Health and Wellness

High school is a time when students have the opportunity develop habits that will serve them well at college and into adulthood. RHS is firmly commitment to supporting and teaching habits that foster good mental, physical, and social health. Throughout the year Renaissance School brings in guests, professionals, and resource agencies to speak to and work with our students about a range of topics of interest to teenagers including self-defense, nutrition, health and development, and stress management.

Biannual Health Course

Renaissance School offers a comprehensive all-school health course. This has included visits from UVA Hospital nutritionists, ACAC physical therapists, Region 10 mental health professionals, SARA specialists on healthy relationships, and other professionals in the fields of not just healthy eating, sleeping, and activity levels, but also how to cultivate good mental health, healthy interactions with technology, social media, friends, boyfriends and girlfriends, and how to spot signs in friends and peers that something may be off in one of those areas and how to get help. It’s a great course and faculty learn a lot, too!

Self-Defense & Bystander Intervention

The statistics on assault prevalence are sobering. Being prepared and knowing how to react in a dangerous situation can help to prevent becoming a statistic,  or witnessing one. We partner with both Michelle Zehr of WE2 as well as the Charlottesville Police Department to train students on how to protect themselves and how to help others. Self-Defense is a multi-week course that is a spring Arts Practicum option. Bystander Intervention is a one-time workshop that is available to all students.

Physical Activity & ACAC

Physical Activity is a required course at RHS, and is available to students all four years. During the fall and spring, much of this course is spent outside doing activities like training to run a mile or a longer distance, playing basketball or soccer, or outdoor stretching, yoga, and other balance and flexibility practices. In the winter, RHS partners with ACAC to offer strength and circuit training, exercise machines, and swimming. This time begins with goal-setting and conversations with a trainer, and ends with reflection and assessment so that students can observe improved strength, balance, flexibility, speed, stamina and other fitness goals. Physical activity goals are an option in our Summer Workbook and is part of recognizing that high ability students may be both highly athletic and academically gifted, despite pervasive stereotypes to the contrary. RHS has many elite athletes and the Physical Activity class may also be tailored to specifically support their training.

Recognizing the prevalence of eating disorders and body dysmorphia among youth, our physical fitness program focuses on measures that are not body-type dependent such as strength and stamina. Students set individual goals and are not compared against each other or a generic standard.

Intentional Goal-Setting & Reflection

Setting goals, planning the steps to achieve them, and periodic reflection on how the progress is going are just part of the fabric of day-to-day life at Renaissance School. This practice is explicitly part of the Headmaster’s Class curriculum, but it is regularly incorporated into all project-based classes, including studio art, laboratory sciences, Independent Studies, physical activity, College Counseling, and others. Giving students the tools to plan for success is much more empowering than giving them all of the steps to get from Point A to B. Setting their own goals and making their own plans, and reviewing their own progress, is what gives students the confidence to enter college boldly and pursue their larger life goals.

Wellness & Twice Exceptional Students

One of the special considerations at a school for high ability students is that many youth are twice exceptional - both gifted and talented, but also learning how to thrive within the context of other special circumstances that may present challenges. This may also include high ability students who are learning to navigate social structures. Renaissance School faculty work closely with therapists, doctors, tutors, social services, and other professionals, along with families, as part of a team that supports each student as they learn the individual techniques they need to set and reach their goals, no matter what combination of gifts, challenges, talents, and ambitions they have.