We have had a chance to relax a little bit this summer but the campus has remained busy nonetheless. Record numbers in our day camp along with 75 summer school students from North Cross-Xinhe have kept things lively and it has been good to see so many of our current and former students working summer jobs on our campus. Off campus, approximately two dozen of our Upper School students are working around the city as part of our new summer internship program, while another dozen or so have travelled internationally on global studies trips to Peru and France.
I, myself, took a trip to Mendoza, Argentina where I spent two-and-a-half days at Escuela Italiano, a private bilingual school that will be exchanging students with our middle school in October and March. I met with both the parents and students who will be visiting us in October at this warm and caring school. My hope is to develop an ongoing relationship that will pay dividends to our language program for years to come. If you are a parent of a middle schooler and are interested in having your child become part of our return trip to Mendoza in March, I encourage you to speak with Señora Mariana Hermosilla.
To help you in your school conversations, let me pass on some really good news concerning our most recent Advanced Placement (AP) scores. Over the past five years, we have worked hard to improve our AP program, adding additional classes and sending teachers to AP Summer Seminars to learn more about the curriculum and converse with other AP teachers. This past summer, we have seen four of our teachers serve as AP graders, a well-paying but brutally demanding job. I am excited because as tedious as this may be, scoring exams is an excellent way to develop a better understanding of the scoring process.
This emphasis and the hard work of our students has paid off as we were just notified that 39 of our students, representing 44% of our junior and senior classes, have been identified by the College Board as AP Scholars, a designation achieved by students doing well on a minimum of three AP Exams. This is a phenomenal number, one that far exceeds my wildest dreams. Almost as incredible is the fact that we had an 82% passing rate in our exams, 9% higher than in any previous year. Exams are scored on a scale of 1-5 with a 3 considered a passing grade. To highlight a few individual successes, our Calculus BC class had seven scores of 5, one score of 4, and a 2 for a class average of 4.56, almost a full point above the Commonwealth average. AP Chemistry had a 100% passing rate and the average score was nine-tenths of a point higher than the Commonwealth average. AP Spanish Language also had a 100% passing rate and averaged a full point higher than the Commonwealth, and finally, AP World History had five 5’s, five 4’s, and four 3’s for a 100% passing rate and an average score almost one point higher than the Commonwealth average.
While these scores may seem a bit wonky to you, let me assure you that they are so far above the state or global norms and they are perhaps the single best measure of our academic progress over the past six years. Combined with our most recent SAT scores that pushed above 1200 for the first time in recent memory, I am more convinced than ever that we are providing an academic experience far better than what is found elsewhere in the valley. Perhaps more important, I believe we are approaching a level of academic achievement that allows us to compare ourselves with the best independent schools in the Commonwealth.
I hope you will join me in congratulating the faculty and the students who worked so hard to make this happen. The late nights and after-hours work has really paid off.
Switching gears, progress continues even in our administration of school functions. Our introduction of Smart Tuition makes paying the school easier through electronic billing and payments. No more stamps or precarious parking in the fire lane to run a check to the front desk. Smart Tuition’s staff also makes themselves available 24/7/365 which helps accomplish those late-night to-do lists when questions arise.
We are also making better use of our onCampus platform now that we’ve had a year to get to know its ins and outs. All of your school supply lists and athletic forms have a place on the Resource Boards, just in time for the upcoming tax-free weekend. I encourage you to make the most of this service. Through onCampus, you can easily message anyone in our community; read our latest news; see our academic, athletic and dining calendars; or get in touch with your child’s teacher.
Finally, I’m excited to welcome some additions to our faculty. Deborah Jessee, our Assistant Head of School for Academics, has worked closely with department and division heads to add some impressive members to our Upper, Middle and Lower School faculty. You’ll see some familiar faces and some new ones.
I am looking forward to a great school year and thank you for all you do to make North Cross the best it can be. See you at Convocation.
Christian Proctor, PhD
Head of School