Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

What kind of education does RSS offer?


Renaissance Secondary School offers an innovative educational program that includes elements of Expeditionary Learning, Project-Based Learning, and Adventure Education. As students engage in authentic learning projects, students have the opportunity to design, build, and create as they would in the real world, often taking them outside the confines of the school building and the traditional school schedule. Some have called this type of learning “Deeper Learning” - to learn more, visit http://www.hewlett.org/programs/education/deeper-learning.




What grades does Renaissance Secondary School serve?


The school serves grades 6-12, with the middle and high school operating on separate bell schedules and staggered start/end times.




Is Renaissance a private school or church affiliated?


Renaissance Secondary School is a public school that received a charter for operation from the Douglas County School District. The school is not affiliated with any church or private organization.




What is the school’s relationship to the Douglas County School District?


As a charter school, Renaissance Secondary School has its own Board of Directors which provides governance and oversight. The board works in partnership with the District, but our school has received waivers for many of the policies of the DCSD Board of Education. The District offers “purchased services” to charter schools, like annual state testing, school nurse services, student records, and more.




What does it mean to be a charter school?


A charter school is a public, tuition-free (although fees can be charged) school granted authority to operate under a contract, or charter, with the school board. Like other public schools, charter schools are still held accountable to state standards. The school is also held accountable to its charter in a renewal process with the school board. However, the school is governed by a board of directors rather than the DCSD school board.




How does a charter school receive funding?


Charter schools receive "per pupil funding" that is provided by the State to educate each student. The Douglas County School District keeps a portion of this funding in exchange for the purchased services that are required for the successful operation of the school. Renaissance Secondary School’s board must pay for staffing, facility costs and school operations from the remaining funds. To build the school facility, the Board sought private funding which will be repaid using a portion of the per pupil funding, donations, funds raised and grants.




Will Renaissance Secondary School continue the education my children have received at Renaissance Elementary School?


Renaissance Secondary School will be a natural progression from Renaissance Elementary School. It will maintain the elementary school’s commitment to innovative and expeditionary learning and its strong school culture. However, because Renaissance Secondary School will include higher grades with older students, the learning will look somewhat different. Students will take more responsibility for their own learning. They will engage in more projects in the community, they will create more sophisticated projects, and their learning will be more authentic. Renaissance is not, however, permitted to grant preference to Renaissance Elementary School students in the lottery and Renaissance Elementary School students will not be automatically admitted to Renaissance Secondary.




Does Renaissance Secondary School charge fees?


The unique and innovative programming at Renaissance Secondary School requires additional funding in the form of student fees. Renaissance utilizes a once per year flat fee to cover educational program needs, rather than asking parents to pay fees "here and there" throughout the year for items such as adventure education, fieldwork transportation, electives, and technology fees. The fees at Renaissance Secondary School are roughly equal to fees at some other charter schools, including DCS Montessori in Castle Pines. ~ Renaissance Secondary School is committed to ensuring no student is excluded from attending based on an inability to pay fees. Scholarships are available to families in need. ~ Current annual fees total $1200 per student and may be paid in installments. Student fees are non-refundable once the school year begins. For more information on fees, go to our Fees page.




Does the school follow the tenets of Outward Bound / Kurt Hahn?


Yes. The 10 principles of Expeditionary Learning created by Kurt Hahn remain at the heart of the school’s educational program. The Outward Bound organization is no longer affiliated with Expeditionary Learning, but the educational principles of both organizations continue in both the academic and adventure education programs.




What if my student does not like "the great outdoors?"


Renaissance Secondary School has an adventure education program in which all students will be required to participate in outdoor adventure activities for one overnight trip and one or more day trips. Your child does not need to like being in the outdoors to benefit from the program. The purpose of the adventure education program is to challenge students by placing them outside of their comfort zones and showing them that they can accomplish more than they thought they could. In fact, the students who benefit the most are often the students who are challenged the most. For more information, please visit our Adventure Education page.





School Hours and Schedule

What are the school hours?


In keeping with research that shows teenagers are more focused and perform better in school when the school day begins later. Renaissance Secondary School hours are 9:00 AM-4:30 PM for Middle School and 9:05am-4:25pm for High School. A slightly longer school day allows for time for students to meet their personal needs, ample time to eat lunch and maybe even get outside (43-45 minutes).




How many classes are there per day?


Rather than moving from one class or subject to another at shorter intervals, RSS uses longer, more flexible blocks of time that allow students to "dig deep" into a project or skill.




What calendar does the school follow?


Renaissance Secondary follows the Douglas County School District Conventional Calendar with some slight modifications. You can see the school's calendar here.




Is early drop off available?


We are aware that some family schedules will make early drop off a necessity. Students are supervised beginning at 8:40 a.m.




Is after-school care available?


No after-school care is available at this time, though students may have after-school activities. If students are not participating in supervised after school activities, all students will need to be picked up at 4:35 p.m.




Is there an open campus policy?


Students in grades 10-12 are permitted to leave campus during lunch. The campus is closed for students in grades 6-9.





Student Drop Off, Parking, and Transporation

Does Renaissance Secondary offer transportation?


There is no bus service to Renaissance Secondary at this time. Carpool information is available here.




How does student drop off work?


You'll find all the guidelines for student drop off and parent parking here.




Is early drop off available?


We are aware that some family schedules will make early drop off a necessity. Students are supervised starting at 8:40 a.m.




Where should students, parents & guests park when visiting the school?


Students should park across the street at Metzler Park (near the skate park) and enjoy a walk to the school! You'll find parking guidelines for parents and guests here.





Academics and Extracurricular Activities

Does Renaissance follow the DCSD in terms of 'WCO, GVC, 4 C's,' etc. ?


RSS has adopted DCSD's World Class Outcomes as the outcomes for students at RSS. The RSS Board believes that the WCO's and the 4 C's (critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration, communication, and creativity) are the skills needed for success in the 21st century. RSS will teach the WCO's and 4 C's in a different way than other schools, though: through integrated, authentic projects that capture students' interest and inspire them to dig deeper into the material they are studying.




Does Renaissance follow the Common Core?


As a public school in Colorado, Renaissance is required to align its curriculum to state standards. The state has adopted the Common Core, so Renaissance will utilize the Common Core standards in planning the educational program. While Renaissance uses the state standards, the instructional approach to meeting those standards is aligned to our committment to deeper learning.




Does the school give grades?


Yes, Renaissance teachers provide feedback and grades. High School students receive a regular transcript. Renaissance uses Standards Based Grading. For more information click here.




What will a Renaissance transcript look like? Will colleges 'get' what kind of school Renaissance is?


Across America, when high schools send student transcripts to colleges and universities it is accompanied by a document called the school's "profile." This document tells the admissions officers what a school is like - academic programs, graduation rates, listing of course offerings, student demographics, etc. Staff will develop a strong profile that clearly conveys the unique attributes of our school and students.




Does Renaissance offer concurrent enrollment?


Yes. In the spirit of personal learning, Renaissance offers concurrent enrollment through Arapahoe Community College. Some courses are offered online and others at one of ACC's campuses.




Are Advanced Placement (AP) classes offered?


Renaissance does not offer traditional AP Courses. "AP" or Advanced Placement classes follow a syllabus and text that is determined by the College Board to cover content found on the exam. More and more colleges and universities are not accepting AP classes as college credit. Renaissance believes a better way to earn college credit in high school is to actually take college classes. Therefore, Renaissance offers concurrent enrollment at Arapahoe Community College.




Will students have the opportunity to graduate with all the required credits for admission to Colorado colleges and universities?


Yes. Renaissance Secondary School is committed to ensuring that students are offered opportunities to earn all credits required for admission for Colorado colleges and universities, as delineated by the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE). These requirements can be found on the CDHE website.




How much homework do students have?


At Renaissance, our belief is that homework should be reasonable, relevant, and reinforcing, rather than “busy work” or new learning. Homework assignments are differentiated to meet the needs of all students. Through cross-curricular collaboration, teachers work to minimize overlap of assignments in order to limit workload. Homework is “relevant and reinforcing” and cannot take time away from family dinner, a full night’s sleep, friendships and unscheduled hours when curiosity and personal passions can be cultivated.




How do students earn credits for classes that are multi-disciplinary or "integrated"? How do they earn credits for Learning Expeditions or X-Blocks?


Renaissance students will earn credits that will translate onto a transcript that looks like any other school's transcript so that colleges can be assured that students at Renaissance are meeting the same standards as students from any other school. Each project, learning expedition, or X-Block will be assigned a number of credits (e.g., .2 science credits, .1 math credit, .5 language arts). Students will need to accumulate enough credits in each subject to graduate from RSS. View Renaissance's graduation requirements here.




Does the school offer band or orchestra?


Because RSS is a small school (about 120 students per grade level), we will not be able to support a large marching band or orchestra like you might see in a more traditional high school setting. If there is enough interest in band or orchestral music, RSS may offer an X-Block for those students who are interested. Additionally, students may participate in extracurricular activities at other DCSD schools if they are not offered at RSS, like marching band.




Will private lessons such as music count as coursework?


Yes, activities like club volleyball, ballet, guitar lessons, etc., which are done outside of the school may be counted as part of coursework per our X-Block policy.




Does RSS have extracurricular programs, like sports?


Yes, RSS offers sports and other activities depending on the demand from students through organized teams, X Blocks, and other clubs and activities. That said, as a small school, RSS is not able to offer the full spectrum of middle and high school sports and clubs on-site. RSS also partners with other schools so that students may play on their sports teams and participate in clubs not available at Renaissance Secondary School. Colorado State law allows for charter school students to play on another school’s athletic team. For example, middle and high school students looking for a football program may choose to play for the middle or high school in their feeder area. Current sports teams offerings include Girls' Volleyballl Boys' Basketball, and co-ed Cross Country. Drama club, National Honor Society, and Student Leadership are a few of the other extracurriculars offered.




Does RSS have an arts program?


Yes. One of our six guiding Design Principles is Integrated Arts. The arts is integrated into student projects and learning expeditions. Students may experience integrated arts through learning the design process, graphic design, fine arts, performing arts through integrated projects. Elective arts courses are also offered as part of the X Block program.




What is an X-Block?


An X-Block (short for Exploratory Block) is an elective course developed around student interests and passions, which can be related to lifetime fitness or interdisciplinary arts. Some examples of X-Block courses that are offered are: Academic: broadcast journalism, creative writing, book club, american sign language Lifetime Fitness: sports, skateboarding, cross country, yoga, healthy living Interdisciplinary Arts: photography, stagecraft, guitar Just to name a few! The possibilities are infinite...




Which elective courses are offered?


Elective courses are determined based on student interest and are programmed through X-Blocks.




What does the World Language program look like?


Renaissance is commited to ensuring students graduate with the World Language credits required for admission to Colorado colleges and universities. Renaissance has a full-time Spanish teacher who offers Spanish instruction on site. Other World Languages are offered through online courses for students who wish to pursue a language other than Spanish.





Adventure Education and Voyages

What is Adventure Education?


Please visit our Adventure Education page for more information.




Does the school follow the tenets of Outward Bound / Kurt Hahn?


Yes. The 10 principles of Expeditionary Learning created by Kurt Hahn remain at the heart of the school’s educational program. The Outward Bound organization is no longer affiliated with Expeditionary Learning, but the educational principles of both organizations continue in both the academic and adventure education programs.




What if my child does not like "the great outdoors?"


Renaissance Secondary School has an adventure education program in which all students will be required to participate in outdoor adventure activities. Your student does not need to like being in the outdoors to benefit from the program. The purpose of the adventure education program is to challenge students by placing them outside of their comfort zones and showing them that they can accomplish more than they thought they could. In fact, the students who benefit the most are often the students who are challenged the most. For more information, please visit our Adventure Education page.




How often do students attend adventure education trips?


Students typically attend one overnight trip (3-4 days) and at least one day trip over the course of the year.




Do medical staff accompany students on their voyages? How are food allergies accommodated?


To support our adventure education program many teachers / staff members are trained and certified in Wilderness First Responder techniques. The commercial properties used for voyages will also be certified and provide trained staff. We have found that these facilities are willing and able to accommodate food allergies and preferences.




What gear do students need for voyages?


The gear list for RSS Voyages is available here.




Why is synthetic, non-cotton clothing required?


Quick-drying material is essential for safety and comfort during strenuous activity and in wet weather. Cotton does not facilitate fast drying or ventilation when needed.




What is a gear check?


Gear check is an assisted review of packed gear at school prior to the day of departure. For a Tuesday departure, gear checks would be on Monday. In other cases, the gear check date will be communicated by the voyage coordinator.




What food are parents responsible for?


On the first day of a voyage, students should eat a good breakfast at home and bring lunch. Each day throughout the voyage, it is recommended that students bring 2 energy or granola bars (or the quantity suited to their appetite). These are in addition to breakfast, lunch, and dinner that will be provided. On the last day of voyage, students will have breakfast before they depart and typically will be back at school midday on Friday. Students should never bring peanuts or peanut butter, please.




What food is served on voyages?


Breakfast, lunch and dinner are planned to provide nutritious, calorie-dense food. Peanuts will never be served. Dietary restrictions need to be communicated in advance to the student's advisor, who will in turn notify the Adventure Education Coordinator. Please feel free to reiterate food allergy information, although student records from online check-in will also be referenced.




Can students bring their own hiking backpack, sleeping bag, or sleeping pad?


RSS will provide hiking backpacks, sleeping bags, and sleeping pads to ensure the suitability of these essential items. If a student would prefer to use their own, they will need to get their gear reviewed and approved by the Adventure Education Coordinator, Brooks Letchworth, for the same reason. Brooks has said he hopes students will adopt an independent interest in an adventure lifestyle and that families that are able will want to have the suitable gear to support them!




What is the ratio of staff to students on voyages?


There is one medically trained, background-checked Wilderness First Responder for every 8 students, plus an additional floating staff member.




May parent chaperones attend voyages?


We believe it's a right of passage for students this age to experience the challenges and rewards of an Adventure Education experience independent of their parents. Restrictions on the number of campers in some wilderness areas and limited resources (transportation, food, gear) also limit the total number of people on any given voyage.





Enrollment

How does enrollment work?


Admission to RSS is by lottery, should applications received exceed openings. Per our Enrollment Policy, the children of Founding Families, staff and siblings of current students will receive priority admission prior to the lottery. Please see the Enrollment Page for the most current information.




Do siblings receive priority in the enrollment process?


Yes. Sibling receive priority admission. You must use the Open Enrollment process to apply for your child to attend RSS. Siblings are admitted before applicants from the "general public" dependent upon space availability in each grade.




Can I bring my student to see the school or sit in on a class?


Unfortunately, no. We don’t offer tours or shadow days during school hours. Please attend one of our Prospective Parent Information Sessions with your student. Information sessions give an overview of the school’s unique programming and include a tour of the school. At least one parent must attend an information session in order to enroll at the school. Two school tours will be given on Saturdays this fall. These tours are led by RSS Staff and/or Board Members. Tours allow parents who have attended information sessions to come for a second look or bring additional family members and ask questions.




Do I need to "reapply" between RSS middle and high school?


No. Once admitted, a student is able to remain at Renaissance until graduation. There will be an opportunity to confirm your student's continued attendance at RSS each fall. If your family stays current on school fees and paperwork, we will not "un-enroll" your student unless you tell us that they are going elsewhere.




I was on the wait list but did not get a spot. Do I have to re-apply?


Yes. Our enrollment policy does not allow us to roll-over the wait list from one year to the next. If you are still interested in RSS for a subsequent year, please apply again during Open Enrollment.




We are a Founding Family. Do we still have to apply?


Yes. You must use the Open Enrollment process to apply for your student to attend RSS. The students of Founding Family members are admitted before siblings and applicants from the "general public" dependent on space availability in each grade.





Teachers and Staff

What certifications or qualifications do teachers hold?


Renaissance Secondary hires highly qualified teachers or those who can become highly qualified within two years of their hire date. "Highly qualified" is a professional determination made by the state that ensures licensure requirements have been met as well as other criteria.




How many teachers does the school have?


Renaissance has about 14 core content teachers. The school also has a full time Visual Arts teacher and a full-time Performing Arts teacher.




Does the school have a school nurse for students with medical conditions?


A school nurse consultant oversees our program and is on-campus part-time. RSS staff is first-aid trained and someone on staff is equipped to care for children's needs during school hours. If you have questions about your child's medical needs, please reach out via email: info@rensec.org. In addition, to support our Adventure Education program, many teachers and staff members are trained and certified in Wilderness First Responder techniques.





SCHOOL HOURS

9:00AM - 4:30PM (Middle School)

9:05AM-4:25PM (High School)

FRONT OFFICE HOURS

8:30AM - 4:30PM

• RENAISSANCE SECONDARY SCHOOL • GRADES 6-12 •

3954 TRAIL BOSS LANE • CASTLE ROCK, CO 80104 • info@rensec.org • 720.689.6120

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Douglas County School District Nondiscrimination Notice:

The Douglas County School District does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, religion, national origin, ancestry, creed, age, marital status, genetic information, or physical characteristics, disability or need for special education services in admissions, access to, treatment of, or employment in educational programs or activities.

The School’s Compliance Officer is Amy Stuart, Executive Director/Head of School, 3954 Trail Boss Ln, Castle Rock, Colorado, astuart@dcsdk12.org, 720.689.6120.

Complaint procedures have been established for students, parents, employees and members of the public.