Upper School

A Diverse Curriculum

By the time Hampton Roads Academy students enter the Upper School, the HRA curriculum becomes increasingly more diverse.
Karen Gillespie
Head of Upper School/Dean of Faculty/US Spanish

Cynthia Cochran
Dean of Student Life

Kathy Shepherd
US Administrative Assistant

Karen Gillespie, Head of Upper School

An HRA education occurs not only in the classroom, but on the athletic fields, the stage, in the art studios and beyond. Students ‘prepare for higher education and for life’ in a multitude of ways under the guidance of caring and committed faculty members.

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 8 items.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    2018 – 2019 Course Catalog

    2018 – 2019 Course Planning Sheet
  • 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 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.
  • Summer Study Experiences

    During the summer, many HRA Upper School students take advantage of interesting study programs, internships and other unique opportunities to learn and grow. While what follows is not a definitive list, it represents a broad cross-section of the work HRA juniors and seniors accomplish while “on vacation”. The paragraphs are summaries in the words of the students. For more information on summer opportunities, log in to the Resources page and find the "REACH" database.

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.