As a student at The Cambridge School of Weston (CSW), Chinese national Keren “Coco” Wu has been able to challenge herself and pursue her passions in a community committed to open conversation, justice-minded thinking, and active, hands-on, globally relevant learning.
“Issues of sustainability and environmental justice have always been important to me,” Wu says. “At CSW, I have been able to further develop my understanding and impact as an activist by learning the science, connecting with like minded individuals, and discovering how and when to use my voice.”
As a student at CSW, Wu — from the Class of 2023 — has been active in promoting green living in and outside of the classroom, attending local board meetings in the town of Weston, Massachusetts (where CSW is located), and challenging herself with environmentally focused projects and classwork. As a leader of the school’s fashion club, Wu has helped educate the community on the dangers of “fast fashion,” and in her Wearable Arts course, she created her own sustainable bioplastics.
Indeed, CSW — a progressive day and boarding high school for all genders — has long been providing students with relevant and responsive education, designed to engage and promote curiosity.
Through the Module System (Mod System) — a unique system not offered elsewhere — some 300 students in Grades nine to 12 and postgraduate placement are afforded with the curricular agency to build a unique schedule that allows them to balance foundational coursework with opportunities for exploration and growth in subject areas that excite them.
A unique Mod System
The Mod System is distinctive as it allows students to tailor their schedule — from over 250 college-like classes — to their areas of interest. Faculty, advisors and college counsellors are there to guide students in their selection; no two schedules are similar.
CSW’s academic year is divided into six mods, each lasting six weeks. During each mod, students undertake three blocks of academic classes that meet daily. Even though classes change every six weeks, students still benefit from in-depth learning, with fewer transitions, at a more manageable pace.
Each day sees students taking three 90-minute blocks of academic classes ranging from English, language, history, math, science to the arts as well as the compulsory equity courses related to social justice and diversity. Some sequential subjects — math and languages — can be taught in blocks within consecutive mods. Three blocks of credit taken at CSW are the equivalent of one traditional high school academic year.
Students are also required to take a fourth block, during which they take part in athletics, physical education, community service projects, performing arts, among other electives. This still leaves students with room to attend assemblies, meetings with advisors, seek additional help, as well as time for clubs and activities. In addition, each student participates in PACE (Promoting Awareness and Community Engagement), a four-year developmental curriculum meant to intentionally develop competencies in the following areas: Health & Wellness, Mindfulness, Social-Emotional Learning, Equity Literacy, and Service Learning.
Students also have the flexibility of doing an immersive mod off-campus via their interdisciplinary courses — offered every other year. Recent courses include a marine biology course to Maine’s Hurricane Island; a language and science field research trip to the Neotropics of Latin America; and language and cultural immersion courses in France and China/Taiwan.
Moulding well-rounded students
Outside of the classroom, CSW students regularly engage in a wide variety of co-curricular programming. The school offers interscholastic athletic play in 12 different sports in addition to recreation and wellness activities such as yoga, martial arts, table tennis, zumba, and outdoor exploration through its Wilderness Program.
Students also have the opportunity to exercise their leadership skills across a variety of platforms, with elected positions on committees including the Advisory Board, which considers school policy and reviews the Student Handbook each spring, and the Curriculum Committee, which meets regularly to discuss aspects of academic life, propose new courses, and interview prospective teachers. CSW is furthermore one of only two independent schools in the US to have students with full voting privileges on their Board of Trustees.
Beyond such committees, CSW students engage in a myriad of affinity, alliance, and interest groups, with offerings such as the robotics team, anime club, and Model UN.
CSW International student support
CSW provides excellent support for their international students, making up 14% of the student body.
Students take part in an orientation programme — held on the weekend — to help them adjust to the school, settle into their new community, get to know their dorm parents, and bond with dorm mates and student dorm leaders.
The programme also ensures that new students are aware of the resources available to them, such as college counselling, faculty advising, academic support, and counseling services. International information sheets are available online in seven foreign languages besides English.
Apart from an orientation programme, international students can also participate in workshops conducted by the academic office throughout the year. This programming carefully and clearly outlines CSW’s course expectations and teaches students how to advocate for themselves and make use of the many resources available to them.
CSW also provides many opportunities — both inside and outside the classroom — for students to share and celebrate their heritage, traditions, language, and culture while immersing themselves in CSW’s diverse and inclusive culture.
Residential life at CSW is inclusive and welcoming. Here, international students fully immerse themselves into the boarding community, with easy, regular access to campus facilities and a supportive network of teachers and advisors who live on campus.
Wu says that CSW has helped her develop a sense of belonging and foster important relationships as an international student. “My advisor, my dorm parents and my teachers are all people that I feel completely relaxed and comfortable with whenever I spend time with them because we know each other so deeply,” she says.
It’s a recipe that has led to outstanding outcomes. A total of 99% of CSW’s graduates have gone on to study at top colleges and universities in the US and around the world.
For families who would like a sneak peak into an American boarding school experience, and a preview of the CSW experience – the CSW Global Summer Academy is for you! This two week immersion program gives students from around the world the opportunity to create knowledge, develop voice, break trail, embrace difference and pursue new passions.”
For more information, please click here to arrange a virtual interview.