Newsletter, December 2014

Student of the Month:
Ryan Haarstick

This month we would like to recognize Ryan Haarstick, a senior at Saint Mark's School. Ryan recently gained admission to the College of William & Mary in Virginia, as well as the University of St. Andrew's in Scotland. We are so proud of Ryan and all that he has accomplished. He put in the time, worked hard, and managed a very competitive academic course load with multiple AP courses, while studying for the SAT/ACT and subject tests. His efforts clearly paid off, as he gained acceptance to his two top colleges. In addition to many academic accomplishments, Ryan continues to surprise and impress his family, friends, and community. He runs cross country, wrestles, and rows crew. He also is part of several clubs: Entrepreneurship Club, Spanish & Latin American Club, Stock Club, and SHADES, etc. He spent the summer participating in an internship at his school in computer technology, and he previously participated in two study abroad programs in Spain and South Africa. Most importantly, Ryan has navigated this process with a smile on his face and a positive attitude, making us all laugh along the way. We certainly were not surprised when he delivered his Senior Chapel Speech and received a standing ovation. Ryan - we will miss you... thanks for including us in your journey! 

Tutor of the Month
Dr. Kateri Chamber

Dr. Kateri Chambers holds degrees from Johns Hopkins University, Boston University, Peabody Conservatory, and Guildhall School in London. Concurrent to writing her dissertation on the development of musical orthography prior to 1700, Kateri established an outreach program taking music to patients and staff at BMC.

Kateri has taught and tutored in a variety of settings since 2006. Her classroom teaching has ranged from classes dedicated to SAT preparation to college credit skill-based learning. Her private tutoring has focused upon the humanities and study skills support in addition to standardized test preparation. She is most fulfilled when a student can improve upon what she demonstrates. When she is not teaching, Kateri works as a director and performer throughout New England.

Private School Entrance Exams

When students are applying to private schools, there are certain admissions standards that they must meet. There are a variety of private school entrance exams based on the type of school and its preferences.

The High School Placement Test, or HSPT, is designed for eighth graders seeking admission to certain Catholic High Schools. The test consists of 298 multiple-choice questions divided into five sections—verbal, quantitative, mathematics, reading, and language skills. For the English portions of the test, the verbal section covers the topics of language devices such as analogies, logic, and synonyms/antonyms, while the reading section covers reading comprehension skills, and the language section covers grammar and usage. For mathematical skills, the quantitative section covers geometry, statistics, and number manipulations, and the mathematics section covers arithmetic, problem solving, and algebra. A local school that uses the HSPT as its admissions exam is Ursuline Academy for entrance into the upper school only.

More popular than the HSPT, the Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) and the Secondary School Admissions Test (SSAT) are administered regardless of religious affiliation, and schools typically do not have a preference for which exam students take. The ISEE consists of three parts: (1) verbal and quantitative reasoning, (2) reading comprehension and mathematics achievement, and (3) an essay section, which is not scored, but photocopied and sent to the desired school(s). The SSAT has a similar format with three multiple-choice sections in mathematics, reading comprehension, and language/grammar, as well as a brief, un-scored written response to a prompt that is sent directly to the desired school(s). Both the ISEE and SSAT have three levels based upon grade level. The elementary level is intended for students seeking admittance to a school for grades 4 and 5 (for the SSAT) or grades 5 and 6 (for the ISEE), the middle level is for those entering middle school, and the upper level is for students entering grades 9 and above. 
Watch Out for Deadlines
  • Regular Decision deadlines for college applications typically range from December 1st to February 1st. Make sure you get your applications sent out on time!
  • Rolling Admission applications can be submitted NOW!
  • Younger students who are applying to private schools should begin writing their admissions essays and filling out their applications this month!
Tip of the Month
Relieving Stress: Sleep. When you do not have time to get everything done, sleep tends to take the back-seat. However, if you are very busy, your body actually needs more sleep to recover from everything you have done that day, as well as to let your mind process everything from the previous day. The busier you are, the more sleep you generally need to keep up with your schedule--so try to plan accordingly so that you can get to bed as early as possible! Special Tip: Long term memory is solidified in your sleep; so if you are studying for a test the following day, try to study up to an hour before you go to bed instead of immediately before you fall asleep. This will give your brain time to hardwire what you have been studying while you sleep and, therefore, you will be far more likely to remember the information the next day! 
Quote of the Month
Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all." - Aristotle
School of the Month:
Noble and Greenough School

Noble and Greenough School, better known as Nobles, is a co-ed day and boarding school for students in grades 7-12. Located on a gorgeous 187 acre campus along the Charles River, Nobles is home to 122 middle school students and 481 upper school students. With an average class size of thirteen students and a 5:1 student to faculty ratio, Nobles’ students have easy access to their teachers to ask questions and further their education. Outside of its core curriculum of English, history, math, science, foreign languages, performing arts, visual arts, and eighty hours of community service, Nobles offers over one hundred elective courses that range across a variety of disciplines, including courses in psychology and computer science. Nobles greatly encourages its students to learn by traveling and visiting other parts of the country or other countries. During the course of a typical school year, about 200 students participate in school-sponsored trips. Recent destinations have included India, South Africa, and Israel/Egypt. Outside of academics, students are required to participate in afternoon activities in athletics and wellness, the arts, and community service. Its EXCEL program, short for “Experiential & Community Engaged Learning” encourages leadership and civic engagement, both close to home and around the world. Nobles also offers a variety of sports teams, art programs, and campus clubs. To learn more please visit

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