Many parents want the best schools to prepare their children for university life and beyond, but equally important are schools that combine a rigorous curriculum with character development to produce well-rounded graduates.
Ask success stories and their triumphs — big, small or everything in between — often trace back to a common theme: a foundation that supported their personal, social and emotional development while offering an exceptional educational and pastoral experience. Their challenging academics and extracurricular activities also prepare them for the vagaries of today and tomorrow, in addition to helping students gain skills outside the classroom that go on to aid lifelong passions.
For parents looking for schools with character-building education for their childrens’ well-rounded development, here are four in the US worth considering:
St. Michael’s Catholic Academy
At St. Michael’s Catholic Academy, students from grades nine to 12 are given the platform to discover who they are through a variety of experiences. This Christ-centred, college-preparatory learning community encourages students to find their passions through athletics, fine arts, and academics. “St. Michael’s is committed to being the best school it can be – fulfilling the mission promise to assist our students to grow in their faith lives, embrace learning, and give back to the local community and beyond,” says Dawn Nichols, Head of School.
As part of the School’s commitment to mould well-rounded graduates, they offer a Winter Term Program and Global Studies Program. Both are unique academic, cultural, service, travel, and language immersion programmes that have life-changing potential. Under the Winter Program, for instance, students can choose to attend mini seminars, take on internships, or participate in a travel program that includes exchanges with sister schools, service travel to solve real-world problems in diverse cultural environments, as well as academic travel.
St. Michael’s is also building a new academic wing, the Hub for Advanced Learning Opportunities project, which aims to meet emerging education model requirements that go beyond the classroom and expand the School’s ability to respond to the need for immersive, aspirational learning space. Ultimately, learning at St. Michael’s does not only prepare students for academic success but also facilitates students in developing 21st century skills and a global mindset, in addition to promoting character development.
Church Farm School
At Church Farm School (CFS), students work hard to develop their talents to the fullest. This independent boarding and day school for boys in grades nine to 12 is located in Exton, Pennsylvania. CSF’s students stand out for their desire and drive for knowledge, in addition to their passion, creativity, energy, and commitment to service.
CFS is known for its high standards of academic achievement as a community. This is where students are given the freedom to experiment with novel approaches through brainstorming, modelling, and trial and error. The school’s expansive curriculum provides students with opportunities to learn outside the classroom and apply it in their daily lives.
Their students are also well prepared to tackle the academic challenges of college and university, thanks to its robust college preparatory curriculum. Students learn in small class sizes that average between seven and 12 students, making it unsurprising why CFS graduates boast a 100% college acceptance rate.
Excellent education aside, CFS also offers a wide variety of facilities for extracurricular activities for students to develop new interests and gain new skills outside the classroom. There is a wide range of top-notch facilities and athletic choices here, including four soccer fields, six tennis courts, a running track, a basketball gym and a multi-purpose field house used for wrestling and basketball.
The Head of School, Reverend Edmund K. “Ned” Sherrill II says, “Church Farm School exists to provide a real and meaningful opportunity to motivated, hard-working boys from many places in our region and around the world, especially those who desire an excellent education.”
Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy
Outstanding academic curriculum. Innovative Christian Studies programme. A celebrated fine arts programme. Inspiring service opportunities. Athletic opportunities that grow and challenge students. A stellar entrepreneurship programme. At the Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy (CHCA), students are given the platform to thrive academically, socially, and spiritually.
This is done in a myriad of ways, including by ensuring students feel a sense of belonging and providing them with opportunities to forge real connections with faculty, staff, and peers. The School’s faculty make it a point to know each student to ensure they learn within a supportive environment that helps them reach their potential.
Their curriculum is also designed to challenge students and ensure that they’re college-ready. “We’ve carefully designed our college-preparatory programme — from preschool through grade 12 — to foster lifelong passions for learning and providing thoughtful, effective leadership,” says Randy Brunk, Head of School. From language arts to mathematics and science — students will find various courses unfolding within the School’s dynamic classrooms.
Stellar academic programmes aside, at CHCA, athletics and the arts are much more than just activities outside the classroom. They provide opportunities for students to develop new interests, talents and skills outside academia. In addition to this, the School also prides itself on instilling a solid work ethic and sportsmanship in students and encourages them to strive for athletic excellence.
Saint Francis High School
Set on a 25-acre campus in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Saint Francis High School is an exceptional private school community rooted in the Catholic values of the Holy Cross tradition. The school has one mission: to provide the finest college-preparatory programme in an inclusive family environment, encouraging students to achieve their highest potential.
SFHS offers diverse offerings in science, humanities, arts, physical education, and technology. Their forward-thinking classes give students the ability to stretch their knowledge across various fields of study, in addition to encouraging them to act as compassionate stewards of society.
“We want students to learn the skills they will need to solve real-world challenges — skills such as critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, information literacy and responsibility,” says science teacher Emily Thomas. The school’s STEM curriculum includes clubs and activities in astronomy, entrepreneurship, the environment, coding, robotics, among others.
Saint Francis is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and is a member of the National Catholic Education Association, the College Board and the National Association of College Admissions Counselors. A total of 60% of their faculty have advanced degrees.
Students are also given opportunities to discover their passion and talent outside the classroom through arts and athletics. SFHS believes that a vibrant athletic programme is part of its mission as a school to build students who are ready to lead and thrive in college and beyond.
*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International