Imagine New York City as a vast social laboratory. Imagine your child as a young social scientist eagerly studying various aspects of the City to figure out how it works and why it looks, feels, and smells the way it does. Intrigued? Then read on.
The Masters School, located in scenic Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. has offered to take two Holland Hall juniors or seniors per semester into its CITYterm program. The Urban Core Curriculum, which forms the foundation of the CITYterm program consists of four courses: History of New York City (Honors course), Literature of New York City (Honors course), Making Meaning, and Urban Environments. The Making Meaning course includes the study of dance and theater productions, museum exhibits, films and other cultural events, depending upon what is playing in New York at that moment. Urban Environments can take students underground to study the subway system or above ground to ponder how to make public transportation more efficient or how to provide low-cost housing for people with limited financial means. Oftentimes students will make formal presentations, regarding transportation efficiency or housing construction, to City officials. All four courses are interdisciplinary and are offered in conjunction with other AP Language, science, and math courses. Students spend three days in the classroom and three days in the City. Yes, that’s a six-day schedule, which includes Saturday.
All students on the Masters School campus live in a dormitory, along with six residential faculty members and their families. A kitchen, dining area, a large common room, and two seminar-style classrooms are located in the dormitory, which is designed to foster a strong sense of community.
The application process is extremely selective. On average, only thirty students from around the country are selected to participate in the CITYterm program. Each student must submit an application, personal essays, two teacher recommendations — one of which must be from an English or history teacher — a graded essay, and an official school transcript. Application instructions, additional information, and application and recommendation forms can be downloaded at the CITYterm website.
School Year Abroad (SYA)
Originally founded by Phillips Academy in 1964, and later joined by Phillips Exeter and St. Paul’s (New Hampshire), SYA was conceived as an immersion program designed to facilitate the learning of the French language and culture. Quickly the program expanded beyond France to include Italy, Spain, and China. Several years ago, Holland Hall became part of the SYA consortium, which includes over sixty secondary schools across the United States and abroad.
To qualify for admission to SYA, a student does not have to be a straight-A student, but should have a facility with languages, and be willing to endure a rigorous education in a foreign country for an entire school year. As of 2012, Holland Hall has sent six of our students through the SYA program: three students to Spain and three to Italy. Students should have two years of French or Spanish to get into SYA; however, a student need not have any Latin or Italian to enter SYA Italy and, for those interested in SYA China, no prior language instruction is necessary. Of course, a student will get more out of the program having had some Latin or Chinese.
As a member of the School Year Abroad (SYA) consortium, Holland Hall students now have a unique and exciting opportunity to spend a year abroad, immersing themselves in the culture and language of their host country and family. Students may choose to spend a year in Italy, Spain, France, China or a semester in Vietnam.
SYA schools provide full academic credit, college testing, and guidance, allowing students to graduate with their class, while applying to selective colleges and universities throughout the United States.
Because the purpose of SYA is to facilitate a student’s mastery of a second language and to foster a deeper understanding of another culture, native speakers are hired as language teachers. SYA selects American teachers from within the consortium to teach math and English, permitting students to maintain their proficiency in these key subjects while living abroad.
Students who have participated in SYA, not only receive an outstanding education and develop advanced language skills, they return to the U.S. more mature and more capable of taking up the challenges posed by college and indeed by life outside the confines of academia.