The wonderful opportunity to be “a senior twice and never a freshman” is one available at a select number of schools across the country. As one of those schools, Berkshire Country Day intentionally created a 9th grade experience and program that allows children to enjoy and benefit from an inspiring, culminating year of accelerated learning, increased confidence, and greater social and self-awareness.
The faculty remains deeply committed to the 9th grade and the unique opportunity this one year offers students to realize success as individuals, learners, leaders, and friends. Our 9th graders really do experience the power of a Berkshire Country Day education at its fullest— they increase their independence and deepen their collaboration skills at the 9th grade class retreat; challenge themselves with advanced, independent secondary school level classes in English, Mathematics, Science, History, World Languages, and Latin; immerse themselves in our vibrant studio arts program with preferred placement in Arts Block Electives; explore a variety of leadership opportunities as mentors and role models across campus, on teams, and in ensemble experiences; and participate in a signature, multi-disciplinary, and culminating trip to Paris and Barcelona in the spring.
New research and study of the brain by Dr. Kurt W. Fischer, Professor of Human Development & Psychology and Director of the Mind, Brain, and Education program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education points to predictable years of brain expansion and powerful learning – 1st grade, 6th grade, and 9th grade. All too often, however, 9th graders find themselves caught up in, and under-recognized, during the “freshman shuffle,” those first few months of the year when high schools focus on orientation, getting to know their students, and designing classes with an eye on general preparation for all. During this critical year of brain development, independence, and increased self-awareness, Berkshire Country Day School students experience advanced classes taught by the teachers that truly know them well. Instead of becoming overwhelmed (or underwhelmed) by the transition to high school—academically as well as socially—they do not miss out on tremendous opportunities for personal growth and learning. Thanks to our outstanding program and talented teachers, our graduating 9th graders go on to have joyful, well-adjusted, and distinguished careers in their secondary schools, colleges, and lives, in no small part due to the confidence and abilities that they gain during this culminating year in a community that knows, challenges, and supports them so well during a crucial time in their young lives.
One of the key benefits of our 9th grade experience is the comprehensive support we provide as families plan for the transition to high school. Given how well we know our students and their families, we are able to take a highly personalized approach as we help 9th graders move on to places like
Berkshire School, Monument Mountain High School, Miss Hall’s School, Hotchkiss, Northfield Mount Hermon, Concord Academy, Darrow School, Emma Willard, Loomis Chafee, Millbrook School, Middlesex, Milton Academy, Pittsfield High School, Putney School, Williston Northampton School, and more. What do all of these selective secondary school and area high schools all have in common? They all want students from Berkshire Country Day School to enroll and contribute to the quality of their educational environment and community next year.
We regularly hear how BCD alums are flourishing and meaningfully contributing at their next schools. The following example speaks for itself. “He was a leader in classroom discussions, offering insight and humor often. His senior project presentation was extraordinary, and the work he completed was magnificent. He was a formal and informal leader on campus, too, serving as a dorm leader and prefect and tremendous role-model for our youngest students on campus. We credit his efforts as an integral part in the progress each of those students made this year. A key leader in our largest on-campus fundraiser, he remained a committed varsity athlete, where his coaches noted his dedication and steady play.
In his three years at our school, he grew in confidence and expertise in the classroom, followed his passions in a variety of interesting and challenging ways, and left his mark on our community in ways that will last for some time to come. He truly embodies our goal of finding one’s best self, and we are certain that he will continue to amaze us as he moves on to college next year. He will be missed!”