Wilbraham & Monson Academy - Review #2

Wilbraham & Monson Academy
5

About the Author:

College Enrolled Trinity College
Home Town, State (Country) Feeding Hills , MA
Years Attended Boarding School 4
Activities During Boarding School I participated in several extracurricular activities during my time at the Academy. WMA has a three athletic or activity requirement, meaning that every student must be enrolled into a sport or an approved activity for the Fall, Winter and Spring. Some of the approved activities include theater, dance, yoga, yearbook, WMAction (a daily community service program) and Model Congress. I participated in Varsity field hockey all four years of my time at WMA and was the captain senior year. In addition I was a member of the Varsity Winter Track team for three years and the Varsity Spring Track team for two years. In addition to these sports, I tried tennis and basketball my freshman year and decided they weren't my cup of tea. Nevertheless, it was a great experience since I was able to make new friends on the teams and try something I've always wanted to. Believe it or not, I met my best friend playing JV tennis! My sophomore year I also participated in WMAction, which was a great way to get involved with the community. Outside of the requirement I also was involved with Gold Key, which is an admissions tour guide group, for all four years of high school, New Student Orientation and was head delegate for the Model United Nations group.

Reflections and Advice:

1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
One aspect that sets Wilbraham and Monson Academy a part from other similar private institutions is the CEGS Department. CEGS stands for Center for Entrepreneurial and Global Studies, and is in place of a traditional history department. CEGS is comprised of a series of yearlong and trimester elective courses that are global in nature and strive to educate students into becoming global leaders. The Academy is home to the Shenkman Trading Center, which is a state of the art space to learn more about business and finance. WMA's trading center is modeled after that of Babson College and George Washington University's centers. Some of the yearlong CEGS classes include AP Macroeconomics, Global Studies 1, AP Human Geography and AP World History. Some of the trimester electives in the CEGS Department are Fashion: Global Business, Honors Stock Market Analysis, Philosophy of World Religions, International Relations and Portfolio Management. I took Global Studies 1, AP Human Geography, AP United States History and AP World History as yearlong courses. In addition I was able to work with my advisor to schedule Global Entrepreneurship, Introduction to Sociology and Social Media and Globalization into my schedule. It was during Global Entrepreneurship that I discovered an intense interest in business and decided it was something that I wished to explore deeply in college. The small class sizes of roughly 12 students each, provide an intellectual learning environment that fosters discussion rather than lecture, which is great for all types of classes, including CEGS classes. In addition with students from all over the state, country and world, come together in WMA's classes which ushers the way for intriguing conversation with shared opinions and view points from people of all different backgrounds and experiences. I remember when I took Global Entrepreneurship my sophomore year; there was a student from Russia, Italy, Germany, China and a few from across the United States. This diverse group of students naturally brought different elements of knowledge to the classroom and together we were really able to come together and dive into such a universal topic.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
One of the most memorable moments at Wilbraham and Monson Academy was my trip to Haiti sophomore year. Every year the school offers about six or seven different travel options, both domestic and international and anyone can be a part of this. There is actually a scholarship the school offers through an application process in which the admitted students receive a fully funded trip each year of their high school career. Students have traveled as far as the Amazon in Brazil, China, Namibia and Vietnam. Each trip has a different focus, whether it is Spanish in Spain, economics in Cambodia or community service like my trip to Haiti was. Traveling to Haiti to help build a school, hand out food to the locals and really immerse myself in the Haitian culture was a once in a lifetime opportunity that changed me as a person; one who is more appreciative and aware. As far as particular achievements that I've had in Wilbraham and Monson Academy was the chance to excel at field hockey. I had never played before my freshman year, yet worked my way up to become captain for my senior season. The field hockey program helped me improve my physical health, find a sport I love and meet a lot of new friends who I have been able to play with throughout my time at high school.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
I would advise incoming students to fully dive in and take advantage of all of WMA has to offer. My biggest regret is being tentative to try new things my first year, since I was a little nervous about being in a new place. I later found that WMA is the place to come if one wants to explore their full potential in a friendly and supportive environment.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
The best part of Wilbraham and Monson Academy by far are the people I had the privilege of meeting. The faculty is caring and compassionate in that they want nothing more than for you to succeed, not just in the classroom but all aspects of your life. These faculty members are more than just teachers, but coaches, advisors and mentors. The friends I've made also made my time at WMA priceless. I really gained more than just friendships but family members during my time at WMA.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
My advice would be to take advantage of all Wilbraham and Monson has to offer-try a new sport, join a club, become friends with someone from another country, etc. My life would not be the same if I didn't come to WMA, and I definitely would not have been provided with the guidance and opportunity both academically and extracurricularly to be able to attend my first choice high selective college, Trinity. WMA changed my life forever and I am deeply grateful for my incredible four-year experience.

Academics:

1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
The academic offerings at Wilbraham and Monson Academy are incredible. The Academy offers traditional classes across all disciplines as well as several honors and nearly twenty different AP courses. In addition every department offers unique and focused electives that run for a trimester each. As mentioned before the CEGS (Center for Entrepreneurship and Global Studies) Department is unique in that it offers one of a kind classes with a global business undertone. Some of the yearlong CEGS classes include AP Macroeconomics, Global Studies 1, AP Human Geography and AP World History. Some of the trimester electives in the CEGS Department are Fashion: Global Business, Honors Stock Market Analysis, Philosophy of World Religions, International Relations and Portfolio Management. The science department at WMA is also expanding, with the edition of a 3D printer to one of the labs to enhance the ninth grade STEM class. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics and is conceptual physics through project based learning using global issues. The science department also offers regular, honors and AP courses in more traditional scientific fields such as biology, chemistry and environmental science. Students who are very interested in science also have the chance to take classes such as botany in addition for a trimester. The English department, one of my personal favorites, takes the discussion based teaching style to the next level. In my AP Literature class senior year, our teacher didn't allow for us to raise our hands but rather freely discuss our opinions about the given topic of book and add onto each other and expand. Like science and CEGS, this department has AP level, honors and regular classes as well as specific electives such as Journalism, Play and Screen Writing and Asian Literature. The mathematics department emphasizes the use of technology in the classroom and board work to keep students in engaged and practicing math. Office hours are a time that all teachers are available for extra help during the day for a half an hour. I found myself using office hours a lot my math classes which proved to be helpful as the one on one attention helped me excel at in an area in which I struggled. As far as foreign languages, the Academy offers Spanish, French, Mandarin and Latin. The department teachers strive to use native texts, rather than readings written to English speakers, as well as totally immersion in the language in the classroom. After taking Spanish for only three years, opting not to continue my senior year due to scheduling conflicts, I was able to test out of the language requirement at Trinity College and was recommended to take above a 300 level course which speaks wonders about how effective this department is. Overall, the academics are challenging but manageable and I left the Academy with great study habits, writing skills and time management skills. In addition I was even able to earn some college credit during my time in high school through the top-notch teachers of AP

Athletics:

1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
The athletic program is great in the sense there is a healthy balance between opportunities to try something new and opportunities for betterment. In other words, the varying levels of offerings across all sports give the chance for students to try them out with other first timers on a lower level team, and provides the chance to compete seriously against other high ranked institutions on Varsity level teams. I was able to try basketball and tennis on a thirds and junior varsity team, but I was also able to play Varsity Field Hockey, Varsity Winter Track and Varsity Spring Track team, which had more intense practices. The athletics program challenges you to become a better and more focused individual and challenges you to become a team player and work together.

Art, Music, and Theatre:

1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
The Visual Arts, Music and Theatre programs are all very unique art programs. Firstly I will discuss the Visual Arts program. All of our Visual Art classes take place in Binney Hall; a beautiful historical building nestled in the heart of the campus. With three loft style studio spaces, a dark room for photography and a ceramics studio, Binney provides students a great space to create. Visual Art classes usually take place for a trimester each, yet some students choose to the same class, but at an advanced level for another trimester. For example I took painting and advanced painting. The Academy also offers AP Art, a yearlong class designed for students who hope to attend an art based college. In addition to traditional art classes such as ceramics, photography, drawing and sculpture the Academy offers fashion classes in regards to design and production for students interested in this field. Students also take those two trimester electives classes paired with the CEGS Fashion: Global Business class, to add an entrepreneurial perspective to their interest. The music program has trimester and yearlong classes including Introduction to Keyboard and Music Theory, AP Music Theory, Titan Jazz Ensemble and Academy Singers. The singing and instrumental groups meet as a class during the school day so students can pursue these interests in an academic which is great. The theater department offers yearlong classes during the day such as Fundamentals of Performance and Honors Academy Repertory Company. In addition there is an option to participate in a musical or play after school as one of the activity requirements for those really interested in theater. During my time at the Academy I took four trimester visual art classes and really enjoyed learning a new skill and interacting with the other students from all grades while creating our own personal artwork.

Extracurricular Opportunities:

1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
WMA has a three athletic or activity requirement, meaning that every student must be enrolled into a sport or an approved activity for the Fall, Winter and Spring. Some of the approved activities include theater, dance, yoga, yearbook, WMAction (a daily community service program) and Model Congress. What I enjoyed most about the required extracurricular actives was the time management skills I developed balancing a daily commitment and academics. In addition the extracurricular activities give you the option to meet students from other grades, or just students who don't share your classes. I met some of my closest friends through the extracurricular activities offered at WMA.

Dorm Life:

1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
Seeing as I only live about twenty minutes away from the Academy, I was a day student and did not live on campus. However, I had several friends who lived at school so I can speak a little in regards to dorm life. About half of the students live on campus, while the other half do not. However there is not a divide between the day and boarding populations at all. As a day student I ate breakfast, lunch and dinner at the Academy and participated in the Weekend Activities, and just hung out on campus with friends so WMA really did become my second home. Weekend Activities are designed for boarding students since they provide to and from transportation from the school but are open to everyone. Friday, Saturday and Sunday there are usually about five or six different activities students can participate in which can range anywhere from movie trips to mall trips to ice skating trips to apple picking trips; the list goes on and on! The Weekend Activity office also is always open for suggestions. As far as living on campus we have one boy dormitory and two girl dormitories with sleeping options ranging from singles to doubles to triples depending on the student. Study hall is open every night, however if a boarding student is in good academic standing they can receive an Honor Night, which means they can be exempt from study hall.

Dining:

1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are offered at WMA. Breakfast is open from 7-8 before school and has a hot bar option, with the addition of fruit, muffins and cereal. Lunch will be assigned to a period that will take place anywhere between 11 and 1 and is again a buffet style with a made-to-order bar, a hot bar, a sandwich bar, a salad bar and a pasta station available everyday. Dinner is set up the same way as lunch with different options. Thursday lunch is a little different in that it is the only formal arrangement of the week with assigned seating and assigned student waiters. My favorite WMA meals were burritos, stir fry and calamari Caesar salad.

Social and Town Life:

1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
Wilbraham and Monson Academy is set in picturesque Wilbraham, Massachusetts, which is a quaint suburban town. Wilbraham is located about a ten minute drive from Springfield; Western Massachusetts' largest city. In addition the Academy is only an hour away from Worchester and about an hour and a half from Boston as well. The Academy is also in close proximity to Bradley Airport (about a half hour), which is a perk for students looking to travel home on the weekends or breaks. Wilbraham itself has a lot to offer, and is the perfect setting for a boarding and day school such as WMA. The Village Store is a small cafe located just a short walking distance from the main academic part of campus, and students are welcome to go there any time during the day to grab a bite to eat or have a comfortable place to study. In addition, across the street from the Village Store, is Louis and Clark, which is a small gift shop that also sells toiletries and snacks. This is always convenient for students living on campus. In addition, major shopping areas are only a short drive from campus and buses travel often from campus to such areas. The town is extremely safe, so that should not be a concern. In addition the town itself is historically beautiful and the foliage in the Fall is in my opinion, one of the most beautiful parts of the Academy.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
The social life at Wilbraham and Monson is great. Being such a small community, everyone knows everyone, which creates a family-like vibe on campus. Students from all over the world come together and are friends. One of my best friends was actually from Costa Rica! For me personally, I found a close-knit group of friends, which was comprised of a mix of day students and boarding students. I am so grateful for the friends and connections I made at WMA and know that these friendships will last a lifetime.

Daily Schedule:

Weekday
8:00 AMHonors Calculus
8:45 AMAP World History
9:30 AMOffice Hours
10:00 AMFree
10:45 AMAP Environmental Science
11:30 AMSocial Media and Globalization
12:15 AMLunch
1:00 PMAP Literature
1:45 PMPhilosophy of World Religions
2:15 PMFree
Weekend
9:00 AMBreakfast
10:00 AMUniform Pickup/Departure
11:00 AMField Hockey Game
2:00 PMReturn to Campus
5:00 PMDinner

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