The Scarsdale Alternative School (SAS) was
created in 1972 by students, teachers, and
administrators as an experimental satellite of
Scarsdale High School. The Alternative School
is housed in a separate building on the High
School grounds and in a corridor of the main
school. SAS consists of 81 students (sophomores,
juniors, and seniors), five full-time staff,
and a full-time secretary. All SAS students
have a Scarsdale High School Dean (guidance
counselor), and Alternative School graduates
receive a Scarsdale High School diploma. The
schedule is the same as that of SHS; SAS students
routinely enroll in classes at the main
The Scarsdale Alternative School was created
and designed to meet the following goals:
·To establish a workable, democratic school
governance system, a “just community.”
·To promote students’ social, civic, and moral
development in addition to their academic
and intellectual development.
·To create a sense of community where students
and teachers learn to work together
toward agreed upon goals.
·To increase students’ freedom and responsibility
in pursuing their own education.
·To make the school less isolated from, and
more responsive to, the larger community
outside its four walls.
·To emphasize cooperation, and eliminate the
more destructive forms of competition.
·To maintain the high level of academic
achievement and excellence for which
Scarsdale is known.
Very important in the philosophy of SAS is the
emphasis on participation. At weekly
Community Meetings, students and teachers
work together to discuss and make decisions
regarding many areas of school life including
rule formation and discipline. Both personal
and academic concerns are confronted. The
SAS faculty believes that such emphasis on
participation is essential for the full development
of students. High school students need
experiences from which they learn how to meet
responsibilities as citizens in their schools, local
community, and ultimately, in their country and
in their world.
Efforts to promote students’ ethical and civic
development have gained SAS both New York
State and national validation as an “exemplary
educational program.” The Scarsdale Alternative
School program has served as a model
for similar high school programs in other
Often alternative programs are created for the
potential dropout, the slow learner, the gifted or
talented, or those interested in a specific area
such as music and art or math and science.
Often students do not elect such programs but
rather are placed into them. The Scarsdale
Alternative School is NOT an alternative program
of this type. Rather, it is an experimental
school whose students represent a cross section
of the larger population of Scarsdale High
School. Because the school operates as a laboratory
school, one of its purposes is to explore
alternative structures and curriculum which are
potentially useful to the parent institution and
which are at the same time consistent with the
philosophy and goals of SAS. For this reason it
is important that SAS maintain a representative
cross section of the Scarsdale High School population.
Over the years, the School has consistently
attracted a diverse student body.
SAS students are a heterogeneous group of typical
sophomores, juniors, and seniors from
Scarsdale High School. Students range from
those who may be National Merit scholars and
the very top students in the country to those
with more limited academic skills. Students
attend SAS for reasons too numerous and complex
to treat in this brief description. Since,
however, SAS is an entirely voluntary, self-
selecting program, all students have in common
the desire to be part of the school.
The Scarsdale Alternative School is a college
preparatory school; generally all of its graduates
go on to four-year colleges or universities.
SAS offers the courses typically taken in high
school in English, social studies, mathematics,
science, and foreign language. Small size permits
considerable flexibility in scheduling,
allowing some unusual and rewarding experiences
to take place such as courses which combine
academic and field experience, and team-
taught interdisciplinary courses.
Many SAS classes are small, allowing for individual
attention and student participation.
Students with learning difficulties can receive
individual remedial work while high achievers
can be directed toward more challenging courses
Most students take courses at the main school
as well, in subjects not offered at SAS. SAS
students participate in student government, various
clubs, drama productions, publications,
athletics, and other extra-curricular activities
offered at Scarsdale High School.