Daily Life in the Prep School
The counseling division is comprised of three full-time licensed clinical social workers. Students are offered a source of support in order to ensure that they have what they need to develop in a happy, safe and thriving manner. In addition to our individual work, the School offers its unique Issues Program. The Issues Program is designed to help meet the complex needs of the students as they progress through their high school years, taught in a relaxed group setting to build rapport and connection with students. The groups are mainly co-ed, but same-sex groupings are offered. These groups meet once every six-day cycle throughout the year. Our programming allows us to engage in active discussion on many topics such as as substance use, social media, interpersonal relationships and friendships, mental health, sexual health and consent education. While the curriculum encompasses a variety of topics, flexibility is maintained in order to meet students’ needs and address concerns as they arise. Student counseling is a collaborative effort, and the office works closely with our fellow teachers and deans and, most of all, our students and parents. As a supplement to the Issues Program, educators from Freedom Institute/Hallways and Freedom from Chemical Dependency (FCD) visit CGPS. Both are non-profit organizations that provide alcohol, tobacco and drug education in an interactive style. In addition, guest speakers from various health organizations and programs are invited to meet with students to enhance classroom discussions and further understanding.
The Dean System
Teacher and proud CGPS graduate Olivia Salzano guides eighth graders through their first year in the Prep School as the grade-level Dean. Beginning in ninth grade, every class is assigned a Dean that will accompany the group of students until graduation. The Dean oversees each student's academic, social and emotional life and frequently interacts with the students (through private meetings, group meetings and class meetings), their teachers, counselor and parents. They are instrumental in their students' well-being. The Dean organizes grade-level meetings with teachers and counselors, visit classes and clubs, attend school functions and meets with the Director twice a cycle to discuss student progress. This is considered one of the most meaningful programs at the School.
The Prep School offers a robust club program, including many clubs related to world languages, music, politics, art, academic subjects, performance and much more. The over 100 active clubs meet during school hours, one period per six-day cycle. Students may participate in one to five clubs each school year; they are full-year commitments. Because clubs at Columbia Prep do not compete with sports, theater or other after-school activities, club involvement is high, and most of our students actively participate and rise to leadership positions over time. Notable clubs include the Blue Key Club, which provides student tour guides to the Admission and Enrollment Management Office; CPTV (pictured below) and Columbia Blue, the School’s television station and newspaper; MECA, the School’s diversity and inclusion club; Model UN, Mock Trial, and Debate clubs; and several music ensembles and singing groups. A full list of clubs offered can be found here.
The fundamental purpose of the Community Service Program in the Prep School is for students to embrace the values of responsibility, empathy and compassion. Students experience the satisfaction of doing service within our community and the world beyond Columbia Prep. Students are encouraged to make community service a regular part of their adult lives. Students are asked to identify the type of community service that they are most interested in and to advocate for themselves in finding such opportunities. The CGPS Community Service Website, which is continually updated, provides specific activities and contact information. Throughout the school year, students are made aware of specific service events in which they can join their friends in serving the community at large. In the spirit of service to others, students are encouraged to work beyond the basic graduation requirement of 60 hours. Community service hours must be spent working directly with the disadvantaged, disabled, elderly or the environment.
The Columbia Prep Career Internship Program aims to introduce students to a wide variety of career paths and provide them with opportunities for real, workplace experience. Created over 17 years ago by the CGPS Parent Association, the program has grown from about a dozen students to nearly 60 participants in 2018. A dedicated group of parent volunteers and a faculty coordinator comprise the Career Internship Committee. While the program runs in the summer, the committee meets regularly throughout the year and continually updates the roster of participants (mentors), most of whom have a relationship to the School as either parents or alumni. Dozens of internships are available in a myriad of professional fields including: medicine, real estate, finance, education, marketing, hospitality, non-profit and law. In addition to career exposure, all interns go through professional etiquette training including what to wear, office conduct and the appropriate use of social media. The students who participate in this program is to develop skills of into resourceful and independent interns.