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Each weekday morning, Marguerite Miller, the associate editor of Almanac, makes the 45-minute to one hour drive to the University from her home in Roxborough. Luckily, she has her eight-year-old son Andrew for company. Andy is a third grader at the University City New School, one of 34 students whose families are in some way affiliated with the University as faculty, staff or students. He and 76 classmates spend almost 10 hours a day in class in the afterschool program at the school at 42nd and Locust streets -- a location that is especially helpful for parents connected with the University. The New School was established after a three-month public-school teacher's strike in 1973, by a group of parents searching for an alternate education for their children. The school is cooperative -- parents try to keep tuition to a minimum by working 25 hours a year at miscellaneous jobs -- chaperoning day trips, helping during special events and painting the school building. Tuition for the current year was $4700, and parents unable to volunteer paid an extra $400. Although the New School accepts students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade, it has only four classes. Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten are combined, as are first and second grades, second and third grades, and fourth, fifth and sixth grades. Children are placed according to an evaluation of their mental development, which Head of the School Connie Carey said allows them to learn at their own pace. "The beauty of small classes is you can give [a child] individual treatment" Carey said. A high student/faculty ratio -- about 11 to one -- helps teachers reach that goal. "One second-third [grade class[ child is doing calculus," Carey said. The mix of students of different ages in the same class also leads to cooperation, Carey said. "They really are a good support for each other," she said. "You can really see relationships build up." The school also tries to get the children involved in school affairs. There are weekly student-run meetings in each class to review students' opinions on the week's events, and every other week there is a "For the Good of the School" assembly, where students try to find their own solutions to the school's problems. Recently, the school's staff banned pocket video games, much to the dismay of the New School's students. But at an assembly, the students decided that their teachers were right, and agreed not to bring the games to class. "By and large . . . [the New School] probably is better than many other settings because of their approach and philosophy and the individual attention," Miller said. She added that the school's teachers are "responsive to the interests of the children." "The children learn almost in spite of themselves," she said. "To them, it's fun." John Ethier, a fourth-fifth-sixth grader, said the school is "like a family." "If you have a problem, you can talk to a teacher," the 11-year-old said.

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