Local Boutique High School Celebrates a New Campus of Its Own

Moving on up.

Akwe McDaniels (Class of ’19) and Ciel McDaniels (Class of ’21) are brother-and-sister graduates of VIP. Akwe is a University of Chicago student and QuestBridge Scholar. Ciel will enter Northwestern University this fall as a Posse Scholar.

The past few years have led Valley International Prep (VIP), a public high school formed in 2018, down a somewhat winding road. Originally operating under the umbrella of a charter management organization, VIP embraced its independence and rebranded as a standalone charter high school—using Chatsworth High’s campus as a temporary location.

Now the school is celebrating a recent move to its own newly renovated and upgraded campus on the southeast edge of Northridge near Reseda—a walkable distance from public transportation. Designed with sustainability as a top priority, the 30,000-square-foot facility features newly furnished classrooms; a 175-seat performing arts space for theatre and music performances; a music lab with live-concert and recording capabilities; a state-of-the-art science lab; counseling offices and a dedicated college center; a small-group special events space; and a visual arts studio.

“VIP is wrapping up its third successful year as a small charter high school focusing on college prep,” says Anne Cochran, VIP’s executive director. “We are happily operating within our third iteration at our new facility and are well poised to serve a small school population of teens in the center of the Valley.”

Just who is the ideal Valley International Prep student? Teens who don’t match well with larger public-school choices for various reasons, Cochran explains.

Maya Jacobs (senior) holds an internship with a NYC literary journal and designed her own independent study publishing course. She is currently receiving college admission decisions and has received a full-tuition Presidential Scholarship from Trinity College. She is a finalist for Davidson College’s Patricia Cornwell Creative Writing Scholarship.

“Some kids belong in the highly structured setting of a large, district-style school,” shares VIP’s principal Michael Horne. “Others want heavy arts or sports, and others want killer-rigorous academics. Us? We designed our inquiry-based program to serve teens who want to engage in thoughtfully chosen coursework driven by faculty and staff who know their students’ names and what makes them tick. That’s what makes us ‘boutique.’”

Kathryn Wilbert, VIP’s assistant principal, agrees. “We’ve never intended to be a school for everyone, but we are indeed a school for anyone who wants what we offer. We know who we are and deliver what we promise. We provide a well-considered and well-designed curriculum that includes AP coursework as well as interesting electives.”

VIP plans to cap their enrollment at 400 students, ensuring that faculty, staff and students know each other well and can focus on individualized college counseling and learning programs for each teen. This LAUSD-chartered high school offers college prep curriculum that includes a new two-year AP Capstone course.

“Our four-year-college placements are unsurpassed among the Valley’s public high schools,” Horne says, “with our grads matriculating to everything from UCs to Ivy League schools, small liberal arts colleges and specialty schools throughout North America and parts of Europe.”

The school’s extracurricular programs include a music lab where students write, perform and produce their own music under the mentorship of a longtime professional songwriter. A thriving new student-run newspaper is overseen by a Northwestern University-graduated English teacher. VIP’s poetry group is passionate and chomping at the bit to get back to participating in live slams. And the theatre program is slated for marked growth and development starting in the fall.

Above: Kayla Acosta (senior) received a near-full-ride scholarship from her first-choice school, Kalamazoo College, to study studio art.

If you think VIP might be the right choice for your teen, check out VIPHS.org, where you’ll find information about the school, its currently open online enrollment and plenty of other tools.

Valley International Prep
18827 Roscoe Blvd., Northridge  |  818-306-2136  |  viphs.org