Jack Marino, ‘23
Upon my entrance to St. Albans School in fourth grade, I was amazed with how unique and special our school truly is. From preschool to third grade, I went to a small school on Wisconsin Avenue with one class per grade, which was nothing similar to regular assessments and comparatively rigorous academic experience of my first year at St. Albans. I was neither prepared for St. Albans academic experience nor the change in culture from my old school. My classmates who went to Beauvoir have similar remarks, one going as far to say, “I learned nothing from Beauvoir, but looking back at it I don't think it had any affect [sic] on my unpreparedness.” That is where the model of the St. Albans curriculum comes into play: turning boys with little knowledge beyond the basics of elementary school into men with complex analytical skills who are prepared to go to the college of their choosing.
The St. Albans curriculum is clearly structured to provide the optimal experience for growing boys. In Form C, students accustom themselves to the rigorous academic experience that continues throughout the Lower School and into the Upper School. Form B teaches students time management skills, as students are given larger assignments due over multiple days. Form A teaches students basic writing skills, and prepares them for traditional math classes which start the following year. Additionally, A Form introduces students to the co-curricular sports program which intends to teach athletic skills while building character. Form I and II teach students how to study for multiple classes, while providing students with basic analytical skills. Freshman year introduces students to a new upper school experience, while helping them build on analytical and thinking skills learned in the Lower School, while sophomore year encourages them to branch out by giving students the confidence and also the time to take electives. Everything learned up to this point comes to head in junior and senior year as students take the most difficult classes while preparing for college. St. Albans structures its curriculum around teaching students necessary skills for college and their future life instead of cramming as much knowledge as possible into them. While we may not come out of STA knowing every little detail of Hammurabi’s reign over Ancient Babylon, we will emerge from the school with the ability to think rationally about any of these topics and successfully pursue any career or future interests with the skills we have gained.
Along with this approach comes some of the best results of any school in the country. According to Business Insider, St. Albans is the top boarding school and the 43rd best private school in the nation. College acceptance rates do not lie either. STA has some of the highest college acceptance rates at the top colleges and universities in the country. Over the past five years, seventy four students were accepted to Ivy League schools. The top school for St. Albans Students that accepted 38 students over the past five years, the University of Chicago, is the 6th ranked national university. Looking at the numbers, it is clear that St. Albans is one of the top schools in the nation, and much of this is because of the structure of the curriculum. Clearly, the skills based curriculum adopted by STA provides the intended function of a preparatory school. Although we can all nitpick about specific classes included or left out, the overall effect of our curriculum is overwhelmingly positive. The curriculum’s impact can also be seen in the case of the extraordinary things St. Albans graduates have done. Upon graduating from the school, Michael Collins joined the air force as a fighter pilot and eventually entered the space program. There, he joined the Apollo 11 mission and was one of the twenty-four people in the world to fly to the moon. He was later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. During his time at St. Albans, Al Gore was the captain of the football team. After graduating, he was accepted to Harvard and later joined the military. A strong advocate of great action to combat climate change, Gore went on to be elected in the Senate until he was eventually appointed to be President Clinton’s vice-president. He ran for president against George W. Bush, only losing the election after the Supreme Court’s Bush v. Gore decision. From college acceptance numbers to graduates who have made an impact on the world stage, the STA curriculum has clearly succeeded in providing students with the skills necessary to participate in any walk of life.
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