4 US schools building the leaders of tomorrow with rigorous academics and character education

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The US is revered around the world for many accomplishments, from pioneering technology to visionary businesses. Excellent education is another highlight — or what many argue to be the key impetus behind many of its success stories.

A good education starts early. A child is never too young to have their minds challenged by rigorous academics and their character moulded to reach their full potential. With this head start, many hone their talents in time to get into its top universities — on home soil and beyond — before making their mark on the world.

If this is the pathway you seek for your child, consider these US schools below: 

Blair Academy

A distinctively Blair education exudes warmth and encompasses rigour. It always puts the student first; learning here is backed by robust relationships with expert teachers. Curricular and co-curricular signature programmes at Blair Academy support students in their transformation into empowered global citizens who enter college and their professional lives with a competitive advantage.

The setting? A 463-acre hilltop campus located in Blairstown, New Jersey that housesstate-of-the-art facilities that enhance the learning capabilities of their students. More importantly, it is home to 465 students who come from 28 countries. Here, they forge meaningful relationships with each other, collaborate to solve problems, perform public service for the common good, develop into leaders, engage with people from other cultures and form a set of personal values that will serve them well throughout their lives.

Blair blends its traditional core curriculum with innovative offerings and best-practice teaching approaches. Engaging and challenging, these courses incorporate reflection and analytical thought. Students can choose from a number of course levels, including more than 50 honours, Advanced Placement (AP) and post-AP classes. 

Formal leadership opportunities and applied-learning experiences inside and outside of class provide a well-rounded view of leadership and what it means to serve others. Students help run campus organisations, support classmates in the dorms as prefects, and serve Blair’s neighbours through Blair LEADS or the Service Corps, among others. 

“The School offers a strong foundation for a lifetime of opportunity, mixing leadership and academic excellence within a value system that promotes kindness and decency, which is incredibly important in this day and age,” shares parents Bill and Kristy Thompson. To learn more about the truly transformative Blair experience, click here. Get a snapshot of what life on the hilltop can offer you here.

Western Reserve Academy

An “independent school, a boarding school, a coed school, a melting pot, a family” — this is how Western Reserve Academy (WRA) describes itself. Diversity is of paramount importance at WRA. Its student body is representative of the world coming together as individuals to create a buzzing and friendly community.

US schools

Western Reserve Academy (WRA) calls itself an “independent school, a boarding school, a coed school, a melting pot, a family”. Source: Western Reserve Academy / Facebook

WRA is ranked among the top boarding schools across the nation and top private schools in the state of Ohio. Its curriculum is anchored in values of excellence, integrity and compassion, with students taught to work hard, support one another and live with heart.

WRA’s beautiful 190-acre campus is situated in the historic Hudson, where students will find themselves in the birthplace of American pioneering, perseverance and the pursuit of excellence. 

On campus, they can take part in over 20 Fine and Performing Arts courses on offer. They can try their hand at set design, shape art from their own two hands (and a wheel!); and use nature as their canvas. Those who like to perform can raise their voice in Choir, point their toes in Dance, make their own demo in Digital Music Production. They have every opportunity to lose themselves and find themselves at the same time.

The campus is close to downtown Hudson and Cuyahoga Valley National Park as well, opening an opportunity to grow and learn in a diverse environment that boasts a small-town feel with big-city amenities.

Mercersburg Academy

Founded in 1836 and located in Pennsylvania, Mercersburg Academy is rooted in deep history and traditions. With a total enrolment of 445 and a student-to-faculty ratio of 4:1, Mercersburg offers students the opportunity to get their education in 300-acres worth of state-of-the-art facilities. 

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Mercersburg Academy is rooted in deep history and traditions. Source: Mercersburg Academy / Facebook

Offering over 150 courses across eight academic departments, Mercersburg gives students the chance to choose the path best suited for them. When building their courses, they keep the end goal of students in mind. Through each course, the ideas and concepts that students will learn throughout their course will be carefully considered to maximise learning. 

The Mercersburg Outdoor Education (MOE) programme allows students to take part in day-long local events to multi-week global adventures. With activities like a day trip of rock climbing, a two-week mountaineering expedition, or multi-day biking trips, the MOE teaches students the importance of personal responsibility, leadership, integrity, and teamwork.

The Taft School

The Taft School educates the whole student. Here, 601 students call its 226-acre campus in Connecticut their home away from home. “The campus of some two-hundred acres is a beautiful collection of collegiate-Gothic buildings, designed by a number of singularly visionary architects, who left us with a campus that brings people together, which creates contact and warmth, and which says that our work is serious and important,” shares William R. MacMullen, Head of School. “This blend of old and new, of the historic and the state-of-the-art, makes this a unique place to live and learn.”

US schools

The Taft School has 601 students on their 226-acre campus in Connecticut. Source: The Taft School / Facebook

With an average class size of 11, students are allowed to express their opinions. Their teachers bring ideas alive in small, vibrant classes. “They guide and shape students outside the classroom as well, as advisors, coaches, dorm parents, and directors,” says MacMullen. “They have chosen the life of this school, where we are teaching at all hours of the day and on every corner of campus.”

Taft’s students have many paths they can walk on with the 200 courses offered by the school. With continuous evaluation and modification made to their academic programmes, they reflect the rigorous teaching and learning methodologies that provide students with unique opportunities when they are pursuing their passions.

At Taft, students do more than just gain an education. They can become activists, athletes, actors, authors, and more. There are no limits to a student’s passion and Taft cultivates it further through their wide range of clubs, networks, publications and organisations. 

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International



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