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Engaging Questions at Boston’s First Pilot School: Fenway High School

Boston Public Schools

Boston, Massachusetts

Fenway High School was founded in 1983 as an alternative program for students at risk of dropping out. Its founders created a small school where students would be challenged intellectually and feel safe socially. Fenway’s motto is “Work Hard. Be Yourself. Do the Right Thing.” To those ends, the school engages students in four year-long sequences of Humanities studies—investigating and debating questions about history, politics, morality, and human nature. Each year of high school, all Fenway students explore one of four key Humanities questions:

  • What does it mean to be human?
  • Who built America?
  • How do we do right in the face of injustice?
  • How do we govern ourselves?

At the same time, Fenway is structured as a supportive community. All students belong to one of three “houses” or learning communities, each with its own teacher and support staff, who stay with students throughout their Fenway careers. For their first three years, students take Science and Humanities classes with the same teachers. The “house” serves as a homeroom for seniors, who conduct a “Senior Institute” involving writing a position paper, completing a specialized internship, and producing a nine-part portfolio. In 1994, Fenway became Boston’s first pilot school and was granted increased autonomy and accountability.

Read the transcript of Engaging Questions at Boston’s First Pilot SchoolDownload Fenway’s 2012 application

Read transcript of Engaging Questions at Boston’s First Pilot School.

Contact information

Current Principal: Ms. Peggy Kemp
Fenway High School
174 Ipswich Street
Boston, MA 02215-3515
Telephone: 617.635.9911

Student Demographics 2012

Number of Students 9 – 12 317
Students eligible for subsidized meals 69%
Limited English proficient students1 8%
Students receiving special education services 16%
Student mobility rate 6%
Hispanic or Latino students 47%
African American students 40%
White students 8%
Asian students 3%
Students of two or more races 2%
Average daily student attendance 94%
2012 Graduation rate 88%

Watch John Esty’s campaign video about Fenway (2013).

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