Hilltop Montessori School announces Phase Three groundbreaking

Hilltop Montessori School will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for its Phase Three expansion on Sept. 18. (Contributed)

Hilltop Montessori School will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for its Phase Three expansion on Sept. 18. (Contributed)

FROM STAFF REPORTS

MT LAUREL—Hilltop Montessori School will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for their Phase Three expansion on Friday, Sept. 18 at 10 a.m. on the school’s Mt Laurel campus.

Hilltop Montessori School students will participate in a time capsule at the groundbreaking ceremony. Other stakeholders of the school community will join the celebration, as well as supporters of the school, including USAmeriBank, JohnsonKreis Construction, EBSCO Industries Inc., The Town of Mt Laurel, Williams Blackstock Architects and the Hilltop Montessori Board of Directors.

The expansion will house a community area and a teaching kitchen that will also be available as venue for local businesses and residents of the North Shelby County area, as well as expanded classrooms and fine arts areas.

EBSCO Industries gifted Hilltop Montessori School around six acres of land in the town of Mt Laurel more than a decade ago, and the school recently received another acre of land to help support the expansion project.

“As an independent academic institution, we are so grateful to EBSCO Industries,” Hilltop Montessori Head of School Michele Wilensky said. “Phase Three is our way of giving back to the Mt Laurel community. This new extension of the building will be a wonderful ‘after hours’ resource, as well as offer an opportunity to give our students more programming opportunities.”

The school’s environmental education curriculum integrates a heavy emphasis on nutrition, which is supplemented by the school’s expansive edible gardening program and on-site apiary. The new teaching kitchen will allow the school to serve lunches made from fresh, organic produce.

Architect on the expansion project, Bill Segrest of Williams Blackstock Architects, said that he sees the community space as a resource for the school’s needs while also offering support for “seed-to-plate” nutrition education and an indoor multi-purpose space that can support myriad different activities for the community.

Hilltop Montessori School’s conservation efforts have been recognized at the national and local level, and the new expansion will be built according to the same “green” principles of design. The current building has been LEED certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The school’s edible garden and apiary programs are recipients of two Whole Foods’ Whole Kids Foundation grants, as well as other environmental grants through Legacy Inc. and The American Montessori Society. The school’s gardening nutrition program is part of the Edible School Yard Project, under the direction of Alice Waters, a former Montessori teacher. The outdoor classrooms are certified by the National Wildlife Federation.

Hilltop Montessori has a student body of 200 and serves children ages 18-months through eighth grade. The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Independent Schools and AdvancED.