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  • How big is the school?
    •  We have up to 68 students in grades 7-12.
  • What do you mean you don’t have teachers/classes. How do you learn?
    •  We are a student-driven, project-based learning school. Each student designs research projects based around their interests and goals and then conducts research and creates products. We do projects for everything, even literature and math. We have Advisors who serve as coach/guide/mentor throughout the process, and students work with their same advisor throughout their entire time at VNS.
  • Is VNS private? Is it an alternative school?
    • Charter schools are free public schools that get more flexibility in how they learn. There is no tuition. We are not an alternative school. Students must be able to work independently and manage their time and behavior with less oversight than in a traditional school. 
  • I’ve heard at VNS you do no work and get away with it. Is that true?
    • No, in fact, it’s probably the opposite. VNS students only get credit for work they do and projects they complete. If students waste time during the day, they end up earning less credit and can fall behind.
  • Is there homework?
    • We believe learning happens in many different ways and time. We do not have traditional homework, but students often work on projects at home to stay on track with earning their credits. Students are able to log hours for things like reading in bed at night or participating in an after-school sport or activity. That’s way cooler “homework” than doing a worksheet!
  • What is project-based learning?
    • Project-based learning is self-paced independent learning where students explore their own interests in a school setting. We have year-long and six-week projects that go throughout five phases: proposal, research, planning, production, assessment.
  • Do you have sports and extracurriculars?
    • VNS students may participate in sports and extracurricular activities through their local neighborhood school. Many of our students take music classes or play on sport teams at their neighborhood AASD middle school or high school. And all of this can be logged for school credit!
  • Does VNS have hot lunch?
    • Most students bring lunch from home. We have a full kitchen, so students can heat up food, keep it in a refrigerator, etc. Students can order hot lunch, and we have it delivered from Central High School each day. Upon approval, students are able to go out on College Ave. and order lunch from one of the restaurants on our block. 
  • What is the daily schedule like?
    • We have set times for Advisory, math, and literature with the rest of the day reserved for project work time. Students use project time to work on whatever project they need to complete. This can be anything from sitting at one’s desk researching, to going on a self-designed field trip, to completing a service project in the community.
  • Can you chew gum? Wear a hat?
    • Yes, as long as it doesn’t interfere with your or another student’s learning.  


  • How does grading work? How is GPA calculated?
    • We don’t use grades. Students earn credit based on time logged and quality of work, which is determined through a cooperative process with the student and advisor. We utilize a 9-point rubric to assess student growth and progress over time. GPA is not an area we focus on, but it can be calculated if need be for college admissions. 
  • Do VNS graduates go to college?
    • 100% of VNS graduates are accepted to a post-high school program of their choice! Those who choose to go to college regularly get accepted into their first choice. Our mission is to create “purposeful adults,” and what our graduates find purposeful is as varied as they are. 
  • Do students learn all subjects?
    • Throughout project research, students encounter an interdisciplinary approach to education. For example, a single project can earn students credit in science and social studies. We have holistic graduation requirements, including math, literature, service learning, and wellness projects annually. 
  • What is the curriculum?
    • Every VNS student creates a Personal Learning Plan based on their short- and long-term goals. This PLP drives the research projects that the student designss to accomplish their goals. We do not have a common curriculum, but instead individualize it to each student, utilizing traditional, community-based, and technological resources. 
  • Is VNS a safe place to send my child?
    • Yes. We start each year with an emphasis on building relationships and establishing community expectations. Our small size encourages mentorship between students, and students create connections with every student in the school. Interpersonal conflicts, while rare, are resolved through restorative justice practices.  
  • What is the role of the advisor?
    • An Advisor is a licensed educator who serves as a coach/guide/mentor to each student throughout the project process. Students work with the same advisor throughout their entire time at VNS. Advisors lead the advisory, instruct students on the various phases of the project process, and hold students accountable. VNS is a teacher-powered school, so there are no separate administrators. Advisors serve as the site-leadership team of VNS in addition to their work with students.