Rolling Hills Preparatory School Continues to Make an Impact on SoCal Students, Regardless of Learning Type or Ability
Forward-thinking for 40 years.
- AboveAmy Hollinger | Photographed by Melissa McDowell
Celebrating 40 years of education, Rolling Hills Preparatory School (RHP) approaches learning in individualized ways that seek to maximize the benefits for every type of learner. In addition to the flagship program at RHP, the school has expanded its approach with two schools aimed at neurodiversity: Renaissance School, a program for grades 5–12 that allows students who learn differently to thrive, and REACH elementary and middle schools, which provide programs aimed at students in grades 4–7 with additional support for executive functioning and learning differences.
Students demonstrated their skills during an in-person talent show in May.
The schools are set to celebrate their ruby anniversary with their first female head of school, Amy Hollinger. “I am thrilled by the opportunity to join the inclusive and innovative community that is Rolling Hills Prep, Renaissance and REACH,” says Ms. Hollinger. “The commitment to making sure every student has an individual path for their learning combined with a robust arts program and an inclusive approach to athletics in a supportive community is the ideal environment for students to thrive.”
Ms. Hollinger has served as an educator for 27 years and comes to the RHP family of schools from Puget Sound Community School—a grade 6–12 independent school in the Seattle area where she served as head of school. After beginning her career in the classroom and serving as a cross country and track coach, she shifted into administrative roles including associate head of Westside School, director of professional learning for Global Online Academy and executive director of TESLA, a school she cofounded. She brings a sincere dedication to progressive education and an ongoing commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
Small class sizes allow for more exploratory and focused work environments for projects or other learning.
Even in a post-COVID-19 year, Ms. Hollinger joins the schools at an exciting time in their history. Rolling Hills Prep and Renaissance schools, now located in San Pedro, continue to develop cutting-edge approaches that give students the individualized freedom to explore subject areas and activities that interest them. Both schools have now graduated several classes of students who have received specialized diplomas indicating a focus on a specific field, such as a math and science, arts, and global studies and world languages.
“The commitment to making sure every student has an individual path for their learning combined with a robust arts program and an inclusive approach to athletics in a supportive community is the ideal environment for students to thrive.”
RHP is also a candidate for the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme, which encourages inquiry-based and multidisciplinary learning and allows for creative explorations of subjects in deep and meaningful ways. Additionally, the schools have developed a new academic enrichment program designed to identify academic or cocurricular opportunities—such as no-cut arts and athletics programs—that allow students to maximize their potential in fields that interest them.
REACH Elementary and Middle Schools, the youngest of the family of schools, moved to the main RHP and Renaissance School campus this past year and was one of the first programs to consistently bring students onto campus for in-person instruction. Although the program is quite new, it is rapidly growing to incorporate additional families that seek a more supportive learning environment for students in grades 4–7 who may need more focused attention in the classroom or with learning skills and executive functioning. The REACH approach to education goes beyond support and encourages students to thrive in their social environment, feel confident and develop their own sense of personal agency as they prepare for transitions to middle or high school.
An RHP ninth grade student works on the final physics project of the year.
A Year of Celebration
Despite the challenges of virtual learning and prolonged departures from campus, RHP ended the school year on a high note in various areas, setting a positive tone for a 40th celebration for 2021–2022. Visual and performing arts students had numerous opportunities to showcase their talents and work throughout the year, culminating in a virtual performance of the musical Clue and a virtual arts show filled with classroom galleries that can be viewed at RollingHillsPrep.org/ArtShow.
The STEM program hosted their second virtual STEM Expo and made a full week of student presentations, guest lectures from STEM professionals and a student-developed STEM podcast—all of which can be viewed at RollingHillsPrep.org/STEMWeek. Many of the athletic programs were able to compete in condensed seasons, which allowed various teams and athletes to compete for the first time in more than a year and showcased talented seniors such as Clarice Akunwafo, recognized nationally by both ESPN and McDonald’s All-American. Clarice received a full scholarship to USC to play basketball.
Looking ahead, the educational teams will work with Ms. Hollinger collaboratively to create stronger connections between the three schools and their differentiated programs. All three programs will return to fully in-person instruction for the 2021–2022 school year with the ability to pivot to a full-featured distance learning program in the future if the need ever exists again. All three schools are continuing to accept applications for rolling admissions throughout the summer; more information can be found at RollingHillsPrep.org.
REACH students work closely with their teachers to learn in creative and engaging ways.