Junior Alexis Chong on Attending the #1 High School in Massachusetts


Angela Taricco

Alexis Chong and her peers brainstorming for their STEM thesis project at Mass Academy.

Kiley Vallee '22, Co-Editor

Imagine you are 17 years old:  you wake up, attend high school among college students, add a finishing touch to your personal website, go right to after-school activities, and then finish off the night with six hours of homework. This is routine for the academically talented students attending Mass Academy, a rigorous high school for juniors and seniors seeking an advanced learning opportunity. Alexis Chong, 17 and a junior, is living this reality.

Ranked the #1 high school in Massachusetts, Massachusetts Academy of Math and Sciences (Mass Academy) challenges students in college-level courses and project-based learning focusing on math, science, and technology. It is also the only public high school in the state with seniors fully enrolled in a private university, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), where Mass Academy’s campus is located in Worcester, MA.

Chong is from the nearby town of Uxbridge, MA.   She applied to Mass Academy in the winter of 2020 after attending multiple Mass Academy’s summer programs. After sending in recommendation letters, writing two essays, and creating a video submission, Chong was accepted in May of 2021.

She notes her experience during the daunting application process:  “I had known that I wanted to at least try applying to Mass Academy for a couple years. I was very anxious right after I submitted my application in March and right before the decisions came out.” 

The junior curriculum exceeds the level of honors and AP courses; it includes: physics, mathematical modeling, humanities, foreign language (Spanish or French), STEM, science and technical writing, physical education, and computer science. 

Chong states: “It’s a very academically rigorous school and we do have a lot of homework every night, but I feel challenged every day and I’ve never had to think this much in my whole life.” 

She also notes that she typically spends at least six hours doing homework everyday. 

Seniors at Mass Academy have a schedule similar to a typical freshman in college. They fulfill 12 college courses throughout the year, as well as taking phys ed and completing an Independent Study Project. Throughout this year, seniors also work with a college advisor to help with their applications and future plans.

Not only is Mass Academy academically difficult, but they also require each student to participate in extracurricular activities each semester. These activities include theatre, student government, and American Computer Science League just to name a few. It’s also necessary to complete 50 hours of community service each year.  If some students want to play a sport, they can participate through their home school districts, although it is uncommon.

Chong expresses the difficulty in balancing such a high courseload with mandatory extracurriculars.

 “I must admit— I have not been the best at balancing my extracurriculars with school. Our workload makes it difficult to find the time for my after school activities, though I try my best to attend weekly dance classes. If I ever have a break between dance routines, you will likely find me in the studio lobby solving a physics problem or working on my STEM thesis,” Chong shares.

She notes that it’s not mandatory for the extracurriculars to be affiliated with MassAcademy, but many do participate in these clubs. 

Chong says, “While I did not participate in any school-offered extracurriculars during the first half of the year, I am looking forward to joining slam poetry this term.”

In 2019, Mass Academy ranked the best public high school in the state on Niche’s List. Their students have been admitted to prestigious universities and honored through a number of contests. The college list of past classes is filled with Ivy Leagues and top schools in the country.

Chong says, “For me, my top schools are Harvard, MIT, Brown, and Yale.”

Though Mass Academy is challenging and stress-inducing at times, Chong does appreciate her opportunity to attend this school

“I was looking for peers who shared my passion for learning and were as dedicated to school as I am, and I have certainly found that and more at Mass Academy. I’ve never connected with a group of people so quickly,” Chong reflects.