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Founders Day 2024—Our 49th Birthday


Mrs. Duce with Ivy Mary Knowles (in the blue dress)

Sunday, February 25, is Founders Day, when we observe the shared birthdays of our school and its founders, Ivy O. Duce and Meher Baba.


We’ll be celebrating Founders Day on Friday, since the 25th is Sunday. We’ll have a special treat for students and staff, and the always-popular Liedstrand fiddle band will entertain us all at lunchtime. Elementary students will see the premiere of a film about Ivy Duce produced by fifth grade teacher Terry Johnson.


Ivy Duce (1895–1981) was the murshida, or spiritual teacher, of Sufism Reoriented, a small nonsectarian spiritual school centered around the teachings of the Indian spiritual figure Meher Baba (1894–1969). When Mrs. Duce and her daughter, Charmian, were unable to find a loving school for Charmian’s daughter, Ivy Mary Knowles, who was born with Down syndrome, Mrs. Duce decided she would start a school modeled on the principles of Meher Baba’s “school for love” in India in the 1920s.


Prem Ashram, as it was known, welcomed students of all castes and creeds and was based on the understanding that children learn best in an atmosphere of love. This has been our guiding principle since that February morning nearly half a century ago when we greeted our first students. Our school’s motto is “Love Nurtures Learning.” “Prem” means love, and “Meher” means compassion.


The school opened its doors on February 25—which was also Mrs. Duce’s birthday and Meher Baba’s.

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