Natick Kindergarten Hosts Parade Celebrating 75 Years
NATICK – For 5-year-old Lilah Davis, Thursday will be the day she won’t soon forget.
“It’s the best day of my life,” she said from the playground at Wellesley Cooperative Nursery School, also known as Natick’s Big Brown Barn School.
Lilah was watching a parade Thursday that included city police, firefighters and the Department of Public Works, as well as a few local businesses. The festivities marked the school’s 75th anniversary, one of the last events the school hosted this week in commemoration of its milestone.
Earlier in the year, the students created a mural in honor of the day. The school caters for children aged just under 3 to 5 from Natick and Wellesley, as well as Framingham, Dover, Sherborn, Needham and Medfield.
A group of Wellesley mothers founded the Wellesley Co-operative in 1945, originally a babysitting group held in Mrs. Frank Hayward’s home, according to historical records. The cooperative was then converted into a nursery school.
A year later the program moved to Sprague School in Wellesley and the following year to its current location – the barn at 5 Merrill Road in Natick. The barn was known as the Shaw Gymnasium and had been used as a community center for dances and other events.
Jean Gooch, only the fifth director of the Wellesley Co-operative in its 75-year history, attributes the school’s longevity to its reputation. She sent her own son there almost three decades ago, and many of the teachers who work there either sent their own children or were students themselves.
“Ninety-nine percent of the people who come here love it,” Gooch said. “They talk about it to their families, friends and neighbors”
The barn, which was built in 1824, looks largely the same as when the school moved there in the 1940s.
With a large open space, children have plenty of room for activities. The school uses a play-based learning program.
Allen Breed, chairman of the board of trustees of Wellesley Cooperative Nursery School, said many people in the area feel connected to the school and understand the value of education through play, which enables children to to be children.
Cesareo Contreras can be reached at 508-626-3957 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cesareo_r.