This blog post is a transcript of the remarks Shoun '17 delivered to Middle and Upper School students and faculty at the 2017 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Assembly.
In Landon’s Upper School, Forms III through VI (or Grades 9–12), we seek to challenge you academically, open your eyes to the breadth of possibilities in your future beyond Landon, and teach you the skills you will need to succeed in that future. We prepare you to excel in college, but we also encourage you to develop artistically, athletically and ethically so that you may lead a full, successful life as an accomplished, responsible and caring man. You are guided in these endeavors by your outstanding teacher-coach-mentors and, in particular, by one faculty advisor who is assigned to you for the duration of your Upper School experience and is always available to listen to problems, offer counsel, or simply talk about sports.
Small classes (the average size is 12) encourage you to participate, think, write, discuss and debate. Our four language options (Spanish, Latin, French and Mandarin Chinese), 15 honors courses and 17 Advanced Placement (AP) courses — including AP U.S. History, AP Chemistry, AP Economics and AP AB Calculus — provide you with academic outlets for all of your interests and passions. Click here to see our full curriculum guide.
Juniors take a signature class in the humanities, a team-taught, interdisciplinary course designed to teach you how to think independently as you explore the foundations of Western intellectual and artistic culture. You will study major ideas that shaped human conversation from the Classical period to the 20th century through history, literature, art and music. The class is so beloved by students that we now offer it to parents.
You’ll also reap the benefits of outside-the-box learning. For instance, the annual Chinese Scholastic Exchange Program promotes an invaluable cultural exchange when high school students from China travel to the area to live with Landon families and attend classes with you. An exchange program with Knox Grammar School in Sydney, Australia, also brings Australian students to Landon classrooms, art studios and athletics fields — and you have the opportunity to spend six weeks studying at Knox. In addition, each summer Landon teacher-coach-mentors lead trips to Spain and China, where you and your peers from other area schools can immerse yourselves in the culture and language of a foreign country.
The Upper School follows a rotating, eight-day block schedule with no more than two classes in a row. We find that this structure benefits both students and teachers because it recognizes that some boys learn better at certain times of the day, so they have the opportunity to experience each class at their peak time. Our “unbreakable break” after the first two classes is a prime opportunity to meet with teachers for extra help, collaborate with classmates on a project, grab a snack, or spend time with friends. Landon’s long lunch period (12:25–1:35 p.m. each day) gives you ample time to have a bite to eat and work on a community service project; attend singing rehearsals for an upcoming performance; hit a deadline for the Landon News, the Brown & White yearbook or the Prometheus Unbound literary magazine (see below); or meet with the Engineering, Philosophy or Improv Club. Take a look at our sample schedule here.
Every student caps off his time at Landon with an Independent Senior Project. For the past 20+ years, the required program has given seniors the opportunity to conceive of and execute a unique project with the guidance of two faculty advisors. Some seniors climb Pikes Peak or mountains in Alaska to reap survival skills. Others build Habitat for Humanity homes to learn the value of service to others. Still others gain business acumen by opening up an on-campus coffee shop, shadow a professional meteorologist, or hone their STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) talents by constructing a go-kart from scratch. Whatever the project, students learn the value of thinking critically and creatively, qualities that will serve them well in college and beyond.
At Landon, finding the right college is about finding the right fit. Under the guidance of Director of College Counseling David Toomer, previously a high-level admissions director at the University of Pennsylvania, our full-time staff of three professional college counselors and one assistant help each boy find that fit by matching his strengths and preferences with the many colleges that compete for his acceptance.
Because our 30-to-1 student-to-college-counselor ratio is far lower than most private and public schools, students receive personal attention and guidance as they weigh this important decision.
Our college counseling staff begins working with students during their freshman year to help them map out a strategic plan for academic courses and extracurricular activities. This process intensifies during junior year, when families work closely with their individual counselor. By the time boys are seniors, they are well prepared to find that right fit.
Each summer, Landon teacher-coach-mentors lead trips to Spain and China, where you and your peers from other area schools stay with local families and immerse yourselves in the culture and language of a foreign country. You also have the opportunity to spend six weeks studying at Knox Grammar School in Sydney, Australia. And Landon welcomes exchange students from Knox and China during the year to promote a culture exchange in our own classrooms.