• Introduction to SILSA

    The School of Inquiry and Life Sciences at Asheville (SILSA) is a separate public high school on the campus of Asheville High School and provides a unique experience for students who choose to participate in an educational setting that is different from the traditional high school. SILSA provides additional academic opportunities for all students who wish to challenge themselves to achieve college readiness upon graduation from high school. Most core academic courses are taught at the honors level, and students have the opportunity to take Advanced Placement and AB Tech courses. SILSA students experience a curriculum with a life sciences focus, may participate in meaningful off-campus field experiences, learn through a series of real-world project-based learning opportunities, and are empowered to make meaningful decisions about their own learning and future goals.

    School Mission:

    SILSA strives to create rigor, relevance and relationships for all students through a commitment to innovation, collaboration, and academic excellence.

    The SILSA faculty promises that graduates are empowered to :

    • Care for themselves, one another, and the Earth
    • Contribute to their community with collaboration, leadership, and respect
    • Direct their own learning throughout their lives
    • Ask good questions, solve complex problems, and think critically
    • Create meaning from numbers and text
    • Communicate clearly and elegantly
    • Use technology ethically and skillfully

    SILSA students develop 21st century skills through :

    • Utilizing digital literacy daily
    • Developing four year e-Portfolios
    • Utilizing historical, literary, mathematical and scientific data to solve problems
    • Practicing effective oral and written communication
    • Collaborating with peers, teachers, and community members

    SILSA students have the opportunity to develop leadership skills by:

    • Working as a team to complete a high ropes course
    • Participating in the SILSA Student Government Association
    • Joining National Honor Society, National Science Honor Society, and Applied Math Honor Society
    • Representing SILSA in open houses and presentations to the community

    How are SILSA students a part of the Asheville High School community?

    All SILSA students are cross-enrolled in Asheville High School for some of their elective courses and both schools eat lunch together. Additionally, all SILSA students are eligible to participate in all Asheville High School extra-curricular activities, including performing arts and athletics. Both SILSA and AHS students are Asheville Cougars!

    What makes SILSA core courses different?

    In SILSA, the English, math, science, and social studies courses are taught at the honors or AP level and include collaborative project-based learning units in which students gain knowledge and skills through an extended inquiry process that is structured around complex, authentic questions and carefully designed products and tasks. This style of learning:

    • Leads students to in-depth exploration of important topics
    • Requires the use of essential tools and skills including technology and responsibility
    • Leads students to create products that solve problems or explain dilemmas
    • Uses performance-based assessments that communicate high expectations and present rigorous challenges
    • Encourages collaboration
    • Requires the use of technology
    • Asks students to engage in self-reflection regarding their learning styles, academic progress, and growth.

    SILSA students develop a four-year e-portfolio that serves as a tool to prepare for summer internships, college scholarships, and college applications. The e-portfolio includes projects, work samples that reflect growth, reflective essays, resumes, and completed community service. Students present their e-portfolios to a panel of adults towards the end of each spring semester. All SILSA honors courses align with the guidelines for honors credit as specified in the North Carolina Honors Course Implementation Guide. SILSA honors courses are distinguished by a difference in the quality of work expected, not merely an increase in quantity. Honors students learn to express and defend their ideas while attaining the distance necessary to accept constructive criticism. All SILSA courses fulfill the requirements of the North Carolina Standard Course of Study and all students are required to take the North Carolina End-of-Course tests, North Carolina Final Exams, and ACT.