Preparing students for their most successful future in life and career, Calvary Day School (CDS) in Winston-Salem strives to make this success an outcome for all graduates.
CDS College Counselor Amy Willard said CDS makes helping students and their families navigate the complex process of college selection and admission a top priority.
“As a college preparatory school, we provide an atmosphere where students begin building their profile for college admission as soon as they enter high school, and discover their passions as they look to move on to life after graduation,” she said. “We spend a great deal of time talking with admission officers, visiting colleges, attending professional conferences and thinking through the complex issues that comprise the college search process, to keep our students on target to be competitive for high-level scholarships and obtain admission to their school of choice.”
CDS has been successful in implementing their college counseling process and has assisted their students in having a 100-percent college acceptance rate, in addition to their 100-percent graduation rate. Most recently, CDS Class of 2019 achieved a record-breaking feat by earning $7.9 million in scholarships and awards for their 59-member class.
“The Class of 2019 was an exceptional class,” Willard said of this top achievement. “Not only were they academically gifted, but they were also athletically gifted. We had our first-ever Morehead Cain Scholar at UNC-Chapel Hill, a United States Air Force Academy appointment, a national merit scholarship finalist, and at least six athletes sign for various sports, one being a Division 1-level athlete. These accomplishments are in addition to nearly every senior receiving some type of merit-based aid from the colleges they were accepted to.”
Last year, CDS Class of 2018 earned an impressive scholarship awards total netting more than $7.4 million for a class of 52 students.
“Calvary Day School has many hallmarks,” said CDS Upper School Principal Van Wade. “One of our best is the work done in our College Guidance Office. College Counselor Amy Willard does an amazing job preparing our students for what is next in their preparation for college.”
“Mrs. Willard helps our top seniors with their nomination process to the Military Academies, the Morehead-Cain Scholarship, the National Merit Scholars Program, and the Jefferson Scholarship at UVA, among others,” Wade said. “The nearly $8M of scholarships that the Class of 2019 earned is exceptional among schools of like-size and profile.”
Willard said just as each senior class is different, so is college admissions. “Each year colleges are looking to build a well-rounded class, not a class full of well-rounded students,” Willard said. “Calvary has a well-rounded student body… Our students are not only involved in school activities, organizations and athletics but they are individually involved in many aspects of the greater Winston-Salem area from churches to civic organizations, athletic clubs, service organizations, etc.”
Wade said CDS holds parent meetings to help prepare the families for the next steps and holds college readiness sessions with the students in each grade throughout the school year. Also, CDS hosts 30 to 40 college admissions representatives twice a year to introduce students to college opportunities.
Willard said by the time students are seniors, students and parents are fully informed and prepared to make their final decisions on where to apply. “Every August, we host a Camp College event before school starts to walk students through the Common App application process, as well as a College Essay Workshop,” she said. “This full-day event allows students to have my full attention to answer their questions and address their concerns before submitting applications.”
In addition to the college prep done by the counseling department, CDS has put curriculum in place to ensure their students are prepared academically. “CDS is unique in that every class offered truly prepares students for college,” Willard said. “We have students who never take an honors or advancement placement (AP) course, and still get accepted into colleges across the country.”
Also, Willard said the teachers at CDS create an atmosphere where students are challenged and encouraged to learn the material for future success, not just to answer the questions on the test. “Teachers hold students accountable for their work, but are also loving and nurturing,” she explained. “Our teachers truly go the extra mile for our students. Not only are they available every day for a tutorial, but they come in early, hold test prep sessions and genuinely care about students’ success. Our teachers pour into student’s lives through daily prayer and caring conversations, and treat each student as their own. I truly believe our students are so successful because they know how much they mean to us and how much they are loved as people, not just as students.”
To continue to advance students learning and meeting their learning needs, CDS offers AP courses. “These courses are rigorous, college-level classes in a variety of subjects that allow students to gain the skills and experience colleges recognize,” Willard said.
CDS now offers 14 AP courses with two new additions coming for the 2019-2020 school year. Plans are also in place to add “AP Spanish Language & Culture” for the Class of 2024, Willard said.
Willard described preparing students for college as a privilege. “We strive to help each student discover his or her God-given potential, interests and talents,” she said. “Much like every student is unique, colleges, too, have their unique characteristics. There is a college for every student!”