Zinnia Bourque, 10, (left) and Makana Bourque,16, students at Tallgrass Sudbury School, stand outside Riverside United Methodist Church, which Tallgrass Sudbury has called home for 15 years. The institution is moving to LaGrange for the 2023-24 school year. | Provided

The Tallgrass Sudbury School, a small student-directed private school which has called Riverside United Methodist Church at 82 Woodside Road in Riverside home for the past 15 years, is moving to LaGrange. 

The school, which now has 30 students ranging in age from 5 to 18, will begin the new school year in August in its new digs at First Congregational Church in LaGrange, which is located at 100 6th Ave. in LaGrange, just one block east of LaGrange’s downtown.

The primary reason for the move is that First Congregational Church in LaGrange can provides more space than the school had at Riverside United Methodist Church, and the space is all on the ground floor.

“It is a desire to expand,” said Tallgrass Sudbury School staff member Ben Huizenga. “We’ve been feeling at the school for a few years that we needed to, you know, expand to a larger space where we could accommodate more students and kind of build the health of the community, increase our offerings, hire more staff, have more funds to make more services possible.”

Huizenga said the school had been looking on and off at possible new locations for years and this year was contacted by First Congregational Church in LaGrange. Like its current location, the school will be just blocks from a Metra train station, an important factor in their decision to move.

“That Metra line has been a real advantage for our recruiting, especially for older students who can get to and from the school on their own,” Huizenga said. “It also lets us take field trips into Chicago by the train, which we do all the time, so it’s really nice to still be along that line.”

Seven current Tallgrass Sudbury students reside in either Riverside, Brookfield or North Riverside. Some students come from Chicago and take the train to school.

The school’s rent at First Congregational will the same as it was at Riverside United Methodist Church, $2,400 a month.

Jillian Antani, a trustee at Riverside United Methodist Church said that the loss of Tallgrass Sudbury as a tenant would have “little to no impact” on the church, which has about 60 members.

Huizenga said approximately 20 current students will make the move to the new location in August, and the school has received interest from a number of potential new students. Huizenga said Tallgrass Sudbury will be hosting open house events over the summer.

“I think we’re going to be able to meet our current enrollment and exceed it very quickly,” Huizenga said.

The school is particularly interested in enrolling more younger students, in the 5- to 9-year-old age range, Huizenga said.

“We didn’t have too many of those students the last couple years,” Huizenga said.

Huizenga said that it is nice that the new location is close to downtown LaGrange.

“There’s so many little schools, you know, with places you can take classes and job opportunities and just sort of socializing,” Huizenga said. “Riverside is not devoid of that, but downtown LaGrange is just a little more active.”

Huizenga said Riverside Methodist Church has been very supportive of the school and that the staff and students will miss things about its Riverside location. 

“We are going to miss that and we actually are talking about maybe making some regular visits back here,” he said.