Fifteen summers ago. Anyone who remembers the very hot, humid and rain-less summer of 1998 might be surprised to find out how a group of energized people chose to spend their time that year. Instead of vacations or lazy summer days at the beach, the founders and their friends and neighbors gathered to help build Fairhaven School. On any given day, between ten and fifty people would show up on this lovely piece of property in Prince George’s County to dig, hammer, pound, paint, or hoist. With the guidance of founder Romey Pittman, who wore many hats that year, including project manager, building designer, volunteer coordinator and permit runner, as well as two hired contractors, Gary Stiewing and Bambi Tran, volunteers worked day in and day out to create what is now fondly called the Old Building.
Sudbury Valley Board Member Alan White spent the entire summer here; Sam Droege milled much of the timber used for the building, designed the front porch (which became our logo) and designed and built the beautiful Circle Room floor; Beth Stone and Jim and Jancey Reitmulder from the Circle School in Harrisburg, PA also pitched in. Joe Jackson handled all things financial and spent countless hours building; Ray Hartjen, author and supporter of the Sudbury philosophy, videotaped the process. Lindsey Dodson, Alice Wells, Tony Koppers, Linda Jackson, Marty Perkins, Amina Re, Fred Tutman, Joe Boerckel, Gayle Friedman, Niel Rosen, Jim Meyer, Dan Luczak, Bernie Gregory, Jane Gregory, the Banes, the Stewarts, the Autrys, the Fizdales, the Grusky-Foleys, the Bennetts, the Umsteads, as well as twenty members of the Single Volunteers of D.C., and many, many others worked tirelessly throughout that long, hot summer to get the job done. To quote an article written by founder Romey Pittman in the Fairhaven School News that year:
We aren’t able to thank everyone who helped us in this process. We are indebted to more than two hundred people who contributed in one way or another. Even subcontractors and inspectors seemed to smile more and help us in whatever way they could…The building of Fairhaven School is an experience which none of us will forget. Those of us who now inhabit the building are reminded daily that drops of water really do turn a mill, and are deeply grateful to all those who helped us realize our dream.
Now in its fifteenth year, Fairhaven School continues to remain a testament to the idea of community building. Birthed by groups of people from all walks of life who were drawn together to create something bigger than they could imagine for young people, Fairhaven School continues to evolve as a place where children can pursue their dreams in a supportive environment. Thank you to all of you who helped create Fairhaven.
Click on this link for a slideshow of pictures from the summer of 1998(choose the slideshow option on the left of the page). See if you can identify a familiar face or two. Pass it on. Let others know that breathing life into a dream really can happen.