Saying goodbye to the little school on the hill

Open Fields School is a special little elementary school on the hill. It’s as near to a one-room school house as you can find around here. Most years, the school’s population comprises about 20 students — kindergarten through sixth grade — three teachers, and Woody, the school dog.

OFS graduation - Woody Guthrie Wheaton

Open Fields is a school that encourages independent learning, imaginative play, a general love of learning, and cooperation and interaction between all students. In the winter, the whole school goes sledding on the big hill nearby. In warm weather, everyone is out in the field, playing capture the flag and freeze tag, or one of dozens of games they make up themselves (Warrior Cats, dragons, ice sculptures…). Little ones and big ones, they’re all in it together, both on the swing set and in the classroom. The big kids read books to the little ones, and the little ones idolize the big ones.

Hyla was a little one once, falling in love with sixth grade girls who were kind enough to spend time with her. This year, she was the one reading books to the kindergarteners.

OFS graduation - Friends meet on the battlefield

In the seven years that Hyla attended Open Fields, I can’t remember a day when she didn’t want to go to school. She loves that place. We all do. It did right by us. We have a happy girl who loves learning, adores reading, is not afraid to question her teachers or other adults, and is socially at ease with all sorts of people.

Last Friday, Hyla and her fellow sixth-graders graduated from the school on the hill.

OFS graduation - Banner

In spite of threatening weather forecasts, we had a hot, sunny day. The families picnicked in the yard, the kids ran around, and then the graduating class took its place at the swing set. The ceremony was sweet and to the point: they have learned and grown so much; they have contributed as much to the school as they have received; and they will be missed.

OFS graduation - Graduated

Not half as much as we will miss you, Open Fields. Thank you, thank you, thank you for everything you’ve given us. It was all just about exactly as we had dreamed it would be.

OFS graduation - Our grown-up girl