Palma Scholars Program

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Seeking Scholars
Who Change the Game

The Palma Scholars Program launched in the fall of 2011 and was named to honor 18-year school head Lark Palma. The innovative program’s goal is to bring a cadre of academically exceptional students with notable potential in leadership, athletics, and service to the Catlin Gabel Upper School. Students selected as Palma Scholars will receive comprehensive financial aid based on merit to defray the cost of attendance at Catlin Gabel.

Admission Criteria

Applicants should designate their interest in being considered for the Palma Scholars Program in the Catlin Gabel application and must also complete the Palma Scholars Program supplement. Only students applying for admission to the 9th grade will be considered. Admission to the program will be based on both demonstrated achievement in and potential for future development of the program’s four key characteristics: academics, athletics, service, and leadership. Those not selected for admission to the Palma Scholars Program will still receive full consideration for admission to Catlin Gabel Upper School. In keeping with the spirit of the program, no current or former Catlin Gabel students will be eligible for the Palma Scholars Program as we attempt to broaden the reach of the school.

Program Highlights

Students enrolled in the Palma Scholars Program will engage in Catlin Gabel’s highly regarded coursework and an additional Palma Scholars Program seminar every semester. The focus of the seminar is to prepare leaders for the 21st century by instituting a new teaching and learning paradigm. The Palma Scholars Program director is developing an interdisciplinary seminar curriculum that:
  • models and develops leadership skills
  • is project based
  • is experiential
  • integrates knowledge and resources from a breadth of Catlin Gabel faculty and community members, and national experts
The seminar will be taken throughout a Palma Scholar’s time at Catlin Gabel and will become increasingly based on the students’ interests and concerns as they progress through the curriculum. As students advance in grade level, the seminar shifts from learning about leadership to demonstrating leadership.
In addition to leadership, the seminar will focus on developing skills for success in today’s increasingly complex and global world, including:
  • innovation
  • creativity
  • critical thinking
  • problem solving
  • communication
  • collaboration
Other opportunities for Palma Scholars include summer learning in Portland and nationally, where students build leadership skills through interacting with community, business, and government leaders.

Who are Palma Scholars?

Academically exceptional, well-rounded students who are poised to lead and inspire others. Each Palma Scholar should embody each of the following characteristics:


Candidates for the Palma Scholars Program need an academic record that places them at or near the top of their current school with the potential to translate that academic achievement to Catlin Gabel’s curriculum.


A critical component of a Palma Scholar is the individual’s ability in and dedication to an athletic pursuit. The serious pursuit of athletics is an expectation of Palma Scholars because it is one major avenue that fosters the drive, commitment, dedication, and success the school hopes these young people will demonstrate for the rest of their lives. Students may participate in a sport Catlin Gabel offers or another high-level organized athletic activity outside of Catlin Gabel’s offerings.


Palma Scholars applicants must demonstrate an interest in issues and problems of the community and world with a corresponding service ethic and desire to create real, workable solutions.


Whether in the classroom or as a leader of a team, club, or activity Palma Scholars must have the potential to serve as catalysts for other students. Their potential for leadership at Catlin Gabel could affect many aspects of school life as well as community, national, and international relationships.

What are the benefits of being a Palma Scholar?

Students who enroll in the program will receive financial assistance to attend Catlin Gabel. The school offers additional funding opportunities for both summer opportunities and post-graduate travel opportunities as a Palma Scholar. Scholars will also benefit from an innovative seminar curriculum that will focus on a student’s individual academic interests. Students will have the opportunity to collaborate with community leaders and other contemporaries in the seminar. Recognition as a Palma Scholar and help in communicating about this program as part of the college process are also tenets of the program. 

For more information on applying to Catlin Gabel and the Palma Scholars Program, please see the calendar and deadlines page for this program, or email