A Visit to Culver (Academies – not the Restaurant!)

For anyone unfamiliar with the Culver Academies, allow me to ask you if you’re familiar with the famous Black Horse Troop that has been a part of more presidential inaugural parades than any other high school (public or private) in the nation?  The Black Horse Troop that opened the World Equestrian Games last October in Kentucky?

This Black Horse Troop?

They come from the same place – the Culver Academies in Culver, Indiana, a tiny, mapdot of a town on the shores of the beautiful Lake Maxinkuckee.

Now, Culver isn’t just a place with a Black Horse Troop (although that is a pretty unique and special feature and is definitely worthy of note!).  It’s also a rigorous college preparatory school with a military history and bearing and a modern-day aim towards producing the very best leaders it can.  Generous donations from individual donors as well as groups of alumni and friends have given the campus the very best in facilities, including the $20 million Roberts Hall of Science and Dicke Hall of Mathematics, the Huffington Library, and (of course!) the Vaughn Equestrian Center.  Next year, Culver will build a $19 million rowing house on the lake to further support their crew teams.

So what did I love about my time at Culver?  Let’s start with the impressive equestrian program and facilities:

Culver’s equestrian center was recently renovated – and it shows.  Each stall is endowed and each equine resident lives in immaculate splendor – great ventilation, automatic waterers, and superior flooring for the utmost comfort.  The indoor arena is among the largest in the country and has a great seating area with perfect views of not only the entire arena, but the stabling area behind.  (I stood at the back row to look over the entire expanse – very cool!  Check it out on their virtual tour here.)

Culver doesn’t board on campus but they have a very diverse group of 100 horses to choose from.  In addition to the Black Horse Troop, Culver has a competitive IEA hunt seat team, IEA stock seat team, a top-ranked polo team (the varsity team competes against colleges and other adult clubs!), a handful of drill teams (the Equestriennes and the Lancers), and a gymnastic team (the Rough Riders).

(How’s that for diversity of disciplines?)

Academically, Culver demands a lot from its students, both in and out of the classroom.  Uniforms are mandatory (military-style for the men, traditional boarding school style for the women) at all times unless students are expressly told otherwise.  They have a wide variety of AP course offerings (like most private schools) and several honors-type programs.

But what really stands out to me about this particular school is its focus on leadership.  (And with alumni like George Steinbrenner, CEO Miles White, and Olympian Molly Engstrom, the programs clearly work!)  The boys are in a traditional military system and the girls in a more traditional prefect system (common to many boarding schools) but everyone is taught to think and act like a leader, right from their first moments on campus.  Respect is stressed highly and I didn’t meet a single student during my visit who didn’t look me in the eye and answer my questions politely and completely.  (For teenagers, that was a little bit odd – but certainly refreshing!)

I truly enjoyed my visit there and hope to make it back – even if only for the pear ravioli at the Corndance Café downtown!

(Want to learn more about schools like Culver and how they might be a fit for your high school years?  Contact me and let’s find out!)

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