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Education

Palm Valley School

When people think of Rancho Mirage, the name automatically brings to mind world-class golf courses, stunning mountain views, warm weather, and a laid-back lifestyle. What many people don’t know, however, is that on 38 acres in the heart of Rancho Mirage is one of the top Preschool-12th Grade schools in the country.

Founded in 1952, Palm Valley School is a nonprofit, independent school that focuses on college preparatory education from the youngest grades up. Like its peers in the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), which include the top schools in the country, Palm Valley focuses on meeting the highest academic standards and leading the way in innovative teaching and technology. Students at all levels of the school study foreign language, music, and art; learn public speaking skills; develop methods of scientific inquiry; and enjoy daily physical education. With its small class sizes and experienced teachers, Palm Valley is able to help each student grow and thrive.

Head of School Robert E. Graves puts it best, “We are proud of our 100 percent college admission rate and we know that our students are far ahead of the national average on test scores and academic achievement. What I find most rewarding, though, is walking into our SmartLab and seeing first graders working with squishy circuits or watching high school students completing their Physics assignments using our 3D printers. It’s the feeling of community at our Homecoming football game and the sight of a 12th grade math club member helping a 7th grader with her algebra homework that really defines the school and makes it special.”

Palm Valley has also built a reputation as a haven for artists and actors, with its art students winning multiple awards and the school’s drama program garnering dozens of Desert Theatre League award nominations each year. The school mounts an Upper School play each fall and a Middle School Musical every spring. Approximately 35 percent of all Middle School students are involved in the drama department’s production either behind-the-scenes or on stage. The English Speaking Union’s Shakespeare monologue competition features Palm Valley students each year, as does the national Poetry Out Loud event.

Athletically, the Firebirds compete at both the Middle School and Upper School levels, fielding teams in basketball, football, baseball, soccer, volleyball, softball, cross-country, golf and tennis. Despite a “no-cuts” rule that encourages students to try new sports at any age, the school has won many league championships over the years, and prides itself on the character-building experiences that team membership provides.

Above all, though, Palm Valley rises to the level of its independent school peers in its goals of individual attention to students and inspiring, passionate, and innovative teaching. High school students take English and History classes around large oval Harkness tables, where they are encouraged to think, debate, discuss and question rather than memorizing and accepting facts at face value. “We develop thinkers at all levels of the school, so that by the time they reach our Upper School, students are prepared to make connections, ask good questions, and develop and defend an opinion,” explains Mr. Graves. “We want to graduate students who can think for themselves.”

All this, and that beautiful Rancho Mirage mountain view, too!

College of the Desert

College of the Desert (COD) is located in Palm Desert, right in the geographic center of nine Southern California desert communities with over 400,000 permanent residents.

The College offers more than 1,000 classes, 52 associate degree and transfer programs, and 52 certificate programs in 89 different course areas. The college also provides a full range of career-technical programs and customized training programs for business and industries in all sectors.

“Signature programs” are aligned with the valley’s blueprint for economic growth, including agriculture, hospitality management, science, technology, engineering and math, creative art, health care, green technology, early childhood education, media and transportation technology.

Today, College of the Desert is in the middle of one of the most exciting periods in its history. Since the College opened in 1962, it has been serving the local community by creating jobs and income, providing area residents with easy access to higher education opportunities, and preparing students for highly-skilled, technical professions.

Public support has also made possible expanded facilities in the East Valley at Mecca/Thermal and Indio. A new West Valley Campus in Palm Springs will soon be added to complement programs and partnerships in Culinary/Hospitality, Film and Television, Clean/Green Technology and Health Care.

More than facilities, however, the driving mission to provide access to quality education in support of student success is the top priority at the College. COD’s amazing alumni are proof of the difference education can make.

Everywhere you look in the Coachella Valley, you’ll find College of the Desert alumni, in every industry and every service – they are among the region’s entrepreneurs, elected officials, and employers. COD graduates power the local economy and help maintain our quality of life.

You can learn more about the offerings of our valley’s largest provider of higher education at collegeofthedesert.edu.

Rancho Mirage High School

Rancho Mirage High School is the Palm Springs Unified School District’s newest high school, opened to freshmen and sophomores in time for the 2013-14 school year, adding a new grade each year until now it is educating a full complement of 877 students in grades nine through 12. Their mascot is appropriate to their desert home. They are known as “The Rattlers.”

In addition to the expected array of classrooms, laboratories and athletic facilities, Rancho Mirage High School houses at least two unique facilities/programs.

First, the school is home to the state-of-the-art Helene Galen Performing Arts Center, named after the well-known Coachella Valley philanthropist.

In addition, it has also been announced that long-time sports agent Jerry Argovitz, a resident of Rancho Mirage, has donated $1 million to the Palm Springs Unified School District so that it can develop a sports institute in his name at Rancho Mirage High School to educate student-athletes about careers in sports.

Argovitz recognizes that a majority of high school student-athletes have a desire to go to college to focus on a career in athletics on the field, but few recognize the opportunities for a career in sports that doesn’t involve wearing a helmet or throwing a ball. This unique program, it is hoped, will expose student-athletes – and those who don’t participate in college athletics – to career paths that pique their interest and keep their drive in academics rolling.

“Some of them have no idea that there are pathways available to them, and if they do have an idea, they certainly don’t have the mentors,” said Ellen Goodman, executive director of the PSUSD Foundation. “It opens many windows for students that they might not have realized were open for them.”

The program is set up as a series of lectures or presentations led by Argovitz every other week from October to June. Each session will be 60-90 minutes long and take place during the school day. Students enrolled in the program attend the lectures in place of another sports-related block in their schedule that day. In addition, students enrolled in the program will be invited to take off-campus field trips including visits to colleges, NFL games and practices.

Rancho Mirage High School has also renamed its football complex after Argovitz.

For more information, call (760) 202-6455 or visit www.ranchomiragehighschool.org.

Rancho Mirage Elementary School

Rancho Mirage Elementary School is one of 15 elementary schools that are part of the Palm Springs Unified School District. It is a public elementary school for grades K through 5.

Higher Education

College of the Desert
www.collegeofthedesert.edu

California State University San Bernardino – Palm Desert
www.pdc.csusb.edu

Mayfield College, National University Online
www.mayfieldcollege.edu

SBBCollege
www.sbbcollege.edu

Southern California Christian College
www.victorychristian.org/education.htm

University of California Riverside – Palm Desert
www.palmdesert.edu

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