OLD FAQS — merge this old page content with fans page(s)
HOW MUCH DOES THE SLIDING SCALE TUITION SLIDE? "Every family meets with the Finance committee to determine a yearly pledge that is appropriate for the family. We have a few non-negotiable fees: a $25 new student application fee, a $500 supplies fee, and a $150 registration fee. There is a minimum pledge. We arrived at this number because we believe that a motivated student can easily earn enough money in a summer to pay their way. This year 25% of the students are helping to pay their own way. At the upper end, the sky’s the limit! We encourage any family that can pay more than the cost per student to do so, enabling families who can’t pay the full amount to attend. There are also occasional field trips and course expenses (e.g., Photography, Foods and Nutrition) that require nominal additional fees.
IS IT EXPENSIVE? Certainly not when compared to other private high schools. Our cost per full-time student for 2012-2013 is $6300, plus ancillary expenses for field trips, etc. A private high school offering a full program in a large city can cost almost $20,000 per student per year. The State of Wisconsin contributes approximately $7000 per student to public school districts. The educational experience we offer is unique, and its rigors are limited only by the student’s own engagement.
CAN A STUDENT TRANSFER FROM YOUTH INITIATIVE TO THE PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM? Yes. There will be credits to negotiate and there may be some placement tests required.
WHAT DOES THE CREDIT SYSTEM LOOK LIKE? Our credit system assigns credit value to each class and minimum credit limits for graduation. Our requirements align with requirements of most universities, including the University of Wisconsin. Students who take a full course of study at YIHS have many options to pursue independent studies, internships and exchanges while still meeting the basic credit requirements.
WHAT DOES WALDORF PEDAGOGY MEAN? Waldorf pedagogy is the system of teaching in Waldorf schools. Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher, developed this system in the early 20th century. Waldorf pedagogy is based on his understanding of human development: that we develop different aspects of our consciousness in stages of approximately 7 years. The stage from age 14-21 is when we all develop our capacities of thinking, and the curriculum enhances this development through the classes offered and the way they are taught.
HOW MANY STUDENTS ARE IN THE SCHOOL? Approximately 50 (school year 2013-14).
WHAT IS THE STUDENT TO TEACHER RATIO? Most classes are 10-15 students each. A few are larger, a few are smaller. Because our faculty is community-based we often have more teachers in one year than we do students, giving our students a variety of opportunities for inspiration and connection with adult mentors.
WHAT KINDS OF ART CLASSES ARE OFFERED THERE? YIHS offers a wide variety of required and elective art courses. For most of the year, students have 7 hours of arts classes per week. Freshman and new students are required to take an introductory course, Introductory to the Visual Arts, which is a prerequisite for all other art courses. After that the student is given a variety of choices in Drama, Painting, Drawing, Photography, Comics, Printing and others.
WHAT’S IN YOUR SCIENCE PROGRAM? Our Science program offers instruction in theoretical foundations and hands-on, experiential learning. We have a full cycle of biology, chemistry and physics along with other offerings such as astronomy, genetics, meteorology, and water cycle. You can view a schedule of Main Lesson Blocks and a sampling of course descriptions and syllabi here.
IS THERE A MUSIC PROGRAM? Yes. Music class meets twice a week for an hour, and students have choices: chorus, guitar, orchestra, or jam band. The jam band is open to all levels of skill and all instruments. All music classes put on occasional performances throughout the year.
WHY ARE THERE NO LETTER GRADES? YIHS believes learning should not be a competition and that knowledge is its own reward. Youth Initiative does not use letter grades nor does it rank students in any way. Youth Initiative faculty provide weekly and final narrative evaluations for each student for each class. These final evaluations are recorded in the student’s transcript, along with a “grade” of pass or fail. We believe that narrative evaluations are a more thorough and accurate representation of a student’s performance. And colleges agree; we have gotten positive feedback about our transcripts from a number of post-secondary institutions. For examples of these narrative evaluations download a sample final or weekly evaluation.
IS YIHS ACCREDITED? YIHS is registered with the State of Wisconsin as a Non-Public School. In addition, we are a Developing Member of AWSNA, the national organization of Waldorf schools. We offer a high school diploma and our students are able to attend the colleges of their choice.
DO GRADUATES GO TO COLLEGE? Of the over 120 graduates of YIHS, some have gone on to prestigious universities, small liberal arts colleges, and foreign travel; some have also gone on to start their own business, farm organically, work in the media, work in Washington D.C. and start families. Some YIHS alumni have pursued advanced degrees in law, social sciences, public policy architecture and nursing. Several have returned to Viroqua and have taught at the Youth Initiative. For a complete list of colleges that have accepted our graduates click here
WHAT SPORTS DOES YOUTH INITIATIVE OFFER? Youth Initiative has several cooperative relationships which allow our students to participate in a variety of intramural sports. Our relationship with Viroqua High School allows students to participate in varsity tennis, cross-country, golf and several other sports. In addition to these school-to-school opportunities YIHS students and parents were instrumental establishing Driftless United Athletics, sponsors of a co-ed intramural soccer team. YIHS also has its own WIAA Girl Volleyball team. See our Sports Page for more info.
ARE YOU GUYS A HIPPIE SCHOOL? In so far as hippies were creative, democratic, environmentally conscious, and convivial, “yes”, we are a hippie school. In so far as hippies were unconstructive, wayward hedonists, then “no”, YIHS does not embody these values.
IS YIHS THE SAME THING AS PLEASANT RIDGE WALDORF SCHOOL ? The short answer is no, but the two schools, although distinct financial and administrative entities, do share a pedagogical philosophy and many individuals are or have been associated with both schools.
Both Youth Initiative and Pleasant Ridge follow the guidelines of Waldorf education, which respect students as whole beings that think, feel and act. However, Waldorf education changes with the age of the children, subject matter and teaching style are developmentally appropriate. Thus, high school teachers don’t teach in the same manner as elementary teachers. In high school, the intellect of the students is the focus of development: the YIHS curriculum aims to inspire critical and creative thinking in students.
Each year several students attend YIHS who did not attend Waldorf grade school. These students sometimes need some orientation to vocabulary and some encouragement in the arts, but are more than able to meet the challenges of a Waldorf high school.
WHAT DOES YOUR EMBLEM SYMBOLIZE? Our logo is an image of a stained glass window that was produced by early YIHS students as a fundraising project. It is currently installed in the St. Joseph’s Ridge Catholic Church, about 20 miles from Viroqua. It is a great example of the work our students do to help fund their school—artistic, cooperative, beautiful.
WHAT’S YOUR MASCOT? Our mascot is the goat. The goat is a symbol of resourcefulness, tenacity, and good-natured chicanery. It also represents our connection to small-scale, local agriculture.