High School Curriculum

Grade 9 Grade 10 Grade 11 Grade 12
Humane Letters Seminar 9 Humane Letters Seminar 10 Humane Letters Seminar 11 Humane Letters Seminar 12
Geometry & Precalculus A Precalculus B & C Calculus A & B Calculus C & Advanced Topics
Biology Chemistry MATLAB/Physics I Physics II
Christian Doctrine Scripture Scripture World Issues
Latin III Latin IV Modern Language I Modern Language II
Music Theory & Choir Music Theory & Choir Drama I Drama II
Art History & Studio Art III Art History & Studio Art IV


High School Class Descriptions

Ninth Grade Classes

Geometry/Precalculus – Students take one semester of geometry and one semester of precalculus.  In geometry, we teach students to extract mathematical information from visual images of geometric objects, to understand the mathematical relationships between geometrical objects, and to understand the structure and role of proofs in geometry.  In the first semester of precalculus, students study the general concepts behind functions and then particular classes of functions: polynomial, rational, root, logarithmic, logistic, and exponential.  They are taught to represent functions graphically, symbolically, and numerically.

Biology – This course can be viewed as occurring in four major segments: cellular biology, principals of life, ecology, and anatomy and physiology.  The course begins with the basics of scientific procedure and the parts of a cell, and moves through cellular functions, e.g., respiration, photosynthesis, growth, and division.  Concepts important to understanding cellular biology are introduced, including diffusion, DNA structure, transcription, and translation.  The course moves into a study of genetics and the theory of evolution by natural selection.  Following these fundamentals, the biology of organisms is studied.  Students are responsible for the classification of organisms by kingdom, phylum, class, and representative genera.  As more complex organisms are studied, students make connections to simpler life forms and begin to appreciate better the theory of evolution and the diversity of life.  In lab, students dissect many organisms: earthworm, clam, crayfish, starfish, shark, frog, and fetal pig.  Through the dissections, students begin to compare and contrast various systems.  The biology course is enhanced not only by dissections, but also by microscope work during the study of unicellular organisms, a family genetics study, and the construction of a cell model.

Humane Letters Seminar – Introduces the basic chronology of events in American history from colonial times to the early 20th century. Students read original texts, with special attention given to the foundational texts of American democracy. The meanings of events are discovered in their historical contexts so that students can understand that contemporary events are deeply rooted in the past. The literature texts are by American authors. Although they reflect certain historical issues, they stand on their own as literary works. A significant amount of time is spent training students in the fundamental skills necessary to participate effectively in the seminar. Students are taught to write a basic, five-paragraph essay. Reading list: The Federalist Papers (selections); Lincoln-Douglas Debates (selections); Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage; Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird; Henry David Thoreau, WaldenCivil Disobedience; Mark Twain,Huckleberry Finn; Willa Cather, My Antonia; Frederick Douglass, A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave ; Upton Sinclair, The Jungle; Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea; Thornton Wilder, Our Town; American short stories and poetry.

Roman Catholic Doctrine – (for Catholic students) Focuses on Roman Catholic beliefs and doctrines as expressed by the Nicene Creed, Roman Catholic practices (especially the sacraments), and Roman Catholic ethics as expressed in the Ten Commandments. The history of the Catholic Church in modern world is also studied.

Protestant Doctrine – (for Protestant students) A survey of the pivotal events and influential figures in church history. The students follow the concerns of the early church through the turbulent 16th century and the consequent rise of denominationalism and ecumenism. They study the four main branches of Protestantism: Lutheran, Calvinist (or Reformed), Anabaptist, and Anglican. The course includes an independent study during which the students are guided through an investigation of the foundations, doctrines, and practices of their own faith traditions.

Latin III – Begins with an intensive eight-week review of the grammar learned in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades. Complex sentence constructions, including the use of subjunctive clauses, gerunds, and gerundives are introduced. Students are prepared to translate Caesar, Cicero, and Virgil in the tenth grade.

Music – Applies the musical skills developed in the sixth through eighth grades to the study of choral music. The focus is on developing a healthy vocal technique, choral score reading, and ensemble performance. The study of music theory and composition continues with an emphasis on four-part harmony, culminating in a four-part vocal piece composed in the second semester.


Tenth Grade Classes

Precalculus – In their second semester of precalculus, students study the definitions and applications of trigonometric functions and vectors.  Their third semester of precalculus begins with a focus on matrices, especially their use in solving equations with more than two variables.  Topics in discrete mathematics and conic sections are also studied.

Chemistry – The first semester consists of inorganic chemistry, while the second is split between organic chemistry and biochemistry.  The course begins by reviewing basic scientific procedures, including laboratory techniques and units of measurement, and then moves through atoms, ionic compounds, molecular compounds, and an understanding of the structure of the periodic table.  After these concepts are in place, the course moves toward chemical reactions.  The specifics studied in this area include balancing equations, stoichiometry, and classes of chemical reactions.  Students are then led through an exploration of energy, reaction rates, and equilibrium, providing an in-depth understanding of why chemical reactions take place and how they proceed.  The semester concludes with the study of states of matter, solutions, and a more detailed look at acid-base reactions.  The second semester begins with an introduction to organic chemistry that includes learning to name and draw organic molecules.  The organic families covered include alkanes, alkenes, alkynes, amines, carboxylic acids, esters, and amides.  The knowledge of these organic families allows the course to proceed to biochemistry.  During the study of biochemistry, the covered topics include amino acids, proteins, enzymes, neurotransmitters, and drugs.  The course continues the study of biochemistry with nucleic acids and DNA.  Several labs accompany the course throughout the year, enabling the students to learn some basic skills and to view chemistry in action.  The inorganic labs include exploring chemical changes, ionic compounds, precipitation, rates of chemical reactions, energy changes, solution formation, and Le Chatelier's Principal.  The organic labs involve working with polymers, esters, DNA isolation, and gel electrophoresis.

Humane Letters Seminar – Studies the history, literature, and political philosophy of England and Europe from 1066 through the early 20th century. Students continue to work on writing coherent analytical essays and on developing more sophisticated organizational and stylistic techniques. Reading list: T.S. Eliot, Murder in the Cathedral; Robert Bolt, A Man for All Seasons; Hobbes, Leviathan (selections); Locke, Of Civil Government (selections); Rousseau, Essay on the Origin of Inequality; Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities; Burke, Reflections on the French Revolution (selections); Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice; Engels, Socialism: Utopian and Scientific (Part III); Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto; Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment; George Orwell, Animal Farm; British poetry.

Scripture (Old Testament) – Introduces students to the vocabulary, grammar, imagery, literary forms, and other devices used by Old Testament authors so that they can understand what these authors were saying to their contemporaries. A particular emphasis is placed on understanding the story of creation, the fall, the formation of Israel, and God’s work of restoring creation and establishing his kingdom. The students read selections from Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, the Psalms, Job, Ecclesiastes, Sirach, 1-2 Maccabees, Daniel and the Wisdom of Solomon. They also study portions ofEnuma ElishThe Gilgamesh Epic and The Jewish War by Josephus.

Latin IV – Begins with a short review of grammar. Students translate Caesar’s De Bello Gallico (The Gallic War), Cicero’s Oratio Prima in Catalinam Habita (First Oration Against Cataline), and Virgil’s Aeneid. The goal is for students to translate fluently (with the aid of vocabulary lists, grammar notes and historical commentary) and to grow in appreciation for the subtleties, beauty, complexity, and precision of language.

Music – Focuses on composition and theory through a study of 16th-century counterpoint techniques, culminating in the composition of an original work. Several of these works are chosen to be performed in the Spring Fine Arts Concert. Students also continue to study and perform choral music.


Eleventh Grade Classes

Calculus – Students study single-variable calculus.  The course begins with a study of functions used in calculus.  Students study the concept of the derivative, regarded as a rate of change, the slope of a tangent, and the limit of slopes of secants.  Following this, they learn to compute derivatives.  A similar sequence is followed for the study of integrals.  Integrals are presented as areas that can be approximated by counting squares, and sometimes calculated by the use of geometry.  The concept of an area function and the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus are introduced.  The study of the concept is followed by a study of various methods of integration. Finally, there is a unit of applications of the integral.  Students work on group projects for applying both derivatives and integrals.  The students are also introduced to differential equations.  They use slope fields to visualize the multiple solutions to a differential equation. They learn to solve first-order differential equations and apply these rules in basic applications like the simple harmonic oscillator.

Physics I/Computer Science – This course is designed to familiarize students with topics in physics aiming to develop conceptual understanding and problem solving competency.  Students study kinematics, forces, circular motion, energy, momentum, angular motion, thermodynamics, and wave motion.  The course consists of lectures, discussions, demonstrations, labs, and problem-solving.  At the beginning of the year students are taught how to program using MATLAB.  Each student is given a laptop and taught how to create graphical user interface tools (GUIs) that model physical phenomena in MATLAB.  The students also use MATLAB for data analysis of labs.  The purpose of the programming is to have students create models with which they can interact and explore various situations.  The students develop interactive tools that deepen their understanding of the physical phenomena and also demystify computers.

Humane Letters Seminar – Focuses on the close reading and discussion of texts drawn from the classical Greek and early Christian corpus. Students continue to work on writing analytical essays. They write at least six essays per semester. Reading list: Homer, Iliad and Odyssey; Aeschylus,Oresteia; Sophocles, Theban plays; Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War; Plato, MenoEuthyphroGorgiasApologyCritoPhaedoRepublic; Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics; Augustine, Confessions; Athanasius, On the Incarnation.

Scripture (New Testament) – Focuses on Jesus as the fulfillment of Old Testament expectations. The goal is twofold: 1) to learn to read the New Testament by being attentive to Old Testament allusions, the historical context, and different literary styles at work in the New Testament; and 2) to learn about the understanding of reality posited in Sacred Scripture. The course focuses on Luke’s Gospel and his Acts of the Apostles, Paul’s letters to the Corinthians and the Ephesians, John’s Gospel, and the Book of Revelation. Portions of other Gospels and letters are used where appropriate.

Modern Language I – Students select French, German or Spanish. The focus of each course is mainly the study of grammar and vocabulary, enabling the student to read and translate basic literature in the target language. The student will also have some experience with oral language, both speaking and listening. Cultural exposure is accessed through the other aspects of the course.

Drama I – Introduces students to the elements of acting, performance, and play production. It begins with technical instruction, group activities, and creative workshops designed to build acting skills – especially those of voice, movement, stage presence and collaboration. Students produce and perform a full-length play from Shakespeare’s corpus.

Art III – Focuses on learning how to look at and create representational and nonrepresentational abstractions.

Art History I – Covers sculpture, architecture, painting, and other forms of art from the prehistoric era through the 12th century A.D. Students learn how to employ artistic vocabulary, formally analyze a work of art, and appreciate art in its historical context.


Twelfth Grade Classes

Calculus and Linear Algebra – Students study multivariable calculus in two dimensions.  Partial derivatives, gradients, the double integral, line integrals, and Green’s Theorem in the plane comprise most of the first third of the year.  Linear algebra is studied next, organized around the solution of the matrix linear equations Ax=b and around the eigenvalue/eigenvector problem.  The last third of the year is an introduction to mathematical modeling.  Differential equations and linear algebra, especially eigenvalues, are the primary mathematical tools.  Applications studied are in the area of biology, physics, and economics.  MATLAB is used extensively for its graphing capabilities and as a tool in calculus, differential equations, and linear algebra.  Students continue to write programs in all parts of the course, as programming, mathematics, and science are increasingly integrated.

Physics II – This course continues with the classical ideas from the junior year and moves into twentieth-century topics.  With a full year of calculus having been studied, the course revisits Newtonian mechanics from a differential equation approach.  The students create MATLAB tools that model various forms of harmonic motion (simple, damped, and driven).  The course then moves into a study of electricity and magnetism utilizing concepts from calculus to explain Maxwell’s equations.  Direct current and alternating current circuits are also discussed.  The course then explores the thought experiments of Albert Einstein to arrive at his introduction of the special theory of relativity to account for the discrepancies in some data from the late nineteenth century.  The course concludes in the second semester with the development of quantum mechanics.  The students finish by being able to perform elementary calculations using quantum theory.

Humane Letters Seminar – Focuses on a close reading and discussion of texts in medieval and modern literature, philosophy, theology, and poetry. Students write approximately six essays per semester and are expected to write with increasing depth, grace, and sophistication. Reading list: Augustine, The Spirit and the Letter; Luther, Commentary on Galatians (selections) ; Flannery O’Connor, Parker’s Back; Thomas Aquinas, Treatise on Law; Shakespeare, MacbethHamlet; Locke, Second Treatise on Civil Government; Rousseau, On the Social Contract; John Stuart Mill, On Liberty; Dante, Inferno; James Agee, A Death in the Family; Raymond Carver, A Small, Good Thing; Montaigne, In Defense of Raymond Sebond; Descartes,Meditations; Wallace Stevens, "The Idea of Order at Key West” and “Sunday Morning”; Ethan Canin, The Palace Thief; Hegel, Reason in History; Marx, Alienated Labor and Private Property and Communism; Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov.

World Issues – Offers an opportunity for students to apply the critical thinking skills they have learned in other courses to current issues encountered by humanity in different regions in the world. Students first research specific problems individually, then methodically propose and evaluate possible solutions in groups. Through the study of human suffering, poverty, and disease, they come to understand the depth and complexity of the issues facing humanity and experience the challenges of bringing about change.

Modern Language II – A continuation of Modern Language I.

Drama II – Begins with a review of the basics of acting and ends in the production of a play from the modern repertoire.

Art IV – Continues to develop techniques learned in previous years. Students design and execute a major original work.

Art History II – Examines art from the twelfth century to the present. Students expand their ability to employ artistic vocabulary, formally analyze a work of art, and appreciate art in its historical context.