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The Upper School, Harrisburg Academy's high school, is the capstone to students' learning journeys. The school provides an environment that allows students to explore and discover their own innate talents as they prepare for the next phase of their lives in college and beyond. Anchored by a strong core curriculum, the Upper School experience also includes the opportunity to participate in the prestigious, globally recognized International Baccalaureate Diploma program and to expand classroom learning through the Centers for Experiential Learning & Innovation. All children can succeed at Harrisburg Academy, and middle and high school students find this success through small class sizes, individualized attention, and strong work ethic.
As a college preparatory school, we devote extensive resources to individually guiding our students through the college search process. Our head of Middle and Upper Schools, John Binnert, and our director of college counseling, Keo Oura Kounlavong-Sabath, work one-on-one with students and their families during their four-year experience in our Upper School (for students who attend the Academy for 8th grade, we offer special college counseling opportunities to prepare them for their Upper School experience).Our director of college counseling assists students and their families by providing access to a vast library of materials, information nights, financial aid sessions, college trips, a college fair, and a college prep course. Our college placement rate is 100 percent, with more than two-thirds of students typically attending “Most Competitive” or “Highly Competitive” colleges and universities, which comprise the top 5 percent of higher education institutions in the United States. Our juniors’ SAT score averages about 300 points higher than the national average.
Small classes and a varied and individually-oriented curriculum allow students to be actively involved in their own education. Along with traditional college preparatory courses in the core subjects of English, mathematics, the sciences, history, and world languages, we offer courses such as Architectural Processes, Game Design, and Music Theory and Composition. In 9th and 10th grade, students take challenging coursework and then complete their Upper School experience with the option to participate in the IB program as a full IB Diploma candidate or certificate student (the program is not a requirement for Academy students). Especially ambitious students can apply to receive an IB Scholarship for Summer Study, which provides them the opportunity to extend their education around the globe.
The return on investment for these dedicated students is remarkable -- in a recent survey conducted with Academy IB Diploma graduates, one out of every 6 respondents stated that he or she began college with sophomore status, saving approximately $50,000!
Our co-curricular program is designed to ensure broad participation in activities outside of the classroom. Clubs include Quiz Bowl, Model United Nations, Student Council, Literary Magazine, Newspaper, Diversity Club, National Honor Society, Tri-M, and Tech Club. Upper School students are also involved in performing arts, including a student-produced one-act play (fall), All-School Concert (winter), and Upper School musical (fall).
Harrisburg Academy is responding to an international call to better STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education through the creation of a program that emphasizes hands-on learning, which is at the heart of successful STEM outcomes. In keeping with the school's liberal arts tradition, we added art and design to the equation (STEAM, if you will) and launched The Centers for Experiential Education & Innovation in 2012. This program is the umbrella for four distinct sub-centers: The Center for Experimental Sciences, The Center for Technology & Entrepreneurship, The Center for Global & Local Citizenship, The Center for Literary Studies, and The Center for the Creative Arts. Students, with the support of faculty mentors, are able to cultivate their passions and create individualized internships and research opportunities that supplement traditional classroom learning.
Harrisburg Academy seniors conclude their time here by participating in an out-of-school, individually designed senior internship. This three-week program allows our seniors to gain active and direct working experience. Past internship locations have included Harrisburg Hospital, Hershey’s ZooAmerica, Dickinson College, WITF (Southcentral Pennsylvania's PBS affiliate), and the U.S. Geological Service.
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