Farm Festival Raises Funds for School That Promotes Educational and Economic Equality

The Manhattan Country School hosted its 48th annual Farm Festival on the Upper West Side on Saturday, offering family-friendly activities, baked goods, prizes, live music and more to help raise funds for its operating costs.

Pumpkins, squash, baked goods, and vegetables of all sorts lined the entrance of the farm festival on tables, while the smell of savory grilled lamb chops, pork chops, and chicken filled the air. There were raffle tickets sold for $3 and prizes included $1,500 in cash, a DJI Phantom Advanced Drone, a Go-Pro Camera and $100 Book Culture gift card.

Families could be found walking up street, enjoying live music, and waiting in lines for a rock climbing wall, bounce houses, and face painting.

“The first time we came was to check out the school and this is the second time we’re coming, because my son goes to the school and so we wanted to support the festival,” said Melanie Kinard when asked if this was her first time at the festival.

“I went to the school for ten years, so my classmates are like my brothers and sisters and there are a bunch of them here today. It’s just like having a second family,” said Sophia Morel, class of 1994.

The festival is designed to raise money to help with operating costs so the school can keep its sliding scale tuition model. The school, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, seeks to reflect the vision of the civil rights movement, and it strives to have a student body that has no racial majority and broad economic diversity. Not all families can afford full tuition, and the school hosts the fundraiser to assist with its operating costs.

“We have sliding scale tuition … we have to raise money to make up the difference so the people who don’t make as much money can come to the school but we can still pay expenses,” said school trustee Alan Altschuler. Part of the money raised will also fund construction at the school, added Altschuler.

Seventy-five percent of families pay tuition on a sliding scale, while 100 percent benefit from an economically and culturally diverse learning community, according to the school’s website. The school raises $60,000 to $70,000 each year from the festival, according to Angela Johnson Meadows, the school’s communications director.

Manhattan Country School relocated from the Upper East Side to the Upper West Side in September, and Saturday was the official ribbon cutting for the new location.

The school is also hosting an online auction, which runs until October 25.