Divisions: High School

At Saint Ann’s, we don’t call our graduation “commencement.” We don’t look at the high school experience as one that simply enables students to “commence” life once it ends. The four years that kids spend in our high school are not ones that exist as a precursor to something else. Instead, they are years filled with moments of beautiful insight, fearlessness, unbridled curiosity, occasional heartbreak, and intellectual exploration that illuminates more than just the facts and figures of a subject deeply explored.

Saint Ann’s is a haven for the self-motivated and self-reliant, and we provide our students with the freedom and independence that facilitate intellectual risk-taking. From the start of ninth grade, students begin to navigate the complexities of a full academic, artistic, and athletic program while simultaneously learning to navigate the temporal and spatial complexities of free periods and an open campus. By the close of twelfth grade, our students are confidently working through sophisticated course material while managing their time with grace and aplomb. The Saint Ann’s high school experience is, in essence, a four-year journey in which students grow from excited, if trepidatious, travelers into wise and experienced tour guides – all while taking innumerable stops for adventurous discovery along the way.

Our students create works of art and scholarship guided by our exceptional and committed faculty members, who share their rich knowledge with enthusiasm and skill. Illuminating the interwoven strands of every subject, our teachers ensure that each student reaches a nuanced and nimble mastery. High schoolers take this amazing instruction and respond in kind, producing subtle and mature work that displays the critical thinking that we value so enormously.

Our high school also values the ways in which community ties enrich the academic experience. A commitment to open dialogue among students and faculty ensures that a diverse range of experiences, opinions, and voices are represented in our classrooms and corridors. The recent addition of Friday Meeting to every high schooler’s schedule carves out more time for the high school community to gather and connect: a weekly forum for our oldest students to spend time together performing and learning collaboratively, discussing issues that matter to them, and, simply, inhabiting the same space. In short, it is a time to celebrate what we love and to consider what else we hope to realize within our school.

It is tempting to try to sum up our high school with words like “intrepid” or “dynamic” or “bold.” But even such enthusiastically passionate words feel reductive. What we do here in this beautifully frenetic division of the school is the embodiment of exploration for its own sake. Teenagers hand-splice precious strips of 16mm black and white film, heatedly debate everything from the internal structure of a novel to the school’s afternoon snack policy, and play Bach or Ellington on our lobby Steinway during a bustling class change. These moments do not happen when a child is waiting for his or her education to start. They happen as a child learns to simply exist in the moments that imbue the here and now with meaning and wonder. It is this wonder that motivates us, feeds us, and makes us feel like our lives have already begun.

Chloe Smith
Head of the High School