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Student Life

Franklin Academy approaches the student experience through traditional opportunities delivered in a non-traditional way. We want our students to have the same experiences as their peers, so we provide them countless opportunities to engage with the community through clubs, organizations, athletics, and longstanding campus traditions that help to form and then strengthen friendships.

We recognize that students learn best through experiential opportunities and that does not just mean within the four walls of the classroom! Our entire campus is considered a classroom and students receive support as they navigate new relationships, deepen their emotional intelligence, and recognize that within a safe and inclusive community, they truly can belong, grow, and succeed.

Residence Life

Franklin Academy campus

Our residential model is unique. Students who are neurodiverse find a home — a safe community to practice essential social, emotional, and independent living skills. Our residential curriculum is second to none, and distinguishes Franklin Academy from other boarding and day schools. The 360-degree holistic education here is truly that. Incorporating essential skill-based instruction addressing executive functioning, advocacy and awareness, and social/emotional learning is at the core of our outside-of-the-classroom education. Living side-by-side with peers provides a perfect experiential learning opportunity, preparing our students for the demands of college and career.

Students in grades 8-11 live in single rooms — with supportive adults right there. You can explore our picturesque 75-acre campus in south central Connecticut. Everything on campus — classrooms, library and learning center, dining hall, field house, student and health centers, and hiking and biking trails – are within easy walking distance.

Girl in dorm room

Fun at Franklin

Fiber arts. Girl working at sewing machineStudent Clubs & Organizations

Compelling clubs are a highlight of our program at Franklin. Much like a college, Franklin runs student clubs both during the afternoon and in the evenings. Students will work with an advisor to identify clubs of interest, or even start one of their own. Some recent popular options include Magic The Gathering, fiber arts, forensics (including a guest speaker from the FBI!), Chess, Minecraft, Literary Magazine, Anime, and Dungeons and Dragons. An active theater group puts on one or two productions a year, such as The Laramie Project, and Anything Goes. Each club has a faculty advisor to support social development.

Students who have already learned the ropes benefit from leadership opportunities offered through our Student Government or by serving as a Prefect, which is what we call the student leaders in our dorms.

Evening & Weekend Trips

Students can experience all that the community has to offer with evening and weekend trips (Friday through Sunday). Students can sign up for activities (museums, bowling, shopping trips, beach trips, apple picking, movies, sporting events, hiking, and more!) and even propose trips of their own!

Student Social Advisor

Students each have an individual resource person to help them craft a successful social life. Students receive support from their Assistant Dean of Community Engagement to increase their social connectedness, develop real relationships, and take healthy risks. There is a point person constantly asking what additional resources does this student need to find social success? Advisors coach and mentor students on selecting from the great social opportunities on campus including evening programs, weekend and off-campus excursions, and clubs and student organizations.

Fitness and Athletics

At Franklin Academy, we understand the importance of regular exercise and nutrition. While physical education is a graduation requirement, our aim is to teach students life long skills to remain active whether that be through individual workouts, low impact programs, fun or competitive athletics.

Competitive Athletics

Beginning in the Fall of 2024 Franklin Academy will offer competitive sports in basketball and soccer. Franklin students will travel and compete with small schools in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New York through the Coastal Prep League.

Sports Leagues & Intramural Teams

If students have various interests and athletic talents, Franklin Academy offers support through intramural sports, including Ultimate Frisbee, soccer, tennis, softball, and other community activities. Additionally, students can join local leagues and teams if they would like to swim, play baseball, or ice hockey.

Life Sports

The goal is to help students find a physical activity to take with them even when they leave Franklin. Options might include walking, running, yoga, spinning class, weight training, swimming (at a pool at the Westbrook YMCA), and playground bootcamp.

As with many things at Franklin, students can drive change. Want an intramural baseball game? You can suggest it. Hope to do a 5K outside of school? Just let it be known. There is lots of flexibility to respond to changing desires.

Campus Traditions

Beyond clubs, Franklin offers many opportunities for fun and personal growth. Here is a sampling.

Community Meeting

We are a family and each day starts with a gathering of all our members. It is Franklin Academy’s touchstone. We hear announcements, offer affirmations for acts of kindness, discuss issues, make decisions, celebrate birthdays and accomplishments, and observe a moment of stillness before moving on to our busy days.

Speed Friending

You’ve heard of “speed-dating”? Here we do “speed friending.” At the start of the year we get exposed to a bunch of students and faculty through a series of two-minute conversations. Along the way we practice conversational icebreakers, facial expressions, eye contact, and body language. Some of your best friendships might begin between the sound of the buzzer!

The Diversity Fair

We celebrate all kinds of differences in an annual fair at Franklin, including race, culture, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and ethnicity. Afterwards students and teachers talk about their experiences and new perspectives.

The Fall College Trip

Our graduates attend a wide range of colleges — big and small, highly selective and focused on those needing accommodations. An annual college tour gives students a sense of the options. At some schools, we even meet up with Franklin alumni and get an insiders’ tour!

January Spirit Week

This week helps us get back into our routines after the winter holiday. It includes “minute-to-win-it” team competitions, spirit days (silly socks, favorite t-shirts, crazy hat or hair, mitten and gloves), a door decorating contest, penny wars, a staff photo-guessing game, and a raucous round of Family Feud.

Pi Day

At Franklin, we embrace our nerdiness. Pi Day is a major festival day, featuring competitions on Pi trivia, pin the Pi on the teacher, identifying words with pi, and the recitation from memory of the digits of Pi for as far as one can go. The school record is 1,387 digits after the decimal point!

The All-School Prom

Everyone goes to the prom. That’s the Franklin way – with or without a date, but always in the company of friends and classmates. We prepare with dance lessons, seminars on elegant dinner etiquette, and how to be a good wingman. Our students are stunning, the food is plentiful, and the dance floor is always full.

May the Fourth Be With You

“Do or do not. There is no try.” ~ Yoda. This mantra seems perfect for Franklin, so of course we embrace it by celebrating Star Wars on May the 4th.

Franklin Road Race

As we race toward graduation, we also run or walk during our annual fun-filled road race, featuring beautiful repurposed trophies and Franklin’s trademark community spirit.

Health and Wellness Center

Life sports student and teacher riding bikes

At Franklin we know that your physical and mental wellness has a huge impact on social and academic success. Life here includes routines and resources to take care of your body and mind.

Individual and Community

The Individual & Community Program provides students, through various modalities and experiences, the skills and information they need to navigate the social-emotional world following their graduation from Franklin Academy. We do this by helping students develop a cohesive yet flexible personal identity within an interdependent community so that they may build a meaningful and fulfilling life.

Health Center

An on-campus health center is available to attend to day-to-day medical needs and oversee administration of medication to students. Franklin’s staff works in concert with the students’ medical providers to provide feedback regarding the effectiveness of the prescribed medication. In the Fall of 2024 the Health Center will be relocated to the Dormitory to bring it closer to the students.

Mental Health

You will be supported at Franklin. We understand that anxiety and depression are frequent factors for our students. A key part of the Franklin model is support from licensed mental health counselors. Students can have individual or group-based counseling services, with no additional fees. Franklin Academy counselors can coordinate care between other external service providers as well.

Other Services

Based on student needs and intervention plans, students have options of receiving services through Speech & Language Pathology, Occupational Therapy, and Psychiatric Services.

Evaluation Center

Franklin’s Evaluation Center is available to provide clarification of a diagnosis, a review before a triennial IEP, data to lobby for accommodations, or more information to identify barriers to learning and social-emotional well-being. It can also identify interventions that may best support the student in overcoming those barriers. Our assessments follow an interdisciplinary, team-based approach and draw from various fields, including psychology, neuropsychology, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, education, and psychiatry. The cost of testing will vary depending on the type of assessment conducted. The Evaluation Center is available for all students, not just those who attend Franklin Academy.

Promoting Healthy Eating

Our dining hall is served by Sage Dining Services. Staff works with our students to guide them toward good eating habits. Many of our students start with limited palettes and are encouraged to try new things and to manage their nutrition. Franklin partners with our dining hall to help create a visual system for our students to help them make healthy choices. We also work with students with various dietary needs including gluten free, dairy free, nut allergies, etc.

I remember one of my very first days there, coming into the dining hall and thinking, ‘Where do I sit?’ An older student flagged me over. If you sat down by yourself, other people would join you. That’s just part of paying it forward.

International Travel and Service Trips

The world is our classroom, and at Franklin Academy, we mean that! Franklin students have embarked on international trips that have changed the lives of its participants through a focus on cultural immersion while building corresponding academic and executive functioning skills.

Our destinations have included:

Caribbean Islands
United Kingdom

Students also travel domestically to dive deeper into a specific area of academic interest or to participate in service work.

Our destinations have included:

Disney World & Universal Studios (Orlando)
Puerto Rico
Grand Canyon
New Orleans
New York City

a harbor filled with lots of boats next to tall buildings
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