By Melanie Hoffman
As the world continues to advance technologically, American Heritage Schools keeps pace with the global shift by integrating a culture of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) into its comprehensive and rigorous curriculum.
Founded in 1965, American Heritage Schools (AHS) is a nationally ranked college preparatory school with two 40-acre campuses in South Florida serving grades Pre-K3 through 12. The 4,800 students represent more than 60 different countries, more than 70 percent of the faculty holds a postgraduate degree and the student-to-faculty ratio is 5-to-1.
AHS alumni are notable leaders in their fields who are generating positive differences in the world. Dylan Cahill graduated from the AHS Palm Beach campus in 2014, from Dartmouth College in 2018 and is attending Harvard Medical School.
“American Heritage prepared me for college academics,” Cahill said. “Though I didn’t realize it at the time, the study strategies I developed in challenging classes at AHS helped make my transition into the demands of college life much smoother.”
Ranked among the top private schools in the State of Florida in STEM according to Niche, the leader in digital searches for the best K-12 schools and colleges, the students at AHS recently earned high honors in STEM, including No. 1 in Florida at the state science fair, No. 1 and No. 2 private school in Florida in math competition, and No. 1 in Florida in robotics competition.
The American Heritage Science Research Institute for select students in grades six through 12 enables students to conduct research on real-world problems, and in turn, they have earned international recognition for their findings.
The range of equipment in the science lab is unlike any other high school — fluorescent and inverted microscopes, UV/Vis plate reader (a spectrophotometer), a carbon dioxide incubator, a minus 86-degree freezer, a liquid nitrogen cryogenic tank and a scanning electron microscope, just to name a few.
“When our students graduate, they are equipped with a level of research knowledge they would not normally have without the opportunities presented in our program,” said Dr. Iris Thompson, director of science research at the AHS Palm Beach campus. “This sets them apart from their peers when applying to college or graduate school.”
Nolan Wen, a senior at the Palm Beach campus, published his science research as first author, which is an unusual feat for a high school student. His research was titled, “Development and characterization of laponite-enhanced tannic acid-based hydrogels,” in the Materials Letters journal. Wen will be attending the University of Pennsylvania in the fall and was accepted to the school’s highly competitive seven-year bio-dental program.
“The rigorous course offerings and programs at American Heritage not only helped me get into Penn but have also prepared me well for life at Penn,” Wen said. “The BSL-2 level labs and incredible summer research program at American Heritage have provided me the platform to conduct graduate-level research and become an accomplished young researcher (published three times, Regeneron International Science and Engineering Finalist and Regeneron Science Talent Search Finalist). As vice president of Model UN, president of the TASSEL Cambodia Heritage branch, and a member of Education Rocks and various national honor societies, I have been able to both embrace the school community and make a positive difference on a global scale. I’ve had an incredible four years at American Heritage and cannot wait to continue my education at UPenn.”
The mathematics departments at both AHS campuses are equally strong. Starting in the Lower School, honors courses and honors math competition classes are offered for accelerated math students in fourth through sixth grades. This early learning enables the students to learn higher-level critical thinking and problem solving. The school earned the ranking of No. 1 elementary school in Florida and No. 2 private elementary school in the U.S. in math competition, and many of those students advance to the high school level with great success. Both the Broward and Palm Beach math teams at American Heritage ranked No. 1 and No. 2 private school at the Florida Association of Mu Alpha Theta (FAMAT) statewide math competition.
“The American Heritage Schools competitive math program has been an amazing place to foster my love for mathematics and meet other kids who enjoy the STEM fields as much as I do,” said Sharvaa Selvan, a senior at the AHS Broward campus and vice president for the state and national Mu Alpha Theta student delegates. “Our victory at the February statewide was a testament to the countless hours spent by both the students and our amazing coaches over the past few months.”
Selvan has been accepted to the prestigious universities MIT and Georgia Tech.
“Our win at the NSU statewide competition demonstrates the enormous collection of mathematical giftedness of the members of our math competition team,” said Dr. Radleigh Santos, competitive mathematics head coach and an MIT graduate. “I’m proud of all their hard work, and I’m looking forward to their future success.”
In the field of robotics and engineering, the AHS Wyld Stallyns team at the Palm Beach campus qualified for the World Robotics Championship in Houston. The team also won the Creativity Award sponsored by Rockwell Automation.
Senior Dylan McClish is a top student in the AHS pre-engineering program at the Palm Beach campus and was accepted to Princeton, Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, Brown, Cornell, Columbia, Michigan and the U.S. Naval Academy.
“I’ve been at American Heritage for seven years, and I am forever thankful for how much it has prepared me for college,” McClish said. “It has allowed me to take a vast array of college-level courses that other high schools don’t offer, such as multivariate calculus/differential equations, learning math that many don’t see until they are a few years into college. I have been part of the pre-engineering and science research programs, and it has been fantastic to pursue my interests in AI and robotics with the full support of the school’s amazing faculty and resources. It has been a lot of hard work, but I know that I will be well prepared for college, and I am grateful that American Heritage has given me the tools to succeed at the collegiate level.”
American Heritage Schools is ranked No. 1 in National Merit Scholars out of all schools in Florida and the No. 2 private school in the nation. The students from both campuses comprise 10 percent of all National Merit Scholarship semifinalists throughout the 2,227 public and private schools in Florida.
American Heritage Schools is open all year at both campuses. It also provides an extensive summer program from June to August for children and teens ages 3 to 17 from all over the world. The offerings include traditional day camps, specialty and sports camps, the Summer Institute, available in-person and online with more than 100 courses designed for every student’s interest, and 1-on-1 tutoring. The comprehensive summer enrichment ensures that students are prepared or ahead for the next school year and gives them a competitive advantage to succeed.
American Heritage Schools will continue to set high standards for growth and learning and prepare the next generation of global thinkers and problem solvers to succeed.
To learn more about American Heritage Schools, visit www.ahschool.com.