As an international student, choosing the right boarding school is one of the most important decisions one can make. There’s the school’s quality of education to consider, the support given to students applying for college, facilities, location and experiential learning opportunities, to name a few. Above all, though, is ensuring that you’ll find a welcoming, safe environment for you to live and learn in — and one you can learn to call home.
This was exactly what Korean-born student Juhan was concerned about. After much time spent searching for the right institution, he found the perfect one in Solebury School. Located in New Hope, Pennsylvania, Solebury School is a college-preparatory boarding and day school for students in grades nine to 12. It welcomes students from all walks of life on a charming 140-acre countryside campus, creating a space for everyone to thrive in.
Most students who are away from their families for the first time understandably feel trepidation, nervousness and fear. Boarding life at Solebury School is designed to be as smooth a transition as possible. Each dorm is run in a family-like manner, guided by dorm parents who actively build a sense of community. They help students with homework, watch TV shows together, have evening chats after school, and more.
Such a warm and welcoming community is indeed helpful to international students like Juhan. “Solebury does a great job welcoming students, helping them meet each other, and letting people begin to feel at home,” he shares. “ I have created strong friendships by spending the entire time with friends, talking a lot, and sharing ideas. Coming from Korea, this was so important for me.”
Tyler felt the same way, especially in preparing for college life. Outside of forming relationships with people from all over the world, he learned to manage his time responsibly, clean up after himself, do his own laundry, and so much more. “One of my biggest fears was not being able to live on my own or without the help of my parents,” the Class of 2025 student says. “Being a boarder at Solebury has eliminated this fear, and I feel confident in living on my own.”
Once settled in, Juhan and Tyler pursued a curriculum tailored to create the perfect balance between maintaining their studies, developing their skills, and keeping up with their hobbies. Solebury’s approach to academia is centred around providing every student with breadth and depth in the humanities, STEM subjects, and the arts. This ensures they each have the chance to discover their interests — and learn to grow as all-rounded, fully realised individuals.
Where Solebury School truly shines is in its integration of the arts and athletics into everyday student life. The arts are particularly emphasised in this. There is a block in the schedule dedicated to art, allowing all students to explore these classes in the midst of a challenging academic curriculum. They do so in a nationally-recognised hub for artistic expression — leading to a naturally strong arts programme.
Music is a large part of this. Approximately one-third of students are enrolled in music programmes every semester. They can choose from performance-based classes (Chorus, Diversity Music Ensemble, Jazz Roots Ensemble and more) and non-performance based classes (Ear Training and Music Theory, Songwriting and more).
Each class is taught by highly-skilled teachers who are working music professionals. This results in excellent showcases; this fall saw the music department host three incredible concerts in the Performing Arts Centre.
Theatre is just as dynamic. Every year, Solebury brings several productions to the stage for the community to enjoy. Outside of productions, students learn about performance in classes such as Shakespearean Acting, Directing for the Stage and Theatre Tech — leading to outstanding performances.
For example, last fall’s showcase of “Spring Awakening” was commended for its professionalism by the wider community. Talented students perform amidst incredible sets built from scratch by the tech crew in a fully-equipped Black Box theatre.
Then there’s the athletics department. Here, a wide range of team sports and individual fitness options are available to students, both high-level athletes and novices. At its core is providing students with opportunities to try new things. Non-competitive sports like yoga, strength training and dance are available as well. These take place in an Athletic Centre that houses a 21,500 square-foot gymnasium, a multi-purpose room for wrestling and dance, an outdoor six-lane running track and field and a fitness centre.
Competitive sports are championed at Solebury. The school is a member of the Penn-Jersey league, which competes annually in every sport. This season, the boys Cross Country Team won the championship league while the girls came in a close second. The soccer and volleyball teams are just as impressive, with terrific playoff runs and two girls being named to the all-league team.
Regardless of what they choose, students at Solebury School are guaranteed an experience of a lifetime. “Solebury has been like a second home to me!” shares Class of 2025 student Will. “It is a great place with only wonderful people who have welcomed me from the second I got here. It offers every class you can imagine and definitely feels like home!”