For more than 120 years, Asheville School has been a proud member of the Asheville community. Like the city itself, we have benefitted from our scenic setting in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We have flourished together, a city with endless entertainment, dining and recreation options, and a boarding and day school dedicated to providing the best education and personal growth opportunities to high-schoolers.
And just like the city, we attract people from across the nation and world. Our 295 students hail from nearly every state and 18 countries. They are diverse, inquisitive, independent thinkers. These students are engaged in a very demanding academic program, participate in athletics, and perform in the arts. We care for, nurture, and guide them as they navigate their way from ninth grade to high school graduation.
Our campus is tucked away on the city’s far west side, easily missed along Patton Avenue. We have a small number of day students and many in the area are not familiar with the tremendous academic and personal growth students experience during their time with us.
I know all of this personally. I want to share our story from my unique perspective as head of school and a graduate of Asheville School’s class of 1984.
To say that returning to my alma mater was one of the great joys of my life is an understatement. This school was the most profound and impactful academic experience of my life. During my time on campus, I learned for the first time to think independently of my parents, to problem-solve on my own, and become an independent learner. Perhaps most important to me, I began to explore my own personal faith.
These memories heartened and inspired me as I stepped onto campus in September 2019 as the new head of school. What I discovered was an even better place than I had left years earlier. Asheville School was larger, more diverse, and offered an even more rigorous curriculum than I had encountered as a student.
Yet Asheville School values more than just academics; we also value fun. On-campus entertainment includes barbecues, athletic tournaments, game nights, movies, school dances and more. Our recent Spring Olympics, an intra-dorm competition, was a great success. Students also can join any of the 30 student organizations that touch on nearly every interest — from environmental action and entrepreneurship to photography and creative writing.
We prioritize the social and emotional health of our students. Our Blues Core program teaches students how to be thoughtful about the challenges of adult life. In this program, students learn about health, executive function skills, interpersonal relationships and the issues related to consent. We are excited to make this a model program for schools across the nation.
True to our mountaintop setting, we offer mountaineering programs (such as hiking, camping, paddling, mountain-biking and rock climbing). Horse lovers can enjoy an equestrian program that includes lessons for all skill levels and picturesque riding trails.
But our sense of community extends well beyond our campus. Our students, of course, enjoy downtown Asheville, taking in concerts, plays and other art events, movies and sporting events. They also give back in a big way. Before the pandemic, students participated every other week in the Asheville School Service Program, volunteering mostly off campus to volunteer at Bounty and Soul’s weekly market, Brother Wolf Animal Rescue, MANNA FoodBank and Owen Middle School. Students also participated in the History @ Hand walking tour of downtown Asheville, where they learned about the history of Asheville, architecture, and race relations.
This is our story, a story we are enormously proud of at Asheville School. We are proud of our history, of how we have developed over the last 121 years, and the community we have built on campus and in the city whose name we share. This is the pride that will guide us in the years to come and propel us to an even brighter future for our students, our employees and the Asheville community.
(Dr. Anthony Sgro is head of school at Asheville School and a 1984 graduate. He previously served as head of school at Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School in Georgia, 2011 to 2019.)