Although the academics at St. Johnsbury Academy are exceptional across the board, a number of programs truly set us apart. From high-level math to the AP Capstone Diploma, from the culinary arts to fashion design, our Signature Programs ignite passion within our students, often leading them to pursue careers in fields first explored on our campus.
AP Capstone Diploma
St. Johnsbury Academy is one of a short list of schools worldwide that offers the AP Capstone Diploma program. SJA was selected to offer the program by the College Board from among more than 18,000 independent and public schools. The other U.S. boarding schools selected to participate during the first year of the program were Choate Rosemary Hall, Taft School, and Deerfield Academy.
Completion of the new AP Capstone Diploma involves a two-course sequence: AP Seminar followed by AP Research. Students who complete the AP Seminar and Research courses and earn scores of three or higher on the subsequent exams, as well as on at least four other AP exams, will earn the AP Capstone Diploma.
Students successfully completing only the AP Seminar and AP Research courses and exams will earn the AP Seminar and Research Certificate. The Academy has a long history of offering AP courses, dating back to the 1980s, and currently offers over 31 academic and fine art AP courses.
Biomedical and Health Services Certificate
The Biomedical and Health Sciences Program is a combination of guidance, coursework, clinical experience, mentoring, and independent research to provide students with a pre-university experience in allied health. Students who satisfactorily complete all of the requirements will earn a certificate in Biomedical and Health Sciences, as well as develop advantageous mentoring relationships with regional health care providers. Students wishing to pursue the certificate should complete their core science courses (biology, chemistry, and physics) and meet with the program advisor as early in their high school career as possible. Students also take part in an approved internship as part of a clinical or patient care experience and complete a related senior capstone project mentored by the program advisor.
Students must complete the core science courses required for an Academy diploma: biology, chemistry, and physics. For some students, a substitution of the Advanced Placement course in the same discipline may be appropriate.In addition to the core courses, students will select at least two additional electives targeted toward their area of interest, and make sure that their mathematics coursework is appropriately rigorous.
- Students must maintain an average of at least an 85% in the courses leading to the certificate.
- Students will complete at least 25 contact hours of a clinical or patient care experience, and complete a reflective report within one semester of the conclusion of the experience.
- Students will relate their capstone project to their biomedical and health sciences goals, in consultation with the program advisor. The capstone should otherwise meet the requirements of the Academy’s Capstone program.
- Students should declare their intention to pursue the certificate to the program advisor no later than the fall of their junior year. Declared students will be expected to participate in one after school meeting each semester. These meetings will be a combination of conversations about progress and experiences, guest speakers, readings from current medical literature, and other opportunities for engagement with health professions.
Culinary Arts and The Hilltopper Restaurant
The Hilltopper Restaurant is open to the public and is serviced by Academy students to provide real-world restaurant experience. The restaurant is a ”working classroom.” Students are instructed in meal preparation, hosting and wait-staff, procurement, food safety, and the financial management of a business establishment.
Students in both Culinary I and Culinary II utilize The Hilltopper Restaurant as a “working classroom.” Students in Culinary I learn the fundamentals of the methods of chemistry of cooking and baking, basic prep, soups and sauces and operating a culinary bake shop and catering kitchen. Students are required to be trained in the American Culinary Federation approved ServSafe program.
In the Culinary II course, students build on skills learned from Culinary I and devote the entire year to working in The Hilltopper Restaurant learning all aspects of restaurant management and culinary skills needed to work in a food-service environment.
St. Johnsbury Academy’s culinary program is one of 140 secondary and vocation programs throughout the United States accredited by the American Culinary Federation.
For information regarding The Hilltopper, please call Sue Libbey at (802) 748-8965 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Hilltopper is located at 1216 Main Street in St. Johnsbury.
Tuesdays through Thursdays
11:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
Phone: (802) 748-8965 or (802) 748-8964
Our fashion design courses take students from the basics of sewing, design, and color through creating a garment from design concept to completion. Advanced fashion design students participate in our annual fashion show for which they design their own collections, select the best design, and choose models to take the designs through the process of pattern-making, fitting, and sewing to the finished ‘runway’ product. In addition, our Advanced Fashion Art students create children’s wear outfits to complement the theme, experimenting with textile print design and other embellishments.
Many student designers from our fashion design program develop a passion for design that shapes their lives beyond the Academy. Each year students enter prestigious design schools all over the world and many continue on to successful careers in the fashion industry.
For more information on our Visual and Performing Arts program, visit the Fine Arts section.
Students will explore the fundamental principles of filmmaking. Focusing on storyboarding, cinematography, and editing, students will demonstrate that the primary means of storytelling in film is through visual composition. Students work in a collaborative environment to finished product, and will have the opportunity to focus on specific areas of the process.
For more information on our Visual and Performing Arts program, visit the Fine Arts section.
The sky is the limit in St. Johnsbury Academy’s mathematics department. We offer a strong base with Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Precalculus. However, because of our semester-based schedule, which allows a math class to be taken in the course of a semester rather than over a full year, many students move on to take AP Calculus AB and AP Calculus BC, AP Statistics, or AP Computer Science classes. If this isn’t enough math, particularly motivated students may continue to Multivariable Calculus and Linear Algebra. Math is cool at St. Johnsbury Academy.
Go to the Mathematics section of our Course Bulletin for details about the many math courses available at St. Johnsbury Academy.
Pre-University Engineering and FIRST Robotics
SJA’s Design, Innovation, and Engineering program is an elective, multi-faceted system of guidance, coursework, work experience, mentoring, and training that provides students with pre-university experience in engineering and design. Our program aims to increase the number of students—particularly young women and other students traditionally underrepresented in the STeM disciplines—in science and technology programs. Courses include Introduction to Robotics, Introduction to Design, Innovation, and Development, Engineering, Design, and Development, Digital Electronics, Civil Engineering and Architecture, Biotechnical Engineering, and Game Design.
SJA’s robotics team coach, Jim Baker, described robotics as, “the only high-school team where everyone can go pro.”
St. Johnsbury Academy participates in the FIRST Robotics competition, an annual national contest in which student compete against the best young engineers in the country.
Key to the SJA team’s preparation is its access to the Academy’s Gregory N. Sweeny Applied Engineering Center. Students design many of the robot’s parts using 3-D computer-aided design software; the designs are then converted using computer-aided machining software and then the required parts are manufactured using the school’s CNC machine. Students are participating fully in designing and machining the parts and gaining expertise in all steps of the process.
Information about each year’s contest is released in early January; teams are given six weeks to build and program their robot. During those weeks, students work on their robots after school every day, and even work on Saturdays. The robots must be made of certain materials and conform to strict size, shape, and other rules.
Gregory N. Sweeny Applied Engineering Center
The Sweeny Applied Engineering Center is a great resource for teachers and students. It consists of a Full Spectrum Laser Cutter, a Makerbot Replicator (3D Printer) with Digitizer (3D Scanner), a manual lathe, a Ganesh Heavy-Duty CNC Milling Machine, six 3Doodlers, electronics supplies, and a collection of tabletop tools. We have recently added three more 3D Printers (Cube 3rd Generation), a Roland tabletop CNC mill, and a vinyl cutter with heat transfer accessories. Software to support student design is available in the space, and students are able to use their iPads for additional design work.
The space has been used by classes from around the school: engineering, psychology, literature, chemistry, calculus, and game design among others. Clubs like robotics, FBLA, and Fashion Design make use of the tools for their projects, and individual students and faculty have used the Maker Space to solve problems and explore design. Biweekly workshops are offered to introduce beginners to the capabilities of the Sweeny Applied Engineering Center in topics like Laser Engraving, Wearable Circuits, Jewelry Making with 3D Printing, Puppet Making, and more!
Applied Engineering Semester
The Applied Engineering Semester is an interdisciplinary program for students interested in concentrated study within the disciplines of computer science, engineering, science modeling, and media studies. This program draws on the resources of the Gregory N. Sweeny Applied Engineering Center and Immersive Learning Laboratory to support collaborative design work in the larger regional community. The physical sciences will serve as the focus for developing skills in programming, 3D modeling, interaction design, and technical communication. As part of the program, students will develop a professional design portfolio and learn leadership.
Students will spend some class days in the lab while other days will be more focused on community connections outside the classroom. They will spend many days off campus on a few extended trips (e.g. Boston) as well as trips to locations in Vermont such as science museums, community maker spaces, and tech startups. The 4-block format gives students the freedom to use time and space differently than in a traditional classroom, constrained by the needs of their projects instead of by a typical class schedule.
SJA Field Semester
SJA Field Semester is a new opportunity for motivated students to pursue field-based research in an outdoor setting. This program is ideal for juniors and seniors interested in concentrated study in environmental or field-based science with its focus on environmental literacy and natural resource management concepts.
- Majority of coursework is outdoors, hands-on, and field-based
- Based at the Academy’s nearby SJA Field Campus, a 75-acre property with both agricultural and forested areas
- Fulfills a core science requirement and additional elective credits
- Offers dual enrollment college credits at Sterling College
- Provides a solid foundation for pursuing further education and careers in natural resource management, ecosystem science, environmental engineering, and related disciplines
Location — Our Land Lab
The program is based at the Academy’s nearby SJA Field Campus in Danville, a 75-acre property with both agricultural and forested areas. Students will also travel regularly to additional sites around the Northeast Kingdom. This network of sites will provide research stations for collection of long-term ecological data by students and professionals. Outdoor work frames the program as a field-based, hands-on and immersive experience.
Agricultural and forested areas within the property network will be used as working landscapes for larger projects such as farming, forest management, maple sugaring, and recreational trail development. These projects will create opportunities, materials, and products for students and the wider community allowing them to learn the principles of sustainable development and how to manage the landscape accordingly.
Students complete coursework in Ecology, Natural Resource Management, Environmental Literature and Composition, and Social Studies of Sustainability.
3 Credits — Sterling College | Science
This course will provide an overview of core ecological concepts and their application in studying the natural world. Students will understand the cycles and interconnectedness of living things and their environments, and explore ways of studying these systems. Successful completion of this course will prepare students for further study in the environmental field.
Natural Resources Management
Students will get hands on experience in projects surrounding agricultural development and forest management. Working with local farms and landowners, we will work on projects dealing with management of our natural resources to develop sustainable options for utilization in the agricultural and forestry sectors. Projects will include planting and harvesting on organic farms, greenhouse management, soil sampling and mapping, forest assessment and management, and timber utilization and sawmill techniques.
Environmental Literature and Composition
In this Interdisciplinary course, taught in conjunction with Social Studies in Sustainability, students develop reading, writing, and speaking skills in the context of environmental management. Required texts include works of fiction, nonfiction, and research. Composition skills include scientific writing, professional proposals, and public presentations.
Social Studies in Sustainability
In this Interdisciplinary course, taught in conjunction with Environmental Literature and Composition, students explore how people and societies both develop from and shape their landscape. Students explore and analyze the cultural and environmental history, philosophy and cultural geography that shapes a region while exploring and performing human practices necessary for a sustainable development. Required texts include works of fiction, nonfiction, and research. Composition skills include scientific writing, professional proposals, and public presentations.
International Travel and Cultural Exchange
The Academy offers a wide range of international trips every year. These trips build upon the diversity of cultures experienced by students every day at school here; our resident students represent nearly 30 countries. Whether students want to travel to France or Argentina to improve their French or Spanish skills, learn to make intaglio prints in Italy, head to Southeast Asia, India, or Ghana to take part in service trips, or hike in New Zealand or Hawaii, we have a trip for them! Trips take place during winter or spring breaks, or even over the summer. These trips have become a tradition at the Academy and students who participate in them often find them to be life-changing experiences.
Colwell Center for Global Understanding
The Colwell Center for Global Understanding at the Academy fosters global education. The Colwell Center coordinates diversity programs, cultural events, international exchange programs, and many student trips abroad each year. The Center also sponsors a speaker series featuring academics, diplomats, and other leaders, some of whom come to us from the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University. Additionally, it sponsors the Colwell Scholars program in which students meet to discuss world affairs, often in small groups with speakers from the Harvard Weatherhead Center.
The Colwell Center was launched in 2003 through a gift from the Steven B. Colwell family of Carlsbad, California, with the goal of creating a forum for sharing ideas and exploring cultural differences and similarities, leading to better global understanding. Members of the donor family include Steven Colwell II, who graduated from the Academy in 1987; Tyler Colwell of the Class of 1991; and Christopher Colwell, a 2003 graduate.
The Colwell Center also coordinates a number of international and domestic trips focusing on service learning, outdoor adventure, art, and language.
Colwell Center Speaker Series
The Colwell Center partners with the Fellows Program at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs on the Colwell Speaker Series. Speakers are hosted by members of the Academy’s Colwell Scholars program, designed to encourage students’ interest in international issues and cultures, and provide them the opportunity to deepen their knowledge and understanding of the world.