Community is king here, and with good reason: The school has only 535 students in junior kindergarten to 12th grade. “We’re pretty small and we like it that way,” says Tom Flemma, head of the school. “We put a lot of time and effort and pride into building strong relationships not only between kids and teachers but among our students themselves.”

Classes, which average 13 students, can feel more like personalized college seminars. Zeke Edwards-Mizel, who graduated in June, says his biology teacher adjusted her syllabus based on what interested the students. The result? Edwards-Mizel and a friend dived deep into investigating gene editing and crafted a presentation for their classmates.

Student investment drives the extracurriculars, too. Each high school student must join at least two theatrical performances and play a sport for three seasons. “The expectation of participation stretches kids and pushes them out of their comfort zone, and alumni talk about the onstage performances especially as a transformative experience,” Flemma says.