A Dozen Differences
|We know just how different our school is from other high schools. We asked students past and present what they notice as the major differences. Here is a list of a dozen ways that Staten Island Academy is totally different than other high schools:
Numero Uno: We’re independent. That means we’re not bound by Board of Education rules. It means we also encourage independence in our students. So starting in Grade 11, you’ll choose your electives. You can create an independent study. You can even create a grade-wide service trip to South America! Our current senior class did.
#2 Every student has an advisor. This is a teacher that’s responsible for overseeing your academic and personal development. They’re like a guidance counselor, but with only a small group of students each. In Grade 12, you’ll get a Senior Advisor, who is responsible for guiding you and your family through the college admissions process.
#3 You can be the student president or the lead in the play. Because there aren’t hundreds of kids in each grade, you can actually do the things at school that you want to do. And if we don’t have the activity that you want, you can work with a faculty advisor to create it.
#4 We have what some might call strange names for things. It’s part of the independent school tradition. The cafeteria is called “The Commons.” The principal is called the “Head of School.” Graduation is called “Commencement.” Free periods -- which are built into your schedule -- are called “Preps.”
#5 We have an eight-day rotation. What’s that? It means that instead of your schedule being determined by what day of the week it is (“Science, second period on Tuesdays”), it’s determined by what day of the eight it is (“Science, second block, Day 4). This way days off don’t affect the academic schedule and you don’t fall behind. It also helps reduce stress for students, as you don't have to prepare homework for every class every night.
#6 Our classes are small...and we love that! The student:teacher ratio at the Academy is 8:1, so you can actually feel comfortable asking questions, finding answers, and getting to know your classmates. You’ll also feel like the whole high school is one big grade. Through the House system, every student is assigned to one of five “houses” -- or teams -- which compete throughout the year for the annual House Cup. You get points for all sorts of things, like academic achievement, service, and not getting a detention. The House system helps ensure that the Academy is never too small. You’re always interacting with everyone on campus and serve as a role model for the Middle and Lower School kids.
#7 You’ll actually like your teachers. Crazy idea, we know, but it’s true. The teachers at the Academy are some of the leading educators around, but they’re also just great people. You’ll see them in class, on the basketball court, in the dining hall. They’re there to be your teachers, your mentors, your coaches, your role models, and your support system.
#8 The programs are amazing. Firstly, everyone goes to college. So the entire Academy program is designed to prepare you for that next step. The academic program is one of the most rigorous in New York City. The college guidance program is intense and is led by the former President of the New York State Association for College Admission Counseling. The sports teams (there are 32 teams to join) are in the paper all the time and are leaders in the independent school leagues. And the nationally-recognized arts program produces full-size Broadway-style plays and musical year after year.
#9 You’ll be on a campus. Nothing makes the day worse than having to stare at concrete walls. At the Academy, student life takes place all over campus -- in the classrooms, in the theatre, on the fields, outside in the grass. Our campus is twelve acres, including seven main school buildings, sports fields, tennis courts, swimming pools, 2D and 3D art studios, and more.
#10 You’ll go to London, England in Grade 9. That’s right. Starting in 2007, the Academy instituted a required international trip as part of the school curriculum. The entire Grade 9 travels together to London, and it’s included in tuition.
#11 We wear uniforms. The Academy has a dress code which includes some formal dress days and some informal dress days. It also includes a number of “Dress-Down Days” when you can wear jeans to school. Hoodies and sneakers are included in the dress code.
#12 Being a senior has lots of privileges. Senior year at the Academy is like no other. Seniors start the year with an overnight rafting and camping trip. They spend the year prepping for college. And they end it with a series of senior-only activities, including “senior privilege” (which allows seniors to leave campus during free periods), senior internships, the Geranium Ball (it’s what we call the prom), senior awards nights, Yearbook Night, and the Senior Luncheon (when teachers prepare a Senior Tribute to each and every senior).