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story.lead_photo.caption Lynn Atkins/The Weekly Vista Teacher Daphne Willaby dances with some of her "Caterpillar" class of 3-year-olds at the Bella Vista Preschool last week.

Some of Bella Vista's youngest students attend one of the city's oldest schools. The Bella Vista Preschool was started in 1978.

Located in the basement of the Methodist Church, the preschool has always been small, director Melanie Nichols said. It's also part-time, with the older class attending on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, while the younger class -- the 3-year-olds -- attend on Tuesday and Thursday.

They're licensed for 12 children in each class, but seldom enroll more than 10, she said. The staff is made up of Nichols and two teachers, but volunteers are also in the classroom each day.

The preschool was started by the ministerial alliance, a coalition of seven local churches, and members of those churches still comprise the board of directors. They also send volunteers to help.

Each week there's a letter of the week and a color of the week, but the school is really more about play than academics, Nichols said. Learning is always based on play at the school.

Their school year is a little shorter than the public school, starting a week or two later and finishing each year before Memorial Day. The school is usually closed if the public school closes for weather.

There may be some scholarships for a portion of tuition, she said, but those decisions are made by the board.

General News on 09/04/2019

Print Headline: Preschool in business since 1978

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