New School Opens: Parnassus Preparatory School in Maple Grove
After three years of planning, the Parnassus Preparatory School opened its doors to students for the first time Monday, Aug. 22.
Parnassus is located in Maple Grove in the Zachary Square complex, but attended by students from throughout the northwest metro. The school is considered a “classical education, tuition-free, college preparatory” charter school, according to Parnassus website.
“It’s been amazing,” Founder and Board Chair Laura Bottenfield said of the first day of school.
Bottenfield said she started looking for alternate education options about three years ago for her children, who are now in fourth and sixth grade and attending Parnassus.
“I learned there were more options [in education] out there,” she said, stating there was a “lack of options” in the northwest metro. The exploration eventually led her to the classic education curriculum model that is embraced at Parnassus.
Organizers initially thought they would be able to draw about 150 students to the new charter school the first year. However, demand has already outpaced the available seats for the 2011-2012 school year. Bottenfield said school year started with about 315 kindergarten through sixth grade students and a waiting list is already in place.
Parent to a fourth grader and kindergarten, Kari Lyn Wampler decided to move her children from the Osseo School District to Parnassus when she felt her daughter's school was "struggling to keep her engaged and interested in learning."
"We wanted an education for our girls that would get them excited about learning and teach them how to think," Wampler said. "The vision of Parnassus is right on board with what we want for them."
The excitement of the first day for the new school seemed to cross from staff to students.
"Everything about Parnassus carries with it this amazing positive energy. That energy was in abundance yesterday for the first day of school. All the administration, staff, and students were buzzing with excitement," Wampler said. "Our kids came home from school and said, 'I don't like Parnassus - I love Parnassus!' We are honored to be a part of such an amazing vision."
Plans are to continue growth at the school, adding a secondary grade to the site each year. A long-term lease signed earlier this year secures 16,884 square feet of Zachary Square Retail center.
“We are excited to have secured a long term home for Parnassus. We took the extra time necessary to negotiate a lease that provides us the space and capital to fulfill our growth plans for at least the next 10 years,” said Treasurer Greg Friess in a press release earlier this year. “Our facility group chose the Zachary Square site as its number one choice, based not only on the ability to grow, but the central location, ample parking, ease of access and room for a playground.”
According to the website, Parnassus Preparatory School is the only licensed kindergarten through 12th grade public charter school in the northwest metro area that offers the classical trivium, a “proven educational method and theories that have delivered high academic performance results.”