Upper School Philosophy

Our upper school program ensures that students will not only be admitted to colleges that best suit them, but also that they have the skills and confidence to thrive once they get there. The path to this destination varies for everyone; therefore, we offer myriad opportunities to delve deeply into subjects supported by a broad-based foundation in the liberal arts. Surrounded by a caring community of faculty and peers, students feel safe—socially, emotionally, and physically—and consequently, take the measured risks necessary to support high academic achievement, develop passion, and build character.

The upper school curriculum is designed to be an engaging experience that intentionally integrates many of the same demands and opportunities that students will find in college. Upper school students have core academic and athletic requirements, but also have several opportunities to direct their own education through courses of their choosing, including Advanced Placement (AP) courses and focused learning during Intraterm and Senior Projects. After freshman year in college, many of our alumni report that the workload at VMS prepared them well, allowing them to excel academically and inspiring them to take advantage of the co-curricular opportunities that abound in college.

The heart of our upper school is an inspired faculty representing an extraordinary breadth of experience and interests that they share willingly with students. Teachers create an environment in which students are excited to show up early, happy to stay late, and eager to participate in class. Rapport drives classroom discussions in which teachers and students push each other to take learning further. The common thread among our entire faculty is a profound commitment to each child and relentless optimism in their potential.

The result: a quiet confidence that serves our graduates well in college. This confidence allows them to assert themselves in their first college level essays; to raise their hand in a class of hundreds; to live on their own for the first time; to meet with and question their professors; and to lead among their peers—traits that will also serve them well in life.

This guide articulates the upper school courses offered at VMS, which are used as the primary vehicles for college preparation.