John Burroughs School review by Harvard University student. Burroughs provides an extremely rigorous, but rewarding academic environment for its students. Each of the departments within the school is staffed by incredibly knowledgeable and helpful teachers that truly enjoy teaching and challenging their students. As a result of this excitement surrounding academics, teachers hold high expectations for their students. Many classes are quite small (ranging from 5-15 students) and students are required to come to class prepared and ready to learn. Outside of the classroom, students often have quite a bit of homework that they are expected to complete and in some classes, such as English classes, work outside of class serves as the catalyst for class discussion. Most classrooms, with the exception of science and math classes, have circular desk arrangements to facilitate discussion in a comfortable and relaxed environment. The large amount of homework and the emphasis on classroom dialogue prepared me extremely well for the college environment. By the time I started my freshman year of college, the workload was comparable to the Burroughs' workload (the difficulty was comparable, as well), but I had much more time to complete everything at college, allowing for a very smooth academic transition. As a liberal arts school, Burroughs has a school philosophy that tries to instill within its students a love of learning. Teachers often encourage their students to challenge and debate the teachings of the course. This is done both inside and outside of the classroom. Inside of the classroom, students may challenge each other and the teacher in a relaxed environment that allows them to accept differing opinions and learn from their mistakes. This relaxed environment also discourages competition among students, as everyone feels comfortable making mistakes around their peers, or even reaching out to them for help. Students also develop personal relationships with their teachers that allow them to seek additional help and discussion outside of class. Outside classroom work reflects Burroughs' strong emphasis on writing (extremely useful for college), as students constantly tackle difficult topics and hone their writing skills. To this day, I credit Burroughs with the development of my writing skills that have enabled me to excel in my essay-based college courses. Overall, while academics at Burroughs challenged me quite a bit, I felt extremely prepared for my academic endeavors at college and am grateful for the education I received at Burroughs.
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The culture at Burroughs is one that is very liberal and inclusive of its many different types of students. From the time students enter Burroughs in the seventh grade, they are expected to be accepting of others' differences and contribute to the community in their own unique way. Additionally, students are trusted by the faculty and by each other, creating a very relaxed and safe environment in which students can learn from their teachers, as well as their peers. For example, Burroughs has a school-wide assembly each morning in which students are encouraged to make announcements for their various clubs or to "sound-off" and voice their opinion on a topic that is of great importance to them. During my time at Burroughs, I gave multiple presentations about issues that were important to me and the support and acceptance I received was incredible. In my opinion, two symbols of the safe and relaxed environment of the Burroughs' community are the lockers and the backpacks around campus. On the first day of school, each student receives a locker assignment, as well as a lock for his or her locker. However, in my time at Burroughs, no one ever used these locks because every person at Burroughs felt comfortable leaving their belongings unguarded due to the safe environment. Additionally, Burroughs students constantly left their unlocked backpacks all around the campus because of their trust in the community. This overall sense of trust is what makes the community at the school truly special. Students trust their teachers and peers and develop personal relationships with them throughout the years (I still keep in touch with many of my teachers). As a result, students feel comfortable questioning new ideas and are encouraged to ask what may be that "stupid question" when they do not understand something. Burroughs is a very unique place and it is a blessing to have learned from such incredible peers and teachers inside and outside of the classroom.
Burroughs does an exceptional job at balancing student life. The school understands the potential of its students and, consequentially, it challenges to excel in all aspects of their lives. Burroughs has tens of clubs of all kinds that reflect the diverse interest of their students, and the school encourages students to create a new club if it does not exist yet. Additionally, Burroughs has a phenomenal athletics department that students must take advantage of throughout their Burroughs' careers, as they are required to take physical education during middle school and participate in sports in 2/3 athletic seasons during high school. The clubs and athletic programs at the school allow students to become very well-rounded individuals and take advantage of activities that are of interest to them. The school also places an emphasis on community service and offers various programs that instill the value of community service within its students. For example, during May of senior year, each student is required to complete a "May Project," in which they spend a large amount of time giving back to the St. Louis community through community service. Overall, Burroughs offers many extracurricular activities that are representative of its diverse student body.