The 30 Best Christian Boarding Schools in America
| TBS Staff
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Christian boarding schools typically originated in places where boarding schools were a part of the local or regional culture. Additionally, they arose in remote areas where it was difficult for students to attend a common schoolhouse daily, either because of difficult terrain or because of how families were dispersed.
Today, Christian boarding schools offer a stable reference point for families that frequently relocate, or work “away from home." The latter is the situation for many missionary families, for example, who work outside the U.S., but prefer their children to be educated in schools in the U.S. where they can make and retain longstanding friendships.
There is an abundance of Christian schools in America, but the number of those that board students is by comparison small.
Some Christian faiths are more interested in boarding schools for their children than others. Accordingly, this list includes many Catholic and Episcopal schools, followed by Lutheran, Baptist, and Seventh-day Adventist schools.
The boarding schools considered here are as diverse in their approach to spirituality as they are in school culture. Although in today's changing world Christians hold many divergent attitudes and beliefs, we at TheBestSchools.org have striven to be impartial, giving no preference to any one faith tradition so long as it was broadly Christian.
As diverse as Christianity is in America, we thought it important that prospective students and their parents have a variety of schools to consider. But this list is only the first step.
Once parents have found a school that looks interesting, they need to do their due diligence. In particular, they will then need to investigate a school's approach to faith, learning, and discipline, and thus determine whether it will indeed educate their children consistent with their beliefs and values.
Christian Boarding Schools ranking guidelines:
As with our previous article The 50 Best Christian High Schools, the 30 schools in this list appear in alphabetical order. This is not a ranking. Schools were chosen based on the following criteria:
- Academic excellence and college counseling/preparation
- Programs for spiritual growth of students
- Extra curricular activities/enrichment
- Geographic, demographic, and theological diversity
With only a few exceptions, we focused on coeducational institutions. In those few instances where we listed all-girls or all-boys schools, we chose them because of their outstanding academics.
The schools that follow are listed in alphabetical order.
America's Best Christian Boarding Schools
1 Academy of the Sacred Heart
(Grand Coteau, Louisiana)
Sacred Heart day schools span the nation, but Academy of the Sacred Heart is one of the few that offers boarding to seventh through twelfth grade girls. This is a small girls' school that also admits international students.
The school has day-students that live nearby as well as five-day residential students that spend the weekends at home. There is also a seven-day residential program for students who cannot go home on the weekends.
Residents have access to a swimming pool as well as two living areas with televisions, DVD players, video games, exercise equipment, and other games. Washers and dryers are provided for students. Typically, an international student rooms with one or two American students.
While Academy of the Sacred Heart is in a rural setting and relatively small, the students are afforded terrific opportunities to learn and grow physically, spiritually, and academically.
The school has an equestrian center that is provided as part of the academic curriculum, but also as an after-school and weekend activity. Students can ride for pleasure or compete in hunter/jumper, dressage, and Western disciplines. There is also a show team.
Academy of the Sacred Heart teaches a college preparatory program and all graduates are accepted to colleges and universities. Because there are Sacred Heart schools throughout the world, it makes it easy for girls to participate in exchange programs and study in a foreign country for nine weeks out of the school year.
Students attend mass on Sundays but have an informal time of prayer and reflection every night before retiring.
2 Brook Hill School
Serving grades Pre-Kindergarten through twelfth grade, Brook Hill School (BHS) is an independent Christian school for day and boarding students situated on 280 acres just south of Tyler, Texas. International students hail from Angola, Japan, Kosovo, South Africa, Taiwan, and several other countries.
BHS is accredited through the Association of Christian Schools (SACS) and is affiliated with the College Board, Christian Schools International, and the National and Texas Associations of College Admission Counselors. Sixty percent of faculty members have master's degrees.
Students compete in sports, but also in visual arts, string orchestra, drama, choir, and drum line.
The school began in 1997 with 31 students in grades six through eight. Every year thereafter, another grade was added until all school years were being taught. A program for international students was started in 2003, so that students now come from all over the world.
There are no dormitories. Students live in houses with comfortable home-like conditions: bedroom suites, wi-fi, a game room, a kitchen, and private bathrooms. Each residence has full-time house parents who have private lodgings, but share common areas with the boarding students. They supervise the academic progress of the students in the house and arrange for tutoring if needed. They also plan weekend activities that take place off campus.
Students are educated with a Christian worldview. Bible classes are a mandatory part of the curriculum.
A student newspaper called the Cannon Chronicle gives students the opportunity to express themselves creatively through short story writing, personal narratives, and informative articles.
3 Brooks School
(North Andover, Massachusetts)
Founded in 1926, Brooks School is an Episcopal school open to American and international students. A member of the Independent School League, Brooks School awards financial aid based on financial need only.
Brooks offers a wide range of courses and all students must take three years of a foreign language. Chinese, Spanish, French, Latin, and Greek are offered, with AP courses in Latin, Spanish, and French.
Brooks is a member of the School Year Abroad (SYA) program and students may choose to take their fifth form year in China, Italy, Spain, or France.
The core academic departments offer several electives in English, math, history, and science, with AP classes offered in each discipline. For electives in the fine arts, students may take a wide variety of music classes, including AP music theory, as well as numerous classes in theology, theater, and visual arts.
So that all students may succeed in all subjects, the Learning Center provides a number of services, all day Monday through Friday, including tutoring, writing support, study skills, and organizational and time management skills. There is also support for students with physical and learning disabilities.
There are five resident halls for women and five for men with at least two faculty members living in each dorm.
Students and faculty attend chapel three times a week and each meeting is different. Guest speakers offer different perspectives and students and staff share stories of faith, all in an atmosphere of worship and faith.
All students are required to participate in an afternoon program in sports, the arts, or community service. There is an abundance of activities to choose from, including sailing, dance, squash, choir, and theatrical productions, as well as many others.
4 Christchurch School
Near the Chesapeake Bay along the Rappahannock River, students prepare for college in a rural setting in an Episcopalian school fostering an atmosphere of honesty, integrity, and compassion.
Counselors work with students to help them choose a college that is right for them. Sixty percent of enrollees are boarding students and the day students come from seven counties in Virginia.
Students are afforded many athletic and social activities such as swimming, drama, yearbook, fencing, outdoor sports (including sailing and crew), music, and many more.
Because of the setting, students have the opportunity to learn experientially through nature. Each grade (9 through 12) goes on immersion field trips that last three days and exposes students to interdisciplinary, cross-curriculum lessons. Students maintain a portfolio to keep track of their progress and improvement.
Juniors and seniors complete an interdisciplinary project to build research and writing skills, as well as the ability to document and demonstrate how their projects connect the various disciplines covered in the projects.
On Wednesday mornings, staff and students come together in a worship service in the school's chapel.
Students in the class of 2014 were accepted to a wide array of colleges and universities, including Purdue, Clemson, Loyola, UVA, Penn State, Boston University, the University of Alabama, and many others.
International students are accepted and play an important role in the personality of the school, participating in school activities and sharing their cultures with others.
5 Christ School
(Asheville, North Carolina)
Deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Western North Carolina, a boys' Episcopal boarding school founded in 1900 sits on a 500-acre campus providing 260 students a college preparatory program.
There are advanced placement and honors courses. Eleven sports are offered for boys in the eighth to twelfth grade. Clubs and activities include Mock Trial, theater, yearbook, choir, and Young Life, as well as many others.
A boarding student's day begins with breakfast and then 15 minutes of a job assigned by the school, except on Wednesdays when students are allowed to sleep late. Students then go for extra help and tutoring.
The first class begins at 8:30 except on Wednesdays. On Mondays and Fridays there is an assembly. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays there is a chapel service, while on Thursdays there is a Eucharist Chapel. On Wednesdays students go from breakfast to Young Life, then extra help. The school operates on a modified block schedule.
College counseling begins in ninth grade, preparing students for the college that is best for them. Every fall a college tour is taken for some of the colleges in Tennessee and Georgia. Students also visit Graceland, attend a collegiate football game, and visit the Lorraine Motel Civil Rights Museum.
Students have recently been accepted to UVA, SMU, Clemson, Auburn, University of North Carolina, the College of William and Mary, the Citadel, FSU, and the U.S. Naval Academy, among others.
6 Church Farm School
The Church Farm School (CFS) educates young men from grades eight through 12 in a college preparatory program where some students choose to board while others are day students. Qualified students receive generous financial aid. Currently, more than 90% of the student body receives need-based aid.
Students from the CFS have gone on to Boston College, Brandeis, the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Military Academy, MIT, GIT, Cornell, Purdue, and Princeton, as well as several others.
CFS accepts international students. The application process is the same for students who speak fluent English, here or abroad.
CFS has just added a formal college guidance office to help students find the college that is right for them. Both juniors and seniors will have the advantage of this office. The school offers both honors and AP classes.
C.O.R.E.—which stands for "Challenge of Required Experience"—is the program through which students have the opportunity to engage in community service programs. They must complete five hours of community service per year, and it is hoped that they voluntarily go beyond the minimum requirement. There is also a Work Program and students complete jobs on campus that range from peer tutoring to maintenance and cleaning chores.
Students are challenged physically as well as intellectually through activities such as mountain hiking and biking, fishing, skiing, sailing, golfing, archery, canoeing, camping, rock climbing, and many others. Students are also required to attend a certain number of musical and theatrical performances, art openings, and food festivals offered on campus, so that they have a well-rounded exposure to different cultural activities.
In the senior year, all young men go on a three-day, off-campus camping trip before school starts, where they learn to communicate and work together.
Chapel is held regularly and services are sponsored by staff, students, or guest speakers. Chapel is fashioned after the Episcopal tradition, but all faiths are respected and students from diverse faiths make presentations during chapel services.
CFS also ranks 4th in our "50 Best Boarding Schools in the U.S."
7 Evangel Christian Academy Boarding School
Evangel is associated with the Assemblies of God and provides a school for seventh through twelfth graders over an 88-acre area in a rural setting. Students attend chapel once a week, while several times in the year guest speakers are brought in to deliver a spiritual message.
Evangel began as an elementary school in 1980, and by 1989 it had expanded to include high school. It is accredited by the State of Louisiana and the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges.
Shreveport Community Church (SCC) acts as a partner to Evangel; students attend services at SCC on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. While the school offers a variety of sports activities as well as pleasure and academic clubs and competitions of its own, SCC also provides youth and church activities in which dorm students have the option to participate.
College counseling is provided. Students from Evangel have gone on to study at universities all over the United States, including SMU, Duke, NYU, Harvard, Yale, and MIT.
Evangel's athletic teams are some of the best in the state and even the nation. In 1999, they won 60 out of 60 football games. At that time, they had only 450 students. Today, they are still a 2-A size school, but continue to excel in drama, dance, and science.
Room and board plus tuition is below the national average and is very affordable. Over the past five years, graduating seniors have earned $1.5 million in scholarships for university and college study. Evangel has had two students receive the National Merit Scholar award, while two have received the National Achievement Scholar award.
8 Gem State Adventist Academy
Gem State's spiritual mission is to train students to be Christian leaders who are prepared for eternity. GSA strives to give students opportunities for service and to bring them to an awareness that they are created beings in the image of God through inspiration of the Bible.
Worship is held daily, and during special weeks there are observances for prayer and opportunities to commune with God as well as to serve others by putting their Christianity into action.
Students have a modified daily schedule with traditional core disciplines (not the state-mandated "core curriculum"), electives, and Bible classes daily. Chapel is held every day before lunch.
Electives include speech, computer apps, publications, sculpture/glass, choir, Spanish, intramurals, auto mechanics, welding, and several levels of art.
Gem State accepts international students. Applicants may apply online or request a written application. Each international student must have three letters of recommendation, transcripts, and appropriate documentation required by the U.S. government.
All except international students are given a variety of opportunities to work to assist them in paying their school expenses. Employment ranges from clerical jobs to landscaping and custodial services. Dorm students and students under the age of 16 who cannot work off-campus have first priority for on-campus employment.
Students who do not board at the school are encouraged to try to obtain employment in town. Students may work for 18 hours per week. Wages earned by students are automatically applied to their school account to help pay for fees and cannot be used for personal use.
Students attend Vespers on Friday evenings. The Sabbath is observed on Saturday mornings.
Donations are accepted for a variety of needs, including student tuition, so that no student will be turned away because of a lack of funds.
9 Hillcrest Academy
(Fergus Falls, Minnesota)
On the Ottertail River, you will find a beautiful campus serving seventh through twelfth graders from around the world taking classes on campus and online.
Hillcrest offers a college preparatory program with the Bible at its core. An advanced placement program is also offered, in addition to the college preparatory program. A Christian apologetics thrust is evident in each class. For students who need special attention for specific skills, a third option is offered. All pathways are built on the spiritual foundation of the Word of God with a biblically-based Christian perspective in every academic discipline.
Students from a varied church backgrounds, such as Catholic, Nazarene, Baptist, Lutheran, or those who have no church training or belief in the Bible are found within Hillcrest's student body. Hillcrest's Biblically-based curriculum allows students to study the world from a Christian perspective without needing a Biblical foundation, so long as the students agree to live within Hillcrest's comprehensive Community Life Agreement.
International students come from diverse areas including Asia, South America, and Europe. A unique partnership with The Danielsen School in Bergen, Norway provides up to 30 students every year. A focused interntional program integrates students into dormitory and classroom life with specific criteria to enhance the learning environment for both domestic and international students.
All students are taught the values of Christianity through the foundational doctrines of the Church of Lutheran Brethren with its primary goal to lead students to a life of significance. The Lutheran Brethren Seminary is on the same campus, with many Hillcrest instructors receiving continuing education or specialized degrees from the seminary. Students are mentored by an instructor and trained staff to instill and equip students with a spiritual foundation that lies at the root of school culture and residential life.
Although Hillcrest was started in 1916, it is still a relatively small school with fewer than 300 students. Nevertheless, the school has an orchestra, drama club, robotics club, as well as several other service groups and extra curriculars.
Hillcrest is accredited by the Minnesota Nonpublic School Accrediting Association, and is a member of the Association of Christian Schools International, the Minnesota State High School League, the Minnesota Independent School Forum, and the Church of the Lutheran Brethren of America.
Every year students go on a mission trip as a capstone project that enhances Hillcrest's intercultural education experience. Students participate in short-term and invested mid-term mission experiences throughout their education at Hillcrest Academy.
In 2013, a learning lab was created to provide online learning for accelerated or stuggling students. Students who desire to take college courses may do so within the mentor community at Hillcrest through the online learning lab. Students not proficient in English, who learn differently, or are in need of credit reclaimation are able to utilize the lab as well. Students may take all of their core courses online, but electives such as Bible and the arts must still be taken on campus.
10 Kent School
Nestled in a little valley along the Housatonic River is Kent School, which has been educating young people since 1906. Begun by an Episcopal monk, the school has its roots deeply embedded in the egalitarian belief that education should be afforded to people of all races and cultures.
Chapel is held on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On Saturdays and Sundays, Jewish and Catholic students attend church in town. All other students attend church on campus at St. Joseph's Chapel.
There are many community service projects in which students can be involved. Some are involved in the local community and some are found in other states or countries.
At first students are paired with another person in a residential room. After the first semester, students can choose their roommates.
Each dorm has a common room with television, DVD player, ping pong tables, a pool table, and a microwave. There are places for students to sit and talk or read or watch TV. There are a wide variety of activities to occupy students during free times.
On Thursdays after chapel, a formal dinner is held for community enrichment. School takes place Monday through Saturday, but Wednesdays and Saturdays are half-days.
The pre-engineering program helps students learn about the importance of engineering and helps students know if they want to pursue a career in engineering. All students have the advantage of college counseling.
11 Kents Hill School
(Kents Hill, Maine)
In 2003, Kents Hill School (KHS) was one of 12 schools bestowed with the Sieman's Foundation Award for achievement in AP science and math courses. In 2007, KHS was awarded the Harvard Singer Prize for excellence in the teaching of secondary education.
In addition to grades 9--12, KHS offers one post-graduate year. There are 250 students at KHS, with international students from 15 countries and American students from 25 states.
The school is accredited by the NEASC and is a member of the Cum Laude Society, the College Board, NACAC, NEACAC, CASE, ISANNE, and MAIS.
KHS began as the Wesleyan Seminary in the spring of 1824 and several of the first students were female, making KHS very unusual and forward-thinking for its time. KHS is among the oldest coeducational private schools in the nation.
KHS has many clubs and activities, including a Christian Fellowship club, clubs for foreign languages, and clubs for drama and music. The students produce a newspaper and a yearbook. There are many other clubs and activities that center around the personal interests of the students.
12 The King's Academy
Tucked away in the foothills of the Great Smokey Mountains lies the lovely campus of The King's Academy. Devotions are held daily and Chapel and prayer are planned weekly.
During chapel there might be a guest speaker from the students or staff, or a special guest speaker from outside the school. For a week in the fall and a week in the spring, time is dedicated to spiritual growth. During this time, chapel services are held every day with guest speakers from outside the school.
Dual enrollment and AP classes are offered in a college preparatory program. Every senior has an interdisciplinary capstone project in the form of a senior thesis.
There are several clubs to hone student interests and skills, including Ju-Jitsu Club, Photography Club, and Trail Life. There is also a play presented in the spring.
Students have a self-governing association called SGA in which they work toward building a community among all students and school employees.
One unique feature of The King's Academy is the ECO ("Experiential Curriculum for the Outdoor") Classroom, the purpose of which is to foster student appreciation for God's creation through rappelling, hiking, camping, canoeing, and other activities.
The Art Department gives awards to students with the highest average in each subject. Two to three music students are granted the Ersa N. Davis Award (for choir and for orchestra). Students can be awarded an ACSI Distinguished High School Student award by the faculty if they are juniors or seniors. This award is for excellence in academics, leadership, fine arts, or Christian service.
The Tennessee Baptist Convention generously lends financial support to parents, who only pay about 2/3 of the tuition and fees. Parents can apply for more financial aid, but resources for extra aid are limited.
13 Oakdale Christian Academy
Founded by the Free Methodist Church, Oakdale Christian Academy is located in the lush rolling hills of Jackson, Kentucky. Jackson is a small town; the nearest Metropolitan area is Lexington.
The school is over 80 years old and was founded in the truth of the Bible so that spirituality is a part of all coursework and activities. Students are introduced to service through a variety of activities provided by the school.
The school is accredited by AdvancED, which is an extension of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. It also has full accreditation by the Association of Christian Schools and the Kentucky Non-Public Schools Commission.
Students living on campus have a wide variety of evening and weekend activities. These activities support spiritual growth as well as an academic program, and also give students a chance to socialize and grow in emotional and spiritual maturity.
All students work on campus to keep the campus clean and lovely, inside and out. Students who excel in this program can be promoted to student supervisors. All students are rewarded with coupons for their campus job training, which they can redeem for extra privileges, a phone card, or snacks.
Juniors and seniors may take courses through the Dual Credit Program of the Central Christian College of Kansas, so that they may earn college credits while still in high school, but at a greatly reduced cost. Advanced Placement classes are also offered in English, history, science, and math.
There are day students at Oakdale, as well as boarding students from the U.S. and several foreign countries. Students participate in Bible classes, chapel services, Sunday church, and small group fellowships.
14 Olney Friends School
On a 350-acre campus, the Olney Friends School has a farm where students can monitor the creeks and streams of the Captina Watershed which connects with the Ohio River in the hills of the Appalachians. Environmental Science is taught experientially in the field, as well as in the classroom.
In 2013, three students from Olney won Juried Awards for films entered into the Bridge Film Festival, a Friends school alliance which promotes Quaker values through filmmaking that communicates a message of conscience.
The school began in 1837. The classrooms and living quarters were destroyed by fire in 1910, but local families took in the students who were then able to graduate on time. In 1938, two separate dormitories and a new classroom building were constructed, along with a new gym, and a new girls' dorm was added in 1968.
Every residence has an adult dorm staff member on duty each night to watch over students and provide homework help if needed. There are four adult staff members—all faculty—for each dorm.
On the weekends students can go into town to shop and eat, or else stay home and catch up on sleep. On Sunday evenings students come together for worship and meetings.
There are weekends where students are required to be on campus for special events such as the Parents Weekend, the Pumpkin Festival, and Room Change Weekend. All new students come to school in the fall with an experienced Olney student assigned as their roommate. In the spring all students are required to change roommates.
Every weekend there is one community activity such as a dance, a guest speaker, a haunted house, or a specially prepared dinner from another culture.
15 The Pennington School
(Pennington, New Jersey)
Like many schools in the northeast, Pennington has a rich history. Founded in 1838, Pennington has almost 500 students and 100 teachers for grades six through twelve. The campus spans 54 acres and approximately half of the faculty lives on campus.
Pennington offers 20 AP classes and many honors courses. College counseling begins in the student's freshman year, and graduates attend colleges and universities across the United States.
There is a Global Studies program that allows students to study in another country for part of a year or a full year. Seniors also have the option of participating in an internship program to develop practical knowledge in an area of the arts, service, research, or a career.
Originally, Pennington was established as a Methodist Episcopal seminary. Today, the religious diversity of students is so broad that at the weekly chapel services respect is shown for all religions and denominations of the students present, while themes that are important in every religion are explored.
Although not strictly required, nearly all students participate in community service projects. Students tutor elementary students, participate in walks/runs benefiting a particular charity, work at an assisted living center, and take part in many other projects to benefit children, the hungry, the elderly, and the poor.
For students who are boarding, weekend activities are planned to the movies, sporting events, shopping, and other trips. Day students are invited to attend as well, if they wish.
The school offers several club activities for both day and boarding students, including a Visual Arts Club, a Model U.N., a student newspaper and yearbook, Mock Trials, and a drama club, to name but a few.
16 Pine Tree Academy
With Christ as the center of this Seventh-day Adventist school, boarding and day students are provided an education founded on God's Word so that students can be prepared for a productive and responsible Christian life.
Dorm life is intended to be safe and supportive, but fun as well. Activities include excursions into town to shop or bowl, as well as trips to the beach. Students go on hiking and camping trips and roast hot dogs and marshmallows around the campfire. Activities also include snow tubing, swimming, open gym night, and community outreach.
There are several clubs and activities in which students can participate, including yearbook, drama productions, study groups, a school newspaper, and a running club which included participation in a 5K Trail Run. Students can also take private music lessons through the Center for the Arts.
Every year the junior class goes on a field trip for the U.S. history class. It lasts three days and includes a stop at the JFK Library and Museum. In the summer of 2014, the Bell Choir toured to various locations.
At the beginning of each year, seniors go on a survival trip of canoeing and camping.
17 Portsmouth Abbey School
(Portsmouth, Rhode Island)
With 27 buildings and 525 acres of land along the shores of Narragansett Bay, Portsmouth Abbey is a coeducational Catholic Benedictine boarding school for 350 students in grades 9 through 12. Founded in 1926, and unique in its English Benedictine tradition, the School offers a challenging academic curriculum rich in mathematics and science and built upon a signature humanities program.
The Benedictine monastery at the heart of the School includes the most notable building of modernist architecture in Rhode Island: the Church of St. Gregory the Great.
Portsmouth Abbey's student body consists of young men and women from 26 states and 18 countries. Residential life on campus is robust with a vibrant co-curricular program that includes 40 athletics team, an equestrian program, a full range of performing arts opportunities, a diverse community service program, and an abundance of clubs to appeal to a wide variety of interests.
Each student must complete 10 hours of community service during his or her Fourth-Form (sophomore) year, and there are many student-led activities on campus that focus on charitable causes.
Given the School's small size, students have the opportunity to become leaders and active members of the community. Additionally, there are many off-campus enrichment opportunities and weekend activities that are planned for students, including fellowships, travel abroad, local excursions for laser tag, bowling and sporting events as well as shopping trips to Newport, Providence or Boston.
The Portsmouth Abbey School mission is to help young men and women grow in knowledge and grace. Grounded in the Catholic faith and 1,500-year-old Benedictine intellectual tradition, the School fosters: reverence for God and the human person; respect for learning and order; and responsibility for the shared experience of community life. It seeks to integrate all phases of a student's life in a spiritual center.
Portsmouth Abbey has developed a relationship with the Manquehue Apostolic Movement in Chile, a private association of lay faithful whose aim is to bring the sacrament of baptism to its fullest and deepest meaning with inspiration from the spirituality of the Rule of St Benedict. Mass is offered to students daily, and students speak weekly at church assembly.
While the School is Catholic, there are students who are not Catholic, as well as some who are not Christian. The School seeks to create an environment of acceptance of and respect for others.
Portsmouth Abbey also ranks 28th in our "50 Best Boarding Schools in the U.S."
18 Rabun Gap—Nacoochee School
(Rabun Gap, Georgia)
Originally created in 1903 by a Presbyterian missionary and a Reverend to be a farm school where students grew all the food they ate, it offered hope to isolated rural families. The Farm Family program was supported by the Presbyterian Church and philanthropists such as Andrew Carnegie and Nelson Rockefeller.
RGNS has developed over time into an academically superior boarding and day school where nearly 100 percent of graduates go on to colleges and universities such as West Point, William and Mary, the U.S. Naval Academy, and Harvard, among others. International students come from 20 countries.
The school motto is "Work, Study, Worship" and the school's philosophy is founded in the teachings of Christ as a practical guide to how its students and staff should live. In after-school programs, students have the opportunity to participate in several diverse community service projects.
All disciplines offer advanced placement courses and students have the opportunity to learn in the classroom as well as in laboratory and studio settings. Additionally, students have the opportunity to study abroad in France, Italy, or Cuba. A Student Resource Center where faculty members work with students in small groups in math, languages, and writing is available five days a week. Peer tutoring is also available.
RGNS has 28 competitive sports teams. There is also a full orchestra, a drama department, and a Cirque program where students perform stories through acrobatics, clowning, and dance. The Cirque program began 14 years ago and continues to excel and grow, with some of the choreography designed by veteran student performers.
Rabun Gap also ranks 18th in our "50 Best Boarding Schools in the U.S."
19 St. Andrew's School
Although St. Andrew's is an Episcopalian school, there are students from practically every Protestant denomination, as well as Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim students on campus.
Chapel is held twice a week, with a service on Wednesday evenings and one on Sunday mornings. The Wednesday evening service is more informal, with a guest speaker or a speaker from the staff or student body. On Sundays, the service is Episcopal.
Life at St. Andrew's begins with a school-wide square dance. While some students initially express apprehension about an activity that may be completely unknown to them,since no one knows the steps, the activity turns into one of complete merriment, serving to establish a bond among students that they will carry throughout the school year.
Students have the option to go home on weekends, but many choose to stay because of the family atmosphere that exists in the residential life at St. Andrew's. Because St. Andrew's seeks to have a culturally and economically diverse student body, almost 50 percent of students receive financial aid so they can attend.
Seventy percent of students participate in some kind of community service, which ranges from helping physically challenged students to swim in the pool, to raising funds to assist their sister school in South Africa, to taking trips across the U.S. and overseas.
Student writers have a voice at St. Andrew's through the school newspaper, The Cardinal, and the school's literary magazine, The Andrean. At any one time there are 20 to 30 clubs and activities in which students can participate; they can even start their own club. A special group—the Pipes and Drum Corps—exists to welcome people to St. Andrew's and to perform at special events. They dress in traditional Scottish kilts and play the bagpipes and drums.
St. Andrew's offers several honors and advanced study courses in all disciplines. Chinese, Spanish, and French are offered through the Modern Languages Department. In Religious Studies, students can take courses on philosophy, ethics, and theology. The Visual and Performing Arts Department present a wide array of creative challenges for students, including orchestra, ceramics, and jazz improvisation, to name a few.
St. Andrew also ranks 9th in our "50 Best Boarding Schools in the U.S."
20 St. Croix Lutheran School
(West St. Paul, Minnesota)
What began in 1958 as a school held in the basement of St. James Lutheran Church in St. Paul has developed, beginning in 1992, into a permanent residential school on 30 acres. With nearly 500 students, St. Croix serves children from the Twin Cities region and across the U.S., as well as 18 foreign countries.
While shuttle service is provided to Twin Cities restaurants and shopping malls, all activities are monitored and emailed to parents for their approval. Lunch is provided for all students through the lunch program and students are exposed to different cultural cuisines.
Students compete in speech and math. Students in the tech service group volunteer their time for theater performances, chapel, concerts, and other assemblies. The student council is made up of representatives and officers from each class. Each year they choose an international mission project and students can apply to be ambassadors for St. Croix, speaking on St. Croix's behalf at grade schools and churches, as well as providing tours for prospective students and their families.
St. Croix provides a college preparatory education by highly qualified teachers, with more than half holding advanced degrees. The school is fully accredited by the Minnesota Nonpublic School Accrediting Association. AP classes are offered in science, math, and psychology. Electives include Latin, Mandarin Chinese, Computer Programming, Game Programming, Sculpture, and Ceramics, as well as many others.
21 St. George's School
(Newport, Rhode Island)
In 1896, the Episcopal Church founded St. George's School (SGS). There are 365 students in grades 9--12, with 26 percent of students receiving $3.4 million in financial aid.
There are 69 members of the faculty, 53 of whom hold advanced degrees. There are 120 courses and of those, 22 are advanced placement courses. There are 15 sports for students to choose from, including lacrosse, ice and field hockey, sailing, and golf.
Chapel is held twice a week, but there are special services where sixth-form students (juniors and seniors) share their faith and other weekly gatherings for study and prayer. Special chapel services are held for momentous occasions such as parent's weekend and Christmas.
Graduates of the class of 2013 went to over 60 colleges and universities, including UVA, the University of Rhode Island, Tufts, Tulane, Stanford, Rice, NYU, LSU, Johns Hopkins, Duke, the University of Edinburgh, and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
SGS is a member of the Independent School League. It presents a college preparatory curriculum, and each new student is given an individual course plan. Grade reports are issued four times a year and written comments are given at least three times a year (or more often, if necessary).
Transportation is provided for students who wish to worship at a church in town. Each year a program is held for students who wish to be confirmed in the Episcopalian church.
Several opportunities for community service are provided, including blood drives, MLK Day, and Big Brothers and Sisters.
The library is located online and students can access it anywhere on campus. All students must purchase a laptop and have it configured by the SGS technology department. All students are required to attend technology training.
22 St. James School
There are 235 students at this Episcopal co-educational boarding school located on a 672-acre campus. Students come from 17 different states and eight foreign countries. Boarding students make up 75 percent of the school population.
The school is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools, Association of Independent Maryland Schools, Cum Laude Society, Council for Advancement and Support of Education, Association of Independent Schools of Greater Washington, the National Association of Episcopal Schools, and the Mid-Atlantic Episcopal School Association. It is also accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and the Maryland State Department of Education.
Students perform community service every year and are also required to complete an annual Fine Arts requirement. AP classes are offered in English, U.S. History, and Calculus. Electives include religion, fine arts, and foreign language (Latin, French, or Spanish), among others.
There are several sports in which students can participate and special events and trips are planned for the weekends. Every new student is greeted by a big brother or big sister from the senior class. Some faculty members live on campus and every residential hallway has a prefect or student leader living there.
In the summer, St. James offers programs for children and teens, both indoors and outdoors. A parents' association welcomes new faculty members with a gift bag and buys gifts and cards for faculty birthdays and Christmas. Parent volunteers also work to groom the campus so that it will always look its best.
Clubs and activities for students are ongoing throughout the year; they include a photography club, a ski club, drama club, choir, historical society, and the Cum Laude Society, as well as others. Qualifying juniors and seniors are inducted into the Cum Laude Society in the spring.
23 St. Mark's Episcopal School
Approximately 76 percent of St. Mark's 350 students live on campus, while the rest are day students. Students take five courses per semester, six days a week, with Wednesdays and Saturdays being half-days.
Life centers around the residential community, even for day students. Every weekend activities are planned for students, from athletic events to visits to restaurants and places of interest. On two mornings a week, students are required to attend chapel, but there are several chapel services during the week which students can choose to attend if they wish. Qualified school counselors cover topics important to young people on their path to adulthood.
Co-curricular activities in athletics, the arts, and performance are offered. Additionally, students have the opportunity to participate in community service, as well as clubs to pursue personal interests.
Athletic teams are provided for cross country, field hockey, football, soccer, basketball, ice hockey, squash, wrestling, baseball, golf, softball, crew, lacrosse, and tennis. As members of the Independent School League, students, coaches, and spectators are expected to display good sportsmanship and represent their school with honor.
St. Mark's believes that community living means exercising kindness, responsibility, and understanding. As part of a safe environment, health services are provided on campus with professional nurses and counselors.
24 St. Paul's School
(Concord, New Hampshire)
St. Paul's is a located on a stunning, 2000-acre wooded campus. Founded in 1856 by the Episcopalians, the school is located in the state capital and has multiple facilities, including 18 dormitories and a 9500-square foot athletic and fitness center with an indoor pool. Squash courts were built in 1915. The school's literary magazine, Horae Scholasticae, was founded in 1860 and continues to this day.
All students and faculty live on campus (some of the faculty members are themselves graduates of St. Paul's). Dormitories—which house 30 students each—consist of single, double, and triple rooms. Faculty apartments are attached to the dorms and a faculty member shepherds students into the house each night and plans the fun activities for the house. The plans for the weekend are sponsored by a club, group, or campus house. Students can take a shuttle into town to shop or to eat at a local restaurant.
There are athletic events, cookouts, bonfires, dances, variety shows, and movies, as well as performances by the departments of both drama and music. There are also clubs to appeal to all student interests, including the Classics Society, Dancers with Attitude, Investment Club, the Magic Club, Sailing Society, SPS Scuba, a school newspaper (The Pelican), a satirical magazine (The SPS Bucket), the Climbing Club, and Anglers Society. In all, there are over 70 such clubs and activities for students to enjoy.
Eight boarding schools, including St. Paul's, participate in a Penn Residency Master's in Teaching at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education.
St. Paul's offers students a generous financial aid program so they can afford to attend; to date, this program has amounted to over $9 million awarded to more than 190 students.
25 St. Timothy's School
Situated on 145 acres, St. Timothy's was the first girls' boarding school in the U.S. to become an International Baccalaureate--authorized World School. With 27 buildings, an equestrian center, outdoor athletic complex, and performing arts center, St. Timothy's offers the IB Diploma program exclusively.
Of the 195 students, 162 are boarders with students from over 25 countries. St. Timothy's is the Episcopal Diocesan School for Girls in Maryland. Chapel meets every Wednesday evening.
There are over 20 clubs in which students can participate, as well as the Moongates, the school choir, the Model U.N., and The Steward (St. Timothy's yearbook). On weekends, students have a variety of activities, including trips to Baltimore, New York, and Philadelphia. Day students often accompany boarding students on these excursions.
Additionally, St. Timothy's is a member of the Interscholastic Equestrian Association with varsity and junior varsity teams. All students must complete 40 hours of community service during their time at St. Timothy's, as well as 150 hours of service in the CAS (Creativity, Action, and Service) program.
Students may participate in several different sports, both in the fall and in the spring. Students may become members of the handbell choir, participate in the International Fashion Show of Wearable Art, and take theater and dance lessons in a variety of styles.
26 San Marcos Academy
(San Marcos, Texas)
Founded in 1907, San Marcos Baptist Academy (SMBA) was originally located near the town center, in close proximity to Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University). In 1980, the Academy sold its campus to the University and moved to a 220-acre hill country location just west of town. In this spacious rural setting, the Academy offers an equestrian and 4-H program, a 21-element ropes/challenge course, cross country and walking trails, and beautiful Texas sunsets.
Maintaining continuous accreditation for the past 100 years with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (now AdvancEd), SMBA provides a challenging college prep curriculum with advanced placement and dual enrollment college courses. Additionally, students may take distance learning or blended courses (the latter are a combination of on-campus and online coursework) through the fully accredited San Marcos Online Academy.
Another unique feature of the Academy's curriculum is the Learning Skills Center for students with mild to moderate learning differences such as dyslexia, ADD or ADHD. Beginning and advanced English as a Second Language classes are also offered for international students who come to the Academy (a SEVP-certified school) from more than a dozen foreign countries.
International students are fully integrated into the school's residential and student life programs in order to provide them with the most complete study abroad experience possible. Finally, the Academy has maintained a highly-regarded Army JROTC program since 1917. Opportunities through this program include marksmanship training, orienteering, drill team and both marching and mounted color guards.
The Bears and Lady Bears compete athletically through the Texas Christian Athletic League (TCAL). Sports offered include, among others, football, volleyball, basketball, swimming, soccer and track. Those who enjoy the fine arts have a variety of options to choose from at SMA, including band, choir, visual art, digital photography and video production. Opportunities for private lessons in voice, piano, guitar and other instruments are offered in the newly constructed Fine Arts Suite of the Lee Hage Jamail Special Event Center.
After school and on weekends, the recreation staff provides activities for all interests, from pool parties, movie nights and college tours to shopping trips, amusement park excursions and community service events. Bible Studies, discipleship groups and twice-weekly chapel services enhance the Academy's mission: “to educate young men and women within a nurturing community based on Christian values.”
27 Scattergood Friends School
(West Branch, Iowa)
In April of 2014, the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce awarded a Scattergood Friends School (SFS) student an award for excellence for academic achievement and efforts to go above and beyond the studies outlined by the school—testimony to the influence of a great Christian school on the community in which it thrives.
It is not just the spiritual life and the communal life that excel at SFS. In 2014, students were accepted at Penn State, Hawaii Pacific, Brandeis, Bryn Mawr, and the universities of Iowa, Michigan, Alabama, California, Indiana, and Washington State, as well as many others.
SFS describes its academic program as amazing, and aims to prove it. With a strong college preparatory program, students spend mornings in foundational core disciplines and afternoons in Humanities, PE or athletics, and Projects. These schedules rotate so students may spend an adequate amount of time in both academic and non-academic classes. AP classes are offered in math and science.
There are two to three students in each dorm room and the sexes are kept strictly separate. Every residence has a team of sponsors who supervise students; an adult sleeps in each dorm every night. During the weekends, students have (same-sex) slumber parties or sleep in another dorm with friends. Students are allowed to stay up later and a brunch is served on Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. Students are within walking distance of a mall and fast food restaurants. Saturday night activities are planned by the dorm team.
SFS is located on 126 acres, 35 of which are dedicated to farming. The school farm, which has over 200 animals, grows organic food. Students learn experientially by participating in farm activities; after students are fed, what is left is sold or donated.
Students and staff come together every week day morning for worship, except Thursdays. They then meet for 15 minutes to prepare for the day. On Thursday afternoons the community comes together for a 45 minute time of silent worship. Those who are moved to speak during this service stand and share the message on their hearts. The meeting ends with shaking hands.
28 The Stony Brook School
(Stony Brook, New York)
Fifty miles east of New York City, Stony Brook School sits on a 55-acre campus less than a mile from Long Island Sound. Students are accepted beginning in seventh grade through twelfth grade. The school, which was founded in 1922, has as its motto "Character before Career."
Summer programs are provided to help develop student abilities. There are day programs as well as a 13-day residential program for students who are interested in exploring what residential life is like, to see if they want to become Stony Brooks boarding students.
Chapel is held four times during the week and on Sundays; boarding students attend morning services at Hegeman Chapel. A student-led group meets at night once a week for discussion, prayer, and music. In the summer, students can go on mission trips to various parts of the U.S. and the world.
Weekends bring special events, including concerts, field trips, and special meals; day students are invited to participate.
There are over 15 AP courses. Students can also express themselves artistically in string ensemble, jazz ensemble, chamber singers, drawing, ceramics, painting, and photography, or they can join the Theatrical Arts Society and participate in theatrical productions.
Students can receive help with their writing and homework from the Writing Center, as well as individual tutoring and coaching. Students receive college counseling from the moment they enter Stony Brook. By the time they reach their junior year, students are looking at specific colleges while assessing their abilities.
Virtually 100 percent of graduating students go on to college, including Cornell, Bryn Mawr, Dartmouth, Harvard, the U.S. Naval Academy, Princeton, and Amherst, to name a few.
Approximately 43 percent of students receive financial aid; there are also tuition payment plans. The school is open to international students.
29 Sunnydale Adventist Academy
For Sunnydale Adventist Academy (SAA), the salvation of its students is the most important goal. It is the hope of SAA that students will grow spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually so they may go forth and serve God through service to the world.
The school is accredited by the Accrediting Association of Seventh-day Adventist Schools, Colleges, and Universities, the National Council for Private School Accreditation, and the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
Students attend school from 7:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and until 4:00 p.m. on Fridays. The school is operated according to the principles of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and students are expected to adhere to these principles and to follow all regulations and requirements. International students are accepted as well as American students.
Students worship daily as well as on the Sabbath, and are invited to take part in the spiritual programs offered by the school. Outreach activities are planned for students on Sabbath afternoons.
There are three diplomas offered: Diploma, Advanced Diploma, and an Honors Diploma. Capable students are urged to obtain the skills to be successful in college.
Students may participate in a hand-bell choir and take private music lessons. Students may also choose to take classes in drama, choir, band, or art. The school also offers classes in Spanish, gymnastics, health, advanced computer applications, graphic design, family and consumer science, and Microsoft Office.
In the field of religion, students may take courses that cover the history of the Hebrew nation, Christian Church history, Christian Beliefs and World Events, and World Religions.
Unique to Sunnydale is a witnessing training program called C.R.O.S.S. ("Christians Reaching Out to Save Souls"), in which students receive classroom instruction and practical experience in the field. Public Evangelism, Personal Evangelism, and Church Ministry are also offered under this program.
30 Western Mennonite School
Providing a Christ-centered education where Bible classes and chapel services are part of the graduation requirements, Western Mennonite School (WMS) believes in educating the whole child—including the spiritual, social, academic, physical, and emotional facets of children—from sixth through twelfth grade.
The 45-acre campus is located seven miles north of Salem. To help finance the school, the accommodations on the campus are rented out during the summer months, making it the perfect place for a church retreat. They also provide catering services.
Students, who come from the U.S. and abroad, can choose to board five or seven days a week. There are also day students. With donations from alumni and friends of the school, half of the students receive financial aid, for a comparatively low tuition and boarding rate.
WMS offers a college preparatory program with several advanced courses. Students go to school five days a week for seven periods a day.
WMS is unique in that it offers a mini-term between semesters. While this is common in Christian day schools, it is not often seen in Christian boarding schools. During the mini-term students are able to study outside the classroom.
Students are taken on trips within the U.S. to expose them to other cultures. Over the years WMS has hosted students from 38 foreign countries.
Opportunities for service are provided so students can learn to be leaders while serving the wider community and sharing their faith with others.
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