5280 High School creates students who are thinkers, problem solvers, collaborators, and innovators. 5280 is founded on the principle that success today requires more than just academic, factual knowledge. Professionals today encounter challenges that often require out-of-the-box solutions, and the ability to dynamically engage with the world and others around them. We foster these skills through project based learning, or PBL. PBL is an approach which transforms education from “teachers telling” to “students doing.” More specifically, PBL can be defined as:

  • Engaging learning experiences that involve students in complex, real-world projects through which they develop and apply skills and knowledge

  • A strategy that recognizes that significant learning taps students’ inherent drive to learn, capability to do work, and need to be taken seriously

  • Learning in which academic outcomes are identified up front, but the paths of the student’s learning process are neither predetermined nor fully predictable; we know where students will end up (the academic goals), but do not dictate how they will get there

  • Learning that requires students to draw from many informational sources and disciplines in order to solve problems

  • Experiences through which students learn to manage and allocate resources such as time and materials

Through project based learning, students learn both the academic skills they need to thrive in college, and the soft skills that are so important in professional settings today.


Through authentic academic experiences and a culture of holistic wellness embedded in strong diverse community, 5280 High School prepares all students for success in college, their future career, and anything life throws at them.


The 5280 High School design principles permeate every aspect of the school, and drive the school’s structures and systems:

  • EQUITY:  We are intentionally diverse and integrated, and all students engage in a rigorous curriculum that prepares them for college as well as the competitive workplace.  Students are held to high standards and given personalized supports to ensure success without academic tracking.  Our teachers value the richness that a diverse student body brings to the classroom, and work to create a culture that allows all students to reach their full potential.  We are a full-inclusion school.

  • AUTHENTICITY:  Students engage in purposeful work that is meaningful to them and their community.  Students develop ownership over their learning by having voice and choice in projects that are built upon their personal experience and interests.  Curriculum is built around work that matters, often in the form of projects produced for a public audience or to address concerns of the larger community.  Students consult with outside experts and participate in fieldwork, community service, and academic internships at local companies, nonprofits, and public agencies.  

  • INTENTIONAL COMMUNITY:  Teachers and students know each other well, and strong relationships and school community are pillars of 5280.  Recognizing that identity development and personal growth occur in the context of community, we foster relationships of trust and mutual respect among students and adults through small school size, small classes, home visits, advisories, student collaborative work, and intentional community activities at the start of each day.  For a school to be an excellent learning place for students, it must also be a rewarding workplace for teachers.  Teachers design the curriculum and the courses they teach, and are given the flexibility and autonomy necessary to passionately empower their students to meet rigorous academic objectives.  Teachers also work collaboratively to address school issues and are active participants in critical decisions such as professional development, assessment, hiring, and other significant matters.

  • JOY & MEANING:  School should be joyful and engaging for students and staff.  Working hard and having fun don’t need to be separate—they often go hand in hand.  Our morning and afternoon wellness programs are designed to be mindful of long-term outcomes and promote the diverse aspects of living a meaningful life, including physical, mental, social, emotional, spiritual, and financial health.  5280 projects help students build agency and internal sense of control, cultivate personal reflection, learn from their mistakes, and gain empathy for others.