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Academic Program


The Hamber Challenge Studio Program is designed for highly-able students who wish to be challenged by a grade 8-12 program that encompasses both acceleration and enrichment. High academic standards are supplemented by various enrichment opportunities. There is a focus on creative and critical thinking, project-based learning, and student ownership, allowing students the opportunity to explore areas of passion and to influence the content of their academic pursuits. This environment of learning is fostered by the sense of community within the program.
The Challenge Studio program in grade 8 consists of four blocks:  English, Social Studies, Science, and Critical Thinking/Fine Arts. Please note that in English and Science, students will complete three years of study in their grade 8 and 9 years. 

While there is no Math component in the program, a math assessment will be offered in the Spring. Students who demonstrate advanced ability and skill may qualify to take Math 9 instead of Math 8. Students entering the program who have already taken Math 8 (or higher level math course) through VLN will automatically be enrolled in Math 9 (or a higher level math course).

The program over the five years is as follows: 


English 8-10 Challenge Studio

The English Challenge Studio Program spans two school years, during which students will complete the requirements of English 8, 9 and 10. Students are expected to demonstrate superior quality work and an enthusiasm to delve deeply into literature, both as a class and independently. Through various forms of literature, students will examine both their own identities and the diverse voices of others. They will develop written and verbal skills through a variety of assignments, learning how to communicate their ideas and to support them in a persuasive manner. Students in Challenge Studio English are expected to take English 11 Challenge Studio, English 12 World Literature, and AP English Literature 12 in their grade 10-12 years.

English 11 (Literary Studies) Challenge Studio

This course is designed for students emerging from the two-year English Challenge Studio program. The course involves the critical analysis of literature. Through the study of various literary works, students will be encouraged to contemplate perspectives foreign to them, and to develop their own ability to communicate concepts both verbally and in writing. Students who take this course are expected to continue with enriched English by selecting English World Literature 12 and then AP English Literature 12.

English 12 (World Literature) Challenge Studio  

English 12 World Literature emphasizes university preparation through the study of international literature. This English 12 course should appeal to students who are avid, curious, serious readers and very capable writers. Students wishing to write the Advanced Placement examination could benefit from taking this class alongside or before the Advanced Placement course. 

AP English Literature & Composition 12

AP English Literature and Composition is designed to be a college/university level course. Students will be provided with intellectual challenges and a workload consistent with a typical undergraduate university English Literature/Humanities course. Students will be exposed to a generous portion of the English Canon. It is expected that students enrolling in this course will be strong readers, writers, and thinkers. Students will write the AP Examination in May.


Social Studies 8 Challenge Studio

Social Studies 8 Challenge Studio assesses what has been learned in elementary school about the self and social studies skills and extends the students’ learning. The course not only connects students to the medieval and Early Modern periods of human history, to current events, and to issues of personal interest for evidence or as a series of case studies, but also empowers students to become autonomous learners. Examples of themes include: contact and conflicts between peoples that stimulate social and political change, exploration and the human and environmental factors that change population and living standards, and others. This course will prepare students’ application of the six frames of thinking (inquiry and skill based), prepare their focus on skills and interests (cooperative and personalized learning in authentic, critical thinking, and creative experiences), and foster initiative taking and goal setting (autonomy and responsibility).

Social Studies 9 Challenge Studio

Social Studies 9 Challenge Studio not only connects students to the world of 1715-1919 and current events and issues for evidence or as a series of case studies, but also empowers students to become autonomous learners. Students will develop thinking, communication, personal and social awareness, understanding, and skills as they address issues related to four themes: 1) the influence of emerging ideas and ideologies on societies and events; 2) the influence of the physical environment on political, social, and economic conditions and events; 3) the connections between disparities in power and the balance of relationships between individuals and between societies; and 4) the construction and changes made to a variety of collective identities. In short, revolutions and changes in the 19th century up to World War One provide the backdrop for students to develop theories and skills related to geography, economy, history, current events, politics, and society.

Social Studies 10 Challenge Studio

Social Studies 10 Challenge Studio provides students with a learning environment that promotes the development of dispositions and skills that enhance both creative and critical thinking in the context of examining issues and problems in Social Studies. This course examines significant global and Canadian events, developments, people, and places beginning with WWI through the lenses of historical and geographical ways of thinking. Students will investigate topics of interest up to present day that may include Canadian identity, autonomy, economy, and governance; discriminatory policies and injustices in Canada, such as Residential schools and internments; Truth and reconciliation in Canada; and case studies of international and domestic conflict and cooperation (for example: WWII, the Quiet revolution, the Oka crisis; the League of Nations). Students will have a variety of opportunities to extend their concept-based thinking competencies and inquiry process skills (including written, oral & multimedia assignments) with the aim of becoming more reflective and involved global citizens.

Law 12 Challenge Studio

The core philosophy is based upon the premise that laws govern a great many of our actions. Therefore, a knowledge and understanding of these laws will enhance an individual’s performance within our society. Students will focus on the core areas: what is law; why laws are needed; the essential components of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms; the Youth Criminal Justice Act; Family Law, Criminal Law, Tort Law, and the court system.

Philosophy 12

What is philosophy?  Well, according to one definition it is, “the rational investigation of the truths and principles of being, knowledge, or conduct.”  That makes for an awfully broad subject that encompasses all issues related to our physical existence, our minds and our behavior. Do we exist? Does the world exist?  What do we know?  How do we know that we know? What is a just society?  What is right and wrong? Put another way, philosophy is really the careful, reasoned probing of the big questions of life and the universe that humans have been asking for a very long time.  In this course, we will explore these questions with a view to learning some competing schools of thought on each, while training our minds to think in a more critical, analytical way.


Science 8-10 Challenge Studio

The Science Challenge Studio Program is for highly motivated students who show a great curiosity for science. This fast-paced program will cover the three years of junior sciences in two years. Students will be engaged and challenged in innovative ways to think critically and creatively, promoting an interest in the science and engineering fields. They will be exposed to inquiry and project-based learning as well as enriched learning opportunities such as the Vancouver District Science Fair.


Critical Thinking & Fine Arts 8 Challenge Studio

In Critical Thinking & Fine Arts 8, students will closely examine the self, community, and world around them and engage in meaningful discussion and exploration. Students will express their ideas through various art forms, from first conceptualize a design, considering the steps of turning the vision into reality, and bringing their vision to life. Aspects of fine arts, which may include art, drama, photography, film, and stop animation will be integrated with the critical thinking aspects of this course. Specific critical thinking topics may include philosophy, logic, puzzles, and the validity of information.

Inquiry & Innovation 9 Challenge Studio

Students are given the opportunity to explore areas of passion through inquiry-based learning, fostering an attitude of creativity and curiosity. Through this approach, students will develop skills that will prepare them for the future. In the second half of the course, students are expected to engage in a long-term project in which they will identify an area of need and then propose and plan innovative realistic solutions to hopefully make a difference in the lives of an individual, a group, or a community.


The Challenge Studio student:

  • wants to be academically challenged
  • is extremely motivated to learn
  • has a curiosity to delve deeper into topics
  • has the ability to question information
  • responds well to a rapid pace of instruction
  • is able to work collaboratively with others
  • is well-rounded with many interests and passions
  • wishes to shape the direction of their own studies

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