Private school students can often broaden their experience by studying at another school for a semester. These semester away programs are popular among private school students and offer students hands-on classes in environmental science and ecology.
The Mountain School of Milton Academy
The Mountain School of Milton Academy, an independent semester-long program in which 45 high-school juniors from around the country live on a farm in Vershire, Vermont, requires its students to take a class in Environmental Science. Because students have access to the farm and rural campus on which the school is based, they can apply firsthand what they learn in the classroom. For example, students examine the geological, ecological and cultural history of New England and then look at how those forces have affected a part of the campus. Students at the Mountain School also have to work on the farm. There is no maintenance staff, so they must clean the school, perform farm chores, and prepare food--all of which helps drive home the lessons of Environmental Science in a way that just sitting in the classroom never could. The Mountain School offers a unique farm-and-academic experience that aims to create scholars who appreciate the beauty of the outdoors in both academic and practical ways. The Mountain School, originally founded in 1962 as an independent school, was bought in the early 1980s by Milton Academy in Massachusetts. The tuition of the Mountain School is the same as that of Milton Academy. For 2012-13, tuition for the semester is $23,750.
The Island SchoolThe Island School in Cape Eleuthera in the Bahamas, was founded in 1998 with help from the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey. Chris Maxey, who founded the school with his wife Pam, formerly worked at Lawrenceville, and he started the school as a way to help save the marine life of South Eleuthera by assisting the island's people in finding alternative food sources and means of making a living. While the first class of students came from Lawrenceville, today's students come from schools across the U.S., the Bahamas, and Canada. High school sophomores and juniors come to study at the school for a semester, during which time they study ecology and applied scientific research in addition to traditional subjects such as history, English, math, art, and outdoor education. Students also have a community service requirement. Courses build on the school's environment; for example, during the Marine Ecology course, students SCUBA dive to explore local ecosystems. The literature class at the school focuses on Literature of the Sea, including the works of Nobel-Prize winning poet Derek Walcott of St. Lucia. The history class concentrates on Bahamian history and includes cultural immersion opportunities, including living with local families and volunteering at a local middle school. Students currently in 9th or 10th grade can apply for either semester at the school. The tuition is $24,540 for the fall and spring semesters. Travel to and from the school costs extra, and there is also a summer term that costs $9,340 for students who can not take time away from their schools during the school year. Admissions are conducted in a need-blind manner, and financial aid is available.
Chewonki Semester School
Chewonki Semester School, formerly the Maine Coast School, is located on a 400-acre coastal campus in Wiscasset, Maine, about 150 miles north of Boston. The school is operated by the Chewonki Foundation. Students live in cabins heated by wood stoves with four to seven other students, and they eat and work closely with the approximately 20 faculty members. In addition, students study the ecology of the Maine coast, work on an organic farm, and participate in local hikes and trips. The rigorous academic course load requires students to take five courses, including Literature or Land and Ethics for their English class, Natural History of the Maine Coast (the required science class), Environmental Issues, and Art and the Natural World. About 40 juniors attend the school each semester. The school costs $22,300 per semester, and financial aid is available. To date, over 1,600 students have attended Chewonki since it was founded in 1988. Students have come from over 300 schools, including independent schools and public schools, including many public schools in Maine. The school provides a deep grounding in environmental issues in a closely-knit community in a beautiful and rugged part of the Maine coast.