Preserving & advancing
local education in southern vermont

The Black River Independent School Committee (BRISC) is a group of parents and teachers in Ludlow, Vermont working to expand the educational opportunities for children in Ludlow, Mount Holly and beyond.



Our goal is to establish an independent school in Ludlow that will continue the education of middle and high school students once Black River High School (BRHS) closes in 2020. Our plan is to revive the historical name “Black River Academy” for the name of the school.

Our current steering committee consists of residents, parents, and educators. We welcome everyone who is interested in joining in the effort to open Black River Academy. Please consider attending one of our meetings.

  • John Bannon (Chair)
    History Teacher at BRHS, parent of two BRHS Students, resident of Weston

  • Uli Donohue (Co-Chair)
    Resident of Ludlow, parent of an Ludlow Elementary School (LES) student, Head of Science at the Okemo Mountain School (OMS), Math teacher at OMS

  • Marissa Selleck (Secretary)
    BRHS alumna, resident of Ludlow, Social Sciences teacher at OMS

  • Melissa Perrino (Treasurer) 
    Resident of Ludlow, parent of two LES students

  • Suzy Buckley
    Resident of Ludlow, parent of a BRMS student and a BRHS student

  • Kristen Garvey
    Resident of Ludlow, parent of two LES students

  • Heather Tucker
    Resident of Ludlow, parent of two LES students

  • Venissa White
    Two Rivers Supervisory Union After School Program Director, resident of Chester

  • Joann Wilson
    Parent of a current BRMS student

  • Hyle Daley

    Resident of Mount Holly


The original Black River Academy was established in Ludlow in 1835 and it closed in 1938. For much of its existence it was located at the historical Black River Academy Building at 14 High Street in Ludlow. Today the building houses the Black River Academy Museum and Historical Society. More information on the history of the original Black River Academy and the cultural heritage of the Black River Valley area can be found on the museum’s website. The museum is run and operated by a separate board of trustees and is not linked to the committee starting the new school. The new school will revive the old name and continue the long tradition of excellent education in the Black River Valley, but it will not be located at the historical building. 

The Black River Academy Museum and Historical Site  Photo by Tyler Goodrich

The Black River Academy Museum and Historical Site
Photo by Tyler Goodrich


Our Commitment

we are committed to…

  • Developing an innovative independent school that provides the best possible education for the children of our community, a school that strives for excellence and brings out the personal best in every student, a school that will attract new families to our communities.

  • Working towards a smooth transition from the current public school to an independent school by providing continuity of the programs offered including special education.

  • Offering competitive compensation and benefits to retain excellent and committed staff and attract new highly qualified and motivated staff.

  • Providing transportation for all students in Ludlow and Mount Holly who choose to attend Black River Academy.

  • Developing a strategic plan for the school that builds on the strengths of the current school and expands on those strengths. Such a plan will include collaborations with local non-profit institutions, universities and businesses, as well as a financial sustainability proposal.

In the midst of an educational sea change, we have an opportunity to create a brand new school that’s innovative, nimble, efficient and engaging
— Colin McKaig


Black River Academy will open its doors in August 2020 and take students from grades 7 – 12. Children whose parents or guardians are residents of Ludlow or Mount Holly, will be eligible to attend the school using their school choice tuition vouchers. There will be NO out-of-pocket tuition for these children if they choose to attend the school. 

If you are a local resident in Ludlow or Mount Holly and you have children who will be of the right age to attend Black River Academy in 2020 or in subsequent academic years, please fill out the following form to let us know if you’re interested in enrolling your child at the new school.