Walnut Hill School
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|Walnut Hill School for the Arts|
|Natick, MA, USA|
|Type||Private, boarding, arts|
|Motto||Non Nobis Solum
Not for ourselves alone
|Head of School||Antonio Viva|
|Campus||45 acres (182,000 m2)|
|Color(s)||Historic: Gold and White
Modern: Crimson and Chartreuse
|Tuition||(boarding) $50,360, (day) $38,040|
History and Programs
Walnut Hill was founded in 1893 by Florence Bigelow and Charlotte Conant as a college preparatory school for women and a feeder school for Wellesley College. Even as a traditional private boarding school for girls, Walnut Hill's arts programs were strong. The school was home to acclaimed Fenway Studio artist and teacher Marion Pooke, class of 1901, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Poet Laureate Elizabeth Bishop '30. It became coeducational and arts-focused in the late 1970s in respond to changes in the educational landscape.
The mission of Walnut Hill is to educate talented, accomplished and intellectually engaged young artists from all over the world. The School does so in a diverse, humane and ethical community.
Students at Walnut Hill major in one of five arts disciplines: dance, music, theatre, visual art, and creative writing. With the exception of voice students, music students at Walnut Hill take their weekly private lessons at The New England Conservatory in Boston and perform in NEC's Preparatory Ensembles. Admission to Walnut Hill is by academic application and artistic audition or portfolio submission (depending on the artistic discipline).
In addition to pursuing expert training in one of five core arts disciplines, students also engage in an innovative and rigorous college-preparatory curriculum. The academic program is designed specifically to both leverage and foster the excellent habits of a young artist’s mind—careful observation, critical thinking, and a desire for deep and enduring understanding. Students are able to pursue their academic and artistic studies on a single campus, taught by faculty who respect and accommodate the demands placed on each student.
Boarding students at Walnut Hill are housed in eight single-sex dormitories. Dorms range in size from 15 to 50 students, and all are supervised by trained Dorm Parents. Approximately 20% of the students are day students who come from nearby cities and towns.
All day and boarding students have access to dining services, a bookstore and library, on-campus health services, a fitness center, and a wide array of on and off-campus student activities and excursions. Many students participate in student run organizations such as the Human Rights Club, Gold Key, or AIDS Action. There is an active network of appointed and elected student leaders who play a large role in building community at the school.
Summer and Academy Programs
Walnut Hill has a roster of highly selective summer program. National and international students come for between two and five weeks for intensive study in their arts discipline. Boarding programs are offered in dance, youth dance, theater, opera, and creative writing. Other offerings include a day program in summer visual art and the Chinese Performing Arts Academy.
The summer dance and theater programs consist of a full five weeks in residence. The opera program spends a shorter amount of time at the Natick campus before traveling with their faculty to Italy, where they continue taking classes, tour areas historically associated with opera, and perform.
Walnut Hill also offers a year-round Community Dance Academy for youth ages 3-18 in Natick and the surrounding area.
The Walnut Hill campus has thirteen buildings on 40 acres. Stowe, Eliot, Highland, Clark, New Cottage, Westerly, North House and Elizabeth Bishop Hall are the school's dorms. The campus also holds the Academic and Technology Center, the Dance Center, the Keiter Center for the Performing Arts, the Office of Admission, and the Head's House.
Eliot is the largest building on campus; its second and third floors serve as a dormitory. It contains Boswell Hall, the Keefe Library, the dining hall, the student campus center and the school bookstore. Highland contains music practice rooms (both regular and soundproof), the Visual Art studios, Pooke Gallery, Amelia Hall and Highland Dormitory. Stowe, in addition to being a dormitory, is the location of the switchboard and many administrative offices, including the Head of School's office, external relations and facilities.
Elizabeth Bishop Hall is the most recent addition to the campus. It began construction in the 2006-2007 school year and was completed in November of the 2007-2008 school year. This structure includes a dormitory as well as faculty apartments.
Mountain Day This tradition takes place in October and serves as a community-building event for the senior class. The entire class ascends one of the most hiked mountains in the world, Mount Monadnock. This event gives the students a sense of accomplishment and class spirit.
Class Night After the seniors return from their hike on Mountain Night, they are honored by their underclassman peers at a special as they assume responsibility for leading and serving the School. After a reception, the entire School, seated by class, dines together. Seniors are served first. The Senior Class President and the Community Council President give speeches stating their goals and expectations for the year. Then, to symbolize their willingness to serve the community, seniors serve dessert to the entire School. Proper dress is required.
Senior Privileges Each November, seniors make their request for specific senior privileges through the Senior Class President. Typically, several of these are approved by the administration. Senior privileges are extended on the assumption that seniors have attained a level of maturity and self-discipline that will allow them to exercise their privileges wisely. If these privileges are abused, they will be revoked. Seniors whose grades fall markedly may have senior privileges rescinded by the Academic Dean.
Boar’s Head Feast During December, Walnut Hill observes several holiday festivities. These culminate in a formal dinner that takes place before Winter Break begins. The dinner begins with a medieval ceremony, the Boar’s Head Procession, performed by leadership students. A senior—chosen by the faculty and senior class in recognition of his or her character and contribution to the School—leads the procession and sings the Boar’s Head song. Students are seated by dormitory. Proper dress is required.
Tree Day On a spring day, seniors invite faculty and students to participate in the Tree Day ceremony. The class tree is planted along with a penny with the year of the graduating class. The tree itself symbolizes the growth of the seniors within the School and their continued growth, contributions, and achievements after they leave the School. The Senior Class President reads a poem, and another class year is inscribed on the Tree Day shovel.
Candlelight Service On one of the evenings the week prior to Graduation the entire School assembles at dusk in the field by class for a candlelight ceremony. Seniors are the last to extinguish their candles, as one by one they say farewell to the School and to one another after singing the senior song. New Gold Key members are announced. The Community Council President and the Senior Class President speak.
- Elizabeth Bishop, Poet Laureate of the United States, 1949-1950.
- Christian Finnegan, stand-up comedian and actor
- Van Hansis, soap opera actor
- Judith Hoag, actress, April O'Neill in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and acting teacher
- Paige Turco, actress, April O'Neill in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Secret of the Ooze
- Jovanna Huguet actress and dancer 
- Benny Ibarra, singer, musician, producer and actor
- Jack McCollough, co-founder of Proenza Schouler
- Gillian Murphy, summer program alumna, Principal with American Ballet Theatre
- Matthew Risch, Joey in Pal Joey Broadway Revival, also on Broadway in Legally Blonde and Chicago
- Sasha Sokol, singer, composer, actress, and TV host.
- Joan Tower, Grammy-winning composer
- Chris Riggi, actor, Scott Rosson on Gossip Girl
- Mei-Ann Chen, Assistant Conductor, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
- Charlie Neshyba-Hodges, Marty in Come Fly Away and Dancer/Ballet Master for Benjamin Millipied L.A. Dance Project.
- Rachelle Lefèvre, TV and Film Actress (Twilight film series and Under the Dome television series)
- Heather Hemmens, Alice Verdura in Hellcats also attended the Walnut Hill School for the arts
- Ralph Farris, co-founder, artistic director and violist of the string quartet ETHEL
- Zac Young, Chef, was on Top Chef: Just Desserts and hosts Unique Sweets on the Cooking Channel
- Official Walnut Hill School website
- The Blue Pencil Online
- Walnut Hill Facebook Page
- Walnut Hill YouTube Channel
- The Association of Boarding Schools profile
- "Walnut Hill School". The Independent. Jul 6, 1914. Retrieved August 1, 2012.