What would it sound like if the place you worked at, your favorite place to go every winter, the place you lived in, or the place you were currently going to school at announced it was closing for good?
For Green Mountain College on Jan. 23, 2019, it was silent.
Then there were tears. Then Screams. Then there was sadness.
To former Green Mountain student Benji Powell, “It felt like something out of a movie.”
Every answer starts with a heavy sigh.
Looking up. Sitting straighter.
“When I got the news, at first I was like ‘what am I going to do?’ And then I was like ‘what is the point of college anyway, I’ll just get a regular job.’ But a little later I thought about it and the reason I am in college is to better myself. Why would I go back to that?” Powell said.
Green Mountain students, after the news, started to question their decision to continue their education. They began wondering where do they go, what do they do, how do they pay? Most students said as the semester went on, walking to class, hanging out with friends, the impending closure loomed over them.
Life in the fallout
According to the Admissions Office, Castleton welcomed 40 Green Mountain students in the fall semester, and a few more this spring semester.
Now a sophomore at Castleton, Ryan Grady was a freshman at Green Mountain when news of the closure came. He describes life after the announcement as, “Sad.”
“Everyone had come to really love the Green Mountain community. It was a small school, and everyone knew who everyone else was. It meant a lot to other people, even to people who were freshmen like me,” he said.
Alison Stewart, another former student from Green Mountain, found the last semester frustrating because if she knew that would be her last semester at the school, she would have had a different schedule and maybe could have graduated then!
Derrob Heggy-Weatherbee, who also attended Green Mountain, described the final semester on campus as being filled with alumni.
Weatherbee describes the alumni looking at newer students like zoo animals. They came to check out their old dorms, reminiscing about the old days, asking to talk with students about the closing. One, Weatherbree recalls, said if he knew about the closing earlier, he could have saved the school.
Nearly 200 years of riverside fires, recreational activities, and socializing laid way for the hundreds of students who attended Green Mountain College to make some incredible memories. They say the school was known for its “hippy-dippy” “nonconformist” students and they reminisced about good times at their old school on their last week.
Samantha Villeneuve smiled while thinking about good memories and simple pleasures they enjoyed there.
“There were like sidewalks in Poultney,” she said, “to like get to like Shaws. And I would walk with my friends to Shaws to get stuff for dinner and like we had to-go boxes from the dining hall and we’d grab stuff like that from the dining hall and go have dinner.
Powell talked about how the school helped foster his love of music. He and his friends decided to start a rap group at Green Mountain called “YaLu,” but they faced the challenge of not having a studio.
So, they built one.
They couldn’t secure funding from the school for obvious reasons, so they pitched in together to buy everything that was needed to turn an unused room into a professional studio with soundproof walls and a hand-made booth. The group made tons of music, really “decked the space out,” and even had shows but when the school closed, all that was lost.
“We put together two shows, me and my friends, and just seeing that we could get a decent crowd for rap music in Vermont to come out was fun so we had a stage and a mic, and we did that and w
e had a good turnout of like 100 people. We did the thing. That was the worst part that hurt about the closing, we had that going and then just like damn…,” Powell said.
All Green Mountain students now attending Castleton say the facilities are the best part about our school.
“I live in Hoff Hall now, and that is one of the nicest facilities, arguably the nicest. I’m on the first floor next to the bathroom, the front door, the kitchen. It is nicer, the rooms are a good size, the list goes on,” Grady said.
Stewart agreed but still wanted to talk more about Green Mountain.
“I love Green Mountain, and I’ll love Green Mountain until the day I die, but I do think Castleton has benefits in the idea that there are higher standards,” said Stewart
Powell echoed the comments.
“Uhm, the benefits are the better facilities. Like just the facilities,” said Powell with a smile.
They also all agreed that the food is better.
But not everything is better at Castleton University for these students. As much as they love the quality of living, the food, and the professors, there is one thing they all agree Castleton does not do as well. The community.
“I think I wish that people were more genuine and, I don’t know, they say it is a community vibe on campus here but like coming from Green Mountain it doesn’t feel like that,” said Villeneuve.
“It feels like there was a sense of community that didn’t have that artificialness that it does feel like we have here. Here we are “Spartans” and I think that lacks a sense of sincerity,” said Weatherbee.
At this point, all the Green Mountain students who came here have all moved in and are well on their way through the semester. They say they are happy to be here and enjoy our school. They still do miss their old school, though. Some even go and check up on it. Grady has been there two times since the closing, Villeneuve hasn’t been back, but Weatherbee also has given it a look.
“Yeah, I’ve been back a few times,” Weatherbee said. “It is really surreal. They haven’t moved a lot from there. Like I look back in my old room and there is still like chalk art below it on Moses and if you look into the coffee house there are still the mic stands and the squeaky swivel chairs. It is really weird, yet like vanished.”