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Northern Lights School moves into former Lake Colby School

Saranac Lake seniors and Northern Lights School alumni helped get the day care’s move to its new home at the former Lake Colby School started last month. (Photo provided)

SARANAC LAKE — Northern Lights School has officially purchased the former Lake Colby School building from the Saranac Lake Central School District. Its alumni will help continue the move this Saturday and the new location should be open by September.

The Waldorf-inspired, nature-based school for infants through 5-year-olds finally landed a permanent location at 26 Trudeau Road on Monday after years of searching.

The building sold for $184,250. NLS has a 20-year mortgage for the property through the Adirondack Regional Federal Credit Union.

NLS board President Julia Goren said when the school moved from Wilmington to the basement of the First Presbyterian Church on Church Street in 2005, it was just meant to be a temporary location. Fifteen years later, they’ve finally found a permanent home of their own.

Goren said she’s grateful to the church for letting the school stay there all those years.

Northern Lights School students sanded tables in June to help get the day care’s move to its new home at the former Lake Colby School started. (Photos provided)

She said it was hard to find the right building. It had to be affordable, zoned correctly and able to be licensed through the state Office of Children and Family Services. There are regulations on the types of buildings daycares can be licensed in.

Meeting all these standards was difficult, but the former Lake Colby School fit the bill.

Goren is glad it will still be a place for children to learn and play.

Saranac Lake Central School District Superintendent Diane Fox said she’s also happy with the sale.

Two former Northern Lights School students, now Saranac Lake High School seniors, clink glasses in the tiny chairs they used to sit in as NLS students. (Photo provided)

Changing school

In the past 15 years NLS’s focus has changed, Goren said. It used to offer more programs for adolescent students — up to third grade — but now its focus is on the little ones, down to infants.

Goren said the new building will allow NLS to double enrollment in its Nestling Nursery program for children six weeks old to 36-months-old. It will also give them a larger yard to play in.

Families are excited about the move, too, Goren said.

Northern Lights School students sanded tables in June to help get the day care’s move to its new home at the former Lake Colby School started. (Photos provided)

The school will need to renovate the building. There is some immediate work they’ll need to do before opening doors at the start of the school year in September. Short-term, Goren plans to add classroom ramps, paint and playground upgrades.

Then there are some long-term capital projects the administration will raise funds for. Mainly, the existence of asbestos in the roof eaves. These are high, outdoor features, so Goren said there is not currently a danger of kids coming in contact with them.

HeadStart

Currently, Adirondack Community Action Programs’ HeadStart preschool rents space in the building.

Goren said NLS will work to make sure HeadStart can stay in the building.

She said they’ll have to work with OCFS to have two licensed daycares in the same building.

She said they’ll be more collaborative than competitive.

“There isn’t competition among providers here in Saranac Lake,” Goren said. “We’re in a child care desert. There aren’t enough spots for children.”

She said HeadStart is “a really important provider in the area.”

Work bee

The work to move already started in June, when a group of Saranac Lake High School seniors who were all in from the same preschool class at NLS got together to sand tables, pave, prepare to move and have a class reunion.

Goren said one of the boys told her the building still smells the same as it did 14 years ago — like lavender, beeswax and fresh-baked bread.

Baking bread is a staple of the NLS curriculum at all age levels.

Goren said the day was a great experience for her son Sebastian Vlach, 7, a NLS alum.

“It was so inspiring to see these high school seniors with their shirts showing which colleges they’re going to talking about remembering Northern Lights,” Goren said.

She was grateful for the seniors’ help.

Another work day is scheduled for this Saturday, July 24, at both school locations, old and new.

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