Move to First Church Space
By Mike Lauterborn
(for Westport News)
Westport, CT – Literally out of the ashes has come a true spirit of community support that has carried Saugatuck Nursery School to a new long-term temporary space at The First Church of Christ, Scientist, at 55 Compo Road South.
Destroyed by fire on November 20, 2011, the school that had called Saugatuck Congregational Church home, relocated during the winter months to the Westport Weston Family Y. Now, ushered in by a ribbon cutting Wednesday morning, the school has moved to a more dedicated space where it will stay until its former home is rebuilt. Parents, teachers, children and staff all gathered at the entrance to the facility for the ceremony and enjoyed hot chocolate, coffee and pastries.
“After a brief stay at the Y, I reached out to a former parent, Marshal Root, who’s on the board of directors at First Church,” said the school’s Director Ellen DeHuff. “We met in late December and put the wheels in motion. Members of First Church have welcomed us with open arms and tons of hard work has been done to bring the space up to code for the nursery school. With a lot of support from Planning & Zoning, the Health Department and the Fire Department, we were able to open March 1. Today marks the grand reopening of our 44-year-old nursery school. This is a perfect marriage between the school and the church.”
Mary Flynn, the Superintendent of First Church’s Sunday School, said the older children in her program were excited to have the younger kids onsite. “I took a photo of the nursery school children and showed my group and they were like ‘awww, so cute.’”
DeHuff said she expects the original Saugatuck school space to be renovated within 18 months. The program’s current enrollment is 35 children ages 2 to 5.
Parent Margaret Neville was thrilled with the new location. “It’s great to have all the parents and teachers back together again,” she said. “This is a beautiful new space for us and all our own.”
The moment was especially meaningful for Pat Doolittle, a Saugatuck school founder and board member. “The program was founded in 1968 in response to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s death, as a way to bring area children together and experience their differences. Despite the recent fire, we’ve kept right on going.”