We talked with Kaley Bell, Secondary School Advisor at St. Bernard's School, about what sets the school apart.
Location: New York, New York
Grades Served: Kindergarten through 9th grade
Student Body: About 40 students per grade in K-8, 4 students in 9th grade
What makes your school unique?
Academic rigor, strength in the humanities, and opportunities for students to discover public speaking and performance. Additionally, every student takes Latin.
What makes your students unique?
Their general knowledge, and the breadth of their knowledge and interests.
What makes your faculty and staff unique?
Same as our students: a diversity of specialties and passions. Many faculty have had other careers besides teaching; everyone has a wide range (and depth) of knowledge and interesting hobbies and skills.
What should students keep in mind when applying to your school?
Students at St. Bernards must be able to handle academic rigor, two languages, two English classes, and be comfortable with speaking several times a year in front of an audience over 100.
Which program or recent change are you most excited about at your school?
The Good Heart Program is currently in its pilot phase, begun as a response to educational research on character development and social emotional learning, especially in boys’ schools and after conversations with other New York City independent schools. We strive to emphasize the four values that best represent our school and community, including perseverance, honesty, community, and consideration for others. Each grade level has time during the week dedicated to the Good Heart Program, whether in homeroom, advisory, or in our Good Guy and Social Justice classes. St. Bernard’s boys have always gone out into the world comfortable with rigorous academics; this program gives a name and a concrete curriculum to the social emotional values we uphold.
Describe an impactful program that your school runs.
Our Shakespeare play is the longest running performance of Shakespeare in the United States, and our boys are proud to be a part of that tradition. St. Bernard’s boys have been participating in a Shakespeare play each December since 1910. Every boy must participate, whether acting, designing sets, or stage managing. The play is kept a secret until the spring of seventh grade, when an unveiling occurs during assembly. The boys then read the play in their English class, and auditions occur a few months later in the fall of eighth grade. The only performance occurs the week before winter break at Miller Theater at Columbia University, after weeks of memorizing lines and long hours spent rehearsing (on top of secondary school applications, fall sports, and homework). The celebration of the Shakespeare production is a crucial part of the school’s cultural and poetic tradition.