Upper School Signature Programs
Extraordinary examples of excellence abound in the Upper School–not only in our outstanding college-preparatory academic program, but also in championship athletics and debate, service learning, award-winning music, dance, theater, visual, and literary arts, and in special programs such as Beyond the Classroom.
Rowland Hall believes in the value of debate because we know it is an essential element of an educated, productive, and ethical community. Debate fosters critical thinking and communication skills for the 21st century while providing students with the forum to nurture their sense of advocacy. While debate intentionally appears across the curriculum, it is our competitive team that distinguishes Rowland Hall as the strongest debate program in the Intermountain West. In 2010, Rowland Hall was officially recognized as a School of Excellence by the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) and is consistently ranked in the top 10% of schools nationwide for member degrees. In 2016, our individual debaters earned more bids to the Tournament of Champions than any team in the country and won awards at every national tournament in which they competed. As a school, Rowland Hall has won the overall district sweepstakes award for debate six of the past seven years. Our expert leadership helps: in 2017, NSDA named coach Mike Shackelford Utah's Educator of the Year.
The high school team is made up of approximately 50 debaters who participate in a variety of events (CX, LD, or PF) and divisions (Varsity or Novice). Students also determine their own commitment level and goals. Our most competitive students attend 10 to 12 tournaments a year and can travel all over the country, from Los Angeles to Boston. Others stay committed to regional or local competitions, but everyone is committed to personal excellence. In just the last five years, the program has produced seven State Champions, 19 National Qualifiers, and 14 Academic All-Americans, and has sent dozens of students to college on scholarships.
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Anyone who has attended a jazz music concert at Rowland Hall in the past decade can vouch for the chops of our musicians and the energy and enthusiasm they bring to the genre. Under the direction of talented faculty member Dr. Bret Jackson, Jazz Band students perform multiple concerts at Rowland Hall and out in the community every year. Check out a YouTube video of their rendition of "Oye Como Va"!
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In September, during the first weeks of school, ninth graders spend four days at Camp Roger in the Uinta Mountains. Camp Roger is about 50 miles from Salt Lake City on the Mirror Lake Highway east of Kamas. It is a YMCA summer camp in a rustic setting. Students participate in a variety of activities including hiking, fishing, painting, and sports. The setting on the Upper Provo River provides opportunities for interdisciplinary studies such as botany, geology, history, and art. Students bunk together in cabins and have an opportunity to make new friends. The ninth-grade curriculum integrates this experience into a variety of lessons including the evolution of plants and the geography of the Jordan Rivers of Utah and Israel.
Upper School students enjoy Interim, a weeklong exploratory program unique among Utah schools. Students have the option of participating in a variety of in-town and out-of-town experiences that may include film studies and videography, cycling the Wasatch, hiking in Moab, river rafting, world-language immersion, and acquiring life skills that come in handy during those first weeks of college.
Recent interim trips around the country and the world have included:
- Backpacking Southern Utah
- Southern Spain: A Cultural and Linguistic Experience
- Adventure on the Yampa River
- College Counseling Tour of San Francisco
- Canoeing the Missouri River
- Hiking Highway 12
- Human Performance: Learn About Your Biomechanics and Physiology from Experts at the Orthopedic Specialty Hospital
- Filmmaking and the Telluride Mountain Film Festival
- China Tour: Beijing, Xi'an, and Shanghai
- From Farm to Table: Exploring the Origins of Our Food
- Navajo Nation: Annual Project 11 Signature Trip
- Montreal Tour (all in French)
- The Holy City: History, Art, and Architecture in Charleston
- Art and the Dessert: An In-Town, Activity-Based Interim for Making, Appreciating, and Consuming Art
- Rowland Hall Unplugged: Non-Electronic Social Interaction with Games, Volunteering, Dining Out, and Problem Solving
In addition to Interim, Rowmark Ski Academy, athletic teams, the World Language Department, Debate, Chess Club, and the service-learning program all take advantage, when appropriate, of state-wide, regional, national, and global opportunities for competition, service, or connection to academic studies.
2015 Interim Scuba Trip to California
Thank you to Neptune Divers for their partnership and the making of this video.
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A wide variety of summer internships are available to rising Rowland Hall juniors and seniors. Rowland Hall's connections in the community and our generous parent body make this program possible, enabling students to explore career interests through practical experiences.
Internships can help students crystallize their ideas about what they might or might not want to pursue in the future and alleviate the “What do I do with my life?” anxiety. In addition, internships undertaken in the high school years can help a student gain a leg-up in terms of college admission or future jobs. For more information, contact Laura Johnson at email@example.com
Recent internships have included:
- DNA Sequencing at the University of Utah Anthropology Department
- Infectious disease drug discovery and development in a University of Utah Biochemistry Lab
- ColoCare cancer study at the Huntsman Cancer Institute
- Film editing at TWIG Media, a local film production company
- Veterinary medicine at the Utah Animal Care Center
- Political advocacy with Alliance for a Better Utah
In 2007, the Upper School introduced Utah’s first one-to-one laptop program, and Rowland Hall has been honored twice with Apple’s Distinguished Laptop School award.
Among the many benefits of the Upper School’s Student Laptop Program are:
- Easier integration of technology
- Equality of access for all students
- Increased communication between faculty, staff, students, and families
- Improved student organization
- Increased student engagement and ownership of their work
- Increased opportunity for project-based learning that addresses higher-order thinking skills
- Building skills for the future