Oxbridge Academy Offers Equestrian Team Program

Founder of Oxbridge Academy, William I. Koch. (Photo credit Sargent Architectural Photography)

Oxbridge Academy, a private college preparatory high school in West Palm Beach, is one of the few schools in the country offering its students innovative learning opportunities through dynamic hands-on experiences. An award-winning equestrian team is one of the notable programs that makes the school unique.

“There’s something special about going through your routine, knowing your teammates are watching and cheering you on,” says Catherine Hayek, an Oxbridge Academy freshman who sought out Oxbridge because it is one of the only local high schools with an in-house equestrian program. “My teammates are great. We practice together, we offer each other support and ideas, and we bond on trips to competitions. We just enjoy each other, and we all have a lot of love and respect for the horses we get to ride. I’m excited about growing as a rider with the team.”

Oxbridge’s equestrian program offers young riders the opportunity to grow and excel at their sport. Under the guidance of trainers Heidi and Steve Lengyel, the team rides out of the Lengyel’s Wall Street Farm, a gorgeous full-service facility that features multiple rings, ample turnout, a polo field, and exceptional horse care. The farm is conveniently located a few minutes from the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), and the team competes throughout the state of Florida. Although young, the Oxbridge team has already had many achievements. The team advanced to compete in The Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) regional competition in 2017. Most recently, the team earned 1st Place Grand Champion at the Four G’s Equestrian Center this October in Plantation, FL.

Founded in 2011 by Palm Beach businessman and philanthropist William I. Koch, Oxbridge’s mission has always been to provide a challenging, dynamic education where students learn important life skills for a successful future. Whether it is in the classroom, laboratory, art studio, athletic field, or equestrian arena, Oxbridge students are challenged and provided opportunities to grow and expand their education every day. Oxbridge boasts a 56-acre campus in West Palm Beach with state-of-the-art classrooms and academic and athletic amenities utilizing the latest in advanced technologies. “I started Oxbridge with a dedicated goal of providing the best possible, most advanced, diverse educators to children who want to learn how to achieve their personal goals, be productive and worthwhile,” says Koch.

Equestrian opportunities were envisioned from the outset. Beginning in 2013, Oxbridge provided equestrian training and support for interested students at all levels from beginners to accomplished riders. The school joined the IEA program so that students who expressed an interest in riding, but may not have their own horse, could pursue their passion for the sport. “If you don’t own a horse, the IEA program offers a great opportunity to train and compete with many different horses,” says Paige Adams, a 2017 Oxbridge graduate and now a sophomore at Vanderbilt University. “Moreover, even if you do own a horse, it extends an extra opportunity to be part of a dynamically different competition community that you wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise. I really enjoyed being involved with the IEA program at Oxbridge.”

“We’re very proud of what this team has done. We have kids come out with an interest and desire, and we work to help them learn the competitive side of the sport,” says Patrick Hollern, director of athletics at Oxbridge. “We’ve also had team members come to us with developed skills, and we work with them to refine and develop those skills.

Freshman Bianca Dunham is confident her skills as a rider will grow now that she is part of the Oxbridge team. “I’ve been on other riding teams before and the Oxbridge team is different. I get a lot more personal attention from the coaches, and the older girls on the team are really great about mentoring me,” Dunham says, who learned of the program in middle school and wanted to attend Oxbridge to be involved with the equestrian team. “I love the IEA program because it gives me the opportunity to ride different horses at each of the competitions. Each horse teaches me something new about myself.”

Beyond the stables and in the classroom, Oxbridge students are challenged through rigorous coursework, thoughtful debate, and hands-on projects. Oxbridge students learn how to think critically, analyze problems, work together, and innovate. The Oxbridge culture is built for student success by providing interactive learning and a culture of kindness. Because of their project-based learning approach, students learn how to set aside differences, work together, and celebrate success.

Oxbridge takes pride in its Signature Programs that offer unique scholastic opportunities that can’t be found in any other school in the county and, in some cases, even the country. Some of these Signature Programs include:

Aviation Program
Oxbridge is also one of only two schools in the state that offers students the opportunity to explore the aviation and aeronautics industries through elective courses, extra-curricular clubs and a full-motion Redbird MCX Flight Simulator. With a nationwide decline in pilots, this program gives students the foundation in aviation they need to assess the industry as a career path, build their resumes, gain training hours, and improve confidence. The curriculum combines math, science, geography, government, and economics coursework; industry expert lecturers; field trips; and a partnership with SunQuest Aviation where students can receive discounted rates on flight training.

Most recently, Oxbridge became one of a select group of high schools in the nation approved to implement the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Associations (AOPA) high school aviation science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curriculum in the 2018-2019 school year. This new accreditation expands Oxbridge’s existing aviation curriculum with an emphasis on the STEM component, which will apply math and physics concepts to aviation technology.

Cambridge University Scholar Program
The Oxbridge Academy-Cambridge University Scholar Program provides students with an immersive educational experience that includes a two-week stay at Cambridge University. Each year 15 juniors who demonstrate academic excellence and exceptional work ethic are selected through a competitive process. The program also includes a Cambridge professor teaching at Oxbridge for one week, to prepare students for their Cambridge experience. Oxbridge is the only school in the nation to partner with Cambridge University in a scholar program.

Independent Research Program
Perhaps one of the biggest initiatives differentiating Oxbridge is the focus and opportunity to explore individual research – a program they are expanding each year. In the classroom, students are diving into various topics of interest in science, humanities, mathematics and English. Under the guidance of their teacher, students are tasked with complete responsibility for the project from beginning to end. Students must call and schedule appointments with outside experts; they collect, tally, and interpret their data; and develop their own conclusions.

To date, nearly 100 students have conducted an independent research project. Oxbridge students have led 41 completed and ongoing research projects in collaboration with Scripps Florida, Max Planck, Ecology Project International, Florida Oceanographic Society, and many more. These students point to their research work as a skill they will carry with them through college and into their professional careers.

Competitive Sailing
Additionally, Oxbridge is one of the only high schools in South Florida that offers a competitive sailing team. The program began in 2011 and continues to grow each year, attracting competitive sailors, and preparing five Oxbridge Academy graduates to earn collegiate sailing scholarships. Oxbridge’s founder, William I. Koch, winner of the 1992 America’s Cup, is a 2018 Inductee into the National Sailing Hall of Fame and a recipient of the Hall’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

For more information about Oxbridge Academy, visit www.oapb.org.