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this is ninth grade at fessenden

From their ninth grade orientation—where the students work together to set collective goals and decide how they each want to approach their ninth grade year—to the emotional final events of Commencement, boys experience extraordinary growth and maturity. Ninth grade at our day and boarding school is when they take everything they’ve learned at Fessenden to the next level.

Challenging themselves academically, ninth graders find themselves in the unique position of beginning their high school career as the most senior students on Fessenden’s campus. They are eager learners and have the opportunity to take advanced, high-school level classes.

Outside of the classroom, ninth grade boys embrace their role in our community, finding their voice and gaining confidence as they learn to lead, all the while understanding that the younger boys are absorbing their every move. As the most senior members of their sports teams, they are naturally in positions of leadership, matching up against some of the most competitive secondary school freshman and junior varsity teams—and they’re up for the challenge.

From academics and the arts to athletics and personal growth, something magical happens in the ninth grade.

Becoming a leader

Becoming a Leader

At Fessenden, ninth graders are encouraged to become leaders in an environment that’s safe and supportive. We set high expectations and give our boys the space to explore what leadership means to them with an understanding that developing their identities as leaders happens over time.

“There’s value in being encouraged to take on leadership roles in a community that understands you don’t have it all figured out just yet, and is able to help you stay on track. Boys can stub their toe here so they can learn to walk more carefully at their next school. They’ve had experience with freedom, responsibility, and challenge, and they’ve learned from all of it.”

– Tim Murphy, Director of Secondary School Counseling

growth, confidence, and self-discovery

A milestone for each of the boys, the Ninth Grade Meditation gives them the opportunity to reflect on and share a meaningful, personal experience that has had a significant impact on their life. Opening up in front of the entire Upper School is often emotional for a Fessenden boy. It’s not uncommon to see ninth graders tear up during their speech or to notice boys in the audience responding and engaging with one another as they listen. Ninth Grade Meditations are moments where our boys find their voice and realize the power in being vulnerable, emotional, and authentically themselves.

I recently heard a few ninth graders talking about Ninth Grade Meditations they’d heard as seventh graders. The way our students listen to each other, take small nuggets of advice about struggles and successes, and feel connected to what is shared years later is incredible.”
—Becca Palm, Head of Upper School

In the ninth grade, Fessenden boys become independent, self-advocating, and confident young men.

after fessenden and beyond
A young boy and teen boy walk away from the camera

After Fessenden and Beyond

No matter when Fessenden boys start their journey, their ninth grade experience is transformational. Smaller class sizes, challenging academics, increased responsibility, and the opportunities to lead come together to create an unique experience that enables boys to enter secondary school with the academic and personal confidence, knowledge, and skills to thrive.

Well-equipped with self-awareness, resilience, determination, and the ability to advocate for themselves and others, Fessenden boys are prepared to live and learn away from home, manage their time, and to seek help when needed. By graduation, our ninth graders emerge as excellent candidates for day and boarding schools throughout New England, the United States, and around the world.