-Article by Heather Schwedel
“High school is closer to the core of the American experience than anything else I can think of,” Kurt Vonnegut (an author you’ll find on many an AP English syllabus) wrote. And it’s true, there’s something about the mythos—gym class, late bells, lockers, Scantrons, homecoming, prom—that does seem undeniably all-American. But there are other, less conventional secondary schools out there: places where students wear leotards to class, where kids run the show, and where chopping wood is a requirement. Keep reading for a crash course in the coolest high schools around the country.
LaGuardia High School
Immortalized in the classic 1980 movie, the TV series that followed two years later, and the 2009 remake, LaGuardia is “the Fame school,” where New York City kids go to prepare for careers as dancers, actors, singers, musicians, and artists of every type. Besides studying basics like history and science, each student concentrates in one area of the arts, taking studio classes like musical theater and color theory, while, one presumes, occasionally breaking into song in the cafeteria and pirouetting through the hallways. The competition to get in is fierce, and many graduates go on to conservatory study, if not real-life fame: Notable alumni include Jennifer Aniston and Nicki Minaj.
The Traveling School
If you’re in an academic rut, spending a semester somewhere like Botswana, the Galapagos Islands, or Guatemala could be the antidote. By enrolling in The Traveling School, students can ditch half a year of regular studies in favor of adventure and the great outdoors. It’s girls-only and “classes” are no larger than 16 people, which means this is also a mega-bonding experience. Students are expected to learn outdoor skills like mountaineering and whitewater rafting as well as take classes that will keep them on track with their schools back home—all while visiting the equator, exploring Machu Picchu, hanging out with elephants, and generally seeing the world.