Voyageurs Expeditionary High School is a small charter school located in Bemidji. Voyageurs was started in 2003 by a group of educators and parents from the community who were looking for an alternative to the traditional, large high school. During our first two years, we were located at Concordia Language Villages, but since 2005 we have been located in the city of Bemidji. Voyageurs essentially has two programs; we have our fulltime program on our main campus for students in grades 9-12 and we also provide the schooling component for the Bi-County Cap YouthBuild program. Our enrollment averages 70-75 students.
The mission of Voyageurs is to provide students with the necessary tools to lead productive lives through hands-on learning, service to others and environmental stewardship. We are a Project Based; community based learning school. You will find our students out in the community on any given day, volunteering at community agencies; building or rehabbing houses in the community; learning from professional musicians; artists and business owners. We use a combination of PBL; Community based and teacher led seminars to deliver instruction to students. A typical day at Voyageurs starts with advisory in the morning; then the majority of the students do an hour of math and two hours of seminars. We wrap up our morning with book club. After lunch, students have time to work on projects; get individual help from staff and get out in the community.
As a school authorized by the Audubon Center of the North Woods, Environmental Education is a large part of our life. Students are required to take seminars in Environmental Education prior to graduation; participate in environmental education activities and develop a deeper understanding of the environment and their impact on it. Last year students and staff spent almost an entire week out in North Dakota touring and learning about energy production and transmission.
Travel is another exciting part of our school. Each spring, we set aside a week of Expeditionary Learning. Students travel with staff to a variety of places. Last spring, we had students in Florida, studying the watershed; in Washington DC, learning about our federal government; in Chicago, exploring the windy city and in South Dakota, learning about the history of the Badlands and hiking the Black Hills.
This school year our spring travels will take us to Chicago; New York City; Boston, Yellowstone and the Boundary Waters.
VEHS recently requested permission from our authorizer to expand our school to include middle school. We want to add the middle school to expand our enrollment, but also to assist those families in our community who are looking for other options for their middle school children. We will know later this spring if we are able to move forward with it.
For more information about Voyageurs, check out our website: www.vehs.org.