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Saint Thomas Choir School

Small school. Big opportunity.

Surrounded by all the modern bustle in midtown Manhattan, we continue a centuries-old tradition of singing in a boy choir. As an intimate-sized school for grades 3-8, we offer world-class musical training, a challenging academic program complete with the latest technology, a wealth of extra-curricular enrichment, and a talented faculty who love to teach. Together we create a warm and nurturing environment for our students. The application process at Saint Thomas is need-blind, and substantial financial aid is available to eligible applicants. With our extensive placement assistance, most of our students go on to competitive high schools, often with good scholarships.

The students all sing as choristers with the Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys, considered by many to be the leading ensemble of its kind in the United States. The Choir performs regularly with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, or with the period instrument ensemble, Concert Royal, as part of its own concert series. Its primary raison d’être, however, is to provide music for five choral services each week. Supplementing its choral services and concert series over the past four decades, the Choir has toured throughout the U.S. and Europe with performances at Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral in London; King’s College, Cambridge; Windsor; Edinburgh; St. Albans; the Aldeburgh Festival and the Vatican.

Basic Facts

    Available Spots: 5/31/19 We have 4 spots in our 3rd grade class, 4 spots in our 4th grade class, 1 spot in our 5th grade class for the 2019-20 school year

    Age Range:
    Grades 3-8

    Years Established: School established in 1919

    Enrollment: 26 students

    Average Class Size: 5

    Tuition: $16,500 per year

    Who you serve:
    All-boy, Elementary, Middle School

    Mission/Philosophy
    The Saint Thomas Choir School is an independent school that houses, nurtures, and educates the boy choristers of Saint Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue. We work together to cultivate a love of learning through challenging academic study and professional musical training rooted in the Anglican choral tradition. Our unique, familial environment fosters self-reliance and personal growth, preparing students to contribute productively to their communities.

    Capacity:
    35

Contact Details

Important Q&A

    What differentiates your school from all others?
    An obvious answer is that our students are full members of a world-class music ensemble. Not many other schools in the world can make that claim. In addition to their rich education in choral music through their 20 hours a week of choir rehearsals, services, and concerts, the boys deepen their musical knowledge and skills with weekly instrumental and voice lessons as well as music theory classes. At graduation, they are at a level of music training on par with college freshmen. Often, boys take solos in front of large crowds, thereby developing poise, self-confidence and leadership skills. The dedication, focus and camaraderie informs everything they do as young scholars, young artists and young men. These are rare and invaluable lessons that they take with them wherever they go in life.

    Less obvious but as important is the low student-faculty ratio of 3:1 and the high degree of individual and personal attention. Due to the small class sizes at Saint Thomas, teachers differentiate classroom strategies and curricula for each year's set of students. The faculty closely monitors students’ progress and works collaboratively on solutions to help each student succeed through formal weekly staff meetings and informal daily check-ins. Full time teachers devote considerable time outside of class to working with students individually. Study hall is supervised by the academic teaching staff, and is another time for students to ask questions and pursue deeper understandings. Teachers live their daily lives with the students, eating family-style, traveling together on tours and sharing time at camp. This level of familiarity and connection pays dividends in the development and education of our students.



    Our alumni go on to every field imaginable. In our 100-year history, Saint Thomas boys have become bankers and financial analysts, doctors, lawyers, engineers, salesmen, teachers, Fulbright scholars and yes, even musicians! Above all, Saint Thomas provides a great foundation for life, sending its graduates on to many of the finest high schools and college in the country, and successful careers in their choice of fields.

    Where do you see your school in 5 years, what will be different?
    Our music is traditional, but our school is as modern as they come. As classroom technology has developed, we have kept pace with smart boards, white board tables, a one-to-one macbook program, and tech classes focused on safe and smart use of tech.

    We also continue to update our classically structured curriculum to include contemporary modes of inquiry. For example, in our history classes, we still move chronologically from studying hominids, hunter-gatherer societies in 5th grade and early civilization to Ancient Greece and Rome, aligning with beginning the study of Latin, in 6th grade, to the Dark Ages and High Middle Ages in Europe in th grade to early American history in 8th grade. However, historical study has experienced a shift in the past few decades. This movement has shifted from an emphasis on facts and rote memorization of historical subjects to an approach more focused on thematic arcs, cultural exposure and historiographical processes. While terms, definitions, people, places, etc. maintain a hallowed role in the curriculum and appear frequently for assessment purposes, the bulk of study is dedicated to this “new” history. All of our study focuses around the ideas and questions essential to the story of humanity: who are we, what has made us this way, and what can we become?

    Whatever the next shifts in tech and intellectual inquiry will be, we will be open to adopting the best of it.

    Whats one myth about your school thats just not true?
    Myth: Boarding school is just for people who want to send their children away. I love my son and our family is really close.

    Fact: Ask any Saint Thomas parent and you’ll get a similar answer: “I never thought I could send my young son to boarding school!”

    We have designed the school calendar so that a Saint Thomas education does not come at the expense of family closeness. Students in 4th-8th grades have leave out every Saturday with family from 10:30 am until 7:30 pm. Sundays include lunch with family at school and dinner leave out with family. Third graders go home Friday night and return Sunday Night. For many professional families, this schedule roughly mirrors one already in place due to work and after school commitments. Additionally, there are week-long (or longer) breaks at home built into the calendar every 6-8 weeks.

    We can assure you that Saint Thomas is a warm, caring and happy place where boys thrive. The building was thoughfully designed to be home-like with a living room, rec room, a lounge for bedtime stories near the dorm rooms, and even a fireplace. Our full-time faculty live in the building, and the boys develop deep bonds with their teachers as well as their classmates. There are two houseparents who live on the dorm floors and ensure that boys are settled, healthy, calling home regularly, and prepared for each day. The boys often refer to themselves as a band of brothers, and these close relationships endure long after their time at Saint Thomas. Indeed, the young alumni are invited back for the night before Thanksgiving each year, and it is always heartwarming to see how many return to reconnect with their friends and their “home away from home.”

    What kind of student is most successful at your school?
    A bright, curious boy who has the makings of a good chorister. We evaluate interested boys on their vocal potential, not on present skill or technique. It takes time for every Saint Thomas student to become a Saint Thomas chorister. Younger boys generally have an easier road to admission, as the older a boy is, the more his Saint Thomas classmates have advanced, both musically and academically. However, our small size allows us considerable flexibility. Go ahead! Saint Thomas Choir School might be the perfect fit for your son. We encourage everyone to at least ‘come and see.’

    Why should we choose your school?
    Saint Thomas Choir School offers a kind of education that’s very different than any local program, so it’s worth considering if it might be right for your family. Boys at Saint Thomas are immersed in a 1,000-year-old tradition of choral singing that only exists in this form in two other places in the world —Westminster Abbey in London and Escolania de Montserrat in Spain.

    They learn over 500 pieces of choral music every year, singing 5 services every week in addition to a full concert schedule. Working daily aside professional singers at the highest level instills a kind of focus, dedication, and confidence that few other educational experiences can match. They also have pillow fights, go on an annual ski trip, play manhunt in Central Park, spend 10 days at camp and go on tour together. They have sung with Sting and on the Today show. They have rung the closing bell on Wall St. To know at 9 or 10 years old what it is to be world-class, and to have fun, be a part of a brotherhood and have extraordinary experiences along the way, sets a Saint Thomas boy on a path of excellence for life.

    What does a typical day look like for your kids?
    An average Tuesday or Thursday, as described by the 6th and 7th grades:
    ....7:00 am | Wake Up
    The housemother wakes everyone up, but she cycles through the floors, so you might be able to sleep in a little longer. If you have trouble waking up, think about breakfast… Motivation!!!
    ....7:00-7:45 am | Breakfast
    Waffles, bagels, muffins, English muffins, fruit, cereal and yogurt. How does one choose?!
    ....8:00-9:15 am | Choir Rehearsal
    After brushing our teeth, we go down to choir rehearsal to practice the music for Evensong tonight. First, we fill up our water bottles and grab our pencils. Then, it’s time to sing. At the end of rehearsal, I am assigned a solo. I’ve got to practice before Evensong tonight!
    ....9:15-9:30 am | Short Break
    You can play ping-pong or foosball, read, finish homework, get a snack, practice, or just relax with your friends.
    ....9:30-10:55 am | Sports
    I sprint down the stairs to make sure I am on time to sports. We start with some warm-ups. Then we do drills to practice for our basketball games, and play a scrimmage at the end. Even though my team loses, we work really hard. I think we are ready for our game on Friday.
    ....10:55-12:15 pm | Academic Classes
    In Science class, we make awesome telescopes! They actually work well, but the image is upside down. Oops. In English, we write essays and work on learning writing techniques. My short story about Los Angeles being taken over by aliens is almost finished. Now I just have to figure out how the aliens are going to get home without their space ship. In Art class we’re doing woodworking to get ready for the Pinewood Derby. My car is shaped like a three-masted ship. I don’t think it will win the race, but I hope it wins the “design” award.
    ....12:15-1:00 pm | Lunch
    Finally, it’s time for lunch with our five-star chef and her wonderful cooking. Our food is the best! I especially enjoy the sticky toffee pudding for dessert.
    ....1:00-3:45 pm | Academic Classes
    In History, we make a blueprint of a city-state in Greece. I get to design my own, so I make it a giant fortress. In Math, we talk about game theory and how it works. I can’t wait to learn how to beat my sister at everything. In Latin, we work on translating a tricky passage from the Oxford Latin book about Quintus playing a prank on his teacher. In Music Theory we are playing the pieces we composed last night in front of the whole class. I hope I’m ready!
    ....3:45-4:00 pm | Short Break
    I run straight to pingpong and play with my friends. Sometimes I grab a piece of fruit at the end.
    ....4:00-4:15 pm | Walk to Church
    We grab the zippies, which have our music for tonight in them, and our duffel coats, and we’re out the door. The walkover is fun because we get to see the city.
    ....4:15-6:15 pm | Choir Rehearsal & Evensong
    We practice for Evensong with the Gentlemen of the choir. I rehearse my solo. Whew, some time to practice! We work on a trouble spot that I got wrong. I can ace it later.
    ....6:45-7:30 pm | Dinner
    The singing tired all of us out. Time to fill up on gumbo and rice, and to take a few minutes to relax and talk to my friends.
    ....7:30 pm | Study Hall
    We do our homework and read. Tonight I spend extra time working on my concept map for history class. I want to make sure I’m ready for exams in a few weeks.
    ....9:15 pm | Call Home & Snack
    We chill out and talk to our parents. It’s always great to hear my mom. We talk about what we should do on Saturday when she comes to pick me up for the afternoon. We also eat ‘midnight’ snack and drink tea, and sometimes hot chocolate. Tonight it’s Cheeze-Its. Yum!
    ....10:00 pm | Lights Out
    Time to brush our teeth and get into bed. We have some time to read before we fall asleep, and then we all crash after another awesome day.

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