I am currently a student in the ninth grade of St. Anselm's Abbey School. Initially when I came in 6th grade, I had been forced to come by my parents even though most of my friends had gone to other schools. I quickly learned they has made a great decision. The teachers are deeply concerned with your success and you learn quite a lot. My classmates have never bullied me and a feel very comfortable in the school, and everyone knows my name. This is truly my second home. Contrary to some stories I have heard, besides from a few students who have since left the school, there is no culture of racism and everyone is quite friendly (obviously some exceptions). Pros: Small class size, GREAT teachers, inability of being lost in the crowd If you/ your son wants/needs a great rigorous education and wants a balanced liberal arts education, this is most certainly the school for you, (regardless of religion). Cons: If you are a very good athlete, the league competition in the PVAC may be too easy. If you are a very one dimensional student this is not the school for you. If you are not able to handle large amounts of homework, this is also not the school for you.
My experience here has been absolutely horrible!!! There's no compassion from or rationalizing with the Head of the Middle School. He seems to take great pleasue in bullying the middle school students, and expects parents to accept this poor behavior.
I am a student of Saint Anselm's, and have been there since 6th grade. I have seen numerous reviews citing terrible behavior of students, however, as a rising senior, I feel I am qualified to make a statement of the behavior of the students, and the nature of the student body. The classes are extremely rough for the first few years, as the admissions process seems to practically be 6th through 8th grades, with all behavior and grades culminating in either the student continuing to attend, or leaving for a different school. Due to this, my years in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades were fairly tough on me due to other students, who have either cleaned up their act, or not been "invited to return". The result of this is that by 9th and 10th grades, a solid, tight-knit class has been formed, after careful pruning, and resulting in a great class as a whole. There are always exceptions to this, with some "bad" students barely scraping by, either behaviorally or grade-wise, but my experience has been largely positive, and extremely helpful for my development. I was one of those "excluded" for a while, but I found my niche, and have become quite happy as head of tech crew, model UN, etc.
Our son entered St. Anselm's in 6th grade - we began looking at St. Anselm's in an attempt to keep his interest in school. Our son is bright - not a brainiac by any stretch; very focussed on athletics and we were concerned that his previous school could not keep him engaged in academics. From the moment we stepped foot onto the campus at an open house, as parents, we were in awe. The dedication and intelligence of the faculty was overwhelming. Their clear dedication to the students, was evident. But most importantly, the spiritual presence was everywhere - in the sereneness of the campus, in the welcoming nature of the monks, in the religious icons that pepper the school - but mostly in the faces of the boys who were giving tours and talking about their school. The passion both for learning and for the value that the students placed on their education was impressive. And yet, every door was held for us; every handshake from a student was firm with eye contact that I rarely experienced speaking with a 12 year old. And now, after being a part of the Abbey, we see the transformation of our son happening right before our eyes. We are so blessed to be a part of this community!
The Abbey is, without a doubt, the best school in the DC metro area IF: 1) your son has intellectual curiousity and a love of learning. Although it has a reputation as a school for brainiacs, it has an excellent athletics program (baseball, soccer, lacrosse, cross-country) where all students are able to participate. The Monks, who are ever present, create an atmosphere of tranquility in keeping with the school's moto of "Pax in Sapientia" (Peace in Understanding). The culmination of my son's seven years at the Abbey was a young man who I admired for his intelligence, work ethic, empathy, selflessness, and humility. Thank you Abbey!
My son is in his 2nd year at the Abbey and we continue to be impressed. His teachers are great - he actually likes to go to school b/c it is interesting. He has made great friends and enjoys the camaraderie of an all boys school. He is growing academically and socially and we couldn't be more pleased.
Phenomenal school! My son is a recent graduate. He was accepted at all of the top universities (Georgetown, UVA, William & Mary, etc). He had many scholarship offers. He remains very close to the school & visits often. Every penny of the tuition was worth it. St Anselm s has become his second family.
This a wonderful school . Probaly the very best school of its kind. It demands a lot and it is true it is not a "nursemaid" school , It has a tradition of excellence and care and concern for it pupils from incedibly dedicated faculty
My son came here as a 6th grader and will graduate this spring. Having come from a public school at which he was bullied unmercifully and allowed to stagnate academically, the difficulties and challenges he overcame in adjusting to the academically challenging environment left him all the better. I sincerely believe that St. A's brings the best out in boys and that they reach their full potential here in ways unimaginable elsewhere. My son has friends from all over the DC area of all races and creeds, is well adjusted, accomplished, and has been accepted to his first choice of college. It was a painful financial sacrifice but I would do it again no questions asked.
Would not work with my child nearly enough for the expensive tuition. Administration tolerated too much bad behavior from students and faculty. Very liitle empathy. St. Anselms actually hurt his self-esteem. Hated it.
This is a great school that struggles a bit with boys not focused on academic achievement. Like any school, it's better for students who enjoy studying or have structures that support 3-4 hours of homework. Along with others, our son struggles in courses like Latin and Physics with significant homework loads and demanding teachers not inclined to focus on marginal students. Occasionally, that has meant as many as half of a class receive a D or F and face academic probation. The school gives its teachers and students a lot of freedom and the boys not as in tune with the academic rigor can disrupt a class or make inappropriate comments. In other private schools, talented kids who are high C or low B students might not be as marginalized in class, or may excel in athletics or extracurriculars (not a major focus here), and see themselves as valued (if not outstanding) members of academic community. The more-or-less bottom half of the classes here seem to suffer here more than at other schools with similar profiles. Our experience is this is wonderfulfor a talented boy who studies but will stress someone who is gifted but not inclined to study more than 10 hours a week.
It may be a bit early to assess the school, since our child has been here only a year. The main thing I can say is that he is extremely happy here. He is a very sensitive, extremely bright 12 year old, and I feel that the nurturing environment here is amazing. They truly care about the students. I feel that despite being a minority child at the school (non Catholic, non-white) he has been welcomed by teachers and students and truly feels at home.
I was excited to have my bright son attend St. Anselm's, but it really turned into a nightmare. The bullying was brutal and the school seemed not to care. Multiple times I asked for help and none was given. I was told that my son's class was exceptionally horrid and at one point an administrator said most of the boys with ugly behavior would be asked to leave-that did not happen. I feel this was a good school that lost its way. Overt racial hatred really was soul-crushing to my son. We are a family that embraces all cultures and when kids made whipping noises to the african-american students and made impassioned arguments about slavery being morally correct, I could only shake my head and promise my son to get him out of the school.
Our son graduated in the past three years. He was an average Abbey boy. That means he wasn't a genius by Abbey standards but he'd have been very close to valedictorian at the other Catholic high schools in the DC area. The Abbey doesn't rank due to the small class size. Candidly, he was probably around 22nd to 24th out of 40 in his class. He was admitted to 9/10 colleges he applied and received merit scholarships from each one. His average scholarship, per school, was $75,000 and that was not dependent on financial need. He was a "typical Abbey boy." The difference is that being a "typical Abbey boy" means the better colleges know that your son is in the top 0.5 percent of students, if not higher, in the country and that he has been rigorously challenged in an academic manner that is unlike 99.99 percent of the other high schools in the country. In the summer before his senior year, he was approached by three colleges, offered immediate acceptances and, again, approximated $75,000.00 in merit (not need) based scholarships on average. The Abbey is a SPECIAL place. It's much more "than a school." It is a life changing experience for your entire family.
My son began St. Anselms in form A (6th grade). We immediately fell in love with the school. There were 13 boys in his class (much smaller than the school had anticipated) but the boys received the real advantage. The work load is rigorous and they take Latin from the very beginning. My son earned a perfect score on the National Latin Exam due to the preparation provided by St. Anselms. The teachers are demanding and the boys really get a chance to bond with each other. St. Anselms is not well known by many and that surprises me considering the quality of the school. It is a small school (just over 240 students from grades 6-12)..
My son entered St Anselm's in 6th grade and we have never looked back. This is an extraordinary school - amazing facilities for such a small student body (state of the art theatre, gymnasium, 40 acre campus, etc), rigorous academics and some of the most caring teachers I have come across in my 16 + years of parenting! The middle school gave him a great grounding in study skills, Latin, math, etc. that he would not have received at most other schools. My son has blossomed under the care of the St Anselm's teachers and loves his school. At the beginning of 8th grade, we gave him the option of going to explore other High Schools, and his reaction was "Why would I want to go anywhere else?". The student body is extremely diverse, both racially and religious, but the boys share camaraderie that I have not seen elsewhere and all seem to exhibit great pride in their school. The parent body is very active and provides a welcoming & supportive community to all. St Anselm's is probably one of the best kept school/academic secrets in DC and I would encourage anyone with a bright, curious son to visit.
I can honestly say I learned more at St. Anslem's than at College. Of my graduating class of 24 students, 14 had some level of National Merit recognition. You 'might' find a comparable school, but not a better one.
St. Anselm's boys have found a place where they are all smart and so they can simply be themselves. They can challenge each other academically and don't need to feel self-conscious about their academic abilities. The boys are also taught to think of others as well as themselves (they do weekly community service) and they tend to be far more caring and gentle-natured than most boys their age. It's a unique environment, one that is not replicated anywhere else.
The tight-knit school community is unlike any other. The students are extremely bright, but also very sociable. And one of the school's biggest strengths is its great 40-acre wooded campus right in DC.
When I went to college, I felt much better prepared than many of the other people I met there. I had a much easier time adjusting to the workload, having already learned how to manage my time at a school where 'learning' means much more than simply doing the assigned homework and memorizing facts. St. Anselm's really teaches you how to think.
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