Global Curriculum
Academic Programs

9th Grade Experience

The Ninth Grade Experience at Vistamar School brings together a unique curriculum and close partnership between the student, family, and school to ensure a successful transition from middle school.

The key to a successful transition is for the student to become more independent, and in particular, our first trimester is designed to be a forgiving one, with mechanisms in place to build student accountability and autonomy. Vistamar parents tell us often how grateful they are for the quick transfer of responsibility that occurred during freshman year.

Highlights of the Ninth Grade Experience:

  • Freshmen Institute – As an antidote to the “first day of high school jitters,” the entire freshman class is invited to campus for three half-days in August for the Freshmen Institute. During the Institute, ninth graders become more familiar with the school, their new classmates, the Vistamar culture, and some of their teachers. The activities are designed around the theme of “how to be a successful Vistamarian” and includes sessions on study skills, organizational skills, collaboration skills, and communication skills. It also gives students a glimpse into daily life at Vistamar.
  • VistaCrew Program – A carefully selected group of rising seniors are selected during the summer to roll out the proverbial red carpet for the freshman class. They undergo training and role-playing to fully equip them to serve as mentors for the incoming students. The VistaCrew facilitates the New Student Orientation program and then continues to check in with freshmen advisory groups throughout the year.
  • Advisory program - Every student is assigned a faculty advisor each year, who serves as an advocate and a primary point of contact between home and school. The advisor receives reports from other teachers and monitors each advisee’s progress with calls home and/or conversations with the student as necessary. Advisors meet with their group of advisees twice a week. On Tuesdays they meet for a general discussion and have a "check in" session, or perhaps they discuss a current issue on campus or do a study skills or life skills activity. On Thursdays the advisory group sits together in the grade-level seminar and frequently has break-out discussion sessions as needed during the seminar time.
  • Appropriately challenging curricula - Our unique courses emphasize critical thinking, creativity and knowledge application and lay an important foundation for high school learning.
  • Individual support - Dedicated time for extra help is built into the daily schedule, and teachers, advisors, as well as the Dean of Students and Counselor/Learning Specialist, are easily accessible.   
  • Freshman Overnight Trip - Freshmen get to know classmates and advisors in a relaxed environment designed strictly around fun and bonding. This retreat affords freshman two days off campus for an overnight adventure. VistaCrew seniors attend this retreat and serve a critical role as they model Vistamar’s community norms.
  • Multi-Grade Opportunities – Ninth graders might share an art class with a senior or have math class with some sophomores or find themselves playing a game of pick-up basketball with a junior at lunch time.  Vistamar athletic teams are typically multi-grade level, too, and there are no restricted areas on campus like the “Senior Patio” or “Junior Hallway”. All four grade levels at Vistamar blend together in a healthy, organic way. Along with this is the idea that there are leadership opportunities for 9th graders. All clubs and activities are open to everyone and freshmen are encouraged to jump in and get involved in the life of the school. There isn’t the sense of having to pay one’s dues before taking on leadership roles at Vistamar School.

Vistamar recognizes that high school is also a transition for the parents. With that in mind, we welcome parents to visit with other parents at “Parents on the Patio,” attend morning meeting, the new family dinner, and the 9th grade parent party.

Enjoy all that 9
th grade has to offer – because it will be over in a blink of an eye!

Vistamar School is a private independent high school in the South Bay region of Los Angeles
Vistamar School  |  737 Hawaii Street, El Segundo, CA 90245  |  T: 310.643.7377  |  F: 310.643.7371