.

It started with an idea — a different type of education, the way school is supposed to be.

The concept was hands-on learning. Outdoor classrooms, recess for all ages and educating the whole student was the focus.

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That was back in 2005.

And now, more than 10 years later, the North Carroll Community School holds tight to that focus. The private, nonprofit school is spreading its wings once again, as its owners work toward a new, larger facility.

"It's about the people," school founder and co-owner Scot Lynn said.

North Carroll Community School is an alternative school that is a "mix of traditional and progressive education," according to its website. The school, which includes kindergarten through eighth grade, doesn't separate students by grade so much as by education level.

Tuition at the school is $7,850 for the lower school, kindergarten through fifth grade, and $8,650 for the upper school, grades six through eight.

The new school year is a few weeks off for North Carroll Community School kids — they start after Labor Day. This upcoming year will be spent at the school's current location on Lamb Drive in Westminster. But the hope is that come this fall, they'll break ground on the new facility.

Ideally, said Lynn, who is also an administrator at the school, they'll be moving kids into a new building for the 2017-18 school year.

The new location, which is just a few miles down Md. 140, will be double the acreage of where the school is now, he said. Currently, the school sits on 5 acres. The new facility will sit on 12, with a building that will have about 21,000 square feet.

North Carroll Community School has smaller buildings and classrooms, leading it to utilize mobile classroom units, or portables, and to use the great room as a gym, a cafeteria and more.

"We knew buying this that we would have to buy some portables," Lynn said of the current building.

They've been there about four years now. It's not the ideal option, but in the end, Lynn said, they're more concerned with what's going on inside the classrooms. If they were going to take on this endeavor, Lynn said of starting the school, they were going to do it right, with passionate teachers.

And even with the changes and hope of a move to a new facility, that mission is something they never want to change.

The school is a little different, and they know that, said Diane Havighurst, a North Carroll Community founder and co-owner who is also an instructor at the school.

"We have structure — it's just different structure," she said.

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Inside, there's music, art and more. Outside, there's classrooms, a soccer field, a garden.

Kids are learning all the time, Lynn said. They don't have to just be in a desk to be educated.

"We believe … in education. We teach the whole child," he said. "Each day, that's the goal."

The new building will allow North Carroll Community School to have more classrooms and more space outside, and to double enrollment in coming years. The new building will have about 11 classrooms, Lynn said.

But they're not quite there financially.

The school has had a lot of donors and has done fundraising. With all that, the school is about $150,000 short, Lynn said.

They keep chipping away, he said.

And they have faith they'll get there.

To Lynn, Havighurst and the other instructors, there's no other option. There's something different about their school, and that's why people keep coming, Havighurst said.

"People are just looking for an alternative [to traditional schools]," she said.

And North Carroll Community School hopes to offer that.

"We're … a little out of the box," Lynn said.

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