What sets Gill St. Bernard's Upper School apart from other independent schools?
While there are many reasons
to pursue a Gill St. Bernard's School education, some are of particular importance for Upper School students. Gill provides a safe and secure environment in which students learn to take intellectual risks and make healthy choices. Our students enjoy coming to school each day; they know they will be challenged, inspired and part of the conversation.
- With an average class size of 14, our students are able to receive individualized attention and better connect with faculty members and peers alike, as they explore new concepts in the classroom.
- For over 40 years, the Unit program has reflected the school’s motto, “The World is Our Classroom.” Unit courses are held for two weeks each May and allow students to explore an area of particular interest to them, typically outside the range of traditional academic coursework. Whether through travel abroad, SCUBA diving in the Florida Keys or improving the lives of special needs children through equine therapy, the Unit offers students the chance to work collaboratively, to explore the larger world, and to serve others.
- Our 208-acre collegiate-style campus, which includes the 128-acre Home Winds farm, provides a beautiful backdrop for our Upper School. Facilities that include state-of-the-art academic buildings, a theater, two athletic centers, turf and grass playing fields, a track, tennis courts, farm and garden offer unique opportunities to complement the academic curriculum and student life experience.
- We offer over 100 courses at the standard, honors and advanced placement levels. Our rigorous and varied college-preparatory curriculum is constantly evolving across disciplines based on student interest and campus advancement, with recent course additions including animal science and botany.
- Our Office of Student Life is modeled after the college/university experience, where each grade has its own Dean with formal responsibility for student supervision. The Grade Dean is an essential “point person” for contact with parents and students. They coordinate grade-specific activities and promote regular interactions across all grades.
What is a typical day like for an Upper School student?
Students must report to their first class by 8:15 a.m. Depending on the day, students will have five or six classes ranging from 45-70 minutes. In addition to attending classes, Upper School students will experience the following throughout the week:
Assembly: A weekly gathering for all Upper School students, faculty and administrators where announcements are shared.
Meeting: A designated period of time that takes place four times a week during which clubs and organizations meet. If a club or organization you are part of is not meeting on a particular day, meeting time could also be used as a study hall or an opportunity to seek out a teacher for extra help.
: Advisory meetings
are built into the school day, with scheduled group advisories on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. The GSB Advisory program provides each student with the opportunity to connect with a Gill St. Bernard’s faculty member or administrator who will monitor, guide, and support the student’s academic, social, and emotional progress.
The school day ends at 3:00 p.m. after which students often congregate in the library (supervised until 5:30 p.m.), the Athletic Center, at sporting events, in the Upper School Student Lounge, Fitness Center or at an afterschool activity group.
What extracurricular opportunities are available and how do students get involved?
In early September, the Office of Student Life hosts an activities fair, where students have the opportunity to learn about and sign up for over thirty clubs and activities
. Many groups will meet during the designated “meeting time,” which occurs during the school day four times a week. Meeting time allows our students to find balance within their academic day and pursue additional activities after school.
In our Upper School, we offer 24 different opportunities for interscholastic athletics
. Fall sports begin in mid-August, winter sports in mid-November and spring sports in early March. Information on these opportunities is made available to students prior to the start of the season. Most of our varsity programs compete at a championship level, and many of our programs also have junior varsity teams.
In addition to electives in the visual and performing arts, students have opportunities to showcase their talents outside the classroom through bi-annual theater productions, art shows and choir concerts. Our arts program
routinely earns state-wide and regional acclaim.
Are students required to participate in community service?
Gill St. Bernard's offers a wide array of community service opportunities on and off campus throughout the academic year. The Office of Student Life coordinates student-driven activities which help to serve local institutions and community organizations. Although community service is not required at GSB, student participation is extremely high and the program fosters the school's mission and core values.
How is class placement determined and what if a student needs to change a course?
Current students meet with their advisors in February to begin the process of selecting courses for the following school year. Students must receive approval for all honors and AP courses from their current teachers and must have the appropriate grades and prerequisites in order to take these courses. Rising seniors meet with the College Guidance Office before submitting course requests for their senior year.
Rising ninth graders may choose their electives and preferred world language in April. Placement in honors-level courses is based on teacher recommendation, standardized testing, middle school grades and results from GSB placement tests.
Students may change courses within the first 10 days of classes. All class changes after this period must be teacher-initiated and approved by the corresponding department chair and Upper School Director.
What does the college guidance process look like for students and their families?
The college guidance program begins in freshman year as students are encouraged to build a strong foundation for college success. Students are offered counsel about curricular and co-curricular choices, standardized testing, and how best to approach the college admissions process. GSB students begin standardized test practice in their sophomore year. Sophomores take the PLAN test as a preview of the ACT and both Sophomores and Juniors take the PSAT. Formal advising begins for students (and their families) in the winter of junior year. It is at this point when guidance staff will collaborate with students and families to identify and investigate potential college options. Seniors are given individual guidance and direction with applications, interviewing, fulfillment of required testing, and financial assistance applications when appropriate.
Which colleges and universities accept GSB students?
As a college preparatory school, we send 100 percent of our graduating seniors on to higher education. Our school proudly boasts an impressive record of admission
for its students to many of the most competitive colleges and universities in the country.
Does Gill St. Bernard's School have a dress code?
All GSB students are expected to dress in a neat, clean manner that reflects a responsible attitude toward the school community. Specific dress code requirements (collared shirts, skirt length, sweatshirts, etc.) are disseminated annually to all enrolled students. Dress shorts are permitted in September and May. Gym shorts, jeans and sweatpants are not acceptable attire for school.
Where are students coming from to attend GSB and is bus transportation available?
Students come to GSB from ten counties and about sixty north-central New Jersey communities. While families have the option to provide their own transportation to campus, many arrange for bus service through their local school districts. If transportation is not available through your local school district, GSB may offer bus service to your area. Our transportation coordinator (ext. 480) can answer any questions regarding bus service
What is served for lunch and when is lunch served?
Lunch is included as part of tuition for all students in grades Kindergarten-12. Depending on their class schedule for the day, Upper School students will begin lunch at 12:25 or 1:10. Our menu
typically includes produce from our own garden and our chef is mindful of providing fresh, healthy choices for students.