New School Planned For Former Fairgrounds Site in Bentonville

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 624 views 

Officials of a new independent school in Northwest Arkansas, backed by the Walton Family Foundation, said Thursday the campus will be built at the former Benton County Fairgrounds site in Bentonville.

The site, at the corner of Main and Eighth streets south of the downtown square, is currently owned by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and will be donated to the school, according to a news release.

The school, announced last summer, will be called Thaden School, in honor of Bentonville native Iris Louise McPhetridge Thaden (1905-1979), considered one of the greatest aviators of her time.

The school will open in the fall of 2017 starting with grades 7 and 9 and grow incrementally over the next four years to serve students in grades 6 through 12, according to the release.

The school expects to provide full or partial financial assistance to at least 25 percent of its students, according to the release.

The development of the campus will start with indoor and outdoor spaces that will support the school during its first two years. During this initial phase of operations, the institution will be located on its permanent site. The design and construction process for the rest of the campus will begin later this year, and is expected to be completed no later than the fall of 2019.

Before 1924, the former fairgrounds site was location for three other educational institutions, including Bentonville High School when Thaden was a student there. The campus will eventually include a historic house where Louise Thaden once lived, currently located at 703 W. Central Avenue in downtown Bentonville.

The Scott family will donate the house to the school, and Thaden officials are working on a plan to store the structure until it can be relocated to the permanent site as part of the campus master plan.

The relocation will need approval from the City of Bentonville.

The school also announced a number of hires for its leadership team and board of directors.

Dr. Clayton Marsh, formerly the deputy dean of the college at Princeton University, was announced as the founding head of school effective January 2016.

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