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Polygence students: The chefs of their education

NewsStaci Hill and Carly Taylor

When we think about Polygence students, we think about how unique and independent they are. In a typical classroom, students are like anonymous diners in a restaurant. Restaurants come in many shapes and sizes, but their operations are all the same. As a diner, you enter the building, and the host leads you and your guests to a table, where the laminated menus await. You flip through the pages, and you might order your favorite dish, have the special, or try something you’ve never heard of before. But no matter what you choose, you’re going to eat a meal that was prepared by someone else. The cook does not prepare the dish with you specifically in mind, but with the generic diner in mind. At the end of the meal, you’ll leave the restaurant full—satisfied perhaps if the meal was well-prepared—but you’ll be no more equipped to cook your own meal than you were when you walked in the door.

The high school experience today is much like the diner’s experience in the restaurant. Schools across the world operate on very similar models, serving up a standard set of courses: reading, writing, math, science, social studies, languages. Some schools spice up their menu with more unique subject offerings, like Shakespeare in the 21st Century. Many have courses at a variety of levels: standard, honors, AP, IB. But no matter the classes and the levels you choose, you’re one among many in a class which the teacher serves to all her students. In the end, student transcripts end up looking very similar, stuffed with a standardized education.

Polygence takes your standard classroom experience and throws out the restaurant model entirely. We throw away the menu of classes and extracurriculars. We fire the cook and put the student in the kitchen. You become the chef of your own education, and you can cook up whatever you can imagine—the menu is no longer fixed, and the recipe is your own. As the chef, you might put your own distinct flair on a classic dish, or you might cook up something entirely new. Either way, we will provide you with a world-class sous-chef, your mentor, whose expertise will give you the guidance you need to make your dream recipe sizzle and pop. Polygence students transform from consumers into creators who imagine, realize, and share projects of their own design.

What do our students cook up? When they apply, they propose projects pursuing their most sincere interests and their wildest imagination. We’ve met students who want to understand themselves by studying their allergies on a molecular level, slicing and dicing protein sequences using new programming skills. We’ve met students who want to educate their community through visual arts, by baking a series of ceramic sculptures that illustrate how coral reefs have decayed over decades. We have students who want to try something out of this world: reinventing the pencil, building a solar powered car, understanding the physics behind invisibility cloaking. Some are starting initiatives that are lacking in their communities: a high school law review, a mental-health resource for students, a curriculum for a scientific journal club, an informational webinar on the refugee crisis. Our students are united in their desire to do something—they take charge of their own education.


As a Polygence student, you will develop the habit of asking questions and executing plans in pursuit of a self-directed project. These habits are the hallmarks of intellectual maturity, which will set you up for success in college and your long term goals. When you throw away the menu and put yourself in the kitchen, you will create something that is uniquely you—a meal you can share with your community, a dish that will stand out from the ordinary menu.

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