On November 11th, we held our Virtual Open House, including a virtual tour of Northwood School, as well as discussions with faculty and students, which answers a lot of questions that prospective students and parents may have about boarding schools, and Northwood School in particular. If you missed it, we invite you to watch the video on YouTube. A full transcript of the event is also copied below.
Watch the Virtual Open House here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iyVBz4RdvmU
Brad D'Arco: All right. Well, looking through my list, it looks like we have just about everyone. We may get a couple of more people who join us here late, but again, thank you all for joining us. As I mentioned before, my name is Brad D'Arco. I'm the director of admission here at Northwood School. We're really excited about the opportunity to tell you a little bit more about Northwood and give you a chance actually to see some of our schools. While we wish we were able to have all of you come and visit us on campus, obviously given the circumstances, that's not a possibility.
We're hopeful that tonight provides you not only with a little bit more information about the school, but for those of you who haven't yet had a chance to visit campus gives you a little bit of a sense of what our campus looks and also gives you an opportunity to hear from some members of our community. The plan for this evening will be I am going to present some information about our program and show you some images of the school, talk a little bit more about what we do. At the end of that, we'll have the opportunity for some questions and answers, and some of the people that you're going to see in this presentation will be available at the end of this call for you to ask questions, including some of our students.
For you students or parents who are there and maybe have a question that you'd like to ask a student, excuse me, you'll have the opportunity to do so at the end. We're going to get going. Op. We have rehearsed this presentation many times, but as we've all learned here through this pandemic, we are extremely hopeful about the technical end of it. If we hit any glitches, I ask just that you bear with me, and I'm sure we'll quickly figure them out. Northwood School by the numbers. For this academic year, we have 188 students. That's right around where we are. Over the last couple of years, our enrollment has varied somewhere between 185 and roughly 195 students, depending on the number of days students we have, but our boarding population for this year is about at our maximum capacity.
We have 141 boarding students, 47 days students. We are predominantly a boarding school. Roughly 80% of our students in a given year are going to be boarding students, 145 domestic students, 43 international students from 27 different countries. For us, I think our big goal when we think about creating the community here at Northwood, the one thing we are extremely focused on is the idea of diversity, and we think about diversity in every aspect of the word. We want students from all different parts of the world, from vast and varied racial ethnic, socio-economic, and religious backgrounds.
We also want students who have wide-ranging interests both inside and outside of the classroom, and we also want and are really proud of the fact of our ability to support students with varying learning styles. While we are a small school, we are really proud of the diversity that we've been able to build in our community over the last few years, and that continues to remain a focus in what we do. This is a shot of our campus. We are located in Lake Placid, New York, right in the heart of the Adirondack Park. Our campus itself, our main campus is roughly 100 acres or so, but we really do think about our campus as the town of Lake Placid in its entirety.
Throughout the course of a given day for our students, but certainly throughout the course of a week and during their time here at Northwood, they have the opportunity to experience all different parts of not only the Adirondack Park, but Lake Placid itself. We're in an area where there are lots of opportunities for our students and our faculty and members of our community, and we do everything we can to try and take advantage of that. This is a shot of the front end of our campus and our bell. This bell is a pretty important symbol to all of our students. Upon graduation, every student who graduates gets the opportunity to ring this bell, and then walks through as a progression of their time here at Northwood.
From here, we're going to take you inside our building. This is our main campus here, and you'll be able to see relatively quickly a shot of our main building. This building is one of the primary hubs for us. Most of our dorm and housing facilities are located in here, and a good number of our academic classrooms are also in this building. Right through the front entrance is this room here, which is our living room. This space is a focal point for our community. Throughout the course of each day, this is an area where students are spending a lot of time in between classes. Our faculty center is located just off the living room here as is the head of school's office.
You're about to pan by a piano that gets a lots of views from our students and also from our head of school. This space becomes a real center of activity for our students and faculty throughout the course of the day. This is our dining hall here. All of our meals occur here in the dining hall. A typical day for our students begins roughly sometime between 7:30 and 8:00. Our students are coming in for breakfast in the morning, and then the academic day starts at 8 a.m. Our class day goes from roughly 8 a.m. till 2:30 every day, and then we have our co-curricular period beginning at roughly 3:00 each day.
All of our students are involved in some type of a co-curricular activity every afternoon, and our co-curricular program includes our athletic programs, as well as our outdoors programs, and a number of other different options and opportunities that exist for our students to participate in on a daily basis. This year, the dining hall has become a real focal point of start for our day because it's where for all of our students, they're checking in as part of our COVID protocol, and they're meeting with our nurses and going through our daily health screenings. This is one of our classroom spaces in the e-line building. As I mentioned, a number of our academic courses happen here on our main campus, in our e-line building and this is an example of one of the classroom spaces that we use.
A typical class size for us is right around 10 or 11 students. You can see here, we have a large center table to really promote discussion between students and teachers where we really do try as much as we can for it to be discussion based and have students heavily involved in the process and as much as we can avoid lecturing or speaking at students. We really want you to be involved in the conversation. I'll give you a shot of another one of our classrooms here and from here, I'm going to move to let you hear from Noel Carmichael, our dean of academics who's going to explain a little bit more about our program to you.
Noel Carmichael: Hello there. My name is Noel Carmichael, and I am the dean of academics here at Northwood School. Today, I'm going to tell you a little bit about our academic curricular offerings. Northwood School is at its core a rigorous traditional college preparatory education, but alongside that, we offer a series of project-based and student-led initiative courses, which can really complement the traditional college preparatory side of the curriculum. Let me tell you a little bit about some of these offerings. First is our independent studies program. This has been growing in popularity over the last few years, and it allows students who are in good academic standing to pursue a project of their own design.
They propose it at the beginning of the year, and they design how it will look. Usually, they have a mentor from outside the school who's an expert in the field they are working in, who supports them and guides them through the process while we also monitor it internally. There have been some really incredible fun projects over the last few years in independent studies. We also this past year introduced the advanced stem research program, which in its first year, nine students have participated in. That allows students to again pursue individually designed projects, but specific to scientific endeavors.
This is a very rigorous course of study, but again, for the nine students that have done it in the first year, I think they would tell you that it's definitely worth doing. In addition to that, we have our robotics offerings which of course are offered extracurricularly, but also within the curriculum itself. Students can take everything from basic computer programming and intro to robotics, up to applied robotics where they're actually designing, building, and then using the robots that they build. In our humanities department, we also have some very exciting offerings going on these days. We offer an integrated humanities for both 9th and 10th grades.
That course looks at both English and history from an interdisciplinary perspective. It's co-taught by two teachers. One from each area of expertise, history and English and they work together and they help students see that all of history is best supported studying it through literature, and that literature can be enhanced studying it through a historical perspective. That's a very exciting course that all 9th and 10th graders go into. Then we also have for our upperclassmen in that department, an English short course offering, which means that students get to design their own English class for junior, senior, and PG year. They have a list of offerings they choose from.
This year, it was 10 different offerings. They're trimester long. For instance, they could study poetry in term one, short fiction in term two, and take an intensive writing course in term three. They get some say in how they design their years of study in the English department. There's those and there's many other offerings. I'll be available at the Q and A to answer any other questions you have or talk further about these opportunities. Thank you.
Brad D'Arco: This next building here is our newest academic space. It's called the innovation hub. This academic building, we actually opened last February, unfortunately just before we had to send our students home as a result of the pandemic, but for this academic year, we have been using it. Classes have begun here in the innovation hub, and it's a really exciting new space for our students. Not just because of what it offers them and the programming that goes on inside of it, but we are really excited that we now have an academic space and place for our students right on the center of main street in downtown Lake Placid. This space has continued to allow us to integrate into the community. It's a 12,000 square foot facility.
We hold a number of different courses here. Our innovation and design program happens here a number of different programs, as well as our robotics and some of our arts programs occur here as well. We're really excited about this space, and it has become a part of our students daily lives now. We also are hopeful that in the coming days as COVID restrictions and protocols begin to change, that this becomes a space for our entire community. The entire Lake Placid community to use so that we can use it for broader presentations and performances, which we had a little bit of an opportunity to do here when we opened the facility. This space here is in our innovation hub.
It is primarily used as some of our design courses, but is also one of the primary spaces that our robotics program uses. We have a very comprehensive robotics program here at Northwood. Robotics for us in addition to having an advanced robotics program in our science curriculum, robotics is also a competitive team sport for us. We have two different robotics teams that compete in both the vex and first robotics divisions and have had a lot of success over the last couple of years. We were really excited when we were able to open the innovation hub this year to have a great space for our robotics team to train and build their robots and work from.
Now to tell you a little bit more about some of the programming that goes on at the innovation hub, as well as our robotics program, I'm going to let Jeff Martin talk.
Jeff Martin: Hi, I'm Jeff Martin. I'm the technology coordinator here at Northwood School, and I run the school's robotics program. I'm here at the innovation hub, our maker space on main street in Lake Placid. I'm in the robot lab. Behind me is our fabrication studio, and I'm in the middle of a whole bunch of projects in progress. Here at the hub, we offer a whole bunch of programs. I teach CAD design and 3D printing class. I teach an introductory class of robotics that also includes a little bit of computer programming, and I teach two sections of our applied robotics class, which is a honors level class where kids do a lot of innovation and design and creating their own projects.
We have a lot of cool offerings here, and a lot of cool equipment. The 3D printing class actually uses a bunch of our fabrication tools. They learn CAD design on the computer, but they learn how to 3D print, a whole bunch of different pieces that they create on their own. We have CNC routers which carve wood and metal, and they can create their own pieces. We also have a laser cutter that allows kids to engrave and emboss and create really custom pieces. That's all part of that CAD design course. The introductory course in robotics focuses a lot on vex robotics. It's a little bit of a kit platform, but it has endless opportunities for kids to experiment and create their own ideas and run with that.
Kids learned a lot of programming along with that, learning C plus, plus and how to program all the different components that they build, and create both autonomous code with using sensors and a lot of the tools that we have, and also creating a functioning robot that they can drive around in a little bit battle bot scenario. The applied robotics class is a little bit more advanced, not necessarily requiring any background in robotics, but it's a lot more involved. It's a full year course, and kids really have to learn all the components of robotics to make their designs work. We focus a lot on engineering design, mechanics, physics, programming all the components that you build, all the electrical wiring that goes with that.
Then there's a lot of innovation that has to happen in order to create more elaborate designs. Another thing that we offer as part of the program is we offer a co-curricular robotics after-school program, where kids can just jump in with no experience and do a lot with learning about robotics and even some of the CAD design stuff that we do, but we also offer two competitive robotics teams. One that focuses on the vex robotics platform. This is more a local and statewide competition. Kids get a game challenge. They create their own designs. They go to other schools and compete. We've done really well on this platform. The kids have made it to the New York State championship the last few years and done really well.
It's a great opportunity for kids to see what other schools are doing, what their peers are doing, and learn a lot just from the process and have a lot of fun at the competition level. The applied robotics class is more focused on the first robotics competition. This is a little bit bigger concept. Kids are building 120 pound robots. They're playing really advanced game challenges. It's a worldwide competition. Kids have gone to a bunch of competitions with our team and had interaction with kids from all over the world, designers from all over the world. They learn from other coaches and again, it's a great competition experience. The kids learn more about cooperating with teammates and competing than they do as much as they do the whole robotics concept.
It's a great add-on to the program that we have. We really like to think that it's a little bit out of the classroom experience here. It's really hands-on. The kids have to push themselves to learn new concepts. Robotics is constantly changing, so it's something that really drives the academic process and really encourages the kids to invest themselves in a really big project that they have to design themselves. We're really proud of what we accomplished here. We've done some great things and really grown a lot in the last few years. We hope that you'll come join us. I'm going to be available for questions after this. I hope you'll take advantage of that and ask away.
Brad D'Arco: Thank you Mr. Martin. In addition to the academic courses and programming that we offer both in our main building and at the innovation hub, one of the other distinguishing features that we offer here at Northwood as part of our curricular program or our academic programming is our college guidance program. To hear or learn a little bit more about our college guidance program, I'm going to have you hear from David McCauley, our director of college guidance.
David McCauley: Yeah, good evening. My name is David McCauley. I'm the director of college counseling here, and I also assist with international admission. This evening, I'm greeting you here from the college admission office, college counseling office where we help students apply for college admission. It's a real straightforward process for us here. We are college preparatory school, right? Everything students do here in fact prepares them for what's next, right? Okay, the formal process begins in January of students junior year or grade 11 year. There, we begin to meet with students one on one, and the formal process starts there and then ends with students identifying the school that they wish to attend, and then making a deposit to that school in the spring of their senior year, typically May 1st.
What more can I tell you? Every year, we'll have up to 80 colleges come through our doors here. For this year, it's been virtual, right? We've had multiple virtual opportunities here that started as soon as the 23rd of September, and our last was just this Monday with McGill University, Queen's University, Concordia out of Canada and we will. We'll host 80 to 90 schools every year. On a typical year, we take students up to a college fair as well, and that's up at Plattsburgh State, the first week of October. As far as who's eligible to visit with these schools, all juniors and seniors are. For any event that happen during the school day, for the grade 11 students and juniors, we need to defer to their classes, right?
These seniors, this hasn't changed at all in admissions from the time that you and I applied. The number one factor, the number one criterion in selective college admissions is in fact a student's transcript, right? The course work, how well they've done those respective courses, and that we respect here, with all juniors needing to be in class even if there's a college visit. However, as far as seniors are concerned, if there's a college coming in that they're interested in and is during a class, as long as they have the teacher's permission, they're allowed to visit with that college. Okay. I think our strengths really are probably we make great matches, right?
In the United States, there's about 2400, 2400 schools that offer bachelor degrees, and we make great matches, helping students identify schools that are best fits for them with respect to our efforts. We help students from start to finish, first identifying those schools, applying to those schools, writing their essays. All this involved for the whole college process. Students who are athletes, we will work with our coaches and college coaches to make certain that they're eligible for their level of play, right? The NCA this year is different than all of the years, right? If you're a division one student athlete, students have to have cleared a 2.3 GPA and then for division two, it's a 2.2.
Of course, for anyone looking at a division three, playing at a division three school, the only restrictions there are, are they admissible into the school itself? There are no athletic restrictions there, or limits or standards they need to meet. It goes purely to the admission office. Okay. A lot of our work is advocating for students, before students apply and during the application process. Even in the end, if a student finds themselves deferred from an early admission or waitlisted off of a regular admissions, we continue to advocate for their acceptance during those times, right? We hope to point out every reason that we think our students should be admitted and hopefully with good luck, they agree with us.
That's what we do here in the college office. I look forward to any questions that you may have.
Brad D'Arco: Thank you Mr. McCauley and so you are all aware, most of the people you're hearing from throughout this presentation will be joining us at the end of it to answer any questions you may have. One of the things I think is really unique about the college guidance program here at Northwood School is the attention that our students get throughout the process. Beginning midway through their 11th grade year, it is a really comprehensive process and even for our boarding students, our faculty and our college guidance office, David in particular, do an outstanding job of involving parents in the process.
There's continual communication with parents, they're involved and our college guidance office is as supportive of the needs of parents I believe through the college process as they are of students and helping them navigate the paperwork and the process, which at times can seem overwhelming and certainly this year with so much uncertainty, our college guidance office is doing a lot of work not only with students, but also with parents. The next area we're going to discuss or hear a little bit about is the arts programs and offerings here at Northwood School. We are really proud of the expansion that we have made in our arts programming over the last few years.
In addition to providing students a full complement of visual arts and studio arts offerings and programs, like ceramics and students all the way through in the studio level who are submitting AP art portfolios, we have significantly expanded our performing arts options at Northwood over the last few years. In addition now to offering our students the opportunity to participate in two full school productions that we do each academic year, this year we're really excited about a highly expanded dance program that we're offering to our students through a partnership that we've created with the Dance Sanctuary out of Saranac Lake in New York.
In conjunction with the Dance Sanctuary, we're now offering dance classes from the beginning level and courses such as dance for athletes, all the way through company level dance courses for students who have some experience dancing and/or as they go through their experience here at Northwood School may want to pursue dance, excuse me, at the collegiate level. We also have increasingly as a result of the expansion of our performing arts programs, a number of students in the dramatic arts who are also going to continue to pursue that beyond their time here at Northwood, and we're really excited about that. To hear a little bit more about our performing arts program, we have one of our co-directors Tony Miller.
Tony Miller: Hi, my name is Tony Miller, and I'm a co-director in our drama department at Northwood School. We have two shows per year that we plan. We have a musical in the fall and a play in the winter. This year, our musical looked quite a bit different than it usually does on the stage. We did a virtual musical of a show called Disenchanted, and the cast got used to instead of playing to the audience, playing to the camera. It was a big adjustment, but we made it work and had a lot of fun doing so. In the winter time, we do a play. Last year, we did it in connection with North Country School. Both schools Northwood School and North Country School came together and put on a show together.
We always looked to do different shows each year, and it was a new experience for us to work with a different school, but the cast learned a lot from different ages, students at different school. We always try and try something new, which we had to this year with the virtual nature of the musical. If you're enrolled in the co-curricular, the extracurricular for drama, when we're not working on the show, we're working on other elements of theater production, whether it be set design, acting, directing, playwriting, all of the above really.
There are options for student-led independent projects that happen throughout the year on a case-by-case basis, and one of the most fun parts for me is getting to see the specific interests of students and bring those to life and through the theater, whatever it might be that they're interested in. Like I said, whether it be costume design, set design. It truly takes a team so having everybody working together for either a common goal like the musical, or during a student-led production, or independent project are also areas for students to really showcase their talents and hone the skills that they've worked on. Throughout the year at Northwood for courses, there are options for short courses, such as acting that was offered last year.
It's an intensive all skill level, beginner level, intermediate, whether you've had acting experience or not. Everyone comes together and learns different techniques for acting, specifically in that course. There are a lot of different options to work on your theater skills, your drama interests, whatever they may be at Northwood. We also have this year, a new addition to the program which is a separate program, but it's the dance program. The dance department, the dance program has allowed students who are specifically interested in dance to explore that on a rigorous level.
Brad D'Arco: Thank you Mr. Miller. Northwood's co-curricular programming is really unique in the sense of while we have an expansive athletic program with a wide range of offerings in both team sports and outdoors programs, we have options for things rock climbing and kayaking, hiking, skiing. Our ski program here exists not only from a recreational level, but all the way through to a highly competitive alpine race ski team. We do have three higher level athletic programs here at Northwood School.
Our hockey program, our boys soccer program, and our ski programs offer students the opportunity to compete at the very highest level possible at prep school in the United States, and all of those programs have had incredible success over the last couple of years as has our ski program, which in addition to developing a number of level skiers over the last few years historically has also... we've also had the opportunity to have a number of Olympians call Northwood home when they were in high school. Our soccer program which is relatively new to Northwood, we're in our third year with it now. Two years ago finished the prep school season, ranked number one in the country.
It's been a great addition to our school in helping us target some of our goals with attracting students from all over the world. Soccer is an international game, and it's allowed us to continue to broaden Northwood's reach around the globe. We've been really excited about the addition of that program, the success they've had here in the first three years. To hear a little bit more about our co-curricular program and our athletic programs, I'm going to turn it over to Gino Riffle.
Gino Riffle: Hi everybody. Welcome to Northwood's virtual open house. My name is Gino Riffle, and I'm the director of athletics and co-curriculars here at Northwood School. I'd like to take a few moments and talk to you about our co-curricular program and our athletic programs. Unfortunately due to COVID, we're unable to have you all on campus the way we would like and normally run our open houses. We're getting more and more used to the virtual side of things, and hopefully that this will give you the information you need to ask questions, to pursue Northwood and to look into our offerings that we have outside the academic realm.
We offer an array of opportunities for our students from a very competitive setting in the skiing, hockey, and soccer worlds to the less competitive, but more explorational events, such as our rec skiing programs, our dance programs, our rockets programs, our robotics programs. I'd urge you guys to all go to our website to look at all the different opportunities we offer our students. Every student must participate in a co-curricular or athletic opportunity every afternoon. The co-curricular side of things changes three times a year. They run in line with our trimester system. Basically from September until the middle of November, you would be doing a fall activity.
When you return from Thanksgiving break until the middle of March, you'll be participating in a winter activity. Then after that for the rest of the school year, you'd be participating in a spring activity. Some of those activities like I said include dance, rec skiing, drama. Then the spring, we do offer a few more competitive interscholastic programs like boys and girls lacrosse, tennis, golf, all subject to our weather. There's some years that we have a 10 to 12 lacrosse games and golf matches, and there's some years that we have four or five. There's a great thing about living in the Adirondacks and living in Lake Placid, but in terms of our spring sports, sometimes it's an issue and a hindrance to get as much activity in as we can.
For our competitive athletics especially skiing, soccer, and hockey, it's a more intensified program. It starts early in September and goes basically all the way through March like I have said previously. In terms of the reason that we do that, we feel that it gives our students the best training, the best exposure to colleges, and the best opportunity to grow as a team together, giving them more than three months together. It gives them six to seven months together. I would put our staffs on the slopes on the soccer pitch and in the hockey arena up against anybody else's staffs out there. I think we have a mix of some of the best coaches, who not only are great on the ice, on the pitch, or on the mountain, but they're great with our students.
I think that is one thing that I take most pride in, is that they are involved in our students' lives, not just from a athletic standpoint, but from a social and academic standpoint too, all the way through the college process. I think that our student body and our community feels that when coach DelliQuadri is on duty as our ski coach, but he's involved in asking questions about all the students and engaging them in conversation, there's something really special and unique and community based in that. I really believe that one thing that separates Northwood is that ideal of yes, we have intensive athletic programmings, but they're very involved across the board and all of our community based.
I think this year we had about six or seven skier, soccer players, or hockey players who were heavily involved in the drama production. Six or seven years ago, I don't know if that was the case, but it's becoming more of the case now where people are coming to Northwood with a major interest, but they're branching out and exploring different interests out there. I hope I gave you enough information in this virtual setting, but please reach out at any time. Again, my name is Gino Riffle. I can be found on the website with my email address and my phone number. I'd be more than happy to take a few minutes to talk to you about Northwood, our athletic and co-curricular programs. I hope you guys have a great holiday season and please reach out. Thanks.
Brad D'Arco: The one point that Mr. Riffle didn't hit on that I think is really unique to Northwood School is unlike other boarding schools, we don't limit necessarily our students to choosing one singular co-curricular activity each season. For example if you were to choose to participate in robotics for the spring term, you would also have the opportunity to supplement that by participating in our lacrosse program, or our outdoor program simultaneously. While students are required to do a co-curricular activity every day, they are given the opportunity at the beginning of each trimester to set a schedule that involves more than one of those activities and participate in multiple co-curricular activities each term.
It's not uncommon at all here for a student to spend three days a week rock climbing and spend the other two days a week in our dance program, or part of our performing arts programs, or in the winter for a student to take advantage of our recreational ski program for a few days a week, while also participating in one of our other team sports like basketball. There are lots of opportunities for you to really explore our co-curricular options, and you're not necessarily limited to just one option per term. To finish up our presentation here, we're going to talk a little bit about student life we're right on track of where we wanted to be time wise to make sure that you have the opportunity to ask some questions.
Obviously, student life is a huge part of our community and the experience that our students and faculty have here. As I mentioned, we are a school of about 80% of our students are our boarding students. Providing programming and opportunities for our students on the weekends and during free time is something that we take great pride in and spend a lot of time as a faculty and staff organizing. We're also very lucky because of our location, there are lots of opportunities for our students and faculty to be involved in things in the local community. Lake Placid as a town is a hugely popular tourist destination.
There are lots of different cultural events and activities going on around us that our students have the opportunity to join in on and really feel like they're a part of a community that's much larger than just those of us here on campus. I think the opportunity for student life and for them to create those connections and try new things is unmatched, and you get the opportunity to hear from Leigh Riffle, who is our assistant dean of students and also our director of student life to learn a little bit more about some of the programming we provide in this area.
Leigh Riffle: Hi, I'm Leigh Riffle, assistant dean of students, in charge of residential life at Northwood. Residential life is a key aspect to the student life experience at a boarding school. When students arrive at Northwood, they can request a roommate if they know someone coming in, or be matched with someone that complements the survey that every boarding student gets sent out at the beginning of each summer. Much of student life at Northwood is student driven with faculty oversight. It's an opportunity for students to learn to use their voices, and that their voices matter and are listened to. Weekend activities works in that manner. As coordinator of weekend activities, there's a student committee that meets with me every week to plan the weekends ahead and for special events that may occur on weekdays.
A series finale watch party could be an example of a weekday occurrence. Almost any idea put forward is possible. We are also able to take advantage of the region that we live in. We can zipline, hike high peaks, go down a toboggan shoot, learn to bobsled, ice climb, and much more only minutes from our campus. There's something unique for the students to do every season of the year. At many boarding schools, their town is a car ride away. Here, it's a walk around the lake. If you have any questions or are interested in learning more, please feel free to reach out.
Brad D'Arco: All right. Brought everybody back. I didn't lose anybody it looks like. I can see all the faces coming back as we're transitioning out of that program. I hope that was helpful. Our goal really just as it is normally when we have an open house on campus is to use this opportunity to give you a broad overview of all of the programming that is offered, and our hope that this really does encourage you to continue the admission process with us.
Throughout that process, as we get to know you better and really understand what your interests and likes are both inside and outside of the classroom, the opportunity for us to interact with you and connect you with those people and program directors who run those programs that you have the greatest interest in, we would love to do and also be able to provide greater specificity around whatever it is you may have questions about. Now's our chance to open it up for questions. All of the program directors that were in that presentation are here and available to you.
I think for the sake of allowing to make sure we can get to as many questions and get them answered as effectively as we can, if you can use the chat feature to chat me your question, or also if you raise your hand, I'll see it and try and pick it out, but if you chat me your question, we'll take it from there. I'll serve as a moderator here to direct it to whoever may be best to answer it. We also have some of our current students who've joined us now. If you have a question that you'd like to ask of a current student, we also have the opportunity to direct some to them. If you have a question, please let me know. Okay, here we go. Great. How do students balance their academic and extracurricular or co-curricular activities?
That is a really, really good one. I know Mr. Miller was there, but I know we also have some of our students. Michael Leone, are you there? Can you hear me?
Michael Leone: Yeah, I'm here.
Brad D'Arco: Michael, there he is. Michael is a senior with us. He's been with us for a number of years. Michael, I'm going to let you try and tackle this one first and the question again was, how do students balance their academic and co-curricular responsibilities? Go ahead.
Michael Leone: All right. Classes start every day at 8:00 and usually finish around 2:30, 3:00. Depending on your schedule, you might have one or two off periods a day, so you can get homework done during that time, but after school like today, I had a practice at 3:00. I'll study hall at 7:45 to 9:45 every night. Usually, you have time to get all of your homework done during study hall, but if you don't have time to do all of it, then you can do it during the day. You can also meet with teachers whenever you want, because a lot of our faculty lives right on campus, or you can just shoot them an email anytime you'd like.
Brad D'Arco: Great. The next one I see here, I'm going to throw to Noel Carmichael, who's our dean of academics and has joined us as well.
Noel Carmichael: Hello.
Brad D'Arco: Noel, I think if you want to build a little bit on... I know for you, that's a huge focus of what we do of balancing those academic and co-curricular responsibilities, but also that one of the other questions I have here is... Sorry, it's moving quick... Oh, how are we supporting students in terms of managing their use of technology, phones, iPads, particularly this year when technology, we've put more pressure on students and obviously, there's a necessity to do it?
Noel Carmichael: Yeah. Good questions. In terms of the balancing, I liked what Michael said about the study halls that we have every Sunday through Thursday evening, but we also have many support systems in place. We try to give students as much freedom as they can handle, but especially in the younger years or if they're new, or if they're struggling for any reason, we have daytime study halls that students can go into and other support systems through our class dean system and our advisory system to help any students that might be struggling, or need more structure to how they're managing their lives here, because it can be a lot especially if they're new to the boarding environment. I just wanted to add that.
In terms of the phones, iPads, laptops and other devices, this year is I would say I don't know from the student perspective, but drastically different than past years, simply because we set up a model this year that would allow us to go with the flow, for lack of a better term. Depending on the state of what's going on in the country and if we needed to go virtual at any point, we have our all of our classrooms and all of our courses set up to do so. We're using technology in different ways and much more this year, but we tried to keep that on laptops or iPads in class. There is not a lot of teachers who like phone use in class, with the exception that there's some fun games, cahoots and things like that that some teachers do.
We try to manage that, and we also try to encourage during social times between students that they socialize face to face and practice conversation, rather than having their faces in their screens as they might prefer to do sometimes. I hope that starts to address that question Brad.
Brad D'Arco: Yeah, great, excellent. Well, the questions are coming in so fast. I'm trying to keep up here with the chat, which is great. I'm going to throw this next one... We also have Chase Ormiston. Are you on the line as well? There she is. Great, excellent. I'm going to throw these next to you Chase.
Chase Ormiston: Okay.
Brad D'Arco: The first one which is I guess how challenging or how difficult do you feel like Northwood is academically, and then also as a day student, what's life like for you if socially? What are weekends like for you? How involved are you in the student life aspect of the school that Miss Riffle talked about as a day student?
Chase Ormiston: Yeah. For the academic side, I mean it's what you make of it. You can choose to take classes that are going to be more challenging to you, or classes that are going to be a little bit easier if you're worried about the workload. I haven't had any problem with too much work or not enough. I feel like it's a pretty perfect load because we do so much stuff outside of school that you don't want to be slammed with work, and teachers are really understanding too. If you have a bunch of tests one day, they're really helpful in moving around your schedule to accommodate that. Then for the day student side, sometimes it feels like I am a boarding student because I spend so much time here.
During non-COVID times, we're allowed to stay here as late as we want until the beginning of study hall. Till 7:45, we can stay, we can eat dinner with everybody, hang out in the living room with everyone. Then on weekends, we're basically allowed to stay here as late as we want. I mean last year every weekend, I was here, Friday night, Saturday night, hanging out with people. There's a lot of lounges and areas around the school to hang out. It's a super social time on the weekends because people are doing so much stuff during the week that the weekends are a really good time to just relax and hang out. I definitely am here whenever I can be.
Brad D'Arco: Great. Thank you. There are a few admissions related questions here that I will answer at the end. As I see them coming in, I just don't want you to think I'm ignoring those. I'll get to those, but I want to give an opportunity to address some of the other questions we've got first before we can do that. Abby, Abby Sinclair, are you there? There she is. I'm going to throw these next ones at you, okay?
Abby Sinclair: Okay.
Brad D'Arco: The questions we got are, first of all do boys and girls live separately, and then also, what are the dorms like and what is dorm life like for you?
Abby Sinclair: Okay. The first question, yes, boys and girls do live separately. The girls live on one side of the main building, while the boys live on the other side, and then they have another living space called Bergamini where [hockey boys] are living right now. Boarding life, I would say that dorm life is very nice because you get to live with all your friends. Due to COVID, we have to be separated into cohorts. We live with the people that we're mainly with. For example, the skiers live together, the hockey girls live together, boys hockey, soccer, et cetera. Yeah.
Brad D'Arco: Yup. Most of our dorm rooms here are doubles, so most of our students have one other roommate. We have a limited number of single rooms available and also a very few. Although in COVID times, we have no triple rooms and as Abby was mentioning, as part of our COVID protocols this year, we've created cohorts for our students. We've divided them by their co-curricular options, and that has allowed us actually to maintain a lot of our co-curricular programs, some of which happen off campus in order to protect our larger student body for our hockey teams, for example, which are traveling to and from the Olympic center, which is just off campus.
The protocols and cohort measures that we've used in terms of how we have our living spaces arranged have allowed us to by and large carry out our program this year fundamentally unchanged from how it's been in years past. That's one of the bigger differences that we've had this year. Mr. Riffle, are you on? Did I lose him?
Gino Riffle: Right here.
Brad D'Arco: All right. Mr. Riffle, the question we have here is, do students have the flexibility to practice or train for their co-curricular or sport outside of the scheduled training program?
Gino Riffle: There's limited time to do so. As Michael had mentioned earlier, a typical day take his day for example today where he started classes at 8:00, ended around 2:50, ran right to a bus and got on the bus to go to the rink for practice at 3:30, to about 5:00 by the time he got back. He had dinner at 5:45, and then study hall at 7:45. If there was open time for him and he wanted to, he could go down to the turf field and shoot pucks. Boys soccer players could go down to the field or outside their practice time, or even during a free period and utilize that time to take advantage of some extra practice. Some students will ask coaches to open the fitness center early in the morning, say 6:00 to 7:00 before classes start, but your day is pretty structured.
Your day is pretty scheduled, and we also as coaches and people who run the athletics think about rest time for our students. I think that that is the one thing that a lot of our students are missing, because of the daily schedule and the structure of it. They want to do these extra things, but at the same time, it's okay to take a little bit of a breather and break. In terms of looking at a timeframe to get extra practice in, yes, there is time to do so, although limited at times.
Brad D'Arco: Great. Okay. The next one, I'm going to toss in combination to Miss Carmichael, but also Mr. McCauley because I think this suits the both of you. Noel, I'll start with you. The question was, what's a typical course load for a student, or how many classes do a student have per day, but also I guess I'll build on that a little bit Noelle and also for you David to talk a little bit about how it is we do course selection for students and ultimately thinking about that course selection process in terms of college guidance and college placement.
Noel Carmichael: Okay, so I'll take...
David McCauley: Okay.
Noel Carmichael: Oh, so you want to start with David, go ahead. Sorry.
David McCauley: No, no, go ahead. All yours Noel.
Noel Carmichael: Thank you, very polite. Most students here take five courses at a time. All right, and we have a term systems or trimester system sorry. We have three different terms, and we have some classes that are only one term long and some classes that are year long. Students normally take five classes at a time, but we have a schedule with seven class in the rotation. That means you would have five classes with two free periods. Those become mostly study halls. Some kids do decide to take a sixth course and if very few decide to take a seventh course, we don't recommend that on your first year here necessarily. Most take five and David, you're going to talk about the requirements and what kinds of courses they take?
David McCauley: Let me do more of the college facing if you want to carry on with that Noel, if you want to take on that.
Noel Carmichael: Sure. We have specific program requirements, such as English each year that you're here. We have science requirements, social studies requirements, math requirements. We would make sure as you enter the school and if you're coming in not in your freshman year, that we look at your transcripts from the other high school you've been at to make sure that you're on track to meet all of those requirements. We also as I mentioned earlier have a series of electives. If once you are on track to meet all of the required courses, then you get the opportunity to fill your time and those extra classes with things that you are interested in, and that meet your goals in terms of where you're headed for college.
David McCauley: Great, yeah.
Noel Carmichael: Go ahead David.
David McCauley: Thanks. Thank Noel. Yeah, and as far as the college piece is concerned, in planning their courses here, all students should take the appropriate level of academic challenge or academic rigor, which is defined by can you score a B or better, right? Because we have three frontier. In most disciplines, we have three different tier of courses. Is it AP, is it honors, or is it a standard college prep level, right? If a student is ambitiously pursuing something at an AP level, where we have an AP class, but it's just not coming together for them and it's going to be a C or lower on the transcript, there's not enough mastery of the information and mastery of the material.
We're going to encourage them to go back to the honors level if there's one there, again within that given discipline. Outward facing colleges, yeah, the junior year is probably the most critical year for grades, for GPA and all that stuff, but it builds, right? It's an ascent, where sequential courses, your math, your languages and so forth build on top of each other. Junior year is really when it all comes together as far as the grades that we will present to colleges in the student's application, right? Most students will apply. Before, a lot of students will apply in November which typically is before we have the end of our first trimester or trimester scores are out.
Okay, and most important for me in college facing is how far the students go within core subjects? How far do students go? What's their top math course in their top lab science senior year, right? The performing arts and things that we've talked about and the humanities, they serve as a valuable compliment. Look for students at least looking at liberal arts colleges, it's important to know where they finish with their math and their science, and then are they taking the AP lang or the AP lit, or is it the humanities course, which is a new to the school this year? Level and level of courses with respect to grades dictates where students are admissible, right? That hasn't changed in hundreds of years, right?
As far as selecting courses and what their value are, that's how we help students and families size up where their best candidates.
Brad D'Arco: Great, excellent. Thank you very much. I'm going to tackle a few of these admissions questions now, and then we've got a few more that we'll take to wrap up here. One of the questions actually asked twice here is how important, or how critical are SSAT or ISEE scores. We also got a question of, are we going test optional as a result of COVID? The answer is yes, like most boarding schools, we have actually reached a decision this week which we'll post on our website that like most boarding schools as a result of COVID and some of the restrictions that have come out around standardized testing this year, we will be making the SSAT or ISEE optional.
Much David like is talking to our seniors about who most colleges now have the SAT or ACT as an optional part of the application, it will be the same for us. I would encourage you that if you have the opportunity to do it and have the opportunity to prepare and feel like you've done well, taking the SSAT or ISEE can only benefit you in this process. We were never a place that I think overly valued standardized test scores in our admission process, while we certainly do think they can be helpful and can be really helpful to us in the course selection process and helping that transition when you first get here. From an admission's standpoint, we certainly place great value on transcripts and recommendations and your interview process.
One of the other questions I got was, what are some tips I have for interviewing and what should you be focused on in the admission's interview? This year, it's a little bit different. Obviously, we're doing all of our interviews this year virtually, so that gives them all a little bit of a different feel. I've always said I believe the term interview is a bit of a misnomer, particularly when you're thinking about boarding schools. I really do think about it as in part, an information session, right? We here in the admission office, myself and the four other people we have who are here doing interviews, our goal with the interview is first and foremost to learn more about you, and learn about some things about you that we may not learn from the other parts of the application, right?
We're going to see your grades, and we're going to hear from your teachers, and we're going to get an opportunity to see you right. The goal really for the interview is, is to help us get some more information that we may not see from the paperwork, also to get a better understanding of what your goals are and what your interests are, and to make sure that through the admission process, we're doing everything we can to provide you with all of the information we can to make an informed decision.
I also think the interview process is really important for you and for us, it's critical that we are answering all of your questions, and that you leave that part of the admission process feeling like you have a better understanding of what Northwood can offer you, have a better understanding of why it may be a good fit for you, and also a better understanding of how all of our programs may be able to help you reach your goals. The next one we got which I'll tackle before throwing some more of these to the other way to some others was a question about diversity. How diverse are we as a school? It's always a tricky question to answer because I think every school can and has different definitions around how you would answer that question, right?
I think I'm really proud of the fact that as a school as small as we are, that we have students from nearly 30 different states and nearly 30 different countries, who are here. Approximately 30% or so of our student body identify or identify themselves as students of color and again, I think our racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds of our students is a really broad range. Same with our faculty, we're continually working to try and become more diverse as a community and increase diversity amongst our faculty. I think again as a smaller school, we are a place that really has prided ourselves and focused on that, particularly over the last five years. I know in my experience, I've worked at much larger schools.
One of the I guess concerns people sometimes have when they're looking at a smaller school is a choice to go to a smaller school may sometimes mean that your options in terms of your course offerings or your co-curricular opportunities or your opportunity to live in a really diverse community may be more limited if you're choosing to go to, or apply to smaller schools. While that may be the case broadly, specifically as it relates to Northwood, that is not the case. We are really focused on making sure that the opportunities you have both in terms of your choices, your co-curricular offerings, but also the community you're going to enter here is as diverse as you would find anywhere and certainly comparable with what you would see at some much larger schools.
All right, I'm going to throw this one. I'll throw it to any one of the students who wants to answer. I see Abby just because of the way my Zoom screen is set up, but I know Chase and Michael are right there too. How's the food?
Abby Sinclair: Okay. Yeah, so it's you walk into the dining hall, and you go into the food area, and the first thing you see is the main course. For a typical lunch day, it'll be a stir fry or a sandwich of some sort or an all-around favorite chicken nugget day. Everyone loves chicken nugget day. You have the main course and then if you're not excited about the main course, right next to it, there's a whole salad bar and along with that is Panini station. You can mix and match that, and then if you go a little bit further down, there's a pasta bar. There's pasta, there's ramen and sauces and stuff that. Then my personal favorite is the quesadilla station, so that's always something that's fun to do.
I know for boarding students, there's chocolate chip pancake Friday breakfast, Saturdays have brunch. If you're a picky eater, there's no need to be worried about it because there's always options for everybody.
Brad D'Arco: Great. Thanks the second part of that question I'll answer is what if or if you have a food allergy, how is that addressed? Yeah, our dining hall and dining staff does a phenomenal job with that. We have a number of different students with different dietary needs or restrictions based on their diet, or whatever it may be. Our dining hall accommodates all of them. If it's a student, for example, with celiac or wheat allergy, they'll prepare that food separately and set aside a separate plate for them. Whatever dietary restrictions you need or may have, we certainly can adjust and accommodate whatever those are. I'm going to take two more. Mr. Riffle, a question about snowboarding. Is there the opportunity to snowboard here? The question was we know they're skiing, but can we snowboard?
Gino Riffle: Yeah, so there's two different types of I guess snow sports you could call it. There's the competitive snow sports, and then there's also the recreational snow sports. The competitive snow sports that we offer at Northwood include alpine skiing, ski jumping, and freestyle. The freestyle side of things that is including snowboarding as well from a competitive standpoint, and then there's also the opportunity in the winter time to recreational ski or snowboard. That means that our students will be taken to the mountain three to five days a week, depending upon what they sign up for. They would be able to free ski or free snowboard from about 8:30 to about 11 a.m. and then come back for lunch and go to school.
In the winter time, we flip our academic schedule, but from a competitive side of things, we have three or four students that participate in the more extreme side of things in terms of the snow sport side. We partnered with NYSEF in that and our students get coaching if they're interested in competitive snowboarding.
Brad D'Arco: Great. We are right about at our limit, so I'll answer this last one. The question came in about, are students allowed off campus on the weekends? In a normal circumstances during our normal academic year, COVID aside, the answer to that question is yes. We have very limited what we would refer to as closed weekends. Meaning, weekends when students would not have the opportunity to leave campus. There's a process students need to go through in order to have permission to do that. If you want to go home for the weekend, for example, you have to notify the dean of students office, your parents have to give you permission to do that. There's a certain day each week that you need to complete those forms by.
If you want to go to a friend's house or somewhere else with friends, your parents and whatever other adult you would be going to need to provide you opportunity or provide you permission to do that. In a normal year, the opportunity for our students to leave campus on the weekends is there. With COVID restrictions this year, we have not been doing that. We worked really hard and our students did a phenomenal job of beginning the school year and creating our bubble. Knock on wood, we have been COVID free here, and it's been really important for us to maintain that, so that we can keep for lack of a better term a sense of normalcy in terms of the experience that our students have been having. Because of that, we've been able to carry out in-person classes and carry out our co-curricular programs.
One of the ways we've done that is by eliminating as many risk factors as we can. One of those being our students traveling home on weekends. For this year for at least the first term here, we have not allowed students to travel on the weekends. Obviously, that may change as we move into the second half of the year. Our hope and expectation is that that next year, we are back to a more normal set of circumstances and if we are, presumably then the opportunities for students to leave on the weekends would be similar to what it's been in previous years. Well, we are right at time. Actually, I was hoping to be an hour and 15, and we're just slightly, slightly over that, but I, we greatly appreciate you doing this and participating in this.
It's a learning experience for all of us. We're going through this in new ways. I hope that this program was helpful in providing you some more information about our school and our program. I hope for all of you that you take advantage of the admission process we have here, and I really do think our admission process is designed as an opportunity for you to learn more about our school. For those of you who have not yet done so, the next step for you would be to reach out to our office. You can get our information off our website. It's firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your interview.
If you have already scheduled your interview, or have already completed your interview, we certainly will be following up with you and connecting you with program directors or whatever it is, or whoever it is you may want to speak to. For any one of you, if you have specific questions, please feel free not only to reach out to me, but to any member here of our staff that's on this call, or any member of our staff in general. You can find all of their information on our website. We also would be happy to connect you individually with some of our current students if you would like to learn more from them about what their experience is like. Please let us know here in the admission office, and we would be happy to arrange that conversation for any of you.
I hope this was helpful. It certainly was a new experience for me. I said going into this, we're trial by fire here in this new world of figuring out the best way to go through this. I hope you gain some more information, and I look forward to continuing to speak with all of you and hopefully, you all stay in touch. Be safe, have a good evening and hopefully, we'll talk to all of you again soon. Okay? Thank you.
Noel Carmichael: Bye.
Chase Ormiston: Thank you.