High School

High School

Our small high school is the perfect place to get inspired, take risks, learn from mistakes, get invested in your education, be surprised by what you can do, and most importantly, get ready for success in college and beyond.  Travel, community service and extended personal projects get students engaged in the real world and motivated to contribute and learn.

In the high school at Compass, everything we do is designed to prepare students for life in the world beyond our school walls. It is all about what is best for students, which is helping young people identify their passions and dreams and giving them the skills to be a success.

Academic Rigor  21st Century society calls for a different definition of rigor — in our exciting and changing world, rigor is about developing strong thinkers, problem solvers, communicators,  and collaborative workers with the ability to adapt to changing conditions. Some schools define rigor as doing large quantities of work that feels hard.  At Compass, we have plenty of hard work, but we look at rigor as the breadth of experiences we expect of every student. We strive to develop good students and good people with a range of challenges in every realm and a broad diversity of experience.  While this may look different than a traditional definition of rigor, this is the kind of challenge that prepares Compass grads for the 21st Century world beyond our school walls.

Preparation for College A Compass graduate not only has a strong and robust academic foundation, they also knows how to adapt, collaborate, problem solve, and thrive in a new environment.  Compass has an excellent record of college acceptances and scholarships, which shows that colleges recognize the value of the personalized, innovative education we offer.   Our students graduate with confidence and clarity about their interests and abilities, and our college advisory program helps students and families find the best college options out there.

The final two years at Compass allow students to engage in learning experiences outside school such as internships, distance-learning programs, travel experiences, college courses and investigations of a variety of professional environments in addition to their coursework. Students are empowered and encouraged to craft their own education a with guidance from the experienced, caring educators who know them best.

Over 90% of Compass graduates have gone on to college since the school’s first graduating class in 2003.  Some of the colleges that our graduates have been accepted to include: Antioch, Bard, Bates, Bennington, Brown University, Cazenovia, Champlain, Chapman Seamanship School, Clark, Colby Sawyer, Community College of Vermont, College of the Atlantic, Colorado Mountain College, Evergreen, Grinnell, Hallmark Institute of Photography, Hampshire, Ithaca, Keene State, NYU, Rochester Institute of Technology, Savannah School of Art and Design, School of Visual Arts (New York), Siena, Southern Vermont, St. Joseph’s, Union, University of Chicago, University of Maine-Orono, University of Massachusetts- Lowell, University of New England, University of Vermont, Vermont Technical College, Western New England, Wheaton (MA).


The academic day is organized around Integrated Humanities and Science/Technology Blocks with shorter daily classes in Math and Spanish. The purpose of the block is to create a learning focus that provides time necessary for in-depth examination of topics. Analysis and synthesis of information, independent research, and projects are routinely expected in Humanities and Science blocks.Humanities includes history, geography, psychology, literature, economics and aspects of architecture, music and art. English skills focus on written, verbal and visual communication and the study of a range of genres in literature, correlating with the social science focus when possible.

Science/Technology integrates relevant math and technology content and skills into the Science Main Lesson curriculum, which includes laboratory and field experiences. Science includes a broad range of topics from physical, earth and space sciences to personal and community health issues. Instruction uses appropriate technology to support and complement the learning process. Both blocks are organized in two-year cycles.

Afternoon exploratories are offered three days each week.  These courses are developed around the interests, passions, and expertise of the students, local professionals and the Compass faculty—all of whom may serve as teachers and mentors.  The exploratory program offers opportunities for students to develop practical skills as well as to explore sports and the arts.

Student assessment is based on demonstration of learning and utilizes a range of techniques including exhibitions, traditional testing, and creation of digital media productions. All students present portfolios at Sophomore and Senior levels. Each student is required to complete a portfolio for graduation demonstrating achievement in the Compass Learning Realms.

Advisory: All students are part of an advisory that meets three times each week with the same teacher.  Portfolio work, prep for parent conferences and other activities occur to enhance student/faculty relationships and provide student support.  All teachers serve as advisors to students, nurturing their intellectual, emotional, social, and ethical development.

Sophomore Portfolio: Students gather samples of their work that demonstrate their performance and growth. They present their work to a roundtable which includes their advisor, a teacher, parent and peer. Successful completion is a gateway to 11th grade.

Global Connections Program: All 11th graders participate together in a multi-week immersion travel experience in a Spanish speaking country where students are involved in service, practice with Spanish, and developing deeper understanding of the developing world.

Senior Projects: Seniors develop a proposal for study of a topic of great interest through an individual project conducted outside of school for several weeks in the spring of senior year. Projects must include research and a written and visual component presented to the student body.

Graduation Portfolio: Students present work samples of their work that demonstrate their successful completion of expectations for graduation. They present their work to a panel including a professional from outside the school, a board member, their advisor, teachers, parents, the school director and a peer.  This is a requirement for graduation.

College Planning: All students have the opportunity to take PSAT, ACT and SAT and receive support through the Advisory Program and Senior Seminar to plan for college.  College visits by the whole student body are planned annually and speakers/visits from colleges are welcomed. The Compass School CEEB number is 460474.

Independent Study: Students have the opportunity to develop independent study projects with the support of a mentor/teacher to satisfy course requirements in any content area. Proposals must have prior approval from a staff member and the support of parents. Learning outcomes need to be outlined with evaluation well documented in order to receive credit, preferably using an approved credit-granting program.

Comps: Students in grades 11-12 are required to demonstrate competency in critical skills expected of our graduates. Two blocks per week are scheduled as supervised “Comp Time” for work on this requirement with teacher support. Each student is paired with a faculty “comp coach” with whom they plan their work and assess progress. A student can meet these requirements by completing at least 3 of the optional projects below or, with comp coach approval, in one extensive, high quality project. The Wednesday schedule is arranged to enable students to work outside of school on that day for internships, field study or other organized learning experiences.

Graduation Requirements


Subject Area Credits Required *
Humanities Block  

Social Studies
(Includes American Studies, History & Government and Global Studies)

4 Credits

4 Credits

Science/Tech Block  
   Science   (with lab)


4 Credits

1 Credits

(Acceptable completion of Algebra I, II & Geometry required)     
Foreign Language   (2 in same language) 3
The Arts   (.5 per year) 2
Physical Activity   (.25 per year) 1
Health   (.25 per year) 1
Other Electives
(May include School/Community Service, Project Weeks, Portfolio
Development and/or Independent Study)

Total Required:


High School Class Descriptions


Social Sciences

The United States and its Relation with the World

Students develop an understanding of the principles that define the US as a country, how events are related over time, how to weigh historical evidence and make historical arguments and how geography and economic, political, cultural, and social forces have affected the evolution of American society. Topics include: Founding Principles, Colonization and Independence, Foundations of Government, Expansion, Civil War, Reform Movements, International Engagement, Civil Rights and Social Justice, Economic Expansion, and the U.S. as Superpower.


Communication Skills include: the structure of English and the ability to analyze and edit written work, the process of writing expository paragraphs, essay writing, research, and delivery of verbal presentations. Literature focuses on American work. Poetry, film, drama, journalism and other media are also included.


Social Sciences

Passages to the World Beyond: Students look beyond their own borders and focus on learning about people and places around the world and in different eras. They develop an appreciation of cultural diversity and how individuals and countries are shaped by geography, history, economic and social forces.

Topics: Ancient and Modern perspectives of Western and Non-western Civilizations, Identity and Attitudes toward the Individual and Society, Study of the Future of Humankind and the Individual. Students may develop an awareness of other cultures first-hand through travel and student exchange programs. A second strand of studies encourages students to look ahead to their own passage into life beyond high school. Development of a resume and post high school plan are required.


Writing Workshops cover essay writing, research, creative writing and other writing supporting work in the Humanities Block. Literature choices focuses on World Literature and includes historic, contemporary, and non-fiction selections.


Science (from National Science Education Standards)

Subjects such as Environmental Science, Biology, Chemistry and Physics are taught through an integrated approach applying math and technology as appropriate. The following topics are the basis for all science instruction:

  • Science as Inquiry: ability to do and understand scientific inquiry.
  • Physical: structure of atoms, structure and properties of matter, chemical reactions, motion and forces, conservation of energy and increase in disorder, interactions of energy and matter.
  • Life Science: the cell, molecular basis of heredity, biological evolution, interdependence of organisms, matter, energy and organization in living systems, behavior of organisms.
  • Earth and Space: energy in the earth system, geochemical cycles, origin and evolution of the earth system, origin and evolution of the universe.
  • Science and Technology: develop abilities of technological design and understandings about science and technology.
  • Personal and Social Perspectives: personal and community health, population growth, natural resources, environmental quality, natural and human-induced hazards, science and technology in local, national and global challenges.
  • History and Nature of Science: science as a human endeavor, nature of scientific knowledge, historical perspectives.


As part of ongoing instruction concepts included are: basic operations/concepts, social, ethical and human issues, and technology as a tool for productivity, communication, research, problem solving and decision-making. Skills are developed through use and instruction in the academic and exploratory programs. Practical skills include: applications, reference retrieval and citation, internet research and special projects including graphic and animation art, scanning, digital camera use, and presentation skills. Use of these skills, such as Powerpoint, Excel and Digital Editing are necessary to document and present learning publicly and to develop the personal portfolio of learning.


Math skills are developed through traditional and non-traditional approaches. Hands-on activities that encourage “real-world” learning and problem solving are a regular part of instruction. Areas addressed include:

Transitional Math         Trigonometry

Algebra I                      Pre-Calculus

Algebra II                     Calculus

Geometry                     Statistics/Probability



Instruction follows a fluency-first approach that aims to develop the student’s ability and comfort with speaking, listening and understanding the language. As students develop verbal ability, they enter the world of the written word, through writing and reading in the target language. The complexity of structures, vocabulary and grammatical form increases as students progress. Students gain knowledge, understanding and appreciation of other cultures and become more aware of their own by comparison.  Each level of Spanish generally takes two years to complete.

Spanish I – IV

Cultural and Language Immersion

Conversation and Current Events

Literature and Culture