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Katonah- The Harvey School will be going international next fall as it expects to enroll 4-6 students from China who will live on campus and study at the Katonah independent school. Harvey’s plan to launch an International Student Program (ISP) in September took a major step forward this month when the school’s Director of Admissions William Porter traveled to China to meet and interview students who wish to attend an American high school and advance to a four-year college or university in the United States.
Porter flew to Beijing October 31st to join a group of about a dozen American educators to share ideas about the program and to meet with interested students and their families. He said his trip to the cities of Guiyang, Nanning, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong turned out to be more than just a recruiting venture. “It was an opportunity to see China and learn much about its culture and history, visit some leading Chinese schools to learn more about how they function, and meet with hundreds of students and interview almost 50.” Porter said he pared the list of prospects down to about 10 finalists who look to be a good fit for Harvey.
Harvey is looking for candidates who meet certain qualifications.
Porter said, “There are report cards and standardized test scores to consider, just as with American applicants, but the biggest single determinant as I see it is English language proficiency. These students will not be studying English as a foreign language but rather learning all their subjects in a foreign language, so a level of mastery in all four skill areas of speaking, reading, listening and writing will be critical.”
Porter said there are several factors that make Harvey attractive to the applicants. “The families liked the size of our school and the average class of 11.”
He said a typical class size in a Chinese high school is 60. Porter added that the interested families like Harvey’s proximity to New York City, its rural 125 acre campus, and its broad range of extra-curricular activities. “The one thing that seemed to set us apart,” said Porter, “was our ability to offer a hybrid living arrangement which is a mix of five-day boarding and a weekend home-stay with a host family.”
In order to facilitate the school’s move to an ISP, Harvey has partnered with The Cambridge Institute, a private corporation with offices in the Boston area and in China dedicated to fostering better Chinese-American relations, promoting overseas study, and helping schools identify and enroll prospective students. Over the past several months Cambridge has been working closely with Robert Cook, Harvey’s administrator in charge of the ISP initiative, who sought and obtained approval this fall from the federal government’s Department of Homeland Security.
Cook has been working with Cambridge to fulfill all the bureaucratic requirements, design a strong ISP, identify host families, and prepare the school for the arrival of the international students in late August.
While Porter’s role focuses on the selection of the international students coming to Harvey, he said his trip to China gave him “tremendous insight into the enormity of this undertaking and lots of thoughts and suggestions for features we can incorporate into our program.” He said the two-week trip with his group of American school officials included visits to “some of the most breath-taking sights in China.” Porter said the time he spent with the group provided him with the opportunity to learn from other American educators in their second or third years of running International Student Programs.
Porter plans to re-interview the finalists and expects to name the school’s selections in January. They would enroll as either freshmen or sophomores and continue through graduation.
The Harvey School is a coeducational college-preparatory school for students in grades 6 through 12.