Lower School Parents Get Ample Support in Secondary School Application Process

Last week, Lower School parents of grade 4 boys were invited to a coffee and information session as they look forward to the secondary school application process for their sons in the years ahead. Since Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child is co-educational in pre-K to grade 6 and girls only in grades 7-12, our boys graduate after grade 6. This structure reinforces what Oak Knoll has proven through its unique philosophy of education for almost 100 years: boys and girls learn and grow better together in our PK-6 coed elementary school, fostering healthy social interactions and diverse perspectives. Boys play an important role in Oak Knoll’s Lower School and it is bittersweet to see them go, but we are excited to see them blossom at new carefully chosen schools — many with which Oak Knoll has cultivated long standing relationships.

While most of our Lower School female graduates move on “up the hill” to our all-girls Upper School, our male graduates leave Oak Knoll to attend some of the finest secondary schools in the area — including a diverse variety of wonderful Catholic, independent, and public schools. Historically, our boys have attended Delbarton, Oratory Prep, Morristown-Beard, Newark Academy, Pingry, Peck, and area public schools, among others. Thanks to participation in our nurturing, supportive, and academically challenging Lower School, our young men enter these schools with increased independence, more confidence, and critical organizational skills.

“There is a proactive, intentional effort to support families in this process,” said Lower School Assistant Division Head Megan Watkins who oversees the secondary school application process for Oak Knoll’s male students. “My purpose is to introduce parents and their sons to the process, ease their stress and anxiety, and talk about what the next two years will look like so no one feels like grade seven is sneaking up on them or their child. I want to reassure students and parents that we are truly their partners and we’ve got this. We are not going to let them miss anything.”

Watkins is in constant contact with prospective schools for our graduates and she assures our boys and their parents that these schools know and value the typical Oak Knoll Lower School graduate. “I keep up relationships with admissions counselors and I’m frequently asking if they have any feedback on anything we can do to prepare our kids better. By and large, they are happy when our students are accepted and matriculate and we see our students moving up and thriving in their new environments. That’s really nice to see,” explained Watkins.

Though the secondary school application process is first introduced with parents of grade 4 students, there is still ample time for students to focus solely on enjoying their Lower School years, cultivating their interests, and growing socially and emotionally before the actual application season commences in the early stages of grade 6. 

Prior to that time, parents and their sons will have an open line of communication with Ms. Watkins and ample opportunities to attend school information sessions by admissions counselors. Then, during the spring of a boy’s fifth grade year, parents are invited to schedule individual meetings with the assistant division head to discuss the upcoming process specific to their son.

When the time comes to apply in the fall of a child’s sixth grade year, Oak Knoll will be fully engaged in partnering with parents and students to meet deadlines, prepare for campus visits and interviews, coordinate letters of recommendation, and thoughtfully dialogue with our families about which school cultures and programs might offer the best match and opportunity to thrive for our wonderful graduating young men.