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January 11, 2018


A Promenade of Accolades


Lots and lots of interesting news around the Harley School in the last month or so. This month’s Oaks & Acorns will be a catch-up on all the news!



Early Decisions, Decisions

We have some early returns on the college process. Early Decision, as you may recall, is the binding arrangement: you apply early, and if admitted, you must attend that school. But now the Ivies and some others have come up with Restricted Early Action, and then there’s just Early Action, in which one applies early and gets a decision early, but there’s no obligation to attend.

Harley students always do well in this process. Two years ago we did a study and found that, over a 15-year period, our students were admitted to selective institutions at significantly higher rates than the rest of the world: at the top 15 “national universities,” as determined by US News & World Report, Harley kids were admitted at a 19% rate, compared to a 9% rate for everyone else; at US News’ top 15 national liberal arts colleges, Harley students were admitted at a 37% rate, while others were admitted at a 20% rate.

Students have already been admitted Early Action to Bard, Binghamton (3), Case Western Reserve (2), University of Dayton, DePaul College of Computing and Digital Media, Harvard (REA), Hofstra, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Engineering, Ithaca (2), Le Moyne, Lesley University, Michigan State, University of Minnesota–Twin Cities, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Penn State (2), Providence College, Saint Michael’s College (2), Sarah Lawrence, Siena, Simmons, St. John Fisher, SUNY New Paltz (2), SUNY Albany (2), University of Tampa, Temple, SUNY Buffalo (3), Ursinus, and the University of Vermont (2).

The ED admits are Barnard, Boston University, Brandeis, Clarkson (2), University of Rochester (3), Trinity College, and the College of William and Mary. The Class of 2019 has 45 seniors who have completed 426 college applications thus far.


Some Extraordinary Musical Honors

A few years ago, 11% of the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra came from the tiny Harley School. Wow, right? Well, the excellence continues. In the late fall, Sam Reeder ’19 and Noah Lee ’20 were chosen for the NYS School Music Association Conference All-State Symphonic Band and String Orchestra, respectively. Once on-site at the festival in December, they were then each selected as principal musician (first chair) of their section; in Noah’s case, that made him Concertmaster of the group. Thomas Neumaier ’19 was also an alternate for this august ensemble.

Many of our students are in audition-based community musical groups, most very selective in our exceptionally musical city. To wit:

  • Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra: Audrey Scudder, Thomas Neumaier, Noah Lee, Sam Reeder, Rachel Green, Alex Sassaman, and Erin Allen.
  • Hochstein Youth Symphony Orchestra: Maxwell Sun, Shea Willis, Micah Smith, Rebecca Lee (pictured above)
  • Eastman Youth Jazz Orchestra: Gunnar Hammonds
  • Hochstein Youth Wind Symphony: Elliot Tindall, Sam Reeder, Maxwell Sun, Shea Willis.
  • Eastman Youth Chamber Singers: Zach Ellis
  • Hochstein Jazz Band: Ben Friedberg
  • Hochstein Philharmonia: Isabel Goldstein, Max Ellis, Erica Liu

Meanwhile, in Junior High Area All State are Rebecca Lee, Max Ellis, Alex Sassaman, Hannah Gluckman, Maxwell Sun; in Senior High Area All State are Noah Lee, Audrey Scudder, Micah Smith, and Sam Reeder.


Harley, Left of the Dial

Tune into WXXI’s Connections with Evan Dawson recently and you run a very strong chance of hearing a Harley voice on the program. First up was our Hospice and MIndfulness teacher Sybil Prince ’00, speaking to the question, Can empathy be taught? Listen Here.

Then senior Jacob LaDue ’19, as a member of Harley’s award-winning Biomimicry Club, was invited to talk about environmental innovation and the Seneca Park Zoo Society’s inaugural environmental innovation awards. Listen here. 

And for more on Harley’s excellent Biomimicry project, check out this article from the Biomimicry Institute.

And most recently, I—with, as my brothers like to tell me, a face made for radio—was invited to comment on the topic of grade inflation, pursuant to an article from Inside Higher Ed. Listen here.



Scholar Athlete Awards

This fall, all of our HAC fall sports teams were recognized with the NYS Public High School Athletic Association’s Scholar Athlete Award. This award honors athletic teams on which the average gpa is 90 or higher; over the last ten years, we have achieved this lofty honor in all but a couple of athletic seasons. That we have done so well so often is a testament to the values of our athletic program being properly aligned.

In many places, school personnel would be hard pressed to answer the question, “What educational purposes do your PE and athletic programs serve?” Not us. When we make a change, such as committing to the Peckham Wellness Center or starting a new team, we go right back to the mission of the school. How will this change help our students become their best possible selves?

As a result, our program looks quite a bit different than those of many schools. No one gets cut, for example, and we actually require interscholastic athletics in the 9th and 10th grades. Because we want to win? Well, we like to win, but no—we structure our program because we have lofty goals and intentions for our kids.


Don’t Just Take Our Word for It

Risky Play

Harley has been a proponent of natural (and, yes, risky) play since our very beginnings in 1917—and if you look at historic school photographs you find happy students screaming down a homemade toboggan run, wading in the creek, or climbing up the apple orchard trees. Children love to play in risky ways, and doing so fuels their confidence. The joy of freedom with just the right amount of risk produces one of the greatest experiences in childhood, the feeling of thrill. Our new Winslow Natural Playground & Outdoor Learning Center will provide space for our students to use their imaginations and, indeed, take those skill-building, confidence-building chances. Here is a link to an article from Psychology Today that further explores why children love—and need—risky play.


Modeling and teaching empathy happens at all ages for students at Harley. What does this mean when our fine young people graduate, head off to college, and eventually become part of the working world?

According to this article from Forbes, they will be brimming with the very skill employers value as they look for ways to increase empathy in organizations. Empathy as a change agent, your time has come!


As the snow swirls around our beautiful city, keep in mind these words of wisdom from Sinclair Lewis, “Winter is not a season, it’s an occupation.” 

Until next month,