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Bridgehampton school gets $275K grant

Harvard University, Princeton University and Hayground School: One of these things seems not to be like the others.

But the Bridgehampton private school and the Ivy League universities can be grouped together as grant recipients from the prestigious Leon Levy Foundation.

Hayground School, for the second year in a row, will receive $275,000 from the New York-based nonprofit foundation, established in honor of Levy, an influential investment banker and philanthropist who died in 2003.

Arjun Achuthan, one of the founding members of Hayground School, said the school was honored to be a recipient two years in a row. He said the fact that the school is in the company of universities and other research institutions is a testament to both the Levy Foundation and Hayground School’s strong educational foundation.

“We are pushing the edge in terms of education,” he said. “The universities, they’re pretty heady in terms of their beliefs about education, and we’re pretty heady here at this school, too.”

Achuthan said the school, which was founded in 1996 and enrolls students from kindergarten through eighth grade, has a unique philosophy on education that fit with the foundation’s mission.

He said the school does not administer tests or give students grades, and it is centered on an apprenticeship program that pairs students with working professionals in a field that they’ve shown interest and natural ability.

“Part of our philosophy is kids work best with people that love what they do,” Achuthan said. “The Levy Foundation found that to be something that goes along with their philosophy.”

The grant will help fund the apprenticeship program; the Extended Day Program, which extends the school day until 4:30; the scholarship fund; a series of expert panels and the Scientist in Residence program, in which a working scientist is hired by the school to lead students in experiments and research projects.

Mark Mobius, an ecologist and the Scientist in Residence at Hayground School, said the program is important because the class is driven by the students’ own interests.

“It’s more about the doing of science and learning how to learn than actually following a curriculum,” he said.

Mobius said he was initially hired for one semester last spring, but the Levy grant has allowed the school to extend his residency. He said he’s found the program to be beneficial to the students.

“The experience the students are having and taking home with them seems to be well received,” Mobius said. “This has really worked out for the best for them.”

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