William Smith High School is a small high school that brings together both education and the 21-st century to produce exceptional students, that are ready for the 21-st century workforce.
Modeled as an Expeditionary Learning School, WHSH offers a unique approach to education in the classroom that differs from that of the traditional classroom. Offering a variety of topics that provided an in-depth view and a perception of the real world. All of this is modeled into core academics.
William Smith High School is an EL Education school, recognized locally and nationally as an exemplary program. Dedicated to providing a diverse student body with outstanding academic and character education through engaging project-based work, the school enjoys a 90% graduation rate with alumni attending colleges and universities, technical schools, and the workforce. Projects integrate fieldwork, guest experts, and authentic audiences, bringing curriculum to life. Hands-on work reflects a workplace environment in order to prepare students for their future. Students develop products and presentations that demonstrate the knowledge and technical tools of professionals. At William Smith, students learn to create the lives they want to lead.
Students are engaged in multi-grade level, cross-content projects, choosing to spend their day engaged in one project at a time, or working on several projects at once. In these projects, students work on and learn content as well as gain important academic and 21st Century skills, such as collaboration, creativity, problem solving, and innovation. A few of these projects include:
• The Housing Crisis and Sustainability: students explore the ideas of structures and sustainability through the lens of economic, environmental, and social impact. They implement these ideas into blueprints and 3D models to create livable and sustainable structures for low-income communities as part of the $300 House Design Challenge.
• Social Justice on the Stage and Screen: students explore justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunity, and privilege in modern society. Students write original screen plays and produce a final product that expresses a compelling message on the topic of social justice.
• Bean to Bar Chocolate: students study phase changes of matter and polymorph formation, applying the process of making chocolate from cacao beans to finished chocolates, and refining for high quality final products. Students gain understanding of the relationship between worldwide demand for chocolate and modern day slavery through reading current research and literature.
In addition to a rigorous academic focus, William Smith also focuses on building a safe and welcoming community. We build this community in several ways:
•Habits of Excellence: Students focus on four Habits of Excellence while attending William Smith: Engagement in Thinking and Learning, Responsibility, Time Management, and Self and Community Awareness. These ideas are woven through each academic project and are also addressed in our daily advisory structure, Crew.
•Crew: In Crew, students stay with the same group of students and teacher until graduation, focusing on emotional, personal, and character growth. In addition to reflecting on and making goals around the Habits of Excellence, each student also makes a personal growth plan. These plans can focus around academic growth, community service, healthy lifestyle, or other topics the student chooses. As a crew, students hold each other accountable for these plans and help each other reflect and revise.
•Adventure and Fieldwork: Each student at William Smith spends a significant amount of time outside the walls of the school to learn, bond, and interact with our environment and our community. Whether rock climbing, white water rafting or meeting with park rangers at Rocky Mountain National Park for the Ecology and Animal Sculpture project, students spend meaningful time together outside the building.
The staff at William Smith is inspired to create a school environment that is forward-thinking in its evolution. Through a shared-decision making leadership structure, teachers and staff are encouraged to consider and implement enlightened and inspired curriculum. The efforts of the staff leads to innovative thinking and production in the classroom; students embrace the work of the projects and the opportunity to collaborate with others. The goal is to create an atmosphere of open thinking, creativity, and reflection to build a school in which faculty and students love to be.
William Smith is an open enrollment high school serving grades 9-12. Students are admitted through a random lottery process. Students interested in attending William Smith can obtain an application through our website, through the main office, or the counselor’s office at any Aurora Public Schools middle school. All students must apply to be entered in the lottery. The deadline for applications is the last day in February.