Early childhood through grade 12

Hawthorne Valley Association
close up of male student's hands working on a science lab experiment
close up of student's hands working on a bridge design project using clear pushpins and balsa wood strips and pinning the strips to a piece of white paper
two female students seated at a table are engaged in a lesson together using a small mirror
A male student at Hermit Island reclining on the beach while working on a painting; there are students in the background who are also making paintings of the seascape
Senior class on Hermit Island trip poses while covered in mud at the beach
Class of 2023 stands against a colorful mural while on a trip to Spain
A guest presenter in a high school classroom has a live hawk perched on his arm as he addresses the class
three self-portrait sketches made by seniors hang on a bulletin board
close up of female high school student working with clay; it is a profile view focused on her hands
Boys basketball team during a playoff competition at Stillwater High School
Cross country runners at the start of a race; there are mountains in the background

The heart of Waldorf education is the main lesson. These honors-level seminars take place during the first two hours of the school day and each subject is taught intensively for 3-4 weeks by a teacher who specializes in the subject. In addition, weekly college-preparatory classes in each grade run through the academic year in English, Math, Foreign Language, Physical Education, Health, Chorus and Orchestra. Each student also participates in six arts blocks, has an opportunity to take electives of their choice, and participates in a practicum.

Learn more about our High School curriculumDownload PDF

Alexander Madey ('20) poses with artist Martina Angela Muller and the sculpture 'Flight' for which Alex made the cast as his senior project
Alexander Madey (’20) with artist Martina Angela Muller and her sculpture ‘Flight’ for which Alexander made the cast from a small stoneware maquette enlarged in aluminum with the sandcasting method. Alex was mentored by Ivan Goodman, of Polich-Tallix, one of America’s premier art foundries. The sculpture is permanently installed at Hawthorne Valley just across the street from the school.

Our high school journey culminates in the Senior Independent Project in which students take on a subject to study intensively and prepare a research paper on the topic as well delivering a presentation. Past projects have included everything from constructing and playing a Renaissance lute to renovating a van for outdoor travel, to starting an upcycle fashion business. Alumni often remark that this experience helped them find their path in life. Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School Class of 2005 alumnus Eliot Livingston Wilson, the founder and design lead for FUTUR, a firm developing regenerative affordable housing solutions, remarked, “The seed of what FUTUR is doing today was sown in my senior year at Hawthorne Valley in the context of my senior project. That is such an extraordinary opportunity that Waldorf education offers and something that I’ve been so grateful for, because it really did set a tone in many ways for my whole life. In 12th grade, I worked with a wonderful architect and he mentored me to design an ecological home for my mother, for my family. That seed really began to take roots and actually informed my passion and studies and work ever since.”

We participate in competitive sports including girls’ and boys’ basketball, girls’ volleyball, girls’ and boys’ soccer, and girls’ and boys’ cross-country. Clubs and activities vary annually, but may include student council, drama club, after-school art, yearbook, literary magazine, creative writing, LGTBQ Alliance, and Science Olympiad. Many students participate in our foreign exchange program, which has placed students in Waldorf schools in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Denmark, Croatia, South Africa, Spain, Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Japan, Scotland, Australia, and New Zealand. To learn more about our Foreign Exchange Program, contact our High School Administrator.

Two students - a male and a female rehearsing their lines for a play; the male student is on his knees facing away from the female student who is seated in a chair behind him. Both are holding scripts
Three students - one male and two female - wearing blue graduation caps and gowns seated on a stage beneath our open air pavilion

Our philosophy when it comes to the college process is to support the students in finding the best possible fit for their needs and interests. The students take the PSATs in 10th grade as a practice exercise. In grade 11 they take them for the PSAT/NMSQT testing. SAT preparation is offered for students during the enrichment blocks. Students in grades 11 and 12 meet with the college guidance counselor regularly and are provided with extensive support in planning for and applying to college or university.

They are also supported in making alternative choices as appropriate. Hawthorne Valley School has implemented a new college guidance management system called Scoir (pronounced “score”). This new, modern online system streamlines the process of requesting, processing, sending and tracking the electronic delivery of all application-related documents.

Narrative reports are the primary form of evaluation in the High School, but grades are also assigned each trimester based on a 4.3 scale. Our transcripts include each semester’s main lesson blocks (intensive Honors seminars), midday College-Prep course work, electives, and Artistic and Practical Arts courses. Midday academic and arts classes are weighted equally in the calculation of the GPA while the intensive Honors courses have weighted grading.

Due to our small class sizes and the holistic nature of the Waldorf curriculum, students have fewer academic choices. They can request the opportunity to take on independent projects in most classes, but we choose not to offer AP coursework. The depth and difficulty of our classes, however, is comparable to the highest-level courses found at area high schools. We have also recently developed an innovative new January-term in which our normal programming is paused for two weeks so that our students and teachers across the grades can spend the entire day examining a theme from different disciplines and artistic angles.

Introduction to HVS Middle and High School

Our ultimate goal with our high school is to graduate students who have unlocked their own humanity and inner capacities to function successfully in the world. We hope that our graduates are able to step out of our school and meet the world with the creative thinking skills, the resiliency, and the flexibility that it’s going to take to be leaders in the world.

In the past 5 years, our college acceptance rate has been 100% for applicants. Our college enrollment rates have been between 80 and 91 percent. Some of our graduates have chosen to pursue artistic endeavors, artisanal training programs, and outdoor excursion work rather than a traditional academic path.

graphic depicting the logos of some of the universities HVS students matriculate to, including: Princeton, Columbia, Bard, Barnard, Brandeis, FIT, RPI, Marist and Pratt

Do you offer housing for students?

We offer a Home-Based Boarding Program for High School students. It is structured to provide adolescents with the support and independence that they need to develop into aware, confident, and capable adults. Wonderful boarding families open their hearts and homes to students who wish to continue their Waldorf journey at Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School, or those who wish to begin their journey with our High School and join us from anywhere in the United States or throughout the world. For more information about boarding, please contact the Admissions Office.

Do you have a foreign exchange program?

It is a key part of our school culture to encourage High School students to participate in an exchange program with Waldorf school in another country. While this is most often a means to deepen their foreign language work by spending time in German or Spanish-speaking countries, students in past years have also chosen to go on a cultural exchange with schools in Japan, England, Scandinavia, South African, and Switzerland among other places. The Waldorf movement is an international one and the similarity of our curricular offerings makes such exchanges easy to arrange. To learn more about the Foreign Exchange program, contact Eileen Lee.

Where do your students attend college?

While most of our graduates choose to enroll immediately in a more typical 4-year bachelor’s program, others join wilderness excursions, take up apprenticeship programs, or pursue artistic endeavors. In the past five years, among other schools, our graduates have matriculated into: Princeton University, Columbia University, American Academy of Dramatic Arts, American University, Bard College, Barnard College, Brandeis University, Bryn Mawr College, Butler University, Clark University, Fashion Institute of Technology, Franklin & Marshall College, Hampshire College, Marist College, Parsons—The New School for Design, Pratt Institute, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Sarah Lawrence College, Savannah College Art & Design, Skidmore College, St. John’s College, Syracuse University, Wells College, Wheaton College and SUNY: Binghamton, New Paltz, Purchase, Geneseo, Oneonta, and Oswego.

Will my child be ready for college after attending this school?

Will my child thrive at this school if they start somewhere in the middle?