Special Programs

Upper School student posing in NASA shirts

Assembly Programming

As part of our mandate to promote social-emotional intelligence in our students, we offer assembly programming several times a year to:

  • Develop resilience
  • Deal with stress and anxiety
  • Navigate social media
  • Maintain healthy peer relationships

Guest speakers supplement curricular learning, particularly in the areas of Israel education and Holocaust education and reflection. Individual academic department heads often invite our alumni to speak to current students about their experiences in the working world.

Student-Organized Conferences

To supplement our curriculum and offer leadership opportunities, we host several conferences organized and run by our 12th graders. An important part of the Barrack experience for decades, these half-day events feature a well-known keynote speaker and several breakout sessions led by alumni, Barrack parents, and community members. Breakout sessions may include a hands-on component to foster in-depth learning.

By extending the learning from the classroom to real-world situations, our conferences help educate our students as global citizens who strive to make an impact.

Human Rights Conferences

Presented by our Human Rights Club, this summit plants seeds for action and promotes the philosophy that one person can make a difference in the lives of others. Each conference welcomes 15-20 speakers—often our alumni. Topics cover critical issues such as civil liberties in the United States, women in war zones, psychology of terrorists, homophobia, human trafficking, mental health, HIV/AIDS in developing countries, prisons and prisoners, reproductive rights, homelessness, and Israeli innovations in Africa.

Political Conferences

Every four years, coinciding with the beginning of the presidential election cycle, we host a political conference and mock primary election. Conference speakers come from a wide range of legal and political backgrounds including local attorneys and judges, former Supreme Court law clerks, pollsters, state administrators, activists, and journalists. In the weeks preceding the event, students run a school-wide campaign and hold a debate in front of the student body. During the mock primary, they portray candidates from the major party challenging the incumbent president. A mock primary election follows the conference.  

Sessions have included debates on topics such as gun policy and the death penalty as well as discussions among members of different political parties. At our 2016 conference, Barrack alumnus Josh Shapiro '91, Attorney General of Pennsylvania, joined Val DiGiorgio, then-chair of the Chester County Republican Party, to present the major parties' ideologies.

Topics in Science

Hosted by the Topics in Science Club, this conference exposes students to current innovations in science, technology, and engineering. Each conference hosts 15-20 speakers discussing topics such as space, science ethics, and environmental science. Students attend keynote presentations (separate for middle school and upper school students) and choose from a series of smaller breakout sessions.