When someone asks me the question “Why Harrisburg Academy?” one of my responses is almost always, “I choose the Academy because I care about the peer group with which my children are interacting at school.” As a parent, I feel one of the most valuable characteristics of the Academy is the peer culture.  The curriculum is global and the focus on college outcomes is tangible, but the everyday interaction and peer relationship building, including the interactions with the faculty and staff, are just as vital to individual student development.  These “Academy Advantages,” coupled with the opportunities our students (my children included) are afforded because of this environment, are truly something more and something different.

The Academy is diverse and accepting of differences in many ways, but with regard to outcome expectations, we are, by design, not a diverse community.  The expectation of academic excellence and preparation for future endeavors is common to all our families.  The resulting parent support of our academic program contributes to our strength in meeting not only academic goals, but enhancing our students’ social development.

I love working with the students in the Academy’s Upper School because they are a wonderful group of young people with amazing potential.  But I also understand it is our responsibility to intervene, when necessary, to proactively guide them toward social interaction expectations.  As you may know, each of our Upper School students is assigned a faculty adviser.  Small group meetings, with six-to-eight students and individual conversations between student and adviser, encourage reflection and conversation.  At different times of the academic year, various topics are planned and discussed. Just recently, this video about bullying was viewed as a platform for discussion.  The video and related discussion questions were used to address the issue of bullying in our society.  The topic is an important one, so feel free to watch the video and continue the discussion at home.

The peer culture at Harrisburg Academy extends even beyond classroom settings to cocurricular activities like the upcoming Upper School musical, “Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida.”  Under the direction of Michael Gamon and Andrew Jones, the students are thriving and enjoying the “practice-makes-perfect” environment.  And because of the small size of our community, just about everyone is excited to support the actors and actresses in this historic show — the Academy’s first-ever Upper School musical! (Tickets are still on sale for all three performances — Friday, March 15 and Saturday, March 16 at 7 p.m., and Sunday, March 17 at 2 p.m.  Click here to purchase tickets.)