The journey of self-discovery that is a Sonoma Academy education starts here:
Be Open to the New
One of the things that binds us together is that we will all experience new things on campus this year. Awesome, unexpected, and even life-changing new things. That experience could be a new place on campus—the first time you walk up to the Buckeye Tree or moving into the Performing Arts Center; a new class or a new field of study—you will likely experience a class discussion, read a book or study a topic, or work on a project that opens up a whole new way of thinking about the world and your place in it; or even trying a new food or dish in the GA —part of our lunch together is an openness to new foods and sharing lunch time with new people.
To truly experience the joy of SA: you must be open to meeting new people. You are likely sitting nearby a lifelong friend that you are just getting to know or haven’t even met yet—and the best piece of advice I can give you is to be open to the many diverse and interesting people who make up this community. The magic of SA is that we do not isolate ourselves into cliques and we do not simply travel with those who are most familiar to us.
Please do not typecast yourself and never simply typecast each other.
Be open to the new and a whole new world will open itself to you.
Our School Is Designed to Be Fun
A recent LEGO Education study found that 80% of parents said their students were either bored or disliked school. And that’s what the parents said, so you could just imagine that the student percentage is more like 90%. This is a sobering statistic and one that certainly doesn’t capture how we feel about SA.
SA is lively, engaging, spirited, and all of those things that constitute joyful learning. Our simple tagline could be ”a school that is designed to be fun.”
But you cannot have a fun school without being intentional as a connected community. In that sense, part of our joyful learning environment is based on our core values and our school culture.
You Belong Here
My final, and most important, message is a simple one—you belong here
This is your home, this is your place to feel safe and supported.
And while belonging is a core value of ours and something we constantly strive toward as we work to make this the most equitable and inclusive campus possible, I also have an ulterior motive in stressing that.
Your feeling and sense of belonging is one of the greatest predictors of success for you as a student at SA—or in any educational or work setting that you will find yourself in throughout your life. Your ability to take risks, confront new challenges and, of course, to try new things is significantly enhanced if you feel a sense of belonging.
The book Belonging: The Science of Creating Connection and Bridging Divides recognizes our fundamental need to belong. To quote the author, “Most of us know what it feels like to be excluded or to question our belonging, but we don't do the greatest job of recognizing that feeling when it happens to others.”
We challenge ourselves and each other to not only think of what it means for you to feel a strong sense of belonging at SA, but to recognize a sense of belonging for others and to find small ways to support that feeling for someone else.
We create a culture of connected community, where students are known, seen, and supported to be their authentic selves. This is the best way to learn and each of us plays a role in creating this environment.
Click the button on the right to take a virtual tour of our beautiful campus, nestled at the base of Taylor Mountain in Santa Rosa.
"Moments of" Blog
One of our traditions is the Moment of Reflection, when a student or staffulty member can share their thoughts on a topic at Community Meeting. Over the years we have had Moments of Reflection on everything from political issues to historical events to the significance of the Kardashians! There have been spin-offs, too, like Moments of Talent where students can present a performance or a skill, or even a Moment of Champ (where our Coyote mascot makes an appearance to throw some swag into the crowd)!
As we headed into the new school year, I was reflecting (pun intended) on these “moments of” and how they can really demonstrate what our school culture is all about. Whether they are serious and thought-provoking or totally goofy, they give members of our community a space to share something with the whole school, and they bring us together. In that spirit, I decided to re-conceive this column in the Courier as a “Moment of.” Sometimes, I will share my own thoughts or reflections, and sometimes others will provide insights here. These “moments of…” are part of our shared experience as a school community.
Our campus comprises 34 acres surrounded by 1,000 acres of protected open space adjacent to Santa Rosa's picturesque Taylor Mountain
335 students, 30% of whom self-identify as students of color
Cities & Towns
Students arrive here from over 30 cities and towns across Sonoma, Marin, and Napa Counties
Our students come from 80+ middle schools, ensuring a broad mixture of students from all over the greater North Bay Area
Languages Spoken at Home
17 languages other than English are spoken at the homes of our students, including Spanish, Chinese, German, Russian, Hungarian, Swedish, Porteguese, Italian, Farsi, Urdu, Hindi, Tagalog, Malaysian, Balinese, Indonesian, and Japanese
50% of families receive approximately $5.2 million in tuition assistance annually
A donation by Thinkway Toys, the company responsible for turning Pixar characters into toys, made this studio possible. Here students tinker, play, and create while learning principles of robotics, engineering, and design thinking.
A large, open space that can be configured as needed, the fabrication studio has a front half, where projects are assembled, and a back half, where the large equipment is stored and where materials may be prepared for fabrication.
Where we come to eat, study, play games, and enjoy tea and toast in between classes, the Commons dining area has indoor and outdoor seating, large group tables, individual seating, and lots of light and fresh air.
Equipped with movable induction stovetops, as well as a double-oven and all the cooking utensils you could ever need, our students learn about the culture of food, a variety of cooking and baking techniques, and nutrition.
A small, classic "black box" theater space, our students have produced incredibly creative shows here. The black box lends itself to flights of fancy, where if you can imagine it, you can bring it to life on stage.
Construction of a new, larger theater space that includes flexible seating capacity for up to 435 people, as well as a theater classroom and actor's studio, is expected to complete by the 2023-24 school year.
Our Library's resources include over 12,000 books, CDs, and DVDs; magazine and newspaper subscriptions; 15 subscription databases; and a full-time librarian to help students access and navigate these resources.
Home of the Coyotes, our gym is host to our boys and girls basketball, and girls volleyball teams, as well as the site of many a Community Meeting, dodgeball competition, basketball pick-up games after school, and PE classes and Intersessions.
An all-weather artificial turf field named for our legendary Athletic Director Chris Ziemer, we field boys and girls soccer and lacrosse in fall, winter, and spring, all while saving millions of gallons of water each year.
One of the only schools to have its own art gallery, we have artist shows throughout the year from artists who take an innovative approach and enhance our art curriculum. Student work is also displayed here.
...the only private, independent, college preparatory high school in Sonoma County. On our beautiful campus nestled at the base of Taylor Mountain in Southeastern Santa Rosa, our students are able to explore their interests and passions in a rigorous and inspiring environment that develops a lifelong love of learning and prepares them for college and beyond.
Sonoma Academy admits students of any race, color, religion, ethnicity or national origin, citizenship, gender or gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, or disability, to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. The school does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, ethnicity or national origin, citizenship, gender or gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, or disability in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and tuition assistance programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.