The Athenian School
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The Athenian School: Experiential learning that inspire tomorrow’s changemakers

Equipping children with problem-solving skills is essential to help them work towards understanding and making improvements in society — the kind that make the world a better place. 

The Athenian School, located in Danville, California, knows this well. Built on the six pillars of internationalism, democracy, environmentalism, adventure, leadership, and service, the school aims to develop this skill in each student so they may go on to spark positive change in the world. 

With this foundation, Athenian graduate Keenan Wyrobek created Zipline, an autonomous aircraft delivery system that saves lives. While travelling, Wyrobek noticed the struggle to receive medical supplies due to the impassable roads, especially during rainy seasons.

“Every doctor I met was in tears over this issue. It’s so simple if you have the blood, and it’s so deadly if you don’t,” he says. Armed with the skills he gained at Athenian — from building rockets, competing on the swim team, and embracing failure as a learning opportunity in projects and experiments — he co-founded Zipline to solve the problem. 

“My Athenian education prepared me for what I do at Zipline. In my work, I draw on the hands-on problem-solving experience, technical knowledge, and leadership skills I gained at Athenian every day,” he says.

Challenging academic curriculum

Athenian graduates lead lives of meaning and purpose.

A solid foundation, forged through a curriculum has students master subjects through doing, makes this possible. In the classroom and beyond, The Athenian School students take on projects, solve problems and collaborate. 

“Athenian teaches students to be creative problem solvers that seek to understand concepts at a deep level and apply them in new situations,” says graduate Amanda Yares. “This problem solving, growth mindset approach was instrumental in college and beyond, as I had both the technical math and writing skills for success, but I also had practice advocating for myself, seeking help on challenging subjects, and persevering with confidence.” 

Going abroad lets Athenian students gain global awareness. Through international exchanges and trips, they learn how to collaborate with people from all walks of life, no matter how different they are. In addition to the Athenian Wilderness Experience which empowers Grade 11 students with valuable skills, awareness, and independence as they explore the High Sierra mountains or the Death Valley desert, they also mingle with students from a dozen countries who are on campus at any given day.

“Backpacking the High Sierras alongside seven of my classmates was a crash course on perseverance, communication, leadership, and cooperation,” says graduate Hannah Williams. “It taught me to have gratitude for the little things, to trust myself to accomplish hard things, and to value the communities I have the opportunity to be a part of. I learned a lot about myself, and made unexpected friendships that meant so much to me.”

The Athenian School

In Grade 11, students go backpacking as part of the Athenian Wilderness Experience. Source: The Athenian School

A diverse and nurturing community

Situated at the base of Mt. Diablo with a view of oak-covered hills, Athenian’s 75-acre campus is filled with opportunities and experiences waiting to be explored — with no shortage of warmth from its community.

The school is home to a diverse body of domestic and international students from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. The campus is home to students from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, Kazakhstan, China, Japan, Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Nigeria, South Korea and Taiwan. 

As many of these students travel far and leave home, the school prioritizes creating a supportive family-like environment for its boarders. A team of teachers focus on helping students thrive emotionally, physically and intellectually. Boarders have access to advisory, nursing and learning services.

This nurturing environment played a crucial role in guiding graduate Pendarvis Harshaw in his next steps in life. He went on to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree at Howard University and the University of California Berkeley, respectively. Today, he’s the host of KQED’s Rightnowish, a radio show and podcast highlighting artists and activists.

Harshaw credits his experience at The Athenian School for preparing him for his work and life. “I learned how to make friends and work with friends from different backgrounds, situations and perspectives,” he says. “Athenian created a safe environment and an experience which taught that students from different backgrounds could make mistakes, talk them out, and work them out.”

For more information, click here. To experience The Athenian School, explore the campus virtually through their tour here

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