Special Opportunities

Service to the Princeton Day School community is one of the recognized areas of concentration for Upper School students.

Students participating in the Teacher Assistance Program may work with lower or middle school classes under the direction of a lead teacher who facilitates the student’s interaction with the younger children.

TAP participants provide one-on-one help, aid classroom activities, even teach the full class.

Both younger and older students gain valuable experience and knowledge while forming special bonds that strengthen our community of learners.

TAP Program

Princeton Day School affords Upper School students a variety of opportunities to spend extended periods of time off campus in international and domestic academic programs. These programs are primarily designed for high school juniors. Students apply during the spring of their sophomore year.

Programs may be trimester, semester, or full-year duration. While students may have to adjust their schedules and curriculum choices to participate in these opportunities, all programs are intellectually rigorous, with academic standards and expectations similar to our own. We have found that colleges generally look favorably on students willing to pursue such academic adventures.

We also welcome one foreign exchange student each year through the auspices of ASSIST.

Chewonki Semester School

Formerly known as the Maine Coast Semester, Chewonki Semester School was established in 1988 by S. Scott Andrews, currently a faculty members teaching U.S. History. Located in Wiscasset, Maine, Chewonki offers 11th grade students a challenging academic program with an emphasis on environmental studies. Students in the school study the natural history of the Maine coast, work on an organized farm, go on two short wilderness trips, help maintain the campus, and participate in a rigorous academic program. Each semester is sixteen weeks long. Each semester up to 40 students are offered admission.

For more information, please visit The Chewonki Semester School website: http://www.chewonki.org/mcs/

High Mountain Institute

Formerly known as the Rocky Mountain Semester, the High Mountain Institute was founded in 1995 by Molly and Christopher Barnes in the spirit of combining wilderness education with traditional academics. Located in Leadville, Colorado, the HMI Semester offers 11th grade students the opportunity to live, travel, and study in the mountains of central Colorado and the canyons of southeastern Utah. Students spend five weeks over the course of the semester on three wilderness expeditions that focus on leadership and community-building and twelve weeks on campus completing a standard junior year curriculum. Each semester up to 42 students are offered admission.

For more information, please visit the HMI website: http://www.hminet.org/HMIsemester

Conserve School

Established in 2002 and located in Land O'Lakes, Wisconsin, Conserve School is a semester school for environmentally and outdoor minded high school juniors. For seventeen weeks, students pursue a program of environmental studies and outdoor activities, designed to deepen their love of nature, reinforce their commitment to conservation, and equip them to take meaningful action as environmental stewards. The program interweaves college-preparatory academics with the study of environmental history, nature literature, and the science of conservation, environmental service work, exploration of careers related to conservation, training in teamwork and leadership, and engagement with the outdoors. Up to 60 students are offered admission each semester.

For more information, please visit the Conserve School website: http://www.conserveschool.org/

School for Ethics and Global Leadership

Located in Washington DC and established in 2006, the School for Ethics and Global Leadership is a semester school for high school juniors. The school's residential facilities are located on Capitol Hill, right behind the Supreme Court, and its academic building is a block from Dupont Circle. Its rigorous academic program focuses on ethical thinking skills, leadership development, and international studies. In addition to completing a standard junior year curriculum, students take an ethics and leadership course. The program features visits to and by prominent speakers in such fields as foreign policy, public service, diplomacy, law, and humanitarian aid. Each semester is sixteen weeks long. Up to 24 students are offered admission each semester.

For more information, please visit the School for Ethics and Global Leadership website: http://schoolforethics.org/

School Year Abroad

Founded in 1964, School Year Abroad is an academic program which places American high school juniors, seniors, and post-graduates in 4 countries, including China, Italy, France, or Spain for a year. Students intensively learn the respective language of their country and live with a host family. The program includes extensive cultural immersion and select courses taught in the native language. Requisite subjects, such as math and English, are taught in English. Extracurricular activities and organized travel round out the year. The program provides academic advisors, college counseling services, and administers the AP, SAT, SAT II, and PSAT tests at each school. Each year SYA brings around 60 juniors and seniors to each of its locations around the world.

For more information, please visit the School Year Abroad website: http://www.sya.org/


ASSIST was founded in 1969 with the mission to discover, select, place, and support outstanding international students in American independent schools. PDS has served as a host school to foreign exchange students since 1987. Since then, we have hosted 21 ASSIST scholars from Germany, Spain, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Sweden, and Australia. The success of the program lies both on the academic caliber of the exchange students and on the generosity of PDS families, who have opened their homes to these young men and women. Any PDS family is eligible to serve as a host family, although preference will be given to families with children in the Upper School. If you are interested in hosting an ASSIST scholar, please contact the Exchange Programs Coordinator, Maria Shepard, either via email (mshepard@pds.org) or by phone 609-924-6700 x1747.

For more information, please visit the official website for ASSIST: http://www.assist-inc.org/

Additional Programs

While Princeton Day School officially endorses all of the above programs, students may ask the school to consider other programs, as well. Decisions will be made on an individual basis, with special consideration given to programs endorsed by the Council of Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET), an accrediting body to which PDS belongs.

Such applications will be acted upon as either an exchange program or (where more appropriate) as an independent project. All programs must be inclusive in scope, open to any member of the Upper School. While PDS tuition may be waived for students participating in all long-term programs, a limited number of students can receive such financial consideration at one time; such decisions will be made by PDS on a first-come/first-served basis.

At Princeton Day School, we know fostering independence is integral to all learning. So for the last six weeks of each academic year, our seniors explore independence through opportunities off campus or through one-on-one projects at school.

These opportunities may involve investigating career possibilities, community service, or focused pursuit of a particular interest, talent, or lifelong dream. The sky is the limit -- as long as the project has intellectual, artistic or educational value and passes muster with the school Senior Project Committee.

In early winter, students research, design, and propose a project; find a sponsor, and establish goals they hope to achieve. Throughout the project, the Committee, faculty advisor, and the project supervisor support the student’s efforts. All students submit a detailed journal and a written report.

At the end of the six weeks, all seniors present their projects to a panel of teachers and classmates; some also participate in a Senior Art Show or Senior Performance Evening.

Senior Project

Past Projects

While this is by no means a complete list, it should give you an idea of the scope and range of Senior Projects at PDS.

  • Knitting: from sheep to sweater
  • Internship in ophthalmology with local doctor
  • Internship with the mayor of the Borough of Princeton
  • Stream restoration with the Stonybrook Millstone Watershed
  • Internship at Malia Mills, Inc, a New York fashion designer
  • Quilting: learning and sewing with a local business
  • Student teacher of Arabic at Noor-Ul-Imam School
  • Internship at Michael Graves and Associates
  • Internship at Planned Parenthood Association of the Mercer Area
  • Apprentice to a chef at a local restaurant
  • Student teaching at local elementary school
  • Interdisciplinary work combining ceramics and the study of classical Greek culture
  • Teaching PDS 4th graders woodworking and the construction of a bench for the school
  • Film direction and production
  • Internship at Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic
  • Internship at NJN
  • Writing and illustrating a series of children's books
  • Studying Japanese language and culture
  • Direction and production of Performing Arts Festival piece
  • Working at Princeton Plasma Physics Lab
  • Working at the New Jersey State Museum
  • Internship at Isles, Inc.
  • Construction of a stone walkway on the PDS campus

Senior Project Journals

Senior Project Journals
Students are required to keep a journal during their projects to reflect on their experience.
The following are examples of journal entries that met our expectations.

Example 1

Today Susan was growling at someone from the phone company for "screwing her over." Apparently, no one had returned her calls when she needed help and she bluntly said, "Your business is so terrible." It was great! I'm just glad I wasn't on the other end of the conversation. It made me appreciate how people rely on each other in a small business and how things need to happen when you expect them to.

I also got to see another side of the small business atmosphere. Susan was on the phone with a customer who thought she had been a loyal customer. And she said, "Jen Smith, you're our favorite! Did you get my email?" Susan had personalized an email to one of her customers -- that's what made it special. I see in a business where the designer cares so much about the quality of her merchandise really shows up in the client pool and who she is drawing in. The company also got a personal card from a client thanking them for "the best designed/fit suit ever".

Hearing these conversations every day reinforces the personalization that I've come to admire.

Example 2
To follow up the meeting on Monday, Ed let me listen in on a conference call with the same group of people to go over proper answers to the questions emailed to the foundation by the attorney who is doing the deposition. Once again, I was astounded by the logical, rational approach that Ed uses even in the most difficult and complex situations. The logical, big picture perspective and check that he brings to the group allows it to proceed quickly and efficiently and not get caught in small, insignificant details. It is the ability to see the logical from the abstract and do the minute fact-finding work that he does that allows him to be so useful to corporations, business people, and all of his clients.

Final Report

Students are required to produce a Final Report at the end of the project period.

Final Reports have various styles, but all are at least 2 pages, typed, with 1" margins and are bound so that they may be filed in the library and enjoyed by future students.
I picked my project because I wanted to learn something practical, stop studying out of books, use my hands, and understand by watching and doing... I wanted to surprise people, prove to myself and others like me that a private school, environmentalist, honor roll girl could be interested, and good at car mechanics
a member of the class of 2006

Lessons for LifeRopes Course

For more than 25 years, the Princeton Day School Peer Leadership program has been helping students deal with issues facing adolescents.

You can almost pick out a former peer leader when you see people in action. These are transferrable skills.
Dr. Whitney Ross '84

A winning combination of dedicated faculty and carefully selected seniors team up to teach, mentor and guide ninth graders into Upper School. The result is a strong sense of community that endures long after commencement.

Eighteen seniors are trained by faculty supervisors in group dynamics and leadership techniques. Senior training begins before school opens with a three-day retreat. Freshmen attend an all-day retreat off campus soon after classes start to acquaint them with each other and with program objectives. Throughout the academic year, peer leaders conduct weekly discussions with freshmen on topics such as peer pressure, academic concerns, drug and alcohol abuse, and relationships. Peer leaders also host a family get-together to discuss conflict mediation between parents and adolescents.