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Upper School

A Diverse Curriculum

By the time Hampton Roads Academy students enter the Upper School, the HRA curriculum becomes increasingly more diverse. 
Click here for a photo tour of HRA's Upper School. 
Benjamin Rous
Head of Upper School
Director of College Counseling

Cynthia Cochran
Dean of Student Life

Kathy Shepherd
US Administrative Assistant

Benjamin Rous, Head of Upper School & Director of College Counseling

HRA's unique combination of academic power and small class size means that students are not only challenged intellectually; they also learn how to partner with their teachers in the service of their education--a recipe for success not only in high school, but in college and life!

Program Overview

HRA’s upper school offers an enriching liberal arts program, emphasizing writing and communication skills across the curriculum. The program features a broad selection of curricular options with more than 90 courses, wide-ranging electives, 25 Honors and AP courses among all disciplines, and includes a capstone independent research project in an area of deep interest to the student. As an integral part of a 21st century education, HRA students are encouraged to engage in relevant, real-world exploration through mentorship and internship opportunities with the business world, with local universities and research facilities, as well as through independent studies, summer travel, and community outreach.

List of 13 items.

  • HRA Profile

  • Credit Requirements

    In grades 9-12, students must earn a minimum of 21.5 academic credits. Graduation requirements provide a critical balance of work in each of the essential academic areas, including English, Social Studies, Foreign Language, Science, Math, Visual and Performing Arts, and Physical Education. Most students exceed the minimum in each of these areas. Credit is granted for Algebra, Foreign Language, PE and the arts completed in the Middle School.
  • Advanced Placement

    HRA students have a core college-preparatory curriculum, enhanced by 17 Advanced Placement courses that serve to set the standard of excellence required in the top courses within each department. Advanced placement courses include English Language and Composition, English Literature and Composition, Calculus BC, Statistics, U.S. Government and Politics, U.S. History, World History, Biology, Environmental Science, Chemistry, Physics, Comparative Government and Politics, Psychology, Studio Art Drawing, Studio Art 2D Design, French, Latin and Spanish. All students who take an advanced placement course will sit for the AP exam in May. In a typical year, 95 percent of HRA students graduate with at least one AP course.
  • Honors Courses

    Many departments also designate some of their more rigorous courses as Honors level. Honors courses are offered in Chemistry, Physics, French, Latin, Spanish, Algebra II/Trigonometry and Introduction to Calculus. A typical HRA student graduates with a combination of core, Honors and AP classes that also allows room for exposure to several of our outstanding elective courses, both in the arts area and in other academic disciplines.
  • HRA Academic Accommodations

  • Research Opportunities

    “College Prep” means so much more than just being able to do college-level work. It means knowing how to truly engage that work.  It means knowing how to find the resources available to help you succeed in that work; specifically, it means knowing how to interact with professors in the service of your intellectual growth.

    This student/teacher interaction is a hallmark of the HRA experience.  Our small class sizes and academic challenge combine to give students ample opportunity to hone their self-advocacy and cultivate a comfort in connecting with their teachers.  Once equipped with this skill, our graduates go on to flourish at college as they develop close relationships with their professors—relationships that lead not only to in-class success, but to research opportunities as well.

    At HRA, we don’t think these college-level research opportunities need to wait until a student has entered college.  We have established several partnerships with colleges and universities that allow our students to conduct college-level research, working with college professors and their students in fields that range across all the STEM disciplines as well as the arts and humanities.

    Click here to explore the myriad ways HRA students have been encouraged to think, explore, and discover their intellectual potential and passions at the next level.
  • REACH Initiative

    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. Click here to read about a recent research experience. 

    Click here to read more about the academic areas of focus that are part of the REACH Initiative
  • Honor Societies

    HRA was awarded a chapter of the Cum Laude Society in 1971. Other academic honor societies include those for French, Latin, and Spanish, Mu Alpha Theta, National Art Honor Society, and Tri-M Music Honor Society. In addition, each senior completes an independent research project with a faculty member that is part of the requirement for graduation.
  • Standardized College Placement Tests

    Standardized test scores, including the AP and SAT, consistently place HRA among the country’s top independent schools. HRA’s college placement record includes admission to the nation’s most prestigious and competitive colleges and universities, and the HRA college counseling team works with every student to ensure that his or her college choice will be a good match for that individual.
  • Extracurricular Life

    The vast majority of students participate in athletics and fine and performing arts. There is a 40-hour community service requirement, though most students go well beyond it. HRA’s Research Education and Careers at HRA (REACH) program offers real-world experiences and prepares students for leadership positions in clubs and organizations within the school, and outdoor education programs are offered on HRA’s Challenge Course.
  • Memorial Awards

    Students are also recognized, celebrated and encouraged throughout the year including HRA’s annual Memorial Awards that given annually in memory of those who were very special to the HRA community. Click here to read more. 
  • New Parents

    Click here to experience Upper School Parent Orientation.
  • Advisory Program

    Click here to learn more about HRA's Advisory Program.

Hampton Roads Academy

HRA is accredited through the Virginia Association of Independent Schools, a member of the National Association of Independent Schools and is a National Blue Ribbon School.