The Right Private School for Your Kid


Walnut Hill School
Just like starving artists. Only not starving, and living in really nice dorms: The stereotypical habitats of young artists-in-the-making are dingy studios and poorly heated fourth-floor walkups. At Walnut Hill, the nation’s oldest private secondary school for the arts, students enjoy a considerably cushier existence, but their routines are no less intense. Inside the many-gabled buildings that dot this small campus in a quiet section of Natick, students pursue one of five tracks—ballet, music, theater, visual arts, or writing—in a Choose Your Own Adventure approach to education. From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. they take traditional academic classes, then switch gears for four or more hours of choreographing dance routines, designing stage sets, and pounding away on short stories.

Going straight to Broadway: The classes of 2001 through 2005 sent 27 students to the Juilliard School—the highest total in New England. Twenty-one others moved on to the Boston Conservatory, and another 20 won spots at the New England Conservatory. Eleven students jumped right to apprenticeships with professional ballet companies. “Within its arena of expertise,” says one educational consultant, “Walnut Hill is basically untouchable.” School stats: Coed; grades 9–12; day / boarding tuition: $29,700 / $37,650; 12 Highland St., Natick, 508-653-4312, www.walnuthillarts.org.

SECOND HONORS: Buckingham Browne & Nichols: Laid-back BB&N is known for stellar drama and choral programs. St. Mark’s School: Student work is displayed alongside that of professional artists in two campus galleries.


Boston College High School (state and local government)
Kings of the Hill: Run independently from Boston College since 1927, BC High steeps its boys in the Jesuit tradition of public-spiritedness, which many alumni have channeled into successful electoral strategies. Grads occupy posts up and down the political ladder, from Boston City Council president (Michael Flaherty) to state rep (Garrett J. Bradley) to state senator (Jack Hart) to U.S. attorney (Michael Sullivan).

Fiscal conservatives: Even if your son doesn’t dream of one day taking over the Big Dig and/or being roasted in a Herald editorial, BC High is a good choice for a top-notch education at a relatively affordable rate: just over 11 grand for the 2006–2007 school year. Next fall the school is adding seventh and eighth grades, making it possible for the new generation of aspiring officeholders to surpass those predecessors who went to BC High, BC, and BC Law, and become the first-ever Quadruple Eagles. School stats: Boys only; grades 7–12; day tuition: $11,400; 150 Morrissey Blvd., Boston, 617-436-3900, www.bchigh.edu.

Milton Academy (federal government)
If it was good enough for the Kennedys…While Choate was the choice for JFK, Bobby and Teddy attended Milton Academy. Gubernatorial hopeful and former Justice Department official Deval Patrick also went to the school, which offers a unique two-year course, “The United States in the Modern World,” that serves as an intense primer in domestic and international current affairs—something a certain commander in chief could well have benefited from. School stats: Coed; grades K–12; day / boarding tuition $27,100 / $34,525; 170 Centre St., Milton, 617-898-1798, www.milton.edu.

SECOND HONORS: Middlesex School: Henry Cabot Lodge Jr.’s alma mater was also the choice for both William Weld and New Mexico governor Bill Richardson.