John Burroughs School review by New York University student. John Burroughs was a great experience. Though many of the classes themselves tend to be on the rigorous side, the teachers, advisors and environment itself provide the supportive, friendly, and relaxed environment necessary to keep students passionate about school. JBS begins in 7th grade, though there are always a few who transfer in later. For most, it's a pretty tough adjustment because everyone's new and trying to make friends on top of managing a new and increased workload. The adjustment into 9th grade provides another challenge, again because of increased workload. It's all manageable it just takes some time to get used to it and to figure out which classes need the most attention. Burroughs has a very unique student body. The Big Sibling/Little Sibling program pairs a new 7th grader with a senior as a catalyst for their adjustment to a new school. A group of seniors, Big Siblings, usually invite their Little Siblings to movies, bowling, or dinners to give the kids time to get to know one another before 7th grade begins. The students themselves are all very clever, witty and creative. It is not uncommon for students to carry a conversation out of the classroom once the bell rings and continue it in the Commons. It is the students and the faculty that truly make Burroughs such a happy place. The bond students share with the school rarely ends after graduation as evidenced by the strong relationship alumni continue to share with the school. The English department is great--very relaxed and caring. The mathematics department is more demanding but the teachers are all very passionate in making sure their students understand the material. As an example of this the Calculus teachers like to boast that no Calculus student has ever received below a 4 on the AP Exam (a 4 or 5 qualifies for college credit at most universities) and in most years only one student earns a 4 while everyone else earns a 5. In the class of 2009, not one student received below a 5. The history department, much like the classics department is full of some hilarious characters and going off on tangents during class discussion happens regularly, though never at the expense of the students' learning. The science department, too, does a great job. In every department it's important to note that all of the teachers are very passionate about what they do. In my experience, I've never met a teacher unwilling to meet with a student outside of class, whether it be to ask a quick question, review a difficult concept, or help a student prepare for a test ahead of time. There is also the Academic Support Department on the third floor where students can receive extra tutoring or preparation if need be. Burroughs has a very unique philosophy in that it values academics equally with arts and sports. Students are required to fulfill an arts credit minimum as well participate in at least two trimesters of team sport each year of high school (unlike in 7th and 8th grade where students must enroll in Phys. Ed class). This has undoubtedly shaped me for the better. Participating in different team sports allows you the opportunity to release stress from studies and outside pressures in a healthy way and most importantly bond with fellow schoolmates during games and practices. The arts classes allow students to follow a more creative pathway amongst an extremely nurturing faculty and environment. Because classes all classes are relatively small (12-16 students), students not only receive a lot of attention from teachers, but also tend to form close bonds with them. Achievement, Honors and AP classes are offered throughout the six years. The only downside is that AP classes are offered only in 12th grade, and even then there are fewer options. Nevertheless many students take the AP exam at the end of non-AP courses (like US History) and still perform exceptionally.
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Burroughs has a lot of traditions including Field Day at the end of the year, morning assembly at the start of each day, special Thanksgiving and Halloween assemblies that the seniors run, family style lunches, Blue & Gold Week culminating in rivalry sports games against MICDS, and most importantly Drey Land. Drey Land is a beautiful piece of land given to Burroughs by alumnus William Drey out near the Ozarks. Seventh Graders spend a couple nights there in the fall divided into different cabins and participating in a number of activities, summer camp style. It's a really great way for so many new students to get to know each other and have fun away from school and St. Louis, in a much more natural environment. In spring of ninth grade students return for Bio-Drey Land. Again, they get to do fun activities like the float trip and roasting s'mores, etc., but the majority of the days and nights are spent working on a biology packet that takes up a portion of each student's spring biology grade. In the last few weeks of summer before school begins in 12th grade students return one final time. This is the first time that the whole class is at Drey Land together (usually the class is divided into two sessions). This trip is truly the culmination of the Burroughs experience. The students get really nostalgic about the last five years they've spent together and excited for their final year. Senior Drey Land is less programmed and none of the activities are required though many participate in them anyways. The Burroughs community overall has been nothing but kind to me. I truly believe it has shaped me in ways no other school could have--not only to be a better student, but as a better person.
The school does a very good job of balancing extra-curricular activities in that it provides the sports teams, musicals and plays, dance shows, orchestra and band opportunities and arts classes for students. However, fulfilling sports requirements on top of a very heavy homework load makes outside activities during the week very difficult. I, myself, was able to continue a 10-12 hr week dance schedule only through the beginning of junior year. For most students though, this isn't an issue because so many opportunities are given to them through the school. Different sports demand different time commitments. Varsity sports typically take up a lot of time and may require traveling for state or regional tournaments. Community service plays a huge role at Burroughs. Montgomery Club is a club based entirely around getting students to participate in community service and has the greatest number of student participation of any club on campus. Extra Hands for ALS also sends students out to help families of ALS patients with everyday activities like gardening and grocery shopping. Aim High, John Burroughs School's most valued program brings Inner City kids to school for tutoring throughout the school year and runs special programs during the summer. August Days is also a very fun program that brings inner city kids in for a summer camp type experience for a portion of the summer. In 8th grade students devote a week to Community Service week in which straight after morning assembly, students are taken to different pre-schools and nursery homes to help out. Finally, in 12th grade students must fulfill a May Project in order to graduate. May Projects give seniors the opportunity to learn outside of the Burroughs environment and devote their time to any sort of project throughout the St. Louis community. At least half of each student's hours must be fulfilled through community service.