Semester schools, in general, are similar to the college-level “junior year abroad” but for high school students. The semester school model provides a boarding-school-like atmosphere with students living in cabins with their peers and attending classes together. At Maine Coast Semester, we view our program as an exciting addition to a student’s secondary school experience, enrichment to the education that our students are getting at their sending schools. We work in partnership with our sending schools to provide an academically rigorous 14 weeks for the students who choose to study with us. Students are drawn to Maine Coast Semester because our school provides an opportunity for a semester of teaching and learning different from, but complementary to, that which they experience in their sending schools. We find that students who attend Maine Coast Semester return to their own high schools with a renewed sense of ownership for their education.
What makes Maine Coast Semester at Chewonki unique?
Maine Coast Semester at Chewonki offers students from both public and private schools the opportunity to live and learn with 41 other students from across the United States on 400 acres of land on the coast of Maine. At Maine Coast Semester, students are able to study in a small, hands-on classroom setting with other motivated and engaged students. Students can take advantage of the many opportunities that surround them. With the mountains and the water located near our campus, the possibilities are endless: for example, students can harvest vegetables at the farm, go canoeing on the Sheepscot River, or go for a hike in the Camden Hills State Park. At the end of the day, they retire to their cabins and spend the evening laughing and talking with 6-7 other individuals who have also chosen to experience a semester at Chewonki. As part of the semester experience, students can also take advantage of the resources from our larger organization. A student may find herself feeding animals in the Traveling Natural History Lab, installing solar panels on a cabin during work program, learning about our geothermal pump and wind turbine during the weekly renewable energy talk, or doing service work on one of the coastal islands that is owned by Chewonki Foundation.
Is Maine Coast Semester accredited?
Maine Coast Semester at Chewonki is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), the nation’s oldest regional accrediting association. NEASC accredits 255 colleges, universities, and other post-secondary institutions and more than 619 private, independent schools in New England. Maine Coast Semester at Chewonki is also approved by the State of Maine Department of Education and we are a member of the Maine and National Associations of Independent Schools.
What are academics like at Maine Coast Semester?
How many classes do students take at Maine Coast Semester?
Students studying at Maine Coast Semester take five classes. Science and English are required courses, and students may choose from the following to fill the other three course slots: Mathematics (multiple levels), U.S. History, Environmental Issues, Art and the Natural World, French, and Spanish (multiple levels). In addition, by individual arrangement and at an additional cost, we have been able to arrange instruction in Latin, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, and German.
What is the average class size?
With only 40-42 students in each of our semesters the class sizes are small. The average class size is eight; the largest class is 14 students.
How often do classes meet?
Classes meet for a minimum of 220 minutes per week, usually in four 55-minute sessions. Science has a total of up to nine hours of contact time per week, including weekly field investigations.
Do students take standardized tests while at Maine Coast Semester at Chewonki?
PSATs are administered in the fall to all students. In the spring, students may take either the SAT I, or the ACT. The SAT II (Subject Test) is taken at home in June. Advanced Placement (AP) examinations are administered in May for those students who choose to take them. In past years students have taken U.S. History, Calculus AB & BC, French Language, Spanish Language, Spanish Literature, English Language, English Literature, and Environmental Science. Prep courses for standardized tests are not offered at Maine Coast Semester.
How do credits get forwarded from Maine Coast Semester at Chewonki?
Maine Coast Semester forwards grades and comprehensive teacher comments to parents and schools at the midterm and end of the semester. For class-ranking purposes, all our Semester courses should be considered honors level or AP level, as appropriate. It is the family’s responsibility to communicate with the sending school about what Maine Coast Semester courses the school is willing to accept. The majority of schools accept all of our classes. If the sending school has questions about our curriculum, please direct them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
How much time do students have to study?
Sunday through Friday students have proctored study hours from 7:30 – 9:30 PM. Students typically receive three to four hours of meaningful academic work to do outside of class each day, so they also have to make productive use of their free periods as well as other unscheduled times throughout the week. Learning to balance the academic demands and the many activities of the Chewonki community is a challenge, but the faculty are there to support the students as needed.
Do students bring their own laptops?
Many students bring their own computers, although Maine Coast Semester also provides shared computer access as needed. There is wireless in the dining hall and classroom buildings. Computers are not allowed in cabins and other designated community spaces.
Is extra help available at Maine Coast Semester?
The majority of the faculty live on campus, so they are available most evenings for academic support. Students are also welcome to make appointments with teachers for extra help as needed. With the small class sizes, teachers often seek out students who they think are in need of some extra support.
What is student life like?
How many students live in each cabin?
Typically six to eight boys or girls live in each cabin per semester. Each cabin has a wood stove and it is the responsibility of the students in each cabin to maintain the stove and keep the fire burning during the colder months.
What do students do on the weekends?
Weekends are filled with a variety of activities, which largely depend on the season. Saturday mornings in the fall, students may find themselves on a hike in the Camden Hills State Park, picking apples at a local orchard, raking for blueberries, canoeing on the Sheepscot River, or attending the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity. During the spring semester, students may enjoy ice skating on a local pond, snowshoeing at Eaton Farm, skiing at a local mountain, a college visit to Bates, Bowdoin, or Colby, or a trip to the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland.
On Saturday night, students prepare dinner and organize an evening activity along with several faculty members. We place a premium on creative, interactive and inclusive events. Past Saturdays have included a coffeehouse performance night, a murder mystery with everyone in character, contra and salsa dancing, an “iron-chef” bakeoff, and capture the flag, to name a few.
Sundays are typically a day for rest and getting ahead on academic work. Students interested in religious services may attend that morning (or on other days as needed).
What sports are available at Maine Coast Semester at Chewonki?
While Maine Coast Semester does not have organized athletic teams that participate with other schools, there are plenty of opportunities to stay active. Students use our tennis courts; our trails are great for trail running, hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing; and our waterfront is perfect for canoeing, sea kayaking, and swimming. In the winter months, we often create an ice rink on one of our ponds for skating and hockey. Some students bring bikes for riding into town. Four hours a week, students are active on work program, and each semester has a weeklong wilderness trip, with occasional optional weekend hiking trips.
How do I explore admissions?
How do I begin talking about Maine Coast Semester with the teachers and administrators at my school?
It is best to start by requesting a viewbook from the Maine Coast Semester admissions office and sharing our admissions materials with your advisor, guidance counselor, or dean of studies. Encourage the teachers and administrators you approach to contact the director of admissions if they have any questions. We look forward to speaking with them and telling them about our school. Many students have been the first in their schools to join Maine Coast Semester; the admissions office is always ready to help you with this process.
Can I visit Chewonki to explore the campus?
Students and their families who are traveling in the area are welcome to visit our campus! Because our school attracts students from across the country, we do not require personal interviews. However, please contact the admissions office if you would like to schedule a visit.
Is financial aid available?
Maine Coast Semester offers need-based aid. We have established a program that is based on grants, which do not have to be repaid. Financial aid is intended to cover the cost of tuition, room, and board, which is $27,800 for the 2016-2017 school year.