Academics / Special Programs

Opportunities for learning outside of the regular curriculum.

Alternative Learning

Kirby recognizes that great learning doesn’t just happen in the classroom. To expand students’ opportunities for learning outside of the classroom, the school provides two alternative learning programs:

Grade-Level Outdoor Retreats

Early in the year, students in grade 6 through 9 are invited on two- to three-day outdoor learning retreats. The annual trips, organized by class level, are a special opportunity for experiential learning and student bonding outside of the classroom.


Kirby offers a three-day intersession program during the spring semester. Students have a chance to explore new environments, make connections, be active, and learn through memorable experiences. During intersession, students get to enjoy the most elemental aspects of education by learning for the joy of learning without the pressure of deadlines, tests, or homework. Each grade level has one day of classes on campus that includes drug education, information literacy, and a few other grade-specific classes. The other two days include a selection of offerings for high school students and field trips for middle school students. View our 2016 Intersession Catalog.

Independent Study

Kirby maintains a commitment to tailor instruction to the needs and interests of individual students. A high school student may ask a teacher to supervise an independent study to explore a subject for credit within the following parameters:

  • Independent study provides a student learning opportunity not available in the curriculum.
  • The independent study demonstrates academic rigor and involves a level of effort and outcomes equal to standard courses. It is taken on a graded basis and requires a faculty advisor.
  • A written proposal is approved by the Dean of Faculty prior to the semester in which the study is to begin. The proposal requires the signatures of the student, the student’s parents, and the Division Head.

The faculty advisor meets with the student at least weekly and is responsible for submitting scheduled grade reports. The Dean of Faculty and the faculty advisor will ensure that the terms of the independent study agreement have been met.

External Courses

Kirby supports students who desire to further challenge themselves. With that in mind, there are various enrichment possibilities available in our community. In every case, students must consult with and obtain permission from the Academic Dean to take off-campus courses for Kirby graduation credit.

Credit for Courses Taken At Other Schools

Students enrolled may earn Kirby graduation credit for a course taken at another school only if: the course is not offered at Kirby; the course is academically comparable to courses offered at Kirby; and the institution offering the course is an accredited institution academically comparable to Kirby. Students who enroll in such courses elsewhere must maintain a minimum course load of four courses at Kirby.

Cabrillo Community College — summer and/or concurrent with Kirby classes

Courses with meeting times scheduled in the late afternoon and/or early evening may coordinate with Kirby’s class schedule.

University of California system

The entire UC system offers Summer Session courses, including intensive language programs. In addition, a number of campuses offer special summer session programs geared for high school students who have completed their junior year. A release form from Kirby is required.

Correspondence Courses

Many institutions in the United States offer correspondence courses at both the high school and university level. Many of these courses are self-paced. Students who take required core math courses outside of Kirby due to scheduling conflicts or other acceptable reasons must succeed on the Kirby placement test before proceeding on to the next level of math.