During freshman year of high school I attended West Windsor-Plainsboro (WW-P) High School South in Princeton Junction, New Jersey. It is located just a few miles from Princeton, college town of Princeton University since 1756. WW-P South is surrounded by many academic institutions including the Institute for Advanced Study, Westminster Choir College, Princeton Theological Seminary, and the Educational Testing Service (ETS), along with other top ranking public and private schools in the nation.
One of the few things I distinctly remember is that my fellow students were some of the most academically driven and motivated people I have ever known. In 2013, WW-P South was ranked eighth in the state–and first in New Jersey– among non-magnet school by U.S. News & World Report. They have reported that 70% of student body participate in the AP® exams and above 93% of student body are classified proficient or above proficient on both mathematics and language arts literacy. And although it’s only a stereotype that Asians are more academically driven, I wasn’t surprised when I found out that 45% of student body is composed of Asians.
I still keep in touch with many people from the school, and many now attend either Ivy Leagues or other top ranking colleges in the states. This might be a result of the extra-curricular activities offered at WW-P South. Most students were part of one or multiple clubs and extra-curricular groups. There was a club for everyone, from sports clubs such as fencing and indoor/outdoor running clubs to multi-cultural clubs such as Chinese and Korean clubs.
Also, out of three high schools I attended, WW-P South had the most diverse and affluent music program. In terms of choirs, there were two large ensembles: Chorale, a non-auditioned freshman ensemble, and Concert Choir, an auditioned ensemble for sophomores and upperclassmen. There were also three extracurricular ensembles open to non-freshmen: Out of the Blue, a mixed a cappella ensemble, Tickled Pink, female a cappella ensemble, and Noteworthy, male a cappella ensemble. The year I was there, I was the tenor section leader of the Chorale, so I led sectionals to prepare for seasonal concerts and performances such as the annual silent auction concert and the biennial abroad tour. Although I was at WW-P South for a short period, I got to perform major works such as R.V. William’s Dona Nobis Pacem and Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore. Ever since I left school, the Concert Choir has performed at venues such as Carnegie Hall, Schloss Esterházy and the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. In short, the music program at WW-P South is upscale.
With this in mind, as a student currently majoring in Music Education, I’m curious to learn more about the music curriculum at WW-P South and the advantages or difficulties of teaching at such an academically and financially affluent school. Since 2002, Mrs. Janice Chapin, an alumnus of Westminster Choir College, has been the director of choirs at WW-P South. I will be interviewing her to discuss the music curriculum of the school and her hopes and goals as a music educator.