The St. Albans School of Public Service
The St. Albans School of Public Service (SPS) lasts only four weeks each summer, but our students describe it as "life-changing." The School of Public Service is a unique program that brings 35 rising high school seniors from all over the United States to the heart of Washington, D.C., where they undertake an in-depth exploration of government, politics, and public service. If you are accepted to SPS, you'll use the case study method (the teaching method used in graduate programs in law, business, and public policy) to discuss and dissect public policy issues ranging from the debate over climate change, to the role of the media in modern political campaigns, to the experience of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division in trying to construct a working post-war government in city of Mosul, Iraq.
You'll take part in sophisticated simulations. Picture yourself as a first-term member of Congress -- you'll select committee assignments, vote on controversial legislation, and raise campaign funds . . . but will you be re-elected? Or step into the courtroom, as you and your classmates act as lawyers in a mock Supreme Court argument of a case from the "real" Supreme Court's docket -- what's the proper scope of the Second Amendment's right to bear arms? What are the limits of First Amendment Free Speech rights for high school students? What rights to Guantanamo detainees have under the Geneva Convention? Your own classmates will serve as the Justices and rule on your arguments.
You'll hone your debating and speaking skills in practice in every case study and in organized debates throughout the session, including the annual Congressional Debate that caps off the session. Need a little extra ammunition in that policy argument? You'll explore the intersection of economics and public policy in an Economics mini-course throughout the SPS session.
The learning continues outside the classroom. A typical week might include a visit to the United States Supreme Court for a meeting with a Supreme Court Justice; a question-and-answer session at the Capitol with a sitting Member of Congress; an exclusive tour of the Library of Congress; a trip to the U.S. Naval Academy for a tour and a classroom case study with a Naval Academy Professor; and an afternoon at a community health clinic in Washington D.C. talking to doctors and staff about their service in the field of public health.
The School of Public Service faculty holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from institutions such as Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Georgetown, Amherst, Oxford, and the University of Virginia, but you'll also learn from the wide array of speakers -- Pulitzer prize winning reporters; Army Special Forces Officers; Presidential Medal of Freedom winning scientists; Presidential Campaign staffers; Senators and Congresspeople; and federal judges. And last but not least, you'll learn from your own classmates, who, like you, will be competitively chosen from among the best and brightest high school students in the United States and Europe. As one recent SPS participant said: "I never imagined having so many conversations with people my own age about things that matter."
You'll live at St. Albans School on the grounds of the Washington National Cathedral (students from the D.C. area can attend SPS as boarding or day students). And as you explore policy and politics, you will also explore Washington D.C., whether it's a twilight tour of the Monuments, a boat trip down the Potomac for a day at George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate, an afternoon at the ballpark taking in a Washington Nationals baseball game, or a private tour of the National Portrait Gallery hosted by a Smithsonian curator. Click here to check out our blog for a day-by-day look at this summer's program!
Learn a little bit more about the St. Albans School of Public Service, a summer program for rising high school seniors held in Washington, D.C., by watching our introductory video (narrated by the late Tim Russert).
Program Dates and Application Information: We are no longer accepting applications for the 2013 program. The 2014 School of Public Service program will take place from June 22 - July 19, 2014, and we will begin accepting applications for SPS 2014 on December 1, 2013. We welcome inquiries about the program at any time for those who are trying to decide if SPS is right for them. Admissions decisions are on a rolling basis and in most cases the class is filled by late March or early April. For more information about the application process (including tuition and financial aid information), and a link to the printable application form, click on the "Applying to SPS" link on the top left-hand side of this page. Applicants should try to complete the application form and essay as soon as possible, and then follow up with additional materials (transcript, standardized score report, teacher letter of recommendation). Feel free to email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call our office (202-537-5286) for more information.
What Kind of Student is the School of Public Service Looking For?
The School of Public Service is a co-educational program for rising high school seniors with strong academic backgrounds, a demonstrated interest in government, public policy, and public service, and a desire to share their interests and learn from and with like-minded peers from around the country. (SPS also encourages applications from area students, who can attend as residential or day students.) We look for students with diverse backgrounds and talents with the enthusiasm and commitment to spend four weeks intensively immersed in government, public policy and public service.