The Goals of the Upper School

As part of an institution that helps usher children into the world of adults, McDonogh’s Upper School recognizes that its specific charge involves the key years of middle and late adolescence. This unique period of transition is filled with excitement and challenges as students gradually leave behind the controlled and conditioned world of childhood and embrace the increasingly complex and autonomous world of adulthood.

Insofar as a school can provide an arena for resolving the issues of adolescence, McDonogh aims to create an atmosphere of open communication and trust between students and adults. Mindful of our responsibility to nurture the lingering child even as we demonstrate respect for the emerging adult, the Upper School seeks to provide guidance and support so that students will reject solutions to life issues that may present danger to self and others, and instead pursue options that enhance self-awareness and confirm constructive growth.

In striving to meet its primary academic goals, the Upper School encourages students to read, write, and reason perceptively; to assimilate and synthesize complex ideas; to understand and master the principal means and the central ethics of scholarly research; to develop mature and sophisticated vocabularies; to become proficient in at least one foreign language and familiar with the culture from which it comes; to participate in the arts; to perceive the nature of historical progressions and their influence on the present and the future; to experience the precision and the exploratory scope of scientific inquiry; to command the language and logic of mathematics; to pursue with joy the contemplative, spiritual, aesthetic, creative, and intuitive processes of the mind as well as the critical and analytical processes; and to remain curious and appreciative, however critically, in responding to the cultural, natural, and cosmic world in which we all live. These pursuits are seen as contributing significantly, although not exclusively, to the students’ preparation for college.

While a primary task of the Upper School is to oversee our students’ intellectual development, we recognize that young people also need avenues that allow them to explore talents and interests that lie beyond the academic center. A variety of athletic, informational, artistic, social, travel, and service activities provide continuing opportunities for self-discovery.

The Upper School approaches its tasks with full recognition that the greatest resource is its own community, a community in which students, faculty, staff, and parents strive to share the bonds of mutual respect, a community richly diverse in its ethnic and racial composition, in its mix of talented men and women of all ages, in its economic range. At the core of this community rests the campus, including its faculty and student residents. As it fosters relationships, the Upper School strives to enfranchise and empower each person to pursue not only his or her own good, but equally the good of others.

By providing both opportunities for democratic interaction and measures of authority and structure, the adults in the community aim to guide students toward a mature self-realization that promotes the well-being of the whole. In setting high standards for itself, the Upper School is comfortable with its paradox of being both a demanding and sympathetic educational institution set in a regional, national, and global context. It sees its graduates as accomplished, committed members of a richly varied society and as earnest citizens of a world that is increasingly interdependent.


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McDonogh School | 410.363.0600 |
8600 McDonogh Road | Owings Mills | Maryland | 21117