Upper School Curriculum by Grade (Detailed)

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Sixth Grade


  • Orchestra I: Students begin their study of music by learning violin, viola, cello, or bass to play in a string orchestra. The texts used are Mastery for StringsLearning Together, Sound Innovations Book 1, and beginning orchestra music.
  • Math: Students work towards proficiency in the four operations – addition, subtraction, multiplication and division – with the following: whole numbers, decimals, fractions, ratios, proportions, and percentages. Students plan logically how to solve word problems. Students use the texts Singapore Primary Mathematics 6A and 6B.
  • Life Science: A course designed to help students develop the skills to see nature clearly and to record these observations. Topics include: what is life?, ecosystems and biomes, plants, insects, and human biological systems. Students will be using the Life Science book by Prentice Hall.
  • Latin I:  Students begin their formal study of Latin using Cambridge Latin Course 1 & 2.
  • History: Ancient history, with emphasis on Greek and Roman history.
  • Literature/Composition: A study of English grammar and composition including a study of parts of a sentence, parts of speech, sentence structure, agreement and diagramming sentences. The students will use the grammar textbook Warriner's Handbook Introductory Course by Holt. Reading includes The Golden Goblet, The Railway Children, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Rifles for Watie. Students also read a selection of short stories and poetry.
  • Public Performance: This course includes poetry memorization and recitation, interpretive reading, Readers Theater, oration and solo, duet and ensemble acting.

Seventh Grade

  • Studio Art: An introduction to art with emphasis on developing an aesthetic eye. Basic drawing skills are taught using primarily a pencil. Students also learn calligraphy.
  • Orchestra II: Students continue with their instrument in string orchestra and are introduced to more formal music theory. Students continue in Mastery for Strings, and move on to Sound Innovations Book 2, as well as Grade 1 and 2 string orchestra literature.
  • Prealgebra: The study of whole numbers, decimals, fractions and their arithmetic operations along with the study of ratios, proportions and percents. Basic geometric concepts such as properties of points, lines and planes are introduced. Students use the text Prealgebra by McDougal Littell.
  • Earth Science: Students continue to make observations and employ the scientific method to learn about what occurs inside the earth, on its surface, and in space. topics include: plate tectonics, earthquakes, the atmosphere, and astronomy. Students will be using the Earth Science book by Prentice Hall.
  • Latin II: Continuing in the Cambridge Latin series, students study Latin grammar, vocabulary and translation.
  • History: Students learn about the Middle Ages and its culture, including the study of art, literature and architecture. Periods of study include the fall of the Roman Empire up to the time of the Renaissance.
  • Literature/Composition: Focuses on sentence construction – parts of speech, parts of a sentence, compound sentences and prepositional phrases – and introduces the concept of a five-part paragraph. The textbook used is Warriner's Handbook First Course by Holt. Reading includes examples of noble, heroic characters. Texts include Shane, Tom Sawyer, Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage and Watership Down.

Eighth Grade

  • Studio Art: Focuses on developing awareness of color harmonies. Students copy master works of art using watercolor and pencil.
  • Orchestra III: Students continue in string orchestra and more advanced music theory. They play Grades 1, 2, and 3 string orchestra literature.
  • Algebra: A comprehensive study that includes topics such as linear and quadratic equations, systems of linear equations, polynomials, fractional equations and the study of the coordinate plane and graphing. Students use the text Algebra by McDougal Littell.
  • Physical Science: Students continue to hone their skills in observation and classification. Emphasis is also placed on creating mathematical models from data. Topics include: atoms and bonding, electricity and magnetism, energy, simple machines and catapults. Students use the Physical Science textbook by Prentice Hall as well as the Astronomy book in the Prentice Hall Science Explorers series.
  • Latin III: Students use Cambridge Latin Course Unit 4; this is the final study of grammar, and vocabulary and translations are chosen with an eye towards Latin IV.
  • History: Students study geography with an emphasis on how land and water formations shape political, economic and cultural life. They use the World Geography textbook by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 
  • Literature/Composition: Review and continuation of grammar study from seventh grade. Topics include phrases, clauses and the formulation of limited, specific and unified topic sentences in paragraph writing. By the end of the course, students will be writing paragraphs of 150 to 250 words. Students use Warriner's Handbook Second Course by Holt. Some of the reading complements the students’ study of medieval history. Books include Beowulf, The Chosen, The Hobbit, The Miracle Worker, and A Christmas Carol.

Ninth Grade

  • Orchestra IV: Students continue in string orchestra, advanced music theory, and Grades 2-4 string orchestra literature.
  • Geometry/Precalculus: The first semester is the study of geometry with emphasis on geometric relationships through constructions. The second semester begins the study of precalculus that continues through the tenth grade. This first semester focuses on the language of functions. Students use graphing calculators (TI-83’s) to assist them in their study. Students use the text Discovering Geometry by Kendall Hunt Publishing and Precalculus: Graphical, Numerical, Algebraic by Pearson.
  • Biology: A full-year course that includes the study of cellular biology, genetics, the theory of evolution by natural selection, human anatomy and physiology. Students perform dissections of seven different organisms, moving from simpler life forms to more complex. Animals dissected include earthworm, crayfish, grasshopper, squid, shark, frog and fetal pig. Students will use the text Miller and Levine Biology by Prentice Hall.
  • Latin IV: This is a translation course; students translate selections from Latin authors including Caesar, Cicero, and Virgil.
  • Humane Letters Seminar: This is the beginning course in the high school study of humanities. The fields of literature, history and philosophy are integrated into a two-hour seminar in which ideas are explored through discussion. In the ninth grade Humane Letters course, the students study U.S. History from the position of political theory. Readings include The Federalist Papers (selections), Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, My Antonia, To Kill A Mockingbird, Our Town, and The Old Man and the Sea. Students also learn to write a five-paragraph essay. Using the literature or history they are reading in class, the students learn to formulate a sound thesis supported by three logical examples from the text and a simple conclusion.

Tenth Grade

  • Orchestra V: Students continue in string orchestra, advanced music theory, Grades 3-4 string orchestra literature including original works by major composers from the eighteenth through twentieth centuries. 
  • Precalculus: A continuation of the study of functions. Topics include trigonometry, matrices, systems of linear equations, vectors, conic sections, exponents and logarithms. The students continue to use their graphing calculators (TI-83’s). Students continue to use the text Precalculus: Graphical, Numerical, Algebraic by Prentice Hall.
  • Chemistry: Continuing the study of the biological sciences from the ninth grade, the chemistry course focuses upon physical chemistry and organic and biochemical chemistry. Topics include the periodic table, biochemistry of proteins, hydrocarbons, the citric acid cycle, photosynthesis, bonding stiochiometry, redox and acid-based reactions. Experimentation is an important element of study in this course. Students will use the text Fundamentals of General, Organic and Biological Chemistry, by Ed McMurray.
  • Modern Language I: Students begin their study of a modern foreign language; currently the language offered is Spanish. The focus of the course is both the study of grammar and vocabulary, enabling the student to read and translate literature in the language as well as providing an experience with oral language. Students may opt to be in a Classics Track; in tenth grade students in this track would begin a study of ancient Greek.
  • Humane Letters Seminar: Modern European history, literature and philosophy are the focus of this course. Topics include English history from Alfred I to the Stuart period, the French Revolution, Russian history from the early czars to the Bolshevik Revolution, and World Wars I and II. Readings include A Tale of Two Cities, Pride and Prejudice, Essay on the Origin of Inequality, The Communist Manifesto and Crime and Punishment.

Eleventh Grade

  • Orchestra VI: Students continue in string orchestra, advanced music theory, Grades 3-4 string orchestra literature including original works by major composers from the eighteenth through twentieth centuries. 
  • Studio Art/Art History: Includes both studio art and the history of art from primitive ages through the early Christian era.
  • Drama: A semester-long acting workshop teaching the basics of voice, movement and interpretation. Students perform a dramatic work at the end of the semester that is typically drawn from the Shakespearean or Greek repertoire.
  • Calculus: The first semester focuses on functions used in calculus, derivatives, slope of a tangent, and the limit of slopes of secants. The second semester includes the study of integrals, sequences and series, and differential equations. There is a heavy emphasis on graphs and the use of graphing calculators (TI-83’s). Students use the text James Stewart Calculus Single Variable, 8 Edition, Vol. 1 and 2 by Cengage Learning.
  • Physics I: Newtonian mechanics is the focus of this first year of physics. Study is enhanced by experimentation, problem-solving using algebra and calculus, and the use of MATLAB ®, a computer program that can model physical behaviors based upon calculations of forces, energies and momentums in small steps of time. Students will use the text Physics: Principles with Applications, Vol. 1, 6th edition by Ed Giancoli.
  • Modern Language IIA: This course continues the study of the student’s choice of language.
    If in the Classics Track, the students continue study of ancient Greek.
  • Humane Letters Seminar: Writings from the ancient Greek period are the focus of the eleventh grade seminar. Rigorous discussion and reflective, disciplined writing are vital to this course. Readings include Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey, Aeschylus’ Oresteia, Plato’s MenoCritoPhaedo, Apology, Euthyphro, Gorgias, Republic, Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, Aristotle’s Ethics and Politics (selections).

Twelfth Grade

  • Orchestra VII: Students continue in string orchestra, advanced music theory, Grades 3-4 string orchestra literature including original works by major composers from the eighteenth through twentieth centuries. 
  • Studio Art/Art History: Includes both studio art and the history of art from the Romanesque period to the present.
  • Drama: Reviews basic acting skills and implements them in a full-scale production.
  • Calculus/Advanced Topics: This third semester of calculus focuses on the study of multi-dimensional calculus. Topics include directional derivatives, line and surface integrals, Green’s Theorem and Stokes’ Theorem. The second semester covers non-calculus math topics such as group theory, set theory, number theory, fractals and non-Euclidian geometry. Students use the text James Stewart Multivariable Calculus, 7th Edition by Cengage Learning, as well as Groups and Characters by Chapman and Hall
  • Physics II: This course is a continuation from Physics I that incorporates the use of calculus. Focus of study is electro-magnetism, thermodynamics and modern topics. Students continue to learn to code in MATLAB ®. Students will use the text Physics for Scientists and Engineers with Modern Physics, Vol. 2 and Vol. 3, 4th Edition, by Ed Giancoli.
  • Modern Language IIB: Students continue their study in their chosen language. Students in the Classics Track continue their study of ancient Greek.
  • Humane Letters Seminar: Students continue to refine their writing style while continuing to execute clear, substantial analysis of the texts. Readings are drawn from the medieval to modern periods in European history and literature. Readings include Treatise on Law, The Inferno, Meditations, The Social Contract, Reason in History, The Brothers Karamazov, A Death in the Family, and Canin’s The Palace Thief.
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