Why Essex? Bellcate School

Interview with Jac Treanor, Events Director & Teacher

Bellcate School is an alternative middle and high school located near Essex Center, serving 32 students ranging in age from 11 to 22.    The school was born in 2003 after co-founder Jesse Bell noticed a lack of services for students with severe challenges within the traditional school system.   

Bellcate does not look anything like a typical high school.  There are no metal desks, packed hallways, or piercing bells.  All students have an individualized education plan and start out with 1 to 1 instruction.  Students are exposed to a wide variety of skills and experiences, including maple sugaring, perfume making, hot yoga, and cooking.

Bellcate is the only special education approved independent school that is a sanctioned member of the Vermont Principals’ Association.  The Bellcate Bulldogs were proud to take home the state championship in Unified Basketball last year!

This recent testimonial shows the impact that Bellcate School has had on some of their students and their families: “In six short months, Bellcate has enabled my son to take social and academic risks I never could have predicted. His language skills have blossomed and his confidence and self-esteem have magically appeared. He is sharing about his experiences and showing he is feeling safe and connected.  What more could a mom ask for? Absolutely nothing.” 

Jac was excited to highlight Bellcate’s Sixth Annual Harvest Festival.  This event will be held at Sand Hill Park on Thursday, October 4th from 4 PM – 7 PM.  Every student at Bellcate has a job to do with organizing the festival, and Jac said that this is an opportunity for the students to have positive interactions with the community.  Best of all, the festival is free and open to everyone!    

Why Essex? “We serve students from as far south as Panton and as far north as Sheldon.  Essex is a good midpoint” -Jac Treanor

Why Essex? is a weekly(ish) column highlighting the people and places that make Essex an interesting and special place. Have an idea for the column? E-mail Darby Mayville at darby@ essexjunction.org.

Photo Credits: Bellcate School & Darby Mayville