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Who We Are - Frequently Asked Questions

I really want to have the opportunity to travel during high school. How can Winchendon support that?

Haiti, Philippines, Europe, Nicaragua, Russia, China, Africa, Canada, many U.S. cities and states, groups and individuals…  Winchendon students have the opportunity to do lots of purposeful exploring.  Last year one of our students used a ColLAB to study anthropology in the Republic of Congo, while others traveled in groups to France, the Philippines and Haiti.  This year we have a group heading to Houston to study post-disaster recovery and lend a hand.  Our schedule and program are specifically designed to accommodate field-based learning in some of the most interesting places.  

What is “conference” at Winchendon?

Conference is a critical opportunity that is part of almost every academic day.  It is a half hour or more when every teacher is in his or her classroom or office, and is specifically available for any extra help that you might want.  It might be an assignment that you are trying to get a jumpstart on, or a problem that you struggled with when you tackled it on your own.  Students can drop in for a few minutes as needed, although many choose to work with their teachers every conference period.   Some of our most successful students choose to attend conference regularly, and our alumni return to tell us that seeking assistance in this way is one of the most important skills that they learned when at Winchendon.

Is there an athletic requirement?

Students choose a sport, fine or performing arts program or other activity each season.  This can include one of our many team sports offerings, a non-competitive fitness activity, fine or performing arts, or one of our “brainiac” teams – which includes theater productions, robotics and other team activities.   Each student is expected to participate in at least one activity involving fitness and one team activity each year – although most choose to do more than one of each – and our schedule permits students to pursue multiple activities each season.

I have a foreign language waiver. Can Winchendon support that and my dyslexia?

Yes.  Winchendon’s teachers and leadership are committed to supporting a wide range of learning styles and differences.  Our micro-classes provide a great setting for kids who learn differently to excel.  Our teachers are specifically trained to use a variety of methods and practices to support different learners.  And our Learning Advocates provide additional support to make sure that your teachers know what approaches will most benefit you and to help you develop additional skills.

Learn more about Winchendon’s Learning Supports.

Does Winchendon offer Chinese or Arabic? What if I want to take a course that isn’t offered at Winchendon?

While Winchendon has a compelling curriculum, we are also committed to supporting each student’s individual interests and passions to the best of our ability, and that sometimes takes a student beyond our curriculum.  Winchendon is a member of the Hybrid Learning Consortium, a group of top schools around the globe that shares courses by leveraging technology.  This provides Winchendon students access to a broad course offering that exceeds even many of the very largest schools.   Learn more about the Hybrid Learning Consortium.

Why do we at Winchendon think that Service Learning is so important?

At Winchendon, we believe that some of the most important skills and attributes that we work on are what we refer to as the “Great 8” – C2AR3E2:

Collaborative – Courageous – Adaptable – Resilient
Resourceful – Responsible – Empathetic – Ethical

The development of these characteristics will play as much of a role in each student’s success as being a great writer or being able to solve a complex science problem. We have to work on all of it.

Service Learning provides perhaps the most effective “classroom” where we can practice these attributes, and serve our community as well. In this year long program, students work in groups to understand the challenges, develop possible solutions, and then implement. Our students have recently tackled a wide range of prospects including engaging local youth through athletic and performing arts programs, supporting veterans, combatting hunger and poverty among many others. Our Head of School regularly suggests that Service Learning may be the most important class that a Winchendon student takes.

Learn more about Service Learning

What is Global Dynamics?

Global Dynamics is an interdisciplinary course of study first piloted almost a decade ago at Winchendon and which recognized that a true understanding of the world that we live in can not be achieved in traditional siloed learning of English, History, Social Sciences…the world does not exist in simple silos.   Global Dynamics is a double-block class (representing two of each student’s five classes) in which we study important themes and regions at four different levels.  Think the impact of colonialism in Africa and the Middle East or race in America.  In Global Dynamics, students develop a broad base of critical skills from reading and writing to interdisciplinary problem solving while tackling contemporary problems and issues.  

More on the Global Dynamics curriculum

What are ColLABs?

ColLABs are short for “Collaborative Laboratory”, a time and physical space during which students and faculty step away from more traditional class learning to immerse themselves in an area of interest and to apply the skills and habits that they have acquired.  Students have the op to pursue an internship, independent project, or teacher-led immersive in the two ColLAB blocks offered in January and May.   More information on ColLABs

What college counseling is provided for students?

The formal college counseling process begins junior year, though sophomores take the PSAT for the first time (these scores are not released to colleges). Around halfway through junior year, students meet with the College Counseling Office where they are guided through the college admission process until the spring of senior year. There are three college counselors for a senior class of approximately 70 students, so each student has the opportunity to work individually with a counselor to discuss his or her own academic/athletic profile, develop essays or a portfolio,  and work through the search for the best college options. Moreover, we host more than 100 colleges on our campus every year and hold information sessions with juniors and seniors.

Learn more about College Counseling

What health services are provided for students at Winchendon?

The on-campus health center provides a variety of services to address the overall wellness of our students. Winchendon’s health center has an infirmary, and we also offer counseling for our students. Our nursing staff is on call 24 hours per day, and in the case of medical emergencies, Heywood Hospital in Gardner, MA is located just seven miles from our campus.  As necessary, students are also able to access the world-class medical facilities in Boston and Worcester.  Learn more about Health and Safety

How does academic advising work at Winchendon?

The role of the advisor at Winchendon is to support students in all facets of academic life. Advisee groups consist of approximately seven students (boys and girls) ranging from freshmen to seniors. Advisors meet with their advisees every Tuesday after breakfast to check in and to review their grades and comments from the previous week. While students are assigned an advisor in their first year, students may request to change advisors in subsequent years.

What is a typical day like at Winchendon?

Most days start with either Community Meeting or Advisee Meeting at 7:55, with the exception of Thursdays, on which there is a bit of a “sleep-in” to provide a little break in the schedule. Following breakfast and meeting, students are in class from 8:20am to 2:30pm. This is followed at the end of the academic day by a 30-minute “conference” block where students can visit their teachers’ classrooms to ask an extra question or to work one-on-one on a project, homework, or paper.

In the afternoons, Winchendon students are involved with athletic and creative commitments immediately following conference. Interscholastic teams practice four days a week and generally compete on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons. We also offer another extracurricular time-slot in the afternoon for students (even athletes!) to engage creatively with one of our many options in the Arts including painting, drawing, pottery, theatre, and music.

After dinner, students return to their dorms by 7:15pm and begin their chores and prepare for study hall. During this time they cannot use their phones, and the dorms are quiet from 7:45-9:30pm for all students to work and prepare for classes.

Learn more about athletic options 

Learn more about the fine and performing arts 

What is the dress code?

We ask our students to look clean and dress appropriately during the entire academic day. This means what is often referred to as “Business Casual” – shirts with collars, no jeans or ripped pants, a nice sweater or pullover, but not sweatshirts, and shoes that are good for active, community-based learning. In the fall and spring, many students like to wear dress, Bermuda-style shorts and flip flops, and in the winter the Uggs and similar warm shoes come out. More specific information will be provided as we get closer to the start of the school, but the essence is that we dress for work, which will include being out in the community a lot.

What do students do on the weekends?

After a week of classes there are many options to have some fun on the weekends. Students enjoy the facilities on campus and the surrounding areas. Our students will spend their time playing sports, walking to the town of Winchendon, or enjoying a game of ping pong in our student’s center. Weekend activities include theatre and musical performances, movies, restaurant trips, dances, plays, and informal activities. On select weekends we have faculty-led trips to ski mountains, amusement parks, and day-trips to Boston. Some student favorites include cheering on Boston’s sports teams at Fenway Park and the TD Garden and hitting the slopes at Mount Wachusett and other ski resorts in Vermont and New Hampshire. Groups of students may also propose their own weekend trips within a 60 mile radius of The Winchendon School. Learn more about student life.

How many students join each class at Winchendon?

Every year approximately 35 freshmen begin their Winchendon experience. They are joined by 30 more new students in their sophomore year, and 10-15 students join the junior and senior classes. In addition, each year three to five Post Graduates (PG’s) also choose to come to Winchendon for an extra year of preparation before matriculating to college.

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