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Head of the class: Indiana's independent primary and secondary schools.

There are a number of reasons to choose private education for your children.

Some students need the structured routine of a military boarding school where self-discipline and responsibility, as well as academic achievement, are stressed. Others need a more challenging academic environment not always available in the public-school system. Then there are parents who want their children to have a solid foundation in religious values.

Many independent institutions offer a combination of the three. And Indiana is home to a number of independent private schools that have earned national and international acclaim. Following is a sampling of the independent schools in the Hoosier state.

The Canterbury School in Fort Wayne is an independent day school offering exceptional educational opportunities for preschoolers to highschool seniors. It was founded in 1977 as an elementary school. Two years later, a junior high was added, and a high-school wing was completed in 1983. But even this expansion was not enough to meet the increasing demand within the community, so in 1987 the school added a facility at a site a short distance from the original campus.

It's a common belief at private and public schools alike that class size plays an important role in the quality of education. Smaller classes allow for greater communication between students and faculty, as well as with parents. In Canterbury's kindergarten there is a maximum of 15 students, while higher grades have classes with no more than 17 students.

"The environment and the atmosphere at the school is very caring, warm and nurturing," says Susan Johnson, director of marketing, development and admissions. "It certainly stresses academics, but also provides a well-rounded athletic and artistic opportunity for all students. It's also a very trusting environment. We have no locks on lockers in any building."

Canterbury has a no-cut policy for all sports. So if your child wants to play soccer, he or she can. Fine arts are stressed from the very beginning of the child's education. Pupils study French from kindergarten prep onward. There is a dress code, and all students attend morning chapel from 8:15 to 8:30.

As an independent school, Canterbury can set its own curriculum. Standards are higher, and in most cases, students achieve well above the national average on standard aptitude tests. The school offers an accelerated program in nearly every subject, with a special emphasis on math.

Park Tudor School in Indianapolis also caters to the educational needs of children from prekindergarten through grade 12. Here, too, classes are small, with an average of 15 students.

"Class size is crucial," says C. Davies Reed, director of admissions. "Not every student at Park Tudor gets one-on-one teaching, but if you have an English class with fewer than 15 students, there's a better chance of having discussion than with 35 students. Shakespeare has a chance."

Reed says enrollment usually jumps in the sixth and ninth grades, with total grade-level enrollments ranging from 30 in kindergarten to 80 in the ninth grade. The school expanded the fourth grade from 40 to 51 students in response to growing demand.

The curriculum at Park Tudor is focused on college prep, with a vast fine-arts program that includes vocal and instrumental music, theater and visual arts. There are 13 advanced-placement courses in which students can receive college credit upon completion of the AP exam.

Park Tudor School dates back to 1902, with the founding of the Tudor Hall School for Girls. In 1970, this school merged with the 1914-founded Park School for Boys, formally bonding their shared interest in academic and extracurricular programs.

Cathedral High School in Indianapolis combines strong academic programs with spiritual growth for students in grades nine through 12. The school was founded in 1918 and celebrates its 75th anniversary this year

Through a college preparatory and independent Catholic school, Cathedral prides itself in having a student population that is racially, intellectually, socially, religiously and geographically diverse. "We have no geographic limitations as to where students can come from," President Julian Peebles says, noting that the day school serves Central Indiana and draws from about 100 feeder schools.

There is an admissions test, but Peebles says that not just the top students are admitted. "We see our mission as taking the average student and preparing him for college," he says.

"We're a very traditional school," he continues. "We emphasize the basic skills first. There are no fancy frills to a Cathedral education." However, there is a low student-to-teacher ratio of 14-to-1.

Also, students are encouraged to broaden their horizons. "Academics are the keystone," Peebles says, "but we encourage students to become well-rounded outside the classroom." Extracurricular activities can include athletics, drama, music and fine arts, and the school has the largest private marching band in Indiana.

Boarding schools tend to fall into two categories: those with a strong emphasis on religious education and those with strict military disciplinary codes.

Le Mans Academy, located in Rolling Prairie, is a boarding school for boys in grades five through nine. The facility is unusual in that it does not offer a high-school or combination junior-and-senior-high program.

Despite being an independent Catholic residential academy with a military structure, director of admissions John Novick says Le Mans provides an unusually warm atmosphere for the boys. "Kids walk around here with big grins on their faces," he says.

"We try to walk a very fine line. We consider ourselves at least as well rounded, if not more, than other residential programs," Novick says. "We try to balance the academic life with the social life and the athletic life. No one aspect, including the religious and military, stands out more than the other."

Novick says military training at the school is used in a motivational sense, not in a punitive nature, to teach the students to discipline themselves, to set goals and to achieve those goals. It also develops a respect for authority--not just adult authority, but among the peer group as well.

"It's interesting having a seventh- or eighth-grader as a platoon leader being looked up to by fifth- or sixth-graders, and having that student understand that he is a model to the younger students," Novick says. "This carries over to high school, college and beyond. It's the sense that somehow what you do affects other people. It's not just you."

The academy offers a strong liberal-arts program designed to prepare students for the rigors of collegiate studies.

The foundation for Le Mans was set in 1955, when it operated under the name of Sacred Heart Military Academy in Watertown, Wis. In 1955, the academy moved to its 600-acre site on Silver Lake, and the name was changed to Le Mans Academy. The academy is operated by the Brothers of Holy Cross and is affiliated with the University of Notre Dame, which, says Novick, is a considerable asset. Students regularly attend athletic events and other campus activities, including poetry readings.

Marian Heights Academy, located in Ferdinand, challenges students to integrate values of the Gospel into their lives. And while some schools may encourage competition among the students, cooperation is the motivational key to academic success and social recognition.

"We basically provide a safe, stable Christian environment for students," says Sister Mary Cheryl Uebelhor, president of Marian Heights. "Here in the Midwest, we have some values that are appreciated."

Nearly half of its students are foreign. The academy offers a special "English as a second language" program, and foreign students generally attend to learn about the American culture. "Good Morning America" is used as a teaching tool to help the girls grasp the language.

American students are presented with special situations not usually found in public schools. "There's a lot of opportunities to rub shoulders with other nationalities here," Sister Uebelhor says. "They end up making friends with these students and often visit other countries. We also offer the opportunities to travel and learn about the world."

The Sisters of St. Benedict, the oldest order of the Roman Catholic Church and renowned for its commitment to education, founded the academy in 1870. Marian Heights originally provided elementary and high-school education for the small German Catholic community, whose population is now around 2,500. In 1950, Ferdinand built its own high school, and the academy's emphasis shifted to the needs of boarding students, who have been present throughout its history.

The students at La Lumiere School in LaPorte attend the school because they want to be in college. "One of my first questions in the admissions interview is 'Do you want to go to college?'" says Christopher Moore, director of admissions. "If they don't, there's no point in their being here, because that's what we're all about. We're here to see students successfully through to college."

So strong is this emphasis that La Lumiere sends a representative to speak to the admissions director at each first-choice college of the seniors. It also offers an SAT prep course and a writing-lab program that supplements writing required for English. Each week students must write a three- to five-page paper.

"They write in every discipline," Moore explains. "One week they could be writing in biology, the next in mathematics, the next history and on down the line."

The students also read between six and eight classics per semester. "We want to make sure that by the time they get to college, they're reading and writing to the best of their ability," he adds.

Sports are mandatory at the school. Each student must actively participate in one sport per season, three per year. Moore says this not only stresses the importance of competition, but also being part of the community as well.

La Lumiere also sponsors a consciousness-raising experience for seniors. Each year the group goes to Appalachia to rebuild a home for an underprivileged family.

"We're out in the woods for the most part, and it's very important that students understand that there are other people out there," says Moore, referring to the school's 155-acre rural setting near South Bend. "So often students--teenagers especially--are so caught up in the immediate, and what's affecting them at this point in time, that they need to understand what they do for others is of the utmost importance."

The co-ed independent Catholic school was founded in 1963, and provides traditional liberal-arts studies as well as advanced-placement courses for both boarding and day students.

A majority of the students at Howe Military School, located near the Indiana-Michigan border not far from Lagrange, fell through the cracks in other school systems.

"Well over 50 percent of our cadet corps is here because they're under-achieving," says Glenn Cox, director of admissions. "They have a lot of abilities, but in the school systems they've been in, they simply are not functioning well."

Small classes with an average of 10 students, individualized attention and mandatory study halls each evening are the keys to success for the Howe cadets who are in grades five through 12. As of this school year, each high-school student is now required to have a computer in his or her barracks. The system is linked to the school's network, where assignments are posted and sometimes turned in through the electronic-mail system. There also are extensive reference and newsbank sources available, as well as more than 150 different academic tutorial programs.

Academics, however, do not take precedence over other aspects of the school. "Here, we're not just working on academics. We're trying to work on the all-around individual," Cox says. "We are a military school, and we instruct our students in discipline, respect for one another and respect for the institutions of society."

There is a merit/demerit system, with an emphasis on immediate corrective action for unacceptable behavior including such honor-code violations as lying, cheating or stealing. The administration believes the system mirrors society as a whole, enabling students to "experience citizenship first-hand and develop the character to be honorable, trustworthy and intelligent citizens."

Cadets are given the opportunity to make classroom presentations, stressing the importance of oral communication, and they are drilled in the nation's history. Physical challenges abound as well, with adventure training and rappelling practice on the school's tower. There also is a Drill Team and Rifle Team where students practice conducting parades and ceremonies.

Students also are required to participate in worship services. Since its founding in 1884 as the Howe Grammar School, it has been associated with the Episcopal church. It became a military school in 1895, and adopted its current name in 1940.

Sports are mandatory here, and students must participate in either varsity or intramural sports for each of the three seasons.

Some students are from foreign countries, but a majority are from the Midwest. The school is co-ed with a boy-girl ratio of about 9-to-1.

Celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, Culver Military Academy's roster boasts a number of distinguished alumni. A few include actor Hal Holbrook, America's Cup winner Bill Koch and Jim Henderson, president of Cummins Engine Co.

Culver is known internationally for its college-prep program. "We're very serious about academics," says Dean Ralph Manuel, the school's president. "100 percent of our students go on to a university."

The academy's mission is to develop the whole individual--in mind, character, spirit and body.

Manuel says students carry five academic subjects, with many sophomores doing college-level work through the AP program. Students rank well above the state averages on SATs. To enhance their studies, the school has added the Huffington Library, which contains 150,000 volumes, state-of-the-art broadcast equipment and a computer network.

Character is developed through leadership courses such as the history and psychology of leadership, and also instruction in group dynamics. Sports are mandatory, with 87 percent of the students involved in varsity sports and the rest in intramurals.

"We have an array of activities that would boggle the mind," Manuel says. "We have all the normal sports, but at the same time we offer crew, with our own shells and boathouse. In the winter we offer ice hockey. We're renowned as one of the finest secondary-school ice-hockey programs in the country."

The campus is situated on more than 1,500 acres on the shores of Lake Maxinkuckee. "The architecture has been jealously guarded for over 100 years," Manuel says. "Everything on this campus is brick and Georgian," which he says reminds him of Dartmouth.

Students play an active part in disciplinary measures. Each dormitory elects a representative to the honor council, which upholds the Culver Honor Code: "I will not lie, cheat, or steal; and I will discourage others from such actions."

Independent Private Schools in Indiana

CANTERBURY SCHOOLS Fort Wayne Grades: Prekindergarten through 12 Enrollment: 630

CATHEDRAL HIGH SCHOOL Indianapolis Grades: 9 through 12 Enrollment: 881

CULVER ACADEMIES Culver Grades: 9 through 12 Enrollment: 668

EVANSVILLE DAY SCHOOL Evansville Grades: Prekindergarten through 12 Enrollment: 255

FOREST RIDGE ACADEMY Merrillville Grades: Kindergarten through 8 Enrollment: 100

HOWE MILITARY SCHOOL Howe Grades: 5 through 12 Enrollment: 201

LA LUMIERE SCHOOL LaPorte Grades: 9 through 12 Enrollment: 88

LEMANS ACADEMY Rolling Prairie Grades: 5 through 9 Enrollment: 104

MARIAN HEIGHTS ACADEMY Ferdinand Grades: 9 through 12 Enrollment: 135

ORCHARD COUNTRY DAY SCHOOL Indianapolis Grades: Nursery through 8 Enrollment: 590

PARK TUDOR SCHOOL Indianapolis Grades: Prekindergarten through 12 Enrollment: 800

ST. RICHARD'S SCHOOL Indianapolis Grades: Transitional kindergarten through 8 Enrollment: 286

STANLEY CLARK SCHOOL South Bend Grades: Kindergarten through 8 Enrollment: 396

THE SYCAMORE SCHOOL Indianapolis Grades: Prekindergarten through 8 Enrollment: 388
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Title Annotation:Education
Author:Prata, Kathleen
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Date:Nov 1, 1993
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