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At HRA we believe that a college-preparatory education should be more than accruing AP credits, amassing activities, and aiming for top grades. The REACH Initiative, as part of HRA's upper school program, encourages students to engage in real-world learning through mentorships, internships, summer jobs and community engagement, as well as offering students with an identified passion the opportunity to pursue a directed course of study in one of six focus areas.
Current research shows that today’s college-bound students are more stressed than ever before, feeling that they may be, as was claimed in the award-winning documentary film by the same name,  in a ‘race to nowhere’. This was the inspiration behind the HRA REACH Initiative (Real-world Experience & Academic CHoice).
 
We believe that the academic experience should be tied to relevant real-world experiences whenever possible.  The twenty-first century economy requires the ability to think creatively, to collaborate, and to communicate effectively, all skills that begin in the classroom but that are enhanced and made more relevant  by exploration outside the school’s walls. These experiences might take the form of summer internships, mentorships, part-time jobs, leadership opportunities, or more.

Working in a professional setting provides high school students invaluable opportunities to see the relevance and real-world applications of their classroom experiences, to develop and clarify a passion, and to practice workplace culture and etiquette.  Hampton Roads Academy’s REACH Initiative connects students to these kinds of professional experiences as a way of facilitating for our students a richer, more textured understanding of, and appreciation for, the relationship between academic success and professional satisfaction and achievement.
 
HRA’s curricular program offers the breadth necessary for students to focus their classroom studies in a particular area. A component of the REACH Initiative, in addition to helping students connect with relevant experiences outside the classroom, is providing them the opportunity to delve deeply into a course of study about which they are passionate. Interested students may apply to pursue one of six focus areas that will be noted on their academic transcript upon graduation.
Areas of Focus

List of 6 items.

  • The Applied Sciences and Technology Focus

    Purpose: The goal of the Applied Sciences and Technology course of study is to inspire and encourage those students who have a defined goal to pursue studies, and possibly a career, in a STEM field such as engineering, math or science research, integrated technology, computer science or others. It is a thorough, planned course of classroom study, combined with relevant real-world experiences and independent work through a capstone project in the field. The program is based on gaining a more thorough understanding of the fundamentals of these areas, as well as the possibility for their application to real-world pursuits.
     
    Program: The program will consist of a prescribed course of study in math and science at Hampton Roads Academy, volunteer internships or mentorships in a related field, as well as a senior project dedicated to one of these areas. Students who have successfully completed the course of study will have their work recognized on the academic transcript. Progress toward satisfying the program goals will be evaluated each year. All other graduation requirements will be met.
     
    Academic Requirements: (at least one course must be at the AP level)
    Math through calculus (any level); Statistics (if offered) or AP Statistics; and three of the following five: Physics, AP Physics I, AP Physics II; Digital Engineering; Java or Python Computer Programming; PLUS two additional sciences.
     
    Professional Internships, Mentorships or off-site or independent study:
    Student must have had 2 significant experiences (approved in advance, related to the field) outside of school to complement the in-school study. Experiences of this type may be available through internships or mentorships at a local university, Jefferson Lab, NASA, etc., or through academic programs such as the Virginia Summer Governor’s School and others. In addition, the student’s senior project will be related to one of these areas of study and will have been approved in advance.
     
    A reflective essay at the end of the senior year will address the program experience in general, and will serve as the final program requirement.
  • The Environmental Studies and Outdoor Leadership Focus

    Purpose: The goal of the Environmental Studies and Outdoor Leadership course of study is to inspire and encourage those students who have an in interest in environmental conservation and outdoor leadership skills. It is a thorough, planned course of classroom study, combined with relevant off-site experiences as well as a capstone project in the field. The program is based on gaining a solid background in these areas, while also gaining real-world experience.
     
    Program: The program will consist of a prescribed course of study at Hampton Roads Academy, as well as experiences such as internships with local environmental conservancy organizations and outdoor leadership groups, independent study or other study programs(to be approved in advance), in addition to a senior project in a related field. Students who have successfully completed the course of study will have their work recognized on the academic transcript. Progress toward satisfying the program goals will be evaluated each year. All other graduation requirements will be met.
     
    Academic Requirements: (at least one course must be at the AP level)
    Students will complete at least three of these courses: Biology, AP Biology, AP Environmental Science, Living in our Ocean Planet
     
    Professional Internships, Mentorships or Off-site or Independent Study:
    Student must have had at least two significant experiences (approved in advance, related to the field) outside of school to complement the in-school study. Experiences of this type may be available through local environmental and outdoor leadership groups, universities, and so forth, or could consist of additional study through programs such as the summer Governor’s School. Students must also earn advanced certification in a related field (i.e. challenge course certification, wilderness safety and first aid, Eagle Scout/Gold Award, etc.), also to be pre-approved.
     
    The student’s senior project will be related to one of these areas of study and will be approved in advance.
     
    Finally, A reflective essay at the end of the senior year will address the program experience in general, and will serve as the final program requirement.
  • The Global Studies Focus

    Purpose: The goal of the Global Studies program is to inspire and encourage those students who have a demonstrated interest in and passion for foreign languages and world affairs. Students selecting studies in this area may later pursue careers in foreign service or policy, international business, politics and more. It is a planned course of classroom study and relevant experiences to give the student both the theoretical and practical background to pursue their ambitions. The program is based on building a progressively clearer understanding of the interconnectedness of our world.
     
    Program: The program will consist of a prescribed course of study in languages, international relations and government, as well as travel experiences and active participation in internships, organizations like Model U.N., Operation Smile, Outreach Club, or other relevant work or study. NSDA membership in the Extemporaneous Speaking category would qualify as well. Students who complete this course of study will have their work recognized on their transcript.
    Progress toward satisfying the program goals will be evaluated each year. All other graduation requirements will be met.
     
    Academic Requirements: (at least one of these must be at the AP level)
    Two foreign languages are preferred (exceptions may be brought to the review committee): one of these must include the complete five-year sequence, with a two-year minimum recommended for the second language (this may be satisfied through in-school or accredited online programs in a language not offered at HRA, e.g. Japanese)
     
    Along with the language studies, students will pursue offerings that broaden their knowledge of the world. (AP or regular World History, AP Literature or Comparative Literature, AP Government, AP Comparative Government, and International Relations are examples, though an independent study could be pre-approved as well) The total of courses in language and world-related courses should be at minimum ten. At least four of these should be from the social studies area, with International Relations or Comparative Government being required.
     
    Outside Experience:
    Students applying to the Global Studies program will commit to an ongoing, active role in Model U.N., Operation Smile, the Outreach Club, NSDA competition in Extemporaneous Speaking, or a combination of these. (active participation will include a leadership position and/or conference attendance, service trip, service hours, etc. )
     
    In addition, students should pursue at least one significant out-of-school experience, approved in advance, that relates to this field. Examples would be a Governor’s School program in a language; summer study or an immersion program such as at Concordia Language Villages in MN; a summer course in global politics; or an internship experience with an international business or non-profit, etc. The senior project, also to be approved in advance, will be related to this field.
     
    Finally, A reflective essay at the end of the senior year will address the program experience in general, and will serve as the final program requirement.
  • The Health Sciences Focus

    Purpose: The goal of the Health Sciences course of study is to inspire and encourage those students who have a defined goal to pursue studies and perhaps a career in the medical arts as, for example, a physician, nurse, physical therapist, athletic trainer or EMT. It is a thorough, planned course of classroom study, ancillary training and hands-on experience to give students both the theoretical and practical background that will serve as a strong basis to pursue their ambitions. The program is based on building a progressively clearer understanding of the training and study required to enter one of these fields.
     
    Program: The program will consist of a prescribed course of study in the sciences at Hampton Roads Academy, as well as a range of other possible experiences: volunteer internships with a local hospital and/or associated practices, study or mentorship programs outside of school, practical experience under the supervision of the HRA athletic training program, and so forth. Outside experiences will be approved in advance, as candidates may pursue different training opportunities. Program members will be expected to complete a significant number of field-related hours of community service above the current graduation requirements of HRA. Students who have successfully completed the course of study and ongoing service requirements will have their work recognized on the academic transcript. Progress toward satisfying the program goals will be evaluated each year. All other graduation requirements will be met.
     
    Academic Sequence: at minimum, five of these courses: (At least one should be at the AP level)
    Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Honors Chemistry, AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Physics, AP Psychology, Anatomy and Physiology, Foundations of Sports Medicine, and Research Methods. In addition, student will have taken a course in calculus (any level).
     
    Internships, Mentorships, Study Programs, and Other Outside Experiences:
    Certification in CPR and First Aid is required for all program participants.
    Students may get hands-on experience as an athletic training student aide (minimum hours required during a sports season, during both practices and games) Other internships and mentorships are available through local hospitals, universities, and associated programs. Summer programs such as Camp Cardiac (EVMS) or Sports Med Camp (William and Mary) provide further opportunities, as do more advanced certifications like an EMT summer training course. Two such experiences (pre-approved) are required. (an athletic training internship at HRA will count as one of these)
     
    In addition, the senior project, approved in advance (separate from other work above), will be in a related field.
     
    Finally, A reflective essay at the end of the senior year will address the program experience in general, and will serve as the final program requirement.
  • The Performing Arts and Humanities Focus

    Purpose: The goal of the Performing Arts and Humanities course of study is to inspire and encourage those students who have a defined goal to pursue a passion for or a career in a theatre- or music-related field, particularly as combined with or complemented by studies in the humanities. It is a thorough, planned course of classroom study, combined with relevant off-site experiences as well as a capstone project in the field. The program is based on gaining a solid background in the various performance and technical theatre areas, as well as an appreciation for and an understanding of how people process and portray the human experience.
     
    Program: The program will consist of a prescribed course of study at Hampton Roads Academy, as well as experiences such as internships with local theater or music groups, independent study, writing workshops, summer Governor’s School or other study programs(to be approved in advance), in addition to a senior project in a related field. Students must also be candidates for inclusion into the Tri-M Music Honor Society, a member of NSDA (in one of the interpretative events), or the International Thespian Society (if available). Candidates for this certificate will also participate actively each year in the Performing Arts Department performances and concerts. Students who have successfully completed this course of study will have their work recognized on the academic transcript. Progress toward satisfying the program goals will be evaluated each year. All other graduation requirements will be met.
     
    Academic Requirements: (at least one course must be at the AP level)
    At least eight semester-length courses* in the performing arts areas while in grades 9-12 (*ideally, at least two different disciplines will be represented: e.g. band and theatre, or theatre and chorus, etc.); the required four years of English courses with at least one additional semester (Creative Writing and Public Speaking); a second additional semester in either visual arts, English or social studies.
     
    Professional Internships, Mentorships or off-site or independent study:
    Student must have had at least two significant experiences (approved in advance, related to the field) outside of school to complement the in-school study. Experiences of this type may be available through local music or performing groups, universities, and so forth, or could consist of additional study through programs such as the summer Governor’s School. (individual private lessons would not satisfy this requirement)
     
    In addition, the student’s senior project will be related to one of these areas of study and will be approved in advance.
     
    Finally, A reflective essay at the end of the senior year will address the program experience in general, and will serve as the final program requirement.
  • The Visual Arts and Humanities Focus

    Purpose: The goal of the Visual Arts and Humanities course of study is to inspire and encourage those students who have a defined goal to pursue a passion for or career in an art-related field, particularly as combined with or complemented by studies in the humanities. It is a thorough, planned course of classroom study, combined with relevant off-site experiences as well as a capstone project in the field. The program is based on gaining a solid background in the various visual arts areas, as well as an appreciation for and an understanding of how people process and document the human experience.
     
    Program: The program will consist of a prescribed course of study at Hampton Roads Academy, as well as experiences such as internships at local museums or art studios, independent study, writing workshops, summer Governor’s School or other study programs (to be approved in advance) in addition to a senior project dedicated to a visual arts or humanities area. Students must be candidates for inclusion in the NAHS, and must submit work each year for the HRA Juried Show, as well as one other show (at HRA or off campus). Students who have successfully completed the course of study will have their work recognized on the academic transcript. Progress toward satisfying the program goals will be evaluated each year. All other graduation requirements will be met.
     
    Academic Requirements: (at least one course must be at the AP level)
    At least six semester-length courses in the visual arts area while in grades 9-12 (courses in the arts must include at least one from either the ceramics or photography areas); the required four years of English courses with at least one additional semester of English and a second additional semester in English, the performing arts or social studies.
     
    Professional Internships, Mentorships or off-site or independent study:
    Student must have had at least one significant experience (approved in advance, related to the field) outside of school to complement the in-school study. Experiences of this type may be available through local museums, universities, art studios or more, or could consist of additional study through programs such as the summer Governor’s School.
     
    In addition, the student’s senior project will be related to one of these areas of study and will be approved in advance.
     
    Finally, a reflective essay at the end of the senior year will address the program experience in general, and will serve as the final program requirement.