Odyssey High School

Rigorous. Authentic. Personal.

The high school program at Odyssey School 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 School 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.

EmilyDiaz-Loar class of 2013

Alumna Emily Diaz-Loar

Hear testimonials from several Odyssey graduates.

Like Odyssey School’s 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 School 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.

Career Preparation

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 School facilitates connections between industry professionals or organizations and our students.  For those interested in trade work, Odyssey School 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.

Auxiliary Classes 

DurinHSceramicsg their four years of high school, students have the opportunity to choose a specific elective discipline: Art, Music, Film, or Creative Technology. We offer auxiliary classes in each of these disciplines each year, so students interested in developing deeper skills or creating a portfolio can do that over the course of several years. Alternatively, students have the option to take classes across these disciplines to explore each field of study. 

Other Electives

Student collaboration art

Original painted cover for 2020 yearbook by HS student

Additionally, each year we choose a variety of other electives in a wide range of disciplines. These electives can range from topics as

varied as Music Appreciation to Handcrafts, Nature Field Journaling to Creative writing. High School students are given charge of Odyssey’s yearbook which is a cross-discipline of photography, graphic design, writing, and managing real world deadlines.

Outdoor and Service Learning

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.

Class Meetings

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.


Hear from Odyssey School graduate Millie Weeks.

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 School Student Profile

Odyssey School students are naturally unique, driven, critical, and creative thinkers. As students grow through their years at Odyssey School, they become self-knowledgeable, skilled in communication, and prepared to create positive change in our world. Odyssey School is committed to cultivating a diverse student population, as we believe that all of life is strengthened through diversity!

Our goal is to enroll students who represent a range of political, religious, ethnic, gender identity, and economic diversity, and, to support this commitment, we are offer a limited number of scholarships awarded to students who can both strengthen and diversify our community. Please schedule a visit for more information.


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 Odyssey School 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.

Core Courses

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:  American Environmental History 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: 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
Auxiliary Credits: *12 Credits are required to graduate.  For students entering laterally, these design requirements may be waived, pending approval by Director of Programs.
Classes are offered in Art, Music, or Creative technology. 3 credits
Research and Design: *9 Credits are required to graduate.  For students entering laterally, these design requirements may be waived, pending approval by Director of Programs.
R&D 1: Research Writing 1.5 credits
R&D 2: Project Design 1.5 credits
R&D 3: Intensive 3 credits
R&D 4: Capstone 3 credits
Outdoor and Service Learning: *12 Credits are required to graduate.  For students entering laterally, these design requirements may be waived, pending approval by Director of Programs. Students get 3 credits per year of high school.

O & SL 9/10: Intro to Outdoor Learning 3 credits
O & SL 11/12: Skill Development 3 credits
PE and Health: *6 Credits are required to graduate. Students have PE and Health each year of high school. 
PE & Health: 9-12 1.5 credits


Click here to view a sample High School 2020-2021 Course Catalog.

Graduation Requirements

Courses Credits
English 12
History 12
Math 12
Science (at least 1 lab course is required) 12
Foreign Language 6
Research and Design* 9
Auxiliary Classes* 12
Outdoor and Service learning 12
PE & Health 6
Total 93

*Transfer allowances are made for lateral entry students.

Each student must complete 15 hours of community service / year at Odyssey School. 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

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Odyssey School is an independent, non-profit school with a focus on whole child, emotionally intelligent, personalized curriculum for students in PreK-12. Our mission is to prepare students, families, and educators to lead lives of intention and purpose with an authentic sense of self.

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