Where young women find their voices

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Notable fashion designer Tory Burch, Facebook chief business officer Marne Levine, entertainment powerhouse Tyra Banks, Grammy-award winning entertainer Lady Gaga, philanthropist Melinda Gates, and Nobel Prize in Physiology winner Tu Youyou have two facts in common. First, they are all immensely successful. More importantly, each enjoyed the long-term and enduring value of an all-girls academic experience. 

They graduated from schools where they were free from the need to compare themselves to their male counterparts. They enjoyed environments comfortable enough to feel safe, yet rigorous enough to broaden horizons.

When it comes to outcomes, a Stoneleigh-Burnham School education guarantees far more. As an institution built by women, for young women, every pupil graduates inspired. With full awareness of the predominance of male leadership, they muscle their way up the ladder anyway — just like their progressive school taught them to. 

Founded over 150 years ago, Stoneleigh-Burnham maintains its historic values while constantly updating and innovating courses and programmes to be as relevant, rigorous and robust as they can be. However, nothing lays a solid foundation like the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme. The school was the first girls’ boarding school in New England to introduce it, knowing it would complement its mission to nurture ambitious young women with their hearts set on entering world-leading universities. 

The programme leverages a liberal arts approach, connecting the dots across a broad curriculum. At Stoneleigh-Burnham, every learner takes on two languages, math, science, individuals and societies, and the arts. How they go about it is up to them — they could opt to pursue the programme in its entirety, just earn credits, or participate in courses that do not culminate in an exam. Interests are explored through IB courses in biology, physics, environmental systems and societies, dance, visual arts, and music as well.

With the basics covered, there’s plenty of free time to develop passions and gain key life competencies outside the classroom. A majority choose to take on extracurriculars designed to help them emulate the female leadership prowess they witness every day through educators, coaches, administrators, board of trustee members and even their head of school.

Thankfully, there are plenty of opportunities currently on offer that nurture confidence, and plenty more to come. From Fall 2022, Stoneleigh-Burnham will begin offering a Voice and Empowerment Certificate Programme — “Voice 10” — for Grade 10 girls. It was designed to help them develop the key skills of expression and leadership in just a year. 

Grade 10 is the school’s signature year in the development of voice and identity. At this point, heavier emphasis is placed on voice growth, development and rhetoric. The collective focus provides further momentum for those preparing for college life. After all, learners cannot make their dreams a reality without being able to express them effectively. 

The programme will make the most of the crucial nature of Grade 10 in the school’s overall approach to helping students find and develop their unique voices.  In doing so, they will be able to explore their opinions, develop strong arguments, and practise advocacy for themselves and others. 

Stoneleigh-Burnham has plenty of experience in sparking such brilliance. It already provides a comprehensive Rhetoric course focused on the ancient arts of argumentation and discourse. The course is a requirement for all Grade 10 students, ensuring that by exploring the nature of shared and unshared assumptions, they will be able to engage in debate and persuasive speaking in their most formative year. 

At the same time, they will learn to use logical arguments based on inductive and deductive reasoning; create an emotional reaction in an audience; project a trustworthy, authoritative, and charismatic image; craft compelling speeches; and develop their listening skills.

The school also hosts a world-class Debate and Public Speaking Society where students are learning to speak with force and clarity. Founded in 1981, it has a long history of excellence and many accolades to prove it.

As a result of students actively competing nationally and internationally in public speaking tournaments, planned cross-examination debates, and parliamentary extemporaneous debates, 20 have ranked as world competitors in debate and public speaking

It’s little wonder why many students have gone on to excel in careers in law, education, advocacy, and government; or why other Stoneleigh-Burnham girls have effortlessly achieved acceptance to Boston University, Cornell University, Johns Hopkins University, New York University, and Princeton University, amongst many other esteemed institutions. 

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