Bereket “Barry” Mezgebu is always exploring. Originally from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the senior in the Wyoming Seminary College Preparatory School Class of 2022 has no shortage of things to do at the independent college preparatory day and boarding school in Pennsylvania’s Wyoming Valley.
“My favourite part of attending Wyoming Seminary is the vast selection of classes,
extracurricular activities and sports teams available to students,” he says. “My old school didn’t have nearly as many clubs, so I always felt constricted to doing activities that I wasn’t particularly interested in.”
He’s taken part in rowing, offered free math tutoring at the Math Centre (which he now co-leads), and worked with “experienced and down-to-earth” college counsellors. “Mrs. Anne Lew, my college counsellor, has been invaluable in my college application process,” he shares.
His favourite part? “AP Computer Science with Reverend Charles Carrick is one of the best classes I’ve taken at Wyoming Seminary,” he says. The reverend was more than just a teacher to Mezgebu — he was a mentor who made sure he would transition well to school and life in the US. “With Reverend Carrick’s help and an adjustment of my study habits, I was able to thrive in the class,” he explains.
Mezgebu’s story is the same tale of success every Wyoming Seminary student shares. From the moment they arrive at its two campuses — the Lower School in Forty Fort (toddler through grade eight), and the Upper School in Kingston (grade nine through postgraduate) — Wyoming Seminary gives students the skills to succeed in academics, arts, athletics and whatever interests they may have. Its five most recent graduating classes have included 639 students who have received 2,575 combined offers of admissions into universities in the US and abroad.
Wyoming Seminary is within a two-and-a-half-hour drive from New York City and Philadelphia. It’s about three-and-a-half hours from Washington, DC. Its campus is as dynamic as the cities it neighbours.
Here, classrooms are where individualised learning meets real-world experience, led by teaching expertise. Classes are small — with an average class size of 13 students, teachers and students get to truly work together like a “collaborative think tank.” Many teachers and their families also live on or near campus, providing a second family-like presence to students.
Paige Allen, a Class of 2017 graduate who was one of Princeton University’s recipients of the Moses Taylor Pyne Honour Prize, is grateful for this feature of Wyoming Seminary. “The kind of mentorship, advising and one-on-one attention that I received from my teachers at Wyoming Seminary is something that I so treasure,” she says. “Now, having gone through college, I realise that’s not the same for everyone. People come from other backgrounds where they’ve never had a close relationship with a mentor figure before.”
Her peers were just as helpful. “I look back at Wyoming Seminary and think about all the adults who were rooting me on and helping me grow as a person; also my peers, of course,” she adds. “I’m still friends with a core group … that will absolutely be my friends throughout my life.
Lessons come to life in and beyond classrooms
Wyoming Seminary offers 69 courses, including 22 Advanced Placement courses . What these numbers translate to is flexibility. By offering 22 AP courses, this exceeds college requirements, making it stand out from other independent schools across the state and the nation.
For students who want to focus their studies in issues regarding science, technology, engineering, math and/or art, they can join the four-year STEM/STEAM concentration. This means following an academic progression through a focused choice in classes and completing discipline-specific work through independent projects sustained during sophomore, junior, and senior years. This work is chronicled, building a portfolio and leading to a capstone project to be completed by fall term of senior year.
Outside the classroom, students could join one of Wyoming Seminary’s 46 clubs and 21 sports teams. Students must participate in one term of physical activity each year. If a student has an interest that isn’t represented in the club list, they are welcome to start their own.
From dance and debate to baking and basketball, these activities help students develop their passions and interests. The goal is to cultivate a soundness of mind, body and spirit, whether it’s through social interaction, whilst honing leadership skills or by winning local, state and even national championships . Thirty-three members (27.7%) of the Class of 2020 went on to play NCAA sports in college, far exceeding the national average of about 6%.
The creative culture is just as alive here. There is a variety of performing arts programmes — including dance, music and theatre — with opportunities to show talents in performances at its two-storey, 600-seat theatre.
“My favourite part of attending Wyoming Seminary is definitely the extracurricular activities,” says Zhantore Akylbekov, a sophomore in the Wyoming Seminary Class of 2024 originally from Almaty, Kazakhstan. “I particularly enjoy swimming and medical club (Healthcare Occupations Students of America). Both of these extracurricular activities make me feel complete.”