Head of School
Sean Fagan ~ Director of Admissions
Our Director of Admissions, Sean Fagan, recently spent a three-week stretch in China visiting with prospective students and families, current Verde Valley School families, international and Chinese schools, agents and educational consultants. The cities he visited included Beijing, Jinan, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Dalian.
Many Chinese value the “western” educational approach (i.e., the emphasis on critical thinking, experiential learning, collaboration, smaller class sizes, etc.) and thoroughly enjoy learning more about a unique school like VVS. They are very appreciative that a boarding school experience can offer a Chinese student cultural immersion, a sense of independence, a higher level of English proficiency, and help prepare them for successful college/university study in the US.
Currently, there are approximately 38,000 Chinese secondary students in US schools and some 350,000 in US universities and colleges.
“The demand from the Chinese for a US education is strong,” says Fagan. “Education in China is very focused on testing and preparing for annual national exams. Many families are looking at US schools as an alternative. They also value the reputation of US colleges and universities.”
Sean was able to meet with, and interview, eight prospective students in China, and presented to six educational consultancy groups on his trip. He visited three schools (one international and two Chinese) to discuss possible future collaborations. Current families eagerly expressed their happiness with the experiences their children are having at VVS.
VVS also recruits in Europe. Associate Director of Admissions, Shannon Jakes, has recently returned from a recruiting in tour in Germany that took her to school fairs in Munich, Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Duesseldorf, Hamburg and Berlin.She was able to talk with 15 different German families throughout her week of travel. She found that the students and families she met were eager to experience a school, such as VVS, with an emphasis on experiential and outdoor programs. She also observed that the VVS International Baccalaureate curriculum aligns well with the German curriculum, allowing achieving students to study in the US and return to Germany on track for further university study in Europe. When Shannon met German VVS alum throughout her trip, the thing that students said they missed the most about their exchange is the student teacher relationships as well as the tight knit community this school offers.
Admission staff have also been busy in the US attending various school fairs in Arizona, California, Utah, Texas and Nevada. These fairs are a great opportunity to meet prospective families and educational consultants and to visit “feeder” schools in the area.
Admissions is organizing more recruiting trips in the spring of 2017!
Dr. Jules Troyer ~ Dean of Students and Residential Life
The first trimester here at VVS was filled with many magical moments that our talented students engaged in as a complement to their rigorous academic studies.
The school year kicked off with an epic dorm decorating contest for which students had a mere $20 to accomplish a themed make-over of their choice. Their creativity and passion were inspiring, and some of the themes included were: Under the Sea, Pokemon, Americana, Alice in Wonderland, and China. Students, faculty, and staff were led on a tour of all the dorms, fed goodies along the way, and encouraged to vote for their favorite dorm decorations. It was an emotional moment of glee when the Shixi students from Shanghai were informed their Chinese themed dorm had won the competition! The reward of a pizza and hot wing party was a big hit!
Awesomeness Day is an annual tradition at the onset of the school year that allows students to play, have fun, and get to know each other. This year students had a ton of thrills on a huge inflatable jump game, throwing balls at a basketball hoop while attempting to balance! Other games on the day included a clue finding scavenger hunt that tested their knowledge of VVS and its history; birdie-on-a-perch, and capture-the-flag. All these activities kept students engaged and allowed them to team up with their classes and meet new people.
Here at VVS, Halloween is a huge bash! Faculty houses were decorated for trick or treating, there was a massive pumpkin carving party, a very interactive student staffed haunted house, and a costume dance. This year the theme of our dance was Dia de los Muertos and the student class presidents came together to decorate Brady Hall with amazing sugar skulls. There were three pinatas filled with goodies and for many of the students, this was the first time they had participated in (or even heard of) the tradition of breaking a pinata. As alway it was a special day for VVS, and students, faculty, and staff thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to dress up in some really creative costumes.
These highlights provide only a snapshot of the many amazing moments VVS had in the first leg of this academic journey of the 2016-2017 school year. Jules says she is blessed to be part of such a mindful, talented, passionate, and intelligent group of people. She believes our community is a unique blend of academic integrity, progressive conscientiousness, and raw good old fashioned fun. “As the year is racing to a close,” Jules said, “I am moved to thank each of you for finding your way into the family we call VVS, and send you warmest wishes for a bright holiday full of love and laughter!”
Congratulations on supporting your child through the mid-point in the school year. The students at Verde Valley School have adapted well to the rhythm of their classes. They have learned to juggle sports, study hours, extra help sessions, class functions, dorm time and their social life.
The effort and level of engagement made by our student body has been spectacular so far this year. Your children are passionate learners who strive to try new things, test out ideas and conjectures, seek evidence from credible sources, and essentially stretch their wings in both the classroom and during independent study. And our teachers are exceptional: their instruction and care for your children is something the students remark on constantly.
Overall we have seen the highest GPA in the past several years for the senior class for the fall trimester. This is a remarkable achievement given the addition of SAT/ACT and college applications that are added to this time period. Our junior class started the IB Diploma Programme with enthusiasm and an ease I have not seen yet. Transfer students and the new freshman class joined Field Trips and carried out group projects in each of their courses in December. In the process they made a place for themselves in the classroom, and became a thread in the fabric of our community. Many of our new students have been learning English as they take their classes reading, writing and listening to a foreign language all day and performing at a very high level each day. That takes commitment and perseverance!
With Trimester 1 behind us, the students all have a foundation of the skills needed for their full-year courses. Each course strives to teach each student specific study habits that lead to success in either that course (for example field research methods for Anthropology), or in school in general (such as taking notes from a primary source article). We share the benefits from these skills by building on them in other courses and throughout your child’s years at VVS, making it possible to teach in greater depth and expose the students to a wide variety of experiences.
Decembermester allowed the students to create student-designed projects and pursue those plans with independence and self-direction. What a wonderful time of year where students are expected to immerse themselves in their work and see the pay-off of persistence and ingenuity.
Winter Break will provide a much needed holiday from the rigor and pace of life on campus. Please help your child enjoy the holiday by promoting rest and time away from academics. We hope you and your child can savor time together for the next few weeks so they are energized when they return in January.
Thank you for allowing your child to attend Verde Valley School!
With graduation just around the corner, students and faculty are gearing up for our end of year Project Period week. Project Period runs from Thursday, May 19 to Thursday, May 26.
Click here for the Project Period morning and afternoon schedule.
Day student parents and parents of 5-day boarders, please recognize that students are required to attend each meeting of their project and that projects run through the weekend. Project Period is a graduation requirement.
Project Period is a pretty magical way to end the school year, allowing for a few more adventures with friends before we disperse all around the globe. click here for a listing of Project Period offerings for 2016 and learn more about Project Period at https://vvsaz.org/project-period/
On May 19th we begin Project Period, a time in our calendar designed to widen the VVS curriculum by adding something not included in our day-to-day, or by providing the opportunity to go into greater depth in an area already studied. Many projects are led by guest artists who travel from all over the country to take part in the week. Others allow students to see different sides of their teachers as they offer various projects showcasing their passions outside of their classroom subject.
This year projects include outdoor projects like backpacking, canyoneering, mountain biking and solitude; arts projects like creative welding, slam poetry, expressive dance and circus arts; sports projects like VVS triathlon, personal fitness and aikido; and service projects like garden expansion, home makeover and Global Goals Malawi. This is just a taste of the projects. For a complete list and explanation of the projects on offer click here. Learn more about Project Period and see photos from past projects at https://vvsaz.org/project-period/
Day student parents, please be advised that the Project Period schedule includes weekends (May 19 through May 26) and students must attend all days of their project. Project Period is a graduation requirement.
Seniors will sit IB exams during the first three weeks of May. This is the culmination of their IB work and they are ready!
As of Monday, May 2nd, seniors no longer have to attend classes, sports or Community Meeting, but they must check in with Kris or Joanna by 10am if they choose to skip breakfast. Day students may stay off campus on days they do not test, but must call into school to let us know if you will be on or off campus.
The exceptions to this policy are seniors in a class where he or she will not be taking an IB exam for that class. Those seniors must continue to attend your class throughout the month of May and take your Final Exam except when your class directly conflicts with an IB Exam that they are taking.
You can access the IB exam schedule by clicking here.
Indiana University at Bloomington School of Business
University of Portland (3)
Ohio State University
Lewis & Clark College
University of St. Andrews, Scotland
University of Utah
Washington State University
Univ of Ottowa
Evergreen State College
Gustavus Adolphus College
Northern Arizona University
Humboldt State University
St. Edwards University (3)
The class has also been awarded approximately $250,000 in scholarship as a whole.
After a long, well-deserved Winter Break, VVS boarding students will return to campus on Tuesday, January 5. Boarders may return to campus after 12:00 noon. The first week of school schedule has been modified due to the Wednesday start. Our class schedule on Wednesday, January 6 will follow the regular Monday schedule (with 55 minute classes). Please click below for the first week’s daily schedule.