Boarding Schools
Source: Hawai'i Preparatory Academy

Mundane environments do little to evoke inspiration for students to go the extra mile and achieve the extraordinary. 

Which is why choosing the best school for your child should also factor in its location. With many boarding schools popping up in just about every corner of the globe, those that truly stand out are those with unique surroundings, offering opportunities that can’t be found anywhere else.

Boarding schools in Asia have been rising in prominence, but there are also those in North America that parents shouldn’t overlook. Whether it’s on an island or nestled against panoramic greenery, these schools capitalise on their location and community so students receive a truly special North American education.

Here are three boarding schools in North America with inspiring locations worth considering:


Learning becomes a voyage of discovery for students at HPA, a co-educational, college-preparatory, day and boarding school that serves kindergarten through 12th grade, plus a postgraduate year.

Its unique location on Hawai‘i Island means students live and study within a unique geographical backdrop. This is where they can soak up Hawaiian culture dating back thousands of years, discover 11 of the planet’s 13 climate zones, scuba dive or even take part in hands-on research about sea turtles.

Boarding Schools

Source: Hawaii Preparatory Academy

Other organisations HPA partners with include the W. M. Keck Observatory and NASA, the latter a collaboration which exposes students to real-world learning and student-driven research. Students also develop core values and essential skills through their signature programmes, which include Capstone Projects that guide students to become creative, self-driven learners under the guidance of supportive teachers. 

Many of these signature programmes would not be possible had the Academy been located elsewhere. For example, students wouldn’t be able to join its outdoor programme, backpacking to restore ancient fishponds, hiking coastal beaches, or trekking through remote valleys. Or maintain a well-grounded, balanced lifestyle, developing lifelong physical and emotional wellbeing. Or learn about sustainability through mālama kaiāulu (care for our community of spirit, land, and people), a Hawaiian perspective that trains students to find solutions to environmental challenges.

For an introduction into the unique HPA experience, students can join the Summer at HPA programme. During the programme, both local and international students have the opportunity to expand their academic potential and discover learning adventures within the island’s extraordinary ecosystems, landscapes and culture, while students of all ages can also take credit courses as well as enrichment activities.


Springs is located in Birmingham, Alabama – a thriving city and innovation hub that is also home to world-class cultural institutions and a renowned restaurant scene. Its location provides students with a juxtapose of metropolitan living with the beauty and security of a small-town setting.

Boarding Schools

Source: Indian Springs School

Springs recognises that each student comes with a unique set of interests, beliefs, abilities and passions. It offers 130 courses, including 16 AP classes, dozens of electives and numerous independent study options that allow juniors and seniors to work one-on-one with faculty members. 

They have 35 fine arts electives to anchor their arts programme that both offers multiple opportunities in visual arts, drama and music, and gives students a chance to study with world-renowned talent. STEM Engineering, computer science, journalism, and constitutional law and civil rights are among their new course offerings.

All students are encouraged to pursue individual interests and there are many opportunities for them to pursue their own interests at Springs and in Birmingham.

Its boarding programme brings together students from around the world and teaches them how to grow as individuals within a vibrant, diverse, respectful community. Whereas being in Birmingham means students get to spend weekends taking trips to museums, live musical performances, dramatic productions, sporting events as well as day or overnight trips to Atlanta and Savannah.

Other award-winning cultural institutions at this historic city described by the New York Times as “ready to surprise you” include the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, and the McWane Science Center.


Shawnigan is an independent boarding school for Grades 8-12 located on a 150 hectare, lake-front setting campus in Vancouver Island, British Columbia in Canada.

Boarding Schools

Source: Shawnigan Lake School

The school provides university preparatory-based education, while they have Faculty Advisors assigned to each student to facilitate their academic progress. Academic excellence is held to high standards at the school, with 35 percent of the Shawnigan faculty armed with advanced degrees. There are 19 AP courses offered, in addition to 100 courses offered within the BC curriculum.

At Shawnigan, there are plenty of experiential learning opportunities thanks to its location.

Students get to learn about where their food comes from at one of the first on-campus high school fish hatchery programmes in British Columbia. This hatchery has enabled countless Shawnigan students to learn about the economic, social and ecological value of these amazing fish. They also travel to streams, rivers and other hatchery facilities on Vancouver Island to see their subject at work in its natural habitat.

At the end of every January, the entire School ventures to Manning Park, BC to ski, snowboard and cross-country on some of the lightest powder in the Province. There is also overnight snow camping, trivia, snow sculpting, karaoke, tubing, a winter carnival and much more.

Shawnigan is also an ideal place for stargazing thanks to its rural setting and low light pollution. Students can walk from physics class to peer through the lens of a telescope or follow celestial events as they happen, surrounded by passionate, informed teachers, inside a research-grade observatory.

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International

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