Blair Academy
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Blair Academy: Warmth, rigour and more

Blair Academy is truly exceptional — especially its people. Walk into its New Jersey campus on any given day and its warm, vibrant and welcoming community awe one almost instantly. “The foundation of everything we do at Blair begins with building meaningful relationships, says Peter G. Curran, head of school.

What sets Blair apart from other boarding schools is how it combines big school perks with the closeness of of smaller schools. It always feels like you’re with family here. Students between grades nine and 12 are nurtured by skilled and passionate educators, all of whom want to see each and every one of them gain a well-rounded education. 

Just ask student Kaki from Pennsylvania. “Classmates and teachers are welcoming, and the environment provides a wide range of opportunities and encourages students to succeed academically, in athletics and in leadership pursuits,” Kaki says.

Blair has the curriculum, facilities, and opportunities that any large school offers. It provides more than 50 honours, Advanced Placement (AP) and post-AP classes. Facilities are outstanding. There is a superior range of art, theatre, music, film production and dance activities to choose from. 

But vast as these offerings are, Blair still puts the focus squarely on students. Classes are small, with a 6:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Within the classroom, Blair uses a dual-advisor system. Students are supported by two faculty members: an academic monitor, and a choice faculty member that offers social and emotional support. 

Associate head of school Ryan Pagotto says students develop their deepest and most meaningful relationships with advisors and mentors. “Our dual-advisor system supports students inside and outside of the classroom and gives them the confidence to step outside their comfort zones and try new things,” he says.

Blair students are prepared for life beyond school. On the academic front, teachers ensure students master executive functioning and organisational skills. 

Programmes like the pioneering Neuroteach Global programme uses neuroscience, research-backed tips and tricks and gamified modules to support students in figuring out how they learn best. Traditional Thursday Chapels, twice-weekly School Meetings and the renowned Society of Skeptics programme present various public speaking opportunities. For the Blair Leadership Stories Project, sophomores and seniors compete in year-end speech contests; and juniors join AP English literature exhibitions. At the Chiang-Elghanayan Centre for Innovation and Collaboration, home to Blair’s technology and fine arts departments and the building’s open-architecture, technology-rich academic centre, students have green screens, digital fabrication tools, 3D printers, vinyl cutters, and more.

“Our mission is to make sure that when students leave Blair, they walk away with the best tools for a lifetime of learning,” Nathan Molteni, dean of academics, says. 

Empowering students with the right assets can make a profound difference. “It’s about learning how to navigate academics at Blair and arming students with the tools they’ll need for the next chapter of their educational journey – and throughout life,” Molteni says. 

Students ignite and renew passions and interests often here. Student Simisola Onakomaiya’s zeal to build and design started off when she was young, playing with Lego’s and designing houses. “I looked forward to the architecture class at Blair, I learnt so much,” she says. “I went from creating house plans to creating a plan for a museum. I know that next semester I’m going to discover a new range of topics, and I’m very excited.”

Give a student the right opportunity and you will see them excel. Combining passion with fun brought Arthur Huang to the Blair Robotics Team. After two competitions last year, the team ranked third out of 33 Northern New Jersey League teams in the First Tech Challenge (FTC). “After weeks of prototyping and engineering, we created a robot that can strafe in all directions, instead of just forward and backward,” he says. “Our robot also has a slide arm with a rubber claw that allows it to comfortably grab cones and raise them.”

Children like Huang and Onakomaiya’s do well because they feel belonged. Boarding at Blair is an experience that connects them to peers from 29 countries. They learn to relate to each other, expand horizons and mitigate conflicts. “Living with your friends in the dorm is one of my favourite aspects of the Blair experience because you form deep bonds with everyone, but especially your roommate,” student Aidan says. “My roommate is from Egypt so our backgrounds couldn’t be more different but, after a year of living together, we ended up being great friends and I now consider him a brother.”

Such connections can be found in all aspects of life at Blair, whether in its athletics, artistic endeavours, or extracurricular activities. From Instrumental Music’s academic-day courses, rehearsals and private lessons to Leadership and Service projects, or come any challenge, big or small, they’ll always have a community that stands by them.

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