At the same time, our teachers and administrators demonstrate the importance of being a caring citizen. Many faculty members take on responsibilities outside of the classroom, whether as coaches in our highly successful extracurricular athletics program; as faculty advisors for student clubs; or as mentors in service learning and independent study opportunities. Success at BWL means being part of a strong community, and this is one of many reasons that we continue to receive considerable interest from prospective families.
Our students continue to excel academically, and we have bolstered their readiness to meet the rigors of college by offering Advanced Placement courses in every subject in the Upper School. Last year, 88 percent of Juniors who took AP exams scored either a 4 or 5 out of 5. Eleven Juniors also took the SAT II Subject Test in American History, scoring an average of 780 out of 800. In addition, ten Seniors were honored as AP Scholars, a commendation achieved by taking a minimum of three AP exams and earning an average above 3.00 out of 5. In addition, six members of the Class of 2016 were honored as AP Scholars with Distinction, an impressive number in a graduating class of 48 students.
Our college guidance program is initiated in the early stages of the Upper School and includes individual and group meetings among parents, students, and college representatives. One hundred percent of BWL’s graduating Seniors attend college, and 90 percent attend their first-choice school. Recently, our students have gained acceptance to, and enrolled at Ivy League universities, highly selective liberal arts colleges and esteemed public universities, including Yale, Cornell, Bowdoin, Brown, Amherst, MIT, California Institute of Technology, Dartmouth, University of Pennsylvania, Tulane, Colgate, Bucknell, the University of Michigan and the University of Virginia.
NYSAIS Team to Visit BWL in October
Later this fall, BWL will welcome a visiting committee of educators as part of our School’s ten-year NYSAIS accreditation review. Accreditation satisfies a basic requirement for regular membership in the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) and the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), which are authorized by the New York State Board of Regents to accredit early childhood, elementary and secondary schools. The formal accreditation process began in 2015-16, when our faculty and administration participated in an in-depth self-study process, resulting in a detailed report covering every aspect of the School’s curriculum, extra-curricular programs, and initiatives. The detailed written report includes comprehensive input from the various School constituencies—faculty, administration, trustees, parent leaders and staff—whose representatives will meet with peer educators for several days in late October. This on-site evaluation is the final step in a process that we believe will reflect our commitment to high standards and ensure a positive and enlightening accreditation process.
The STEM Initiative Gains Momentum
In the two years since the inception of our school wide STEM initiative, many STEM programs have become a regular part of the curriculum and are too numerous to mention here. A few highlights of the 2015-16 academic year were a TedYouth Conference, where our Finch College Scholarship recipient, Irini Livanos ’21, spoke on stage; an independent study project by Valedictorian Scott Mandelbaum ’16 (MIT Class of 2020), who created 3-D printed prosthetics; and BWL receiving top prizes in the annual “Monty Madness” Robotic Competition as well as the U.S. Crystal Growing Competition. Looking to the upcoming academic year, events planned for the STEM program include redesigning the Lower School Science classroom to allow for “Maker Spaces”; a return of the much lauded Middle School Science Design Fair (with optional Upper School participation); creation of a “Flame Challenge” competition where students will answer complex scientific questions geared to Lower School; and a series of special STEM evenings for families in all three divisions.
Summer Structural Updates
In keeping with Local Law 11, we have brought in a team to inspect and repair loose brickwork on the exterior of the building. We expect the work to be completed well in advance of the start of school. You may have also noticed the BWL “frieze”—a unique reproduction of a sculpture that was originally created in the 1430s by the well-known terracotta and marble sculptor Luca della Robbia, which hangs in our lobby stairwell. The frieze is called “Blast of the Horns” and was just one portion of della Robbia’s Cantoria masterpiece. With our centennial celebration approaching, the time seemed right for a full restoration of this signature piece that was in the original Birch Wathen building. Thanks to a generous donation from Moira and Lenny Zelin P’18, the restoration was completed by Sotheby’s and the frieze now hangs in its usual treasured spot in our lobby stairwell.
The scene the frieze depicts is of a range of children of different ages, some playing instruments, some in a leadership role, others holding hands and simply observing. Portraying a variety of children in different developmental stages, “Blast of the Horns” seems perfectly emblematic of BWL’s mission. I encourage you to take a look when you return to the building in September.
I look forward to greeting you personally in a few weeks. In the meantime, enjoy the remaining days of summer.
Frank J. Carnabuci III