Vistamar School

Vistamar, founded in 2005, is a college preparatory day school serving 260 students in grades 9–12. Vistamar’s curriculum combines best practices of American independent schools with methods drawn from top educational systems around the world. The wide range of extracurricular activities includes 20 athletic teams, 23 student-led clubs and affinity groups, and an active performing arts department.

In what ways is Vistamar School extraordinary?

“Vistamar attracts students who are driven to learn because we cultivate critical thinking and independence. We balance the academic rigor of our curriculum with a strong community that supports students as individuals. Faculty interact closely with individual students to support them through the challenges this rigorous curriculum entails.”

What do students love about your school?

“Our students want the challenge of being introduced to a bigger world through the people they go to school with and the work they do in and out of class. Our values of equity, inclusion and belonging have profoundly shaped Vistamar’s multicultural curriculum, vibrant student cocurricular life, lively family engagement and educational programming. Students are constantly surrounded by peers with diverse backgrounds, thoughts and experiences, and they care about understanding each other and growing smarter together. They learn more in an environment where preconceived notions are continuously challenged by fellow students who come from different backgrounds. We have livelier class discussions, engage in deeper learning and develop greater empathy as a result.”

Describe Vistamar School’s learning environment.

“Vistamar’s focus has always been on teaching students how to think—not what to think. More than ever, it is critical for students to problem-solve and think conceptually for themselves as they navigate our complex and changing world. We put students in charge of their learning to become independent, creative thinkers who succeed beyond Vistamar in whatever path they pursue.”

What is dynamic about your faculty?

“The Vistamar faculty is composed of extraordinary teachers who happen to be extraordinary people: innovative, passionate and dedicated to forming personal relationships with each of their students. Vistamar students will tell you that they have at least one or more important mentors among the faculty and staff. Class sizes average 14 students or less, and the student-faculty ratio is 6:1—ensuring that the faculty really get to know their students.”

What would you like potential students and parents to know about your school?

“The school’s mission of empowering students and preparing them to contribute and excel in higher education and in life rests on three pillars: a broad and balanced academic program that challenges and engages students; an intimate atmosphere that fosters initiative, responsibility and connections to others; and a diverse community that encourages the authentic exchange of perspectives and leads students to be comfortable crossing cultural boundaries. 

Our founders concluded that high school should not only inspire students to be their best; it should also provide the tools and experiences to give students an advantage in college and beyond. As a result, Vistamar’s curriculum fosters technological acumen, critical thinking, independent problem-solving and collaborative work.”

Tell us more about your extracurricular activities.

“Approximately 72% of our student body participates on an athletic team, and teams regularly compete in CIF-SS playoffs and state tournaments. Other popular programs include VistaSports broadcasting, robotics, newspaper, honor council and many other leadership options. Vistamar’s exploratory electives offer ungraded experiential learning opportunities for students to explore interests with faculty support.

Vistamar students are encouraged to get involved with the life of the school and proudly affirm the unofficial motto: ‘No Spectators.’ Most of the extracurricular clubs and activities at school have been initiated and organized by students.”

How do you prepare students for college and beyond?

“The colleges and universities our graduates attend reflect the selectivity and variety expected from one of L.A.’s finest independent schools. Our college prep is a four-year process embedded in the larger context of what we call Life Planning. Students work with their college counselor from ninth grade until they graduate. By the time Life Planning culminates with college selection, our students are self-aware, authentic applicants choosing colleges where they can thrive and excel and that are worthy of their achievements. 

Vistamar alumni report that the collaboration, creativity and communication skills acquired at Vistamar have given them a distinct advantage in college. Not only do they feel fully prepared academically, they also have the confidence to engage fully and even lead class discussions and pursue conversations and relationships with their professors. These are the skills needed in the 21st-century workforce. At Vistamar, students develop the tools to excel in college, do meaningful work, be engaged with their communities and sustain fulfilling relationships.”