Vista Grande High School
Vista Grande means a large view of learning. High schools often promote “fragmented learning.” Each week, many conventional high schools teach disconnected facts about isolated subjects and then test students upon information that will no longer matter to anyone a week later, when the whole process starts over again. At Vista Grande, we believe high school students deserve a larger view of learning. Students deserve interesting, connected classes that cover topics in-depth so that students can make meaning out of what they study. For each grade, a dedicated team of core teachers plans the curriculum together, integrating their subjects into long-term thematic units called “Learning Expeditions.” This means that, in the fall of ninth grade, students might learn their math, science, language, economics and history while studying “Life Along the Rio Grande,” while in the spring they might cover the breadth of their academic requirements by focusing upon “The Making of Galileo’s Telescope.” In addition to testing, students are asked to display their knowledge and proficiency by accomplishing challenging projects such as designing web pages, acting as multiple roles in a public trial of a controversial figure, designing and constructing scale models of working bridges, or directing and filming an investigative documentary. This kind of learning not only raises test scores; it also engages students in the larger questions of life and teaches them valuable research and problem-solving skills.
Vista Grande means a big picture of youth development. Teenagers are not just academic machines. Yet more and more, high schools are concerned with churning out increased test performance and reducing enriching activities that are not explicitly academic. At Vista Grande on the other hand, we’re committed to developing the whole student—head, heart and hands--not just the academic side. Our schedule combines academics with outdoor adventure, team building and service learning. We place importance upon character development, physical challenge, and artistic growth as well as nurturing the intellect. To do this in an age of budget shortfalls and governmental demands is not an easy task, and requires innovative solutions. Vista Grande will be collaborating with many community partners to maximize the development of our students: with the ECO Arts Center to provide arts enrichment for students; with the nearby Sangre de Cristo Youth Ranch to provide camping and outdoor adventure; and with Rocky Mountain Youth Corps for ropes course training, service opportunities and leadership development.
Vista Grande means broad horizons of opportunity. Vista Grande High School is a rigorous academic environment designed to ensure our students’ success in high school and far beyond. We offer a college preparatory curriculum and intend that at least 90% of our students will pursue further education after high school. Vista Grande’s curriculum is project-based, combining theoretical knowledge with practical skills and real-world applications. Mentorships, internships, and independent study options allow older students to pursue individual passions.
Vista Grande means an inspiring setting and an impressive campus. With majestic views of Taos Mountain and the Sangre de Cristo range, the Vista Grande campus is planned to be part of a larger 30-acre campus of community-based organizations known as the Taos Youth Collaborative. Partners include the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, Community Wellness Center, ECO Arts Center, and Bridges Project for Education. The campus is located in central Taos and is scheduled to open in 2007. In addition to traditional classrooms, the larger campus available to students will include an auditorium, art spaces, meeting rooms and recreation areas that will be shared with other community organizations.
Vista Grande means broad-based community involvement and support. Through the partners mentioned above and other agencies, Vista Grande High intends to offer a broad network of support for students: opportunities in the arts, wilderness leadership programs, counseling and mental health services, mentoring and work/service options, childcare for teen parents, concurrent enrollment at UNM-Taos, alternative routes to a diploma, and support for non-traditional students to gain further education after high school.