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Nature focus offered at Enchanted Evening fundraiser for school

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KENT – An Enchanted Evening fundraiser is planned as a benefit for the Kent Community Nursery School and will be held at the Kent Community House on April 27 at 7 p.m.

Kent Community Nursery School Director Anna de Rham creates a nest sculpture with two students during Nature Day April 10 at the Eric Sloane Museum grounds. The school has a focus on nature, which is also the theme of the Enchanted Evening fundraiser April 27. Photo by Lynn Mellis Worthington

The theme for the event will be celebrating nature and will mirror the emphasis students encounter during school hours when they are enveloped in nature .

“Our instruction is focused on the outdoors and nature-based as much as possible,” explained Véronique Mertl, president of the school’s board of directors. “We are 100 percent play-based.”

Students have the freedom of exploration and play. “Learning through play is really engaging,” Mertl said.

Director Anna de Rham estimates that during a regular school day, students spend at least 75 percent of their time outside. “Rain or shine, we are outside. We have extra gear for them,” she said.

Once a month, the students visit the Eric Sloane Museum for Nature Day. Administrator and Curator Andrew Rowand provides instruction and the children explore the grounds, regardless of whether it is sunny or raining. During a recent visit on April 10, de Rham worked with a small group on creating a sculpture that resembled a bird’s nest. Abigail Parker, a teacher at the school, read to children from a variety of books spread out on a blanket.

Teacher Abigail Parker reads to one of the students at the Kent Community Nursery School during Nature Day April 10 at the Eric Sloane Museum grounds. Photo by Lynn Mellis Worthington

When the Board of Directors began planning the fundraiser with de Rham the members knew they wanted to keep the focus on nature. The Community House will be decorated accordingly.

There is to be a silent and hybrid auction and the items went live online this week.

The 28 auction items range from gift cards to various area businesses to Lake Compounce tickets to handyman services. There is even a one-year membership to the Kent School Tennis Association.

On the menu are hors d’oeuvres by Chef Mario from New York City’s Hotel Carlyle and desserts from Rosie’s Kitchen. Everyone receives one drink ticket and can purchase more alcoholic beverages.

Dancing to music provided by DJ Ben Escobedo will occur two ways—audibly for all to hear and as a silent disco with headphones. “We think it will be fun to use the technology of the silent disco,” Mertl said. “We are excited to have a spring event that supports the school.”

Tickets are $35 per person and can be ordered online. Proceeds will both increase teacher salaries and make tuition affordable. Scholarships are available for students through funding from the United Way and the Kent Community Fund and the administration always encourages families to apply.

The school also receives an annual $15,000 grant from the Town of Kent but that is directed to operating costs, Mertl said.

The nursery school serves children ages 3 to 5 and maintains a 1:10 ratio of teachers to students. Enrollment is reaching the maximum number of students (20) that can be served at any one time.

In recent years, the nursery school has expanded its day to mirror the dismissal time at Kent Center School. A full day is 8:30  a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and there are half-day programs as well. More information about admission and the curriculum can be seen online.

Lynn Worthington
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