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Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

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

Haiti, the 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 programs 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 learning to seek 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 world language waiver. How does 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.

The Importance of Service Learning

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” – C2AR<sup”>3E2:

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 all 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 challenges, develop possible solutions, and then implement. Our students have recently tackled a wide range of issues including engaging local youth through athletic and performing arts programs, supporting veterans, and 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, an interdisciplinary course of study first piloted at Winchendon almost a decade ago, recognizes that a true understanding of the world we live in cannot be achieved in traditional, siloed learning of English, History, and 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.  We consider the impacts of colonialism in Africa and the Middle East, or of 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 classroom learning to immerse themselves in an area of interest and to apply the skills and habits that they have acquired.  Students have the option to pursue an internship or an independent project, or participate in a teacher-led immersive project 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, although sophomores take the PSAT for the first time (these scores are not released to colleges). Around halfway through junior year, students begin to meet weekly with the College Counseling Office, where they are guided through the college admissions 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. Additionally, 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. 

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 a mix of approximately seven students 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 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. 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?

For students on the Massachusetts campus, after a busy week of classes, there are many options to have some fun on the weekends. Students enjoy the facilities on campus and the surrounding area, whether playing sports, walking into the town of Winchendon, or enjoying a game of ping-pong in our student center. Weekend activities include theatrical and musical performances, movies, restaurant trips, dances, plays, and informal activities. On select weekends, we have faculty-led trips to ski areas, amusement parks, or downtown Boston. Some student favorites include cheering on Boston sports teams at Fenway Park or TD Garden and hitting the slopes at Mount Wachusett or 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.

How many students join each class at Winchendon?

Every year approximately 40 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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