first day of school
Doane Academy begins the school year in a way that is profoundly meaningful and joyous. The entire school community, including students, faculty, family, alumni, and members of the board of trustees, gather on the bank of the Delaware River to celebrate the start of the new school year and welcome the members of the senior class as they arrive by canoe for the first day of school. It is a moment for seniors to reflect on how the school community will look to them to become leaders in the coming year. In addition, it is a magical way to open school for our youngest students, who track the seniors’ progress from the distant shore to the heart of Doane’s campus.
At the heart of our visual arts is our unique partnership with Studio Incamminati, one of the nation’s foremost schools of art, where professional teaching artists show our students how to see the world in higher definition as they learn the techniques and principals of humanist realism. Nelson Shanks, the late world-renowned artist and co-founder of Studio Incamminati, said that one of the goals of his Realism school and program was to train students to “see”, and to do so beyond the shape and color of the subject. Working with professionals from Studio Incamminati on a daily basis is an opportunity available only to students at Doane.
Started by Upper School students in the 1980s, Doane’s Dungeon gives a literary twist to the traditional Halloween haunted house. Scary, spooky, and Shakespearean, the event turns the basement and corridors of our historic school into a haunted dungeon for an entire weekend. Drama students, as well as those interested in set design and lighting, work together to create scenes from classics such as Frankenstein, The Crucible, The Phantom of the Opera, and “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Open to the public, Doane’s Dungeon is one of the year’s biggest community events.
The School Family program is a central part of Doane’s culture and represents its emphasis on character education across all grades. While many schools try to minimize interactions between the oldest and youngest members of the community, Doane consciously creates weekly opportunities for students to interact across all grade levels in a safe and caring environment. Doane students are placed into one of thirteen school families, each of which is comprised of students from our Primary program through grade 12 and led by faculty members who serve as “parents.” Students and teachers remain in the same family throughout their time at Doane, thereby creating friendships that grow, evolve, and deepen over years.
The Christmas season’s centerpiece at Doane is the annual performance of the Christmas Mystery. Originated in 1848 by St. Mary’s Hall boarding students who were unable to travel home for the holidays, the Mystery is a play celebrating the birth of Jesus. Performed word for word as it was written so long ago (the current script dates from 1930), the Christmas Mystery is one of our most beloved traditions. Each year Upper School students vie for a part in the performance, with the parts of Mary and Joseph reserved for the senior boy and girl who have been at the school the longest and the part of Jesus filled by the baby of a Doane family or faculty member. The play is performed in the morning for students in grades Primary-8, and the evening performance for students in grades 9-12 is followed by a dinner that includes the reading of student holiday season reflections and the singing of “Silent Night.”
rocks, roots and wings
Each September, the school year moves quickly into high gear with our outward-bound style program, “Rocks, Roots and Wings”. Working to cultivate social and emotional growth along with a balanced approach to developing a positive self-image, we find this program among the keys to the character and leadership development goals of Doane Academy. Leaving the "comfort zones" of home and school gives students opportunities to grow in many ways. These traditional class trips, also known as RRW, last three to four days, and are designed to stretch students with situations and expectations that are progressively challenging - to test their limits and to use resources they may not know they have within them.
spanish 5 days a week
At Doane Academy, Spanish is offered 5 days a week for students age 3 through 12th grade. This course provides an introduction to the study of Spanish and is designed for students new to the language. Students will read, write, and speak in Spanish and develop listening comprehension skills in the target language. Students will learn the phrases necessary to communicate in day-to-day situations in Spanish and eventually matriculating to seminar-style discussions and writing complex essays.