This year marks Verde Valley School’s 70th year anniversary!
This morning, early, I saw two VVS students returning from the stable. They had checked on and fed the horses that some twenty-eight students ride each day here. Theirs was clearly a labor of love. The sun was rising, just breaking over Seven Warriors. Shafts of light were beaming through some cloud cover. The students went on to breakfast in the dining hall sitting with others from Germany, Rwanda, Colorado and New Jersey. Soon it was time for their first class and, abruptly, they stood up, bussed their plates, found their backpacks and bounded off. Another day?
Hardly. Midst the frenzy and excitement that the start of a new year brings to VVS, I considered those moments — unsung and largely unnoticed — as key ingredients of the experience our students have here. The stable and barn sit on a bluff overlooking not only the Seven Warriors but Cathedral Rock, too, with the VVS farm nestled between them. These iconic red rock formations are familiar territory for students, faculty and staff. We hike and bike and climb on them throughout the year. In the farm, tall corn stalks sway in the breeze. Students will harvest them soon. A remarkable “sense of place” surrounds us.
We do have stats and facts: that VVS is ranked #15 out of the top 50 boarding schools in the USA by Best Schools; that our International Baccalaureate curriculum “…aims to develop students who have excellent breadth and depth of knowledge — students who flourish physically, intellectually, emotionally and ethically.”; that the VVS IB Diploma Program has an 86% pass rate and that 81% of all subjects taken result in scores of 4-7; that we have graduates matriculating into premier colleges and universities in this country and abroad, often with substantial merit-based financial awards.
But VVS offers so much more. Our IB+Dirt model allows students to learn, discover, give, and grow inside and out of the classroom; already we are busy preparing for Field Trips in November. These transformative outdoor adventures take students out of their usual surroundings, engaging them in a culture different from their own. And all Field Trips include a community service aspect to them. Our guiding principles attract students, faculty and staff from around the globe. Be assured that these principles, along with IB+Dirt, leave students indelibly touched and influenced by the experiences of global citizenship, physical labor, environmental stewardship, service to others and academic excellence.
Soon VVS Admissions will be in China, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Germany, Vietnam and India. We’ll also be in Arizona, California, Utah, Colorado and Nevada sharing our unique story with others. And seeing those young students walking quietly back from working in the stable, so early in the morning, reminded me of that story all over again.