Upper School Curriculum

Learning to

Upper School students build a strong STEM and liberal arts foundation, and then move on to challenging interdisciplinary programs and electives. To thrive in college and in life, students must learn how to think critically, how to ask probing questions, how to read closely, how to construct effective arguments in order to engage in meaningful discourse. Instead of courses which emphasize rote subject knowledge, we teach Riverdale students how to make connections across disciplines, and demonstrate deep understanding and skills within each core area. Ultimately, a Riverdale graduate is prepared for advanced study as well as the complexities of a changing world.


Four full years of study are required for graduation. In grades 9, 10, and 11, the normal expectation is that five or six classes will be taken each year. Second-semester seniors are required to take four full courses and a fifth requirement, which can be fulfilled in a variety of ways. Some examples include a fifth academic course, a minicourse, an independent study, or an online course taken through Global Online Academy.


Students with specific academic interests or students capable of doing advanced work beyond the scope of the curriculum may earn credit for an Independent Study.

Physical Education

Physical education provides opportunities for health and wellness, self-expression, challenge, and social connections. Our aim is to teach our students about health and fitness, sports skills and strategies, teamwork, and sportsmanship, and help them develop the confidence to enjoy a lifetime of physical activity. Students learn from faculty with varied backgrounds, including a strength and conditioning coach, yoga teacher, Zumba instructor, certified nutritionist, and lifeguards. Class units vary each season and cover a wide range of functional modalities and competitive sports. Students are required to take a physical education course each trimester but are exempted during any season when they participate in a sports team.


9th Grade

English I
The course aims to help students acquire the habits of thought that make for effective reading and writing so that they develop as intelligent, critical readers and as competent writers of personal, creative, and analytical pieces. Students work extensively on paragraph structure at the beginning of the year and by mid-year are producing full-length analytical essays. The texts studied include Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, poetry ranging from the Romantic period, through the Harlem Renaissance, to today, Shakespeare’s Othello, and Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon. Short stories, poems, and essays are determined by individual teachers.

Vocabulary study draws on words from class discussion, as well as selected from the literature studied. Grammar study begins with a review of parts of speech and moves on to the parts of the sentence, independent and dependent clauses, and the use of modifying phrases and clauses.

History I: Emergence of Modern Society
The first half of the department’s two-year required sequence focuses on the history of the world system from its beginnings in the 15th century until the early 19th century. The course commences with an overview of the world system at the dawn of the 21st century, using a case study of Wal-Mart as a lens into the operations of a modern multinational corporation. There is then a brief study of non-capitalist social formations in North America on the eve of European expansion, Imperial China, and medieval Europe. The course then examines the break-up of European feudalism, the emergence of a market society, and the evolution of the modern state system; mercantilism, colonialism, and the creation of a Eurocentric world system; the new, universalistic understandings of human nature, human society, and human history generated by the European core of this world system; and the institutional expression of these understandings established by the 18th-century revolutions in the United States and France.

10th Grade

English II
“Never again will a single story be told as though it’s the only one.”
-John Berger

In English 10 we gather texts that tell striking stories, and we also examine how these stories are told. We explore other ways the “single story” can be told—from a different perspective, in a different genre, mode, or even medium. Thus each text in the curriculum has a “twin text,” another work that tells a similar story but in a different way, a different form, with different emphases. We juxtapose these texts with the aim of uncovering untold stories, contemplating the craft of the writer, and opening up discussion of issues relevant to the characters’ lives and our own.

Writing in English 10 spans a variety of genres: analytical, personal, and creative. Short written responses to homework reading sharpen the reader’s eye and hone writing skills. Full-length essays (3-5 pages) challenge students to formulate a thesis and support that thesis with close interpretation of well selected passages. The art of the personal essay is introduced with model essays that showcase the blend of narration and reflection that is particular to this form. Creative writing assignments tend to be imitative, inviting students to appreciate an author’s craft by using the stylistic devices and following the formal constraints of the original.

History II: Making of the Global Order
The course focuses on the history of the modern world system from the beginning of the 19th century to the present. Topics include the industrial capitalist society that emerged in Britain during the first half of the 19th century; the new ideologies of 19th-century Europe including liberalism, social Darwinism, and nationalism; the emergence of capitalist modes of industrial production in Europe and the United States; the dynamics and ideology of late-19th- and early-20th-century imperialism; the decline of British world hegemony; and the struggle for mastery in the world system during World War I, World War II, and the Cold War; and the emergence of the American imperium. The course also focuses on socialist and nationalist movements and on the experience of newly industrializing nations of Asia.

11th Grade

Constructing America
An interdisciplinary course, team-taught by teachers from the history and English departments, that introduces juniors to the history of American civilization and culture. The focus is on the ways in which Americans have—from the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony to the Gulf War and beyond—asserted the special nature of American society even while they have contested and interrogated the meaning of such “exceptionalism.” Crucial questions include: How have Americans defined national identity? How have they contested fixed and stable understandings of “the American” and sought to replace them with plural and shifting identifications? How has the national literature enunciated the evolving relationship between creativity and politics, entertainment and education? How can narrative modes be read as reflections of American experiences? How have Americans imagined and represented the defining differences between American literature, sensibility, landscape, and humor and those of Europe and the rest of the world? How have philosophers and poets, politicians and journalists, elite and dispossessed classes conceived of America as a place of particular opportunity, providence, and oppression? How have the actual experiences of various categories of Americans mirrored and/or contradicted these conceptions?

12th Grade

Integrated Liberal Studies (ILS)
ILS is a required course for seniors that provides a multidisciplinary examination of questions of fundamental human importance. The primary goal is to develop students’ critical thinking through close reading of primary sources, discussion-based learning, and analytical and personal writing. Students read works in a variety of disciplines to explore two essential questions that have been central to human civilization since its beginning and that continue to engage contemporary thinkers. One is an ontological question, “who or what are we as human beings?” and the other a moral and political question, “how ought we to live and conduct our lives?’ The questions are examined through the lenses of Art, Literature, Philosophy, and Psychology to create a multidisciplinary perspective. Students then examine two major contemporary topics that they will have to confront in their future careers, such as “Social Justice,” and “The Way We Live Now.”



American Literature
American literature reaches a level of maturity and self-assurance beginning in 1850 that permits us to say we have our “own” national literature, and also that we have examples of great and timeless masterpieces produced in this new country. This course will sample some of the master-works that emerge during a roughly seventy-five year period from 1850 to 1925. 

Black American Literature
While not a “complete” survey of works created by and/or about African Americans, this course will endeavor to examine different watershed African American works. 

Black Feminist Theory
This course seeks to offer an introduction to Black feminist theory and its engagement with the various intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality in the lives of black women in the United States. 

Borders and Power
In this semester long course, students will explore cross-cultural encounters as represented in literature and film and will come to understand the unique dynamics of domination, greed, love, curiosity, and desire that have characterized these experiences throughout history. 

Contemporary American Horror Stories
American horror fiction has always illuminated our anxieties about modernity and progress. In this course, students will begin with an overarching framework about the variations of the literary horror genre, as well as an overview of its evolution from the gothic tradition of the 18th and 19th centuries. Most of the course will focus on more contemporary iterations of literary and filmic horror, examining how these authors and filmmakers are re-inventing (or laying bare) our encounters with what scares us. 

Creative Writing
A semester-long course focusing entirely on writing our own poetry and short stories. We will both read and write, using mostly contemporary writers for inspiration and modeling. 

English and American Poetry 1600–2000
In this course we will examine some of the greatest short poems written in the English language. 

Gender, Sexuality, and the Novel
Using feminist and literary theory from thinkers like Gayatri Spivak and Judith Butler, we’ll track a few key novelists who shaped our understanding of both the modern novel and of femininity and masculinity from the early nineteenth century to well into the twentieth. 

Major Novels
This course is a study of the novel, in the realist tradition of Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” from the modernist perspectives of Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” Joyce’s “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,” and Woolf’s “To The Lighthouse,” and finally as postmodernist achievement of Ian McEwan’s “Atonement.” 

Masterpieces of Western Literature
This course offers students the opportunity to study major works in the principal literary genres from the time of Homer to the 21st century, including epic, drama, poetry, the novella, and the novel. 

Modern Drama(s)
Through an examination of fourteen of the best plays of the past century, we will grapple with the way that artists from the United States and Europe have grappled with everything from racial, cultural, and gender differences to the limits of language and free will. 

Science Fiction: Utopias and Dystopias
We will explore the world of science fiction through novels, stories, film, and television, focusing in particular on the ways in which writers and producers of science fiction imagine a better (or in most cases worse) version of humanity and the world. 

Southern Literature
Although Southern literature does often dwell upon the macabre, it is also preoccupied with race relations, the legacy of the past, the burden of tradition and family, and complex notions of gender. In this survey, we will devote our time to exploring these issues in works written by major Southern writers of the late-nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Thinking About Thinking
An interdisciplinary seminar concerned with the nature of thinking, especially reasoning. The course will examine such topics as animal and human intelligence, language, logic, inductive and deductive reasoning, belief, and knowledge.

Word and Image
This course focuses on the relationship between the visual arts and literature from the mid-19th century through the early 20th century in Britain and the United States. Students will examine texts composed during Romanticism, Realism/Naturalism, and Modernism that were influenced by specific painters and paintings. Students will also see how literature influenced the visual arts during the Harlem Renaissance.

Writing Seminar
Though this is a writing intensive course, coursework is designed to make maximum use of class time for the study and practice of writing and thus to minimize homework assignments. Short, focused exercises target writing issues and skills that the group deems most useful. 


The Art of Africa
Students may take this course for both semesters or either semester. The first semester will address the art of sub-Saharan Africa from the sixth to 19th centuries. The second semester will cover the art of African American artists, both men and women, from the 19th century to the present.

Constitutional Law and the American Political System
This semester-long course will focus on modern constitutional issues and the political processes through which they are addressed. 

The Global 1960s
In this semester-long course, we will examine the vivid and tumultuous social, political, and cultural movements of the 1960s across the globe. 

Making Sense of Contemporary Politics
In this semester-long course, we will seek to understand the meaning of the Trump presidency in light of America’s political, cultural, and social history of the past 40 years.

Nations Before US: A History of the Indigenous Peoples of North America
This semester-long course will examine the experiences of the indigenous of North America, from prehistory through current day, with an in depth look at the nations of the Northeast. 

Resistance and Repression in Latin America
This semester-long class will explore the history of repression and resistance in Latin America from the 19th century to the present.

Urban Studies: Comparative Cities
This one-semester elective will examine historical and contemporary issues in urban planning, governance, and life. This comparative and interdisciplinary course will use New York City as our frame and other cities (in the United States and abroad) as case studies. 


Students must complete three years of study in a single language or two years each in two languages.


Ancient Greek I
Students will begin to learn all of Ancient Greek grammar in this yearlong course. No experience in Latin is necessary; however, this course can only be taken as a student’s second language course and is not sufficient to fulfill the RCS language requirement.

Ancient Greek II
Students will continue to learn all of Ancient Greek grammar in this yearlong course. By the end of the two-year sequence, students will be able to translate any passage of Ancient Greek with the help of a dictionary, including texts by Plato and other ancient authors whose work is studied in the Riverdale curriculum.


Chinese I
Chinese I provides students with an introduction to the Chinese Romanization system (pinyin), pronunciation, tones, vocabulary, sentence structures, and character-writing of Mandarin Chinese.

Chinese II
Chinese II builds upon the fundamental skills introduced in Chinese I and continues to focus on deepening, strengthening, and refining the four skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. 

Chinese Ill
Chinese III builds upon the fundamental skills introduced in Chinese I and II, and continues to focus on deepening, strengthening, and refining the four skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. 

Chinese IV
Chinese IV integrates a diversity of materials and interactive activities for students to practice their interpersonal, presentational, and interpretive language skills. 

Chinese V (Honors)
This course integrates a variety of materials and interactive activities for students to expand their vocabulary and upgrade their overall interpersonal, presentational, and interpretive language skills. 

Chinese VI (Honors)
This course continues to build students’ vocabulary and upgrade their overall interpersonal, presentational, and interpretive language skills at the high-intermediate level. This course continues to examine and discuss social and cultural phenomena and practices in China through topics such as managing finances, interviewing for a job, living as foreigners, dealing with accidents, etc. 


French I
This course covers basic material equivalent to that completed in Middle School courses French 1a and French 1b, combined. By the end of the year, skills in listening, speaking, vocabulary, grammar, and reading are sufficiently developed to enable students to enter second-level courses. 

French Il
French II is a cross-divisional course in which students continue their exploration of the language and cultures of France and the Francophone world with the use of video, audio, and text. This course is for students who have completed both French 1a and French 1b, or French I. Classes are conducted in French, and students engage in French while developing further the four language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

French Ill
In this course, students review grammar extensively so that they become familiar with proper usage of all parts of speech. Increasing emphasis is placed on the use of idiomatic expressions, and varied kinds of oral work are required in all classes. Supplementary readings are selected by the teacher in accordance with the ability of the class and include the use of a yearlong reader. 

French IV
This course entails the acquisition of large amounts of new vocabulary, reviews basic grammar, and introduces more advanced grammatical structures. Students discuss French literary texts in class and analyze them in compositions.

French IV (Honors)
A rigorous class designed for able French students with a desire to begin the serious study of language and literature and whose nomination to the track is supported by the department. The course incorporates all aspects of the regular French III curriculum, along with reading selections chosen to prepare students for more advanced literary analysis.

French V: Evolution of French and Francophone Identities
This course provides students with the opportunity to consolidate the foundations acquired in levels I-IV through a diachronic, historical reflection of the evolution of French language and culture. The main goal of the course is to improve the students’ ability to communicate in the target language while also exploring French literature, culture, and civilization from the 8th century to the present day. 

French V: Language and Culture (Honors)
This course provides an intensive knowledge of French vocabulary, grammar, and culture at a level generally equivalent to a third-year language course in college. Culture will be incorporated in the choice of material, discussions, and presentations.

French VI: Language and Philosophy
This yearlong, interdisciplinary seminar is an advanced-level, college preparatory course that aims to increase students’ mastery of all four language skill areas (reading, listening, speaking, writing), and develop critical and analytical thinking through the study and re-presentation of both foundational and current philosophical ideas, concepts, and thinkers in the western tradition.

French VI: Immigration, Education, and Race (Honors)
In this course based on the polemic of diversity, advanced students will explore current issues such as education (fall semester), and immigration and racism (spring semester), pertinent in our ever-changing world. This exploration will be done through analysis of French and francophone newspapers and magazine articles; movies and documentaries; and literary texts such as novels, short stories, poems and songs.

French VI (Honors): French Film
In this advanced-level French course, students will first discover the technical and historical origins of cinema (Frères Lumières, George Méliès) through the Cinématographe and its predecessors, the Kinétoscope (filmmaking / motion picture / cinema literally meaning images in movement, from the Greek kiné + images). Then, students will study the social, cultural, ideological, economic, and artistic mass phenomenon of the Septième Art and its impact in society, first in France and Europe during several periods: the Avant-Garde (Buñuel), the Golden Age (Renoir), the Occupation (Truffaut), and the Nouvelle-Vague (Godard, Varda). We will then fast-forward to postmodern cinema (Malle) and political-social contemporary film (Kassovitz, Ly), and reflect about the future of film making studying contemporary blockbusters (Nakache, Jeunet, Besson) and animation films (Chomet, Ocelot, Barras).


Japanese I
An introduction to the Japanese language and culture. Students build basic reading and writing skills through mastery of hiragana and katakana phonetic alphabets and over 100 kanji (Chinese-derived characters).

Japanese II
A continuation of Japanese I. Students continue to build reading and writing skills through the study of more complex sentence structures and learn to read and write 100 new kanji. Special emphasis is placed on basic verb forms to enhance communication skills. 

Japanese III
Continues the study of Japanese through thematic lessons presented in “Genki”. Students are introduced to more advanced conversation, reading, and writing as they review basic grammar and vocabulary.

Japanese IV
The course further develops language skills: reading, writing, speaking, and listening using the Genki series textbook. Students will expand vocabulary and kanji base through newspaper articles, essays and short stories. The emphasis will be on accurate communication in Japanese, and students will be required to use the target language exclusively.


Latin I
An introduction to the Latin language and to Roman civilization. “Ecce Romani” and supplemental materials introduce declensions, indicative verb forms, pronouns, and infinitives. Word roots, word formation, and derivatives are explored. Roman civilization is examined through a study of the city of Rome and through myths and history.

Latin II
A course that completes the introduction of grammar, including participles, and the subjunctive mood and its uses. With “Ecce Romani II,” this course prepares the students to begin to read Latin literature. 

Latin III
Introductory readings of original Latin texts, focusing on Caesar and Ovid.

Latin IV
Students study selections from Vergil’s “Aeneid,” the poetry of Catullus, and an oration of Cicero, with a consideration of both ancient and modern rhetoric.

Advanced Latin V/VI (Honors): Latin Letters
A semester-long advanced Latin prose reading course, with emphasis on fluency, an understanding of style, literary analysis, and cultural context. 

Advanced Latin V/VI (Honors): Latin Love Elegy
A semester-long advanced Latin poetry reading course, with emphasis on fluency, an understanding of style, literary analysis, relationships between texts, and cultural context. We will explore love poetry in elegiac form by Catullus (a pioneer or precursor) and then Propertius, Tibullus, and Ovid, the three acknowledged masters of love elegy whose work survives today.


Spanish I
This course covers language fundamentals equivalent to those completed in Spanish I-a and Spanish I-b combined. By the end of the year, skills in listening, speaking, vocabulary, grammar, and reading are sufficiently developed to enable students to enter second-level courses.

Spanish II
This course is for students who have completed either the Spanish I-a and I-b sequence or Spanish I. The course includes a review of language fundamentals, usage of the preterite and imperfect tenses, and command forms, among other topics.

Spanish III
Along with ongoing vocabulary acquisition, students dedicate much of the year to learning the subjunctive mood in its present- and past-tense uses, as well as the future and conditional tenses. 

Spanish II/III
This is an accelerated course that covers in one year the topics included in both Spanish II and Spanish III. 

Spanish IV
This course is primarily oriented toward revisiting previously studied topics to develop a more comprehensive understanding and greater mastery of those structures.

Spanish IV (Honors)
This course looks to revisit previously studied topics to develop a more comprehensive understanding and greater mastery of those structures. Students work with these structures in their most complex manifestations and at a very rapid pace.

Spanish V
The course hones students’ grammatical, oral, and listening skills. Significant time and effort is devoted to the subjunctive. Students read and discuss a variety of Spanish and Latin American cultural production, including news articles, novellas and short stories, film, and theater. 

Spanish V (Honors): Composition and Communication
This course dedicates a full semester to the intensive development of written communication skills through various compositional modalities and detailed close reading of texts. The complementary semester focuses on the intensive development of oral communication skills through presentations, debates, theatrical scenes, interviews, and other modes of oral communication. 

Spanish VI: Hispanic Theater and Social Justice
Students in this semester-long course will learn about Spanish and Latin American theater through the study of four renowned and acclaimed dramas.

Spanish VI: Mexican Golden Age Cinema
In this semester-long course, we will learn about the “Golden Age” of Mexican Cinema, from 1939 to 1952. 

Spanish VI: Modern Hispanic Poetry
This semester-long course will focus on the study of different poetic styles. The 20th century was especially rich and complex for Hispanic poetry. We will study the history, movements and innovations of poetry made in Spain and Hispanic America and how those two worlds, separated by one ocean, often communicated with each other and guided social action through poetry.

Spanish VI: Latin-American Singer-Songwriters
This semester long-course will study the work of prominent Hispanic singer-songwriters during the 20th and 21st century. Along with the analysis of their artistic production (in written and visual form), we will connect those expressions with the social and political instances in which they were created.

Spanish VI (Honors): Hispanic Cinema
In this course, students will study, analyze, and discuss a range of films from the Spanish-speaking world.

Spanish VII: Latin American Short Stories
In this class, students will study the different narrative techniques used in various short stories from Latin America, where this genre held particular literary prominence throughout much of the 20th century.

Spanish VII: Latin American Documentary
This course explores the main artistic and technical components of Latin American documentary as an art product, as well as the historical and cultural contexts surrounding specific documentary films.

Spanish VII (Honors): 20th Century Gay and Lesbian Mexican Literature
This semester-long course investigates and traces the formation of a gay identity in a culture known for strict gender roles. 

Spanish VII (Honors): Representations of Mexico/US Border Relations
In this semester-long course, students will gain knowledge about how the relationship between Mexico and the United States has been represented in short stories, film, and media reporting. 



Students must complete a minimum of three years of math in the Upper School, including trigonometry.

Geometry with Algebra
This course will include a full treatment of the major content and skills of a regular Geometry class while also incorporating and reviewing key Algebra I skills that are critical for success in future math courses. 

A course designed to develop an understanding of proof, and to acquaint students with Euclidean geometry and its algebraic representations. 

Geometry (Honors)
An honors level course that covers the same topics as Geometry, but is designed to develop a more rigorous understanding of proof, encourage critical thinking and creativity, and to connect geometric and algebraic concepts.

Algebra II
A course that develops and enhances the skills and concepts of Algebra I and prepares students for a course that develops and enhances the skills and concepts of Algebra I and prepares students for more advanced work in both science and mathematics.

Algebra II (Honors)
An honors level course that covers the same topics as Algebra II but at a faster pace and in more depth. Students taking this course may use investigative approaches when introduced to new concepts.

Discrete Mathematics, Algebra, and Trigonometry
This course focuses on circle and triangle Trigonometry as well as new and previously introduced topics in Algebra, including sequences and series, exponential and logarithmic functions, counting principles and probability. Both the pacing of the course and class size are structured to meet the needs of students who typically need more time to thoroughly assimilate new material and who benefit from more individual attention.

Precalculus with Trigonometry
Precalculus is a course that covers new and previously introduced topics in Algebra at a more complex level, and also provides an introduction to both circle and triangle trigonometry. Trigonometric functions and solutions to trigonometric equations are examined in detail, both algebraically and graphically. 

Precalculus with Trigonometry (Honors)
An honors-level course that covers the same topics as Precalculus with Trigonometry but at a faster pace and in more depth. Students taking this course will also study proof by induction, polar coordinates and complex numbers, parametric equations, and, if time allows, a more thorough study of limits, and an introduction to continuity. 

Quantitative Reasoning: Math in the Real World
This course is intended to expand the minds of math students and allow them to explore how math is used in writing, journalism, medicine, and art. Students will be able to improve their quantitative and qualitative literacy and become aware of the big impacts math has in the world around us. 

Statistical Analysis Using the R Programming Language In this course, students will examine the concepts of statistics, data collection, and analysis, and learn the main elements of the statistical programming platform, R. Topics include basic descriptive measures, measures of association, confidence intervals, hypothesis testing, data collection/analysis, and potentially probability theory.

This semester-long course provides an introduction to univariate and bivariate data with special attention given to real world applications.

Mathematical Approaches to Economics
This course, offered in the fall and/or spring semester(s), introduces students to the fundamental definitions and theories of microeconomics and macroeconomics, including supply and demand, cost versus benefit, profit and loss, efficient markets, market regulation (e.g. taxes, subsidies, price ceilings, minimum wages), capitalist competition, and monopoly.

Introduction to Calculus
This semester-long course is designed to prepare students for an introductory college-level Calculus course. It is anticipated that the course will cover at least 50% of a typical Calculus I course.

This full-year course is designed for those students who wish to study a full year of Calculus but choose not to do so at the honors level, or have excelled in both our regular Precalculus course and their other mathematics courses throughout high school.

Calculus A (Honors)
Calculus A is a college-level course in differential and integral calculus. This course aims to cover all the topics recommended by the College Board for Calculus AB and some additional topics that might be covered in the first semester of a collegiate calculus course.

Calculus B (Honors)
A college-level course in differential and integral calculus. This course covers all the topics recommended by the College Board for Calculus BC and some additional topics that might be covered in the first year of a college calculus course. 

Advanced Mathematics (Honors)
This course is designed for our students who complete either Calculus A or Calculus B by the end of junior year, or students currently enrolled in Calculus with a particular interest in higher level mathematics. Students are required to assimilate the concepts they have covered in prior math courses with new, college-level disciplines. 


Students are required to take three years of science courses. The two-year sequence of Integrated Biology/Chemistry is one of the requirements for all 9th and 10th graders.

Integrated Biology/Chemistry I
The first year of a two-year sequence where chemical and biological concepts are taught in context. Students will investigate how life on Earth began by studying how matter was arranged into living organisms, the ways in which Earth supports life, and whether or not forest conservation is essential to a sustainable planet. The year will culminate in the study of how humans have used resources resulting in shifts to Earth’s climate.

Biology II (Honors)
A yearlong, second-level course for students who wish to expand their background in biology. Topics include cell structure and function, biochemistry, energy transformation, Mendelian and molecular genetics, plant and animal physiology, development, evolution, and ecology.

Chemistry I
A yearlong introductory course involving lectures, demonstrations, discussion, and laboratory work in chemistry.

Chemistry II (Honors)
A yearlong, second-level course providing an advanced approach to topics in physical, organic, and inorganic chemistry. 

Applied Chemistry
A yearlong introductory course emphasizing the practical role chemistry plays in modern society and daily life. 

This yearlong course introduces the fundamental concepts of physics, the study of the world around us. We will cover a broad range of topics including kinematics, Newton’s laws of motion, rotation, and electricity. 

Applied Physics
This year-long introduction emphasizes emphasis on how the principles of physics explain the world around us. Topics include basic mechanics, thermodynamics, and electromagnetism.

Physics II (Honors)
This is a yearlong, secondary level physics course that covers two broad subject areas. During the fall, students will focus on mechanics, specifically exploring the following topics: Newton’s laws of motion, work, energy, power, impulse and momentum, rotational kinematics, oscillations, and gravitation. In the spring, the course will move into electricity and magnetism.

By using ethical decision-making frameworks, we will learn to develop positions about some of the most pressing ethical issues that we personally and socially confront in the 21st century. While an understanding of some aspects of Biology is essential to confronting these questions, this semester-long course will also address the skills and habits of mind that one must employ to make ethical decisions. 

Environmental Science In this course, you will be introduced to the  interactions between the biotic and abiotic components of an ecosystem and the impacts humans have on those interactions.  We will examine the science, economics, and ethics of climate change, mass extinction, pollution, and other environmental concerns. 

Design Engineering
This is a yearlong, interdisciplinary, project-based course that tackles fascinating design challenges and allows students to apply to them to the real world. 

Thinking About Limits: Human Ecology in the Anthropocene
A course that examines the challenge of caring for 11 billion people by 2100, given Earth’s limited resources. Students will consider empirical evidence and discuss philosophy, literature, history, and science to understand how to value and use resources. Place-based case studies will be used to explore challenges, cultural perspectives, and solutions to resource management.

The study of the central nervous system and its influence on behavior. This course will cover anatomy, sensation and perception, recording and imaging techniques, and neuronal disorders. Students will design and conduct experiments and analyze data and models of the brain.

A yearlong, college- level introduction to the study of human behavior.

Science Research
In this semester-long course, students who are preparing to carry out summer research will be guided in locating a lab and/or a research mentor. Students who have completed a summer of research will be guided as they prepare for presentations and competitions.

This course explores astronomy through discussion, observation, and analysis. Topics include the celestial sphere, the solar system, stars, light, gravity, and cosmology. It is designed to help students understand how Earth fits into larger systems.

Computer Science

All students study computer coding for at least one semester. Most students satisfy this coding requirement in Computer Science 10 (once-per-week, pass-fail). Students may also satisfy the coding requirement with a computer science mini course or a full academic course in computer science.

Computer Science I: Object-Oriented Programming
There’s more to computer science than ones and zeroes. This Level I, yearlong course introduces computer science terms, skills, and understandings, and is a foundation for future work in this discipline. In this class, students will learn programming methodology, algorithm analysis, data structures, and abstraction to make amazing projects.

Computer Science I: Game Design with C#
This Level I, yearlong course introduces students to the principles of game design and development as well as fundamentals of programming methodology. 

Advanced Computer Science
This Level II, yearlong course will cover common ways to organize and store data in computer science, why those structures are important, and what projects can be created with those structures.

iOS App Development with Swift/XCode
App Development with Swift is designed to teach you the skills needed to be an app developer capable of bringing your own apps to life. In this Level II, yearlong course you will learn advanced programming concepts using Swift, use iOS development tools such as XCode and Swift Playgrounds, as well as utilize industry best practices. 

Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning
What does it mean for a machine to think? From IBM’s Jeopardy-winning computer, Watson, to their amazing chess-playing program, Deep Blue, it often seems like machines can be more intelligent than humans. In this Level III, yearlong course students will learn how to write programs that use Big Data to predict, strategize, reason, plan, and evolve. 

CS Capstone Developer Projet
This year-long course will expand Computer Science knowledge and understandings by applying them to solve real problems through developing authentic programming scenarios. In CS Capstone, students will create a meaningful and socially-relevant projects that educate and inform an audience


Students must take three years of arts courses, the first of which must be taken in 9th grade. Those art courses can be in any of three art disciplines: Music; Visual Arts; or Theater, Dance and Film.

Theater, Dance, and Film

Dance as an Art
This course is the study of dance at the introductory level. Students are introduced to several different styles including modern technique, jazz technique, ballet technique, and hip-hop. The course includes proper warm-up, alignment, center work, traveling sequences, and choreography. 

Intermediate/Advanced Dance as an Art
This course is the study of dance at the intermediate/advanced level. Students continue to hone their technique at a more advanced level in the modern, jazz, ballet, and hip-hop styles. The course includes proper warm-up, alignment, more complex center combinations, traveling sequences, and choreography.

Introduction to Film This is a yearlong survey and production course introducing students to filmmaking as an art form. In the first semester, students study the historical evolution of filmmaking and the tools of writing for the cinema. The objective of the first semester is to complete a short screenplay. In the second semester, students learn the fundamentals of directing and editing their own short films.

Advanced Film
This course will focus on both film study and producing original short films. Throughout the year, we’ll dive into advanced topics such as 3-point lighting design, sound design, and advanced Final Cut Pro editing techniques. We’ll discuss auteur theory, learn the history of different genres, and make several group projects (including a documentary film). Students are expected to fully complete two short films.

Fundamentals of Theater
This yearlong course looks at what it means to be a theater artist. Students will study a variety of plays through the lens of different theatrical elements including acting, directing, playwriting, technical theater, and production.

Musical Theater Workshop
This yearlong course will develop vocal technique, acting, and dancing in the musical theater style. Over the course of the year, students will use these skills for both duet/small group selections as well as full ensemble pieces. 

Introduction to Playwriting
This yearlong course will offer an in-depth exploration of the art of playwriting. We’ll examine a brief history of the craft, but the emphasis will be on a study of important contemporary playwrights shaping the world of theater today.

Technical Theater I
An introduction to the concepts and safe working practices of technical theater including stagecraft, lighting, sound, and costumes.

Technical Theater II
Expanding on the knowledge base established in Technical Theater I, this course will focus primarily on the roles of the master carpenter, technical director, stage manager, and master electrician.

Acting I
A yearlong introduction to acting on the stage and in front of the camera. The course helps each student discover talents and creative strengths. Emphasis is on ensemble as well as individual performance skills.

Advanced Acting
This yearlong course takes a closer look at practitioners and their techniques including Linklater, Stanislavski, Laban and Adler. Students will study monologues and scenes in both the classic and contemporary cannon. They will be exposed to theater history as well as variations on storytelling techniques. Students will also receive lessons on the business of theater and auditioning.


Music Production and Technology
Students will listen to music from the 1930s through 1980s to hear how the art of music production has progressed and how technology has changed popular music. The course will include a songwriting discussion and the difference between composing and arranging. We will learn how to record with microphones in a variety of settings. Computer applications used in the course are Logic Pro X and GarageBand, but students are free to use other DAWs if they choose.

Intermezzo is an advanced choral ensemble for the more serious singer. Students must have two years’ choral experience to be admitted into Intermezzo, and many will be students moving from the Arioso vocal ensemble. The repertoire is challenging and covers all styles and periods of choral music. Students who are enrolled in Intermezzo will have the opportunity to be placed in the Vocal Arts Ensemble.  

Vocal Arts Ensemble
An advanced vocal ensemble of twenty to thirty-five students with above average vocal ability and an interest in developing ensemble-singing techniques. 

Chamber Music
A not-for-credit program, open to performers of all ages and playing levels, on all instruments (including string and wind instruments, piano, harp, voice, guitar, percussion). Classes are scheduled to meet once a week during a free period, activity period, study hall, or before or after school.

Wind Symphony
The Wind Symphony performs approximately two or more concerts a year. This ensemble is open to experienced wind (woodwind, brass) and percussion players. Bass (acoustic or electric) players can also join this ensemble.

Jazz Ensemble
An ensemble of saxophone, trumpet, trombone, piano, bass, guitar, percussion, and drum set players. All players must have previous experience with their instruments.

The Orchestra is open to string, woodwind, brass, and percussion players and, occasionally, a pianist. The Orchestra performs pieces from the standard orchestral repertoire and covers as many musical periods as possible within the given instrumentation. Admission is by audition. Qualified students (usually seniors) are allowed to perform concerti or other solo pieces with the orchestra. The Orchestra generally performs approximately three or more concerts throughout the academic year. 

Rock Band
The Rock Band is a combination of performance ensemble and instructional class. Students will learn and prepare a variety of rock and pop songs, from classic rock to contemporary for a culminating playing experience at the end of each semester. Each ensemble member will learn about the role of their instrument in a band while receiving individual feedback through in-class performances. The course will also include original music composition and songwriting components with a historical overview in which the class will acquire a knowledge of the origins and the pioneers of rock and how the genre has evolved.

Visual Art

Foundation Studies in Art
Foundation Studies, formerly called Studio Art, is the prerequisite to all Upper School visual arts courses. It offers an intense immersion in studio life. Students will work together each semester with three core foundation ideas: drawing, design and spatial dynamics (three dimensions), and color.

In the fall, “Introduction to Hand Building” gives students opportunities to work with texture, slabs, coil, and pinching to form pieces that function, and pieces that don’t. In the spring, “Reinventing the Wheel” focuses on using the potter’s wheel.

Design Lab
Students will be challenged to solve design problems using the five-step design process. They will learn the basics of Adobe Illustrator in order to operate the laser cutter and CNC machine, and they will be exposed to a number of hand tools in our maker space. Projects may include sewing and embroidery as well as wood and metal working.

Drawing I
Drawing I explores observational drawing, as well as drawing from memory and imagination.

Drawing II
Drawing II explores new ways of drawing through a series of teacher and student-led projects encouraging large-scale and conceptually driven works.

Graphic Design
This is an exploration of visual communication with an emphasis on the principles and elements of design.

This course explores the visual possibilities of the abstract form. Working from observation, we will deconstruct reality in order to realize compositions that intentionally skew our perception of reality. 

Open Studio
This course presents the opportunity for students to work on extended independent projects using a variety of media. It is for students who have a strong interest in art creation, and who are motivated to develop their ideas ambitiously. 

Painting I
Semester 1: Basic skills and knowledge of painting are covered. Semester 2: Students concentrate on an integrated approach to exploring both the material and mental aspect of painting. Practice subjects are still life, self-portraits, and places (landscapes, interiors).

Painting II
Semester 1: The human figure as a subject: articulation of the form, understanding light and form, exploration of figurative themes and figurative meaning, exploring more techniques (collage, brushstroke, wiping out, and others). Semester 2: Contemporary abstraction. 

Photography I
Semester 1: This is an introduction to digital photography. Semester 2: Students go “beyond the image” to create photo sculptures, collages, light paintings, and high contrast abstractions.

Photography II
Semester 1: Photographing People. What are the elements of a photographic portrait? Students will learn to create street photography, artificial light photography, extended portraits, and self-portraits. Semester 2: Beyond the Image. Students will learn to create photo sculptures, collages, light paintings, and high contrast abstractions. They will learn to use a pinhole camera, work with alternative emulsions, and learn creative darkroom techniques. 

Projects in Contemporary Art (PICA)
This advanced art class will explore how contemporary art can function within a school and engage others in art, beyond viewership. Emphasis will be placed on manifesting concepts more than developing traditional art skills. The National Association of Independent Schools recently featured this class on its website. To learn more, click here.

The fundamentals for creating three-dimensional objects will be the focus of this course. 

Applied Arts

Exploring Public Speaking
This semester-long course breaks down the art of writing and presenting different content in front of an audience. Students will have an opportunity to explore speeches in many forms including narrative, biographical, and persuasive.

Exploring Leadership
Exploring Leadership is a semester-long course in which students decipher some of the skills and tools needed to be an effective leader. Through introspection and self-reflection, students will begin to understand the innate power they have as a human being to create a safe environment, build community, and be an effective leader.

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