The Abbey provides a highly structured and morally steeped environment that is nurturing to some and ostracizing to others. Certain things are appropriate for discussion and debate, others are not. Knowing the difference between the two is a likely predictor as to how happy a student will feel. The community is not inherently warm and inviting. Students who do not conform to the majority demographic will likely have a more difficult time adapting. There are many teachers who have lived here for decades with little exposure to life outside. Consequently, out-of-the-ordinary ideas or alternative ways of living are not easily accepted or tolerated. The core education is strong but there is a notable lack of exposure to contemporary culture, specifically related to the visual arts, art history, music and (to a lesser degree) literature. The monastic community is the most academically rigorous and emotionally nurturing. Many of the lay faculty are overly concerned with catching students break rules, while the monks are more open minded and provide a comforting resource for questions relating to sex, drugs, personal identity and general well being. I will never send my kids here.
I graduated from Portsmouth Abbey this May, and I've been missing it ever since. The Abbey is an amazing, unique place. The academics are rigorous and challenging, but small class sizes and wonderful, caring teachers make them manageable. The drama program - which is sinfully neglected in most descriptions of the school - is outstanding. It gave me some of the most enriching experiences of my high school career. And words cannot describe the incredible bonds I've forged with friends and teachers over the course of four years. I don't want to invalidate the experiences of other reviewers, but I never found anything but a wonderfully caring and accepting community at the Abbey. Every high school has its drama, but what little I experienced was nothing compared to the toxicity I've heard about from friends at other schools. I'm currently in my first semester at my top choice college and I'm extraordinarily well prepared. The Abbey has its faults - for example, I found the religious program to be stifling at times - but I will always be glad that I chose to go to that eccentric boarding school by the bay.
While no school is perfect, I believe The Abbey has offered my child an opportunity that we will be forever grateful for. It is difficult sending your child away at 14 years old, and you must be sure of your decision. Are the kids there all perfect? No way. Is my child 10 steps ahead of 99% of America's high school students? You bet! Lots of academic pressure, and even more support. I highly recommend for students who are independent, academically driven, and have a strong sense of wanting to be the best.
The most miserable environment. I could tell all the horrible things Ive been through, and witnessed there but it truly is unbelievable. I choice this school because it seemed friendly and a place i would feel comfortable in and be able to strive academically. Not the case. I'm leaving at the end of this year. The students are horrible to one another. There is no sense of community. The school has a very hush hush way of dealing with situations. Few faculty really care for the well being of the student, rather see them as possible liabilities. There are great schools out there, but this is certainly not one of them.
I graduated from Portsmouth Abbey 2 years ago and absolutely hated it and many of my classmates were unhappy also. There is way too much pressure being put on the students. I don't suggest sending your child here unless they are used to being put under extreme pressure. In fact, don't even consider coming to the Abbey unless you are "perfect."
I have been associated with Abbey for many years, first as a student in the 70's then as a faculty member in the 80's, and I rejoined the faculty 10 months ago. In the meanwhile I have worked at 3 other independent schools. My experience as a student ignited me as a thinker. Currently, the Abbey is a wonderful place, with very kind and accepting kids. The warmth and friendliness of the community is noteworthy among the schools I have worked at, and the education challenges young people. The school is Catholic, and believes and practices what it stands for, but welcomes students of all faiths or none.
I have worked here for 8 years (and counting!) and I have always been impressed with the students and faculty, alike. I am not Catholic, yet I feel welcome and very much part of the community. Perhaps that is because PAS values rigorous academics, stewardship, kindness and hard work--all values I also find important. I'm also impressed with the schools dedication to athletics and the arts. I know from chatting with many former students when they come back to visit that PAS prepared them well not only for college, but for challenges beyond the classroom.
I have worked at Portsmouth Abbey School for many years and believe that any negative review by a student is totally preposterous! In fact, visitors to the school often comment on how HAPPY our students are. All students are nurtured and cared for and treated fairly. Faculty give countless hours of their own time and energy to each of their students I am constantly in awe of how easily each student finds his or her own niche here and becomes his/her own person with a strong character and solid moral compass. Houseparents as well as coaches and faculty become "second families" to each student and many form lasting bonds. Rigorous academics, solid athletics and dedication to the arts, as well as a spiritual education offers students BALANCE - sorely needed in today's world.. In addition, Portsmouth Abbey School has one of the most friendly and warm campuses I have ever seen! You would be remiss if you did not consider and visit this fine school with your child.
I have worked at a number of boarding schools (and have done some evaluation work at a few others), and I must say that contrary to a few negative comments, I find the Abbey student body to be the nicest, warmest, and most welcoming student body I have encountered. The campus is lovely, there are plenty of activities, and the academics are rigorous. The faculty truly are available to help students 24/7. Most live on campus, and there are kids and dogs and tricycles and swings sets galore- a real "home" atmosphere! I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the Abbey to any family.
We are parents of a tenth grade student at the Abbey. We were looking for a school that would provide him with the cornerstones of a high school experience- one that would prepare him for the college experience. He has found the academic program to be rigorous, the athletic opportunities to be competitive, the interaction with faculty to be rich in and outside the classroom, and the overall environment among his peers to be positive. He is very happy, confident, learning a heck of a lot and he loves it.
Principal meets every applicant, admission teachers are warm and nice, infotmative tour guide is very proud of school, everything is great!
Our daughter chose this school herself, and after we all did extensive research, we agreed with her choice. The Abbey is a wonderful school, well administered by a dedicated community of people (including monks as well as lay folks, even a few faculty members with families living on campus. Do yourself the favor of fully investigating, and visiting this fine institution.
My son has grown into the young person we knew he could be with the encouragement and the guidance of the faculty of PAS.
A great school in nearly every respect. They have excellent teachers and administrators. The kids go to school six days a week which is a real plus in my eyes. They are very focused on academics but also include an emphasis on sports and community service.
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