Ninth Week

Each semester the entire school takes a week-long trip off campus that integrates real-world experiences with the classroom curriculum. Ninth Week trips in the fall take place in Virginia and go farther afield in the spring. In the beginning of Renaissance School’s history this would happen during the ninth week of each semester, and although that is no longer the case, the name “Ninth Week” stuck! Ninth Week is a paragon of the Renaissance School approach to an interdisciplinary, project-based, college prep education.

Ninth Week & College Prep

RHS students tour a minimum of eight college campuses with faculty while on Ninth Week trips. The Renaissance School college counselling program is dedicated to matching students to schools that will be a great fit. Part of that process is actually spending time on campuses, visiting lecture halls, eating at school cafes, exploring libraries, looking at dorms, and meeting university students, admissions staff, and faculty. RHS students get to visit small liberal arts colleges, large state universities, specialized arts and research institutions, and Ivy League schools.

College visits are also a superb opportunity for students to meet with university research mentors. For example, Synthetic Biology students had that chance to work in the genetics labs at MIT when Ninth Week was in Boston.

Colleges visited by RHS students in the last several years include: Georgetown / Harvard / MIT / American University / Boston U / U Mass / Berklee / Carnegie Mellon / U Pittsburgh / U Louisville / UVA / VCU / William & Mary / Mary Baldwin / Mary Washington / Washington & Lee / Virginia Tech / Sweet Briar / Randolph / U Richmond / ODU / JMU

Ninth Week & The Arts

Renaissance School is Virginia’s Niche #1 High School for the Arts in part because the arts are a core, multi-year requirement for all students. Ninth Week is a fantastic opportunity each semester for all students to both work on original projects but also be inspired by artists in their fields.

Ninth Week art projects have ranged from mapmaking to collage to Audubon-inspired naturalist paintings, from original skits and songs to handmade postcard series and vision boards. Students bring sketchbooks, instruments, and inspiration from our trip prep in history, English, and the sciences to create some wonderful works inspired by the trip.

Experiencing fine and performing arts is central to each Ninth Week trip, often with private tours or individual guides, and with specific curriculum components from across disciplines. A sample of museums and galleries visited over the last several years includes: MoMA / Guggenheim / Metropolitan Museum of Art / Boston MFA / Boston ICA / Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum / Andy Warhol Museum / The Frick Gallery. Performing Arts varies by location, but wonderful recent examples were seeing the preview of Sunday in the Park with George, a Tony and Pulitzer prize-winning Sondheim musical about George Seurat performed by the conservatory players of Point Park University at the Pittsburgh Playhouse, and the live showcase of graduating seniors from the Berklee School of Music in Boston. Showing our students excellent university-level work is an inspiration!

Ninth Week & The Sciences

Ninth Week trips are irreplaceable opportunities for students to perform original research in the field, visit with faculty and mentors in top research universities, tour engineering marvels first-hand, and explore a variety of science museums. Our Dean is a scientist and the lead for planning our trips, so ties back to our science curriculum are always strong!

We are thrilled to have relationships with some of the best research institutions in the world, and our students have incredible opportunities on Ninth Week trips to not only visit top universities, but meet with faculty and work in laboratories. It was a wonderful experience for our Synthetic Biology students to meet with the MIT mentors in person and get to work with them in the lab. It was likewise very exciting for our Engineers to meet with faculty at Carnegie Mellon and tour their laboratories and learn about their cutting-edge and one-of-a-kind programs in computer science and AI. While we are grateful for the technology that allows us video conference and email with experts from around the world, there is no substitute for meeting in person!

It was very exciting for our Physicists to follow up a unit on electricity with a visit to one of the first hydroelectric power plants on the Ohio River in Louisville and see the mighty turbines. The scavenger hunts at the Museum of Science and Aquarium in Boston were some of students’ all-time favorites. The native species tree exploration  in a state park and accompanying Audubon-style paintings produced work that hangs in our halls to this day. Science in the lab is fun, but it gets much more exciting out the real world, and we are proud to provide that experience during Ninth Week!

Ninth Week & The Humanities

From civics to geography, history to demography, languages and culture - there’s no better way to make it all come alive than to actually stand in the place, walk the streets, meet the people, breathe the air - Ninth Week is the perfect vehicle to bring education to life! Students have learned from visits to Ellis Island, walks down the Freedom Trail in Boston, tours of the Muhammad Ali center in Louisville, and soaking in the Cathedral of Learning in Pittsburgh. Students have dined in Chinatown in Boston, hosted by our international students from China,  and learned about the immigrant experience in each location we’ve visited. Our country has a tremendously complex, in some cases tragic, in others triumphant, beautiful, difficult, and dynamic culture, and there is no better way to begin to understand it than to experience it firsthand.

Ninth Week is also regularly informed by our all-school summer reading. Each year the faculty selects a book for students and faculty to read. Parents and Board are invited to read along, too!

Past Ninth Week Destinations

New York / Boston / Charleston / Louisville / Canada / Paris / Outer Banks / DC / Cass, WV / Mountain Lake / Chesapeake Bay / Montebello / Harper’s Ferry

Read our newsletter article about our 2019 destination, Pittsburgh.