Nantucket New School’s upper school program continues to instill our school’s culture and tone on all fronts. It embodies the practice of educating the individual, close student-teacher relationships, active family participation, and maintaining a strong connection to our island community. Ours is a program that students and parents will find both dynamic and flexible, lending itself to a philosophy of experiential learning and the notion of a classroom that has “no walls”. Through a combination of small class sizes, and parental involvement, our STEM and humanities students are able to spend time either working within our island’s community or exploring its vast natural beauty. Through partnerships with local libraries, theaters, museums, universities, and environmental organizations our students work closely with island professionals while they investigate our program’s essential questions. Our upper school students also work with classrooms well beyond Nantucket Island (and their respective classrooms) as they communicate, collaborate and problem solve with students in various schools located around the globe.
Moving into the upper school also marks a passage toward greater autonomy and responsibility for oneself, our school community and the world. In this regard, students have their own elected student government and hold a regular “Town Meeting” where discussions encompass current events, values, and preparation for entrance into selective and academically rigorous secondary schools. These are years of reaching out beyond the Nantucket New School campus as students share our core values of joy, respect and knowledge within agencies and organizations where they take on formidable community service projects.
Every fall, upper school students look forward to traveling north into New Hampshire’s White Mountains for a three-day outdoor educational experience in collaboration with the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) whereby they gain a greater appreciation for nature while also practicing leadership, cooperation and teamwork skills, and gaining a mutual respect for one another.
In upper school our art, music, and outdoor education classes reach new, and exciting levels. Students have the opportunity to participate in local art shows (partnering with the Artists Association of Nantucket) while expanding their artistic skills and knowledge of art history, compose and perform original musical scores, and participate in an outdoor education program that utilizes our high-ropes course and climbing wall (among other activities) to challenge our older students on many levels.
By the conclusion of eighth grade, our upper school students are ready and well prepared for success during their next important transition into secondary school, and beyond.