St. John's School
St. John’s School was founded in 1946 by community members in coordination with the Episcopal Church of St. John the Divine. A former Assistant Dean of Students at the University of Chicago, Alan Lake Chidsey, served as the school’s first headmaster and he welcomed 344 students to the school in its inaugural year.
St. John’s School is no longer formally affiliated with the church. Today, the school educates over 1200 PreK-12th grade students on its lovely 41-acre campus in the heart of River Oaks.
Originally a joint effort with the Episcopal Church of St. John’s the Divine, St. John’s is no longer religiously affiliated. The chapel on campus is host to a broad range of multicultural services in addition to non-denominational Judeo-Christian services.
Location and Facilities
St. John’s 41-acre campus is located at the intersection of Westheimer and Buffalo Speedway in the Upper Kirby district, at the edge of Houston’s prestigious and exceptionally affluent River Oaks community. Lamar High School is across the street. The campus is divided in the center by Westheimer Road; the upper and middle schools are on the north side of Westheimer, while the lower school is on the south side. Two tunnels under the road provide a traffic-free connection between the two halves of campus. Athletic facilities include a track and field, another multipurpose field, and a soccer/ baseball field. At the end of 2012, St. John’s acquired 13 acres of land adjacent to its South Campus. It has not yet announced an intended use for this acquisition.
The admissions process to St. John’s is very competitive. Only about 20% of applicants are offered admission. Admissions criteria include academic capability, personal motivation, comparative strengths, and diversity. St. John’s makes a conscious effort to admit students from all ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. Admissions preference is accorded to community members and those who have some sort of affiliation with the school—alumni, siblings, faculty members, etc. Prospective parents would be well served by reading St. John’s detailed publication on the admissions process, “Hopes and Realities,” available on the school’s website.
Kindergarten students must be 5 years old by September 1st but not older than 6 on June 1st of their application year. Only 175 candidates are allowed to apply for kindergarten. Preference is given to families affiliated with the school followed by chronological order of application date. There are 42 openings; historically, nearly 75% of these openings have been taken by legacy children. Applying students are individually administered IQ tests and are also assessed in a group setting for school readiness skills.
Approximately 22 spaces are made available for first grade. Applicants should be six years old by September 1st but no older than 7 on June 1st. The evaluation process includes a teacher recommendation, testers’ evaluations, IQ test, math achievement test, and writing sample. Legacy students historically account for 40% of the first grade openings.
The next prime entry point is sixth grade, when approximately 50 spots are offered. Admissions criteria include teacher recommendations in math and English, mid-year report cards, test results from the OSLAT and ISEE, and an interview. Legacy students historically account for about 30% of sixth grade openings.
Ninth grade is the last prime entry point for St. John’s, with approximately 25 spaces offered. Application criteria include math and English teacher recommendations, mid-year report cards, OLSAT and ISEE test results, an essay, and an interview. Legacy students historically account for 40% of ninth grade openings.
Academic Tracks and Curriculum
The curriculum in kindergarten through third grade is self-contained, meaning that students stay in one room while the same group of teachers covers all of the subjects in the curriculum. Language arts, history, and math are taught by subject specialists from the fourth grade onward. Art, computer, library, music, physical education, science, and Spanish are always taught by specialists regardless of grade.
In the middle school, each subject is taught only by specialized teachers. Middle school students participate in weekly enrichment courses, including newspaper, student government, music, and sports. All students must also participate in daily physical education.
In the upper school, honors and advanced classes in math and English are generally offered beginning in eleventh grade. St. John's offers 19 Advanced Placement courses. St. John’s also offers an advanced math curriculum which includes courses in linear algebra, partial differential equations, differential equations, and multivariable calculus. Juniors and seniors have access to a wide array of elective classes. Juniors and seniors may also participate in independent and directed study programs wherein they are able to create their own curriculums. A pass/fail option is offered for elective classes.
The school requires 17.5 academic credits to earn a diploma; two semesters are equal to one credit. The distribution requirements are as follows: English (4), math (3), science (2), foreign language (3), fine arts (1), and electives (1.5).
No information concerning St. John's School's accommodations for students with special needs is available at this time.
Foreign language instruction is part of the St. John’s curriculum at all levels, beginning with compulsory Spanish in Kindergarten. French, Latin, and Spanish become available in sixth grade and are offered four times a week. Chinese and Ancient Greek are offered beginning in 9th grade. French, Latin, and Spanish are offered up to and beyond the AP level.
Visual art and music are integral parts of the lower school curriculum. Fine arts offerings become more diversified beginning in sixth grade, when all students must take one quarter each of theatre, dance, music, and art. A full year band class becomes an option in seventh grade. The choices continue to expand in eighth grade and upper school.
Only one credit of art is required for graduation from St. John’s; however, there are a wide variety of options for students to fulfill that credit, including classes in photography, architecture, music theory, theatre, and even the history of rock and roll. The Theatre department put on five major productions in the 2010-2011 academic year. Additionally, St. John’s has a Performing Ensembles Department which offers Handbell, Jazz Band, String, Wind, Choir, and Dance Caprice.
St. John’s students begin visiting the computer lab in Kindergarten. Specialized computer classes start in the second grade and continue through middle school. Computer science becomes an in the upper school, with three different courses offered. Wireless internet is available throughout the school’s campus. Students are not required to bring their own laptops to school.
Students may participate in student government in the middle and upper school divisions. Other extracurricular institutions include the upper school's monthly newspaper, The Review, and the upper school's annual magazine.
Students can form virtually club they want, provided it meets with the approval of the Dean of Students. Clubs are numerous and as diverse as the student body, from Model UN to Quiz Bowl to Spanish Club, along with many more.
The school fields teams in fourteen sports: baseball, basketball, cross-country, field hockey, football, golf, lacrosse, soccer, swimming, softball, tennis, track, volleyball, and wrestling. St. John’s is a member of the Southwest Preparatory Conference.
Parents are encouraged to take part in the Parents’ Council and ‘Brown Bag’ forums. These forums promote dialogue between parents and school leadership concerning school programs, policies and procedures, as well as addressing parents’ concerns.
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2401 Claremont Lane, Houston, TX 77019