Scarsdale Alternative School FAQ's
- How many students are in the A-School?
There are eighty-two students in the community consisting of sophomores, juniors and seniors.
- What kind of student is the A-School right for?
The A-School is comprised of a heterogeneous group of students who are involved in all aspects of life at SHS. A-School students are athletes, musicians, artists, actors, government leaders, presidents of clubs etc. The A-School is for individuals who have the desire to be part of a learning community and whose goal is to develop as a person, as well as a student. The A-School has the same very high academic standards as the high school, but is less formal and places a large emphasis on moral development, participation in a democracy, and “hands-on” learning.
- How do A-School students fare in the college admissions process?
A-School students apply to and are admitted to the same range of colleges as students in the high school. For example, the 2019 A-School graduates currently attend Cornell University, Harvard University, University of Illinois, Julliard School of Music, Lafayette College, Lehigh University, Marist College, McGill University, University of Miami, University of Michigan, New York University, Penn State University, University of Richmond, College of St. Andrews, Syracuse University, University of Texas at Austin, Tulane University, Tufts University, Villanova University, University of Vermont, Washington University in St. Louis, Wellesley College, and University of Wisconsin.
A-School students score similarly to their high school peers on college standardized tests. This information is available in detail on the A-School profile that accompanies the transcript for college admissions.
Class of 2020 average SAT and ACT scores:
- What are the benefits of being in the A-School? (from the parents of current A-School students)
-Personal attention from the teachers
-Opportunity to develop ongoing relationships with teachers through classes, advising, core group and community meeting
-Teacher, advisor/advisee continuity
-“Owning” one’s education
-Secure environment allows students to grow and mature
-Faculty works with students and parents…open to hearing concerns
-Student opinions are valued and important
-Community of ideas
-Narrative academic evaluations
- What adjectives do current A-School parents use to describe the A-School?
Supportive; inclusive; motivating; engaging; superlative; caring; special; nurturing; empowering; safe; humbling; meaningful; character building; community-oriented; life-changing; intellectually stimulating; intimate.
- How are students chosen for the A-School?
Students submit an application to join the A-School. This is signed by the student and his/her parent and is submitted Mr. Bonamo’s office. The lottery for admission is held early March. Other than a desire to balance the class by gender, there are no other criteria for selection. Students who do not receive a place via the lottery are offered a spot on the waiting list. A limited number of students who remain on the waiting list are offered a place in the A-School if a rising sophomore withdraws over the summer or for their junior year. Students enrolling as juniors have melded seamlessly into the A-School community.
- How can I learn more about the A-School program and values?
Each year, current 9th-grade students are introduced to the A-School through a series of presentations and programs designed to make him/her aware of the opportunity to join the A-School community as a sophomore. Presentations are conducted by current A-School students and staff in 9th-grade English classes. During the presentation, students watch a film that shows what it’s like to be an A-School student. Current A-School students also share their stories being a member of the community and answer questions that 9th-grade students may have. At this time, students are invited to attend a Community Meeting to offer your child the chance to experience one aspect of the A-School program.
Shortly after, the staff organizes an A-School Information Night for parents and students to learn more about the curriculum that includes the Internship, Core Group, Community Meeting, Fairness Committee—in short—ownership of learning and more. This usually takes place at the Girl Scout House (right next door to the A-School on Wayside Lane).
- What are the differences between main school classes and A-School classes?
The primary differences are that A-School classes are suspended during January internship and A-School students receive written evaluations rather than traditional report cards. A traditional transcript is generated for high school classes and an evaluative transcript is included for A-School classes.
- Can my child still take main school classes?
Yes, but only when either the course is not offered in the A-School or specific scheduling conflicts preclude it.
- Will my child see his/her friends in the High School?
Yes, most A-School classes are held on the first floor new wing of the high school so your child will be in the building every day and can see all his/her friends that are not in the A-School. It is also quite possible your child will have other academic and elective classes with their high school counterparts.
- What is Internship?
Each year during the fall semester A-School students plan their hands-on January Internship. A-School classes are suspended during January; however, students continue to attend any classes in the main high school. Internships take place at sites as diverse as talent agencies, construction companies, art galleries, restaurants, political offices, local schools, and many other locations.
Because the Internship program requires independence and initiative, students with a history of disciplinary and/or attendance problems may not attend the A-School.
- Are there students whose academic profile prohibits them from applying to the A-School?
The A-School program is a good fit academically for a range of students, including those recommended for regular and honors tracks in math and foreign language. However, the small size of our staff prohibits us from serving students who have been recommended to enroll in a skills level class in 10th grade, most notably English 221 and World History 621. Also, students whose schedules include enrollment in the Science Research program, include two foreign languages, or participation in Civic Education program as advisors will not be able to develop schedules that will work with our program. Interested students should discuss eligibility with their Dean or A-School Director.
So what do parents of A-School students think about their experience as a member of the community? Here are some comments…
“The Alternative School offers a unique intellectual and values-based education. It is a small and intimate culture by design the helps develop confidence in students as both critical thinkers and members of a community that holds them accountable for how they live, learn and grow together.”
“The community-based atmosphere, the amazing staff (teachers, guidance counselor, and support staff), and the internship program have all contributed to the tremendous growth, both academically and social, of our son.”
“A-School internships taught our son incredible valuable life lessons: how to define his interests beyond school and sports, where to look for work opportunities, how to prepare for and succeed on an interview, how to devise and keep a complex schedule, and how to deal with a variety of people—peers, co-workers, and employers—in the larger community beyond Scarsdale.”
“The close relationship with teachers and students combined with the focus on community facilitated Sarah’s transition from a passive to an active learner. Her enthusiasm is evident from her increasingly proactive approach at school.”
“It’s a community of inclusion where they learn to appreciate the thoughts and ideas of their peers through discussions and activities. My son says it’s the greatest opportunity of his life.”
“My daughter is now a senior and has blossomed in the A-School environment. She feels supported by her follow students and faculty, who are all passionate about learning and sharing ideas.”