Validus Preparatory Academy
A partnership with Outward Bound; emphasis on health & physical fitness in new, modern building
Low attendance and some behavioral issues
UPDATE DECEMBER 2014: Christophe Hibbert, most recently the director of health, safety and suspensions with the Department of Education's Children's First Network which supports Validus Prep, became interim acting principal in September, 2014.
2012 REVIEW: At Validus Prep Academy, a small school affiliated with NYC Outward Bound, students focus on health, physical fitness and teamwork along with academics. They go on five-day wilderness trips every fall and on urban adventures in the city throughout the school year.
The emphasis is on group work and project learning. Science and history teachers may take their students outdoors to test water in the Bronx River or map the history of a nearby park, according to a Readers Digest article which cited Validus as "one of 10 reasons to love our country." The school is a member of the I-Zone for innovative learning and school reform.
"The community is our classroom," Principal Javier O'Campo told a Spanish-language television reporter. [O'Campo left the school after the 2013-2014 school year to become a director of operations at the Department of Education.]
Students are assigned to a small group "crew" and remain with the same group, and leader, for all four years. On their trips, they do team-building and confidence-building exercises, including climbing a rope course 30 feet up in the air. Back at school, crew meets four times a week for academic catch-up, group discussions and fitness activities.
Opened in 2005, Validus moved in 2006 to the Bathgate Educational Campus, a modern red, yellow and blue building that has a large atrium that fills the hallways with natural light. There is a weight room with professional gym equipment, a spacious library with comfy lounge chairs, a gymnasium and cafeteria shared with two other schools in the building: The Urban Assembly School for Applied Math and Science and Mott Hall High School.
Once every semester, parents are invited to student-led conferences showcasing their work. Parents comment and help grade the presentations. However, getting parents involved at the school is a challenge; fewer than a dozen attend PTA meetings, according to the school's annual plan. And, student attendance, hovering around 81 percent, is below average for the city.
Despite the emphasis on teamwork, about half of the teachers said there are clashes over race and ethnicity and other issues; 38 percent say there are problems with order and discipline and 28 percent say they needed more assistance dealing with behavioral problems. Students say they feel safe in the building and get the support they need to resolve conflicts.
After school: Sports teams include baseball, cross country, and basketball. There is a drama club and a snowboarding club funded through Burton.
College admissions: College banners line the hallways and students are taken on trips to city campuses. Nearly 60 percent of the graduates go to college., a higher percentage than at similar schools.
Admissions: Limited unscreened. Admitted students are invited to visit tour the school in the spring and attend summer orientation and classes. (Pamela Wheaton, interviews and web reports, July 2012; updated principal 2014)
About the students
About the school
Is this school safe?
About the leadership
About the teachers
How many graduate?
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Programs and Admissions
Through the College Bound Initiative, our full-time Director of College Counseling (DCC) works closely with principal and teachers to create a college-going culture that raises parent and student expectations. DCC guides students to overcome barriers to college entry through early college awareness activities, application, financial aid and enrollment support.
Advanced Placement (AP) courses
AP English Literature and Composition
Boys PSAL teams
Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Wrestling
Girls PSAL teams
Basketball, Flag Football, Softball, Wrestling
Coed PSAL teams