• Named #1 High School In the Asheville Metro Area High Schools according to US News and World Report.

    Citizen Times Agrees.


    Principal: Nicole Cush, nicole.cush@acsgmail.net 

    Assistant Principal: Stephanie Day, stephanie.day@acsgmail.net

    Counselor: Brandon Smith, brandon.smith@acsgmail.net

    Administrative Assistant: Pamela Washington, Pamela.washington@acsgmail.net

    School History and Vision: 

    The school, located on the campus of Asheville High School, provides a unique experience for those who wish to participate in an educational setting that is different from and more challenging than the traditional high school. 

    Originated as part of the North Carolina New Schools Project, SILSA is a redesigned high school that integrates curriculum through a life-sciences theme. The New Schools Project, authorized by the Governor’s Education Cabinet and the Public School Forum, supported our efforts through its custodianship of a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Part of the larger High School Innovation Project, the goal of the North Carolina New Schools Project and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was to create small, autonomous, rigorous high schools that offer all students a demanding, college-ready curriculum, academic and emotional support for their students, and preparation for a 21st-century job market that demands communication, collaboration, and problem-solving skills. 

    SILSA offers students meaningful off-campus activities as a part of each semester’s curriculum. The SILSA faculty is committed to offering dynamic, challenging courses that are more rigorous than the typical Honors level courses and feature a Project-Based Learning approach. Our goal is to prepare our students to make meaningful decisions about their own learning and future goals and to give them the skills they need to succeed in a rapidly-evolving global economy. 

    School Mission Statement: 

    SILSA, through rigorous and inquiry-based instruction, cultivates life-long learners who are empowered with the skills and dispositions required for success in the 21st-century.

    School Vision Statement: 

    • SILSA faculty promises to empower our graduates to develop the skills and dispositions of the seven outcomes.
    • SILSA’s core instruction is inquiry-based, rigorous, collaborative, 21st century relevant, and anchored in life science themes.
    • The SILSA community is committed to serving students holistically, designing the complete educational experience for students through robust relationships and professional collaboration. 
    • SILSA scholars are engaged and open-minded critical thinkers who proactively seek their personal best on the path to continuous improvement.


    Core Values: 

    Core Values


    School District & Community: 

    SILSA is one of two public high schools in the Asheville City Schools District. Asheville City Schools serves over 4,400 students through 2 high schools, 2 middle schools and 6 elementary schools. The city of Asheville has a population of approximately 89,000 and covers approximately 40 square miles and is located in Buncombe County with a population of approximately 253,000. 

    Faculty, Staff and Students: 

    The staff includes one principal, one dean of students, one counselor, fourteen teachers, and one administrative assistant. Student enrollment consists of 9-12 grades currently totaling 330 students. 


    Our school begins at 8:30am and ends at 3:30pm. We are on a combined year-long and block schedule. SILSA students are cross-enrolled in elective classes at Asheville High School such as Physical Education, Career Technical Education, Arts (Visual, Theatre, Instrumental and Vocal Music, and Dance), World Language, and some Advanced Placement courses. 


    Because we share the same campus, SILSA students and Asheville High students participate on the same athletic teams. A complete program of 13 female and 11 male athletic teams is offered to students who have made a 1.63 cumulative GPA or higher the previous semester and have passed 6 of 8 courses on a year-long schedule. 

    Honors Curriculum: 

    All students participate in a rigorous-college preparatory curriculum. All academic classes are offered at the Honors level or higher. Students are expected to achieve the highest score on our school-wide writing and presentation rubrics by their 12th grade year. They are also expected to revise their four year digital portfolios annually to document their progress over time towards seven graduate outcomes. Our Survivor class is a ninth-grade class designed to provide students with strategies for academic success. 

    Advanced Placement & College Enrollment options: 

    The current Advanced Placement courses offered are AP Biology, AP Environmental Science, AP English Literature, and AP English Language and Composition. If their schedule permits, SILSA students may cross-enroll in most Asheville High Advanced Placement courses. 

    Due to the state initiative, College and Career Promise, SILSA students are able to enroll in any Asheville-Buncombe Technical College (A-B Tech) course for which they meet the prerequisites. Successful students will earn college credit (transferable to the UNC system as well as other selected private and state schools with a C or higher). SILSA students go on to the college campus to take courses with other college students. 


    Four important leadership organizations in which SILSA students have the opportunity to participate in are our Student Government Association (SGA), National Honor Society (NHS), Science National Honors Society (SNHS), and Mu Alpha Theta. Students are elected by their peers to be an SGA representative and are inducted into the NHS based on NHS criteria by a Faculty Advisory Committee. Ninth and tenth grade students must complete at least 10 hours of community service per year. Eleventh and twelfth grade students must complete at least 25 hours of per year.















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    For incoming classes after 2014, honors classes receive a 0.5 GPA boost and College Level classes (AP/ABTech) receive a 1.0 GPA boost.