May just finished up an outstanding tour of five Mid-Atlantic boarding schools with 5 wonderful educational consultants from around the country. The three day tour began at Mercersburg Academy. They enjoyed time with Doug Hale, as this is his last year as head at Mercersburg, after a long productive career. He certainly leaves the school in a strong place. Then we met with several enthusiastic faculty members and students who were eager to talk about the two signature programs on campus that the upper classmen apply for to join. The MAP’s program offers a high level of discussion and analysis without being an AP class. The seminar class requires the students to write a paper and do a presentation. There is also an exciting Springboard program that all seniors take unless they are in the MAP or the seminar class. The school offers a free test-prep program for students who are preparing for SAT and ACT. The tour guides were outstanding and eagerly answered all of our questions. The Mercersburg Inn was charming and dinner with Quentin and Tommy was certainly memorable.
It was great to be back on the campus of Episcopal High School. We loved meeting the admission’s team who have a natural southern friendliness to them. It was a special treat to find out that one of May’s high school friends’ daughter had returned to Episcopal to work in admissions after working elsewhere for several years. Episcopal continues to have a strong athletics program but has also improved and expanded their arts program since our last visit. The honor code is still very strong and well respected. One new addition is that the freshman must wear name tags so everyone can get to know their name! Love that the school offers so many leadership positions for everyone who wants to have an opportunity to get involved.
This was May’s first time on the Peddie campus. What a beautiful location with outstanding facilities. The school has a new science building and two new dorms. It was very exciting to get to tour the new digital design lab that will be opening in a few weeks. Students will be able to design the things that make what one can imagine! Students will be building and programming robots and going to competitions around the country to compete.
There are lots of exciting opportunities for the Peddie student. We heard about two volunteer programs offered to the juniors and seniors. These two signature experiences involve science and English. For the science signature experience, students can research any area of science and spend the summer doing research in a lab.
Peddie is looking for students who have excitement, curiosity and character. A student who applies needs to be passionate about something and be intellectually curious or willing to find that curiosity once on campus.
Another school we got to see for the first time was St. Andrews. As we drove onto the beautiful campus, we saw a large organic garden that is managed by the students and an area where paddle tennis is played. We had the privilege of beginning the day in a senior English class being taught by the assistant head of the school. The class was reading and discussing the book Beloved. One of the many nice traditions on campus is the parents write a letter to their child as the junior year begins outlining their goals for their child. In return, the student writes a letter back to their parent. The students are deeply involved in the decision making on campus. Another nice tradition is on Tuesdays, classes end early so the students can participate in community service work. Our tour guide mentors an elementary student at the local elementary school. This weekend the school is hosting a mud run to raise money for a worthy cause. We enjoyed a relaxing evening with the administrative team at a wonderful local restaurant. Louisa, we appreciated you enthusiastically driving us all over the place in the school van.
We loved meeting so many key people at Blair Academy on our last day of this outstanding tour. This campus is just amazingly beautiful. The current head, Chris Fortunato, spent a great deal of time talking with us about the skills he feels are important for a student graduating from Blair. He strongly believes you need to know kids for who they are and not what you want them to be. He wants the Blair student to be prepare for higher education but also prepared to have a good life. Chris wants every Blair student to learn how to be an effective communicators because if you can’t communicate your ideas, no one is going to care about your idea. He also wants the Blair student to be proficient at problem solving and have strong leadership skills. Blair offers many service oriented trips called Where Blair Leads. One really unique thing Chris has implemented is the adults meet as a group four times a year to discuss each student.
The school is opening a Center for Innovation and Collaboration which will be a space for students to build what they can imagine. They were putting the finishing touches on two new dorms which were beautiful.