"It’s always exciting to work with our students because they are so motivated to find their own paths through the wealth of opportunities GFA offers — and because every day, the faculty challenge, support, and celebrate them in this work."
- Andrew Jones, Head of Upper School
GFA’s Upper School is an ideal size — large enough to offer a diverse set of electives and activities, including 16 AP courses, 26 arts electives, and 21 athletic teams. At the same time, it has an intimacy that can be seen in the unlocked lockers in the halls and the many possibilities for close student/faculty conversations in classrooms, at window-side tables overlooking the Sound, or while passing on the stairs. The community spirit shows in quirky traditions as well as the faculty circle of care and concern that surrounds each student.
Independent study opportunities abound. Students can research topics beyond the diverse GFA course list and work one-on-one with a teacher. Students may take online courses offered by Global Online Academy, a consortium of over 50 premier independent schools from around the world. Independent work allows students to earn diplomas with special concentrations that reflect their interests and passions. For example, GFA offers a Concentration in Global Studies for students who combine travel abroad with rigorous research in the social and environmental sciences, culminating in a Global Thesis. Students present their theses at the World Perspectives Symposium, where they are questioned by their peers and faculty about their work. Beginning with the Class of 2016, GFA expects to offer similar concentrations in STEM (Science Technology, Engineering, and Math) and in Sustainability.
The excellence of the Upper School experience is validated by the success of our students beyond GFA’s walls. Student scientists have been recognized by state and national organizations. Student writing and publications like our literary journal Penumbra earn national recognition yearly. Films and videos are regularly chosen for local exhibits and statewide and national prizes, and our musicians audition and perform regularly in regional and statewide ensembles. Our athletic teams are strong competitors in their leagues. In the last five years GFA has fielded 11 Fairchester League championship teams, 8 New England champions teams, and tens of state and regional champions in individual sports.