5 Ways PCA is Rethinking the Traditional High School Experience

The four-year journey of high school is one of challenge, reward, and growth. It’s common for students to hurry it along with eagerness to graduate. Yet, what occurs in those years is foundational to what follows: choices about faith, relationships, career, and so much more.  

We want students to cherish their high school experience and recognize the value in it, while they are in it. Here are five ways in which Portsmouth Christian Academy (PCA) has created a distinguished high school atmosphere right here in Dover, New Hampshire: 

Close-Knit Community

One of the great benefits of PCA is its size. While many high schools are impersonal, PCA uses small class size to its advantage. Teachers invest in their students, and students are encouraged to pursue their passions and connect with mentors who will help them excel in those areas. The Upper School student body also participates in unique events each year to cultivate unity, spur communal excitement, and press pause on the stress of schoolwork – Brookwoods retreat, Homecoming pep rally, Coffee House, Sliver Bell, Luau Lunch, and Prom. While these events are specific to PCA’s Upper School, their memories are long-lasting and bond students beyond the years of graduation.  

“School isn’t just about the grades and the numbers; it’s about giving back to your own school community and the wider community as well. We encourage them to find a thing that is a lifelong service for them.”

Steve Foley | Dean of Men

Community Service

Each year of high school, PCA students are required to complete 50 service hours. Though this seems a daunting task, we work with students to help them see it as an opportunity rather than a burden. 

Past students have taken the opportunity to work in hospitals, animal shelters, and churches. As a result, our students are distinguished as leaders when applying to college or jobs.  

Leadership Development

PCA’s leadership focus at the Upper School encompasses all our educational, social, and spiritual goals for students. Though developing strong leaders has always been at the heart of a PCA education, new to high schoolers are Senior Prefects. One male and one female student from the senior class are selected each year to serve as leaders in one of five areas – academic, spiritual, athletic, unity, or fine arts. 

“In a culture that is hyper individualistic and self-focused to extreme excess, your young adult can grow to his or her potential while learning to focus on, serve, and lead others,” states Head of School, Mike Runey, “PCA is committed to modeling, developing, and sending God-oriented servant leaders into our community and world to make a positive difference in college, the trades, missions, and beyond.” 

Our current Leadership Development program contains 10 prefects, 24 student government members, and 15 small group leaders.  

Themed Diplomas

Students can tailor their courses to achieve a themed diploma – Fine Arts, STEM, Diploma of Distinction, and the College Preparatory Diploma. This variety of options affords students the opportunity for distinguished study whether that be in an artistic medium of choice, scientific study, well-rounded understanding of all subjects, or aimed at a future career.  

College & Career Preparation

As a college preparatory high school, it is no surprise that our education aims at college and career achievement. We guide students, beginning Freshman year, to a smooth and successful transition into life beyond PCA. This process includes strategic course scheduling, career and college exploration, and various scholarship opportunities. In addition, with rigorous AP test preparation and dual enrollment opportunities for several courses, many students graduate from PCA with college credits already completed. 

It is easy to explain what happened during your high school years. You remember the grand march at prom because it was marked with anticipation, or Spanish class because you tried different foods. But, why was it formational? How was it memorable? Who poured into you? We hope that through a nontraditional high school experience, students will be able to answer these questions with confidence.   

Ready to experience Portsmouth Christian Academy for yourself? We’d love to see you at an Open House or take you on a tour of our campus and classrooms. Download our Upper School Viewbook to learn more about the opportunities at PCA’s high school.