All posts by Kathleen Gilton

The Washington Post’s Most Challenging High School in Idaho 2017

By | Academic Excellence, College Placement, High School | No Comments

TWP America's Most Challenging High School Badge 1Riverstone International School has topped The Washington Post‘s list of Idaho’s Most Challenging High Schools for the second time! On a national level, Riverstone moved up the rankings from #125 to #116 out of approximately 22,000 schools in the United States that were evaluated.

According to reporter Jay Mathews, “America’s Most Challenging High Schools ranks schools through an index formula that’s a simple ratio: the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests given at a school each year, divided by the number of seniors who graduated that year. A ratio of 1.000 means the school had as many tests as graduates.”

Reflecting on this recognition, Head of School, Bob Carignan, wrote to the community, “While no ranking captures what a school does, it is certainly an acknowledgement of our excellent delivery of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programmes. We do the IB right!

In his article on the selected schools, Post education writer Jay Mathews talked about dedicated teachers finding potential in students – all students. This is something that we have always believed and it is why every student at Riverstone is enrolled in IB classes for their entire time here. Many schools make students apply and test in to the Diploma Programme, but we offer it to all.

While not every student is successful in gaining the Diploma, every student gets a better education because they are taking these demanding courses in small classes with teachers who are totally focused on each student’s potential. Every student must think critically, write clearly and persuasively, analyze facts, and apply what they are learning. Ask any senior who is currently taking the grueling set of IB exams this month.

And yet we are more than the most academically challenging high school in Idaho. While not every day is rainbows and sunshine for every student, nor should it be, when I walk down our hallways I am always renewed by how much our students laugh – in class and out. The faculty mentorship, the academic challenge, the emphasis on curiosity, interests, and passions turns our academic rigor into a very special kind of academic vigor that lasts a lifetime – this is our true coin of the realm. This is what is reflected in our ranking, and we should all be very proud of that.”


Riverstone International School is a private, independent school with 350 students from preschool through high school. Offering both day and boarding programs, Riverstone is Idaho’s premier International Baccalaureate World School and the only school in Idaho authorized to provide all three International Baccalaureate Programmes. The school awards scholarships and tuition assistance to approximately 30% of their students and 100% of graduates are accepted into four year colleges and universities around the world. Academic excellence, community and service, leadership by example, international understanding, and outdoor education form the foundation of Riverstone’s educational philosophy.


Inquire Today!



Riverstone Breaks Ground on Phase 1 of New Middle & High School Building

By | Academic Excellence, Elementary School, High School, IB, Middle School | No Comments

Riverstone International School is expanding!

With an eye to the future, Riverstone International School has broken ground on Phase 1 of a new Middle and High School on their campus in southeast Boise and will be opening a new residential program this fall.

Phase 1 features a 6,962 square foot building that will include two music classrooms, a recording studio, two science classrooms with laboratories (one wet and one dry), a general classroom, restrooms, and two offices.

This new building was designed by Erstad Architects and will connect to a larger, Middle and High School building to be constructed at a future date. The overall design compliments the striking, light-filled Elementary School that Erstad Architects designed in 2009. PETRA, Inc. is the general contractor for the project with an anticipated completion of December 2016.

According to Bob Carignan, Head of School, “Upgrading our Middle and High School facilities to reflect the innovative education we offer at Riverstone is part of our 2014-2019 Strategic Plan. Our goal is to create a distinctive learning environment that fosters inquiry-based learning, encourages engaging discussions between students and teachers, and builds a strong community.”

The school is opening a residential facility in downtown Boise in the fall of 2016 with a long-term goal of housing 32 domestic and international residential high school students. Improving the school’s academic facilities is necessary to meet both the educational needs of students and future growth of the school.

Phase 1 of the new Middle and High School replaces the original modular buildings that were purchased in 1997 when the school first opened as the independent Hidden Springs Community School in Hidden Springs. The modulars were moved and installed at the school’s campus at 5521 Warm Springs Avenue when the school relocated to its current 14-acre site in 2000. The school bid a fond farewell to the modulars in late May.


Riverstone International is a private, independent school with 325 students from preschool through high school. Recently recognized by The Washington Post as “Idaho’s Most Challenging High School,” Riverstone is the only school in Idaho, and one of 17 in the nation, authorized to provide the three International Baccalaureate programmes. About 20% of the families receive tuition assistance. Riverstone International School inspires courageous journeys of academic and personal growth to enable students to lead purposeful lives.

We will waive the $75 application fee for families who start their applications* for the 2016-17 academic year prior to August 15. Please inquire at the button below. We will send instructions and the appropriate code via email.

*Day students only; not applicable for residential students.

Inquire here

Photo includes  Andy Johnson (RIS Middle & High School Director), Andy Erstad (Erstad Architects), Katrina Kulm (Erstad Architects), Mark Liebich (RIS Chairman Board of Trustees), Bob Carignan (RIS Head of School), Rachel Pusch (RIS Director of Enrollment Management), Jerry Frank (PETRA, Inc), and Melinda Quick (RIS Class of 2009).

Riverstone International School Awarded Idaho’s Most Challenging High School

By | Academic Excellence, College Placement, High School, IB | No Comments


Riverstone International School has topped The Washington Post‘s list of Idaho’s Most Challenging High Schools!

According to reporter Jay Mathews, “The index score is the number of college-level tests given at a school in the previous calendar year divided by the number of graduates that year.”

As an International Baccalaureate World School that enrolls every student in the prestigious IB Diploma Programme, graduates sit for six college-level tests. In addition to a month-long battery of exams covering six subject areas, students must complete an independent research paper of approximately 4,000 words and 150 hours of Creativity, Action and Service. Additionally, students are required to complete a course in Theory of Knowledge, a hallmark of an IB education.

On a national level, Riverstone appears at #125 out of the approximately 22,000 schools in the United States that were evaluated.


Don’t Fail Idaho: How Riverstone Stacks Up

By | Academic Excellence, College Placement, IB | No Comments

Bob by the Rock 2015The following is the introduction to Bob Carignan’s March 3, 2016 newsletter to the Riverstone community. To read previous Riverstone newsletters, you may link to our archives here. We invite you to subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.

Dear Riverstone Community,

I would like to talk about the report completed by the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation, “Don’t Fail Idaho,” that has received a great deal of coverage in the media of late. I have been asked by many parents as to how Riverstone is doing in comparison to the trends in this report and national benchmarks. I apologize if this is longer than normal, but urge you to read on.

The skills identified in the report that employers are seeking mirrors the skills that Riverstone teaches our students: “performing with integrity, contributing to a team, acquiring knowledge, solving problems, and being able to communicate effectively.” You can see our students putting these skills into action every day:

  • Our very youngest students speak publicly about their work during their Primary Years Programme open houses
  • Our grade 5 students research and address real-life issues throughout their 8 week Exhibition
  • Our Middle Years and Diploma Programme students research and form opinions on topics that are relevant to the real world
  • Starting in Middle School, our students have to problem solve and cooperate to set up tents, carry group gear, and prepare meals for their outdoor trips
  • Our students work side by side with classmates from around the world and from different backgrounds; real international and socio-economic diversity

College Preparedness
According to the report, only 20% of high school seniors in Idaho are prepared for college. In the highest ranking public schools in Boise, less than 50% of seniors are prepared. Using the same measure, 100% of the Class of 2015 were prepared for college.

At Riverstone, every student is required to take four years of mathematics and all of our students are on track to have the option to study calculus in their junior year. Nationally, less than 20% of students take calculus, even less in Idaho.

One hundred percent of our students who attend Riverstone from grade eight on will study a year each of biology, chemistry and physics; nationally only 30% students earn credits in all three sciences. Our students then specialize in one science for an additional two years during the Diploma Programme, obtaining a total of five years of High School science prior to college.

Second Language
In the last major study fewer than 20% of all K-12 students nationally and under 12% of Idaho students studied a foreign language. At Riverstone, every student from Pre-Kindergarten forward study a second language, with many of our students achieving non-native fluency by graduation.

In line with current brain research, 100% of Riverstone students from preschool – grade 12 take art and music as a core class taught by dedicated specialists. Only 57% of US high schools require art credits to graduate and over two-thirds of those schools only require one credit.

Reading, Writing, and Research
Nationally, less than 25% of grade 12 students write proficiently. At Riverstone, we just mailed our seniors’  4000 word (14-16 page) Extended Essays to be read by evaluators around the world. My advisee’s research question was, “To what extent did the rise of antitrust law in the United States shape future efforts by the federal government to expand regulation over the national economy.” That’s only one. You can see the topics for the Class of 2015 in our “Meet the Seniors” brochure from last year. They are equally impressive.

The International Baccaulareate Programmes are only a part of our success. At Riverstone, we go beyond, by investing in small classes so that our inquiry-based approach to teaching and applying skills is always hands-on and integrated into our Five Pillars.

Why Riverstone?
What is it that made my family invest in a Riverstone education for our children? Quite simply, my wife and I (a former options trader) wanted to give our children the best probability of gaining the best set of skills possible – exactly those mentioned in the report.

By looking at the above numbers, coupled with our college acceptance success, I’d make that trade over and over again.

Call for anything,

Bob Carigan
Head of School

Celebrity Reporters in Florida

By | Academic Excellence, High School, Outdoor Education, Student Travel | No Comments

Some of our rising Gr 9 and 10 students travelled to Florida this past week with Middle School Spanish teacher, Hilda Ramirez. We are sharing a note home to parents in today’s blog post to give you a taste of their adventures thus far:

Dear Parents,

We are all very sad that this is our last full day in Florida, the students were amazing and a joy to be around. They were always up for any adventure no matter what the weather brought!

As one of the newest members to this Riverstone group, it was a joy to see how well the students interacted with one another, and especially, how well they care for each other. Thank you for the opportunity to travel with them!

Please enjoy our last update by our three celebrity reporters, Javin S, James E, and Manaka G.


Hi, I’m Javin. Today we visited Curry Hammock State Park in Marathon Key.  There, we went searching in the ocean for wildlife. We focused on looking in tall sea grass. We used large nets to collect small creatures that inhabited the grass. We found a wide variety of animals, ranging from arthropods to mollusks. Some of the notable creatures we found were seahorses, a large horseshoe crab, and a sea cucumber. We also found many different kinds of fish. This was a unique opportunity to learn some interesting ecology about the Florida Key’s ocean wildlife. For me, the best part of this activity was classifying and naming every animal we caught. 

Hello, James here. Today we went to Robby’s in Marathon Key. It was an outdoor area with a multitude of local culture, similar to ‘Art in the Park’ in Boise. Upon arrival, we entered a small hut near the shore and supplied ourselves with small fish. We then walked down a dock and held the fish about three inches above the water, waiting for large Tarpons to jump out of the ocean and take the bait. After that, we went back to the market and viewed the various chefs selling homemade popcorn, drinks, and other foods, as well as artists and photographers selling their works. There was one person in particular who made amazing art with spray-paint and various tools. He sold his work for only $20, and I totally would’ve bought one if there was a way to take it on the plane without damaging it. 

I’m Manaka. Today we went to the turtle hospital. We learned a lot of things about sick turtles and how they make them better. We watched turtles in the tanks. They help them get better so they can send them to the ocean. We saw at least 100 turtles in there. I feel bad for turtles that cannot return to the ocean. I hope people keep the ocean clean.

DC Adventures & Reflections

By | Academic Excellence, IB, Middle School, Student Travel | No Comments

The following is an excerpt from a note to parents from Andy Johnson, our Director of Secondary Education and one of three trip chaperones with our rising Gr 8 class in Washington, D.C.:

Hi everyone,

Today was a day packed with information, ideas, and some things that are almost too big to think about.

We started at the United States Holocaust Museum and Memorial.

This museum limits admittance to 2,000 people per day. Tickets are usually gone by 11.00-12.00 everyday. I was in line at 8.30 and I was waaaaay back. They begin handing out tickets at 10.00. We did get in at 10.45.

For me…the USHMM is the one “must do” in DC. The museum and memorial gives an incredibly sensitive, yet powerful and unambiguous look at anti-semitism and the metamorphosis of the Nazi state’s (and its allies’) response to what they called the “Jewish Questions” while presenting stories of resistance and courage. Ask your kids what they remember – in some short talks that I had with kids, they remembered courage and resistance while being affected by the scale of the Holocaust.

We spent nearly three hours in the museum and memorial. This, I think, is a Riverstone record. The kids really engaged. They read, questioned, listened and thought. I’m not sure they were all ready to go even after three hours.

Afterwards we trundled down to eat lunch in the view of the Jefferson Memorial in the Tidal Pool. After the memorial we went back up to the Mall to see the Natural History Museum (eleven kids, Kendra and I) and three kids went with Tom back to the American History Museum.

We all visited the National Air and Space Museum. There are always tons of people here and today was no different, but it seemed more manageable. I really enjoyed the WWI and WWII aircraft. I also liked getting to see some UAVs (drones) up close. A few of us spent some time looking at and talking about these aircraft that we hear so much about.

After a long day, we came back to G-town and walked down the hill to M Street where we had fantastic burgers and fries at Good Stuff Eatery. We ran into one of our school families there as well. I want to thank Heather for getting us all milkshakes for dessert! The kids (and Tom, Kendra and I) were very grateful. They were delicious.

Tommorrow we are off to see a display of 5th Grade art (including those from Riverstone) at the Department of Education, Ford’s Theater, some more art and, in the evening, in Arlington.

Your kids are amazing. Sweet, funny and super inquisitive. Thank you for sending them with us.


Middle School Celebrates Diversity

By | Academic Excellence, Community & Service, IB, International Understanding, Leadership by Example | No Comments

Riverstone’s Grade 6-8 held their first Diversity Celebration on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 28 and 29. Middle School Director, Alex Ide, organized the celebration and provided the following recap.

We had two great keynote speakers! The Honorable Judge Gutierrez has spent time to promote various diversity, education and leadership causes within the judiciary, the legal profession, and the larger community in Boise. He is a member of the Diversity Section of the State Bar; a past board member of the the National Job Corps Association; and a board member of the Idaho Latino Scholarship Foundation. Our students were graced with stories of his upbringing, and were privileged to hear his words of advice for the future. Dr. Janet Kaufman has integrated diversity work into her college courses, in High School, and in Middle School. She has led diversity trainings for a range of organizations. Mostly, she enjoys facilitating conversation that helps people of any age discover new ways of thinking about themselves and others. Dr. Kaufman introduced our students to activities that helped them to consider how we make the world a place where everyone has a voice, feels safe, and gets to contribute.

Over the two days, students rotated through the following sessions:

  • Celebration of Diversity Though Art (finished product below)
  • Perspectives: Ethical and Moral Dilemma Role Play
  • Human Rights and Diversity: LGBT Topics
  • Acceptance Through Tolerance and Repsect
  • Insider vs. Outsider: A Mini Theory of Knowledge Lesson
Students were surveyed before and after the event. After the event, the students rated themselves in the following manner:
  • I am more comfortable about who I am as an individual and what my values are 91%
  • I feel more compassionate and empathetic towards others 93%
  • I feel more empowered to speak up to support my peers when issues arise 93%
  • I have increased my knowledge and awareness of issues of diversity 97%
 Special thanks to Judge Gutierrez, Dr. Kaufman, our Middle School Staff, Sarah C, Olivia D, and the International Parent Committee for helping to make these celebration days a success!


Rossini Rotini Roundtable

By | Academic Excellence, High School, IB, Visual and Performing Arts | No Comments

There’s nothing like a shared love of music, food, and good humor. Our Grade 11 Diploma Programme music students held their own “Rossini Rotini Roundtable” a few weeks ago. Not having access to a stove didn’t slow them down. They improvised by using outdoor ed stoves and pots to cook Rotini in honor of their study of Rossini’s Petite Messe Solenelle, which is one of the prescribed works for DP music.

No doubt that this is one of those, “Only at Riverstone” moments!



Condor Connections

By | Academic Excellence, Elementary School, IB | No Comments

The following was re-posted from Ms. Green’s blog for Gr 2:

Did you know that the tongue of the blue whale is the size of an elephant? This unit, Sharing the Planet, has been extremely fascinating (and not just for the students). We have explored unique endangered animals ranging from the Andean hairy armadillo to the Javan leopard! Our students have a passion for animals and it shows.

Throughout the unit we have focused on these simplified lines of inquiry:

  • What causes these animals to be endangered?
  • How have people helped these animals?
  • How can I help these animals?

Students have learned a lot about the animals themselves, the issues surrounding them, and have even taken action, including writing letters to officials regarding wolf hunting derbies and the Endangered Species Act.

Photos below are from the giant California Condor nest in the library. Thanks to Mrs. Tabb and Gr 5 students for building this totally cool nest so our second grade can experience what it’s like to be a baby Condor.

Class of 2015 Rocks the College Acceptances!

By | Academic Excellence, College Placement, High School, IB | No Comments

Class Photo DiffuseWe are very proud of our students and are pleased to share that one hundred percent of our seniors were accepted into four year universities and colleges. Many of these colleges have offered our students merit scholarships, course credits, or advanced class standings in acknowledgement of the rigor of the the IB Diploma Programme.

If you’d like to get to know the Class of 2015 better, download our Meet the Seniors brochure here.

Congratulations to the Class of 2015 for being accepted into the following colleges and universities:

Boise State University Honors College
Brown University
California Polytechnic State University (2)
Carnegie Melon University
Carroll College
Chapman University (2)
Claremont McKenna College (3)
College of Idaho (2)
Colorado College
Colorado School of Mines (2)
Cornell University
Creighton University
DePauw University
Fordham University
Hult International Business School
Illinois Institute of Technology
Ithaca College
Jacksonville University
Lehigh University
Linfield College (2)
Montana State University
Muhlenberg College (2)
New York University
New York University, Abu Dhabi
Occidental College
Pacific University (4)
Purdue University
Reed College
San Diego State University
Santa Clara University (2)
Seattle University (2)
Seattle Pacific University
St. Mary’s College of California (3)
St. Michael’s College
Stanford University
Swarthmore College
University of Arizona
University of California, Berkley
University of California, Los Angeles (2)
University of California, San Diego
University of California, Santa Cruz
University of Chicago
University of Colorado, Denver
University of Denver
University of Idaho Honors Program
University of Maine
University of Michigan
University of Montana
University of Oregon Clark Honors College
University of Puget Sound (5)
University of the Redlands (3)
University of Rochester
University of San Diego
University of Southern California (2)
University of Texas, Austin Honors Program
University of Tulsa
University of Vermont (3)
University of Washington
Ursinus College (2)
Whitworth College
Willamette University (3)
Yale University