Upper School

Welcome to Barstow Upper School

Since 1884, The Barstow School's mission remains to promote sound scholarship and "give symmetrical development to mind, body and character." In upper school, that means challenging and rigorous college preparatory courses, competitive and award-winning athletics and meaningful service learning.

Project-based learning gives students memorable, hands-on experiences. Whether they are AP Environmental Science students conducting field research, history students producing original documentaries or Engineering students designing and 3D printing brackets for the campus garden toolshed, upper school students are active participants in their education.
Innovation is a Barstow hallmark. The Hybrid Learning Consortium, founded at Barstow, gives students online access to independent school faculty faround the world who teach courses unique to their expertise and students' interests. Signature debate and robotics programs, fine arts offerings, STEAM electives, service learning and global education trips develop the whole student—and make a Barstow education an unparalleled experience.  

                                                                               Liz Bartow, Director of Middle and Upper School
                                                                               Joe Fox, Assistant Director of Middle and Upper School


Currriculum Spotlight: Service Learning

Character development is one of Barstow's founding principles. Upper school students engage in meaningful service learning projects, often of their own creation, and apply the experiences to their academic and personal development. They gain leadership skills as they actively work to solve problems at home and abroad. 

From freshman to senior year, students participate in more than a dozen service learning clubs that support local charities such as Spofford House, Rose Brooks Center and Operation Breakthrough. Many students who travel through Barstow's global education program also serve their host communities through projects include reforestation, organic gardening and trail restoration. Others create their own local projects, such as creating a schoolwide composting initiative or spearheading voter registration drives.

Nearly 30 Barstow students have earned the prestigious Congressional Gold Award for leadership and service since 2010. During the 2017-2018 school year, 62 students received Presidential Service Awards for performing more than 9,000 combined hours of service.

2018 Upper School Convocation

Convocation 2018


List of 13 items.

  • Class Retreats

    The first week of school includes class level retreats. In 2018:

    • Freshman spent a day on campus learning about the people, places and traditions that will form their Barstow upper school experience.
    • Sophomores engaged in team building service learning—a hallmark of the Barstow upper school curriculum—at an urban orchard and other sites around Kansas City.,
    • Juniors traveled to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, to make connections between art and summer reading assignments, including "The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead. 
    • Seniors toured historical sites in Kansas City during a day designed specifically to build leadership, community and responsibility. 

    Upper school students begin the year issuing charges to the classes below them, encouraging them and challenging them to be their best in mind, body and character. Each grade processes around Senior Circle and students take turns addressing the underclassmen. Finally, a special alumni speaker is chosen to address the seniors. Convocation sets the tone for a successful and memorable school year.
  • Kindergarten/Senior Buddies

    Having preschool through grade 12 students together in one building on a single campus is one of Barstow's most unique benefits. It allows the students to interact and share. Kindergarten students pair with seniors for monthly activities in this beloved Barstow tradition.
  • Dances

    The Upper School sponsors four dances every year:
    • Fall Dance, sponsored by Student Council, on campus.
    • Winter Dance, sponsored by Student Council, location varies.
    • Homecoming, sponsored by the Pep Club, in Price Hall.
    • Prom, sponsored by the Junior Class, location varies.
  • Cum Laude Induction

    Students who have achieved high academic standards, as well as good character, honor and integrity in all aspects of school life. are considered candidates for election into Cum Laude. Barstow has the area's oldest Cum Laude chapter.
  • Homecoming

    At this time-honored annual event, alumni, students, faculty, administration and staff enjoy the  Friday Pep Assembly, pregame dinner, boys’ and girls’ basketball games and the presentation of the crown and sword to the Queen and King during halftime of the boys varsity basketball game. All Alumni are invited back to enjoy the festivities.
  • Tree Day

    Tree Day is Barstow’s oldest tradition and its purpose is to beautify the campus and acknowledge Barstow's youngest generation and future alumni. Seniors who have attended Barstow for 12 or more years and preschoolers plant a tree in an afternoon filled with music, poetry, family and friends.
  • Senior Video

    Traditionally known as the "Senior Slide Show," technology has changed the name and presentation of this event honoring the graduating class. Each senior has his or her moment, with collections of baby pictures eliciting "oohs" and "aahs" of those in attendance. Upper school students are often joined by their parents for this event, as well as alumni.
  • Junior Senior Breakfast

    The breakfast for juniors and seniors precedes the Honors & Awards assembly. Also invited are any faculty member who may have taught the graduating class and wants to bid them farewell. The senior class president delivers a farewell message to his/her class and an alumni representative speaks to the students about the Alumni Association.
  • Upper School Honors and Awards

    Awards are given in a number of areas, including: academic, athletic, extracurricular and citizenship. The event is followed by the Ring Ceremony and marks the beginning of the graduation celebration.
  • Ring Ceremony

    The ceremony in the Senior Circle follows the Honors & Awards assembly. Seniors are matched up with juniors, and the seniors present rings to the juniors. Both groups perform the Senior Line Song.
  • Baccalaureate

    This event is the Sunday afternoon before graduation. Seniors choose the speaker. They wear traditional cap and gown attire. The program has a religious tone. Seniors toss their caps in the air in the Senior Circle at the end of the ceremony. A reception follows in the Lisa Schultz Dining Hall.
  • Graduation

    The ceremony is held outdoors on the Barstow campus. In case of inclement weather, commencement will be held in the gym.

    The girls wear white dresses and the boys wear black tuxedos. Girls carry a dozen long-stemmed red roses. Graduation attire has been formal since at least 1924, when Barstow was an all-girls school. Seniors select the commencement speaker. After the ceremony, graduates greet family, friends and faculty in the Senior Circle. A reception follows in the Lisa Schultz Dining Hall.

The Barstow School

11511 State Line Road • Kansas City, MO 64114
P (816) 942-3255 • F (816) 942-3227