Guest Blogger: The High School Admissions Process

Jim DiBiasi
When my wife and I moved to Hoboken 9 years ago with our 5 year-old son James, we really didn’t have a long-term plan. We weren’t sure how long we would stay in Hoboken. It seemed like once families had a few children they moved to the suburbs for more space and better school systems. We enrolled James in All Saints Episcopal Day School, which in 2003 was a nursery to 4th grade program.

It wasn’t long before we realized that All Saints was a very special place. Yes, James was learning all the basics – reading, writing, arithmetic, etc. etc., but more importantly, James was learning about community, self-respect, respect for his classmates, teachers, the Hoboken community and most importantly he was being exposed to world issues. We were amazed at the discussions that were taking place with a 5 year-old, then a 6 year-old, then a 7 year-old. We quickly began to worry that 4th grade was just around the corner and we would never be able to find another All Saints. Then our prayers were answered; All Saints announced they were expanding to 8th Grade and James’s class, the Class of 2012, would be the first 8th grade graduating class.

Over the last 9 years we have watched James be challenged, nurtured, tutored, molded and most importantly driven to THINK. All Saints doesn’t just produce scholars, it produces THINKERS. James has learned to question the WHY, not just the what, when and where. And let’s face it, leaders question WHY, or more importantly WHY not. Students at All Saints are encouraged to ask difficult questions. Martin Luther King Jr. once said “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” James started living when he was 5 years-old and he started living because of All Saints.

When we started our high school search, we again worried. We knew James was smart, but would the premier NYC schools recognize the All Saints program. We looked at 8 private schools in New Jersey and NY, deciding to apply to four programs in Manhattan. The application and interview process was arduous but the guidance and support provided by All Saints helped put us at ease. It became increasingly clear with each high school visit that All Saints had prepared its students well. From their innovative digital portfolios, to interview and test prep, these eighth graders were comfortable with the high school admissions process. High schools were impressed with the academic accomplishments of these students as well as their confidence and commitment to community. James was interviewed by each school as were we. After every interview, we heard similar comments about James – “That is a fine young man – he really is very well-spoken.” “WOW, I realized after about 10 minutes James was interviewing me!” “I really enjoyed talking to James. I didn’t want to end the interview.” “James is a great conversationalist, very mature for his age.”

James was invited to attend all four schools. In September he will attend the Calhoun School. We owe his success to All Saints and to the exceptional combination of a rigorous curriculum and innovative programming delivered by dedicated professionals who encouraged, challenged and supported our son and his classmates throughout their elementary and middle school years. As a result, these young men and women are capable and confident – willing and well-equipped with all of the necessary tools to tackle the challenges of high school and life after high school. Importantly, for young families, now there is a reason to STAY in HOBOKEN – a world class education.

-Jim DiBiasi, parent