Walden School (Louisville)
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Walden School is a nonprofit private school in Louisville, Kentucky. Walden School offers Kindergarten through twelfth grade education. The school promotes itself as emphasizing small class sizes, limiting the lower grades to no more than 16 students.
In practice, the school's classes are usually closer to a dozen students per class in the lower grades. The High School division's student/teacher ratio is 6/1, according to Louisville Magazine's 2010/2011 School Guide.
According to the school's records, the school was founded in 1975 and named Walden after the classic work by Henry David Thoreau. The book, Walden, or Life in the Woods, is about Henry David Thoreau's experiences living in a cabin he built near Walden Pond for 2 years, 2 months, and 2 days. Henry inspired many of the school's ideas and beliefs, and many of his quotes are painted on the walls. In an article published on September 16, 1976 in The Voice newspaper, the school was described as having already developed a "classy" reputation.
The article contained an extensive interview with the school founder, Dr. Edward F. Vermillion, who was a former principal in the Oldham County school district, and a member of the Anchorage School Board. Though the 1970s was a time of great experiments in education, Dr. Vermillion said that he wanted to take the best parts of traditional education, but to combine them some of the gentler aspects of more experimental techniques. "At Walden," he said, "we've married the traditional school to concepts of love, compassion."
Originally housed in an old military school, Walden now exists on Westport Road, near Hubbards Lane. The school is in a building that was once a public school, Stivers Elementary. Walden moved into the building after Stivers closed in 1980. A large expansion, including a gym, has been added onto the older building. The $1.8 million expansion, which was dedicated in February 2004, houses the high school, and gave each of the three school divisions their own "home."
In an obituary, that ran after Vermillion's death on October 20, 2004, The Courier-Journal in Louisville noted that the school "stresses a nurturing environment, small classes, a college-preparatory curriculum and parental involvement."
"In its early days," the paper said, "the school was noted for its unorthodox teaching methods -- one shop class learned carpentry by building its own classroom our of an old Quonset hut. A history class studied the first Thanksgiving by re-creating it in a meadow."
In October 2010, Walden dedicated a new track and field facility, designed to be one of the my premier tracks in the state, including several state-of-the-art features. Walden's decision to invest in this facility reflects the school's high participation rate in the sport. About 70 percent of Walden's middle school students, and about 50 percent of its high school students participate in the school's competitive track and field teams. (Lower school students also participate in track and field "clinics.")
As of February 7, 2011, Walden received the highest possible community ranking on GreatSchools.com, with five out of five stars the average ranking about 30 reviewers. This reflects Walden's excellent reputation as one of Louisville's best private schools.
Walden's average tuition ranks as one of the highest in the LISC association schools, mostly due to its small size. Walden has approximately 250 students throughout all grades. According to Louisville Magazine's 2010 School Guide issue, about 25 percent of Walden's lower and middle school students received financial aid. And about 30 percent of its high school students also received financial aid.
Walden is divided into three divisions: The Lower School serves K-4th grade. The Middle School serves 5th through 8th grade. The High School serves 9th through 12th grade.
All three divisions emphasize strong academics, according to the school's website.
In 2009, according to the website, Lower School students taking the Standford Achievement Test averaged in the 81st percentile in Reading and Math, and the 85th percentile in Science. This means, Walden students scored in the top 19% nationally in Reading and Math and in the top 15% in Science, the website says.
That same year, the school reported that about half of their middle school students scored in the 95th percentile (or above) in at least one of the Standford Achievement subtests (math, reading, science or social studies) and qualified for the Johns-Hopkins Center for Talented Youth Program.
Louisville Magazine's 2010/2011 School Guide reported that 100 percent of Walden High School students take the ACT, with an average score of 26. This was the highest score listed for any school in which all students took the test.
Walden High School teachers are certified to teach 15 Advanced Placement Program courses, generally referred to as AP classes. AP Classes are designed to prepare a student to do college-level work. Students take AP course exams in May, a successful AP program is considered to be one in which 50 percent of the students taking the test score a 3 or higher on a five-point scale. In 2009, 94 percent of Walden students earned a 3 or higher, including 100 percent of the students taking Science, Human Geography and European History exams. Of the students, taking Physics, Calculus BE and Cal Cab exams, 100 percent scored a five.
In Walden's 35-plus years, it has developed several traditions. They include:
- "Beatrix Potter Tea Party" for Kindergarten Students.
- Sit-down Thanksgiving dinner, in which the entire school eats at the same time.
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- Louisville Magazine, November 2010
- The Book of Lists, December 24, 2010
- The Voice, September 16, 1976
- The Courier-Journal, February 12, 2004[not specific enough to verify]
- The Courier-Journal, October 21, 2004[not specific enough to verify]
- The Walden Ponder, 2011[not specific enough to verify]
- "GreatSchools - Public and Private School Ratings, Reviews and Parent Community". Retrieved February 8, 2017.[not specific enough to verify]
- "Walden School". Retrieved February 8, 2017.
- The Walden Ponder, Winter 2010[not specific enough to verify]