Frequently Asked Questions
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Why should I send my child to Westminster School?
Westminster offers a superior academic program of exceptional depth and thoroughness in an environment which nourishes excellent personal qualities in each student. Its program is grounded in a well-considered philosophy for raising and educating children, providing a strong partnership for parents who want the best for their child and want their child to evolve into his/her best self. The advanced, integrated academics, rich extracurricular program, and traditional environment of respect, responsibility, courtesy, and kindness provide a significant alternative to other public and private schools. Westminster is an institution of integrity, and parents can be assured that what the school promises is what will be delivered.
Kindergarten – 2nd grade students get a strong start with a highly effective, phonics-based reading/writing program, a math program that stresses reasoning and a solid grounding in math facts, hands-on science, an introduction to history/social studies and geography, French, art, music, daily PE, library, and Junior Great Books. Children in grades 3 – 8 continue to develop this core curriculum, working 1 to 1 ½ years ahead of their peers in public school. In addition, daily history/classical studies classes trace the history, culture, art, and literature of Western Civilization, providing students an in-depth understanding of its development and an extraordinarily rich context within which to understand the foundations of American government and values.
Upper-school (7th/8th grades) students at Westminster are in high-school level courses in all subjects, e.g., biology in 7th grade, physical science in 8th grade. In addition to French, they add Latin to their language studies. All students complete Algebra I and highly motivated students have the option of completing Geometry.
Westminster’s emphasis on the arts provides exceptional opportunities for students in all grades to discover and nurture their creativity and talent. All students participate in the arts, including formal classes in art and music, with the option of orchestra training. Dance classes and performances, talent shows, and art and poetry contests are an important part of school life. Through the drama program, all students perform in a play each year. The repeated experience of preparation and public performance helps children develop self-expression, self-confidence, and poise.
Finally, no description of the Westminster curriculum and program can capture the unique atmosphere of warmth, optimism, and elevated purpose that permeates the school. Westminster students feel that they are part of a very special, loving community that expects the best from them and has their best interests at heart—and they are.
Why do students like your school?
Students enjoy the after-school Athletic Program; the many field trips and special assemblies; the aesthetic environment; the celebrations of curriculum, such as Egyptian Day, Science Week, and Sports Day; the drama presentations; and, most of all, the sense of close community and caring possible in a small school.
Do the students wear uniforms?
Yes, students in all grades wear a school uniform every day. Students in grades 3-8 change into athletic uniforms for P.E. class.
Do you offer after-school care?
The after-school care program (3:00-6:00 p. m.) is available to students in grades K-8.
How long has your school been established and is it accredited?
Westminster School was established in 1962. It is a fully accredited member of Virginia Association of Independent Schools (VAIS) and is a member of Independent Education (IE), an association of independent schools of greater Washington.
Why should I send my child to The Griffin Academy?
The Griffin Academy provides an exceptionally high-quality, nurturing learning environment for preschool-aged children. This developmentally tailored program is delivered by a well-qualified, loving staff, who are dedicated to providing the best possible all-around experience for the children in their care.
A well-designed program is in place for 3, 4, and older 4-year-olds, which includes both academic and social development. Woven throughout the daily routine, The Griffin Academy encourages children to exercise kindness and good manners, to respect one another, and to work and play together harmoniously.
The academic program for the three-year-old classes introduces children to letters and their sounds, numbers, science through nature, social studies through community, music, art, French, drama and free-play. The children experience indoor and outdoor play, structured and non-structured time, quiet and active times during the day.
The academic program for the four-year-old classes helps to prepare the children for kindergarten. Older four-year-olds (those who are five by December 31) are placed in the junior kindergarten class, which is more academic than that for the younger fours. Both classes are exposed to a phonics-based pre-reading/reading program which prepares them for the joys of reading. Part of the daily routine includes story-time, during which the children are exposed to classic children’s literature and nursery rhymes.
Is The Griffin Academy a “feeder” school for Westminster School?
It is our hope that the students enrolled at The Griffin Academy will continue with their education at Westminster School. The governance of the preschool is overseen by the Headmaster of Westminster School. One of the goals of the preschool program is to prepare students for entry to Westminster School’s full-day academic kindergarten.
What is the background of the school director?
Ellis Glover has been the Headmaster of Westminster School since 1992. Educated in the classics and humanities, he served for 16 years as Assistant Director of Westminster School prior to taking over the headship upon the death of the school’s founder, Jane Goll.
Are you planning any changes?
Westminster’s long range plans include adding a new, state-of-the-art athletic field and an addition which will accommodate expansions in art, science, and technology.
Are you full? What are the provisions for new registrants? How much is tuition?
Most grades usually have some openings for new applicants. Registration is limited to 18 students (16 in kindergarten) per class (2 classes per grade). Tuition for 2013-2014 is $19,152 or less (depending on grade level), well below the median for independent schools in the greater Washington area. Various payment plans are offered. Financial aid is available. Financial aid awards are based on need. More information about financial aid is available on the admissions page of our web site, www.westminsterschool.com.
Are there special requirements for admission to Westminster school?
Admission to kindergarten is based on birth date, order of application, and readiness testing. For grades 1-7, admission is based on order of application, the results of a qualifying exam, a writing sample, teacher evaluation, and an interview with parents and child. Westminster School does not admit new students to the 8th grade.
Why should I pay to send my child to a private K-8 school?
The years from age 3 to 14 are the most formative in a person’s life. Character, attitude, sense of self, work ethic, and expectations of life’s possibilities are all shaped during this crucial span from infancy to young adulthood. The right school environment can make a profound difference in a child’s development and future. Public schools strive to serve large populations with widely varying needs, all within a huge, cumbersome bureaucracy. An independent school is a more accessible and effective partner in helping parents raise happy, confident, well-educated, and high-achieving children. The highest quality education is not guaranteed by the latest educational trend or the most computers in each classroom. It is not defined by numbers. It is one which teaches the child how to think clearly and independently, how to make good choices, how to develop and direct one’s talents to good purpose, how to present oneself with poise and articulation, and how to live in a way that is beneficial to oneself and to others. It is the result of a well-honed philosophy and a carefully designed program, consistently and effectively implemented. An independent school is more likely to offer a well-defined, consistent, and effective approach to child rearing and education. A school that shies away from discomfiting anyone has a difficult time upholding high standards of integrity, comportment, courtesy, and presentation. In trying to achieve the laudable goals of inclusion and tolerance, public schools have suffered diminishment of both academic and behavioral standards. An independent school can set and uphold high standards for students and staff. A school that must accommodate everyone cannot best serve anyone. Large populations with vastly differing needs, shifting educational theories, the pressure for political correctness, and the one-size-fits-all approach of government regulations hinder the development of a strong and effective educational program. Public schools are under enormous pressure to fulfill widely varying public and governmental agendas. An independent school is free to strive for genuine excellence.
Why should I choose Westminster School for my child?For more than 50 years, Westminster School has provided a superior elementary and middle-school education whose fundamental goals for each child are a disciplined and well-informed mind, strength of character, dedication to learning, generosity of spirit, and joy in the possibilities of life. A well-trained and dedicated staff know how to translate these ideals into daily reality for each child. Westminster provides an accelerated academic curriculum of exceptional quality and depth. Students are challenged to meet high expectations of effort and accountability. At Westminster, striving for excellence is not just a bumper sticker; it is a way of life. Westminster students are steeped in classic literature, study in depth the great civilizations of the Western world, learn French and Latin, relish hands-on science labs and advanced math classes, enjoy daily Physical Education. They go on numerous field trips each year, learn to dance, attend weekly art and music classes, and thrill to outdoor adventures. Extra-curricular activities include Sports Teams, Builders Club (community service), Orchestra, Chess Club, French Club, Mathcounts, Odyssey of the Mind, Science Olympiad, and more. Every student performs in a play every year, building poise, confidence, and the courage to share his or her talents. In Westminster’s well-rounded program, strengths are celebrated and weaknesses are strengthened. At Westminster, a well-honed philosophy and firm, yet loving teachers guide children toward good character, kindness, courtesy, a strong work ethic, and excitement about their own potential. Westminster offers a truly exceptional learning experience for one of the lowest independent school tuitions in the greater Washington area.To learn more or arrange a visit, contact the Admissions Office at 703-256-3620.
A WESTMINSTER EDUCATION—IT’S WORTH IT!
Do you offer extended care?
Extended care is available for an additional fee. Before-School-Care is available from 7:30 a.m.-8:30 a.m. After-School-Care for the three-year-olds is available from 12:00 p.m.-2:30 p.m. or 12:00 p.m.-5:30 p.m. After-School-Care for the four-year-olds is available from 2:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m.
Do you provide transportation?
The Griffin Academy offers bus service to any student who has a sibling riding the bus to/from Westminster School. Westminster School bus fees apply. Griffin Academy bus riders are received by teachers and escorted to class in the morning. Afternoon bus service is only available at the 2:30 dismissal time.
Are there special requirements for admission to your school?
All children must meet the stated age requirements and be potty-trained prior to the beginning of school. There is no admissions assessment for entry to the preschool. However, children are asked to attend a group “play-date” prior to admission. Parents will meet with the Preschool Director to ensure a mutual understanding of the goals for the child and to be certain that the parents are familiar with the long-term goals of The Griffin Academy and Westminster School.
What are the age requirements for entry?
Candidates for the three-year-old class must be three by October 31. Candidates for the four-year-old class must be four by October 31. Children may enroll in the Junior-Kindergarten class if they are turning five by December 31. (Younger four-year-olds may be moved to the Junior Kindergarten class if the teachers deem it appropriate for a particular child.)
How much is tuition?
Full-time (Monday-Friday) tuition for the 2013-2014 school year is $8,736.00 for the three-year-old class’s regular school day (8:30-12:00) and $11,340.00 for the four-year-old class’s regular school day (8:30-2:30). Part-time tuition, for the three-year-old class, for the two-day a week program (Tuesday & Thursday) is $4,800.00, and tuition, for the three-year-old class, for the three-day a week program (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday) is $7,200.00. Part-time tuition, for the four-year-old class, for the three-day a week program (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) is $8,640.00. All part-time classes are from 8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Additional fees are charged for the extended-day options. Various payment plans are offered.
What are the class sizes?
Currently, there are two classes of three-year-olds and two classes of four-year-olds. Each class has a maximum capacity of 14 students, with a lead teacher and an aide in each class.