Upper School at Wheeler

Students in Wheeler’s Upper School of Grades 9-12 embrace academic challenges, take risks, work hard and find joy while doing all of the above! Our students are high achievers who know how to collaborate. They are confident public speakers who are also good listeners. They know relationships matter while they are finding their own voice. Each is prepared to take the next steps to college and life.

Our Philosophy

It is our belief that giving students (that’s you!) the opportunities to take risks, embrace challenges, and find great joy in the learning process is as important as what each student learns. We hope that you, with the support of teachers who are experts in their fields of the arts, STEM and humanities, will not only graduate with a strong foundation of skills for college but that you will develop interests that will sustain you throughout your life. You can take a traditional path through a rigorous curriculum that is expansive and inspired thanks to the expert faculty of our division.  You can also take a road less travelled through our new NuVuX Studio Term and follow a studio approach to learning with project teams and critiques that mirror the world of innovative design thinking.

Our Program

The Wheeler Upper School is academically rigorous, artistically rich and athletically competitive. Curricular disciplines are not so much crossed as melded — 11th graders in a short story elective create a three-part fictional podcast in Wheeler’s Digital Production Studio, for example. An intentional curriculum focuses on diversity, equity and inclusion, health and wellness, metacognition and social-emotional learning. We build the ‘muscles’ of empathy and resilience. We share, listen and laugh together. We disagree with respect and we learn with purpose.

Our Co-Curriculum

Upper School students participate in a variety of co-curricular experiences. Through Wheeler’s signature Aerie Approach, we connect students with passionate interests (from quantum physics to learning Turkish) with academic mentors from the surrounding colleges and the Providence community. Through a combination of classroom work and community service, our required Community Action Program focuses on educating our students to be thoughtful and contributing global citizens. Both in and out of the classroom our program is designed to provide venues for exploration and growth and to expose students to new ideas and ways of thinking. Opportunities exist to assume leadership roles as members of clubs, class officers, and participants on one of our many academic and athletic teams.

Contact Neeltje Henneman, Upper School Head, for information.

Watch Our Upper School Video

Athletics

The collaborative spirit present in our classrooms is right at home throughout our athletic program. With 33 team championships in the last 6 seasons and multiple individual student-athlete award winners on a yearly basis, our post season honors underscore these talents and program ethos.

Our Upper School athletic program competes wholly in the Rhode Island Interscholastic League and is comprised of 24 interscholastic teams for boys and girls: soccer, tennis, field hockey, cross country, basketball, squash, swimming, lacrosse, track & field, softball, baseball, and golf; and two cooperative teams, football and ice hockey. Our fields, track and facilities at The Wheeler Farm are among the best in New England (often rivaling that of a small college) and, our natural ‘safe shell’ turf field, installed last year, was the first high school field in the world of its kind.

Our coaching and training staff are consistently honored within Rhode Island and throughout New England and includes a full time Athletic Trainer (link to a bio?).  Team honors are listed on our Awards page each season and a number of Wheeler athletes have signed with NCAA Division 1 schools (link to alumni athletics page?). The Wheeler Athletics program is a proud First Team Member of the Safe Sports Program of the National Athletic Trainer’s Association.

Girls cross country runners gather for a team photo.

Visual and Performing Arts

With a school founder who was recognized here and abroad in the late 1800s for being among the first American educators to incorporate Art into her primary and secondary curricula, Wheeler sees the Visual and Performing Arts as part of its very DNA. Full-time professional artists are the teaching faculty in the Visual and Performing Arts. And our studios and performance spaces are comparable to those of a small liberal arts college.  The Gilder Center for the Arts has distinct choral and instrumental classrooms and practice rooms, a 400-seat Isenberg Auditorium and the black-box Wheeler Memorial Hall Theater as well as individual art studios for Studio Art, ceramics, drawing, photography and the very foundations of art. We teach the vocabulary of the arts and how to take risks without fear as well as building appreciation for the gifts the visual and performing arts bring to our world. Our student artist are recognized annually for their work as musicians, actors and visual artists.

Group of high school singers posing in brightly colored shirts.

Prescott Library

The impressive and modern William C. Prescott Library sits in the center of the campus offering a welcoming and information-rich environment to support study and research, as well as help students find time for reflection or to pursue their own interests in finding something new to read. Led by a dedicated Upper School Librarian, the Upper School Library’s teaching program emphasizes research skill areas such as finding and evaluating information sources in print and electronic formats for relevance, bias and authority; ethical use of information, and sharing knowledge through writing and oral presentations, often incorporating technological applications.

Digital Production Studio

Wheeler’s on-campus broadcasting program began with an FM88.1 radio station created in 1995, growing to serve internet radio, podcasting, and video production. When an 11th Grade English elective decided to create a fictional “Providence noir” podcast, they used the facilities at our Digital Production Studio for recording, editing and sound sampling. Students have their own internet and radio programs covering sports, politics and world events and always get to interview speakers who visit the campus. Collaborating with the Public’s Radio, the Rhode Island PBS station, Wheeler student work had been broadcast during a three-hour weekly Sunday night program. Students from all across campus make use of the green screen to record videos about the history of whaling or how to understand the different systems in the body for science class.

High School student interviews a guest for a radio podcast in a digital production studio.

1 To 1 Computing & Technology

Our wireless campus means technology is where YOU are.  While an Upper School tech classroom with a dedicated teacher is the locus of Upper School technology in Morgan Hall, we know that you’re on your laptop or mobile device outside of class, in the library or cafeteria, relaxing in the courtyard or sitting under a tree on our East Campus Recreation area.  All students in 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grades are required to bring a laptop to school. The devices allow teachers and students to uniformly access online materials and texts, learn about digital note-taking, and participate in interactive activities during lessons.

Group of high school boys gathering around laptops in the library

Upper School Administration