- What is the history of Waldorf High School?
The school began in 1996 with the 9th grade. A grade was added each year so by the year 2000 there were four grades.The first 12th grade class graduated in 2000. In June 2015 we graduated our sixteenth class and the total number of graduates reached 163.
WHS is now in its 20th year of operation and our 12th year of occupancy in the Belmont location as an independent, stand-alone Waldorf high school. We have managed our fiscal resources conservatively through the recent economic downturn. Our school has held its own and is growing and we are experiencing increased interest in our school. We have made many improvements to our building, and we continue to develop new curricular and extracurricular offerings.
- What are the school hours and how many days are the students in school?
Our school day begins at 8:45 am and ends and 3:05 PM. We have found that a later start time leads to more productive learning and healthier students - both mentally and physically. We have between 160-165 school days per year, which aligns with and in some cases exceeds other independent schools in Massachusetts.
- What is your average class size?
We have an average class size of 15 students. Our total enrollment fluctuates between 60-70 students.
- What is the school’s enrollment goal?
80 to 100
- Do you try to have an equal number of boys and girls in each class?
We do not turn away a qualified student because of the number of boys or girls already in a class but we realize that it is ideal if there is a balance of boys and girls and we always keep this in mind. Our curriculum is designed to meet the needs of both boys and girls equally.
- Is the school accredited?
Yes, the school is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America and is a member of the Association of Independent Schools of New England.
- What is the profile of a Waldorf High School student?
The school seeks to enroll students who wish to learn on multiple levels - in the classroom and out in the world, with hands and eyes, through art, music, and travel as much as reading, writing, and discussion. We believe that Waldorf education is uniquely suited to the journey of an adolescent. We seek to enroll students who will be able to or have the potential to connect with Waldorf educational methods. They will appreciate the block system of study and discover it is compatible with their learning style. They will be able to complete assignments independently outside of school. We want to enroll students whose parent(s)/guardian(s) understand and support our mission and methods.
The task of adolescents is to discover their individual strengths, their unexpected passions, and their directions for life. The richness of our curriculum and the opportunity to learn with all their senses and abilities enables them to become their best possible selves.
- Do the students have an advisor? How does the advisor system work?
Each student is assigned a faculty advisor. A positive advisor/advisee relationship is a priority at our school. The student has a direct relationship with his/her advisor over the course of the four years. The advisor, a member of the high school faculty, is responsible for holding the overview of a student’s general well-being and academic progress, and for reviewing and signing all reports for that student. Students are encouraged to go to their advisors with academic, social or personal questions, problems or ideas, for help, support or referral for help. The student's advisor is the contact person for a student’s parents and for other faculty. Other faculty members are asked to keep the advisor apprised of a student’s status and any conversations or meetings with the student’s parents. The Administrative Director is kept apprised of advisor activities and holds an overview of the program.
Students are always encouraged to speak with teachers directly about any academic questions or concerns in a given course. As well, students may take concerns to their advisor or ask for an advisor’s assistance in speaking with another teacher.
Parents and advisors keep in communication through emails and phone conversations, and schedule meetings per a parent’s or the advisor’s request. Depending on the student’s needs, some parents and advisors schedule meetings periodically throughout the year. Once a month advisors have lunch with their group of advisees. However, advisors encourage their advisees to come talk to them whenever there is a need.
- What are the characteristics of a Waldorf high school education that are different from other high schools?
- The Waldorf method is practiced in over 1000 schools worldwide and represents over 90 years of insight into the developmental stages and education of adolescents.
- The curriculum is designed to directly address the questions that adolescents live with throughout the four high school years.
- At the heart of the Waldorf tradition is the “Main Lesson Block,” an uninterrupted hour and 35-minute class in various topics explored in three to five week blocks.
- In the main lesson blocks, the teachers use primary source materials rather than textbooks.
Differences specific to Waldorf High School:
- At Waldorf High School, we use a narrative report and Pass/No Credit grading system. Each student receives individualized written narrative reports each semester for each block, track class, the arts, and movement. Letter grades are kept on file for transfers and college applications and are available to parents and students as requested.
- At Waldorf High School, we benefit from interactions with students possible only in a small school; it is possible for students to be involved in more activities through classes such as music and art which all students take and in extra-curricular activities where our smaller numbers improve the opportunity for student participation.
- Please explain how the block system works?
Required academic courses in literature, history, mathematics and science are taught intensively in a double academic period at the beginning of the day (the “Main Lesson Block”). All courses are credited in full or fractional Carnegie Units. Usually, there are ten “Main Lesson Blocks” in an academic year for each grade; each one lasts from 3 to 4 weeks. Teachers lead the students through a rich array of main lesson block subjects in the various academic disciplines. These classes meet for one hour and thirty-five minutes daily. Main lesson books, which are both a record and a culmination of these blocks, are created by the students. The books may include references, research, essays, creative writing, scientific observations, charts, maps and artistic work.
- What skill building classes do the students have?
Students also attend eighteen 40-minute skill-building or “track” classes each week, covering foreign language, additional English and mathematics study, history, science, civics, and music. A track course meets three or four times a week for the academic year. In addition, each student takes five 40-minute classes per week covering the fine and practical arts/electives, physical education, and a monthly health class. Twenty hours of community service is required. Students discover that artistic and practical work demand intelligence and conceptualization both in planning and implementation. Graduates of Waldorf schools are good scholars and “doers.”
- What is the community service requirement in each grade?
A minimum of 20 hours of community service are required for all high school students each year. Our objective is to give students experience in a broad spectrum of service areas in order to instill a greater understanding toward the earth, their community, and people of all walks of life. Consequently, students are encouraged but not required to focus their service in different areas as follows:
9th grade – farming, trail work, recycling program
10th grade – elderly
11th grade – tutoring or teaching children
12th grade – serving those in challenging situations (homeless, refugees, ill, those dealing with substance abuse)
- How many students in your school have come from a Waldorf school and how many have not? How do the non-Waldorf students integrate into your school?
We currently have 9 students from Waldorf schools and 47 students from non-Waldorf schools. As stated in our Mission Statement, we are a school that welcomes students who did not have a Waldorf elementary education. These students are very warmly received by the Waldorf educated students and supported in their transition. Although, naturally, there is an adjustment period, typically students adjust within the first few main lesson blocks and are often the most positive proponents of Waldorf education having experienced other learning environments.
- Do your students find that the school feels too small?
A small school does not hold a student back. We are graduating our 16th class of 18 students in 2015. All 18 students applied for college and overall were accepted at 81 colleges. In fact, in a small school students benefit from and appreciate the amount of time and attention they receive from teachers and that they are known to the entire faculty. Students build confidence in communication with their teachers. Our students say that a smaller school helps them feel part of the school community and that they learn more without the social anxiety they have experienced before coming to WHS. They see they have an impact on the school environment. In a small school students are not limited to one or two activities but can participate in a many activities such as student governance, Model UN, sports, music and drama. Alumni have told us that with a smaller school, they were encouraged to know all types of students who they may not have sought out in a larger school and because of this they developed skills in collaborating and working through differences; a invaluable skill for work and personal life.
- What place does art and music have in the overall curriculum?
Classes at Waldorf are a multi-sensory experience, absorbed through drawing as well as through reading, through singing as well as talking. Our curriculum is infused with the arts because we believe that integrating the arts with the academic work enhances learning. While the arts are integrated into every course at Waldorf, we also devote classes to the fine arts, practical arts, and music. We explore fine art through critical analysis, dialogue, research, technique, and of course, the making of art. Some of our students become accomplished artists and musicians, many do not. All awake to the importance of color, shape, sound, texture, perception, and emotion, and how these elements enrich our daily lives. All respect the work of the imagination and the power of creativity.
- Are scholarships available?
Yes, scholarships are available for students coming from Waldorf schools and from other public and private schools. All students are considered for these scholarships at the time of admission and a separate application is not required. Tuition assistance is also available for those families that apply and qualify. Forms are available in the Main Office.
- How long are class periods and do you have double periods in some subjects?
Periods are 40 minutes long. There are double periods of fine arts, practical art/electives, and some grades have double math periods.. Main lessons are one hour and thirty-five minutes long.
- Is there an exposure to drama in all grades? Public speaking?
Typically, the 10th grade and the 12th grade each have a main lesson block devoted to the production of a play. In 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 we produced all-school musicals; Bye, Bye Birdie and Grease. (However, we do not intend to do an all-school musical every year.) Students regularly give reports in class where they can practice their public speaking, as well as opportunities in class discussions. For students who want more of a challenge and qualify, we offer a Model UN experience. These students may attend up to two Model UN conferences each year.
- What are some of the after school activities, clubs, that kids can join?
The sports teams have either a practice or a game after school during those seasons. The soccer teams plays approximately 15 games and the basketball teams play approximately 17 games. There is also a co-ed ultimate frisbee team in the spring. Numerous student committees meet weekly during the extended lunch period allowing more student participation.
- What other schools do the Waldorf teams compete against in soccer and basketball?
- Waldorf High School is a member of the Massachusetts Bay Independent League and the Girls’ Independent League.We compete against the following schools in soccer and basketball: Boston Trinity, Boston University Academy, Brimmer & May, Cambridge School of Weston, Chapel Hill Chauncey Hall, Commonwealth, Elizabeth Seaton Academy, Gann Academy, Greater Boston Academy, Landmark, and Learning Center for the Deaf, Newton Country Day, Newton Prep, Rivers School, Waring, and Winchendon.
- The spring sport is a co-ed Ultimate Frisbee Team.
- What are the graduation requirements?
Students must have 28 credits to graduate and must complete their community service hours. Credits are based on standard Carnegie units and comply with college requirements.
- Does the school encourage seniors to apply for early admission to college?
The college guidance counselor works with students individually to determine the best college application strategy for each one which may include early admissions.
- Have there been any studies done on Waldorf graduates?
Yes, there have. A synopsis of this study is called “Standing Out without Standing Alone: Profile of Waldorf School Graduates”. The study includes 550 graduates from 26 Waldorf High Schools in North America. As described in the synopsis, The survey describes what Waldorf school graduates most love to study, which professions they select, what they think of their Waldorf education, and what they value as adults. The survey – the first of its kind in North America – was conducted by the Research Institute for Waldorf Education and parallels a recent study of German and Swiss Waldorf graduates. The North American survey details the college life, job life, and personal life of Waldorf school graduates starting with the first Waldorf school senior class in 1943 and culminating with the class of 2005. To read the synopsis of the survey go to www.waldorflibrary.org and type in “standing out” in the search box. There is also an article entitled, "The Results of Waldorf Education", which is available. Click here to request a copy.
- What colleges do Waldorf High School graduates attend?
A high percentage of our students attend four year colleges. Our graduates have been accepted into approximately 188 different colleges over the past ten years. Click here to view a complete list of college acceptances of our graduates.