– More than 350 people, from students and parents to faculty and
area politicians, turned out last weekend at Mount Madonna School
in Watsonville to celebrate something more than 20 years in the
WATSONVILLE – More than 350 people, from students and parents to faculty and area politicians, turned out last weekend at Mount Madonna School in Watsonville to celebrate something more than 20 years in the making.
That something was a private school campus envisioned by a group of yoga practitioners who strolled upon a meadow within the 350-acre mountain-top lot they purchased back in 1978.
Today, that lush spot is a construction site for a new middle and high school campus that will expand Mount Madonna’s enrollment capacity to 225 students. The school serves 195 preschool through 12th-grade students.
“It was a fabulous day. We had a great turnout and the officials who attended spoke highly of our school. It was a tremendous affirmation,” said Ward Mailliard, president of Mount Madonna Center and a faculty member of the school.
Middle and high school students, like the school’s preschool and elementary pupils, currently are housed in various facilities around Mount Madonna Center, a premier retreat and seminar site for groups whose work “falls into the category of spiritual awareness,” said Mailliard. The $5 million campus will have, among other things, a library and state-of-the-art science, computer and video labs within the 20,000-square-foot spread of one-story buildings.
Construction on the 445 Summit Road site began in May and is expected to finish up by September 2004.
“So far we’re ahead of time and under budget,” Mailliard said.
Nearly $1 million for the construction has been raised by Mount Madonna with another $2.5 million coming from a bank loan.
“We still need to raise $1.5 million. It’s our investment in the future of this educational system which incorporates positive values into curriculum,” said Mailliard.
Mount Madonna will use tuition, surcharges and continued fund-raising to acquire the remainder of the funding. Tuition at Mount Madonna runs from $6,000 to $8,900 a year.
Over the years, Mount Madonna has seen a steady rise in the number of Gilroy and Morgan Hill students attending there.
“I’d say 95 percent of our students used to come from Santa Cruz. I’d expect that within a few years we’ll be at fifty-fifty (half from Santa Cruz, half from Gilroy and Morgan Hill),” said Mailliard. “We definitely have you guys in our radar. Both Gilroy and Morgan Hill are growing communities and there’s a sort of natural constituency there.”
The natural constituency, Mailliard says, is the increase in technology workers moving into the area who want to give their students an alternative educational experience.
In addition to a rigorous academic curriculum, Mount Madonna provides successful athletic and performing arts/drama programs. Mailliard said that 100 percent of Mount Madonna students go to universities after graduation and that last year the school’s volleyball team won the Central Coast championships.