First-person account: Having a school as your neighbor

Dear future neighbor of Trinity Hall School,
My name is Leah Soltas, my family and I live at 95 Ridge Road in Rumson. We moved here 14 years ago from a high rise apartment in New York City. The home we decided to buy was directly next door to the Rumson Country Day School. At that time we didn’t know what it would be like living next to a private school, but we took a chance. I would like to take this opportunity to describe it.
Once we were in the home we realized how peaceful it was to be surrounded by school playing fields on the western most side of our property. The green fields spread for acres. The chance of having neighbors building huge “McMansions” on that side of our home was forever squashed. Instead, our view was beautifully tended lawns in spring, summer and fall, and great sleigh runs and cross country ski expanses in snowy winter.
About 11 a.m. everyday for 30 minutes at the most and then from 4 to 5:30 p.m., we heard the faint spirited voices of children having fun at recess or in sports competitions. Before that, after that, and all weekend, summer and holidays it was still. Perfectly quiet. A condition we never could have visualized without the day-to-day experience of being right there. My husband still worked in NYC so all he ever got to see and hear is the peace I describe on the summer evenings and weekends once he was home and outside.
When the school is open the speed of cars is actually slower! Ridge Road always has a lot of traffic with drivers who tend to speed on the longer stretches. I believe the presence of The Rumson Country Day School between Briarwood and Bellevue Avenues helps to slow down the traffic. I wouldn’t say there are more cars, they are just more cautious around my home and the neighboring school.  At school drop-off and pickup five days a week there is a little more traffic, from 7:45 a.m. to 8:10 a.m. and then again between 3:10 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. but that is barely an hour! There’s a crossing guard at the intersection of Ridge and Bellevue to help kids and parents cross. Sometimes you have to wait for the people to cross and there might be three or four cars in that line, but the safety issue can only be considered a good thing. We miss that crossing guard in the summer and when school isn’t in session. RCDS hired a traffic consultant in the past few years. That caused the town to erect a lot of better traffic and lower speed signage. Hopefully less accidents have occurred with respect to this study. I definitely feel being the school’s next door neighbor has benefited our family’s safety as far as our home being on a main road.
One morning I was inside my home when our dogs got out of our backyard.  A kind teacher I was quite friendly with saw this. She texted me right away. Her caring alertness saved the lives of our two Vizsla dogs. When we built a pool in our backyard and re-graded our property, backhoes and other construction vehicles became part of the lessons the nursery teachers used. The headmaster opened his home to us one night when firemen took hours to locate smoke coming from our house, as did a director of admission, taking us to her home when we smelled and realized a gas leak during our renovation.
My husband and I decided to send our three boys to this school that values family and academic excellence before anything else. My children were able to walk to school rather than take a bus. Like in the ’50s and ’60s, our home was the easy one for others to come to since it was right next door. Our boys invited their friends to walk home with them every day.
I would never trade our Rumson Country Day School neighbor for a different kind of family. My husband and I are so pleased to be next door to them. The monetary value of our home is guaranteed to be greater with the assurance that no new homes will be built next door, the peace and quiet goes on and on, as do the fields and playground.
If you have any questions or would like to see this for yourself please do not hesitate to email me in care of Trinity Hall: [email protected].
Thank you,
Leah Soltas

Notice of Nondiscriminatory Policy as to Students: Trinity Hall admits students of any race, color, national, and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.