US Course of Study
Building a Well-Rounded Life
Academics for a Limitless Future
Kingswood Oxford’s Upper School curriculum has a clear goal: your future. All courses and requirements are geared toward equipping students with the skills, motivation, and mindset needed to succeed in college and beyond.
Course of Study
What a Difference a Course Makes
Our curriculum is designed to give students a rewarding experience as they grow as readers, writers, thinkers, and speakers. Through collaborative and individual pursuits, students learn how to critically navigate the expanding seas of information and communication while fostering an appreciation for the power of language. We ask, “What is worth reading — and why?” and we encourage students to answer this question for themselves by exercising choice in projects, readings, and assessments.
We explore texts that represent a range of voices and points of view that offer windows into the experiences of others and mirrors into students’ own experiences. Whether grappling with Shakespeare or preparing for a visiting Baird Symposium author, our students consider how texts reflect the human condition and how an author’s choice of genre, form, and diction affects meaning.
We strive to instill in our students a sense of pride in their written work and give them the tools to make their writing reflect their thinking at its best. Writing assignments range from critical to personal to creative. Through one-on-one conferences, peer critiques, and multiple drafts and revisions, we teach writing as a process; we also encourage students to experiment with language and style through studying vocabulary and composition.
Every English class also provides substantial practice in speaking and listening skills, which are essential for effective communication. Through Harkness discussions, formal debates, presentations, speeches, performances, and daily conversations, students learn how to appeal to different audiences and build confidence in their ability to think and speak on their feet.
English 3: The Stories We Tell
As memoirist and essayist Joan Didion observes, “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” In English 3, we explore storytelling in its many forms. The course uses the lens of storytelling to develop students’ ability to think for themselves, to grapple with abstraction, and to read, write and speak with increasing proficiency. Readings focus on fellow storytellers across genres and epochs. Students explore a graphic novel, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, and several more traditional novels, including The Catcher in the Rye. The drama of the course consists of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and August Wilson’s Fences. Short story, book club, and poetry units round out the curriculum.
Students not only study the practice of storytelling but also become storytellers themselves. Furthermore, each student is required to join Harkness discussions and to practice public speaking.
Beginning in English 3 and continuing in English 4, students embark on a two-year writing program to develop essential writing skills that they will need as they take on the rigors of reading and writing as upperclassmen. This curriculum builds foundational writing skills across a variety of different writing styles (from the analytical to the personal to the persuasive to the creative) as students strive for greater clarity and precision in their writing. Students study some foundational sentence patterns that allow them to better understand grammatical structures and start to experiment with syntax. They assemble a writing portfolio to showcase their writing and reflect on their progress.
English 4: Challenging Convention
In English 4, we focus on texts that challenge convention through characters, themes, structure, and style as we ask students to examine their notions about what a literary analysis, a sentence, or a topic of academic discussion should be.
Works read include Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and There There by Tommy Orange. We round out the curriculum with a play, Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and a major poetry unit that explores Phillis Wheatley, Emily Dickinson, and Walt Whitman as well as their contemporary “descendants.” Students are challenged to assume leadership roles in discussions and to hone their speaking skills, which culminates in Speakers’ Forum, a form-wide interpretive reading contest.
Building on the skills students have developed in the first year of the writing program, sophomores continue to experiment with a range of different writing styles as they build their writing portfolios. As analytical writers, they work to develop their own theses as they become more independent thinkers. Particular attention is paid to helping students develop a voice and style commensurate with the increasing complexity of their ideas. Students continue to explore sentence patterns, bringing more variety to their sentence structure. Students also continue to develop a creative voice and build on their skills of persuasion. The writing portfolio remains a space for students to show pride in their work and intentionally reflect on their progress.
English 5: Decoding and Deconstructing
In English 5, students bring a new level of awareness to their roles as readers and communicators as they decode increasingly nuanced texts and the way language influences an audience. The course requires students to recognize and apply different reading strategies as they analyze how voice, rhetorical situation, and style affect meaning within a diverse range of genres and forms. In addition to a novel by Toni Morrison and Shakespeare’s Hamlet, students also study 21st century nonfiction, Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere, film, speeches, and poetry. In this exploration of diverse texts, students improve their own communication skills through developing and adapting their voice with an awareness of audience, context, and purpose. Students learn to craft effective questions to engage with texts and the world around them. Additionally, students use feedback to cultivate habits of self-reflection. A final project allows students to showcase skills developed throughout the year.
English 5 AP® Decoding and Deconstructing
Students can opt to take this course, which runs parallel to the English 5 class. The Advanced Placement® sections follow a more extensive bibliography, and the literary analysis, both in class and in writing, assumes a greater depth of reading experience, and the capacity to draw on wider and more independent sources. AP® curriculum requires students to build capacity in rhetorical analysis, synthesis, and argumentation skills as they relate to both reading and writing, particularly thesis-driven essays. Furthermore, individual students carry responsibility for leading the class occasionally. In addition to a novel by Toni Morrison and Shakespeare’s Hamlet, students also study 21st century nonfiction, Noah’s Born a Crime, film, speeches, and poetry. In this exploration of diverse texts, students improve their own communication skills through developing and adapting their voice with an awareness of speaker, audience, context, and purpose. This course prepares students for the Advanced Placement® Examination in English Language and Composition, and students enrolled in the course must take the AP® Language and Composition exam in May.
Elective: Journalism I (Fall, Spring)
Journalism is not simply a mode of writing; it is also a mode of thinking. In addition to introducing students to the writing techniques integral to news, feature, and sports writing as well as opinion and review writing, this course trains them in the more abstract observation and thinking skills required to identify news when it happens. The hope is that students gain a new perspective on their writing and critical thinking skills while wrestling with the accuracy, objectivity, and responsibility to an audience that characterizes solid journalism. Students can expect regular article assignments, style quizzes to train them as editors, and occasional readings from contemporary publications. The course is a prerequisite for a staff position on the KO News. This course, an elective offered outside the required English curriculum and open to students in Forms 3-5 for 1/4 credit, meets three times every two weeks.
Elective: New York Literature: The Dream, The Grit, and The Grind
New York is a massive city made up of eight million people, each striving for something: fame, success, love, etc. Of all the qualities that New York demands of its citizens, grit is arguably the most vital. Despite such long odds, what brings people here is the promise of achievement when one is willing to put in the work. Through short selections by James Baldwin, Joan Didion, Joseph Mitchell, Colum McCann, Jay McInerney, Patti Smith, Zadie Smith, and Colson Whitehead (to name a few!), we’ll discover the ways that the New York grind can either wear you down or build you up. After all, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere! (This elective is open to students in forms four and five who enjoy English and who would like additional opportunities to explore literature.)
Both Wonderful and Strange: Confronting Abstraction in Literature and Film (Spring)
As Special Agent Dale Cooper enters filmmaker David Lynch’s bizarre world of Twin Peaks, Washington, he says, with a curious smile: “I have no idea where this will lead us, but I have a definite feeling it will be a place both wonderful and strange.” This semester elective invites students to confront, grapple with, and overcome the abstract symbols, themes, and stylistic choices that writers and filmmakers throw our way: those strange, indefinite qualities that make literature so wonderful and fascinating. As an audience, we’ll examine how symbols work in contemporary literature, and wrestle them from nebulous to purposeful. (Possible texts: Toni Morrison’s Recitatif and Home; N.K. Jemisin’s The City We Became; Jennifer Egan’s The Candy House.) Then, we’ll take our study of symbolism to the silver screen as we tackle deep and meaningful films. (Possible: Bong Joon Ho’s Snowpiercer or Parasite; Jordan Peele’s Get Out or Us; The Daniels’ Everything Everywhere All At Once. Throughout, we’ll develop our own interpretations of these complex and layered stories, all while examining how writers’ choices may seem strange and confusing on the surface, but are actually wonderful, purposeful, and entirely comprehensible – if we have the determination and curiosity to make them make sense. While nontraditional in subject, this course is literature, discussion, and writing based, and will include regular writing assignments along with occasional presentations. In particular, students will develop their analytical writing voices as we practice literary analysis, incorporate secondary criticism, and build our practice of each step of the writing and pre-writing process. This elective is open to students in Forms 4 and 5 who enjoy English, and who would like additional opportunities to explore literature.
FALL SENIOR ELECTIVES
Senior English at Kingswood Oxford offers semester elective options. During the fall semester, students must choose one class to fulfill their English requirement but may elect to take an additional semester course according to their interest and availability. The spring semester electives are divided into two quarters. During the third quarter, all seniors write a senior thesis, a fifteen to twenty-page original, research-based essay on a chosen topic. The fourth quarter, described by the course’s title, is a mini-course designed as an exploration of a topic that is both focused and fun.
English 6 Fall Elective: The American Dream
Since America’s earliest days in the late 18th century through to today, there has been a concept of an “American Dream.” While the idea was not formally coined until the mid-20th century, there has always been an idealized vision of what can be in America. This concept has evolved (and continues to do so) throughout the years. In 1931 James Truslow Adams more formally coined the phrase “the American Dream,” describing “a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”
Whether sincerely believed or attacked as delusion, this dream has been a motivating force in our civilization. Even when denied, the dream is distinctly American. There are many books, songs, plays, and movies that have celebrated, questioned and even denounced this vision. This course explores the American Dream, past and present, to better understand and assess the promise of this ideal. Works studied include Horatio Alger’s Ragged Dick, Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, Edward Albee’s The American Dream, Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me, Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Larry Watson’s Montana, 1948 and contemporary music and culture.
English 6 Fall Elective: The Art of Watching Film
Not only is there an art to making films; there is also an art to watching films and speaking critically about them, which students will discover through viewing a wide variety of movies. Students will sharpen their powers of observation and develop the skills and habits of perceptive watching as they begin to see films – and the artistry behind them – in a new way. We will view a range of clips that showcase the various aspects of film (fictional and dramatic elements, visual design, cinematography and special visual effects, editing, color, sound effects and dialogue, score, and acting) and then explore a full film as a class, learning how to write about film elements as well as create video essays to present our arguments. By the end of the course, students will craft an essay or video presentation arguing for a film of their choice, and we will have the opportunity to view a few of these films together.
English 6 Fall Elective: Dystopian Futures
Social chaos. An overreaching authoritarian government. Repression of free speech. Food shortages. Climate catastrophes. If this vision of the future sounds scary to you, then prepare to be even more terrified by the worlds constructed by writers of dystopian fiction. A form of speculative literature that imagines a horrifying not-too-distant future, dystopian fiction exaggerates contemporary social problems in order to critique them. By engaging with dystopian fiction such as Octavia Butler’s novel Parable of the Sower, a choice of a dystopian novel, and Bong Joon-ho’s film Snowpiercer, we will analyze the techniques writers use to warn their readers about what the future might look like if the present world goes in a drastically wrong direction. In written work, you will examine the distinctive conventions of this genre of literature, and assess the genre’s effectiveness in urging readers to action. Eventually, you will apply these storytelling strategies by writing a short work of fiction in which you identify a social problem you care about and imagine a future in which this problem has spun out of control. As we read, discuss, and write, we will consider the central function that this kind of fiction serves for readers: does dystopian fiction work to comfort readers by reminding us that our current world isn’t as bad as the ones these writers imagine? Or does it work to unsettle readers by implying that we might not be too far removed from disaster? Ultimately, this class will invite you to grapple with the kind of future you do (and don’t) want to see.
English 6 Fall Elective: Incarceration Nation
Why do we as a society imprison people? Is it for public safety? To reform undesirable behavior? To punish? This course examines the history of imprisonment that led us to where we are today with our American prison system through the voices of the imprisoned. Using various literary texts, this course explores the institutional response to crime: punishment. Writings by American prisoners, essays by Michel Foucault, excerpts from Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, a choice text (Just Mercy, Big Black: Stand at Attica, Writing My Wrongs, Solitary, or Life Sentences), as well as poetry and podcasts provide the basis for class engagement. Students can expect research presentations, an inquiry-based project, working on logic and biases, formal and informal writing, a formal debate, and lots of discussions. We will also examine why we punish, some issues related to the prison system, and our own perspectives on why we as a society punish, culminating in writing our own essays and/or editorials. Given that the authors of many of the texts we read have faced trauma both leading to and in their incarceration, content in the reading will include sensitive subjects, including violence, sexual assault, police brutality, racism, and other forms of discrimination.
English 6 Fall Elective: Literatures of Climate Change
Over the last fifty years, our understanding of the existential threat posed by climate change has increased rapidly. As the dangers of higher temperatures, disrupted rainfall cycles, rising sea levels, desertification, and climate-induced dislocation have become more prominent, scientists and politicians have sounded the alarm bells. Writers, artists, and filmmakers have also responded, building climate change into their works as both background context and also as a major theme. In this course, we will investigate the ways that writers, scientists, and artists have addressed the growing threat of climate change; we will explore how their works both shape our understanding and also encourage (or not) action in response. How do these various thinkers use their media to convey the dangers of climate change, and which approaches are best at sparking change? Primary focus will be on fiction, with works by Omar El Akkad, Louise Erdrich, and Kim Stanley Robinson, but poetry, scientific studies, photography, and film will be
examined as well.
English 6 Fall Elective: Long-Form Journalism
As we try to make sense of the incredibly complicated world around us, we search for the truth-tellers who may point us in the right direction and provide some clarity. Many times, it is the gradual, painstaking work of journalists that brings us the answers we need or the shocking revelations that we must face. But how do journalists go about pursuing and revealing the truth? In a modern world flooded with misinformation and bias, how do they walk the thin lines between informing and misleading, convincing and deceiving, inspiring and radicalizing? How do they balance the facts with their storytelling? In this class, we will cover various types of long-form, narrative-based journalism that has brought the issues and stories of real people in the real world to light. We will use these works of literary nonfiction and film to break down how journalists communicate meaningful messages while staying true to their ethics, and we will use those approaches as inspiration for our own works of journalism. The final project of the class will involve producing a story based on an issue, phenomenon, or figure at KO based on research and interviews conducted throughout the semester. Ultimately, we’ll explore how great journalists understand the principle at the core of their work: they are carefully wielding the power of a story.
English 6 Fall Elective: Honors Symposium Seminar
This course studies the work of a renowned living author and his or her life and literary environment. It also examines the critical assessment of the author’s work and those writers who influenced his or her style and focus. Independent discussion, extensive writing and peer teaching are fundamental to the course as a means for developing a mature understanding of the symposium author.
The course culminates with the author’s visit to the School as part of the annual Warren Baird English Symposium. Students meet with the author and participate in a master class, both rich opportunities to question and discuss with the author the careful and thorough perspectives that they have developed in their semester’s study. Designed for those students who have excelled in their study of English and have the passion and curiosity to explore a single author for the semester, admission to this course is by application only.
Spring Senior Electives
The Senior Thesis, the culmination of the long-range objectives of the English program at Kingswood Oxford, requires students to use all of their acquired reading, writing and thinking skills in an independent research paper with a substantial literary component. An assigned thesis advisor works with a small group of students in class to cover topic selection, methods of research and technical procedures while the student pursues his or her independent research and writing. All Form 6 students are required to write a Senior Thesis during the third quarter.
English 6 Spring Elective: Beyond Disney
Where do fairy tales come from? Why do these fictional stories still hold sway over our culture? This course will examine these questions by comparing and contrasting the origins of fairy tales to the modern adaptations by Disney. We will ask what has changed in these stories and what cultural influences have brought about the changes in these adaptations. We will focus on the stories of Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, and Aladdin. The texts for this course will include several of Grimm’s fairy tales, Cupid and Psyche by Apuleius in translation, parts of Ye Xian in translation, Strabo’s Rhodopis in translation, and parts of Arabian Nights in translation.
English 6 Spring Elective: The Happiness Class
In the comic strip Peanuts, Lucy Van Pelt expressed, “Happiness is a warm puppy,” implying some of the simplest things bring us joy: love and companionship. What is your version of happiness? What can we learn from literature and reflection about our own happiness? In this course, students will listen to the first season of the podcast The Happiness Lab, which Dr. Laurie Santos created after learning that “Rates of depression in 20-year-olds have doubled since 2009.” As we explore the series on the science of happiness, we will read accompanying short texts — odes, expressions of praise and gratitude, and various other works — that align with the podcast thematically. In addition to class discussions, students will write informal reflective journals and complete a project responding to a text of their choice.
English 6 Spring Elective: Know Yourself: Literature and Psychology
How well do you know yourself? In this elective, we will engage with this important topic of self-knowledge from two distinct vantage points: literature and psychology. We will work through several key questions of identity: for example, how much do we deceive ourselves about who we are? How much are we changed by how others perceive us? How well do we communicate who we are to others? What are the best ways to figure out who we really are? For each question, we will examine literary examples, including short stories and excerpts from novels by Jhumpa Lahiri, Virginia Woolf, Jamaica Kincaid, and David Sedaris, among others; we will also seek psychological insights from the Prisoner’s Dilemma, The Stanford Prison experiment, the Turing Test, and various other studies. Further, we will challenge ourselves with reflective exercises that get us thinking about how these questions apply to our own lives. These conversations will culminate in a public art exhibition: students will produce art pieces that reflect key principles from the course and share these pieces with the wider community.
English 6 Spring Elective: Meddling with Mystery: The Art and Impact of Mystery Narratives
Nothing reaches up from the page or the screen and pulls us in like a good mystery. Whether we’re playing detective alongside clever and courageous characters or we’re just spectators for the thrilling discoveries along the way, mysteries have a unique capacity to engage us as readers and audience members. They give us intriguing and paradoxical feelings of control and helplessness, at times leading us to solutions through reason and at other times forcing us to relinquish that control in the face of events we are unable or unwilling to explain. These complicated and powerful feelings are part of what keeps us revisiting the mystery genre, furiously flipping through thrillers at the airport or sitting down to watch the thousandth episode of a popular procedural crime drama. In this elective, we’ll examine the many ways in which mysteries in literature, film, and popular culture move audiences and play into their values, fears, and desires. We’ll then shift our focus to the storytelling elements and strategies that produce the impact mysteries have on their audiences. The class will examine mystery narratives analytically, but there will be opportunities for students to explore the themes and tropes of the genre creatively as well, including a final project that will ask students to engage their classmates with a mystery narrative they have researched or produced themselves.
English 6 Spring Elective: Monsters, Inc.
“By monster I mean some horrendous presence or apparition that explodes all of your standards for harmony, order, and ethical conduct.” So says Joseph Campbell in “The Power of Myth.” This course explores the dynamics of horror, past to present, with special attention to monsters as manifestations of cultural values. What does a particular culture label as “monstrous,” and why? What makes a successful monster at a given time? What exactly have certain authors (and filmmakers) captured (or unleashed)? Toward answering such questions, we explore history, myth, literature, art and film. We begin in the Dark Ages with the shadowy monsters slain by Beowulf and end with a movie genre that just won’t die – the slasher film. Works studied may include John Gardner’s Grendel, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love, Stewart O’Nan’s The Speed Queen, Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are and George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead.
English 6 Spring Elective: Novels and Their Film Adaptations
Is the book always better than the movie? What makes an adaptation successful? This course considers the challenges involved in converting novels to film. Must one be faithful to plot or are there more important issues inherent in adaptation? What pressures does Hollywood bring to the process? By examining novel and film pairs including J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, and Jonathan Nolan’s “Memento Mori” – the class tackles some of these questions to define the qualities of a successful adaptation.
English 6 Spring Elective: Podcasts: Audio Stories for the 21st Century
“Serial.” “This American Life.” “Dr. Death.” “Radiolab.” “The Daily.” “Stuff You Should Know.” “S-Town.” “Planet Money.” “Ted Talks Daily.” “Pod Save America.” With the over 1.75 million podcasts currently being produced, there’s something for everyone. Back in 2006, only 22% of adults in the US were aware of podcasting, but in 2020, most adults listen to podcasts, and by 2023, it is estimated that the number of podcast listeners will surpass 160 million. We’re living in the Golden Age of podcasting. This course allows students to sample different podcasts while also allowing them to create their own. Students will listen to a variety of different styles of podcasts, taking careful note of the scripting, organization, mixing, and editing that goes into each one before they decide on a topic of their own and work in groups to research, script, outline, record, and edit their own podcast.
English 6 Spring Elective: Family Drama
“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” One of the most famous sentences in literature, is the first line of Leo Tolstoy’s novel, Anna Karenina. It certainly seems like many writers are tortured souls, playing out their family dramas in writing to work out their own deep-seated issues. Writer Chimamanda Adichie, who admittedly enjoyed a happy childhood, has jokingly stated, “When I learned, some years ago, that writers were expected to have had really unhappy childhoods to be successful, I began to think about how I could invent horrible things my parents had done to me.” Why are so many of us drawn to stories about dysfunctional families? How do stories like these speak to our desire to understand how our parents, siblings, and extended family members shape who we are? Working toward answering these questions, this course examines family drama…literally: dramas about families. Each of the plays on our syllabus is a quintessential family drama, in which dysfunction plays out in live action on the stage, in dialogue between family members. As we witness tense dinners, blow-out fights, and, at times, a tearful hug or moment of hope, we will consider: in families, is there a way to have, in Mary J. Blige’s words, “no more drama”?
No human endeavor has been as successful as the scientific method. The spirit of innovation may be a natural consequence of the complexity originating in the nervous system, but the substantial progress in every field of modern science is rooted in a sturdy, globally accepted design. Our courses are structured to grant each student access to the foundational principles of the scientific process. Our excellent facilities, infused with natural light, provide optimum conditions for inquiry and the development of an evidence-based perspective of modern science.
Environmental Science: A Changing Earth
This course employs an emphasis on the influence of anthropogenic activities on Earth, ecosystems and populations. It is characterized by dynamic instructional and experimental methods to guide students toward learning about ecological, environmental, and evolutionary principles, interactions and trends. Basic biological, physical and chemical concepts are employed to support environmental topics throughout the year. Students are initially engaged with the study of ecology: interactions between living and nonliving components, local to global patterns that control those interactions on both long and short timescales. We explore how seasonality results from the tilt of the Earth’s axis, as expressed in global and predictable patterns of temperature and water availability in biomes. The class continues with an exploration of food, nutrient cycles and energy flow. Practical application of introductory concepts, along with experimental evidence, promotes an ongoing local investigation of the KO campus and the surrounding area. Additional experimentation and exposure to new concepts allow students to consider how ecological principles are revealed in our immediate environment and how KO might improve its environmental impact through modification of its existing food and energy-related practices and programs. Building upon this foundation, students are encouraged to broaden the scope of their investigations to further analyze global cycles and environmental trends in the context of the distant past and compare them with recent, or current conditions. Students are encouraged and guided to evaluate the environment as an ever-changing entity, due to natural and anthropogenic forces on our landscape through continuous exploration of local ecosystems through the academic year. Open to students in Form 3.
Environmental Science Honors: A Changing Earth
Students in the Honors Environmental Science class will focus on the same basic curricular foundation outlined in the description for the regular level of Environmental Science (see description above). As an introductory lab course all topics will encompass a greater depth and pace of investigation, along with project-based applications. Honors students will be expected to exercise a greater level of independence with assignments, using multiple resources to supplement information from the class discussion and the textbook. Compared to the regular Environmental Science section, this course requires a greater emphasis on data analysis and writing in the context of research for lab reports, papers, and other assessments. For the duration of the course, students will explore the process of science in terms of the methods scientists use to make observations, propose questions, and design tests to collect data for analysis and conclusion. Open to students in Form 3 with departmental approval.
This general biology course is designed to provide students with an understanding of the basic concepts of cell biology, genetics, evolution, and current topics in molecular biology and genetic engineering. This course includes a lab component as well as multiple student-centered demonstrations that promote investigative skills. Laboratory work mirrors the course work and promotes careful observation, analysis, and synthesis of data and the ability to develop and discuss sensible conclusions. A focus on writing for science-oriented practices accompanies these goals. The course is highlighted by an extensive final project linked to genetic disorders. Students will then consult with a genetic counselor from a local medical facility near the conclusion of the activity. Open to students in Form 4.
Much of this course employs an expansion of the contextual framework used to introduce the basic biological processes listed in the description of the foundational Biology course (see above). Students in the Biology Honors course should expect to cover topics in greater depth and/or a faster pace, with a greater emphasis on conceptual application and analysis, through writing, laboratory projects, and tests. Formal lab reports are modeled after the style associated with scientific journals. In the Honors sequence, a more detailed exploration of biochemistry is utilized to highlight cell physiology and molecular biology, including the important relationship between cellular respiration and photosynthesis. This objective reflects the current trends in modern scientific research, especially within the realm of genetics and gene expression. All chemical, biological and physical properties are viewed within the framework of evolution, adaptation, and natural selection throughout the school year. Open to students in form 4 with departmental approval.
Chemistry explains many of the phenomena we encounter in our everyday lives. This class is for both science-minded students as well as for those who are just curious about the way the world works – understanding the contributions of chemistry provides a rich, new perspective. In this full-year lab-based course, students look at chemistry in everyday life – from fireworks to airbags to energy in food, as well as uncover chemistry’s scientific laws and principles. The basics of atomic structure, periodic properties, bonding, chemical reactions, gas properties and thermodynamics are explored within a discovery-based and problem-solving, interactive classroom. The class provides opportunities for students to explore and research the intersection between their lives, other disciplines, and the cornerstone principles of chemistry. Students’ devices are used for a variety of applications such as online simulations or to collect and display lab data from digital probes to help enhance students’ critical thinking and analytical skills. Open to students in Forms 5-6. Prerequisite: Algebra 1.
This lab course begins with the same spectrum of topics as the general chemistry course but at a greater depth and faster pace. Students in this course are expected to be comfortable with frequent use of algebra to allow a mathematical methodology for the study of chemical concepts. Reaction kinetics, equilibrium, and acid-base chemistry are also covered. Students complete homework reading, homework problems, and practice worksheets independently. The laboratory requirement is more expansive and quantitatively oriented compared to the lab activities in the general chemistry program. Open to students in Forms 5-6. Prerequisites: Algebra 2 (can be concurrent) and department approval.
This introduction to physics is a year-long course involving both theoretical and hands-on approaches to the study of physical phenomena. The class focuses on motion, forces, momentum, and energy. Lab investigations and projects are an integral part of the program, providing insight into the relationship between experimentation and theory. Through continuous mathematical and conceptual problem-solving, students practice and hone their developing physics skills. This course is open to students in Forms 5-6. Prerequisites: Algebra 2 either completed or taken concurrently.
The AP® Biology program follows a sequence similar to a first-year college biology curriculum with special attention to the four Big Ideas identified by the College Board, including the premise that evolution is the central theme that anchors the study of biology. A list of these ideas can be found on the College Board website. The sequence includes coverage of eight major content units designed to cultivate an understanding of cellular processes, energy and communication, genetics and heredity, information transfer, ecology and species interactions. Substantial time is allotted to the study of heredity and gene expression, which mirrors the current expansion of biological information and published research in our time. Some quantitative ability is required, as activities based on inquiry will utilize formulas and mathematical calculations. Considerable abstract and conceptual reasoning along with extra time for substantial independent study of unit topics is a precondition for enrollment in AP® Biology. Lab exercises are chosen from a collection of investigations approved by the College Board. These are designed to promote the development of skills with data collection, graph analysis, and formation of hypotheses. Students enrolled in this course must take the Advanced Placement® Biology Examination in May. Open to students in Forms 4-6. Prerequisites: Biology and Chemistry and/or department approval.
This lab-based course follows a typical first-year college curriculum in inorganic chemistry. While intended to be a second chemistry course, it may be taken, with permission, by students with no chemistry background. Designed to prepare students for the Advanced Placement® Examination, they explore the five “Big Ideas” identified by the College Board by first previewing the concepts using “the flipped classroom” approach or using guided-inquiry collaborative activities and interactive computer simulations. Students then apply those concepts in solving both quantitative and conceptual AP® exam-style problems. In addition, students engage in substantially more independent laboratory work and apply increasingly complex quantitative reasoning and analytical skills to writing their lab reports. Students enrolled in this course must take the Advanced Placement® Chemistry Exam in May. Open to students in Forms 5-6. Prerequisites: Pre-calculus (can be taken concurrently), chemistry and/or department approval.
AP® Environmental Science
The goal of the AP® Environmental Science course is to provide students with the scientific principles, concepts, and methodologies required to understand the interrelationships of the natural world, to identify and analyze environmental problems both natural and human-made, to evaluate the relative risks associated with these problems, and to examine alternative solutions for resolving and/or preventing them. By its nature, environmental science is interdisciplinary; it embraces a wide variety of topics from different areas of study. Yet there are several major unifying constructs, or themes, that cut across the many topics included in the study of environmental science. Topics include energy flow in the environment, geochemical cycles, population ecology, and biodiversity. This is a lab science that will require some outdoor landscape investigations and field studies. Students enrolled in this course must take the Advanced Placement® Environmental Science Examination in May. Open to students in Forms 5-6. Prerequisite: Earth and Environmental Science or department approval.
AP® Physics 1
An introductory, college-level course, AP® Physics 1 is an algebra-based exploration of kinematics (motion), dynamics (forces), circular motion and gravitation, energy, momentum, simple harmonics, rotational motion, mechanical waves, electrostatics, and DC circuits. By bringing together fundamental scientific principles with theories of physics, the course encourages students to consider physics concepts as pieces of a puzzle, and this puzzle ultimately reveals how the world really works. Students participate in labs and inquiry-based explorations of these topics to gain a thorough conceptual understanding. While students have access to all the necessary formulas, their effort is directed toward developing critical thinking and reasoning skills. Students taking AP® Physics 1 should have completed geometry and precalculus. All enrolled students will take the Physics 1 Advanced Placement® exam in May. Prerequisite: department approval.
AP® Physics C: Mechanics
AP® Physics C: Mechanics is a college-level, calculus-based course that explores kinematics, dynamics, momentum, energy, oscillations, and gravitation. Through inquiry-based explorations, students develop their own experimental procedures, collect data, and analyze results by applying their developing course skills. Less time is spent using traditional formula-based learning in order to direct more time and effort toward the development of critical thinking and reasoning skills. Students enrolled in this course must take the AP® Physics C: Mechanics exam in May. Prerequisite: AP® Calculus either completed or taken concurrently and department approval.
Marine Biology (Year)
This year-long lab course is designed for students with a particular interest in marine biology and oceanography. The course provides an excellent background for students interested in a detailed study of the oceans, the organisms that inhabit them, and our dependence on them for food, climate regulation, and oxygen. Major concepts developed in this course include the examination of interrelationships between marine and terrestrial environments, geology of the oceans, the ecology of coral reefs, and the threats posed by human activities within each of these categories. Laboratory activities, including the examination of marine specimens and frequent discussions of current events (as they apply to real-world applications) are utilized throughout this course in order to develop increasing levels of student knowledge. Students use the classroom tank ecosystems to examine habitats and discuss the possible reasons why specific organisms occupy them. Students should emerge from the course with a better understanding of the conditions that currently impact our oceans as well as their role in preserving this natural resource in relation to the choices they make in their daily lives. Open to students in Forms 5 and 6. Prerequisite: Biology.
Human Anatomy and Physiology 1 (Fall)
This semester course encompasses an introductory framework to the exploration of organ systems vital for life in the human body. Students begin with a microscopic study of major tissue categories, followed by the anatomical design and processes of the integumentary, muscular, skeletal, and circulatory systems. Emphasis will be placed on levels of organization, structure and function, homeostatic processes and the integration of systems. Laboratory work will include traditional dissections in addition to data and research-based investigations. Students will be asked to relate what they have learned through the analysis and application of course material to case studies. This course will be offered in both the fall and spring semesters. The study of human anatomy and physiology will continue with an optional second course (offered in the 2022-2023 school year) to students interested in learning more advanced physiology topics. Open to all students in Form 5 and 6.
Introduction to Biomedical Science (Fall, Spring)
This is an advanced course that represents an introduction to human biology and the science of medicine, drawing upon basic biological and chemical concepts to explore the intricate anatomical and physiological mechanisms underlying normal human function. Throughout the course, students will be presented with Case Studies focused on a body system such as the heart, lungs, bones, or muscles. Students will extensively examine the information presented in each Case Study to discover the workings and intricacies of the human body. Studies will expose students to diseases and hot topics in today’s medical world. Outreach to medical professionals is a goal of this course. Students will solve the case study through readings, research, and laboratory investigations in order to compose reports and prepare presentations about their findings. Open to all students in Forms 5 and 6. Open to students who have taken Chemistry or who are taking it concurrently.
Introduction to Engineering (Fall)
This course focuses on the different facets of engineering. Students will complete small projects throughout the semester for each of the different engineering categories. Topics will include civil, environmental, electrical and mechanical engineering. Students will be introduced to the engineering design method and focus on analyzing a problem, solving the problem, and prototype testing. The students will focus on a large design-based project and experience the different types of engineering. Throughout this one-semester course, students will be challenged in ways that require consideration of materials available, functionality, and cost. After completing this class, students will know what it would be like to study several types of engineering after high school. This course is open to students in Forms 4-6.
Psychology: The Brain and Behavior (Fall)
Ever wonder how the brain works? Or why do we remember some things and not others? Or why certain behaviors persist? The Brain and Behavior is an introduction to the scientific study of human behavior. Topics include the biological basis of behavior, memory, sensation, and perception. Students learn how a psychological perspective provides insight into human behaviors. They read various theoretical perspectives, learning to employ research methods that allow them to become knowledgeable readers of psychological research and findings. In this course, students will cultivate the ability to think critically about topics in psychology. Open to students in Forms 4-6.
This course provides an overview of major and timely topics in genetics, providing students with a broad-based, fundamental understanding of genetics. Following a review of inheritance patterns, the structure of DNA, and other hereditary topics introduced during exposure to introductory biology, this course aims to consider selected challenges and issues currently being addressed in genetics. This course will focus on concepts such as genomics, application of statistical analysis to genetic outcomes, the role of mutation, gene expression, cloning and gene editing with the Crispr-cas9 therapy. Students will learn how PCR technology (used in covid testing) can be useful to forensic science and other disciplines. The course will consist of labs, projects such as gel electrophoresis, and many more hands-on activities to help students see through the eyes of a genetics investigator. This course is open to students in form 5 or 6 with a prerequisite biology course.
Human Anatomy and Physiology 2 (Spring)
This course is designed as an extension of Human Anatomy and Physiology I. Students will learn more advanced physiology topics, including the neural and hormonal control of and connections between digestion, excretion, and reproduction. Much like Human Anatomy and Physiology I, emphasis will again be placed on levels of organization, structure and function, homeostatic processes, and integration of systems. Our discussions will center around case studies, whereby a particular disorder or disease will shed light on the connection between systems of multiple life-sustaining processes. We will end with a fetal pig dissection and a cumulative project regarding a public health issue of the student’s choosing. Open to students in Forms 5-6. Prerequisite: Human Anatomy and Physiology I.
Psychology: Thoughts, Emotions, and Personality (Spring)
Ever wonder why we express certain emotions the way we do? Or what influences our personality? Or how groups can affect an individual’s behavior? This course serves as an introduction to mental processes. Topics include motivation, emotions, personality, and abnormal and social psychology. Students will be taught how a psychological perspective provides insight into cognition, emotions, and personality. Additionally, they become knowledgeable readers of psychological research and findings. The goal is to teach students how to think critically about topics in psychology. Open to students in Forms 4-6.
The Science of Climate Change (Fall)
The Science of Climate Change allows students to become acquainted with the scientific basis for
climate change, differences between weather and climate, and the ability to distinguish between anthropogenic and natural sources of variation in climate patterns. Students will be introduced to the materials and methods that allow scientists to explain how we know what we know, how to model the future and reconstruct the past. At the conclusion of the course, students should be able to understand why it is so difficult, due to the number of variables involved, to address climate change on the global scale. This class will highlight areas in which the science of climate change intersects topics related to history, math, engineering, and English. Students will be given the opportunity to explore local and global issues related to a changing climate, adaptation strategies, and challenges. Coursework consists of primary readings from scientific literature, summaries from policymakers as well as insight into the methods in which climate science is communicated to the public. Students will be encouraged to take a critical view of those sources and evaluate them through a scientific lens. Evaluations are based on independent, research-based projects in the realm of science communication and/or advocacy, presentations, and writing assignments. Open to all students in Forms 5 and 6.
Mathematics is a discipline with broad applicability throughout the natural and social sciences: Whether we are modeling climate change, forecasting financial markets, or securing Internet sites, we are using math. Yet there is also a more subtle beauty in mathematics: an elegance arising from its interconnectedness and simplicity. We strive to develop logical, creative-thinking students who can apply technology and hands-on techniques to real-world and abstract problems. Our learning environment fosters active participation, self-discipline, and perseverance.
Our program begins in the Middle School, where math is presented as an active and exciting subject. Working in groups, in pairs or alone, students explore a problem-centered curriculum; how to observe relationships and patterns in complex sets of data; and learn that asking “why” and “how” leads to deep understanding of the material. In the Upper School, students continue to strengthen their reasoning skills and their ability to manipulate and apply mathematical concepts. After completing geometry and two years of algebra, students will take courses from a rigorous curriculum that includes Precalculus, Calculus, Statistics, and Computer Science, with AP® options in Calculus, Statistics, and Computer Science.
Algebra 1 provides a formal, in-depth development of the algebraic skills and concepts necessary for students to succeed in subsequent courses. The key content involves writing, solving, and graphing linear and quadratic equations, including systems of two linear equations in two variables. Quadratic equations are solved by factoring, graphing, or applying the quadratic formula. The course also includes studying monomial and polynomial expressions, inequalities, exponents, functions, rational expressions, ratio, and proportion. Algebraic skills are applied in a wide variety of problem-solving situations. For many students this course is an extension of concepts that they’ve been introduced to in a previous course. Upon successful completion of this course students advance to Geometry.
This Geometry course provides students with a thorough exposure to Euclidean geometry in two and three dimensions. Students analyze the fundamentals of geometry through properties, proofs, and arithmetic/algebraic problem solving. This course begins with an introduction to deductive reasoning and the development of logical arguments while uncovering properties of polygons, parallel lines, and perpendicular lines in the plane or in space. The Pythagorean Theorem and an introduction to right triangle trigonometry lay the foundation for the study of area of plane figures as well as the area and volume of solids in the spring. Upon successful completion of this course students continue their study of Algebra. Graphing calculators are required for this course.
This Honors Geometry course provides students with a rigorous exposure to Euclidean geometry in two and three dimensions. Students develop strong problem-solving skills using inductive and deductive reasoning. Students will be able to apply previously learned concepts to new situations by making connections between ideas and referring to past experiences. Basic spatial and physical definitions, as well as mathematical reasoning, are explored. This course focuses on an in-depth study of the properties, congruence, and relationships of lines, polygons, and circles. Area and volume as well as the relationships between them are also studied. The goal of this course is to enable students to navigate through geometric problems, and to logically break down and solve them. Upon successfully completing this course students advance to an appropriate level of Algebra 2. Department recommendation is required for this course. Graphing calculators are required for this course.
Algebra 2 further explores the topics studied in Algebra 1 with a concentration on functions. Topics covered include inequalities, matrices, imaginary and complex numbers, conic sections, as well as radical, linear, quadratic and polynomial functions, and rational expressions. There is a focus on solving problems as students work to solidify their skills in applying the properties of algebra. The course moves at an accelerated pace, and proper justification and detail are stressed. An introduction to interpreting and understanding the connections between equations and graphs is explored. Upon successful completion of this course, students advance to Precalculus. Graphing calculators are required for this course.
Algebra 2 Honors
This honors-level course offers students a rigorous and in-depth exploration of functions and further builds upon the topics covered in Algebra 1. The course focuses on inequalities, systems of equations, imaginary and complex numbers, conic sections, and matrices, and the following families of functions: linear, quadratic, polynomial, rational, exponential, and logarithmic. Through an algebraic, numerical, and graphical approach, students learn to analyze functions and become familiar with their individual characteristics. Students are expected to be able to move quickly, have a strong math intuition, and have fluidity in computation. There is significant emphasis placed on solving sophisticated problems. Upon successful completion of this course, students advance to an appropriate level of Precalculus. Department recommendation is required for this course. Graphing calculators are required for this course.
This course expands upon the concepts studied in Algebra 2. It is designed for students that need to fine-tune their algebraic skills. The topics covered in this course include set notation, as well as linear, rational, polynomial functions, and their graphs. Algebraic skills are used in a wide variety of applications. Additionally, students work to develop concrete problem-solving skills, to take ownership of their learning, and to read and interpret mathematical writing and notation. Advanced functions, including exponential, logarithmic, and trigonometric functions are introduced from an algebraic and graphical approach. This course provides students with a foundation for continued studies in Calculus or Statistics. Graphing calculators are required for this course.
Precalculus Honors builds on the concepts learned in Algebra 2 with an increase in pace and expectation. The course begins with a study of functions and their properties, specifically exploring polynomial, rational, radical, logarithmic, exponential, and trigonometric. The major focus of this course is solving and graphing equations in each of these families of functions. Through a graphical, algebraic, and numeric approach, students will develop a conceptual understanding of problems and develop mathematical reasoning and problem-solving ability. Facility with Algebra 2 concepts, as well as the ability to think critically and apply reasoning skills are essential characteristics of a successful Precalculus Honors student. This course provides students with a foundation for continued studies in Calculus, Statistics, or other quantitative courses in college. Department recommendation is required for this course. Graphing calculators are required for this course.
Precalculus Honors Accelerated
Precalculus Honors Accelerated builds on the topics mastered in Algebra 2 with a significant increase in pace and expectation. Students entering this course must have a solid number sense and strong math intuition. Also, they must be able to apply concepts quickly and be fluid in computation. This course studies different families of functions and their properties including polynomial, rational, radical, logarithmic, exponential, and trigonometric functions. It explores advanced topics such as vectors, parametric equations, polar functions as well as their graphs, and sequences and series. The Calculus topics of limits, rate of change, and derivative rules are introduced. Through a graphical, algebraic, and analytical approach, students will develop a conceptual understanding of problems and mathematical reasoning. Mastering these skills will prepare students for continued studies in AP® Calculus BC. Department recommendation is required for this course. Graphing calculators are required for this course.
Statistics offers students an introduction to the concepts of statistics and probability. Topics include graphical displays of data, measures of central tendency and variability, the elements of experimental design and observational study, and the fundamentals of probability, random variables, probability distributions, confidence intervals, hypothesis testing, and linear regression. This course focuses on the many applications of statistics in the natural and social sciences and makes use of the graphing calculator and the computer. This course is open to students in Form 6 who have completed Algebra 2 and students in Form 5 with department approval. Graphing calculators are required for this course.
This non-calculus-based course encompasses the material covered in a first-semester college-level statistics course. The conceptual themes that students are exposed to are exploratory analysis of data, planning an appropriate data-collection study, producing models using probability and simulation, and using statistical inference to guide conclusions. Students use statistical modeling tools to solve a variety of problems in economics, the physical and biological sciences, law, geography, and political science. Students enrolled in this course must take the Advanced Placement® Statistics Examination in May. The course makes extensive use of the graphing calculator. Department recommendation is required for this course. Graphing calculators are required for this course.
This course covers the traditional topics of differential and integral calculus. Students begin the year with a review of families of functions and trigonometry before moving on to studying limits, continuity, the derivative, the definite integral, and their many related applications in the social and natural sciences. Algebraic and problem-solving skills are reinforced throughout the year, preparing students for continued study of calculus in college. Precalculus is a prerequisite for this course, and department recommendation is required. Graphing calculators are required for this course.
AP® Calculus AB
This course is designed to cover all of the material of the first semester of a college calculus course. It begins with topics in differential calculus, including limits, continuity and techniques of differentiation, followed by applications of the derivative in problem-solving. The second half of the course covers topics in integral calculus, beginning with Riemann sums and the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, continuing with techniques of integration, and ending with the consideration of a range of applications of the integral. Students enrolled in this course must take the Advanced Placement® Calculus AB Examination in May. Department recommendation is required for this course. Graphing calculators are required for this course.
AP® Calculus BC
This course is designed to cover all of the material of the first two semesters of a college calculus course. The focus is on the derivative, the integral and their applications, including maximum and minimum problems, velocity and acceleration, related rates, linear approximations, areas and volumes, and curve sketching. Students will study polynomial, rational, trigonometric, and exponential functions, as well as conic sections, parametric and polar equations. Separable differential equations and sequences and series also are part of the course. Students enrolled in this course must take the Advanced Placement® Calculus BC Examination in May. Department recommendation is required for this course. Graphing calculators are required for this course.
Multivariable Calculus Honors
The course begins with the study of vectors, lines, curves and surfaces in three dimensions as well as partial derivatives and their applications, double and triple integrals and applications, and, time permitting, an introduction to line and surface integrals (Green’s, Gauss’ and Stokes’ theorems). The latter portion of the course includes a review of separable differential equations as well as an introduction to linear homogeneous and nonhomogeneous differential equations. The course integrates the study of mechanics, which students have covered in physics, with the application of calculus to physical concepts. This course is open to students who have successfully completed AP® Calculus BC. Department recommendation is required for this course. Graphing calculators are required for this course.
AP® Computer Science
This is a yearlong advanced-level computer science course for those who have completed Introduction to Computer Science. Following the Advanced Placement® Computer Science A curriculum, the Java language is used to present “programming methodology with an emphasis on problem-solving and algorithm development.” It models a college-level, first-semester computer science course and includes an introduction to data structures and data abstraction. Students enrolled in this course must take the Advanced Placement® Computer Science A Examination in May. Department recommendation is required for this course.
Introduction to Finance (Fall)
Introduction to Engineering (Fall)
This course focuses on the different facets of engineering. Students will complete small projects throughout the semester for each of the different engineering categories. Topics will include civil, environmental, electrical and mechanical engineering. Students will be introduced to the engineering design method and focus on analyzing a problem, solving the problem, and prototype testing. The students will focus on a large design based project and experience the different types of engineering. Throughout this one semester course, students will be challenged in ways that require consideration of materials available, functionality, and cost. After completing this class, students will know what it would be like to study several types of engineering after high school. This course is open to students in Forms 4-6.
Introduction to Computer Science (Fall)
This elective is an entry/intermediate level computer programming course that introduces the basic principles of generating computer code with clarity and elegance. Classroom projects include textbook exercises, simple text-based gaming, fundamental graphics, and creating Apps for Android Phones. Program structure, conditionals, looping, and style are presented in this course using the Visual Basic. The course covers the fundamentals of using the OOP approach, including objects, classes, methods, data types, application, and applet design. This coursework provides a possible lead into further studies in the Advanced Placement® Computer Science course. This course is open to students in Forms 3-6.
Advanced Computer Science: Algorithms and Artificial Intelligence (Spring)
This elective is an advanced-level programming course that allows students to explore algorithms and artificial intelligence using the Java programming language. During the first half of the course, students examine different algorithm design methods while also implementing some of their own algorithms to solve problems correctly and efficiently. In the second half of the course, students explore artificial intelligence and examine how machines can think like a human brain. They complete the course by creating Apps for Android Phones. Throughout the semester, students design and work on individual programming projects under the instructor’s guidance. This course is open to students in Forms 3-6. Prerequisite: completion of Introduction to Computer Science or department approval.
Game Theory (Spring)
Games, in the mathematical sense, are all around us. Every decision made represents a choice among many possibilities, and game theory is the study of how humans make those choices. Most of the semester will be spent playing and discussing different types of games, such as sequential move games, simultaneous move games, zero-sum games, repeated games, and bidding games. In addition, topics such as dominant strategies, Nash equilibrium, mixed strategy equilibrium, and backward induction will be studied. Game theory has wide applications across many disciplines as well as in daily life so this course will make use of hands-on applications. This course will enhance the way students think about the world and will inspire them to make better, more rational decisions. This course is open to students in Forms 4-6 and students in Form 3 with department approval. Graphing calculators are required for this course.
“History cannot give us a program for the future, but it can give us a fuller understanding of ourselves, and of our common humanity, so that we can better face the future.”
— Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989) American writer and teacher
As Professor Warren notes, history helps to tie us to our collective humanity, and during this very important chapter in our history, can there be a more important connection? Our students learn to appreciate as well as to critique historical events. To read mindfully, to write effectively, to think objectively, to research accurately, and to speak authoritatively: these are the goals we have for our students as they come to understand the past on their way to contributing to a bright future.
Global Cities and Cultural Landscapes
The goal for the course is for students to become more geoliterate, more engaged in contemporary global issues, and more informed about multicultural viewpoints. Students will learn to “think globally, act locally” and apply what they learn to where they live. As the world population shifts toward urban areas, so too will our students in their studies, focusing on the roles cities play in solving and creating some of the world’s most pressing challenges today.
By developing a geographic perspective with which to view the landscape and understand current events, students will cultivate their understanding of humanity through data and geographic analyses as they explore topics like patterns and spatial organization, human impacts and interactions with their environment, and spatial processes and societal changes. Students will explore the historical roots of political, economic, social, environmental, cultural, technological, and artistic developments across the world to learn about the challenges of today and to develop real-world solutions. Solutions will be based primarily on in-depth analysis of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. In addition to learning traditional research, writing, analytical, and communication skills as historians, students will apply what they have learned in a culminating project as they study and explore the city of Hartford. Required for all students in Form 3.
Modern World Studies
This course chronologically and thematically examines western and non-western histories from 1500 – 2000 where students investigate the key elements of the modern era and the impact and significance of nationalism in defining today. Along with major events, personalities, philosophical ideas and scientific developments, this course examines the social, political, religious, economic and military aspects of selected regions in the modern world. This course includes in-depth analysis of primary and secondary sources, rigorous test preparation, extensive research essay writing, and current-day problem-solving, and asks students to make connections and develop arguments regarding themes across the centuries. Students expand their understanding of varied historical cultures with the overall goal of developing a greater appreciation for the differences among the peoples who inhabit our ever-changing world. Required for students in Form 4.
This course is about uncovering the stories from our collective past that help us understand the present. Through hands-on explorations of historical accounts, students learn to identify primary sources, conduct research utilizing KO’s databases, and ask clarifying questions in order to understand the multiple perspectives needed to analyze each historical time period. By conducting genuine research, students will begin to see how multiple disciplines overlap through the study of history, and find opportunities to solve real-world issues.
The year begins with an examination of the indigenous populations that lived in North America before European colonization and follows the growth of the colonies, the birth of the American government, and the social, political, and economic developments of the country through the twentieth century.
Students experience active learning through field trips off campus, discussions with local and international speakers, working alongside historians and experts in various fields, and collaborating with each other and teachers across disciplines. The depth of study is based on the student’s willingness to look beyond the surface of issues and ideas from the past in order to develop a means to examine more carefully at the events in their own lives. Required for students in Form 5. Under special circumstances and with departmental approval, a student may take this course during their Form 4 or Form 6 year.
AP® U.S. History
Students study the history of the United States, from pre-Columbian to present, with frequent use of primary-source materials and varying historiography. Because all students in AP® U.S. History take the AP® Exam in May, the demands for reading, writing and research go beyond those in the regular sections. Students taking this course will have additional summer reading and writing to prepare for the class and must commit significant extra time to U.S. History during the year. An extensive and fully documented term paper is required. Students enrolled in this course must take the Advanced Placement® United States History Examination in May. Open to students in Form 5 after consultation with their Modern World Studies teacher and with department approval.
An introduction to fundamental microeconomic and macroeconomic theory gives students a basic background in the subject. Students begin by examining the development of capitalism and exploring basic economic concepts such as supply, demand and opportunity cost. After this introduction, the focus moves to the behavior of individual firms and individual markets, concentrating on profit-maximizing habits in the economy. Graphic analysis, the use of economic models and the economic philosophies of Smith, Marx, and Keynes are emphasized. Students use these ideas when examining measures of economic performance such as GDP, inflation, and unemployment. Graphic models are used frequently to measure the health of the economy and then to formulate corrective monetary and fiscal policies. The course concludes by looking at the impact of international trade on the economy. Students enrolled in this course must take the Advanced Placement® Microeconomics and Macroeconomics Examinations in May. Open to students in Form 6.
AP® Political Science
What are the essentials of the American political culture? What are the elements defining both social cohesion and political involvement? The course begins with a study of America’s Enlightenment philosophical roots and moves to a detailed study of the formation and evolution of the Constitution. Primary source material is emphasized for the study of Hobbes, Locke, Kant, Rousseau and Marx. In preparation for the AP® exam, the emphasis turns to the contemporary workings of the federal government, the organization of political parties, the demographics of voting patterns, and the role of media and interest groups in creating the American political culture. The course also studies the significant implications of e-politics and how social media and big data bases influence how democracy works. Assessments include short essays, a research essay, and reading reviews designed to study the AP® content. Students enrolled in this course must take the Advanced Placement® United States Government and Politics Examination in May. Open to students in Form 6.
AP® Comparative Government and Politics (Fall)
AP® Comparative Government and Politics introduces students to the diversity and varieties of political life outside the United States. The course uses a comparative approach to examine the political structures, policies, and political, economic, and social challenges of six selected countries: China, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, and the United Kingdom. Students examine how different governments solve similar problems and compare the effectiveness of these varied approaches to many global issues. They will also work to read and interpret data, make comparisons and applications, and develop evidence-based arguments regarding all six countries’ political systems. Through examining the power and authority, legitimacy and stability, and democratization (or lack thereof) of the six AP® countries’ governments while also assessing the impact of internal and external forces on each government through various methods of political analysis, students will be able to create meaningful connections regarding world governments today. Students enrolled in this course must take the Advanced Placement® Comparative Government and Politics Examination in May. Open to students in Forms 5 and 6 after consultation with their current history teacher and with department approval due to the scope and speed of the semester-long course.
American Law (Fall)
The bedrock on which all societies rest is the rule of law. This course examines the way the American legal system operates. Students begin by learning how law is made in legislatures and courts. Then the class studies the way in which general legal principles are applied to specific facts through the study of various actual and hypothetical cases. The students gain an understanding of the trial process and conduct a mock trial in front of a jury of their peers as their final project. Open to students in Forms 4-6.
This course explores the choices and decisions people make about how to use the world’s limited resources. Students will acquire the knowledge and skills to gather, analyze, and apply information and ideas, make decisions, and act as responsible members of society. The goal of this course is to equip students with knowledge that is strongly rooted in economic principles so they will be able to differentiate among economic models, understand issues pertaining to global and national economics, gain insight into choices businesses make, and learn the importance of managing personal finances in planning for future financial security. Overall, this course aims to get students interested in the nature of economic reasoning. Open to students in Forms 4-6.
Elective: The Election of 2022 (Fall)
What is the condition of America today? The Election of 2022 explores this question as we live through the immediate follow-up to the tumultuous and divisive Presidential election of 2020. The import of the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection that followed is unclear. Was it a singular crisis preceding a return to normalcy or a harbinger of elections to come? The 2022 “midterms” provide the first chance to find out. Although midterm elections typically get less attention than those held in Presidential election years, this time is different because former President Trump insists he actually won the 2020 election. He has made this claim a key issue in the midterms. Whether the 2020 Presidential Election was “rigged” or whether Trump’s claim is “the big lie” is only one of the many questions facing the electorate in November. The course begins with the foundational rulebook of American Democracy — The U.S. Constitution. We focus specifically on the allocation of law-making power between the President and Congress, and how the members of each branch are elected. We’ll follow federal and gubernatorial electoral contests in key states (one per student). Topics will include primaries, parties, nominating conventions, fall campaigns, polls, debates, advertising, social media, campaign finance, and voter turnout, as well as the candidates themselves and the issues facing the voters. With Majorities in both the House and Senate at stake, not to mention the likely political future of Donald Trump, these elections matter greatly. Afterward, we’ll examine the results and how those are likely to affect future policy. The student’s final project will be to craft a campaign playbook for a specific Senate, Congressional, or Presidential candidate who might run for office in the election of 2024. Open to students in Forms 4-6.
Elective: The Italian Renaissance (Fall)
The phenomenon known as the Renaissance would be inspiring no matter where and when it occurred. That it happened hard upon the 14th-century calamities of war, famine, and the Black Death makes it even more so. A French word meaning “rebirth,” the Renaissance refers to a period of intellectual, cultural, and artistic flowering that occurred in Italy between about 1350 and 1600 and spread throughout Europe and the world. The “rebirth” (Rinascimento in Italian) referred to the revival of classical Greco-Roman culture and values, but it occurred with a decidedly Christian tone. The major values of humanism and individualism, derived from Greek and Roman literature, art, and philosophy, epitomized Italian Renaissance culture and worldview. Other values marking this period were secularism (more emphasis on this world than the afterlife), materialism (accumulation of wealth and goods), civic humanism (devotion to one’s city-state), naturalism (the appreciation of nature and the desire to reproduce it realistically), and “virtù” (the requirement that one develop all of one’s talents to the fullest).
Italy was the birthplace of the Renaissance for many reasons — its geographical location, its numerous city-states with their merchant “princes,” the wealth and power of the Popes, and the ubiquitous material reminders of the old Roman empire. In addition to the causes and consequences of the Renaissance, we will study the fascinating and talented individuals who made their mark on history: artists like Michelangelo, DaVinci, Raphael, and Giotto, their patrons such as Julius II, the Warrior Pope, and the wealthy Medicis of Florence, scientists like Galileo, explorers like Columbus, writers Petrarch and Dante, political philosopher Machiavelli, even the fanatical preacher Savonarola, who ordered the “Bonfire of the Vanities” and ruled Florence before he was excommunicated and burned at the stake. The course will consist of lectures, including by expert KO teachers from other disciplines, use of primary and secondary sources, viewing of images of art and architecture, videos, discussion, group, and individual projects, and a museum field trip. Open to students in Forms 4-6.
Elective: We the People – The Citizen and the Constitution (Fall)
Civics is the study of citizenship and government. This one-semester course provides students with a basic understanding of civic life, politics, and government and a history of government’s foundation and development. Students learn how power and responsibility are shared and limited by government, the impact American politics has on world affairs, the place of law in the American constitutional system, and which rights the American government guarantees its citizens. Students will demonstrate their understanding of the Constitution through six mock congressional hearings that require them to write and present collaboratively and tackle historical and current constitutional questions. Hands-on, real-world applications will include helping facilitate the Connecticut “Kid Governor” election, submitting proposals for civic action projects to local civic bodies, and engaging in conversations with politicians at all levels across the political spectrum. This class is designed as a more intimate, hands-on look at how the Constitution has, is, and can be applied to our lives. It will emphasize real-world connections, current events, public speaking, and civic engagement. Open to students in Forms 4-6.
Elective: American Culture through Sight and Sound (Spring)
By examining music and musicians of the recent past, students will study the correlations between music, musical styles, and societal development in the United States over the past century.
By looking at the wide variety of American music (from Tin Pan Alley and Ragtime to Rock ’n Roll and Hip Hop and a whole lot in between), students will be exposed to the rich and diverse links between music and culture and how they shaped each other. Students will also have an opportunity to delve into special music genres of their individual choosing (i.e. film scores, Broadway, Hip-Hop, etc.)
Students will be expected to listen to music outside class and keep journals about what they hear and read. They will also participate in numerous discussions and interact with local artists and their instruments. The course will conclude with student projects and presentations that will draw from various academic disciplines. Open to students in Forms 5-6.
Latin America Since Independence (Spring)
This semester interdisciplinary course will examine the history of Latin America, mainly from 1820 to today. Special attention will be paid to Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Cuba, and Central America , although other countries will be examined as well. Race, class, gender, and politics will be among several themes the course will examine. This course will utilize a textbook, as well as excerpts from fictional works and a film of the student’s choosing to create a podcast. It will also feature guest speakers from local and global communities. Assessments will include (but may not be limited to) presentations, a speech, citation quizzes, primary source analyses, and a research project built around a film resulting in a podcast. Open to all Form 5 and 6 students, as well as Form 4 students with History Department approval. Students may also pursue an Honors Designation for this Spring Semester course.
Elective: Contemporary China (Spring)
This course explores contemporary Chinese life and 20th-century history as seen through the film director’s lens. Film as a visual media creates questions about how observers construct history and learn about culture. The content is built around a series of Chinese-language films centering on social themes and political issues. The themes include the challenging lives of migrant workers, environmental issues, the contemporary urban experience, international tensions, economic inequities, globalization questions, rural society and the rural and urban gap, Chinese nationalism, Chinese schools and education, and women and society. Readings on specific issues related to each film are assigned, and the assessments include short papers and other projects. The films include Beijing Bicycle, To Live, The Story of Qu Jui, Coming Home, Shower, Flowers of War, Back to 1942 and others. Open to students in Forms 4-6.
Elective: Race in the Americas (Spring)
This course will examine how the modern concept and practice of race developed and evolved. The class is divided into two sections. The first section explores the development of the concept of race, beginning in ancient Greece and ending with racial anti-Semitism. The second section focuses on the practice of race in North and South America, focusing on both differences and similarities between the regions. As a final assessment, students will research and produce a presentation on a specific way in which race impacted the Greater Hartford Area, as well as craft an action plan based on that research that focuses on addressing racial inequalities in that area. Lastly, students will present that action plan to a local, state, or national organization working on addressing the issue. Open to students in Forms 5-6. Under special circumstances and with departmental approval, a student may take this course during their Form 4 year.
Elective: American Law
The bedrock on which all societies rest is the rule of law. This course examines the way the American legal system operates. Students begin by learning how law is made in legislatures and courts. Then the class studies how general legal principles are applied to specific facts by studying various actual and hypothetical cases. The students understand the trial process and conduct a mock trial before a jury of their peers as their final project. Open to students in Forms 4-6. This course will not be offered in 2022-2023.
This course explores the choices and decisions people make about how to use the world’s limited resources. Students will acquire the knowledge and skills to gather, analyze, and apply information and ideas, make decisions, and act as responsible members of society. The goal of this course is to equip students with knowledge that is strongly rooted in economic principles so they will be able to differentiate among economic models, understand issues pertaining to global and national economics, gain insight into choices businesses make, and learn the importance of managing personal finances in planning for future financial security. Overall, this course aims to get students interested in the nature of economic reasoning. Open to students in forms 4-6. This course will not be offered in 2022-2023.
Elective: Global Issues: Building Global Citizenship through Cross Cultural Awareness
In order to become aware of the wider world and their role as global citizens, students in Global Issues will learn about important international events, tracing these events from their historical roots to the current day. Global Issues is an interdisciplinary course that combines the study of history, political science, and anthropology in order to provide a framework for analyzing modern-day events. These issues directly impact the United States, such as our changing role in a globalized world, our depleting natural resources, our relationship with the Middle East, and our capacity in the global community when it comes to upholding human rights. There is no textbook for Global Issues, as we will use current event articles, scholarly journals, and documentaries for context. Class time is divided among lectures, films, discussions of current events, creative projects, formal debates, and student presentations, as well as opportunities for students to pursue topics and activities of their own choosing. There will be a strong emphasis on building skills such as problem-solving, collaboration, reading, analytical thinking and writing, and clear communication through writing and presentations. Open to students in Forms 4-6. This course will not be offered in 2022-2023.
Elective: History of Religions
To give students an increased understanding and awareness of the world’s diversity, this course offers a historical overview of six of the world’s major religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Students examine basic philosophical similarities and differences by comparing the tenets and dogmas of these religions and their followers. The course incorporates the works of one of the foremost religious thinkers, Huston Smith, through his writings and his video series “The Wisdom of Faith.” The conclusion of this course examines the issue of hatred in the context of religious history. Students must participate actively in discussion and are responsible for classroom presentations and a major research project. Open to students in Forms 5-6. This course will not be offered in 2022-2023.
Elective: International Human Rights
When the Allies liberated the Nazi concentration camps at the end of WWII, they encountered the remnants of modern and methodical state-sponsored genocide. They responded by trying perpetrators for “war crimes,” creating the United Nations, and promulgating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR marked the first time that the rights and freedoms of individuals were articulated in such detail and made applicable to everyone, everywhere. This course will begin with an overview of Hitler’s rise to power and the steps along the way to the “final solution.” The class will then study other cases of genocide as well as other human rights abuses, both current and historical. Students will conduct independent research on an ongoing UDHR violation and propose practical solutions. Students will deliberate their findings in class, and have the opportunity to apply their knowledge at a Model UN conference. The course will use primary sources, secondary sources, first-person accounts, photographs, video, and websites. Assessments will include tests, essays, debates and a research paper. Open to students in Forms 4-6. This course will not be offered in 2022-2023.
In our ever-shrinking world and increasingly diverse country, the ability to communicate effectively in a minimum of two languages is essential to responsible global citizenship. The cultural lessons presented at all levels facilitate the development of cross-cultural skills. The use of technology encourages authentic interaction in and out of the classroom experience and provides an increasing independence for student learning. Ultimately, our goal for our language students is to create opportunities for true leadership and responsibility, both personal and global. Up through 2020, we encouraged and facilitated participation in travel to other countries and study-abroad programs. With international travel restrictions currently in place, we support and foster communication virtually with students and programs in other countries. Please note that placement tests are available to new students who have taken the language as a core academic course at their previous school to determine which language level is the best fit.
Studying a language is more than just a matter of grammar. The excitement of any language is learning how to speak, but of course a command of grammar and vocabulary have much to do with the ability to communicate on diverse topics: the cuisine, the geography, the customs and the humor of another culture. Along with the language, students also are introduced to cultural and geographical aspects of Spain, Central America and South America. Ultimately, the emphasis in Spanish 1 is building the elemental foundation of oral and written expression: the vocabulary, the structure of sentences, paragraphs and idiomatic phrases. This year is a stepping-stone for the more comprehensive challenges of Spanish 2.
Spanish 2, Spanish 2 Honors
The second year of Spanish continues the work of building a linguistic foundation. Students learn the music of sentences and of questions and answers, the choreography of dialogue, of having fun, of participating in the give-and-take of in-class discourse. The study of culture expands to include authentic readings, music, and videos. The idea is to experience – to get a flavor of the cultures. In the process, students discover the connection between Hispanic culture around the world and in their own community.
In contrast to the regular level language class, Spanish 2 Honors moves at a faster pace, has a higher level of expectations and a broader scope. Spanish 2 Honors incorporates details and exceptions of grammatical structures, presents an in-depth study of advanced cultural and literary readings, and requires communication skills with greater depth and analytical style. Prerequisite: Spanish 1 and department approval.
Spanish 3, Spanish 3 Honors
Spanish 3 is where everything comes together. The goal for this year is the solidification of the grammatical structures of Spanish, concentrating on the nuances of real linguistic command. At this level, students do much more writing, tackling longer and more comprehensive readings, beginning literary analysis and developing topical oral and visual presentations. By this level, students are dealing directly with authentic materials – the arts, literature and cinema generated by the cultures studied. The goal of all of these activities is fluency. Most of the teaching at this level is done in Spanish. This course focuses on reinforcing and combining basic skills along with the study of new advanced grammar structures.
In contrast to the regular level language class, Spanish 3 Honors moves at a faster pace, has a higher level of expectations and a broader scope. Spanish 3 Honors incorporates details and exceptions of grammatical structures, presents an in-depth study of advanced cultural and literary readings, and requires communication skills with greater depth and analytical style. Prerequisite: Spanish 2 or Spanish 2H and department approval.
Spanish 4, Spanish 4 Honors
In Spanish 4, students cash in on the hard work of the past three years. What makes this course different is that now students can really communicate in Spanish in classroom discussions on a variety of topics. This year is more of a team effort as students work more in-depth, sharing ideas and insights through discussions and oral presentations. The goal of this year is a comprehensive and comparative look at the history, art, literature and cinema of several countries in the Hispanic world. Students are expected to make interpretative conclusions and put these reactions on paper in clear and well-constructed language. Grammar is a tool for engaging in insightful dialogue with matters of culture. Expectations are high, but the rewards are gratifying.
In contrast to the regular level language class, Spanish 4 Honors moves at a faster pace, has a higher level of expectations and a broader scope. This class is completely in Spanish. The course requires communication skills with greater depth and analytical style as the students will be expected to speak in every class. Students will be able to express facts and defend opinions in oral debates and written work. Spanish 4 Honors incorporates details and exceptions of grammatical structures, presents an in-depth study of advanced literary readings. It explores the literature, food, music, and cinema of several Spanish-speaking countries depending on student interest. Prerequisite: Spanish 3H, Spanish 3 with summer work and department approval.
Spanish 5 focuses on fluency while exploring the cultures of the Spanish-speaking world. In this course, students focus on their ability to communicate in spoken Spanish with confidence and fluidity. Students discuss art, literature, history, politics and sports. Spanish comes to life by reading literary excerpts, short stories, newspaper articles, and appropriate novels. Students will also watch feature length movies, short films, listen to music, and take advantage of a wealth of authentic materials for reading, listening and viewing on the internet. Examples of topics range from contemporary literature, the world of work and finance, science and technology, the importance and influence that sports have on specific Spanish-speaking communities and historical events in southern cone South America. All units of study substantially increase topical vocabulary, improving the quality and richness of conversation and written expression while refining and perfecting advanced grammar skills. Prerequisite: Spanish 4 with department approval or Spanish 4 Honors.
Spanish 5: AP® Language
This course is designed for students who really love language. The groundwork is well begun; now is the payoff – by Spanish 5 AP®, students not only find that they can speak Spanish, they discover that they have begun to think in Spanish (some of them even begin to dream in Spanish!). The challenge of the Advanced Placement® Examination is its precision, its expectation not only of fluency, but also of sophisticated analysis of a wide range of current and classical writings. Students are expected to shift seamlessly among aural, spoken and written Spanish. Students must be able to listen to long dialogues and lectures by native speakers and write about them articulately. Students are expected to step up to the challenge of ongoing vocabulary study. With each new reading on the arts, current events, and scientific or business research, students must commit to the necessary topic-specific vocabulary. Students enrolled in this course must take the Advanced Placement® Spanish Language and Culture Examination in May. Prerequisite: Spanish 4 or Spanish 4 Honors and department approval.
Chinese 1 (open also to Form 2)
Chinese 1 is open to all Upper School students interested in studying Mandarin Chinese. Students begin the year studying pronunciation, tones, and radicals, then quickly transition into the study of simplified characters. The course aims to develop students’ reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills, as well as give them a solid understanding of the basic principles of the Chinese grammatical structure. Discussions on history, culture, and issues in modern China give the students a complete context for language study.
At the beginning of the second year of the study of Mandarin Chinese, students should be comfortable with basic written and spoken Chinese. The second year places particular emphasis on the further study of the Chinese grammatical system, as well as on vocabulary acquisition. Written compositions and oral presentations are longer and more detailed. Cultural discussions permeate all aspects of the course. Prerequisite: Chinese 1.
Students entering Chinese 3 have developed a solid foundation in reading, writing, speaking, and listening, as well as a personalized, meticulous approach to character, vocabulary, and sentence pattern acquisition. The course focuses on the expansion of vocabulary as well as crucial grammar patterns to help students become more articulate writers and speakers. There is an increased emphasis on the difference between colloquial and formal Chinese. Discussions on Chinese history and culture are present throughout the course, preparing students to engage in meaningful cultural discussions in the target language. Prerequisite: Chinese 2.
The fourth year of Chinese study is dedicated to the development of reading and writing longer, more formal passages and engaging in more meaningful discussions in Chinese. The textbook is used in conjunction with authentic reading materials to give students a working vocabulary and expand their grammatical foundation. There is a continued emphasis on differentiating between colloquial and formal Chinese. In the second half of the course, students are introduced to classical Chinese, where they read selections from Daoist and Confucian texts and form their own individual philosophy of translation. Prerequisite: Chinese 3.
Chinese 5 AP®
This Chinese course is designed for students who are committed to taking their language skills to the next level. Students continue to use their textbook as a guide in the process of character and grammar pattern acquisition and supplement with various authentic texts, videos, and songs. In addition to reading short stories from authors such as Lu Xun, students watch modern Chinese television shows, read newspaper articles, and continue to discuss Chinese life and culture in the target language. Students enrolled in this course must take the AP® Chinese Language exam in the spring. This course is cross-registered as CHIN 1114: Intermediate Chinese II with the UConn Early College Experience and students may earn three college credits for their work in this course. To take the ECE course, there is an additional cost of $150. Prerequisite: Chinese 4.
French 1 is an introductory course for those interested in studying French and is open both to Upper School and Form 2 students who are new to studying language. Students will develop speaking, reading, writing and listening skills that will allow them to express ideas accurately and confidently. Students are exposed to the basics of grammar, pronunciation and sentence structure. In this course, the students acquire fundamental syntax while engaging with authentic francophone media and learning how to describe and express themselves in original French. The course concludes with the opening of a program-wide, three-month project, in which students select a Francophone country and conduct research through the lens of La famille et la communauté, one of the themes found in the AP® French course. Students then write a short sequence of paragraphs, using the language they have acquired to practice writing longer sentences, addressing several contexts in their research. They also report their findings to the class in either an in-person presentation or an asynchronous video.
French 2, French 2 Honors
French 2 and 2 Honors continue the establishment of fundamental grammar, syntax and vocabulary from the first year course. After an initial review of the most essential introductory topics the course moves on to focus largely on student use of the two primary past tenses, object pronouns, adverbs, and both the simple future and conditional tenses. There is a substantial emphasis placed on expanding proficiencies in reading and writing, and speaking practice is emphasized in both small projects and daily classroom exchanges. Students encounter current French and Francophone culture through regular practice with digital media offered through ARTE Junior, Radio France Internationale, France24, and Le Monde. The course concludes with a continuation of the three-month long project on la Francophonie that began in French 1, in which students research a Francophone country through the lens of La vie contemporaine, a theme from the AP® French course, and then write a formal paper and present their work to the class. This course is conducted roughly 50% or more in the target language, depending on the makeup of the class.
Students in the honors course engage with all topics on a more detailed and advanced level. Expectations for length, accuracy, complexity, and interpretation are elevated, and their year-end project also involves the inclusion of an additional theme, La quête de soi, for research and analysis.
French 3, French 3 Honors
French 3 and 3 Honors transition students into a curriculum that is more inclusive of culture and comprehension in anticipation of a full immersion in both French 4 and French 5/AP® French. All major grammar topics from the preceding two years are reviewed and examined in greater depth, and more advanced concepts are introduced. Students interact with all language structures in the context of intermediate-level dialogue, narrative and exposition in the target language throughout the course of the year. Throughout, students are asked to produce both writing and prepared/rehearsed speech that demonstrates their grasp on general language proficiency. Engagement with authentic culture and language use occurs through a complete reading and analysis of Tahar Ben Jelloun’s Le racisme expliqué à ma fille over the course of the year. Students also continue working with regular discussions and reflections centering on current events and global questions through the use of digital media from Le Monde, Radio France Internationale, and France24. The majority of the class is conducted in French.
The course concludes with the third step of the three-month long project on la Francophonie begun in French 1, in which students research a Francophone country through the lens of Les défis mondiaux, a theme from the AP® French course, and then write an expository essay and present their work to the class.
Students at the honors level engage with all topics on a more detailed and advanced level. Expectations for length, accuracy, complexity, and interpretation are elevated from the regular level. Their year-end project also involves the inclusion of an additional theme, La science et la technologie, for research and analysis.
French 4, French 4 Honors
French 4 and 4 Honors focuses on concluding students’ examination of advanced grammar concepts and transitioning into a literature- and culture-based course centered on authentic products from modern France and the francophone world. The primary purpose of this course is twofold – first, to prepare students for the types of sources and analysis they will encounter in the AP® French Language and Culture course, and second, to prepare students for college-level language study. Throughout the year, students read numerous newspaper and online articles, engage with newscasts and podcasts, contribute in prepared and extemporaneous conversation, and read the novel Kiffe kiffe demain by Faïza Guène, which introduces students to the complexities of identity, culture, language, and class in modern France. All work and the majority of class time will be in the target language. Engagement with authentic sources such as Le Monde, Radio France Internationale, and France24 move beyond demonstrating comprehension of main ideas and into examination, reflection, restatement, and interpretation. French 4 and 4 Honors entails the fourth step of the program-long project on la Francophonie, in which students examine their Francophone country from the past three years through the lens of a final AP® French theme, L’esthétique. The entire course is conducted in French.
Students at the honors level engage with all topics on a more detailed and advanced level. Expectations for length, accuracy, complexity, and interpretation are elevated from the regular level. Their year-end project moves beyond exposition about their Francophone country and asks for comparison and analysis of their assigned country to their native culture/s in addition to the research on the theme of L’esthétique, in preparation for the types of tasks present in French 5/AP®.
French 5 / AP® French Language and Culture
The French 5 / AP® French Language and Culture course takes a holistic approach to language proficiency in the skills of listening, speaking, writing, and reading. The course emphasizes authentic use of the target language to improve oral and written communication in a variety of contexts. Students spend a significant portion of their time in the course examining a single francophone country through the various thematic lenses of the AP® exam, similar to their projects in past years. Students become the experts on these countries, leading class discussions and creating connections between their research and the work of their peers. Having concluded their grammar studies in French 4, grammar is only examined in short, targeted sessions based on specific outcome-oriented needs. The three-month long project on La Francophonie concludes in this course. Students take the lead, choosing several themes and contexts most of interest to them, conducting detailed research, and then writing/presenting a thorough comparison between their Francophone country and their own native culture/s.
Students at the AP® level add practice of AP®-style tasks to their workload, focusing on strategies for identifying main ideas and themes within written and auditory sources, and preparing for the longer communication portions of the exam. This includes examination of required phrasings and salutations as well as practice with the email reply, discussion of and practice with the argumentative essay, and practice with timings and composition for both the interpersonal conversation and the spoken cultural comparison.
Advanced French: Le Monde Francophonie
Students in this course will explore the francophone world. This is a project-based learning course with an emphasis on collaboration, communication and cultural competency. Students will investigate the following questions: How can we use technology to learn about other cultures and build relationships? What is life like for young people in France and in the francophone world? Do some live differently than others? What do they do in their free time? What are their traditions, political views and challenges? What books and music do they like? Through the use of media, students will learn about the people who make up “la francophonie” and share their findings through posts, snaps, tweets, videos, presentations and podcasts. Prerequisite: French 4/ French 4 Honors or AP® Language and Culture or department approval. This course will not be offered in 2022-2023.
The Classics Department provides students with the necessary skills for comprehending original works in Latin and Greek through reading and translation and teaches students about the relevance of the Greco-Roman world in our daily lives. Students study not only the Latin language but also Greco-Roman culture and history. We use a comprehensive approach to language study in which students approach elements of Latin grammar and vocabulary in the context of the literature. In higher-level courses students will be prepared to read authentic Latin selections from some of Rome’s greatest authors: Cicero, Caesar, Catullus, Ovid, and Vergil. Classical culture, history, and the foundations of Western literature are examined at all levels in many ways, including projects, films, and field trips. The study of ancient Greek may be added after the successful completion of a third year of a language in the Upper School.
The influence of Latin on Western culture and thought, even in today’s fast-paced world, is significant. Students in their first year of study will begin to investigate Latin’s importance and elegance as they acquire basic grammar and vocabulary in their journey toward reading the original works of great writers such as Vergil, Julius Caesar, and Ovid, among others. In addition, students are exposed to some of the basics of Roman culture, with particular stress on Roman daily life, education, mythology, early history, and public spaces. Students explore Latin words and grammar through reading, speaking, listening, writing, and interactive games. Throughout the year, the course reinforces the grammatical rules that students encounter in English 3 in the context of Latin, with particular stress on parts of speech, sentence structure, and the etymological roots of English words. Latin 1 is also open to Middle School students in Form 2 who are new to the language.
Starting with a cumulative review of the work done in Latin 1, this course continues to bolster students’ knowledge of grammar and vocabulary as they gradually transition from basic grammar to more complex syntax in the context of the Latin texts. Students are gradually introduced to reading and translating connected passages in prose and work toward the goal of reading a sustained prose narrative near the course’s end. More sophisticated cultural topics are investigated, including the influence of ancient Rome in the provinces and the mechanisms of the Roman army and government over time. Rome’s transition from a republic to an empire is also a major topic as students prepare to read original works from this time period in the next level of Latin. Prerequisite: Latin 1 or the equivalent.
Latin 3: Intermediate Latin Literature/Latin 4: Intermediate Latin Literature
Like Latin 2, this course begins with a summative review of the grammar topics covered in previous courses. In the first semester, students review and explore more challenging Latin grammar in context and begin to explore authentic readings written during the golden age of Latin literature. This course prepares students for AP® Latin by department recommendation. This class will alternate texts each year, so students may choose to take it twice. Students in Latin 4 will have additional assignments and a final project to complete. Prerequisite: Latin 2 or the equivalent for Latin 3, Latin 3 or the equivalent for Latin 4.
AP® Latin: Caesar and Vergil
This course follows the Advanced Placement® Latin: Vergil and Caesar syllabus. Students read extensively in Latin from Vergil’s Aeneid, and Caesar’s De Bello Gallico. Students also carefully study meter and other poetic and rhetorical devices. At the start of the year, the focus is primarily on building a strong reading pace and honing translation skills, but figures of speech and interpretive writing exercises are introduced early and incorporated increasingly as the year progresses. Students also read about and discuss the literature’s historical and literary context. Students practice for the format of the exam by completing assessments in multiple-choice questions, translations, spot questions, and comparative essays on known Latin passage, and by completing sight-reading multiple-choice questions on unknown Latin passages. Students enrolled in this course must take the AP® Latin exam in the spring. This course is cross-registered as CAMS 3102: Topics in Advanced Latin with the UConn Early College Experience and students may earn three college credits for their work in this course. To take the ECE course, there is an additional cost of $150. Prerequisite: Latin 3 or the equivalent.
Ancient Greek 1
“Naturally I am biased in favour of boys [and girls] learning English, and then I would let the clever learn Latin as an honour and Greek as a treat.”
– Winston Churchill
This course introduces students to the fundamentals of Attic Greek. While the acquisition of at least a semester’s worth of college-level Greek language is the primary objective, students also explore how Greek culture has influenced Western thought and traditions from its origins in antiquity all the way to the present day. Projects in this class focus on the layout of the greek house and polis (city), Greek warfare, comedy, philosophy, and art. Comparisons of ancient works of art to such modern ones as painting, writing, warfare, and thought challenge students as they use their deepening knowledge of classical language and culture to better understand the threads that link the distant past and the modern world. Prerequisite: Three years of language study and department approval.
Elective: Mythology (Fall)
This course seeks to explore the rich and eternal world of classical mythology. Students will learn about the Greco-Roman pantheon of gods and the age of heroes and will explore these stories using various media such as literature, visual art, music, and film. Additionally, students will be asked to look at myth with a critical eye, investigating and discovering the common metaphors and symbols that occur and how they speak to humanity’s need and production of mythologies. Finally, the class will also trace the history of Greco-Roman mythology from its origins to the present day with the aim of learning how different eras have used and interpreted these tales. This course will include projects and readings that sometimes will be completed outside of class. Open to students in Forms 3-6.
Elective: World Mythology (Spring)
Since the beginning of the spoken word there have been stories about gods and goddesses, heroes and heroines, and natural phenomena to tickle our curiosity. They have withstood the test of time like shining monuments to their proud cultures. According to West African mythology, the trickster spider god, Anansi tricked the all powerful sky god Nyame to take down all the stories to give to humanity. Since that time we, humans, have been the protectors of these amazingly rich stories. There are so many wonderful myths that often go unexplored. This course seeks to shine a light on these great stories from the rest of the world. Students will learn about the difference between myths and legends. Students will also travel all over the world to explore the gods and goddesses, and heroes and heroines of the Norse, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Polynesian, Irish, and West African mythologies just to name a few. Although there will be some references and parallels to the Greco-Roman myths, students will examine these myths and stories with a critical eye toward the products, practices, and perspectives of these people. Students will engage in interactive role plays, games, and other academic quests for knowledge! Students will also be asked to interpret these stories through a variety of assessments, projects, and presentations. Open to students in Forms 3-6.
The arts represent something far more important than something to do with your hands, or in your spare time, or to wile away the hours while you chat with your friends. They are not only as serious and elevating as anything else we offer in the curriculum; they are an accessible training ground for the kinds of human interaction that will be necessary to flourish in the decades ahead.
Our disciplines put a premium on the skills that are needed to answer the challenges of contemporary times, namely:
- creative problem-solving;
- task analysis and constructive critique in mediums that are intuitive, improvisational, inferential and context- based;
- focus on process as its own end, not just as a means to an end product;
- holistic articulation: a facile command of many media ‚Äì not just the linguistic; and
- flexibility: the ability to move between realms with confidence.
We know that creativity is not just nice; it is necessary. The arts are not just for talented‚ they are for those who will otherwise leave this place without a healthy skepticism about how media delivers a message or how feelings and intuitions can be made manifest. The arts we teach educate the soul as well as the mind.
Media Arts Electives
Video Production (Fall)
In this course, students will be introduced to the dynamic and constantly evolving medium of digital video. From 60 second shorts to longer form narratives to experimental cinema, students will be exposed to the many ways in which digital video can be utilized as an expressive temporal medium. Students will have access to professional quality cameras and receive extensive training using state-of-the-art editing software. An emphasis will be placed on mastering the 3 phases of production: pre-production (script writing and shot listing), production (capturing video and audio content), and post-production (editing and special effects). Open to students in Forms 3-6.
Video Production: Advanced Techniques (Spring)
This course will provide students who have completed Video Production with an opportunity to work on longer-term, more complex and time-consuming projects. Themes for these projects may range from narrative, documentary, animation, experimental/art and will require an initial student proposal. An emphasis on advanced production and post-production techniques will be stressed. With the aid of the instructor, students will be required to identify local opportunities to screen or exhibit their work. Prerequisite: Video Production. Open to students in Forms 4-6.
Music Production (Spring)
In this course, students will explore modern music production including different EDM genres such as dubstep, trap, lo-fi, ambient, drum and bass, and hip-hop. Students will learn to compose and produce original beats and tracks in different electronic genres. Material covered will include production techniques such as drum programming, sequencing, synth programming and mixing. Students will use the resources of the KO electronic music lab including Focusrite audio interfaces, a variety of microphones, a ROLI seabed, novation MIDI controllers, and audio programs such as Garageband, Logic, FL studio, and Ableton Live. Open to students in forms 3 – 6.
Digital Photography 1 (Fall, Spring)
This course will introduce students to the artistic, scientific, and technical aspects of digital photography. The primary goal will be for students to develop and expand their creative practice by learning the anatomy of the camera and applying the elements and principles of art to their photographs. Using industry-standard photographic software, students will also learn how to manage large collections of images, edit the formal qualities of their photographs, print their work in color, and share their work via online photo sharing services. Although the primary focus of this course will be on digital photography, many concepts also apply to other photographic disciplines such as film and video. Students will be introduced to the following topics, among others: Light, Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO, Exposure, Bokeh, Focal Length, Depth of Field, Focus, Rule of Thirds, White Balance, and more. It should be noted, that unlike most other studio art courses, this class will require time outside of class and school to be spent working on projects. Cameras will be provided for each student by the school assuming a liability waiver is signed by a parent or guardian. Prerequisite: Foundations in Art. Open to students in Forms 3-6. Preference is given to upperclassmen in the fall semester.
Digital Photography 2 (Fall)
This course allows for individualized exploration of the technical and conceptual possibilities within the discipline of photography. The class is designed to allow students to work on longer-term independent projects, with regular consultations with the teacher as well as peer feedback during class critiques. With this advice and guidance, students independently explore in-depth topics from an individualized perspective. Students will be introduced to various brainstorming techniques that will aid in their future creative self-sufficiency. Students are expected to work on projects outside of class as needed. Prerequisite: Digital Photography 1. Open to students in Forms 4-6.
Graphic Design (Spring)
This course introduces students to a practice-based, hands-on approach to visual communication design. Students will learn how to create in both vector and raster graphics, how to design with specific clients in mind, and edit images using industry-standard photo editing software. Topics also include the elements and principles of design, color theory, typography, logos, design thinking, and information design. Students will engage in peer critiques of their visual work to reinforce their understanding of the principles of design and the language used to describe them. Open to students in Forms 3 – 6.
Choral Music: Concert Choir (Year)
The foundation of the school’s choral program, Concert Choir, emphasizes the development of music reading, aural skills, healthy vocal technique, and confidence in performance. Students study and perform choral music in various languages from diverse historical backgrounds, working with guest conductors, and professional musicians to master the basic elements of the specific style appropriate to the work. This ensemble participates in the all-school Choral Expo concert in January, the Upper School Choral Fest concert in the spring, and occasionally performs off campus. Members of the Concert Choir are given priority in the audition process for the select and a cappella groups. Receives one-half credit. Open to students in Forms 3-6.
Choral Music: Outlook (Year)
This select coed ensemble performs in several genres including jazz, madrigal, classical, pop, and multi-cultural. Selected by annual audition, students participate in festivals and various concert venues both on and off campus. Outlook members meet as a group in addition to meeting with the entire Concert Choir and learn the Concert Choir repertoire in addition to their own music. The singers may also perform in separate a cappella ensembles (Crimson 7 for boys and Oxfordians for girls). Receives one credit. Open to students in Forms 4-6 by audition from Concert Choir.
Choral Music: Voce Novissima (Year)
This select women’s ensemble performs classical and contemporary music from all genres. Emphasis is on music-reading skills and development of choral musicianship in a smaller ensemble. Students participate in festivals and various concert venues both on and off campus. Membership in the Concert Choir is required. Voce Novissima members meet as a group in addition to meeting with the entire Concert Choir and learn the Concert Choir repertoire in addition to their own music. The singers may also perform in the separate a cappella ensemble, Oxfordians. Receives one-half credit. Open to students in Forms 3-6 by audition from Concert Choir.
Instrumental Music: Concert Band (Year)
This performing group is open to all woodwind, brass, and percussion players. Attention is focused on standard repertoire for band. Opportunities to explore jazz and chamber music are also a part of this course’s curriculum. The Concert Band rehearses six times per ten-day cycle and performs at concerts and other on-campus events. Receives one credit. Open to students in Forms 3-6.
Instrumental Music: Jazz Combo (Year)
The Jazz Combo, open to advanced jazz students, performs various styles of music within the jazz repertoire and learns advanced concepts in jazz improvisation. The ensemble participates in a number of performances during the year, both on and off campus. Receives one credit. Entrance by recommendation or audition only.
Instrumental Music: Rock Band (Fall)
This ensemble is open to guitarists, pianists, bassists and percussionists who have an interest in modern music. The ensemble will explore a variety of musical styles such as rock, funk, R&B and pop with an emphasis on learning how to communicate as a group and to improvise in different genres. The ensemble will record some of the material learned and perform at concerts and assemblies. Open to students in forms 3 – 6.
Instrumental Music: Rock and Blues Band (Fall, Spring)
This ensemble is open to guitarists, pianists, bassists and percussionists who have an interest in modern music. The ensemble will explore a variety of musical styles such as rock, funk, R&B and pop with an emphasis on learning how to communicate as a group and to improvise in different genres. The ensemble will record some of the material learned and perform at concerts and assemblies. Receives one-half credit. Open to students in forms 3 – 6.
Instrumental Music: String Orchestra (Year)
This ensemble is open to all experienced string players (violin, viola, cello, and double bass). In addition to preparation for major concerts, students concentrate on the development of ensemble skills and individual playing techniques. Students perform repertoire in both string orchestra and chamber music settings. Receives one-half credit. Open to students in Forms 3-6.
AP® Music Theory (Year)
This course teaches a wide array of musical concepts. Along with music theory and beginning composition the students also deal with aural skills, dictation, and sight singing. Students learn the basics of music notation and score analysis along with knowledge of basic tonal harmony in the eighteenth-century common practice period style. The ultimate goal of the course is to develop a student’s ability to recognize, understand, analyze, and describe the aspects and processes of music that is heard or seen on a score. Students engage in various written, singing, and compositional exercises that teach them the many aspects of musical composition and analysis. At the completion of this course, students will be prepared to take the AP® Music Theory exam that is offered in May. Students who pass may earn college credit at several colleges and universities. Receives one credit. Open to students in Forms 4-6 with permission of instructor.
Broadway Musical Theater (Fall)
This course is an artistic destination for any and all levels of exploring singing, dancing or acting through Broadway-style performing, directing, and choreographing. Students will learn a variety of skills within the musical theater craft. The course will develop students’ acting skills through improvisation, imagination, scene study exercises, and monologues. Students will develop vocal skills by singing a variety of musical theater repertoire. Finally, Students will develop dance techniques through daily warm-ups, choreography, movement exercises, and “across the floor” training. The class will also read a play and perform scenes from that play within class. This class is a great opportunity to build foundations in preparation of auditions or future performances (Fall Play, Winter Musical, Choreographer Showcase, etc.) Open to students in Forms 3-6.
Public Speaking (Fall, Spring)
This course is designed to help students overcome their fear of speaking in public and to provide them with the fundamental skills and confidence needed to be good speakers in any setting. Students create a basic speech outline, then participate in various exercises designed to improve eye contact, tone, volume, pace, articulation and body language while speaking. This course offers practice in public speaking, emphasizing both style and content. Assignments focus on the elements that make for the effective presentation of ideas as well as the skills of effective communication in both prepared and impromptu settings. Several activities, such as debate, persuasive speaking, and storytelling, lead to greater student independence via the daily presentation of material. Formal speeches, including research presentations, political campaigns, personal stories, and instructional lectures, will also be included in our desired outcome of building confidence. Open to students in Forms 3-6.
Advanced Public Speaking: Leadership and Coaching (Spring)
In an increasingly competitive world, the ability to express oneself and speak in public with clarity, persuasiveness, and even elegance is a critically important skill. Of related and equal importance is the ability to readily analyze, develop, and defend a sound and persuasive argument. This course develops students’ confidence and competence to speak in public and argue persuasively and logically. Students hone their speaking skills using a variety of traditional speech events and exercises, including oral interpretation of literature, the persuasive delivery of famous speeches, impromptu and extemporaneous speaking exercises, persuasive original speeches and “after dinner” speaking designed to entertain as well as to inform. The course also introduces traditional forms of debate: both extemporaneous and prepared. Open to students in Forms 3 – 6. Prerequisite: Public Speaking
Stagecraft (Fall, Spring)
This introductory course covers the backstage operation of the theater, including how to hang focus- and cable- lighting instruments and how to set up and operate sound equipment, including microphones, amplifiers, and mixers. Students learn how to load and operate the theater fly system and the principles of stage rigging. Students also learn how to operate the woodworking equipment in the scene shop and participate in building sets for productions in Roberts Theater. They often work with artists from the Goodman Banks Series or other professional dance and theatrical companies that rent the theater. Receives one-half credit. Open to students in Forms 3-6.
Advanced Stagecraft (Fall)
This course is an introduction to set and lighting design. Students study drafting and create designs for fall play, musical and events in addition to studying different styles of design and composition for individual projects. Lighting design techniques are taught through chosen plays or musicals within the department. Receives one- half credit. Open to students in Forms 4-6. Prerequisite: Stagecraft and department approval.
Winter Musical Theater Production (Winter Athletic Season)
Students may participate in the Winter Musical Theater Production in lieu of a winter sport. Auditions are held in early December, and rehearsals begin the following week. Students are expected to attend five days of rehearsal per week during the after-school sports period. The time will be devoted to learning music, characterization, blocking, and choreography.
Students will always be involved in one of the rehearsal settings or will work on improvisation and ensemble skills to help develop their inner lives for their various characters in the production. There will also be non-performing opportunities for stage managers, production assistants, rehearsal accompanists, backstage crew, and hair/makeup/costume crew. The musical will be performed at the end of the winter sports season. Open to students in Forms 3- 6; the cast of the musical is selected by audition only.
Visual Arts Electives
Foundations in Art (Fall, Spring)
Foundations in Art is where you’ll begin your journey in our Upper School Visual Arts program. This course is designed for students of all artistic backgrounds, providing skill building with various media and encouraging creative thinking and visual expression through each student’s unique interpretation of assignment prompts. The course will highlight drawing as a form of communication, color as an expressive element, and the design of forms in space through sculpture. With an emphasis on individual growth and development, students will create their own unique independent project at the end of the course. Receives one-half credit. Open to students in Forms 3-6.
Breaking Boundaries: The Art of Innovation (Fall)
In Breaking Boundaries, you won’t just make art, you’ll invent your own way of making art. Throughout history, there have been artists who have changed the course of artistic expression by breaking the boundaries of their time. In this course, you’ll study artists who make their own rules as they invent new ways of seeing the world, sharing ideas, solving problems, and affecting change. If you’re looking to become more creative, you enjoy making your own decisions, and you like playing or experimenting with materials, then come to Breaking Boundaries and see where your imagination can take you. Receives one-half credit. Prerequisite: Outside the Box. Open to students in Forms 4-6.
Drawing (Fall, Spring)
Drawing is for students who want to look closely at the world around them and the world of their imagination. You will learn to use drawing as a form of communication while exploring the formal elements of line, value, color, and composition. In this course, you will work from observation and imagination as you explore a range of drawing tools to investigate various stylistic and conceptual approaches to drawn images. Emphasis is placed on individual growth and development. Receives one-half credit. Prerequisite: Foundations in Art. Open to students in Forms 3-6.
Outside the Box (Fall, Spring)
Outside the Box is for students who want to venture beyond the traditional approaches of representation in art to discover new ways of interpreting and documenting the world they live in. Beginning with a conceptual theme or problem to solve, students in this class will have complete freedom to select and/or invent materials and processes that will open doors to new ways of thinking about how art can be made, how people or communities can collaborate to have shared creative experiences, and how innovative thinking can draw upon multiple fields of study in solving a creative problem or communicating ideas. Receives one-half credit. Prerequisite: Foundations in Art. Open to students in Forms 3-6.
Painting 1 (Fall, Spring)
Painting 1 is for students who want to explore the creative and expressive qualities of color. We begin with an introduction to the basic techniques of painting and color theory. Students will develop an understanding of how color can be used to describe and express forms, ideas, and emotions. This course will introduce students to a diverse range of approaches to painting from observational representation to expressive abstraction. Receives one-half credit. Prerequisite: Foundations in Art. Open to students in Forms 3-6.
Painting 2 (Spring)
Painting 2 is for students who want to continue their exploration of painting as a form of communication and expression. Students will study a diverse range of painting styles and techniques to help inform their work as they strengthen their skills and discover new ways of using paint and color as a creative medium. Students in this class will be encouraged to pursue their own vision and personal style. We will end the semester with an independent project designed to allow each student to delve deeper into a subject matter that interests them. Receives one- half credit. Prerequisite: Painting 1. Open to students in Forms 4-6.
Printmaking 1 (Spring)
Matrixes, carving, inking, and pressing; all of these items and actions make an artist’s print. Come learn how to do it! This printmaking course is for both the student who is ready to try a new way of making art and the one who has found that they already love rolling the press, the smell of the ink, and making printed marks. Students will be introduced to the world of printmaking by exploring traditional and more contemporary approaches to the graphic arts. Students will explore the creative possibilities as they experiment with a variety of processes, including; relief, intaglio, collagraph, and mono-printing. Students will be challenged to create layered, dynamic compositions focused on a theme of their choosing that may incorporate drawing, collage, and painting. Emphasis is placed on developing critical thinking skills as students venture into complex visual ideas and compositions with the goal of fostering an individual artistic voice. Receives one-half credit. Prerequisite: Foundations in Art. Open to students in Forms 3-6.
Printmaking 2 (Spring)
Printmaking 2 is for students who would like to continue their exploration of the printed mark and build their technique. This course introduces students to the more complex printing methods and helps them build their artistic foundation, both visual and conceptual. Students will explore different printmaking materials and techniques, including intaglio, relief, monoprint, and artist books. Students will be encouraged to pursue independent projects and ideas that foster their own style and vision. Receives one-half credit. Prerequisite: Printmaking 1. Open to students in Forms 4-6.
Sculpture 1 (Spring)
Sculpture 1 is where sculpture materials and creative ideas come together. You will learn various techniques used to create sculptures, and explore different ways a sculpture can deliver a message. Processes include modeling in clay, plaster carving, and the endless possibilities of working with found objects. There’s something for everyone in this course; from traditional clay modeling to thinking outside the box while turning everyday objects into works of art. Receives one-half credit. Prerequisite: Foundations in Art. Open to students in Forms 3-6.
Advanced Studio Seminar (Fall)
This course is for advanced art students who want to chart a more independent course of study. This is a completely student-centered course that allows students to communicate ideas without the teacher specifying the medium. Since the central aspect is the development and construction of creative content, students may use any of the studio facilities – from computers to easels – for projects whose direction is independently generated and maintained. The seminar is framed by a weekly think tank – a critique session where students and advising faculty can discuss and evaluate concepts and projects as they unfold. Receives one-half credit. Prerequisite: completion of at least one second-level media arts or second-level visual arts course and/or department approval. Open to students in Form 5-6.
Portfolio Preparation (Year)
This course is for dedicated art students. Whether you’re planning on studying art in college or simply a serious artist–submitting a strong portfolio of artwork can be an important element in your college application. Throughout the course, students will use a wide variety of media to explore both traditional and experimental means of creating images, with a growing emphasis on cultivating a personal creative process. The course culminates with the selection and documentation of each student’s strongest work in the creation of their digital portfolio. Receives one credit. Open to students in Forms 5-6 with department approval.
AP® Art History (Year)
“The aim of art is not to represent the outward appearance of things but their inward significance.” In this brief statement, philosopher Aristotle summarizes the goal of studies in AP® art history. The focus is primarily on painting, sculpture, architecture and photography and their impact on cultures, civilizations, artists, and the artistic process. The curriculum covers prehistoric art, works in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, the major artistic movements in Europe, and the global reach of art in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific Islands, as well as indigenous and contemporary America. The class utilizes the vibrant online resource SmartHistory as the principal text, along with reference materials and trips to museums and galleries where possible. This class prepares students for the AP® examination, which they will take in May. While exploring visual and contextual elements in each work of art, students learn a greater appreciation of that “inward significance” for the things they see. Open to students in forms 5 and 6.
AP® Art History (Year)
“The aim of art is not to represent the outward appearance of things but their inward significance.” In this brief statement, philosopher Aristotle summarizes the goal of studies in AP® art history. The focus is primarily on painting, sculpture, architecture, and photography and their impact on cultures, civilizations, artists, and the artistic process. The curriculum covers prehistoric art, works in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, the major artistic movements in Europe, and the global reach of art in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific Islands as well as indigenous and contemporary America. The class utilizes the vibrant online resource SmartHistory as the principal text along with reference materials and trips to museums and galleries where possible. This class prepares students for the AP® examination which they will take in May. While exploring visual and contextual elements in each work of art, students learn a greater appreciation of that “inward significance” for the things they see. Open to students in forms 5 and 6.
Health & Wellness
Vincit Qui Se Vincit. “One Conquers By Conquering Oneself.”
During one semester, Form 3 students take a weekly seminar, Vincit Qui Se Vincit (VQV). Named for the School’s motto, VQV classes are designed to help students “conquer themselves” as they transition into high school. Classes are taught by the school counselor and include the following topics: friendship, relationships, motivation, sex education, and media literacy.
An Independent Study is contracted between a student and teacher and may be offered only if the area of study is not represented in a regular class at KO. The student and teacher will develop this study contract in advance of the semester and will include a course description consisting of texts, days of meetings, work expectations, and required assessments.
Global Online Academy
Global Online Academy
KO students began taking rigorous, innovative online classes in September 2013 through a partnership with the Global Online Academy (GOA), a consortium of leading independent schools from around the world. GOA courses allow students the flexibility to learn at their own pace, at any time of day, and from anywhere. They also provide students the opportunity to study something they are passionate about, test their organization and time management skills, come in contact with alternative viewpoints and perspectives and build relationships with teachers and students in from 70+ schools and 15 different countries.
In addition, GOA students acquire a host of valuable information and communication technology (ICT) skills by setting up video conferences across time zones, working collaboratively on assignments synchronously and asynchronously using Google Apps for Education, and navigating and publishing work on a learning management system. GOA courses are open to students in Forms 4 – 6. For a list of GOA courses for 2022-2023 visit https://globalonlineacademy.org/student-program/student-courses
Head to class and be prepared to discuss, think, and debate. Things are lively!
Getting to the Goal Line
In order to graduate from Kingswood Oxford, students must fulfill the following requirements:
4 full-year credits in Upper School English, including Senior Thesis
3 full-year credits in an Upper School laboratory science
3 full-year credits in Upper School mathematics through Form 5
3 full-year credits in Upper School history through Form 5 (including U.S. History)
3 consecutive full-year credits in a modern or classical foreign language
1 ½ credits in Upper School creative arts
Other courses that total 20 full credits
Community service hours (Due to pandemic restraints, the following will occur: Class of 2023 – required to complete 30 hours of community service, Class of 2024 – required to complete 45 hours of community service, Class of 2025 and beyond – required to complete 60 hours of community service)
Satisfactory completion of athletic/co-curricular requirement
Advanced Placement ®
College-Level Learning – and Credit
Motivated students reap the benefits of Kingswood Oxford’s Advanced Placement® courses. In addition to working on college-level content, they can earn college credit and advanced course placement.
KO offers 17 Advanced Placement® courses and exams. Students must be recommended for an AP® course and, once enrolled, are required to sit for the AP® Exam in May.
Kingswood Oxford Scholars Excel
As a testament to the fact that Kingswood Oxford students grow to love learning:
90% of our seniors take one (or more) AP® courses — compared to the national average of 25%
53% of these students received an AP® Scholar Award
23.9% were recognized as AP® Scholars with Distinction, with 9.8% being recognized as National AP® Scholars
AP® COURSES OFFERED
English Language and Composition
Physics C: Mechanics
Computer Science A
United States History
Economics (Microeconomics & Macroeconomics)
United States Government & Politics
Chinese Language and Culture
French Language and Culture
Spanish Language and Culture
Curricular Choice from a College Counseling Office's Perspective
What courses should be taken for college?
While many factors enter into college admissions decisions, an applicant’s academic performance as reflected on the high school transcript, is the most important component in an application. When colleges evaluate a high school transcript, they primarily consider two factors: the rigor of the program of study and a student’s level of achievement. This means that students should take the most demanding program that they can successfully handle, balancing rigor and achievement, and that will allow students to pursue areas of interest outside of the classroom. With the wide range of offerings at Kingswood Oxford School, students can explore new and interesting avenues. The College Counseling Office encourages students to follow their interests while fulfilling their KO diploma requirements and meeting, and preferably exceeding, colleges’ entrance requirements.
What courses are desirable when applying to competitive colleges?
Generally, most four-year colleges expect to see the following classes on a high school transcript.
4 years of English
3-4 years of mathematics, or through pre-calculus
3 years of one modern or classical language (ideally through level IV)
3 years of science (at least 2 lab courses)
3 years of history/social science
1 year of fine arts
Please keep in mind that these are not KO graduation requirements; the above is the typical minimum requirements admission offices are looking at for most applicants. For many colleges, taking four years of as many core areas as possible is often the most desirable. During their senior year, some students may choose to forego a fourth year of science, history, or language in order to “double up” in a favorite area. While this could make good sense for an individual, we still strongly recommend all seniors take courses in at least four of the five core curricular areas (English, math, science, history, and world language).
What is the typical curriculum for each grade level?
The typical expected course load is five “core” courses (plus one elective, occasionally two). Students’ advisors, the department chairs, and the college counselors work together to help students build an academic schedule that incorporates the appropriate mix of challenge and balance across core academic disciplines and the arts. Please refer to the individual department sections of this guide for course sequences and options in each grade level.
What are specialized college programs looking for?
While many KO students enroll in a liberal arts program in college, several KO students each year pursue a focused study in a specialized field in college. The expected high school curriculum for these programs may look a bit different. Once students have decided this might be a route they are interested in, students should communicate with their advisor, the appropriate department chair and/or the College Counseling Office for suggestions on how to select those courses that will best prepare the student.
Business Programs generally require four years of rigorous math courses, preferably through calculus. Coursework in economics is strongly encouraged.
Engineering Programs generally require four years of rigorous math and science, including at least basic courses in chemistry, physics, and calculus. Coursework in computer science is also a plus.
Health Science Majors, including Nursing, OT/PT, PreMed, PreDental, etc., generally require four years of rigorous math and science, including at least basic courses in chemistry, physics, and calculus.
Art, Drama, or Music Programs can vary significantly in their requirements. Conservatory programs, which focus almost entirely on one’s major, primarily consider an audition/portfolio in making admissions decisions. However, many comprehensive universities and small colleges also have exceptional programs in the arts and may also require auditions/portfolios. These colleges also expect students applying to arts/drama/music programs to have the same demanding high school courses and grades as others in their applicant pool.
What are AP classes and why are they important?
AP® (Advanced Placement) classes follow a nationally prescribed curriculum that culminates in a comprehensive exam in May. If one does well on an AP® exam (minimally a 3, but usually a 4 or a 5), some colleges grant credit, placement into a higher-level class, and/or exemption from college distribution requirements. AP® courses are considered college-level courses, use college-level texts, have college-level expectations, and demand a college-level commitment. Note, however, that AP® courses are just one way that a student can add challenge to a course load, given KO’s wide array of demanding classes with and without the AP® label. Different AP® classes have different prerequisites; please carefully review the prerequisites listed in each course description.
AP® scores are not sent to colleges by KO and are not college admission tests. However, students may include them on their applications if they choose.
What if students have more specific questions about course selection and college admissions?
Students and their parents should first speak with their academic advisor, after which we encourage students and parents to reach out to the College Counseling Office with any remaining questions related to course selection and the college admissions process.