The high school years are a time of incredible growth and opportunity for students as they mature into capable individuals who will graduate in four short years and begin the journey into young adulthood. As parents and students enter high school, they do so with an eye toward the finish line: how do I make the most of my high school experience; what is the right college and major for me; will I be accepted; how will I succeed once I am there?
At Village Christian, we intentionally guide students to explore these questions through Concentrations. As students work through their Concentration, they rule out careers (saving time and money in the college years), and rule in careers aligned with their aptitude and giftedness. They gain practical experiences which they can leverage in the college admission process, take ownership of their learning, and focus on their futures after college. These advantages make them the prime candidates that colleges and employers seek.
VCS Concentrations Provost
The Concentration Program has four main components.
1. Core Courses
The base of all concentrations are the core academic courses, A-G high school graduation requirements, that all students need to be college-ready and eligible.
2. Additional Courses
Students select up to four additional courses to help prepare them for further study within their chosen concentration. For example, students in the Health and Environment concentration exceed the college prep minimum in math and science, while students in the Visual Arts and Media concentration take more courses in the Visual Arts. Students can also select from a variety of specialized online elective courses that focus on careers such as forensic science, veterinary medicine, sports and entertainment marketing, international business, and legal studies. One strength of the program is that students have room in their schedules to take courses outside of their concentration. For example, a student in the STEM concentration could complete all of the course requirements for STEM and be in the choir or on the yearbook as well.
In addition to the classes students take, there are also hands-on learning experiences called Practicum. Parents and students know that extra-curricular activities are essential for college admission. These activities demonstrate leadership, development of interests, commitment, and the ability to delve deeply into an area of passion. Students also meet professionals in their field of interest; thereby developing their network of people that can foster their career interests. Practicum also helps students rule in/rule out potential careers and majors, provides excellent answers to typical admission essay prompts, and clearly demonstrates student ownership of their own growth.
4. Showcase / Projects
Junior Showcase events and Senior Projects provide even more opportunities to demonstrate independent and engaged learning, mastery of their subject, and intentional development of a student’s interests and passions. Showcase events include activities such as business plan pitches, art shows, engineering team competitions, science fair projects, and development of musician marketing pages. Senior Projects are typically individual projects selected by students that include development of a new skill, mentoring by an expert, formal research and writing, and a presentation to a panel of adults.
Each Concentration is guided by a dean, whose role is to help students design and engage in Practicum experiences, meet with students regularly through seminar class, and fan the sparks of students' interests into a flame. Each dean has a strong academic background in their discipline, along with networks and field experience.
In addition to the course requirements for graduation (the core A-G academic courses), students must successfully complete the four courses they selected for their concentration. Starting in the tenth grade, students must complete some Practicum experiences each year building to the requirement of 100 points by their graduation. They also satisfy a requirement for research in their concentration.
Students can challenge themselves even further by earning Honors Distinction. In order to complete a Concentration “with honors,” student must complete a Senior Project. In addition to the senior project, students must complete two of the following:
- Earn 150 Practicum points (100 is the total need to complete a concentration)
- Complete exemplary (“A”) research on at least one Concentration research paper
- Take an AP class or other elective course within their concentration.