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Some Interesting Good News: Knox and St. Bede working to grow

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We realized that we've published two posts last week about schools that are building dormitories and/or working to expand their boarding populations this week. While not a silver lining, nor confirmation that everything is rosy, it's great to find two schools well positioned and so dedicated to boarding that they're building dorms and working to expand opportunities for families and students seeking boarding school.

St. Bede Academy Returns To Boarding Roots: A commitment to build two new dormitories


Knox School Wakes From Slumber with Ambition and a Plan

With new head of school George Alison at the helm, The Knox School is focusing its mission and looking to grow its current student population by 40 over the next few years- to about 170 from its current 130 students.

Jennifer Lawrence joined the Knox board of trustees and set to realizing the schools potential by connecting with the surrounding region. Building and refurbishment programs began; a marketing campaign; and, the school rededicated itself to preparing students for college.

Allison, who brings with him 23 years at Perkiomen School (PA), told Newsday (Knox School in St. James to open a new chapter), "We've got great faculty, fantastic kids...We need to get our name out there."

Photo credit: The Knox School
St. Bede Academy- a small Benedictine Catholic school in Peru, IL- broke ground this past Monday on a new building that will house female boarding students beginning with the 2009-2010 academic year. 

Reclaiming its boarding mission, St. Bede reopened its boarding department boarding department with the 2007-2008 school year, with four girls and eight boys living in leased residences. St. Bede boarded boys boarding school from 1892 through 1981 and has been coeducational since 1973.

Rev. Claude Peifer told the school's public relations office:

"St. Bede Academy is responding to a renewed interest in providing opportunities for boarding students on a small scale, and so we are providing housing on campus for this purpose. We hope that the boarding students will profit by living on campus because they will thus be able to participate more fully in the activities of the academy."
A second boys dormitory is in the works although no timetable has been set.

The expanded boarding program reaches back into the school's roots, providing boarding school opportunities to a new generation of students.

Rev. Peifer added:

"We hope that some of our boarding-school alumni who have fond memories of their years at St. Bede will enable their children to profit by the opportunity to enjoy a similar academic and living experience in a 21st-century context."
Traditional  boarding tuition looks to be a great boarding school bargain with  seven day tuition, room, and board St. Bede totaling $23,000 annually.

Read the article from The Daily Times of Ottawa.


April 7th marked the 40th anniversary of Requests for Comments or RFC. In "How the Internet Got Its Rules," in the New York Times, Stephen D. Crocker  recounts the fluidity as the World Wide Web became codified. RFC's are the technical working papers that worked through and created internet standards and protocols that allowed different machines and languages to communicate. It's a fascinating story.

"After all, everyone understood there was a practical value in choosing to do the same task in the same way. For example, if we wanted to move a file from one machine to another, and if you were to design the process one way, and I was to design it another, then anyone who wanted to talk to both of us would have to employ two distinct ways of doing the same thing. So there was plenty of natural pressure to avoid such hassles. It probably helped that in those days we avoided patents and other restrictions; without any financial incentive to control the protocols, it was much easier to reach agreement.

This was the ultimate in openness in technical design and that culture of open processes was essential in enabling the Internet to grow and evolve as spectacularly as it has. In fact, we probably wouldn't have the Web without it..." (NYT)
The article leaves me with a powerful lasting thought- openness and transparency.  

"As we rebuild our economy, I do hope we keep in mind the value of openness, especially in industries that have rarely had it. Whether it's in health care reform or energy innovation, the largest payoffs will come not from what the stimulus package pays for directly, but from the huge vistas we open up for others to explore."
The Internet makes AdmissionsQuest and our work with families possible and it's opened and continues opening new ways of communicating and connecting the boarding school world.  YouTube and Podcasting didn't exist when we started.

Openness and transparency foster new ideas, great creative thinking and healthy relationships and these are also the foundations of great boarding schools.


Boarding School Podcast Sustainablity Series

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In light of the economic downturn, school sustainability and adaptive strategies have been hot topics for a number of months. No one is spared from the realities of a shrinking economy- schools, families, students- we're all impacted.

To encourage a conversation about the options available to families and schools, AQ's Boarding School Podcast hosted a four part sustainability series featuring leaders in the private school world. Each interview provides history, current thinking and insights regarding adapting for the future. I encourage you to listen and share.

Boarding School Podcast: Sustainability Series

Boarding Schools Adapting To A Changing Environment
Pete Upham, Executive Director, The Association of Boarding Schools

The Value of Working with an Educational Consultant in a Tight Economic Climate
Mark Sklarow, Executive Director, Independent Educational Consultants Association

Exploring School Sustainability Directions & Ideas with Patrick Bassett, President, National Association of Independent Schools
Patrick Bassett, President of the National Association of Independent Schools

Approaching Financial Aid in an Economic Downturn
Martin Peyer, CEO, TADS & Jamie Miller, Director of Financial Aid, Blue Ridge School

Blue Ridge School recently added its Affordability Plan to the school's web site laying out their commitment to affordability.

It includes both philosophical and concrete examples of the school's approaches and commitment. Among other items in the Affordability Plan, Blue Ridge has increased its financial aid budget by 30% over the past two years and, one item that I really like, the school makes clear that the tuition, room and board are inclusive of all school activities- including textbooks. This is more important than it sounds; for years, many schools have used extracurriculars and books as profit centers- charging and billing for activities and bus rides.

I like Blue Ridge's willing to publish their positions and thinking. They use one of my favorite terms transparency. Transparency allows parents and families to make the best possible decisions.

The annual fund, donor contributions and the capital campaign go on even during this unsettled economy. The New York Times published an interesting piece yesterday- 'In Uncertain Times, Donors Hold Back.'  Donors, author Jan Rose points out, are as fearful about economic uncertainty as the rest of us.

Richard Kohan, a partner in the private client services group of PricewaterhouseCoopers in Boston told Rose a "psychology of conserving assets at present" creates a conflict in which preservation can trump a potential donors' desire to give.

However several potential strategies for soliciting donations allow potential donors to retain high comfort levels- multi-year pledges, donating professional services, creating larger donor pool making smaller donations, planned giving and the tax benefits of loss taking contributions.

Donors are currently inclined to answer no when asked. But, with some creativity and perspective, there are ways to bring the solicitation to yes.

A suggestion that I've made in conversation with advancement officers that I know- (a variation on the more- but smaller donation theme)- is that this is a great time to broaden your donor base. Communicate the need; make the case for participation; and ask for smaller amounts. These kinds of strategies build community fiber- inclusion, and participation that make the institution and future giving stronger.

Rosen closes her article with a comment from William G. Droms, professor of finance at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University  "People who need charity need help now, dig deeper to give if possible.
Jurist Levin Campbell retires at the end of the month after serving 40 years on Massachusetts and Federal benches. Certainly a fair minded and famously even handed judge, it's Mr. Campbell's relationship with Asheville School that brings this to our attention.  

Asheville recently joined the Twitter conversation and they 'tweeted'- a real time, 140 characters maximum post-  to their subscribers telling them the news. Tweets appear on the user's profile page and go to those signed up to receive their updates.

These short notes get the big picture out and allow users to follow-up later at their leisure. In Asheville's case, or, for any group, it's a quick, direct way to send the news and keep the community connected and talking.

If you haven't, checkout AdmissionsQuest's Twitter feed. It's a terrific way to keep up with the latest happenings at AQ.

Learn more about Mr. Campbell by reading the Boston Globe's "A Man of Honor."

Today I'm taking folks at Westover School, a girls boarding school in Middlebury, CT, through my social media workshop. As with each workshop, my desire is to be both theoretical and practical. One goal the workshop is to collaborate with the school to produce a finished blog post (missing accomplished!).

As homework, my Westover friends sent a list of five happenings/programs/events that they'd like to get the story out on.

Five Things to Know about Westover School

  1. WISE program and our push toward enrolling more in this award-winning program.

  2. Special program with Manhattan School of music.

  3. Special Dance program with Brass City Ballet.

  4. Solar/co-generation "Green" project that will provide our campus with 25% of our own energy.

  5. Our exchange programs: getting them more attention!

Time permitting, I hope that we can focus on one (or two) of these and record a podcast conversation around it. My goal is to post it to the Boarding School Podcast next week.

I hope to be able to do some live blogging and tell the workshop's story as we move through tomorrow.   Updates should appear on Twitter.

In the meantime, think about which of the topics might interest you and take some time to learn more about Westover School.

Update: Checkout this post (Video of Culver Academies' Black Horse Troop and Equestriennes Riding in the Inaugural Parade) to watch the Culver students ride past President Obama's viewing stand during the Inaugural Parade.

The Black Horse Troop and Equestriennes from AQ Member School, Culver Academies received an invitation and will participate in the Obama-Biden Presidential Inaugural Parade January 20th. This will be the 15th time that the team has participated in the inaugural parade.

The Boys' Black Horse unit counts 14 inaugural parades with the Girls' unit totaling five previous appearances. Culver's participation in inaugural parades dates back to Woodrow Wilson's inaugurals.



Learn more about this honor by reading Culver's press release on the Troop inaugural participation.


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AdmissionsQuest's blog dedicated to boarding school admission & schools.

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