Denise Aronson, a parent of two Waldorf High School graduates (2011 and 2014), wrote an open letter to prospective parents who are wrestling with the question of choosing a high school just like she did several years ago.
"On a recent morning, my mind was wandering, and I want to share with you some of my thoughts. People often ask me, why aren't your kids at the public school. How did you decide on Waldorf High School? What kind of school is that? Why does Waldorf High School work for your children? Why do parents choose this school? I might be able to shed some light on some of these questions.
In choosing Waldorf High School of Massachusetts Bay (WHS) I had many initial worries! Sending my son to WHS was an experiment for me. A very scary experiment -- my belly was in knots, physically I was full of anxiety. What am I doing? Why am I doing it? Would he get into a good college? I had moved to this town for the school system. Would he be challenged academically? How is the science? Is there rigor? Will he learn what is necessary and equal to a strong high school scholastic tenure?
Well, now I have some data from my experiment. My son graduated in 2011. He was accepted to five excellent colleges, and to my astonishment, some have offered substantial scholarships! How did that happen? What is the magic? What worked for him at Waldorf High School?
Ok, here is the MAGIC, the secret to a very small school called Waldorf High School of Massachusetts Bay, and I saw it start to happen within two weeks of his entrance into the school, and continue to bloom and bloom and bloom. It IS a small school. The beauty is that everything is quickly and immediately accessible and each activity is not only there but needs you. Kids do not have to navigate, search, figure out . . . there is clarity about their choices, and each kid can easily participate. There isn't much of a hurdle, if one at all, to make these things happen, they just do.
Everyone can play sports and have lots of playing time; everyone has to sing; everyone has to act; everyone has to be involved in the community.
And here is maybe the most amazing thing -- my son went to Lima, Peru for three months, lived with a family and went to Lima Waldorf High School. And then we had our exchange student in our house. We loved him. We loved that our son had the opportunity for total immersion and came back speaking Spanish rather well!
In the local public school with 2000 kids, he may have ended up in a club, an activity or social scene that could have been rewarding but there is no way of knowing. What I do know is that at Waldorf High School he remained his essential self and more. He became self-motivated, a leader, a better athlete, an actor, a singer, a musician, a good friend, a traveler and a life-long learner."
Nora McKenna, a parent of a graduate of the class of 2016, wrote to a listserv of prospective parents about her experience discovering Waldorf High School of Massachusetts Bay.
"I usually avoid whole-sale endorsements, and try very hard to keep my opinions to myself.....or at least not immortalized in writing. But, I cannot help myself.
If you are considering private high school, please take a look at Waldorf High School of Mass Bay. It's in Belmont, right in Waverley Square. So, it's an easy commute.
From the very first time we walked in the door, I fell in love with it. The vibe in the halls and classes is very cool. The teachers and students respect each other and address each other more like respectful colleagues. It was very collegial, similar to a college atmosphere. That's not to say that the teachers, staff and administration don't exercise authority. It's just not an overt barrier.
My daughter is starting her Sophomore year this week. Freshman year, she read Moby Dick. Their field trip was to Nantucket, where they studied 19th century whaling life. In addition, she read Shakespeare (comedy and tragedy), as well as other classics. The math and science classes are superb with a good balance of lecture and experiential work. A social scientist, myself, I am really impressed with the social studies curriculum.
And the kids are really a great group. It's a very supportive atmosphere, academically and socially. As a parent, I could not ask for a better high school (both academic and community) environment for our happy, independent, critical thinking, college-bound daughter. It's not for every teen, who we know are all unique and thrive in their own perfect match. But, it may be a perfect match for your teen."