A New Approach to High School 100 Years Old

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Art, music, theater, and foreign languages are not electives at Waldorf; they are integrated into the curriculum.

Art, music, theater, and foreign languages are not electives at
Waldorf; they are integrated into the curriculum.

Conventional wisdom suggests that a successful college preparatory program requires AP classes, a fact-based curriculum, and constant testing. But in a Waldorf high school, where 98% of seniors graduate to prestigious universities and 42% of those pursue degrees in advanced math and science, the approach is quite different.

With nearly 1,000 schools worldwide, Waldorf education was conceived by Rudolf Steiner nearly 100 years ago to serve students in pre-school through grade 12. Art, music, theater, and foreign languages are not electives; they are integrated into the curriculum. This multi-disciplinary approach provides students with a holistic understanding of the world, an expanded palette for self-expression, an ethical perspective, finely developed critical thinking skills, a passion for learning, and the discipline to succeed throughout their college years and in their chosen professions.

“Freshman year of college was challenging, as the others had taken AP courses,” says Ryan van Schilfgaarde, Highland Hall alumnus and mechanical engineer at Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, Calif. “From the second year on our situations reversed because they had learned how to memorize in high school, whereas I learned how to learn.”

There are two local Waldorf high schools for parents looking for a viable alternative for their children. Established in 1955, WASC-accredited Highland Hall Waldorf School in Northridge graduated its first senior class in 1971. Pasadena Waldorf School in Altadena, founded in 1979, opened its high school in 2012. Highland Hall’s commencement ceremony is at 6 p.m., on Friday, June 14, and is open to the public.

For more information, visit highlandhall.org or pasadenawaldorf.org.

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