A Distinctive Program
Richmond Community High School permits students to come to terms with their exceptional abilities. They come face to face with a program that encourages them, often for the first time, to consider a future of promise. The first year is difficult and different for many students. However, the school’s organization and programs promote the nurturing of students at all levels: academically, socially, culturally, and emotionally. At RCHS, students develop the ability to achieve in higher education, to lead in the professions, to serve their communities, and to succeed in their personal lives.
The school insists that parents take an active role in their children’s education. A written contract between the school, students and parents sets forth academic expectations. The school is organized by “family” units instead of homerooms. These “families” combine students from different grade levels, backgrounds, and classes under the leadership of a talented faculty member. Families offer a “protected place” to keep watch over each student and provide the emotional, social, and academic support they need. First-year students engage in a one-week summer orientation program to prepare them for RCHS.
Outstanding teachers offer students a challenging and advanced 4 x 4 academic program. All core classes at RCHS are honors-level, and graduating automatically qualifies a student for the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Advanced Studies Diploma. Students are encouraged to take at least one college-level class at a local university during their four years at RCHS. The school consistently tops all Richmond high schools in SOL achievement and is competitive with the best county schools.
Richmond Community High School strives to enlarge the students’ experiences and give them a “jump start.” Students are exposed to a larger community and to life experiences that they may have missed. An extensive program of enrichment opportunities takes students “outside the walls” and prepares them for their future professional, community, and personal lives. These programs are rare in public schools in the metro area:
- A one-week summer orientation program prepares students and parents for a rigorous four-year experience. This program in the only one of its kind in the Richmond Public Schools.
- Three one week long “mini-mesters” allow students to apply what they have learned in science, social studies, and the humanities and art through a camping trip for freshmen, a trip to North Carolina for the sophomores, and a trip to South Carolina for the juniors. Field experiences – locally, nationally, and world wide – enlarge their classroom work.
- Students begin to plan for college in their first year, and visits to college campuses are included as part of the junior “mini-mester.” Students are also matched with mentors in their field of interest. Matriculation at area colleges and universities for at least one course is strongly encouraged.
- Experiences outside the classroom open the larger world of museums, libraries, historic places, theatre and film, musical performances, camps, and environmental explorations.
- Thursday activity blocks offer students special seminars, student-taught classes, field experiences, and other opportunities to complement and enrich their academic work.
- All students must complete a minimum of 150 hours of community service.
- Partnerships with local businesses offer opportunities for career exploration.
The educational principles outlined by Dr. Dabney, combined with community support through the RCHS Advisory Board, has led to a stellar record of graduates prepared academically, culturally, and socially to meet the demands of college and the future.