Odyssey High School
Rigorous. Authentic. Personal.
The high school program at Odyssey cultivates a small, hardworking community in which students are inspired by life and are prepared to assume their authentic place within it. Our project-based curriculum integrates real world applications with lectures, academic research, and creative expression, and our students graduate college and career ready, excited to jump into the next phase of their journey.
College and Career Readiness
Our requirements for graduation exceed those of North Carolina public schools and prepare students for success in any and all post-high school endeavors. In addition to acquiring coursework credits, students are supported in creating individual portfolios for college applications.
We offer students one-on-one attention, giving secondary students possibilities in apprenticeships, internships, personal research, and creative or technical art.
Our students graduate with a portfolio of independent work that can open doors in the field of their choice.
How do we do it?
Every Odyssey student has a staff mentor who meets with the student on a regular basis to review and reflect together on academic goals and needs, long-term planning, and personal goals and needs. With the help of our faculty and staff, each student’s trajectory is carefully curated from many resources, both inside and outside the doors of our physical school building.
Like Odyssey Elementary School, our Upper School leads in the field of education with our unique approach to whole child and whole community programming and design thinking: exploring Aesthetic, Environmental, Social, and Material Design as core subject areas.
Our students are able to take free dual-enrollment courses at AB Tech and can also dually enroll (at cost) at UNCA. In addition to regular coursework, every junior is enrolled in College Readiness at Odyssey, experiencing standardized test preparation, college research, essay support, and guidance.
In addition, every fall, students conduct first semester projects on a topic of their choosing, producing one project in each of their four years. These projects explore potential career fields, personal passion, or address design, sustainability and/or social entrepreneurship in some manner, taking what begins as an ethical awareness in our middle school independent research projects to the next level of social action and awareness. Through this intensely in-depth study, students learn project management, college-level research skills, create design prototypes, and practice professional presentations.
Students graduate from Odyssey ready to excel in higher education, polished in their ability to design, manage, and produce deep, meaningful, and extensive papers, projects, and presentations. In their junior year (prior to applying for college), students are tasked with bringing their projects into the view of the broader community, attempting publication in regional or national journals or sharing work independently with other student organizations.
Today’s students (and families) may decide upon graduation that a liberal arts education is not the best or most financially sound choice for their future. We have had a number of students who choose an alternative career path. For students who seek to travel overseas to explore the global workforce or start a business, Odyssey facilitates connections between industry professionals or organizations and our students. For those interested in trade work, Odyssey partners with the local community college and trade schools. In short, we work to make sure our students are ready to transition into the next phase of learning, wherever it is.
Design & the Arts
Our design and art faculty includes world class musician River Guerguerian, former actress Melanie Wester, and ceramic artist Lydia Hearne, among others. Performance opportunities are available during our many festivals and events. Each fall and spring our Upper School Drama department produces an all-school performance. In addition, our students have apprenticed with local artists, jewelry makers, graphic designers, filmmakers, and woodworkers, among others.
Additionally, Academic and Fine Art Electives are offered in such areas as computer science, technical art, publishing, photography, debate, anatomy and physiology, wildlife ecology, philosophy, novel writing, Model UN, and The Literature of Rebellion. Between two and three elective blocks are offered each semester, as these unique, passion-driven courses (influenced, often, by student inquiry and passions) are a cornerstone of our programming.
A special emphasis in our secondary level is placed on the development of engaged leadership and citizenship. Faculty and students spend every Wednesday either on expedition or engaged in service. On expedition days, students hike, mountain bike, climb, raft, among other experiences. This time spent developing outdoor leadership provides students with opportunities to explore the six strands and develop a rich relationship with the earth in a variety of ways.
On service days, faculty and students partner with area non-profits to offer service. They clean trash out of rivers, pack food for undernourished children, and work to end poverty, among other projects. Time spent in Asheville’s broader community helps our students build greater self and social awareness and develop a sense of civic engagement, community, and social justice.
In addition, all upper grades students are paired with a younger buddy with whom they eat lunch once a month. Developing this relationship over time contributes to our students’ festivals and performances; this cross-generational engagement is one of the concrete ways in which we support lifelong play, emotional connection, and community support.
As conflict resolution and other complexities of collaboration are a significant skill-set necessary for most career paths, we empower our high school community to engage in weekly Community Meetings to learn and practice the skills of citizenship.
Class Meetings are run by students, include an agenda created by students, and address both high school community concerns as well as high school community building and planning. For example, students design, fundraise to financially support, budget, and execute a multi-day end-of-year trip. Trips include elements of expeditionary learning, academic exploration (studies in local history or ecology, for example), community building, and active play (rock climbing, for example).
Our faculty are facilitators in this process, modeling and guiding students in practicing Compassionate Communication and other tools for effective collaborative work.
Mysteries Council & Sex Education
In addition to Class Meetings, our high school students also have time dedicated weekly to processing the other incredibly profound aspect of living in community: our social-emotional experience.
In Mysteries Councils, students create a sacred and safe space: a period in the day in which they practice listening to and speaking from their hearts. Students are encouraged to check problem-solving at the door during this time, and practice awareness and acceptance of themselves and others, seek and offer support, and profoundly engage with our human experience.
Developmentally, high school students are tasked with questioning and wrestling with existential ideas. This space allows our students to do this under the guidance and modeling of our faculty and allows them to connect with each other, averting emotional isolation in this sometimes daunting experience. Our program aims to create positive opportunities for acknowledging and communicating with the more philosophical and emotional side of life.
These meetings alternate as whole-community meetings and gender-specific meetings. We value offering our students an opportunity to explore gender-specific questions and topics, such as navigating relationship, friendship, self-confidence, and the nature of modern femininity and masculinity.
We are also proud to include Dr. Kelley (Wolfe) Johnson’s work with our students in a four week sex education class each year. Dr. Johnson includes a scientific, relational, and digital perspective in her sessions.
An Odyssey Student Profile
Odyssey students are naturally unique, driven, critical, and creative thinkers. As students grow through their years at Odyssey, they become self-knowledgeable, skilled in communication, and prepared to create positive change in our world. Odyssey is committed to cultivating a diverse student population, as we believe that all of life is strengthened through
A Note Regarding Grades at Odyssey High School
Odyssey High School creates a learning environment in which students of all talents, strengths, and challenges are able to work at their optimal rate of challenge and achieve personal degrees of excellence. In whatever field, career, or passions our students pursue post-high school, they will be prepared with the skills required for success. These skills include the Essential Learning Skills as well as a strong foundation in linguistic, mathematical, and emotional literacy.
We use the 10-point grading system at OCS and our assigned letter grades reflect a combination of work ethic and content mastery. Considering these two elements, students who earn As work hard and know their material through-and-through; a student who works diligently without content mastery or vice versa cannot earn an A. A work is excellent work.
B work communicates success and yet does not denote that a student has worked diligently or completely mastered material. Rather, B students might have an innate talent for the discipline without exerting sufficient effort to take their work to a level of excellence; or, they may have worked very hard in a discipline in which they are very challenged, resulting in a satisfactory demonstration of understanding, rather than the profound understanding of an A student. C work communicates minimal achievement; students who have earned Cs are able to enter the next course with enough basic understanding to continue progressing through material with support, despite not being able to demonstrate profound or consistent understanding. If an instructor is concerned about a student’s retention of foundational material and skill, in combination with insufficient effort, he or she will have earned below a C and will need to retake the course.
While we pursue excellence, we also pursue depth and rounded guidance in our classrooms. Our teachers work closely with students to determine their optimal rate of challenge, to assess their work in partnership with students, to promote reflection and the value of both failures and successes.
|English: *12 credits required to graduate|
|English 1:||Composition and Identity||3 credits|
|English 2:||American Literature and Composition||3 credits|
|English 3:||World Literature and Composition||3 credits|
|English 4:||Modern Literature and Composition||3 credits|
|History: *12 credits required to graduate|
|History 1:||World History||3 credits|
|History 2:||US History||3 credits|
|History 3:||Economics & Sustainability||3 credits|
|History 4:||Government & Civic Engagement||3 credits|
|Math: *12 credits required to graduate|
|Math 1:||Algebra 1||3 credits|
|Math 2:||Geometry||3 credits|
|Math 3:||Algebra II||3 credits|
|Math 4:||Pre-Calculus||3 credits|
|Math 5:||Calculus||3 credits|
|Math 6:||Statistics||3 credits|
|Science: *12 credits required, including one lab science.|
|Science 1:||Earth Science||3 credits|
|Science 2:||Biology||3 credits|
|Science 3:||Chemistry & Laboratory||3 credits|
|Science 4:||Physics & Laboratory||3 credits|
|Science 5:||Deep Ecology||3 credits|
|Foreign Language: *6 Credits required to graduate. Classes are also available in Italian, French, Arabic, German, Chinese, or American Sign Language with a personal tutor, pending approval by Director of Programs.|
|Spanish 1:||Introduction to Language and Culture||3 credits|
|Spanish 2:||Conversation and Composition||3 credits|
|Spanish 3:||Literature and Debate||3 credits|
|Spanish 4:||Immersion Experience||3 credits|
|Design: *12 Credits are required to graduate. For students entering laterally, these design requirements may be waived, pending approval by Director of Programs.|
|Design 1:||Aesthetic Design||3 credits|
|Design 2:||Material Design||3 credits|
|Design 3:||Environmental Design||3 credits|
|Design 4:||Social Design||3 credits|
|First Semester Projects: Each student is expected to complete a First Semester Project each year they attend Odyssey High School. The project will begin at the start of each academic year, under appropriate faculty and mentor guidance and will be completed by the close of the January two week Minimester. The First Semester Project is a chance for students to pursue their passions in a deep and disciplined way. Students choose their topic with approval by the Director of Programs. The First Semester Project is graded; the main components of this project include research paper, prototype project, and formal presentation.||3 credits
Click here to view an abbreviated High School 2016-2017 Course Catalog.
|Science (at least 1 lab course is required)||12|
|First Semester Projects*||12|
|8 Electives (awarded 1.5 credits per course)||12|
*Transfer allowances are made for lateral entry students.
Each student must complete 15 hours of community service / year at Odyssey. These service and academic requirements surpass typical graduation requirements creating a strong pathway into college and career.
Standard courses are graded on a 4.0 scale; Honors courses are graded on a 5.0 scale. The minimum passing grade is a C-. Teachers use a 10-point grading scale for letter grades. While we do not offer isolated AP classes, honors students who wish to take AP tests independently will be supported.
AC = Honors STD = Standard AP = Advanced Placed