River Grove elementary school, in partnership with Manitou Fund, will be temporarily housed in the Zephyr Theatre building in downtown Stillwater, MN, beginning in fall 2023.
River Grove elementary school announced they will be relocating to the Zephyr Theatre property located at 601 Main Street North in Stillwater for the 2023-24 school year. The move is part of an ongoing collaborative partnership with Manitou Fund, who recently entered into a purchase agreement to buy the Zephyr property. The move will provide an interim home for the school as it continues to develop long-term plans to create a forest-based campus and learning center.
“We’re extremely excited about this opportunity and are incredibly thankful to Manitou Fund for providing us a unique space in such an amazing location,” says Drew Goodson, Executive Director, River Grove school. “We look forward to continuing the implementation of place- and outdoor-based curriculum along the St. Croix River.”
Why a Temporary Location?
The proposed terms of the Wilder lease extension threatened the school’s financial viability and programming continuity if we remained at our current location. These costs and terms, usually the property owner’s responsibility, would directly affect teachers and students. Minnesota Catholic Youth Partnership (MYCP) also asked for terms that would impact the school.
- The school assumes all responsibility for maintenance, repair, and upkeep of the property.
- Wilder will no longer be providing a dedicated maintenance person (winter plowing, service road maintenance, minor building upkeep, etc.).
- Repair liability includes capital items and insurance deductible.
- The school calendar must end by May 17, 2024.
- Possible additional week for adults to move items.
- MCYP’s renovations of the property to begin December 2023; school responsible for cost and undertaking of accommodating displaced classrooms.
- $100,000 security deposit to abide by all terms and conditions of the lease agreement.
- MCYP requiring a “letter of support” from the school supporting their purchase and camp plans.
Our interim location will provide amazing new opportunities and stability as we pursue our permanent location in the forest.
Please refer to the Executive Director’s presentation to the Board of Directors meeting, Thursday, April 13, 2023, for additional background information.
Innovation and growth are not new at River Grove.
We started from scratch in 2017-18 with 160 students and area families trusting us to build something special. We did! We grew and adapted as enrollment rapidly increased, and we made it through the COVID requirements that required radical rethinking of how school is delivered—from food service and transportation to class configuration and curriculum delivery. In this past year—even with the property uncertainty—we dedicated ourselves to expanding our mission and vision and deepening our understanding and implementation of our unique educational model.
Outdoor- and place-based learning will remain as centerpieces of River Grove’s educational model.
The school is committed to implementing existing expertise and developing new ways to take students outside in nature and in the community. We are already thinking of ways to adapt our programming for the temporary site and to get the kids out exploring, enjoying, and learning in nature in a new location.
“Promising” is not strong enough to describe River Grove’s future!
We have an incredible opportunity to build a world-class facility with an amazing and committed partner, Manitou Fund. While we are sad to leave Wilder Forest, the tremendously successful program we’ve built here will continue to flourish in our interim phase at Zephyr, growing into an immersive educational experience that will benefit students, families, and our community for decades to come.
Planning is well underway.
- River Grove’s administration has begun meeting with Stillwater city personnel, Warner site personnel, Zephyr location project leaders, and River Grove teachers and staff about plans for next year.
- Manitou Fund, our partner and new landlord, has engaged an experienced, innovative architectural form, MSRDesign. Please refer to the presentation to the Board of Directors meeting, Thursday, April 13, 2023, for preliminary design ideas for the Zephyr space.
- Frequently asked questions are being collated and answered here. Additional updates will occur frequently as more information comes in.
- Please refer to the Board Meeting minutes and materials from April 13 for additional information.
We hope you choose to come grow with us!
The Team at River Grove