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Posted April 4, 2005

Palmerston North, New Zealand
Kent Ferguson - Headmaster
Santa Barbara, California

The School DownUnder (SDU) provides students, ages 15-19, with the opportunity to spend a semester abroad in New Zealand. Though most adolescents attend for one semester, SDU operates two semesters per year and can provide either returning or new students with a full high school experience. At the main 35-acre campus, Highden Manor in Palmerston North, there is a student dormitory, guest cottage, meeting house, swimming pool and organic garden. SDU also has a campus in the capital city of Wellington, one at Castle Hill and utilizes the South Island as a satellite campus.

SDU students experience a challenging and far ranging set of activities such as equestrian pursuits, farm life, organic gardening, woodworking and jet boating at Highden Manor, as well as theater and the arts, tours of Parliament, the National Museum and nights on the town in Wellington. Because of the type of program SDU offers, all students must participate willingly.

SDU accepts a wide variety of students ranging from those labeled as "gifted" to those with learning disabilities, ADHD, dyslexia, etc. SDU does mainstream students whenever possible and those who feel "deeply angry or forced to attend" are not accepted.

The program utilizes the Oxford/ Cambridge academic model with teachers holding intensive, informal seminars with five to seven students at a time. SDU engages students to learn at all levels: mental, physical, spiritual and emotional. Although SDU is not a "therapeutic" school, they do have a full-time counselor living at the school.

SDU's semester abroad program is for high school juniors, seniors and those seeking unique experiences to expand, grow, and the opportunity to explore new places and people. The program accepts 25 students per semester and places a "strong emphasis on outdoor exploration, travel, and hands-on activity, as well as almost every academic class required by American high schools." With over 60 classes available, the students attend classes six days a week in a traditional, yet highly individualized, broad-spectrum curriculum tailored to the students needs.

Copyright © 2005, Woodbury Reports, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
(This article may not be reproduced without written approval of the publisher.)

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