Antrim’s Hawthorne Academy first day postponed due to fire inspection

  • Hawthorne Academy in Antrim announced it would hold its first day on Tuesday, Sept. 12, but had to push that date back due to fire marshal inspection.  (Abby Kessler/ Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler

  • Hawthorne Academy (Abby Kessler/ Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, September 21, 2017 10:26AM

Hawthorne Academy in Antrim postponed its first day of school due to an incomplete fire inspection.

The first day was scheduled to be held on Tuesday, Sept. 12, but the three students who are currently enrolled in the private high school were unable to attend classes because of the process.

Hawthorne Academy Headmaster Trevor Courtney said he wasn’t sure when Hawthorne first initiated the inspection process. He said first the local fire chief came and then a state inspector came sometime in August. They were told the process could take a week or it could take months.

“We were hopeful that it would move along quicker,” Courtney said of the inspection process.

Antrim Fire Chief Marshall Gale said the inspection had to be completed under tight time constraints. 

“So many things needed to be done and it was a small window of time,” Gale said.  

Gale said he has inspected the education facility on campus known as Scarborough Hall and is working closely with the school in order to get them up to code. That paperwork will eventually be sent to the state fire inspector. If the process is OK’d the school will receive an occupancy certificate that is required by the state Department of Education. 

Gale said the school has been sitting idle for a number of years and needed work to be brought up to life and safety codes. 

The campus originally acted as Nathaniel Hawthorne College, which was established as a liberal arts college in 1962 and later expanded into an institution that offered business, aviation and computer science career tracks until it closed in 1988. The campus has passed through several owners since then, most recently serving as a Maharishi meditation school.

Gale said they are doing the best they can to expedite the process so that it can open this school year. He said it’s unclear when the process will be completed, but that it will “definitely” be wrapped up by this school year.

Amy Clark, an administrator at the state’s Department of Education, said the fire inspection is the last piece Hawthorne needs in order to start school. Clark too, said it’s unclear when that process will be complete.

As long as Hawthorne meets the requirements under state law, which reads that schools must be in session for 180 days or 990 instructional hours per year, it will be able to hold classes this school year.

Earlier this month, Courtney said there were two ninth-grade students enrolled. He said one of those students is still waiting for the school to open, and the other enrolled in another school after the first day was postponed. Courtney said on Wednesday, two more students have enrolled school and two others who may sign up for a class or two. That bumps the boarding school’s enrollment up to three full-time day students, and potentially two part-time day students.

The academy has a total of five instructors including a math teacher, an IT teacher, two art teachers, and a health teacher. Courtney said the remainder of the courses like science will be taught through online courses.

Courtney said the school is also currently working on a state process to allow it to accept foreign exchange students. This past summer, he said a group of about 10 Chinese students visited Hawthorne during a trip through the states. Courtney said the kids roamed around the campus’ 300-acre property, and one day took a long nature walk to a nearby mountain. He said hosting events like that raise awareness about the newly established school abroad.

The school is owned by a nonprofit organization called Overseas United Education, which bought the property in Antrim for about $1.5 million. The investors include a number of individuals of Chinese descent.

“We don’t just want to bring one nationality,” Courtney said. “We want our campus to be diverse.”

Abby Kessler can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 234 or akessler@ledgertranscript.com.