Hilltop students get to be part of school’s history

Hilltop Montessori School will be transformed by the construction of a new multipurpose building on campus.

Phase 3, which is scheduled to be completed by the time faculty and students return to school in the fall to begin the 2017-18 academic year, will encompass about 12,000 square feet and include a gymnasium/multipurpose space, teaching kitchen, art studio, science lab and piano studio.

Outdoors features will include an apiary, butterfly garden and peace labyrinth.

There are several special events planned to celebrate the opening of the facility—including a ribbon cutting and an old-fashioned sock hop on Aug. 18—but perhaps the most meaningful effort, dubbed “Let’s Pave the Way to Phase 3,” was when all current students at the school had the opportunity to press their handprints into a freshly poured concrete walkway on Thursday, May 18.

More than 200 children ranging from preschool to eighth grade took turns in shifts leaving their handprints, as teachers, administrators and volunteers helped make sure the students were equipped with safety glasses, vests and gloves.

The walkway will connect the existing school building to Phase 3, so the handprints will be a centerpiece for many years—long after the current students have undoubtedly gone on to do great things. They will serve as reminders of the school’s history and the importance of its growth.

Phase 1 of Hilltop Montessori School’s construction was the main school building, which opened in 1996. Phase 2 was additional classroom space completed about six years ago.

Along with the construction of the new building, the $3.5 million Phase 3 project will include the school’s existing music room in the main building renovated into a multimedia center and library.

School officials have been cautious and deliberate about construction. When the national recession hit, leaders slowed down plans until more solid financial footing was found.

Donors contributed about $641,000 for the project, and the remainder was financed by USAmeriBank at a non-profit rate.

The new building will allow Hilltop, already an outstanding school, to better serve its students in the future, and the classmates that were able to leave their handprints will always be a part of that legacy.

Stephen Dawkins is a staff writer for the Shelby County Reporter. He can be reached at 669-3131 ext. 524 or by email at stephen.dawkins@shelbycountyreporter.com.