Founded in 2006, LiHigh School has grown from a small handful of students with just a few staff to a full-fledged democratically run institution with almost thirty students, fifteen staff, four distinct programs, and a student-driven restaurant and cafe. We also grew to occupy three different buildings in Poultney and a seven-acre wooded campus with a private pond in Wells. If that’s what we did in our first ten years, we can’t wait to see what the next decade will bring!
2006: Founded as bellcate south
LiHigh School began as the southern tier of the bellcate school in Essex, Vermont. Using a model they provided, we focused on servicing students throughout southern Vermont who had been diagnosed with emotional and behavioral disorders.
2009: We became LiHigh School
With several years of experience under our belt, we began making small but significant changes to the way we engaged students in their education. To signal this evolution, we changed our name to LiHigh School. The Li in LiHigh comes from a Chinese concept that speaks to the essence and beauty inside each of us.
2011: The Birth of the Progressive Program
Designed to serve students who felt stifled by the traditional public-school system, the Progressive Program helps students build an entire curriculum around their passions and interests while also developing their skills in communications, empirical reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and social reasoning.
2013: The Introduction of the Culinary Program
Originally built in 1917 as the Delaware and Hudson Railroad Station, the historic train station in the center of Poultney housed various restaurants since the railroad stopped its passenger service to Poultney in 1934. During the summer of 2013, we purchased the building and converted its former dining area into one-on-one classrooms and began using the commercial kitchen to offer our first cooking classes as part of our brand new Culinary Program.
2014: One Person, One Vote
With the introduction of a School Congress, we became a democratic school, giving each student and staff member an equal vote in deciding how the school would be run. The first rule passed by the Congress was short and to the point: “No dying.”
2015: Pizzas for Everybody!
Students in the Culinary Program began offering pizzas for takeout and delivery every Thursday to the businesses and people of Poultney, bringing to life one of the ultimate goals of the program: to spread good food throughout the community.
2016: Camp LiHigh & Outdoor Leadership
We purchased a seven-acre property in Wells to serve as Camp LiHigh. The property included a private pond, a large garden and hoop house, acres of wooded areas, and a small waterfall. Giving us a place to call home in the Spring, Summer, and Fall, Camp LiHigh served as a laboratory for the development of our students’ outdoor skills. A group of staff members took up the challenge of building curriculum around the opportunity, and thus began our Outdoor Leadership Program.
2017: The Localmotive Cafe
In the Spring of 2017, we opened the Localmotive Cafe, a student-driven cafe in the heart of Poultney. Designed, managed, and operated by the students of LiHigh School in conjunction with the Culinary and Social Entrepreneurial programs, the Localmotive Cafe provides high-quality coffee and baked goods in an inviting and welcoming atmosphere.
As a democratic school, our future will be written by our students and staff as they choose the best way to offer the youth in our communities a well-rounded education for generations to come.