“What do you love? And if you get close to what you love, who you are is revealed to you, and it expands.” — four-time Academy Award nominee Ethan Hawke, class of 1988
How do we lure untapped potential within us to the surface, and how do we catalyse these talents to carve our own path? The Hun School of Princeton has a simple answer: joy.
Joy encapsulates a range of emotions that fulfill our basic needs, including safety, a healthy self-esteem, and a sense of belonging. True learning in all forms can only be maximised if we feel emotionally secure in an empathetic environment that encourages our best selves to come forward. That is precisely what Hun has been doing since its founding in 1914, and this philosophy continues to the present.
Intentional joy, impactful learning
The secret to Hun’s high-powered academics lies in a joyful environment, and the result speaks for itself. Just look at its acclaimed alumni, which boasts the likes of Oscar-nominated actor Ethan Hawke, CNN anchor Susan Hendricks, and former Rhodes Scholar and NFL player Myron Rolle.
Humour and happiness are directly correlated to the brain’s capacity for information retention, and neuroscientific research backs this claim. Hun is equally invested in its students’ well-being as much as their academic performance, because it knows that the most successful learners are the happy ones. Forget staid coursework and dull teaching — faculty members are well-trained to underscore joy at the centre of their teaching by weaving laughter and enjoyment in lessons, yielding a positive environment where students are motivated to excel academically.
Hun is a day and boarding school for students in grades six to 12, with an average class size of 14 students per classroom. Learning is both exploratory and experiential through cutting-edge programmes such as NextTerm, a three-week mini-semester for Upper School students that combine interdisciplinary immersion with real-world topics encouraging out-of-the-box thinking.
Scholars Tracks programme gives high achievers a chance to concentrate and graduate with distinction in one of four Tracks: STEM, Global Studies, Arts, and Civic Responsibility and Ethical Leadership. This comprehensive curricular path combines students’ academic and extracurricular interests while developing their leadership skills.
True to the school’s commitment to civil discourse, Hun’s students are also empowered to speak their minds through open dialogue and empathic listening. This is especially evident through Harkness discussions at Hun, the beating heart of nearly all Humanities classrooms. Students get to exercise social intelligence through debates and rebuttals with their peers on wide-ranging subjects. Lively conversations and open-mindedness underpin these discussions, fostering students’ intellectual growth. Be it History, Modern Languages or English, Hun students are trained to be a beacon of knowledge production instead of merely retaining information.
Communal strength and belonging
“The joy in our community is important, first of all because it’s an important tool for learning,” says Head of School Jonathan Brougham. “The more students feel comfortable and happy in their environment, the more willing they are to take risks, to keep growing, and to try things they haven’t tried before in the way learning requires.”
Imagine studying in a place where boundless creativity is given space to flourish, supported by a warm and caring network. Whether you’re thinking of starting a climate change summit, or operating your own business on campus, Hun’s default “yes” answer to student-led initiatives pushes each learner to be bold risk-takers who are not afraid of failure.
Hun’s rootedness in community spirit champions kindness and possibility to ensure each student feels belonged, no matter their background. Cultural competency is a crucial part of Hun’s creed to stimulate students’ growth. On top of a vibrant student population that comes from 18 states and 25 countries , on-campus activities are made to celebrate each other’s unique differences. Multiple diversity-based clubs and affinity groups on campus allow students to navigate their sense of identity in an inclusive climate.
Think Hogwarts houses are pure fiction? Not at Hun, where each student is assigned a Raider House to further cultivate unity between grades and the spirit of competition. are available to students, so it isn’t surprising that all of them are active in more than one aspect of co-curricular life. The House system enables healthy competition to thrive, and placement is sorted carefully to ensure that a good mix of talents reside in each House.
Boarding life in Hun is centred around a small, close-knit community that is carefully cultivated to evoke the comforts of home. Downtown Princeton is just within walking distance, allowing boarders to enjoy all the town has to offer in their leisure time. Schedules are thoughtfully planned to include activities that complement classroom learning while still allowing ample time for students to relax and have fun.
With New York City and Philadelphia just about an hour away, there are plenty of opportunities for students to explore on and off-campus. It doesn’t hurt that the school is also just 1.5 miles away from the downtown area and its Ivy League base, Princeton University. Hun’s stunning 45-acre campus is a sturdy foundation where education is not just about results; it’s also about the process. Only under a happy environment can students discover what they love, and The Hun School of Princeton understands that academics, leadership, arts and athletics all flourish when unfettered minds are born out of deep-abiding joy.
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