It is fascinating to delve into the beginnings of a private school. It's the time when the school is so malleable and so strongly influenced by its founder's zeal and lofty goals. The community is tiny compared to what it will morph into over the years, indeed over the centuries, in some cases. The hardships and sacrifices which are endured are almost unimaginable in this day and age. when new schools seem to pop out of a delivery box fully funded and all set to go.
I hope that you will explore these five schools against the backdrop which I have set out above. They are unique as private schools always are. They have great personalities, characters, and rich histories. Yet they share a common theme and purpose: to provide the very best well-rounded education for their students so that their graduates can make a difference in the world today.
Annie Wright School, Tacoma, Washington
Founded in 1881 Number of students: 436 Grades PK-12: Boys and girls day school PK-8. Girls boarding and day: 9-12 Religious Affiliation: Nonsectarian Setting: Urban
Overview: The school was established by an Episcopal bishop. James Paddock with the financial support of businessman Charles Wright. Bishop Paddock named the school in honor of Wright's daughter Annie. The school was a girls' school until the earthquake of 1949 damaged Lowell School, the local boys' school. AWS set up temporary quarters for boys. The coeducational program expanded to 8th grade in the 1970s.
AWS offers challenging academics as evidenced by the implementation of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program in 2009.
Bishop’s College School, Lennoxville, Quebec Founded in 1836 Number of students: 260 boarding and day Grades 9-12 Coeducational Religious Affiliation: Nonsectarian Setting: Rural
Overview: BCS or The Lennoxville Classical School as The Reverend Lucius Doolittle preferred it to be called was a boys school until the 1970s. In 1972 King's Hall, Compton, a girls' school merged with BCS to create the coeducational community the school now is.
BCS enjoys a stunning location nestled in the rolling hills of Quebec's Eastern Townships which are located about 2 hours southeast of Montreal and a short drive to the Vermont border. Don't let the Canadian accents fool you. This school prepares its students for matriculation to Canadian and American universities as well as those overseas in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.
Gorgeous new facilities have planted BCS in the vanguard of private schools offering innovative courses, such as digital filmmaking, for example. The latter course plus several others are happily taught in Hartland Molson Hall. (Yes, the Molson's beer Molsons.) Did I mention the squash, hockey, and dozens of other sports available? Skiing in the Eastern Townships, while not offering alpine peaks and pinnacles by any means, is still thrilling. And the ski season starts early and lasts forever.
Harrow, Harrow on the Hill, Middlesex, United Kingdom
Founded in 1572 Number of students: 800 boys, boarding Grades 8-12 Setting: Urban Famous graduates: Sir Winston Churchill, King Hussein of Jordan, Lord Byron et cetera.
Overview: The rivalry between Eton and Harrow is rather like that between Exeter and Andover. Perhaps it's best just to say that the four schools represent the acme of boarding schools and leave it at that. Queen Elizabeth granted the charter to a farmer to establish this school in the 16th century. Stuffy and formal, you might be thinking? Perhaps for North American 21st-century tastes. But don't let the boaters and gowns mask the reality that this is one of the finest institutions of learning in the world at the secondary level. If your son can make the grade here, the world is his oyster. Literally.
McCallie School, Chattanooga, Tennessee
Founded in 1905 Number of students: 917 boys, day Grades 6-12 Setting: Suburban
Overview: The Reverend T.H. McCallie, a Presbyterian minister, backed his sons' establishment of a college preparatory school for boys in 1905. The school was one of the first to adopt an Honor Code which has shaped McCallie students to this day. The school has changed dramatically over the years keeping up with the times in every way while still emphasizing its core mission of educating the whole child. I suspect that is one of the reasons why the school continues to thrive and prosper. There is a place for a boys' school in the 21st century. McCallie is living proof of that.
Founded in 1915 Number of students: 386 girls, day Grades K-11 Setting: Urban
Overview: Margaret Gascoigne, the founder, "believed that girls should be taught things that really matter”. 2011 is a far cry from 1915 when The Study was founded. The opportunities available to young women these days would boggle the mind of an early 20th-century girl.
The Study has transformed itself from a school for young ladies from English families to a diverse, bilingual community in a grand city which I like to think of as the Paris of North America. I knew several young ladies from The Study when I was growing up in Westmount back in the 50s and 60s. They were very clever, cultured, and talented people. I can only assume that they must marvel at the current Study girls and the incredible opportunities which await them after they graduate.
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