KATONAH, N.Y. – The Harvey School will go international next fall, as it expects to enroll four to six students from China, who will live on campus and complete their high school studies at the private school in Katonah.
The Harvey School, a co-ed school for students in grades six through 12, is planning to launch an International Student Program in September.
This fall, Robert Cook, the Harvey administrator in charge of the initiative, obtained approval to host the international students from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Cook has since been working to prepare the school for the students' arrival in late August.
Another Harvey School administrator, director of admissions William Porter, traveled to China this month to meet and interview prospective students in the cities of Guiyang, Nanning, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong.
For two weeks, Porter joined a group of about a dozen American educators, many of whom were in their second or third years of running international student programs. Porter also had the chance to meet with hundreds of interested students and their families, interviewing nearly 50 candidates and eventually paring down the list to 10.
Porter said he expects to name the school’s selections in January. The students will enroll as freshmen or sophomores and continue through graduation; after that, many hope to be able to apply to American universities.
The Harvey School is looking for candidates who meet certain qualifications, since these students will not be studying English as a foreign language, but learning all their subjects in a foreign language, Porter said.
“There are report cards and standardized test scores to consider, just as with American applicants,” he said, “but the biggest single determinant as I see it is English language proficiency.” A level of mastery in all four skill areas of speaking, reading, listening and writing will be critical, he said.
Porter said the Chinese families he met liked Harvey’s proximity to New York City and its broad selection of extracurricular activities. Class size was also a boon, he said.
"The families liked the size of our school and the average class of 11,” since a typical class size in a Chinese high school is 60 students, he said.
To facilitate the school’s international student program, Harvey partnered with The Cambridge Institute, a company dedicated to fostering Chinese-American relations and promoting overseas study.
Cook continues to work with Cambridge to fulfill all the bureaucratic requirements, perfect program design and identify host families. The students will board at Harvey for five days during the week and live with host families on the weekends.