Upper School

Highley Thompson, Upper School Director
Highley Thompson
Upper School Director

In the Upper School, we inspire our students to pursue excellence in a number of areas: character, academics, arts, and athletics. We offer a wide variety of courses and activities in an environment where teachers, coaches, advisors, and staff members hold themselves to high standards and where every student can rise to honorable achievement and contribute to the common good.

Students learn in a challenging academic environment, and there are honors and AP courses in most disciplines. All of our courses demand that students develop skills in creative problem solving, critical analysis, and independent thinking. These are the skills that enable our students to succeed in college and in life. Take a look at our course offerings and you will find a wide variety of interesting courses in every department.

Our affirming, collaborative community is one in which responsibility, integrity, and mutual respect are held in the highest regard. Our Honor Code aims to develop and maintain a safe, trusting, and friendly place for students to learn and to grow as young people and as Thayer Academy community members. Our advising system allows us to keep a close and supportive eye on our students, as they grow more and more independent throughout high school.

Thayer students participate in dozens of activities each year – physical education and sports, arts and music, clubs, and community service – that develop and nourish interests outside of their academic classes. All students have the opportunity to find something that interests them and allows them to develop passions outside of the classroom.

A Space to Design, Create, and Invent

Thayer Academy’s new Collaborative Design Lab (CDL) is an area where students can bring ideas to life with state-of-the-art tools. The lab features a 3-D printer, vinyl cutter, and laser cutter. This cross-disciplinary program fosters creativity and problem solving within a group.

Program Overview

Tapping the potential of each student's intellect requires personalized instruction by teachers who welcome the opportunity to work with students as individuals. Thayer teachers encourage students to seek and find intellectual horizons beyond their own personal expectations.

The following pages provide insight into the student/teacher collaboration and they show how this effort is supported by the student advising program, a varied curriculum, vast library resources, and the latest technology.

Many courses are offered at various levels including, AP, honors, competitive college preparatory and fundamentals. Students are scheduled in courses that best suit their background and ability, and it is not unusual for students to have an academic schedule that includes courses from different levels.

Upper School Philosophy of Student Independence

A primary goal of Thayer Academy’s Upper School is to develop the independence and confidence of each student. We hope to help our students become self-advocates – young men and women who can identify what they need and know where and how to find the support they may need on their own.

Advisors, teachers, and coaches know that when students are in charge and guide their experiences, make their own decisions, and learn from their mistakes, they become competent and effective thinkers and learners.

As students progress through the Upper School, students assume more responsibility as their freedom and independence increase. Our expectation for student self-direction increases as our students mature. Our ninth grade program, for example, includes skill development instruction in classes and through our Hale Learning Center and Hanflig Technology Center. Freshmen are required to attend study halls as they learn to manage the increased free time they have in the Upper School. As they move through each grade level, students have more freedom to manage their time and studies, as more and more responsibility falls on their own shoulders rather than on those of their teachers and parents.

Since we view parents as a crucial partner in helping our students develop and mature, we share class expectations, grading policies, and major assignments on our course pages. Although not required to do so, many teachers also provide other online resources to students and parents, including class wikis or links to calendars with daily assignments.

We provide grades and formal comments for every student four times per year: mid-October through the Advisor-parent meetings, in December after the conclusion of the first semester; in March at the midpoint of the second semester; and in June at the end of the second semester. Students who might be struggling academically might also receive formal progress reports, which are written about every three weeks during each semester. Parents can always contact their child’s teachers, advisor, grade dean, or division head if they have any questions or concerns.

For the full list of graduation requirements, please refer to the Thayer Academy Student Handbook.