Beyond the Classroom

Students in the Upper School know that their education is defined by more than academics, and Chapin supports them as they explore the world beyond the classroom. With a range of arts and athletics programs, opportunities for community service and peer leadership, and chances to direct their own learning or study abroad, Chapin’s Upper School is where young women can realize their full potential.

Life Skills

"Who am I?" is the question our Upper School students ask themselves in the Life Skills program. By exploring their identities, they learn to articulate their values and to stand up for them. As our students move from Class 8 to graduation, they develop the decision-making skills and emotional resilience they need to face the challenges of their teenage years and beyond.

The Upper School Life Skills program is diverse and intimate. During each academic term, students meet in small groups with Chapin faculty and expert consultants to discuss issues that range from female sexuality and drug abuse to public speaking and writing resumes. Meetings take place during common meeting times carved out during the school day.

It is important that our Life Skills program be sequential and systemic in nature. For example, in Classes 2, 3, 6, 8, 10 and 12, students participate in the PrePare program, which promotes safety and self-advocacy along a whole spectrum of developmentally-appropriate situations. Listed below are some of the other Life Skills topics that students focus on at each grade level.

Class 8
  • Recognizing and coping with depression, anxiety and adolescent moods
  • Making healthy decisions in social situations
  • Developing healthy eating habits
Class 9
  • Weekly workshops on communication and relationships, led by Class 12 Peer Leaders
  • Healthy decision-making in social and sexual situations
  • Drug and alcohol use/abuse
  • The power of good and evil online
  • Public speaking
Class 10
  • Six- to eight-week workshop on women's health and sexuality with Dr. Cynthia Peglar, a pediatrician whose specialty is adolescent medicine
  • Digital ethics and social media awareness
  • Family dynamics and transitions
Class 11
  • The ups-and-downs of the college admissions process - what to do, when to do it, how to do it well, and how you and your family can create realistic expectations for the process
  • Healthy decision-making about drugs, alcohol and sex, with our resident on-campus representative from the Freedom Institute
  • Resumé writing
Class 12
  • Ethical decision-making
  • Leadership training
  • Seminar on the college dating scene led by Dr. Carol Perry, psychologist - How do you know when a date can transition to date rape? What do you do if it does?
  • Understanding family dynamics and leaving home for college
  • Transitioning to college - how to be safe and healthy in a new environment

Performances & Art

Whether they define themselves as painters, dancers, singers, actors, or all of them at once, all students in Chapin’s Upper School have a chance to express themselves creatively outside of the classroom. Each arts department — art, dance, drama and music — provides multiple opportunities for students to perform or exhibit their work. Some performances are by audition only, while others are open to any student who wishes to participate. Listed below are performance opportunities by department.

  • Upper School Dance Club - student choreography
  • Dance Ensemble - faculty choreography, open by audition
  • Holiday Dance Ensemble - faculty choreography
  • Fall play or musical
  • Winter play
  • Spring play
  • Choral Club
  • Instrumental Chamber Ensemble
  • Percussion Ensemble
  • Holiday Handbell Ensemble
  • The Kilts Rock Band
  • Symphons - Classes 8 and 9 a cappella group
  • Allepacca - Classes 10, 11 and 12 a cappella group

Study Abroad, Individual Studies, Internships & Partnerships

Upper School students have multiple opportunities for self-directed learning outside of Chapin’s classrooms. Class 12 students may apply to complete an individual study, in which they work closely with a faculty advisor to design a project of personal interest. Students may apply for individual studies each term. The studies may be scholarly or creative; students in past years have compared Polynesian societies, examined a Civil War soldier’s letters and created costumes for a play.

Upper School students may also participate in several language and culture-based study abroad programs, which in recent years have taken place in Italy, France and Spain. During the two weeks of spring break, the students travel with a small group of Chapin teachers to augment their language skills and to gain a better understanding of world cultures. In addition, Chapin has a student exchange program with St. Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls in Perth, Australia, which is open to students in Class 10.

Chapin students also regularly complete internships during the summer months. Students work with Chapin's Coordinator of Partnerships and Internships, as well as the Director of Alumnae Affairs, to identify and apply for available positions. Chapin has partnerships with the Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History and the Foreign Policy Association, which lead to internships, though students also work at hospitals, not-for-profit organizations, law firms, media companies and other organizations in which they are interested.

Community Engagement

Service learning is an essential part of Chapin's Upper School. Students regularly complete service projects at local soup kitchens, homeless shelters, senior citizen centers, and hospitals. Students also raise funds, through bake sales and other events, to donate to organizations such as Amnesty International and the Amanda Fund for Cystic Fibrosis. In addition, girls in Classes 8, 9, and 12 participate in a grade-wide service learning initiative.

While students are encouraged to participate independently in service learning and community service activities, Chapin's Upper School club system gives each the opportunity to investigate, plan, and take action in support of a cause. Chapin faculty members also play an integral role as facilitators and supporters of these activities.

For example:

Over the summer each year, a small group of Chapin students (and faculty advisors) attend the intensive two-week Student Global Leadership Institute (SGLI) at the Punahou School in Honolulu, Hawaii. The workshops, discussion and field trips begin a year-long program focused on engaging students in team-developed community engagement projects, addressing worldwide issues such as the environment, economics and globalization.

SGLI aims to develop an international cohort of youth leaders who understand and are engaged in shared global challenges and who galvanize positive social change. The Institute explores leadership development characterized by creativity, a capacity for problem solving, collaboration, communication and multicultural perspectives. The students implement the projects during their senior year supported by a diverse network of mentors, including faculty, non profit leaders and entrepreneurs.

Upper School Clubs

The activities that fill Chapin’s classrooms in the late afternoons and evenings are diverse and exciting. Chapin’s extracurricular activities reflect fun with a purpose. Working closely with faculty advisors, students decide what their clubs should accomplish, plan related events and raise money needed to accomplish their goals. Upper School students may join the following clubs or create their own:

• Advisory (Student Government)
• Alleppaca (a cappella group for Classes 10/11/12)
• Amnesty International
• Art Appreciation Club
• Athletic Association
• Chinese Club
• Choral Club
• Classics Club
• Club Nights
• Cultural Awareness Program (CAP)
• Dance Club
• Drama Club
• Feminism Club
• Forensic Science Club
• Gay-Straight Alliance
• Handbell Ensemble
• Instrumental Ensemble
• International Week Club
• Investment Club
• La Lima (Spanish-language literary publication)
• Life Skills Club
• Limelight (Student newspaper)
• The Kilts Rock Band
• Math Club
• Media Arts Club
• Model United Nations
• News
• Percussion Ensemble
• Robotics
• S.A.V.E. (Environmental organization)
• SOS (Service organization)
• Speech and Debate
• Symphons (a cappella group for Classes 8/9)
• The Wheel (Literary magazine)
• Yearbook


Upper School students may participate in a wide range of individual and team sports. Our program supports the mission of our competitive league, The Athletic Association of Independent Schools (AAIS). Chapin is committed to fostering a sound athletic program as an integral part of the total educational experience. Our teams foster the development of good sportsmanship, moral integrity and athletic excellence.

As a founding member of the AAIS, Chapin competes against other league member schools: The Brearley School, Convent of the Sacred Heart, Friends Seminary, Hewitt School, Marymount School, Nightingale-Bamford School, Packer-Collegiate Institute, Saint Ann’s School and Spence School. Chapin teams have gone on to compete in postseason tournaments at the State and Federation levels and our squash team has competed at the national level. Our lacrosse team travels to Florida for spring training and several teams have played in the New York City Mayor’s Cup Competitions.

A full listing of the team sports available to Upper School students is listed below. For further information please visit the Athletics portion of our website.


• Varsity soccer
• Class 7/8 soccer
• Varsity and JV volleyball
• Class 7/8 volleyball
• Varsity field hockey
• Varsity cross country


• Varsity and JV basketball
• Class 7/8 basketball
• Varsity swimming
• Varsity squash
• Indoor track

• Varsity badminton
• Varsity lacrosse
• Class 7/8 lacrosse
• Varsity tennis

• Varsity track & field
• 7/8 track & field

Upper School Robotics

Chapin's Upper School students have participated in FIRST (For Innovation and Recognition of Science Technology) Robotics for more than 12 years. After working jointly with The Brearley School from Fall 2006 to Spring 2018, we are excited to have our very own Chapin FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team for students in Classes 8-12 beginning Fall 2018.

FIRST is a non-profit organization that promotes STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) through various robotics programs across the nation and internationally. Participating in FIRST Robotics is an exciting opportunity for many of our students who are passionate about STEM and robotics. Click HERE for more information on FRC.

Upper School Robotics is an after-school program that runs throughout the school year. The team works together to build a robot and then competes in the annual local FIRST Robotics competition, usually in the first week of April, with a unique and exciting theme and challenge that changes each year. The Robotics season is divided into three segments:

  1. Pre-season (September to December): Veteran members of the team, under adult supervision, take on a leadership role by introducing the new members to FIRST Robotics and training them to use the various tools and equipment. The team also builds different parts of a robot and modifies the previous year's robot by augmenting its functionalities.

  2. Build Season (January to February): The team picks up a kit of parts on the day of the challenge reveal and has six weeks to build their robot, program it, and test it. Then, the team "bags and tags" the finished robot, and team members are not allowed to open the seal until the day of competition. During this process, the students work closely with adult mentors and coaches, most with a strong background in engineering, programming, and team building..

  3. Post-season (April to June): The team completes a debriefing and analysis of the build season and competition. They continue work on their robot, begin planning for next season, and fine-tune their designs and computer programs.

Building a robot that meets certain specifications is a challenging, exciting, and rewarding experience that allows our students to use their knowledge of physics and math to solve real problems with tangible results. FIRST's motto is "gracious professionalism," which means that all teams cooperate and compete at the same time. For example, any FRC team can reach out to other FRC teams for advice and help during the build season or even during competition. Working with a large group of people is a priceless skill that Upper School Robotics students acquire in the process. There is also ample opportunity for team members to hone their leadership skills, including acting as captains or co-captains of the team.