Why Choosing the Upper School Makes Sense

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Why Choosing the Upper School Makes Sense

With all of the options for high school, Benjamin's Upper School, pictured here, promises a depth and breadth of programs that go beyond its competitors.

With all of the options for high school, Benjamin's Upper School, pictured here, promises a depth and breadth of programs that go beyond its competitors.

Photo courtesy of www.privateschoolreview.com.

With all of the options for high school, Benjamin's Upper School, pictured here, promises a depth and breadth of programs that go beyond its competitors.

Photo courtesy of www.privateschoolreview.com.

Photo courtesy of www.privateschoolreview.com.

With all of the options for high school, Benjamin's Upper School, pictured here, promises a depth and breadth of programs that go beyond its competitors.

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For the past 50 years, when students in northern Palm Beach County had to choose what high school to go to, Benjamin was one of the most popular options. But with more high schools popping up in recent years, Benjamin is facing competition for its students like it never has before. Some of the other popular schools in the area are The King’s Academy, Jupiter Christian, Oxbridge Academy, and most recently The Conservatory School @ North Palm Beach.  

The King’s Academy has been known to attract students due to its strong academic program, Christian principles, and phenomenal musical theater program.

Like King’s, Jupiter Christian also offers a rigorous academic curricula, a Christian-based education, and inspires students to go out into the world and make a positive impact.

Oxbridge Academy, founded by billionaire Bill Koch of Koch Industries, is a more project-based school that boasts a flight simulator and novel-writing program for its high schoolers. Project-based work simply means a group of students working towards a common goal, instead of a single student working towards that same goal independently.

The Conservatory School @ North Palm Beach  is a charter school like BAK and Dreyfoos, but its focus is solely on music, not the broader category of the fine arts. Students in sixth grade and above must audition to gain admission to the Conservatory School, which will add a ninth-grade class in 2018-19, and a fully-fledged high school by 2021.  

With all of these various options, some students are opting for a different high school experience apart from Benjamin.

“What I like about Oxbridge is that every year, the kids come back and tell the school what they need to do better [to] prepare themselves for college, or get into their preferred college,” said eighth grader James Hoffman, who is matriculating from TBS to Oxbridge as a freshman next year. “Oxbridge is also more project-based, and so is college, so I feel that Oxbridge is a more college-like campus,” said Hoffman.

Benjamin, however, also prides itself in preparing students for college and beyond.

Mrs. Pierman
Students and teachers from Benjamin’s Middle and Upper Schools get a first-hand look at the DaVinci Xi Surgical Robot at Good Samaritan Medical Center.

“Nowhere in this area do you get the opportunity to explore things in the depth that you do at our Upper School,” said Head of Middle School Mr. Charles Hagy. “By structure, by design, you will become an excellent writer, you will do your math, you’ll satisfy all of your requirements, and then you can stretch to be in drama, to be in the award-winning journalism program, or the BTV News program, [or] the athletic opportunities,” said Hagy.

According to Hagy, Benjamin prepares its students for the rigor and workload of college better than any other area high school. “Not every program [at other schools] offers that [depth across curricula],” said Hagy.  “Kids that go to other programs go to college and they struggle because they do not get the skill base that they receive here. They are not exposed to the breadth of experiences that our kids have.”

Benjamin offers many things other high schools do not. For example, The Benjamin Upper School offers 23 Advanced Placement and 12 Honors courses – more than any other independent school in the area. In addition, the Upper School offers robust computer science and engineering programs that rivals any in the state. Regarding computer science, students may take two AP courses as well as classes such as game design, computer programming, and advanced research in computer science. For engineering, the Upper School offers an engineering certificate program where students who are interested in STEM fields may take courses such as Introduction to Engineering and Fabrication, Electronics, Graphic Design I and II, and Biotechnology I and II.  

The Benjineers, the School’s competitive engineering team, has won several awards, including a national championship, and is currently competing at the national competition in New York City. Benjamins engineering program has won many many awards, and is a program that is continuing to evolve. The Benjineers, Benjamins engineering team, are competing in Nationals in New York.

In addition to computer science and engineering, students can explore a number of other science courses that go beyond the basics of physics and chemistry, such as astronomy, human biology, meteorology, marine science, and oceanography.

Mrs. Erika Sousa
“Bye Bye Birdie,” this year’s Upper School musical, was full of talented students who made the show a success.

The arts are also an extremely deep program as students can immerse themselves in several areas, including broadcast journalism (using the state-of-the-art TV studio), dance, drama, musical theater, chorus, band, strings, graphic design, visual art, and directin Real world preparation starts at the middle school with The Biztown program which helps funnel its way into the internship programs that are offered at the high school.  

TBS also connects its students with real-world opportunities and allows them to network with future employers and experts in their fields of interest through the senior internship program. According to the Benjamin website, the goal of this program “is to provide each senior with a meaningful experience that will help spark possible career interests.”

This real-world education and career preparation begins at the Middle School through programs such as Career Day, which allows students to prepare their resumes for mock interviews and learn about the free market economy through running a virtual business in BizTown. In addition, students are provided with hands-on field studies via trips to Washington, D.C. (eighth grade), The Keys (seventh grade), the Everglades (sixth grade) and St. Augustine (sixth grade).

However, the most attractive element about TBS may be the caliber and quality of teachers the School prides itself in hiring and maintaining.  “The reason I feel Benjamin is better than other high schools,” said Middle School Athletic Director Mr. Toby Harbeck, “ [is] number one, I feel like you get the best teachers around, you got people that care about kids. I think that between your teachers, administrators, and coaches, it doesn’t get any better than what’s offered [here]. But I think there is a real sense of caring. I think teachers care about kids,” he said.

Erika Sousa
The Benjineers show off their first-place trophy which they won during TBS’s Ten80 Invitational competition in November.

Harbeck, who also coaches the boys’ varsity golf team and middle school baseball team, has heard from his former players how much they enjoy their high school experience.

“The [junior varsity baseball players] say they love it over-there [at the Upper School]. They love the freedom. They love the way the teachers help them, and they just love the general atmosphere. And they are very glad that they stayed here.”

All of these factors made the high school decision clear for current eighth-grade student and Student Council President Camilo Saiz. “I ultimately decided to stay at Benjamin because of all the teachers and friends that I already have [here],” he said. “You can’t get the opportunities at other schools that you can at Benjamin.”

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