Lawrence’s Raintree Montessori School to celebrate 40th anniversary with slate of activities

photo by: Chris Conde

Raintree Montessori School is celebrating 40 years in Lawrence in October 2018.

Lawrence’s Raintree Montessori School will host a weekend of events in celebration of its 40th anniversary.

On Saturday, Raintree, 4601 Clinton Parkway, will have a fall festival starting at 11 a.m., followed by a silent art auction on Sunday.

Saturday’s festival will begin with an open house and scavenger hunt at the private school. Participants will be given a map with 80 locations — 40 inside and 40 out — to find on the 14-acre campus; the hunt is designed so that participants can explore the changing landscape of the school over 40 years. Raintree staff have re-created the look of former classrooms from old photographs as part of the tour.

“Raintree, at times unfortunately, has evolved over the years, so things change here. And even right now we are doing construction on our pond, so that is something that is evolving right now in the middle of this celebration,” said Lleanna McReynolds, Raintree’s head of school.

The festival will continue with a fundraiser dinner featuring the music of Joe Sears and Page 7. Sears has been a teacher at Raintree for over 20 years. Page 7 has performed its blend of reggae, rocksteady and soul all over Lawrence since 2014. A ticket is required for the event, with dinner starting at 6 p.m. and the performance to begin at 7.

On Sunday the celebration will wrap up with a silent art auction from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The art will be on display in the Raintree Phoenix building, with some of the contributing artists in attendance. The works are currently available online for bidding from the Raintree website.

Over the years, Raintree has had around 6,000 students, according to the school directory. Since opening the school in 1978, McReynolds and her husband, Keith McReynolds, have faced many trials and obstacles, including a fire in 2000 that destroyed the school’s main facility. While no people were injured, a memorial was held for the 20 animals that perished in the fire. Three years later, in 2003, a tornado damaged roofs, windows and playground equipment at the school.

“The whole area has changed,” McReynolds said. “When we started Raintree there was just a little oil road that led to a vacant church we rented for $400 to start our school. They closed the road leading to our school to build Clinton Parkway. Parents had to drive around a quarter section of land and come in the back way in order to enter the school. So we told ourselves, if we can survive the year that the road is closed to our school, maybe we can make it,” she said.

After the fire, Raintree moved temporarily to a vacant Lawrence school district administration building at 3705 Clinton Parkway while rebuilding the school. McReynolds attributes the enduring success of Raintree to the city of Lawrence and its dedication to education and its generous residents.

“All of the monies raised by the events will go to Friends of Raintree, which is a nonprofit, to provide scholarships for students and to support our inclusion program because we have always had kids here with special needs,” McReynolds said. “We will also use it for staff development and entrepreneurship. Those students that are now adolescents who are in our program here, if they happen to invent something, they would have some startup funds that they could use.”

Alumni and friends of the school are encouraged to contribute any old photos they may have to add to the school’s Memories Room Project.

For more information about Raintree, to bid on the art or for tickets to the show, visit

photo by: Chris Conde

The Raintree Montessori School garden is pictured in October 2018.

photo by: Chris Conde

The Raintree Montessori School pool is pictured October 2018.

photo by: Chris Conde

The Raintree Montessori School firepit is pictured October 2018.


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