Charles Wright Academyreview by Occidental College student. Charles Wright Academy focuses heavily on writing. With an ability to communicate clearly, effectively, and briefly, Charles Wright students find themselves far ahead of their collegiate peers. Rarely will you find classes that highlight multiple choice as their mode of testing. Rather, students are taught to analyze each question and give answers with more depth that encourage understanding rather than memorization. The student body is a very closely knit group. With only 75 kids in my graduating class, I knew each of my classmates on a personal level. Although cliques will develop in almost any scene, the cohesion of the student body at Charles Wright is greater than any other school I have been to or heard of. Despite the incredible togetherness of the community, students are there to compete. Each student wants to be at the top of the class, and this helps to push the entire student body to greater heights: this can be seen as positive peer pressure. The rigor of Charles Wright makes college seem easy. Because so many things are thrown at you at once, you learn to become organized, efficient, and well prepared to adapt. I have made the deans list every year at my college, yet I have neither pulled an 'all-nighter' nor spent extreme hours studying for finals. Charles Wright prepares you to plan ahead in order to avoid these things. In addition to this, Charles Wright encourages you to become a well rounded individual by requiring participation in both athletics and community service. Many kids may cringe at the thought of participating in either of these; however, Charles Wright presents them in a way that teaches you transferable skills and lessons that can be applied through the rest of your life, particularly in college. I knew every teacher in the high school by name and they all knew me by name, even if I had never taken a class with them. Teachers can be seen not just as instructors but also as friends and mentors. Today, I still get lunch with two of my teachers every time I am home, I play in a softball league with others, and I will occasionally hike with yet another teacher. Teachers can almost be seen as peers (just ones that are significantly more intelligent than you are). With this perspective, discussion can flow with ease, as you are never worried about what you might say. Most classes are discussion led in order to keep students constantly involved and constantly thinking. Rarely will a student make it through a class without contributing in some form or another. Doing so would prove to be quite difficult, as class sizes are typically around 18, sometimes even as low as 10. Much like college, teachers will hold office hours and are readily available to meet upon request. Not once was I denied a meeting when I asked for one. The workload is heavy. I truly did more work in a week of high school than I have done in a week of college thus far. If students need extra help, study halls are available to enroll in. If students feel the need to be challenged to a greater degree, honors and AP courses are both offered.
The quality of student life was great. The school allows you to have fun with your peers and teachers while it remains rigorous. The campus food is subpar, but as upperclassmen, you can eat off campus where there are many great options. The school is surprisingly liberal. Most students tend to swing towards the left and are very conscious, progressive thinkers. As mentioned previously, students are more than cooperative when working together but will compete to be the best they can be. The liberal vibe translates throughout the school, and I believe the approach the faculty and staff take in regards to that vibe is great. It allows for a very close community.
The school requires participation in athletics, community service, and some form of art. The school is ran on a block system, so most kids will have one block free a day, allowing for extra study time or time to relax with your friends. Community service is huge for the school. As privileged students (most Charles Wright kids), we find it imperative to give back to the community as much as possible. Each student must work with one or more community organizations. Several days a year are dedicated purely to the Upper School doing community service. In addition to its off campus service, Charles Wright encourages more local Community Service, dedicating days to working to improve the area around the school. Students typically spend 15+ hours a week on extracurricular activities, allowing for a great balance between their social and academic lives. Alum are battle tested and always ready for any challenge, as Charles Wright prepares students to be able to adapt to an setting.