With Help from
Crossroads Academy has Entered
into a Whole New Realm.
by Bruce Wood
Drive north from Hanover on Route 10 and shortly
after you cross into Lyme you’ll see a small,
nondescript sign on the left side of the road:
“Crossroads Academy.” If you’ve been around the
Upper Valley long enough, you might recall that
Crossroads is a private K-8 school whose beginnings
trace back to 1991 when the first classes were held
in a small church basement in Hanover.
In 1993, the school moved to its current location in
Lyme. It adapted a redbrick-and-clapboard barn and
brought in a few modular rooms to create a cozy
Today, the campus looks much the same—only down the
gentle slope behind the barn, something looks a
little different. At first glance, it appears to be
a small, pleasant-looking addition to the campus.
When you stroll down the hill, however, you discover
a surprise. Built into a hill that disguises its
size, that little addition begun in late June 2005
isn’t little at all.
Constructed by Trumbull-Nelson and opened this fall,
the Campus Center is believed to be the largest
building constructed in Lyme. Its 16,600-square feet
of usable space houses a gymnasium with a full
basketball court, several banks of fold-up
bleachers, a stage, and much more.
There’s an airy library with views that invite the
outside in, a spacious art room with streaming
natural light, and a music room where children have
room to dance, free and unencumbered. No wonder
those who work in the new building can’t help but
sing its praises.
“It’s an exciting time,” said Jean Behnke, the head
of school. “We’re just discovering what this new
space will allow us to do. It’s going to top off our
program and really allow us to stretch our wings.
“It’s a beautiful building and will serve us for
many, many years to come,” Behnke continued. “It’s a
classic-looking building and may be there 100 years
from now, still serving students and the community.”
Even at a century Behnke is probably understating
the useful life of an environmentally sensitive
building designed by Lebanon’s Banwell Architects,
according to Trumbull-Nelson’s Todd Thompson.
“It’s like a 500-year building with all masonry
walls and spray foam on the outside of it,” Thompson
marveled. “The roof system has big, beautiful
laminated trusses with structural foam panels over
the top of them and everything has been tested for
quality assurance to minimize air infiltration and
provide a tight building.
“They did it right.”
He’ll get no argument from Behnke or the teachers
and staff who made the best of their previous
cramped quarters—and who have been chomping at the
bit this summer to get into the new building.
“Because of space limitations our shelves in the old
library had to go to the ceiling, whereas in an
elementary school you really want low shelves,” said
librarian Geneva Menge. “The kids had to stand on
stools to reach the books on the top shelves. Or we
had to hand the books to them. Now we have shelves
the children can reach, and lots of room.
“The new library is just wonderful. The big bay
window with the window seat looking over the back
campus is beautiful.”
The building certainly hits the right note with
music teacher Christiana Whittington, whose own
children went through Crossroads.
“It’s a pretty stunning change,” she said. “Once
school starts, I will have gone from an attractive
but very small attic room in the old barn to a very
spacious and amazingly bright room that will
accommodate us beautifully.”
Perhaps no one will appreciate the new space more
than Rose Grenier, the Crossroads physical education
teacher who used to run her program in the old barn,
but now can set children loose in a gym that will be
the envy of a lot of kids who go to other schools in
the Upper Valley.
“The barn had two posts in the middle and it amazes
me the kids didn’t run into them more than they
did,” Grenier said. “I had to modify a lot of
That’s now a thing of the past.
“We can play basketball in the winter, which we’ve
never been able to do before, and there are holes
for volleyball standards,” Grenier said. “I’m sure
once I’m in there I’m going to come up with all
kinds of great ideas about what we can do
differently to improve the program.
“There’s enough room around the edges of the gym
that we can still have something else going on while
using the court. We could potentially have two
activities going on at once where it used to be we
had to worry if we had enough room to squeeze in
The gym also includes a stage with a storage room
that will allow costumes, props, and entire sets to
be stored, as opposed to rebuilt each year.
The Campus Center is part of an ambitious,
three-phase expansion at Crossroads that included
the purchase of 135 acres of land and will
eventually see the addition of new Lower and Middle
While living through any building project can be
trying, the Crossroads/Trumbull-Nelson relationship
worked smoothly according to Behnke.
“Trumbull-Nelson has done a great job communicating
with us,” she said. “(Project superintendent) Dave
Stanley has been particularly good about making a
personal connection with me and keeping me in the
loop. That’s been very helpful whenever there have
been any questions or concerns.
“They’ve been very approachable and have responded
quickly to anything I brought up. It’s been a
pleasure to work with Trumbull-Nelson. Their
attention to detail has been wonderful and their
workmanship has been high quality. They paid
attention to the little things.”