A Curriculum for Boys

The concept called a Hero's Journey by writer Joseph Campbell and the speeches and correspondence of former South Kent Headmaster George Bartlett inspired South Kent to approach boys' education in a new way. We have embodied the Hero's Journey in a four-stage, four-year process reflecting adolescent growth and maturing, making each step the theme of a student's school year. In South Kent terms, the stages of this journey are "A Sense of Place: Community and Belonging," "The Quest: Coming of Age," "Responsibility and Commitment," and "Service and Moving On." These themes define the Form Program.

Launched in the fall of 1999, the Form Program is an innovative and balanced program for boys that guides their quest and provides tools to prepare them not only for college, but for lives as men of quality. South Kent School refers to grades 9 through 12 as “forms”: third through sixth. This categorization is adopted from the British, who traditionally used this term in their boarding schools.

South Kent's goal in blending its founding principles of Simplicity of Life, Self-Reliance, and Directness of Purpose with the new curriculum is to provide a school experience for the 21st century world that gives boys the intellectual, moral, physical, and social foundation for scholastic achievement in college and productive citizenship in adulthood.

Each year, boys embark on a focused journey that intertwines classroom curriculum with age-appropriate and challenging field experiences. Our boys grow in confidence and knowledge as they explore, interpret, and employ the lessons they learn.

Goals of the Form Program:

  • To challenge and encourage boys through a nurturing, yet rigorous academic program, using a boys-centered liberal arts curriculum.
  • To teach civic responsibility and the value of honest labor, through an active residential life and community service program.
  • To impart the value of faith and the importance of spiritual growth and awareness, through a regular chapel program.
  • To develop physical fitness, leadership skills, and tolerance, through competitive sports and a variety of extracurricular activities.


Third Form

A Sense of Place: Community and Belonging
The challenges presented by learning to live away from home while working to become a serious and self-reliant student is at times a daunting task for an adolescent boy. South Kent School's Third Form Program uses interdisciplinary and challenge-based learning approaches to meet this task. Giving the boys a foundation of skills, awareness of themselves as learners, and an understanding of their place in this community is of primary concern. Together, the students and a dedicated team of faculty work to create and maintain a supportive yet academically rigorous program. The main goals of this program are to develop and master the academic skills required for success in high school while building character and a sense of community, developing leadership skills, and fostering self-reliance.

The Third Form Program's staff is a four-person faculty team, representing a variety of academic disciplines. This faculty team meets weekly to discuss the Third Form curriculum, teaching strategies, and each student's progress in all aspects of his on-going experience at South Kent. In addition, this faculty team will provide all academic advising for boys in the Third Form. Each student has an advisor who will be the point person for both the student and his parents.
In The Third Form you will:
  • Learn how to live in a community away from home.
  • Become self-reliant.
  • Have a skill-based curriculum.
  • Develop skills for time management and organization, critical thinking, careful reading, clear and expressive writing, communication and problem solving.
  • Take an active role in helping the local and greater communities.
Third Form Course Offerings:
  • English I
  • History I
  • Pre-Engineering I (Project Design, Presentation, and Technology II)

Full course descriptions


Fourth Form

The Quest: Coming of Age
South Kent School's Fourth Form Program aims to build and reinforce strong academic skills and to develop and nurture students' self-confidence and self-esteem while stressing personal integrity and character. We strive to create motivated, inquisitive, and successful students who are equipped to be life-long learners and good citizens. In pursuit of these goals, we engage in a variety of experiences both on and off campus which further the quest stage of a student's Hero's Journey. On campus, these might include participating in team-building exercises, re-creating famous trials from the past, acting out portions of Shakespeare's plays, creating medieval-inspired armor, staging debates on Enlightenment philosophies, or negotiating a new peace treaty to end World War I. Off campus, we visit the Clark Art Museum, the Williams College Rare Book Collection, a local observatory, and an area college for an introduction to the college process. We also take advantage of exhibits and theatrical productions in the area.

The faculty working to implement the Fourth Form Program are a team representing most of the academic disciplines. These teachers use an inquiry, or problem-based, approach to learning and encourage our students to become independent thinkers and able writers across the disciplines. The team meets regularly to discuss curriculum, teaching strategies, and each boy's personal and academic progress. Members of the team work with the fourth form boys in all aspects of their life at South Kent, serving as advisers, dorm parents, and coaches. The boys also interact with other faculty members of our community, particularly in language and math courses and in sports, but the boys work closest with members of the form team.

In The Fourth Form you will:
  • Develop self awareness.
  • Meet challenging academics to begin the process of self-discovery.
  • Be encouraged to realize your academic, physical, and emotional potential as forces for positive change.
Fourth Form Course Offerings:
  • English II
  • History II
  • Pre-Engineering II 

The fourth form core classes have a closely integrated curriculum. Daily block scheduling of the core allows the teachers flexibility in designing each class day to optimize the development of the students' academic skills and the themes of the fourth form year. Advanced sections of English and history will be formed each year for motivated students or proven merit. All Fourth Form students take the core courses.

Full course descriptions


Fifth Form

Responsibility and Commitment

After self-discovery in Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey comes challenge. In South Kent School's Fifth Form program, challenge translates to the themes of Commitment and Responsibility. Commitment is seen primarily in the area of academics as the boys work to put together the best possible transcript in this very important year. South Kent Fifth Formers have the opportunity to assume leadership roles in the South Kent community to prepare for the Sixth Form year, and they meet regularly through the year with senior faculty to discuss issues of community, responsibility, personal goal-setting, and leadership. Some boys will have responsible positions in the dorms; all Fifth Form boys share the responsibility for the efficiency and cleanliness of dishwash and the dining hall, a focal point for the day-to-day operation of the School.

Affinity Groups

The 5th, 6th, and PG Forms are divided into heterogeneous groupings called Affinity Groups. Over the course of the year, each affinity group will participate in different "Calls" designed to guide young men along their Hero's Journey by challenging them to step outside their "comfort zones" in several ways and instilling commitment and responsibility.

In The Fifth Form you will:
  • Concentrate on classroom work to prepare for college acceptance
  • Demonstrate cooperation and active support for leaders of the community
  • Engage in traditional academics
Fifth Form Course Offerings:
  • English III
  • United States History
  • Advanced Placement US History

At the Fifth Form level, we follow a modified "core" curriculum that coordinates the development of reading, writing, and research skills in English and United States History. When possible, these courses will also focus on parallel themes in the development of the American character. Beyond the required core curriculum of English III and United States History, the boys will study a traditional eleventh-grade prep school curriculum that includes courses in science, mathematics, a foreign language, and the arts.

full course descriptions


Sixth Form and Post Graduate

Service and Moving On

South Kent's Sixth Form program involves a balance of four main components: academic performance, the college selection process, school leadership, and service to others.

Sixth Formers are expected to perform at the peak of their abilities as they experience the demands of the Sixth Form year and prepare for college. The boys are asked to strive for academic excellence as critical thinkers, to present clear and thoughtful oral and written communications, and to become sophisticated problem solvers. Sixth Form students lead the campus jobs program, take on the responsibilities of dorm supervision, and assume leadership roles in athletic teams and community service activities. Our service begins on campus and extends to the local, national, and world communities.

Affinity Groups

The 5th, 6th, and PG Forms are divided into heterogeneous groupings called Affinity Groups. Over the course of the year, each affinity group will participate in different "Calls" designed to guide young men along their Hero's Journey by challenging them to step outside their "comfort zones" in several ways and instilling commitment and responsibility.

In the Sixth Form, you will:
  • Work closely with the College Adviser to put together the best possible profile for your post-secondary education.
  • Be challenged with new and exciting physical, intellectual, and emotional experiences.
  • Take leadership roles in campus activities and service projects.
Sixth Form and Post Graduate Course Offerings:
  • English IV
  • Advanced Placement English IV

All Sixth Formers and Post Graduates must take English IV or AP English IV. In addition to their English class, we expect Sixth Formers to pursue a traditional preparatory school twelfth grade curriculum that includes upper-level courses in science, mathematics, a foreign language, and the arts. 

full course descriptions


Affinity Groups

The 5th form, 6th form, and PG students are divided into three heterogeneous groupings called "affinity" groups. Over the course of the year, each affinity group will participate in three different "Calls" designed to guide young men along their Hero's Journey.

Call to Adventure

South Kent's Outdoor Adventure program fosters a deeper understanding of the self and instills in our students an appreciation for the natural world. The types of activities that drive our young men to these goals are rock climbing, hiking, snowshoeing, tree planting, overnight camping and structure building (all seasons). With the Call to Adventure, students are challenged to leave their comfort zones and develop the confidence to handle unfamiliar situations while simultaneously fostering a sense of stewardship for the environment.

Call to Service

A young man faces a choice in life: to be a hero, using his gifts and talents for the benefits of the community, or to be a celebrity, working only for his own benefit. South Kent develops heroes who act selflessly on behalf of the community. Serving the community can take many different forms. Students will serve in the on-campus "jobs" program, and be asked to participate in a variety of off-campus service programs such as Habitat for Humanity, Midnight Run, or serving meals to the elderly or at a soup kitchen. Call to Service participants also have opportunities to attend retreats to reflect upon the links between their spiritual and communal lives.

Call to Explore

Upper School boys are at different stages of their Hero's Journey, some newly departed from home, others further along the path and already feeling comfortable and competent with their inner and outer worlds. The Call to Explore gives our boys the opportunity to explore and express themselves through drama, singing, movement, poetry, story telling, video production and more. Opportunities such as performances and presentations for the community draw boys out, encouraging them to accept themselves and making them comfortable with expression.