Bringing together students from diverse backgrounds has been proven to increase retention and student success. Assessments by students and faculty and analysis of data from learning communities confirm that learning communities are an outstanding educational opportunity for many students. The interaction in and outside of the classroom, the close communications among faculty members and students, and the focus on a common theme encourage students to work together.
In addition to the DCCCD Core Curriculum, RCHS students will be expected to participate in the following:
"Service Learning" is defined as a program in which students learn and develop through thoughtfully organized service experiences that meet real community needs. It has become a component of many high schools and community colleges; more than 50 percent of community colleges offer some form of service learning for students. Nearly 500 students volunteered for more than 10,000 hours of service in 2003-2004 ranging from building homes with Habitat for Humanity, to tutoring and mentoring elementary and middle school students, to helping disabled campers at Camp Summit. In addition to the volunteer work, students write journals chronicling their experiences and thoughts, then meet in sessions with their teachers and other students to share feelings and reflections.
RCHS students will be required to complete and document at least 30 hours of service learning each year. This service can be performed in any venue approved by Richland College's Service Learning Coordinator. RCHS staff members will work with the faculty members and the Service Learning Coordinator to develop activities for students during each school year. These activities can be focused for an individual or small group of students who have a particular career interest, such as in health or teaching.
RCHS seniors will be required to complete a publication-ready research paper and project culminating in a "Senior Exhibition." This year-long project will demonstrate a student's proficiency in the academic components of the Collegiate High School education and in applying the intellectual skills necessary for success in college. The exhibition is distinguished by the student's academic independence in generating a topic, involving the college and RCHS community, and making a public presentation that meets the High School's standards of assessment. The project must be tied to one of the United Nations Millenium Goals, must be an original product or research project, and reflect one or more of these academic disciplines:
A student may write a research paper or develop a product with a supporting paper. To complete either option, the student must develop a question or hypothesis worthy of in-depth research, interpret the research to draw reasonable conclusions, and support these conclusions with varied and well-documented evidence. The research paper will manifest scholarly research and demonstrate proficiency in research writing.
Students wishing to develop a product must demonstrate their research through an outcome such as an original computer software, a video documentary, an original music score, a work of historical fiction, a product for engineering purposes, or a comprehensive laboratory report of the scientific experiment. The accompanying paper would address the historical tradition of the discipline or craft demonstrated in the product and detail how that tradition influenced the student's original work. The exhibition will culminate with a public presentation open to students, faculty, and the community at which the student will present findings and respond to questions.
The Senior Project Lab will support seniors as they develop their exhibitions. In addition, the seniors will engage in activities throughout the year to fulfill this requirement through group activities such as short-term study projects and integrated learning workshops and by working individually with college faculty members and RCHS counselors. Each student will identify one or more content experts outside the high school and college faculty to work with and participate in evaluating the final product and presentation. The public Senior Exhibitions will be held during the weeks before high school graduation as the culmination of the senior's experience at RCHS.
Additionally, each student must take appropriate support courses designed to enhance the RCHS program goals. Courses include: