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Celebrating 50 years, preschool on the verge of closing

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TOWNSEND — All it will take to keep the Townsend Cooperative Playschool open next year is five more students.

Irene Congdon, a parent and board member said they already have 10 children ready to go for in the fall.

This year has been tough. “We have nine kids right now; to pay the bills we really need 15,” she said. TCP serves children ages 3 to 5.

The poor economy has been a factor in the declining enrollment according to Congdon. Parents cannot afford to send their children if the budget is tight.

“We’re trying really hard,” she said. Next year will bring an even greater challenge when the school district opens a preschool.

TCP was begun in 1960 at the Congregational Church and is now located at 370 Main Street. There are two paid staff members.

“I love it,” Naomi Lynch the lead teacher and director of the school said. She has been teaching there 13 years and had one child go through the program.

Lynch said there is more parental involvement in the school than at other schools for young children.

In order to keep costs down for the families, the school relies on donations of time and supplies from the parents. Some parents volunteer in the classroom. Others contribute to special outside programs.

Families, students and old graduates attended a spaghetti supper held in the new meeting hall to celebrate the 50th year of the school.

One parent, Cara Amedio, made the sauce and meatballs. Others came bearing desserts and salads.

It wasn’t just the current families who contributed though. “It’s a family affair. You want to come back,” Congdon said.

At the recent dinner, former student Margaret French proved her right. The North Middlesex Regional High School junior volunteered to perform harp music. She was enjoying every minute.