History

Community School was established in 1973. The first classes were held in the basement of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Ketchum, with 30 students, three faculty members, and four volunteers.

Today, we are a pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade day and boarding school with more than 385 students in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grades and more than 100 faculty and staff.

From those early days in the basement of St. Thomas, we have grown to thrive across three campuses: the Trail Creek academic campus; the Ketchum Campus, which houses our boarding program, Athletes' Training Center, and campus hub; and the Dumke Family Sagewillow Campus, the site of our playing fields, Air Barn, and Outdoor Program.

Take a look through the timeline below to see some of the most significant milestones in Community School's history.

Community School: A Brief History

1970s

1973

  • Former Hemingway Elementary School Principal Sam Hazard opens the Ketchum-Sun Valley Community School (KSVCS).
  • Affectionately known as the “Hap-Hazard Academy,” the school enrolled sixth through ninth grade students and met in the basement of the St. Thomas Episcopal Church on Sun Valley Road in Ketchum.
  • Tuition was $1,500.

1974

  • School remains at St. Thomas for the spring term.
  • The first Powder Day is initiated by students on a bluebird day with a foot of fresh powder.
  • Fifty students enroll in KSVCS in its second year.
  • The school moves to Trail Creek Cabin for the start of 1974-1975 school year.
  • Sun Valley Company allows students to ski for free in the afternoons.

1980s

1981

  • Founder and Headmaster Sam Hazard retires and is replaced by teacher Pete Phillips.
  • The school has grown to 130 students, and tuition is $3,500 per year.

1982

  • Math teacher Ed Simmons is appointed Head of School.

1983

  • The Cutthroat is adopted as the school’s mascot.
  • The school fields its first basketball team.

1985

  • Ketchum-Sun Valley Community School purchases Trail Creek Campus from the Sun Valley Center for the Arts.

1986

  • Headmaster Ed Simmons resigns and is replaced by Richard Hislaire, a long-time teacher at Ketchum-Sun Valley Community School.

1987

  • Jon Maksik is hired as headmaster.

1988

  • Ketchum-Sun Valley Community School merges with The Mountain School, a kindergarten through sixth grade elementary school in Elkhorn.
  • For the first time, Community School offers a kindergarten through twelfth grade education.
  • The school name changes to "The Community School" and enrollment immediately jumps to 188 students, with 37 teachers.
  • A capital campaign raises $2 million to construct buildings for the Elementary and Middle schools.

1989

  • The Elementary School is built on campus.

1990s

1994

  • Enrollment grows to 252 students, with a faculty of 51.
  • A $6 million capital campaign is launched to build a gymnasium, theater, and fine arts building, and to expand the Middle School.
  • A pre-kindergarten class is offered off-campus in Elkhorn.

1996

  • Engl Hall, which houses the fine arts classrooms, opens.
  • The Dumke Middle School renovation and expansion is completed.
  • The gymnasium opens.

1997

  • The theater opens and the capital campaign concludes.
  • The capital campaign also raises $2.8 million to add to the school’s endowment.
  • The school's endowment reaches a total of $3.5 million.

1998

  • The Dumke family, longtime benefactors of Community School, donates the 30-acre Sagewillow Farm in Elkhorn to the school.
  • Sagewillow is viewed as an excellent opportunity for the school to expand its facilities.
  • Construction of the soccer fields is overseen by board member Tom Unger.

2000s

2004

  • The Board of Directors focuses on making much-needed improvements to the Trail Creek Campus.
  • Head of School Jon Maksik announces his intention to retire at the end of the 2005-2006 school year.

2005

  • The Board of Directors votes to move forward immediately with $8.7 million in improvements to the Trail Creek Campus.
  • Sun Valley Company sells The Community School one acre adjacent to the Trail Creek Campus for the school to expand its parking area.
  • Andy Jones-Wilkins succeeds Jon Maksik as Head of School.

2006

  • Another capital campaign is launched with the goal of raising $11.2 million, with $2.5 million going to the school’s endowment.
  • The new Upper School and Administration Building is opened in August, as well as the new science building.

2009

  • The academic calendar moves from semesters to trimester terms.
  • The Board of Directors adopts the 2009 Strategic Plan, meant to guide the school for the next five years.
  • A Brazilian Student Exchange begins with Escola SESC de Ensino Medio in Rio de Janeiro

2010s

2011

  • David Holmes is hired as Head of School.
  • Community School’s Residence Hall opens at the base of Warm Springs. The Residential Program welcomes eight students, including four international students.
  • Sun Valley Ski Academy is launched, providing competitive snow sport athletes the chance to get a rigorous college-preparatory experience while competing on a high level and training with the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation.
  • The Outdoor Leadership Academy is created, allowing students to take Community School’s Outdoor Program to the next level and gain certifications in outdoor fields.
  • “The” is dropped from the school’s name. The official name is now "Community School."

2012

  • Enrollment reaches more than 360 students.
  • The Residential Program serves 20 students, with nine international students.

2013

  • The Annual Fund raises more than $600,000.

2014

  • The Campaign to Transform Trail Creek begins and ultimately raises $8.9 million to construct a new Middle School building.
  • The Board of Directors adopts the 2014 Strategic Plan, meant to guide the school for the next five years.

2015

  • Ben Pettit becomes the sixth head of of Community School, taking over for David Holmes, who transitions to Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives.
  • Construction begins on the new Middle School building. The new 20,225-square-foot Hagenbuch Hall for the Creative Arts and Middle School Building opens in August 2015. The project is completed on schedule and associated costs were under budget.
  • Community School announces plans to expand its Residential Program. In October, the school purchases the former Smith Sport Optics Building. The “Ketchum Campus” project begins. The Campaign for the Ketchum Campus launches with a goal of raising $8 million. Community School and Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) approve a joint fundraising effort; seventy five percent of jointly raised funds will support the Ketchum Campus.

2016

  • The school is re-accredited by the Northwest Association of Independent Schools (NWAIS).
  • The remodel of the Ketchum Campus begins in the spring.
  • Forty seven students graduate from Community School, the largest class in the school’s history, eight of which go on to ski collegiately.
  • The Kemmerer Family Teaching Greenhouse opens on the Trail Creek Campus.
  • STREAM (science, technology, robotics, engineering, arts and architecture, and mathematics) is added to the school’s curriculum for grades K-12.
  • The Creative Arts Academy (CAA) is launched. Open to students in grades 9-12, the program offers dedicated instruction and opportunities in the arts.

2017

  • The Ketchum Campus, a residential facility and campus hub, opens on January 1, 2017, welcoming boarding students from around the nation and world, including Australia, Spain, Germany, Japan, and Italy.
  • The school launches a new website.