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Potential students get look at Springdale Preparatory as August opening approaches

For the Zia family, Springdale Preparatory School would mean smaller class sizes, good activities and project-based learning, Sobia Zia, of New Windsor, said.

"We want to try this and see," she said.

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Sobia Zia came out Thursday with her two boys, Noor, 10, and Sameer, 9, and her husband Mohammad. Mohammad Zia said they haven't been happy with Carroll County Public Schools, and wanted to look at other options.

The Zias gathered with other potential students and their families in New Windsor on Thursday to learn more about Springdale Preparatory School — an educational system that touts thinking outside the box. The institution is set to open for class Monday, Aug. 21.

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New details about the future life of the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor are coming into focus following an announcement on Monday by the Illinois-based Church of the Brethren, which has owned the campus since the 1940s, that it is working toward a sale of the property to a Chinese education company. The intended new use of the property? A private boarding school called Springdale Preparatory School.

The school will offer both boarding and day school. The school's boarding program will offer five-day boarding, where students return home or otherwise leave school for the weekend, and seven-day boarding, where they live at the school full time during the school year.

"Students are going to learn by doing," Dean of Curriculum and Instruction Jill Krebs said.

All students learn differently, she said. Springdale is going to have a home-school feel, targeting individual students' needs, in a physical school setting, she added,

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The staff at Springdale will teach students through experiences, Krebs said. Their model will allow room for students to make mistakes and learn from them, she said.

Education will be interdisciplinary, Krebs said, for kids grades five through 12. It's a good age group to work with, she added.

"You can kind of really encourage growth exploration," she said.

Krebs said Springdale plans to have a chunk of time every Thursday morning for internships, experiential learning, life skills and more.

"We have a lot of possibilities," she said.

Springdale Preparatory Head of School Johnny Graham, who served in the same capacity in 2015 for Brandon Hall School in Atlanta, Georgia, said the school will not only prepare students for college and jobs, but will prepare students for life.

"We want to create well-rounded graduates for a 21st-century world," Graham said.

As of mid-May, Graham said there are 10 students enrolled in the school. Springdale hopes to have about 30 kids by August, and the school will have rolling admissions, he said.

The school's boarding program will offer five-day boarding, where students return home or otherwise leave school for the weekend, and seven-day boarding, where they live at the school full time during the school year. Annual tuition for domestic five-day boarders will be $41,300, seven-day boarders $48,500 and for international students boarding full time, $54,500.

New Windsor Mayor Neal Roop, who is taking part in the school and has taken a position as student services coordinator, said the school will be good for the town.

Already, Roop said, Springdale and New Windsor are having a "great partnership."

"With the town growing and the school growing, any new business coming into town will just flourish," he added.

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