Academics

The Academic Experience at VES

At VES, students love to learn.

The VES academic curriculum delivers all of the courses you expect in English, History, Science, Math and World Languages, including 16 AP classes and post-AP options in several academic departments, such as our Science and Math Advanced Consortium, Multivariable Calculus and Spanish VI. 

We also offer an innovative four-year Computer Science program, and Arts courses such as Video Production, Public Speaking, Technical Theater, Jazz Ensemble, Glee Club and other subjects that will stretch your creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication skills.

You will build connections across subject areas through our interdisciplinary humanities work in the ninth and tenth grades and unique English and History electives. And in your senior year, you can apply to the Advanced Studies program, where you will complete a project in an academic discipline of your choice (or work in multiple disciplines—we love that!). You will be supported by a faculty mentor as you engage in independent research while producing work to share with and beyond the VES community.

Our faculty builds project-based learning into each of their classes to help you develop the skills needed to solve real-world problems, find innovative solutions, and work collaboratively with peers. You will see that VES teachers use a wide variety of activities and approaches to keep class time dynamic and engaging, making sure to reach and understand each individual student. And our teachers our committed to being accessible for extra help and support.
 
Classes are small—the average size is 11—to encourage contributions of all students. We say there is no back row at VES.

Throughout the year, students showcase personal examples of learning inside and outside of the classroom to their peers, our faculty and staff, parents, the Board of Trustees and our broader Lynchburg community.

See Our Academic Learning Experiences in Action

CREATING SAVVY ENTREPRENEURS

With Shark Tank investors intently listening, three entrepreneurial student teams have pitched their product innovations and new academic building designs, hoping to win the sharks' confidence and financial backing. These students are members of VES’ Science and Math Advanced Consortium, a senior-level, interdisciplinary, student-driven program that teaches the fundamentals of advanced science and math, while focusing on critical thinking, design thinking for innovation, research, collaboration and presentation. Students live into real-world collaborative work experiences and are developing viable solutions for the marketplace.


STUDENT WORLD LANGUAGE FILMS AT THE OSCARS

Language students at all levels partner within their class to create original short films. The projects involve script writing in the target language, costume and set design, acting and video production. The projects culminate in Oscars Night, where the VES community and outside native language-speaking judges comes together to view and vote on the nine movies. It’s a night of exhibition and celebrating our culture of creativity, innovation, collaboration, as students also demonstrate their command of spoken language.



OPENING OUR MINDS TO THE WORLD

Globally minded VES students rise early for the opportunity to connect with peer students who live in Gaza, Palestine. With all eyes affixed to the video screen, students on both ends of the world ask questions and listen intently to learn about cultural differences and similarities. They discuss the environment, favorite foods, where they travel, what the schools and classes are like, what they do for fun, religious aspects of their daily lives, politics and more. Our VES partnership with the Global Nomads Youth Talk Program is just one of many global initiatives at VES that enable students to build cross-cultural understanding, empathy and respect, while becoming genuinely engaged global citizens.



STORYTELLING WITH STORYCORPS

Freshmen participated in StoryCorps’ “The Great Thanksgiving Listen”—a national education project in which high school students capture contemporary U.S. oral history with elders. The interviews are archived at the American Folklife Center within the Library of Congress and on StoryCorps.me. To prepare for their work, VES students listened to compelling stories of people from all walks of life recorded by StoryCorps, then interviewed VES family members over the Thanksgiving holiday. Back on campus, students interviewed VES staff and members of our dining services and maintenance teams to better know the people that make up our VES community.



EXPLORING ISSUES OF SOCIAL JUSTICE, EQUITY & INCLUSIVITY 

Each year, the VES community addresses an issue of social justice. Last year, our community explored issues of social and health equities and practiced civil discourse. The prior year, VES hosted a week of education, open dialogue and engaging activities focused on Islam, religious beliefs, global awareness and pluralism. This annual week-long program blends thought-provoking documentaries and discussion, integrated classroom learning, expert speakers and parent learning. Conversations such as these are what VES is all about—opening minds, knowledge-sharing and building understanding, and encouraging exploration, curiosity, civil discourse and critical thinking.

This year, our school hosted the first in an annual series of conversations on important topics that have shaped VES and our world. 2017 is the 50th anniversary of the integration of VES. Our Dare to Imagine a Better World Dialogue: Breaking Down Racial Barriers brought together more than 450 students, faculty, staff, parents and the Lynchburg community to listen, ask questions, learn and discuss solutions to complex issues covering race relations and inclusivity. The stimulating conversation was led by Mosi Secret, journalist reporting and writing for The New York Times Magazine and This American Life. Throughout the school day, Dr. Marvin Barnard '71 and Dr. Bill Alexander '71—Stouffer Scholars who joined our community beginning in 1967—along with Mr. Secret and the first black faculty member of VES—Hank Wilson—joined students in History and English classes and hosted lunch table discussions.

Leading up to this weekend of community dialogue, relevant topics and place-based learning that explored issues of race relations, inclusivity and equity were introduced into the History and English curricula, chapel talks, debate club topics, civil discourse opportunities and more.



PAIDEIA CLASSES: ACTIVE LEARNING, SOCRATIC DIALOGUE

Our faculty conduct strategic learning days, with 20+ offerings from which students may choose. Called “Paideia” classes—Greek for “education”—these sessions give faculty the opportunity to teach topics beyond their core curriculum and students the chance to learn new information and gain new experiences in areas of interest. Classes range from the practical to the frivolous, may be held outdoors or inside the classroom, and may be conducted in English, Spanish, French or Chinese. Topics run the gamut. Examples include history of the macaron that includes baking the delectable treats, conversations about feminism, pottery and raku firing, improv, the culture and mythology of Ireland, building smart machines, the haka tribal dance, Star Struck: an Introduction to the Universe and many more.

A College Preparatory, Independent Boarding and Day School for Students in Grades 9-12
400 VES Road, Lynchburg, VA 24503 • 434.385.3600