Rochester today is quite different from its founding years. It has become increasingly more difficult for families to make a living from farming, and today only three dairy farms remain in the Valley. A former dairy farm now raises beef cattle. The mills are gone, and industry has been replaced by the electronic revolution. The computer has brought the world to Rochester. Rochester is home to two publishing companies along with the other businesses: Schenkman Books specializes in academic books, and Inner Traditions International specializes in books on, among other things, holistic healing and aromatherapy. Oatmeal Studios, a major greeting card company, markets its humorous cards world-wide. All of these companies are major employers of local people. Rochester in the mid-eighties, was determined to find a way to keep their older population requiring more assistance – but not nursing home care – at home! Park House, a former private home and inn in the center of Town, was purchased and is now home to 18 in a shared housing concept for older folks. Each individual has his/her own room, but meals and common living space are shared. Entertainment abounds too! The White River Valley Players established in 1980, is a community theater group which has staged such productions as Carousel, Mame, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Fiddler on the Roof, South Pacific, My Fair Lady, Our Town, and, in 1996, Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with original music composed by local musicians Dorothy Robson and Larry Hamberlin.
Today, Rochester remains a lovely central Vermont town with well-maintained homes with large porches and a beautiful park and classic bandstand with its summertime concerts. The mountains where farms were scattered and are now cellar holes and memories, provide wonderful walking adventures, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. Bed and breakfast establishments are found throughout the area. Many artists, professors and writers call Rochester home. Our town continues to be governed by a Selectboard, with proud townspeople volunteering for spots on the many necessary committees. Town Meeting no longer occurs during the day on the 1st Tuesday in March, but has been changed to evening so as to accommodate the many working people who want to attend the event. And being centrally situated in the State, Rochester is 15 – 20 miles from the State’s major ski areas: Sugarbush and Mad River, Killington and Pico, and 10 miles over the Gap from the Middlebury College Snow Bowl. Our school continues to be quite small, with students from the surrounding towns of Hancock, Granville, and Stockbridge joining with the Rochester students for a population of 277. There are advantages to a small school – academically, our students can hold their own at the major institutions of learning throughout the United States, and the students, if they desire, can almost be assured of participation on the various sports teams and in the theater productions.