Shining Mountain High School guides adolescents on a journey of discovery to find their place in the world. We educate individuals to realize capacities of lively independent thinking, artistically-cultivated feeling, and moral courage for responsible action. Our graduates leave Shining Mountain ready for a lifetime of engagement and personal fulfillment, as well as the ability to become a force for transformation in the world.
While the high school course of study fully prepares students for their future academic pursuits, the Shining Mountain curriculum balances and infuses the academics with a rich array of challenging experiences. Our students participate in a wide range of artistic, athletic, musical, social, and service-oriented pursuits which help them to connect confidently with the larger world in exciting and meaningful ways. These experiences help each high school student to form and safely establish his or her own identity through the often turbulent adolescent years, and help them to discover unique interests which have the potential to become abiding pursuits, passions, and strengths in the years ahead.
High School students begin their study of drama in the Comedy and Tragedy block in 9th grade. In 10th grade, a class play is performed, often Shakespeare or Moliere, or a modern comedy if the class has had a strong experience of Shakespeare in their 8th grade play. The Senior Play is the culmination of 12 years of ensemble dramatic production experience. Plays may be serious or lighthearted, with modern themes, imaginative staging, and strenuous acting roles. All students participate in a high school musical (Guys and Dolls, Crazy For You, Damn Yankees) every other year.
The Eco Club elective is designed to engage students on environmental issues both at home and at school–and have fun doing it! Part of our time together is used to understand the High School’s environmental impact and then come up with practical ways to reduce that impact. Eco Club members will be involved with organizing and running school events such as International Walk to School Day and the annual Earth Week celebration. We also connect and collaborate with other high school student environmental groups, and, when possible, take off-campus field trips.
Fall Project Weeks
A week is set aside in early autumn for students to participate as a group in study and activities away from the classroom. Each trip involves camping, practical experience, and usually community service and complements Main Lesson blocks and other academics.
- Ninth graders typically work on a biodynamic farm;
- Tenth graders spend a week in New Mexico at the Taos Pueblo doing community service;
- Eleventh graders work with the Nature Conservancy doing field projects, usually in Colorado;
- Twelfth graders travel to the Wyoming desert for a wilderness solo and retreat, to seek guidance for their senior year and their future.
International Exchange Program
High School students at Shining Mountain have the opportunity to deepen their language skills and widen their horizons by studying abroad. Students can go on exchange or to an immersion course either in the January or February of grade 10, during summer vacation or in September of 11th grade.
These exchanges and immersions need to be arranged well ahead of time in order to get the necessary paperwork and visas for both SMWHS student as well as the exchange student who will be coming here. The Admissions Office recommends at least a six-month lead in time.
In the 11th grade during the Civics class, after a solid grounding in the Constitution and a study of the Supreme Court, students participate in a mock trial led by professors and students from the acclaimed mock trial team at the University of Denver Sturm School of Law. For one week students divide up into prosecution and defense teams to try actual cases that are used in law school.
The High School faculty has arranged a variety of community service placements where a single senior or pair of seniors volunteer in order to fully experience a perspective based upon service to others. Examples of senior placements range from working with handicapped people at a Camp Hill Village in rural New York State and assisting in an inner-city Los Angeles Waldorf charter school to volunteering in a Social Service Agency in Atlanta. Upon returning home, these students share their experiences and insights gained from their placements at an assembly with our school community.
Seniors are required to complete an independent project, in a field of their choice, as part of their graduation requirements. In the spring term of their junior year they submit a proposal for faculty approval. During the summer between junior and senior year they complete their project work and prepare a written presentation. In the fall of their senior year they prepare an oral presentation and present their project to a public audience. Past projects have included building a sailboat, studying a Hindu sacred dance, interning with a State Senator and helping to draft legislation, and studying acupuncture.
The 12th grade spends project week participating in Senior Solos. Students have the option to fast during the two day solo, and return as a group to discuss the process and enjoy a meal together.
The pedagogical impulse is to address the thematic question for 12th graders of, “Who am I?”. Introspection and isolation are explored. Senior Solos allow students time away from others, home, media and allows the opportunity to be alone with one’s thoughts. In the world today it is challenging to break away, even for an hour, from modern life; “Media fasting” is becoming a stronger element of this trip. Senior Solos are a school tradition and shared experience.
Winter Dance and Prom
The National Honor Society students and Advisors organize a Winter Dance, held at SMWS and DJ’d by students, and a Prom, which is held in the spring and includes a formal dinner followed by dancing. Both events are for the entire high school and their guests.