A Transformative Experience in the Lives of Our Students
VES is a safe and powerful environment in which students and faculty learn to live together with purpose and accountability. It's also a community where we participate in deeper learning that extends throughout and far beyond the academic day. VES’ goal: happy, healthy young adults striving toward their highest level of personal achievement.
Through the full breadth of our programs—academics, student and residential life, character and spiritual development, faculty advisory, athletics, the arts, and service learning—VES students acquire the core competencies essential to succeed in today’s world.
VES strives to deliver a world-class student and residential life program that serves the needs of our teenagers. Our program success is reflected in both the great kids growing Toward Full Stature in our community and our 97% retention rate—one of the highest retention rates of boarding schools in the nation; the national average for attrition at boarding schools is 10.5%.
VES has held steady at only 3% attrition over the past three years.
Students, their parents and our graduates speak about VES as a transformative, life-changing experience. Come learn about it firsthand. We look forward to being an important part of your child’s journey Toward Full Stature.
Our Student and Residential Life Program
VES created the Student Life Program—a four-year student-development curriculum that is unique among boarding schools. Our faculty, who are expert at helping teens navigate their journey to adulthood, leverage the latest science about the adolescent brain and the challenges teenagers face today to guide students in real conversations, provide practical tools and teach students how to live healthy and productive lives.
4 Main Challenges for Teenagers Today
VES addresses the four main challenges related to brain function and development in the context of learning and multitasking, stress and memory, sleep, addiction and decision making:
Substance Abuse → social norms, prevention
Stress and Anxiety → mindfulness, exercise
Technology → navigation of electronic media
Health and Wellness → sleep, nutrition, managing relationships
Building Skills Year-by-Year
Freshmen. From their first days on campus, students participate in our Student Life Program. In 9th grade, we begin with a focus on Self. We introduce students to solid study skills, proper sleep habits, mindfulness and stress reduction, nutrition and the importance of exercise—all with the goal of setting them up for success.
Sophomores. In 10th grade our students expand their focus to Community. They learn the importance of values, diversity and inclusion, and being citizens of the world. We explore societal, communal and personal values and the role those play in decision-making, relationships and leadership. We then help students apply these values to the world around them as well as how they live within the VES community and as global citizens.
Juniors. In 11th grade students hone their Leadership capabilities. With outside speakers and hands-on exercises, students explore their leadership styles and strengths. At VES, juniors are challenged to be role models by gaining a better sense of self-awareness, accepting criticism and feedback and connecting their core values to leadership ability. Juniors have the opportunity to serve as Junior Resident Assistants, and by the end of the year, students are well-prepared to apply for important student leadership roles in their senior year—Head Counselor, Honor Committee Chair, Student Council President, and serving as members on the Counselor Body and Honor Committee.
Seniors. Articulating their Legacy is the culmination of all our seniors have learned. They delve into how they want to be remembered and the impact they wish to make at VES in their final year. Seniors demonstrate everyday leadership, providing the school community with a healthy and caring culture. And, as expected, time is dedicated to preparing for their transition to college.
Leadership and Service Across All Grades
- Each year, students participate in service learning and giving back in the community in meaninfgul ways.
- They learn about digital citizenship to help them navigate the challenges of electronic media in the 21st century. We partner with the renowned The Social Institute as we teach VES students and parents about the positive use of social media.
- Student Council members and Class Representatives take ownership of organizing activities for their classes and the school.
- Students take on a variety of leadership roles in the more than 30 clubs on campus.
- We encourage leadership through many other venues—in the classrooms, advisory groups, dorms, on the athletic fields, in chapel and hosting prospective students on campus.