Riding Toward Excellence

Riding Toward Excellence The Equestrian Program At American Heritage Provides A Unique Educational Experience

By Stephanie D. Concepción

Nestled amid the vibrant equestrian community in Palm Beach County, the Equestrian Program at American Heritage Schools (AHS) stands as a beacon of academic excellence and equestrian prestige.

Located just minutes from world-class equestrian facilities like the Wellington International showgrounds, the Global Dressage Festival grounds and the National Polo Center-Wellington, the school offers unparalleled access to premier riding venues.

The program, established in 2011, boasts award-winning riders who have consistently excelled, placing in the top five at Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) competitions and ranking in the top 10 nationally. These talented equestrians have also performed internationally, such as representing the United States in the North American Youth Championships (NAYC), where they secured a top 10 placing.

This unique program offers a balance of academics and equestrian training for riders from kindergarten to college, inclusive of all grade levels.

Lower School students, from kindergarten through grade five, can enroll in the Junior Equestrian Program. Beginning in sixth grade, students can train at team barns.

This early engagement provides opportunities for after-school lessons at nationally recognized barns and training programs, fostering a love for riding from an early age. For students in grades seven through 12, AHS hosts two IEA teams that provide a competitive platform and foster a spirit of camaraderie and teamwork.

“We started with two students and now have over 35 families, several of which have come from other countries specifically for the program at American Heritage, as well as the experience of riding, training and competing in Wellington,” said Cynthia Screnci, director of the Equestrian Program, reflecting on the program’s growth and international appeal.

Students can pursue their equestrian goals at AHS while receiving a superior education. American Heritage offers six pre-professional programs in biomedical engineering, business, computer science, engineering, law and medicine. Each program is taught daily by professionals in their respective fields with unique classes that rival those of any Ivy League school.

Senior Sophia Masnikoff, a National Merit Semifinalist and a graduate of the school’s pre-law program, highlights these unique benefits.

“Going to a school like American Heritage fosters all aspects of my educational and athletic goals,” she said. “The school is rigorous, which fuels my passion for learning, while also accommodating my schedule, and my time as co-captain of the American Heritage Equestrian Team furthered my love of the sport; building teamwork skills used in everyday life. It provided me the platform to thrive in my riding and academics.”

Senior Anaïs Dufresne Powell, a graduate of the pre-medical program and also a National Merit Semifinalist, exemplifies the program’s success. Accepted into prestigious universities such as UCLA, Bryn Mawr and Wellesley College, Powell balances her academic excellence and award-winning photography pursuits with her passion for equestrian sports, showcasing the effectiveness of the school’s holistic approach.

American Heritage recognizes the unique demands placed on competitive equestrian athletes and offers flexible policies for equestrian-related absences. High school students can earn physical education credits based on their training schedule, further integrating their equestrian activities with their academic pursuits. The school day schedule accommodates academic and equestrian commitments, including free transportation to various barns in Wellington for training.

Mia Green, a junior who balances rigorous academics with her competitive riding schedule, emphasizes the school’s supportive environment.

“American Heritage teachers are very accommodating when it comes to giving us the ability to pursue both our equestrian goals and keeping up with academics,” she said.

Green’s dedication extends beyond her achievements. As one of the founders of Forget Me Not Farm’s Home for Peculiar Animals, a nonprofit animal rescue, she exemplifies the school’s emphasis on community service and leadership.

At American Heritage, young equestrians are not just athletes, they are scholars, leaders and compassionate individuals ready to make a mark on the world. By providing a superior college preparatory education alongside world-class equestrian opportunities, AHS ensures that its students are prepared for success, in the arena and beyond.

American Heritage Schools is ranked the No. 1 K-12 Private School in Florida, according to Niche.com, with two campuses in Broward and Palm Beach counties, serving approximately 4,800 students in PK3 through grade 12. AHS has ranked as the top high school in Florida for the highest number of National Merit Scholars for 14 years, as well as the top school in Florida for the most Presidential Scholars.

AHS campuses are open all year and provide an extensive Summer Program for children ages 3 to 17 from June to August. The offerings include traditional day camps, specialty and sports camps, one-on-one tutoring, and the Summer Institute offers more than 100 in-person and online courses designed for every student’s interest. The comprehensive summer enrichment gives students a competitive advantage to succeed in the next school year.

American Heritage Schools’ Palm Beach campus is located at 6200 Linton Blvd. Learn more about AHS’s unique Equestrian Program at www.ahschool.com/equestrian-program.