Explore your interests and discover new ones through our broad curriculum.

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All Grades - All Subjects

Grade: 6

Art 6

Students develop a broad foundation that will support their individual journey in studio art. They make their own artistic choices, are encouraged to take technical risks and deal with artistic dilemmas. Students learn to “draw” on the computer. They improve their skills of web research and increase their understanding of art history. The ultimate goal of this course is to increase each student’s ability to shine as an artist and their enjoyment of the creative process.

The course content of sixth grade art is based on the elements and principles of art. Through a series of projects, students improve their handling of media and ability to draw. They complete additional assignments, which fine-tune their sketching skills. Several days are designated during the quarter to learn to “draw” on the computer. Students participate in several web research projects based on art history topics.

Grade: 1112

Applied Science Research (H)

This is a course for students interested in studying advanced topics in engineering and science, students who envision a career in science or engineering, and/or students who are curious about how things work. The first semester students will explore electric motors, atmospheric science, the engineering of space travel and a craftsmanship project. Specifically, students will build a multi-phase electric motor and launch a payload via weather balloon high above the Earth’s atmosphere into space. This course is student centered and student driven. Students have great latitude in their choice of the topics, experiments, and projects. Students will learn the design, prototyping process and how to take and analyze data in order to optimize their projects. Students will also learn how to read and write engineering and scientific papers. In the second semester, they will specialize on one topic of their choice. This can be a research an engineering project or a science project. Possible topics range from what makes a baseball curve, building 21st-century prosthetics, green energy projects, to building a Tesla coil to particle physics to your idea. At the conclusion of the 2nd semester each student will write a science or engineering paper and give a final presentation at the Menlo Maker Faire.

Prerequisites: Complete Physics and Accelerated Chem with a B+ or Conceptual Chem with an A- or get permission from Dr. Dann.

View student testimonials for this course and other science courses here.

Grade: 6

Dance 6

6th Grade Dance focuses on the basic technique and terminology of dance while maintaining the fundamental philosophy that everyone can dance. Dance class meets for 70 minutes 5 days a week. Students will learn to isolate, perform a variety of steps and combos, and the basic elements of choreography. The dancers perform what they have learned in the Middle School Creative Arts Assemblies and in the Upper School Dance Concert in March.

Grade: 12

Biotechnology Research (H)

The course provides a unique opportunity for students with self-discipline and a curious mind to learn cutting-edge lab techniques and to put those techniques to use in a major independent project. Class time is spent mostly on hands-on lab work. The first semester involves learning techniques in cell culture, molecular biology, bacteriology, immunochemistry, and protein biochemistry, as well as learning to read and write scientific papers. In the second semester, students carry out an independent research project, either here at Menlo or off-campus in an academic or industry lab, by agreement between the student and mentor. As with AP courses, students will continue their work for this class through the first two weeks of May.

Prerequisites: Complete Chemistry and Biology and pass an application process through Ms. Buxton. Access the application form here.

View student testimonials for this course and other science courses here.

Grade: 101112

Sustainable Earth Engineering

This is an interdisciplinary, project-based course in the Whitaker Lab on water, pollution, and energy. Students will design, build and test innovative projects pertaining to water creation and management, pollution mitigation and eradication, and sustainable energy.  

The adventure will start with a study of water’s role in the rise and fall of civilizations throughout history and throughout the world, including our very own California. Students will design, build and study various innovations for water lifting, storing, and distribution. The adventure continues with a study of how plants and animals survive with little-to-no water in severe desert regions and how we can use these bio-engineered solutions for human survival. Next, we study the exponential growth of the human population and the increasingly negative impact on the planet. Drinking water is getting polluted, plastics are damaging our ocean ecosystems, and the planet is experiencing an unprecedented change in climate. We don’t stop there, however; we prototype solutions! The final topic will be the future of energy. Students will study all aspects of energy including production, transmission, storage, and consumption. Students will end the year with a deep dive project into the future of water, pollution, and energy as it pertains to our very survival by innovating solutions that will keep us thriving on planet Earth.  

Throughout the course, students will do hands-on projects that will help them develop a much deeper understanding of the material. This work will force us to be creative and innovative, yet tempered with practicality.

This class is open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors who have a passion for innovation, solving problems, and thinking out of the box. Students will be required to be trained on various tools in the Whitaker Lab.

View student testimonials for this course and other science courses here.

Grade: 101112

Mechanical and Electrical Engineering

This is a yearlong course that switches topic midyear.

If you like to make things and break things, then this course is for you. This course will provide students with an introduction to mechanical engineering with an emphasis on hands-on activities and projects. We’ll take things apart to understand how they work, and we’ll apply what we learn to build things. Topics will include drafting, CAD using Inventor, dimensioning, tolerances, materials, fasteners, gears, bearings, actuators, and other mechanisms. Students will be introduced to the engineering design process, and they will learn about the role of mechanical engineers in industry. The course will take place in the Whitaker Lab and students will be trained on the majority of the tools in the lab.

In this course, you will amaze your friends, while you will dive into the fascinating world of electronics. You will learn how to solder, use capacitors, timing chips, work with solar energy and transistors in order to make a garden light and make laser trip wires to trigger scary things. You will learn how to amplify sound (op-amps). You will learn how to make electronic switches (transistors). You will learn how to move things (solenoids and linear motors). Most importantly you will develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills in a real-world setting by making cool stuff. There is very little nightly homework, but instead, it is expected that you put in extra time each week in the lab to work on your circuits or major project. The culminating project for this class is a musée mécanique exhibit to be shown at the Maker Faire.

Prerequisites: Prerequisite is B- in Physics or Conceptual Physics. This is a sophomore/junior level course.

View student testimonials for this course and other science courses here.

Grade: 6

Drama 6

In this quarter-long course, students learn the fun and basic skills of drama. From discovering the expressive elements of dramatic activity to learning theatre terminology, students will explore all of the work that goes into a play, both onstage and behind the scenes! Through story-telling techniques and introductory improvisational games, students develop a greater sense of confidence, self-awareness, and self-expression. We’ll strengthen creative thinking and public speaking skills as we present our work to one another within group settings. The skills from this class integrate across the curriculum spectrum as students are able to apply their learned dramatic techniques to other class assignments, such as oral presentations, creative thinking, and problem-solving. The course culminates with a Creative Arts Assembly where the students showcase highlights from their semester.

Grade: 101112

Neuroscience

Interdisciplinary Course: This course combines biology and electronics using a hands-on, scaffolding approach. This approach is three-pronged: (1) perform experiments using electrodes to detect actual neuronal activity in a living system, (2) learn the underlying biology of how that aspect of the nervous system works, and (3) build mechanical and/or electrical models.

Course Description:

It is said that understanding the human brain is one of the last frontiers; this course you will take a step toward that goal. You will take an adventure that is thought only possible in fictional writing like Frankenstein and along the way you will learn electronics, experimental techniques and neurobiology. We will explore the fascinating topic of how the brain and peripheral nervous system work by studying the electrical signals that encode neuronal messages, how sensory inputs are detected and how motor outputs are executed, and how the brain processes and creates meaning of your experience.

By building models, doing experiments and studying the biology you will investigate the following in the first semester of the class:

  • How do your sensory neurons collect, encode and transmit information about your environment for you?
  • How do your motor neurons get activated and how do they control the contraction of your muscles, allowing you to respond to your environment?
  • How fast do signals actually travel within neurons?
  • How does the nervous system “tune out” a stimulus that continues for an extended period?
  • In the second semester, we will examine:
  • How does the brain create your perception of reality?
  • How do medicinal and recreational drugs alter neuron function?
  • How does learning work and what is memory?
  • What is going on when things go wrong (like schizophrenia)?

Prerequisites: Completion of Physics with a B or better or by special approval from the teachers. This is a junior level course, but sophomores and seniors are welcome.

View student testimonials for this course and other science courses here.

Grade: 6

Music 6

The sixth graders will spend a quarter singing and composing music. As they rotate through four stations, students will compose a rock band song, learn the ukulele, create an art piece while listening to music, and write songs using GarageBand. Students will have the opportunity to explore new instruments or play ones that they know. There are chances for students to sing solos, create lyrics, and perform for the class. After spending three class periods working on their songs, students will present their compositions. As a culminating activity, the class will choose their favorite pieces and these will be featured on a “demo day” for all sixth grade Creative Arts classes.

Grade: 78

Drama 7/8: From Page to Stage

In this semester-long course, we dive in for a deeper understanding of all the work it takes to put a piece of theater on the stage. Students will learn the basics of theatrical design and tech areas, and, of course, practice acting using monologues and scenes. The class is designed to support the students’ pursuit of co-creating characters, sets, costumes, etc. with a script. Together we’ll work on the designs for the mainstage drama productions and build our own performance for a Creative Arts assembly at the end of the semester to feature our successes for an audience.

Grade: 78

Drama 7/8: Improvisation & Storytelling

Theater explores the question: What is the best way to tell stories? In this class, we will explore the history of telling stories through styles such as puppetry, improvisation, playwriting, and watching & reading different styles of plays. Students will practice autobiographical storytelling, public speaking, and creative writing. Together we’ll build a performance for a Creative Arts assembly at the end of the semester to feature our stories for an audience.

Grade: 78

Mixed Chorus 7/8: Sing! Your Heart Out

Do you love to sing? Do you want to improve your singing skills? Do you want to sing with your friends and create amazing harmonies? Well then, come Sing Your Heart Out! in this Mixed Chorus elective. We will sing a variety of songs including Disney, Pop, Holiday, Broadway, Cultural, Jazz, and songs that you are interested in. You will learn how to read vocal music, understand music theory, and have fun harmonizing using two, three, and four-part harmonies. Songwriting projects and musical activities will also be included in this course for you to explore and develop your creative, musical side! No prior experience is necessary, so don’t worry if you feel like you “can’t sing!” We will perform for various events on and off campus, as well as a Holiday and Spring Concert! Come Sing!

Grade: 78

Music 7/8: Jam! Steel Pan and Percussion

Have you ever wanted to learn how to play a steel pan? This is the perfect instrument for a beginner and can challenge a more advanced student. Come Jam! with your friends and play Rock, Reggae, Pop, and Seasonal music. Train your ear to listen to the ensemble, whether you are playing the drum set, vibraphone, or steel pans. Do you have experience playing the electric guitar, keyboard, or electric bass? We can easily add that to our group. If you currently play an instrument, come perféct your rhythm-reading skills and understand challenging rhythmic passages. Individual music projects and activities will also be included in this class. No prior experience is necessary! This performance elective will entertain the community and other special events throughout the semester, including a Holiday and Spring Concert. Come Jam!

Grade: 78

Music Exploration 7/8

Come explore this music class where YOU get to decide on music composition and creation projects that excite you! Do you love writing music or using GarageBand? Compose your favorite style of music and have the dance class choreograph it! Already play an instrument, let’s figure out how we can work that into a musical project for you; perhaps, performing in a rock band with other musicians from our class! Do you love a certain artist? Dive into their music and history and create a slideshow! Create an art project as you listen to your favorite song! Are you interested in becoming better at reading music or understanding rhythms? This may be the class for you. How about learning a cover song on the ukulele, or writing songs to your favorite children’s book? Learn a drum-set solo, try playing the electric guitar, or learn some amazing and famous bass lines on the electric bass! The possibilities are endless. Let’s Explore Music together! Each project will be presented to our classmates (only) on an agreed performance day.

Grade: 78

Art 7/8: Mixed Media

Ever want to let loose in Art class? In Mixed Media, we will work with mediums such as watercolor, acrylic paint, chalk pastel, and oil pastel to harness our individual creativity. Each project will reference a certain art movement, yet provide enough individual freedom to have your artistic voice stand out. Join Mixed Media! Don’t “brush” it off!

Grade: 78

Art 7/8: Digital Arts

This class is designed to be an all-encompassing introduction to the digital arts. We will learn the foundational elements of design, color harmony, and composition while working with digital and traditional mediums. The class will dive into each project while being introduced to key software such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Procreate. We will also have fun taking and editing digital photos. If you love art and computers, this class was designed for you!

Grade: 78

Art 7/8: Drawing

This class provides an exciting opportunity to hone your drawing abilities and gain new insight into multiple drawing mediums including graphite, charcoal, pen & ink, and colored pencil. Potential projects include portraiture/figure drawing, still life, independent projects, photo rendering, perspective, and on-location sketching. All abilities are welcome! I hope I can “draw” you all in!

Grade: 78

Dance 7/8: Choreo Lab

This class is for those wanting to learn choreography and create their own! I will teach choreography in different styles, and you will learn the tools to create, stage, and perform your own dances in a collaborative group setting. The class will include warm-ups and stretches, across-the-floor progressions, and choreographed phrases that you will modify and explore with tools learned in class! All students will have the opportunity to perform!

Grade: 78

Dance 7/8: Just Dance!

This class is for everyone that wants to dance. We will use our warm-ups and across-the-floor combinations to work on technique and improve strength and flexibility. Following across-the-floor combinations, you will then learn choreography created for your class. Each dance that you learn will be in a different style! These styles may include but are not limited to, jazz, contemporary, hip-hop, lyrical, and instrumental pieces. I will build the class around the dances that you are excited about! We will also explore the fundamentals of choreography. All students are highly encouraged to perform!

Grade: 78

Dance 7/8: Movement In Motion

This class is for those who want to dive into dance through the eye of media and technology! We will explore the eclectic culture of dance in media like music videos, concert performances, TV, movies, social media, Youtube, advertisements, etc., and create our own dances utilizing these different platforms. In addition, you will explore choreographing your own TikTok dance challenge, film a dance mini-movie, or create a concert performance. All students are highly encouraged to perform.

Grade: 9101112

Art Foundations

This is a year-long course.

Art Foundations students are taught foundation level skills while exploring a wide range of art mediums and techniques. The first semester will emphasize observational drawing and an introduction to painting in watercolor, acrylics and water based oils.Students will have direct instruction in drawing, painting, and digital art. Each student will be responsible for maintaining a sketch journal notebook. Students will gain an understanding of the principles and elements of design and utilize them in positive art critiques and group discussions.In the second semester, students are encouraged to use their own rich cultural heritage and personal interests to design projects that excite them. Both historic and contemporary artists will be researched by students and presented to their classmates. 

Grade: 6

English 6

Sixth grade English introduces students to the foundational reading, writing and language skills needed throughout Middle School English.

Sixth grade English blends book clubs, a whole-class text, and a supported independent reading program. Book clubs on contemporary realistic fiction, dystopian novels, and fantasy stories are opportunities to collaborate effectively and analyze literary elements, such as characters, themes, and symbolism. The whole-class novel The Giver asks students to question the necessity for choice and emotional capacity in humans. With this text, students learn how to annotate and use textual evidence to support their claims, which culminates in a literary analysis essay at the end of the unit. Independent reading is supported throughout the year by a classroom library, monthly class visits to the Menlo School library, and dedicated reading time. Students apply reading skills taught in class to their independent reading selections.

After processing and digesting the craftsmanship demonstrated by notable authors, students illustrate their understanding by composing their own creative writing pieces, such as a 100-word memoir and a personal vignette. Toward the end of the year, students practice argumentative writing through an editorial piece that combines their personal interests with a call to action.

Throughout each unit, grammar concepts are introduced, practiced, and applied in all of their writing.

This course serves as a foundation for both English skills and academic habits.

Grade: 7

English 7

Seventh-grade English continues the work of building reading, writing, and language skills but with increased sophistication and nuance.

The reading goal of seventh-grade English is for students to expand their reading horizons through a balance of whole-class texts, small-group book clubs, and high-volume independent reading. The whole-class texts include extended studies of both poetry and short stories. These units are designed to expose students to multiple authors and their distinct cultural perspectives and writing styles, as well as teach close reading skills. Additionally, students participate in three in-class book clubs centered on the genres of novels in verse, historical fiction, and memoirs. Lessons about each genre’s distinct characteristics support readers in diving more deeply into their chosen text. Finally, students engage in high-volume independent reading and expand their reading horizons by meeting requirements for a range in genres, identity commemoration months, and book awards. The idea is for students to try less common genres, experience reading as “windows” or “mirrors” to a variety of cultural identities, and to read quality titles recognized by recent American Library Association book awards.

In seventh-grade English, students learn that good writing is really revision. They come to see that revision is more than just slight tinkering, but a committed endeavor to delete, add, and rearrange, always to master the piece’s purpose. The writing assignments alternate among analytical writing, authentic writing, and creative writing. Some of the major writing pieces include a book review, literary analysis of poems, poems, a description essay, a letter to an author, and an extended comparison of two short stories. The course also emphasizes precise word choice and serious attention to detail as essential elements of powerful written expression.

Vocabulary words are drawn from the whole-class literature and from students’ book club choices and independent reading titles. Students engage playfully with new vocabulary in quiz games and “vocab slams.” The goal of vocabulary instruction is for students to enjoy and find power in learning and using new words. Grammar lessons are targeted to enhance student writing skills, rather than to be grammar for grammar’s sake. Grammar lessons ask students to induce patterns in syntax, identify those patterns in mentor texts, and apply those patterns to create variety and impact in their writing.

This course underscores the natural interconnectedness of reading, writing and language usage.

Grade: 101112

Advanced Art

This is a year-long course.

Advanced Art students learn how to research, experiment, and revise their ideas as they develop their own unique style and record the process in sketchbook journals and personal websites. The goal will be to produce and display a sound portfolio of original artwork in mediums and topics of their choice. Materials include graphite, charcoal, pastels, acrylic, oil, mixed media, digital, and dimensional art such as fiber art and sculpture. Art as a community builder and an avenue for positive change will be explored in collaborative projects. Students will be required to participate in a minimum of two art shows in the school year.

Students will research contemporary artists, artistic processes, visit museums, and share their findings with classmates.

Prerequisite: Permission of the teacher and preview of student artwork.

Grade: 8

English 8

Over the course of 8th grade English, students learn to take a stand and develop their own ideas regarding complex issues of culture and justice.

Central questions in the course readings include: “What should an ideal society be based upon?”, “When should the needs or ideals of society outweigh the realities of individuals?”, “Is there a difference between justice and revenge if both justice and revenge are interested in settling a score?”, and “Is civil disobedience a moral responsibility?” To consider these complex questions, students read a wide variety of shorter texts, including nonfiction essays, excerpts from autobiographies, famous speeches, and dystopian stories. The year concludes with a close reading of Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. In addition to whole–class texts, students complete their middle school years of independent reading by intentionally planning and metacognitively reflecting on their journey as readers, pushing themselves toward more challenging texts, both in topic and syntax.

As students examine how cultural experiences shape and impact the world around us, they learn how to synthesize their ideas into cohesive arguments through expository writing, argumentative writing, and rhetorical analysis. Students learn to provide a thorough rationale for their arguments with concessions and refutations. Students continue to refine these skills as they craft their deeply personal “This I Believe” essay and their culminating literary analysis of Things Fall Apart. A key strategy in helping students form their ideas and arguments is dialogue through Socratic circles and peer collaboration. These tools help students translate their emerging ideas into crisply written expressions.

Students engage in a deep analysis of complex vocabulary and discover how precise word choice is used to create dynamic messages related to an author’s purpose. Grammar instruction focuses on the necessity for tailoring sentence structure when communicating messages to a specific audience. After examining the syntax of the wide variety of authors in the shorter whole-class texts, students emulate patterns of syntax in their own writing. Furthermore, students identify and collect complex vocabulary words from readings to incorporate into their writing and class discussions.

The course challenges students to find their voice in the world and express it well.

Grade: 101112

Advanced Topics in Art (H)

This is a year-long course.

This is a rigorous honors level course where students enter with a mastery of art skill sets and who can work independently both in and outside of class time. The goal will be to develop an artist series of original artwork centered around an overarching theme of their choice. The areas of focus can utilize 2D design, drawing and painting, mixed media, sculpture, and installation art. The topics will require in-depth research, revision of art and ideas, written reflections, experimentation, culminating in successful completion of at least 10 to 12 artworks. Art as a community builder and an avenue for positive change will be explored in individual projects. A.T. students will participate in a Spring art show in which they will present their series and be able to discuss their art with an audience. Peer support throughout the year will be in group critiques that require understanding of the principles and elements of design. Students can opt-in to sign up for one of the three AP Art portfolios and use their works created in class, but they are responsible for the additional time and effort outside of class to organize and submit their own portfolio.

Prerequisite: Submission of at least 2 project proposals prior to acceptance as well as meeting and portfolio review with the instructor. Successful completion of Advanced Art is highly recommended prior to taking this course.

Open to Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors

Grade: 9

Studio Art (FAX)

FRESHMEN ONLY - A BLOCK FRESHMAN ARTS EXPERIENCE (FAX) - FALL OR SPRING

This class is designed for those who love art as well as students new to art and eager to learn. It focuses on a fun, student-driven exploration of a variety of art materials while building skills in art techniques both traditional and digital. Creating a visual narrative and telling a story through art will be a prominent theme. Each student will be provided a sketchbook to work on throughout the semester. Students are encouraged to create their own projects and in collaboration. There will be a combination of direct instruction and freedom to chart one’s own path in art.

Grade: 9

Embody Voice (FAX)

FRESHMEN ONLY - A BLOCK FRESHMAN ARTS EXPERIENCE (FAX) - FALL or SPRING

Discover your authentic voice through mindful movement, breathing, vocal technique and expression. This innovative class integrates music with storytelling to help you cultivate a deeper connection to your voice and narrative abilities. Whether you’re looking to sing, act, work on public speaking, or simply looking to enhance your communication skills, this course offers an outlet for personal growth and artistic expression.

Grade: 9101112

Knight Singers

This is a year-long course.

A performance based class that focuses on ensemble building, harmony and vocal technique, this course is designed for singers of all levels who are passionate about exploring a diverse range of musical styles and genres from the world of Broadway, classical and contemporary music. We will also explore music in an array of different languages, cultures, and traditions. This ensemble will have the opportunity to perform for various opportunities both for the Menlo community and special events beyond school. Whether you are a seasoned singer or just discovering your voice, this class is open to all levels.

Prerequisites: Previous experience in a vocal group is strongly recommended. 

Grade: 9101112

Vocal Showcase (1S or 2S)

This is a semester-long course offered in FALL or SPRING. 

This course is designed to help you develop your unique vocal style, stage presence, and confidence as a performer. Through individual coaching and group sessions, you will learn essential techniques for singing, storytelling, and connecting with your audience. Class repertoire will include various styles from jazz, classical, and Broadway selections and will culminate with a showcase to celebrate your unique expression. Open to all levels.

Grade: 9101112

Chamber Orchestra

This is a year-long course.

This ensemble welcomes all melodic instrumentalists who are interested in a creative and collaborative process of making music. The repertoire is based on student interest and the rehearsal process goes beyond developing ensemble skills and integrates discussions of historical context, harmony, and form. This ensemble will change the way you approach music and challenge the convention of genres performed by orchestras. The orchestra performs several concerts throughout the year and past performances have included music by Tchaikovsky, Astor Piazzolla, Joe Hisaishi, Hozier, and Billie Eilish. Chamber Orchestra may be repeated for additional credit.

Prerequisites: Fluency on a melodic instrument and reading standard Western music notation

Grade: 9101112

Jazz Band

This is a year-long course.

Jazz Band is open to all instrumentalists interested in elevating their musicianship through developing their performing and improvising skills through jazz and other jazz-related genres. In addition to learning standard tunes, students will learn to create their own arrangements and original compositions for the band. The Jazz Band will perform at casual and formal events throughout the year. Past performances have included music by Art Blakey, Wayne Shorter, Stevie Wonder, Esperanza Spalding, and Vulfpeck. Jazz Band may be repeated for additional credit.

Prerequisites: Fluency on a melodic or percussive instrument

Grade: 101112

Push Play: Electronic Music (1S and/or 2S)

This class can be taken as in either SPRING or FALL as a semester-long course or taken both semesters as a year-long course.

Learn to work with the tools and techniques of electronic music-making. No previous experience or knowledge is necessary, but if you do, this class can take your skills to the next level. Learn to shape sounds with hardware and software that have historical and cultural significance since the 1960s to present day. All genre preferences are welcome and we will use your playlists as musical inspiration. Deepen your listening skills by recreating familiar beats and create new songs from scratch. Limited to 10 students.

Grade: 101112

Advanced Topics in Music Theories (H)

This is a year-long course.

This class will develop your musicianship skills through a creative and comprehensive study of music making. Using the musical norms established by western tonal music as a common point of reference, we will explore musical styles from a wide range of countries, cultures, and eras to gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of the power of music. Expand your understanding of how musicians have uniquely organized sound and silence using a wide variety of theories. Students will deepen their understanding of each theoretical concept through creative assignments, arrangements, and compositions. This class will challenge and change the way you listen to, think about, and perform music. If you are interested in the AP Music Theory exam (which only covers western tonal music theory), some of the curriculum will be applicable, but you will need to supplement extra practice for certain skills specific to the exam.

Prerequisite: Experience with vocal and/or instrumental music highly recommended. 

Grade: 9

How Music Works: Exploring and Expanding Your Musical Taste (FAX)

FRESHMEN ONLY - A BLOCK FRESHMAN ARTS EXPERIENCE (FAX) - FALL OR SPRING

This class is for all music-lovers who want to deepen their understanding of how music works. We will use your musical preference as a starting point and dive into the magic and technique of how musicians engage our hearts and imagination. To explore the power of organizing and manipulating sounds, there will be many hands-on projects using digital audio workstations. Learn how beats, chords, and melodies work together to create moods, messages, and stories that resonate with you. You will also have opportunities to collaborate with your classmates to create music that you could not have produced alone. No previous musical training necessary, but if you have some musical experience, this class will take your musicianship skills to the next level. Not only will you improve your music making skills, but the experiences in this class will also deepen your capacity to listen to others

Grade: 9101112

Dance

This course can be taken as a year-long course or as a semester-long course in FALL.

Throughout the course, we will broaden our understanding of dance by studying multiple styles including jazz, contemporary, musical theatre, hip-hop, and tap. The focus of the course will be on the development of a technical foundation, understanding rhythm and musicality, strength and flexibility, choreography retention, and most importantly how to have FUN while moving your body! Class structure will include a warm-up designed around proper body alignment, across-the-floor movement, and choreography sequences focusing on applying proper technique and artistry. Students will have multiple opportunities to choreograph where we will explore ideas of self-expression through movement while also collaborating with peers. We will also study various choreographic tools and techniques to create your Dance Concert piece. Students will be expected to perform and participate in the annual Dance Concert in March 2025.

Grade: 101112

Advanced Dance

This course can be taken as a year-long course or a semester-long course in FALL.

Building upon the foundations of Dance I, students will further develop their technique and dive deeper into dance as an art form. Styles of dance that will be studied include jazz, contemporary, world styles, musical theatre, ballet, and hip hop. Classes will include warming up, stretching, movement sequences across the floor, and learning choreography. Students will build skills to develop their artistic expression through improvisation and creating and analyzing choreography. We will also study various choreographic tools and techniques to create your Dance Concert piece. Students will be expected to perform and participate in the annual Dance Concert in March 2025.

Prerequisites for this course include Dance I or permission from the teacher and high level of dance training. 

Grade: 9

Freshman Dance (FAX)

FRESHMEN ONLY - A BLOCK FRESHMAN ARTS EXPERIENCE (FAX) - FALL OR SPRING

Designed for any level dancer, students will gain an appreciation for the love of dance! Throughout the semester we will broaden our understanding of dance by studying multiple styles including jazz, contemporary, musical theatre, and hip-hop. The focus of the course will be on the development of a technical foundation, understanding rhythm and musicality, strength and flexibility, choreography retention, and most importantly, how to have FUN while moving your body! Class structure will include a warm-up designed around proper body alignment, across-the-floor movement, and choreography sequences focusing on applying proper technique and artistry. Students will have multiple opportunities to choreograph where we will explore ideas of self-expression through movement while also collaborating with peers.

Grade: 9101112

Musical Theater (1S)

This is a semester-long course is and is offered in the FALL only. 

This class is designed to tell stories through music with the goal of developing an awareness of emotional truth and connection. It is a performance-based course focused on the essential elements of musical theatre - music & drama. We will cover shows from the early days to today’s latest and greatest on Broadway, discovering how its history translates and relates to the hits of today. Students are encouraged to bring their own repertoire while also being open to learning something new. We will perform scenes from musicals and together create an end-of-semester ‘showcase’ to celebrate student’s achievements. Prior experience in vocal music & drama is encouraged but not necessary.

Grade: 9101112

Drama On-Stage (1S)

This course is a semester-long course and is offered in the FALL. This class can be taken along with Drama Off-Stage in order to count as a year-long arts class. 

This one-semester introductory theatre course helps you discover your individual voice through the fundamental elements of all things ON stage. Through improvisation, observation, character development, and performance technique, you will help bring to life stories that are diverse and engaging, including but not limited to, monologues, scene study, and performance-based classroom presentations. By developing a greater understanding and appreciation of what theatre is, along with your unique perspective, Drama On-Stage can help you build confidence as you “bring it all together” in a culminating project.

Grade: 9101112

Drama Off-Stage (2S)

This course is a semester-long course and is offered in the SPRING. This class can be taken along with Drama On-Stage in order to count as a year-long arts class. 

This one-semester course is perfect to take in tandem, with Drama ON-Stage or can be taken as a stand-alone. The focus of this class is to create a deeper appreciation and understanding of everything that happens OFF-Stage in theatre. Through practical application, learn about the wide range of opportunities in the artistic, production, and business categories of the business to put on a successful production! Topics and units include lighting, sound, costuming, theatre management, and general production support. Learn to apply skills and techniques to produce a play holistically while helping to support the Menlo mainstage productions, during class time, in design, management, technical services, dramaturgy, and backstage support. Practical application will be in real-time with real results.

Grade: 9101112

Production: Page to Spieker Stage (1S and/or 2S)

This course can be taken as in either SPRING or FALL as a semester-long course or taken both semesters as a year-long course.

The first hands-on experience exploring and combining design, science, engineering, craftsmanship, art, and presentation inside the new Spieker Center for the Arts, this course is an opportunity to think big. It will cover digital theatrical LED lighting, live sound, production organization and management, set design, tools, construction, scenic painting, costume and prop design. Each student will be encouraged to find his/her own areas of interest. Learn how to safely use the diverse technology and tools of our new theater to take student projects from concept to completion. Students can also learn from working live events, concerts, dance, or theater. We will focus on collaboration, basic skill sets, and creativity. 

Grade: 9

Beyond Words (FAX)

FRESHMEN ONLY - A BLOCK FRESHMAN ARTS EXPERIENCE (FAX) - FALL OR SPRING

Mountains and minds can be moved with words. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Communication is only partially verbal. Much is non verbal, including body language and tone of voice Beyond Words, focuses on the art and skill of how to deliver your message, your story, and the nuances of saying it. Stories are the currency of community while celebrating what is unique to you. We will strengthen our own natural skills while exploring various techniques used by great orators like Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Martin Luther King, and Maya Angelou. Learn to share your story well, and people will listen!

Grade: 9101112

Fundamentals of Media Production

This is a year-long course. 

In this course, students will explore a variety of media production techniques and styles. Students will design their own visual and auditory experiences and discover different ways of listening and seeing the world through widened perspectives. Students will use stories as a tool and a guide to examine the emotions, visual and auditory rhythms we experience, and the outcomes we seek when striving towards creating a better world.

Grade: 101112

Advanced Media Production

This is a year-long course.

This advanced class is for students who have mastered the fundamental skills of media production (i.e., sound, lighting, camera work and editing) and want to put their skills into action to develop high level experiences that can inspire others. Students will develop original ideas for their media projects and are encouraged to pursue the kind of media that interests them the most. Students will work with the instructor to develop individual goals for building their skills and completing projects. Advanced Media Production students will be given opportunities to mentor other students as they bring to life the ideas and stories they imagine.

Prerequisites: Completion of Moviemaking 1/Fundamentals of Media Production or permission of the instructor. 

Grade: 9

Photo Lab (FAX)

FRESHMEN ONLY - A BLOCK FRESHMAN ARTS EXPERIENCE (FAX) - FALL OR SPRING

This introductory class uses both film and digital SLR cameras to teach students the basics of photography. Students explore classic photographic project themes, like light, darkness, still life, landscape, portraiture, and others with each weekly project. Students are encouraged to experiment, and given the freedom to interpret and discover their own personal interests and styles. 

Grade: 9101112

Fundamentals of Photography (1S or 2S)

This is a semester-long course.

This introductory class uses both film and digital SLR cameras to teach students the basics of photography. Students explore classic photographic project themes, like light, darkness, still life, landscape, portraiture, and others with each weekly project. Students are encouraged to experiment, and given the freedom to interpret and discover their own personal interests and styles. Open to all grades.

Grade: 101112

Advanced Photography

This is a year-long class. 

This class is for students who want to learn more advanced photographic techniques and editing processes in both analogue and digital photography. Students use manual controls in both film and digital cameras to experiment with focus, depth of field and exposure. While using analogue process the emphasis is placed on image and print quality using the dark room. While learning the digital process students learn advanced photo editing software to edit and manipulate images. With each project, students explore classic photographic themes; light, darkness, color, still life, landscape, portraiture, composition, abstraction, texture, reflections, patterns, and many others. Students are encouraged to experiment, and are given the freedom to pursue their own personal interests and styles. Students are provided with in-class use of film and DSLR camera, lenses and software tools.

Pre-requisite: Photo 1

Grade: 9

Media Arts (FAX)

FRESHMEN ONLY - A BLOCK FRESHMAN ARTS EXPERIENCE (FAX) - FALL OR SPRING

Through hands-on projects and collaborative exercises students will explore the fundamental elements of storytelling and learn how to effectively convey their ideas through visual and auditory mediums. Students will analyze diverse forms of storytelling, including film, photography, sound, and animation. They will develop essential skills in scriptwriting, storyboarding, cinematography, editing, and sound design. Through creative expression and critical thinking, students will craft their own stories honing their abilities to communicate ideas effectively in today’s media landscape.

Grade: 6

Social Sciences 6

Social Sciences 6

Sixth grade Social Sciences is centered around Human Geography and is devoted to the exploration and understanding of the essential questions, “What challenges does our community face?” and “How can we be agents of sociopolitical change?” Students learn about various concepts such as globalization, immigration, inequality, and social justice by examining case studies of historical and contemporary phenomena around the world. In terms of cognitive skill development, history in the 6th grade aims to create a solid foundation for analytical and argumentative writing, academic discussion, and formal presentation. Students are encouraged to examine beneath the surface and develop their analytical thinking skills through collaborative activities, interactive simulations, active reading, written work, and class discussions. Technology is integrated as appropriate throughout the curriculum, and there is also an emphasis on reinforcing overall learning strategies, such as time management, organization, and study skills. Additionally, we spend a significant portion of time examining current affairs, particularly in the parts of the world that we study, so that our students can develop a more comprehensive understanding of life around the globe today. Along our journey, we never forget our essential questions; they set the context through which we examine what has happened before us, how that impacts our world today, and what change we hope to achieve, while also facilitating our growth and progress as a sixth grade community and beyond.

The sixth grade curriculum culminates with the TED Talk Project where students will identify, research, and propose a solution to a problem in their local community. Using all of the critical thinking skills they have learned this year, they will present a TED Talk-style presentation to their peers and key stakeholders. 

Grade: 9101112

Introduction to Journalism

 Journalism today is not what it was even 10 years ago. Student journalists today still need to be able to write and use sources and evidence well, but they also need to be able to shoot video and craft stories for a short-attention-span audience. And many journalists today need to also be entrepreneurs, creating their own audiences and developing business plans that can sustain their work. Students in this course will learn and practice all the skills needed. They’ll also have the chance to get their work published in The Coat of Arms online and in print as soon as the quality is approved by student editors; all students will be publishing by the second semester.

Skills learned in this course will serve students in higher-level journalism, yearbook, and moviemaking courses; the course is a prerequisite for Journalism II. 

Grade: 7

Social Sciences 7

Social Sciences 7

The course emphasizes critical reading, writing, speaking, and study skills. Students practice the application of academic skills across the curriculum as they learn critical thinking and writing through discussions, debates, and simulations; active reading and note-taking; and library research. Students are encouraged to examine beneath the surface and develop their analytical thinking skills through collaborative activities, interactive simulations, active reading, written work, and class discussions. In addition, this course actively contributes to the seventh grade interdisciplinary goals of developing study skills, honing organization and time management, resilience, and practicing mutual respect and tolerance through collaborative learning.

Throughout the course of the school year, the seventh-grade Social Sciences class will focus on world history and social justice. Students will learn about social, cultural, and technological change throughout world history. We will also read and examine A Different Mirror (for Young People) by Ronald Takaki. Current events are covered throughout the year as well. Lastly, the seventh-grade culminating project, the MOVE project, integrates problem-solving, research, and presentation skills across the core classes. MOVE is an acronym that stands for, “Motivate, Overcome, Voice, and, Empower.” Students are asked to research a modern national problem and create an oral presentation of their findings. 

Students examine the impact of geography on civilization, discuss the interaction between people and the environment, and learn to make connections between history and the world today. Essays and a research paper enhance writing skills, and students work with books, primary sources, maps, political cartoons, and periodicals that broaden their reading comprehension. Technology skills are learned and applied throughout the year. 

Grade: 101112

Advanced Journalism

Students in this class will be members of The Coat of Arms staff, publishing both print and online work. They are encouraged to pursue stories that interest them and engage their audience. The staff of The Coat of Arms is responsible for attracting and keeping an audience of their peers, exploring new ideas and directions all the time and using data analysis to help determine what is effective. Yet this doesn’t mean student journalists will ignore the important role they play in a community, pursuing investigative journalism and informing their audience. The staff is challenged to continually build their communication skills in written, photo and video media. The Coat of Arms is a student-driven publication, and it’s ultimately what the students on the staff make of it. (Note: Journalism II and Journalism III meet together, in the same room at the same time.)

Prerequisite: either completion of Journalism I or rising senior standing. 

Grade: 8

Social Sciences 8

Social Sciences 8

Students develop historical thinking skills as well as historical understanding of the individual and collective experiences of people who make up our diverse nation. The course is designed to challenge and motivate active, confident learners through a variety of experiential, skill-building exercises. Students gain the ability to analyze historical events and grapple with the complexities of past and current events.

Eighth grade Social Sciences covers major social, political, cultural, and intellectual developments throughout United States history beginning from the 1800s. We begin with the Colonial Settlement, and continue to the Civil War and Reconstruction Era. The latter half of the year brings us into modern times; the Great Depression, World War II, and the Civil Rights Movement. Year-long current event reports enhance the focus of historical themes as students learn to connect their studies to present-day events. Primary and secondary source materials (political cartoons, music, documents, images) are added to assist in critical analysis: formulating opinions, drawing conclusions, role-playing, and writing with authority. Using corroborated evidence, students strengthen their writing and research skills by developing historical essays and research-based reports. Collaboration is an essential component of the year, enhancing students’ soft skills and self-awareness. Students present their work individually and in cooperative groups. Technology is utilized as a supplemental tool to create and share ideas, students also practice traditional note-taking skills from occasional lectures. The curriculum is supplemented with a trip to Washington D.C. in the fall and a final culminating Impact Project in the spring.

Grade: 1112

Journalism Leadership

 Journalism Leadership (III) is only for CoA editors/leaders. Such students get a unique leadership experience. They steer the print and online editions of The Coat of Arms, and they must manage their peers on the staff as well. Because of this, students are graded not only on the content they contribute to CoA but also on how well they perform as leaders and managers. Leadership coaching is provided to help them develop and hone these skills. (Note: Journalism II and Journalism III meet together, in the same room at the same time.)

Honors Option: Students in Journalism Leadership may apply to take the course for honors credit. They must submit a proposal to the teacher in the spring. The proposal should explain a major project that the applicant will complete during the upcoming school year. Options are open-ended; some possible examples include an original long-form article, a series of articles on a topic, a major video story, a marketing program (planned and executed), etc. Each project must involve substantial amount of work over time and be high in quality. The proposal will be reviewed by a panel of teachers.

Prerequisite: Journalism I, Journalism II (& an approved project plan for honors option)

Grade: 101112

Teen Health, Wellness, and Life Skills Seminar (2S)

Did you love 9th Grade Seminar and miss having a space to learn and talk about real-life topics in a non-graded atmosphere? Then consider this pass/fail elective, where we will dive into various health and wellness topics like: mental health, sleep, nutrition, how to cook, body image, relationships, consent, gender roles, substance education, social media, stress management, CPR and first aid, self-care, and mindfulness. Beyond the discussion-based component of class, students will take on a peer leadership role in sharing their learnings outside of the classroom by running a workshop, class meeting, or guiding an advocacy lesson.

This class is offered Pass/No Pass, rather than for a letter grade. 

Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors

Grade: 9101112

Yearbook 1: Publication Design

This is a year-long class. 

Students in this course are part of the yearbook staff. They collaborate with students in the Yearbook Club and any students doing independent studies to create a gorgeous 400-page book each year. New staff members learn about visual design, photography, image editing, and using software for graphic design. Because the book depends on students to create it, the staff must be productive, but the atmosphere in class is casual. It’s a fun change of pace from the usual daily schedule.

Students who go on from Publications I to Publications II can earn a University of California visual arts credit, as well as their Menlo Arts credit. 

Grade: 101112

Yearbook 2: Advanced Publication Design

This is a year-long class. 

In this course, students take part in designing the form and content of the annual book. They learn more about the central principles of design: shape, line, color, repetition and balance. They also dive more deeply into what makes good photography and why in yearbook photography we emphasize faces, action, context and emotion. And they practice shooting and choosing photos to create strong page layouts. 

This class receives both a Menlo Arts credit and a UC Visual Arts credit.

Prerequisite: Publication Design I

Grade: 1112

Yearbook 3: Publication Leadership

This is a year-long class. 

In this third-year class students build on everything they learned in the first two years and add to that the challenge of managing peers, leading the staff through a year-long trek to create our book. These publications veterans make decisions for the designs for pages and the book overall. It is their responsibility to incorporate all that they have learned about design in their first two years in an aesthetically pleasing and very practical creation.

Open to juniors and seniors.

Grade: 9

English 1

English 1 students will work to establish their authorial voices while focusing on both reading and writing as active processes. In the fall, students will write a variety of expository pieces in order to deepen their awareness of their own opinions and values. Students then position themselves within larger cultural dialogues as we work on academic and literary arguments based on short stories, novellas, novels, and dramatic works. This practice will deepen their ability to recognize literary devices and will refine their ability to write logically and to support claims with evidence. Finally, students end the year with a focused study of rhetoric using op-ed pieces, speeches, plays, and fiction as inspiration. Students will become familiar with the fundamentals of grammar and punctuation, which they will practice throughout the year; they will also build their vocabularies through structured weekly practice.

Grade: 6

Human Skills 6

Sixth Graders explore the social and emotional aspects of strong communities and reflect on how their class can embody a strong community in order to support one another throughout their middle school experience. They practice communication skills such as active listening, perspective taking, and using an assertive voice. They reflect on their values in relation to one another and society. Students expand their ability to be introspective and reflective and learn concepts of positive psychology including optimism, growth mindset, and gratitude. Students practice identifying their own and others’ emotions and develop positive ways of managing feelings of disappointment, anger and frustration. They identify the characteristics of friendship and discuss positive strategies for handling conflict. Students review the difference between tattling and telling, in order to enlist adult support for a friend in certain circumstances. A variety of media is used to promote discussions around positive school climate and personal responsibility. Current film clips and ad campaigns are shown to teach media literacy and to explore stereotyping, prejudice and racism.

Grade: 10

English 2

English 2 builds upon the foundation of English 1 in writing, reading, and grammatical instruction. Students will experience enhanced independence in crafting the structure of their writing, as well as develop greater complexity, specificity, and personal voice. Developing timed writing strategies further challenges students’ reading literacy and writing fluency. English 2’s curricular focus on American Literature produces many interdisciplinary opportunities with the History Department. Students gain an appreciation of how texts relate to the world around them and to their own lives. By spring, students will more precisely analyze how meaning is cultivated in a text, develop facility with inter-textual analysis, both within and outside of the text, and identify “cultural conversations” that emerge from our readings.

Grade: 7

Human Skills 7

In this semester-long course, students discuss their talents, passions and joys as well as the various stresses and challenges they may encounter. Students identify sources of strength in their lives and make action plans for self-care. Students learn about the adverse effects of various substances and the psychology of addiction. Portions of the documentary films Miss Representation and The Mask You Live In are used to spark thought and discussion related to stereotypes, prejudice, and critical consumption of media. Students explore concepts within social psychology such as “groupthink” and bystander intervention.

Grade: 8

Human Skills 8

In this course, students explore and discuss a wide range of topics under the broad area of human sexuality. Students identify aspects of healthy and unhealthy relationships and discuss personal values concerning dating and relationships, including the topic of consent and setting personal boundaries. They review the human reproductive systems and increase their knowledge and understanding of various methods of preventing sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy. Students further explore gender roles and stereotypes in our culture, and examine how these stereotypes affect human relationships, scrutinizing the effect of media. Students watch a variety of documentary films to expand their understanding of human sexuality. They learn the distinctions between sex, sexuality and gender and practice appropriate language in discussing these constructs. There is an ongoing focus on wellness and mental health in the course. Students review concepts about nutrition, sleep, managing stress, and identifying signs of anxiety and depression. As with Human Skills 6 and 7, students consider circumstances when enlisting adult support is warranted in order to take care of themselves and each other.

Grade: 11

Junior English Seminar (H): Rhetoric (1S)

This fast-paced course focuses on nonfiction writing, and students will become more proficient and comfortable both reading and producing complex pieces from a variety of fields (science, philosophy, popular culture, environmental studies, etc.) and genres (e.g. profiles, definitions, classifications, process papers). In addition to in-class timed writing, students should expect to write frequently at home, since the course intends to develop their own awareness of audience, purpose, and composition strategies. Rhetoric is also ideal for students who want to improve their reading of nonfiction texts and their ability to grapple with complex issues, both historical and contemporary.

With some independent preparation, students who take this course may feel equipped to take the AP Language exam.

Grade: 11

Junior English Seminar: Literature (1S)

In this thematic, literature-based course, students will explore the role of the rebel in society through the core textual and film selections including Ken Kesey’s counter-cultural novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nestand the film The Shawshank Redemption. Via class discussion and writing, students will strive to answer the following essential questions: Why do rebels exist? What societal dynamics breed rebels? How are rebels viewed, understood, or misunderstood? Do rebels threaten the stability of society or ensure its well-being? Students will examine how societal forces at play in these works provide us with insight into the society we live in now: here at Menlo, in Silicon Valley, in America. Students will practice mining a text for meaning and significance, craft passage analysis, and practice building rhetorically effective arguments in response to the works studied. For long-term assignments, each phase of the writing process will be scaffolded in order for students to generate increasingly well-supported, complex, and concise written arguments.

Grade: 11

Junior English Seminar (H): Literature (1S)

Honors Literature is a survey course that is perfect for students who genuinely enjoy reading and talking about rewarding and memorable texts. This course is a great choice if you love the sustained, high-level discussion aspect of English class. Our reading of top-shelf challenging books will help you grow as a writer and thinker – be prepared for 45 minutes to an hour of reading after each class period, and come ready to share your perspectives with the class through various discussion modalities. Our reading spans genres, and includes novels, poetry, and drama. Students are expected to write independently and under timed conditions; we write frequent, short response papers of typically 1-2 pages in order to gain comfort with shorter-form writing and draw meaning from complex poems, plays, short stories, and novels that speak to the human condition. Honors Literature is ideal for students who love reading and enjoy robust discussion, literary analysis, and deep philosophical inquiry.

With some independent preparation, students who take this course may feel equipped to take the AP Literature exam.

Grade: 12

Cafe Society: Paris in the 1920s (1S)

Paris enjoyed a thriving arts and literary scene in the interwar years (1920s and 1930s), attracting many American intellectuals to live and work in the famed City of Light. Writers such as Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and Langston Hughes, as well as jazz musicians and stage performers converged in Parisian cafes, bookstores, and nightclubs. In this course, we’ll read a selection of American expatriate writers associated with the “Lost Generation.” We’ll explore the vibrant intellectual and cultural scene of Paris, including artists, musicians and performers. By the time we watch Woody Allen’s comedy, Midnight in Paris, you will know enough to understand all the film’s references to the writers, artists and thinkers who left their indelible mark on this beautiful city. Our class time will be spent in discussion, exploration, collaboration and active participation. The writing you’ll be asked to do will be personal narrative, memoir, creative expression and reflection inspired by and in dialogue with the texts you’ll encounter. We’ll end the semester by hosting a cultural salon, inviting the Menlo adults of your choice to engage in substantive and sparkling conversation with all of you.

Grade: 12

Literature of the American Wilderness (H) (1S)

Wilderness is, actually, an American invention. It’s a construct, not a fact of nature, but one with enormous consequences for the ways in which we relate to our natural world. The ideas of wilderness and the frontier are in fact so entangled in the American identity that we still cannot relinquish the dream of them, even if the U.S Census declared the frontier “closed” 133 years ago; even if less than 3% of the land in the contiguous United States is today considered “wilderness” at all. In this course, we will use literature to explore America’s relationship with its own geography—how that relationship has changed and how it hasn’t—from the biblical ideas that informed our nation’s founding to the rise of a worldview that could possibly condone something like ecoterrorism. Through an interdisciplinary lens that combines literature, art, history, science and ethics, we will explore the reactions that wilderness has historically elicited, our options for responding to it today, and our own relationships with our uniquely Western environment.

This class is part of the Climate Concentration and counts toward the program’s requirement.

Grade: 12

Modernist Poetry Workshop (H) (1S)

The first decades of the twentieth century represented a major inflection point in world history, as the comfortable traditions of previous centuries crumbled in the face of accelerating social and technological change. This is the period that gave birth to the literary revolution we call Modernism, which sought radically new forms of expression in order to articulate the human experience in an increasingly inhumane and unpredictable world. Today we stand at the dawn of a similarly tumultuous new age, and this course will examine the works of the Modernist poets as inspiration for our own poetic innovation. Students will analyze a wide range of Modernist poetry and experiment with various poetic techniques as they compile a portfolio of their own verse throughout the semester.

Grade: 12

Dystopian Fiction and Film (1S)

With the re-emergence of dystopian fiction as the most popular genre for young readers, students will be exposed to dystopian classics that paved the way for more contemporary works. Students will explore the political and social climate that prompted the authors to generate their narratives as well as the current, cultural conversations that emerge from these texts. Literature selections include: “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut and George Orwell’s 1984.

In addition, students will view and analyze mise-en-scene techniques of notable dystopian films and shows, both classic and contemporary, including Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report, and selected episodes of the acclaimed British television series Black Mirror. Students will generate personal and social commentaries, a presentation of a dystopian film, and a research-based, capstone paper with the working title “1984 and Today’s Society.”

Grade: 12

Medicine and Narrative (1S)

When it comes to the human body, scientific knowledge and narrative knowledge are seemingly at odds. The former demands dispassionate, objective observation; the latter invests our genome with the DNA of imaginative literature: symbol, image, metaphor. Yet clinical medicine cannot be practiced without a narrative patient history, and medical knowledge seems to strive for the archetypal shape of narrative: the medical crisis is a narrative “climax” of sorts that must be “resolved” by a cure. This course invites you to discover new ways of thinking about the relation between medicine and the humanities through close readings of memoir, fiction, poetry, and essays, as well as medical and scientific treatises. Units on bioethics, embodiment, pain, pathography, pandemics, and immunology will prepare you to fashion original theories of narrative and healing at the vanguard of this interdisciplinary field. This seminar is designed equally for STEM students who are interested in healthcare and for humanities students interested in themes of malady, body, and identity.

Grade: 12

East Asian Pop Culture (1S)

This course aims to develop an aesthetic, historical, cultural, and philosophical understanding of various media forms in East Asian pop culture. We will study television, print media, film, and popular music in Japan, China, and South Korea. Course units will focus specifically on: (1) Japanese manga and anime & their reception in the West; (2) Chinese martial arts film; and (3) Korean dramas and popular music. We explore how these cultural products, having emerged largely through the combination of traditional and global forms of culture, have in turn profoundly affected popular culture around the globe. In addition to developing a shared scholarly vocabulary for critical discourse on film and contemporary critical theory, we will use an interdisciplinary approach to the study of culture to gain skills to speak and write with intelligence about the diverse perspectives we bring to our understanding, interpretation, and emotional response to pop culture artefacts.

Grade: 12

Shakespeare Now (H) (1S)

Shakespeare’s contemporary (and rival playwright) Ben Jonson famously declared that Shakespeare “was not of an age but for all time!” What Jonson meant, I think, was that Shakespeare’s works transcended their particular time and space (London, 1588ish-1616ish) to grapple with more “universal” human themes, such as power, sexuality and gender dynamics, otherness and identity. But much of the best literary criticism in the last 40 years has shown that Shakespeare absolutely was “of his time.” And Shakespeare’s plays have also proved remarkably adaptable as history has marched forward. For hundreds of years his plays have been performed and transformed to suit very, very different moments in countries across the world: from pre-Civil War America to the postcolonial Caribbean, from Postwar Japan to post-9/11 England.

This course engages with four plays in four different ways: Shakespeare’s Now (Historicism, where we ask about the context in which Shakespeare actually wrote and performed); Shakespeare in History (where we look at an important adaptation of a play - say, Aimé Césaire’s “A Tempest” and decolonization); Shakespeare On screen (a film, such as Kurasawa’s Ran, a rewriting of King Lear); and Shakespeare RIGHT NOW (where we put on a play and decide how to make it relevant to 2023-24). Likely plays might include As You Like It (1599), Hamlet (1600), Othello (1603-04), Measure for Measure (1604), King Lear (1606) or The Tempest (1612).

Grade: 12

Gothic Literature (1S)

A shape of a house, arising from the mist. A figure, seen from the corner of the eye. A deep and growing sense of doom and danger. Gothic literature has been, since the eighteenth century, not only a genre of terror and place but one associated with underrepresented authors and popular culture. It is not a genre that has been left in the past, however; rather, it is one that has thrived through the nineteenth, twentieth, and now twenty-first centuries. We will delve into the origins of traditional gothic literature to explore how contemporary authors have redefined the genre. By shifting the focus from malevolent individuals to the underlying systems that allow evil to flourish, these authors have made the genre uniquely their own. Readings may include texts from writers such as Bronte, Faulkner, Moreno-Garcia, and Huang.

Grade: 1112

Global Mythologies (2S)

We are a species of mythmakers, and thus our societies are founded in and dependent upon shared narratives. Whether we call them myths, legends, or religions, these narratives reveal much about the human mind and our global cultural heritage. This course will provide a wide-ranging exploration of myths across time and space, from the ancient Indian Vedic texts to West African cosmologies to the stories of the Greco-Roman pantheon and Biblical accounts. Examining various traditions through a comparative lens will help us to better understand the origins of our supposedly modern cultures and provide insight into our continued reliance on shared mythological narratives.

Grade: 1112

Creative Nonfiction Workshop (H) (2S)

If the thought of writing another closed-form analytical essay causes you to convulse in fear, you should probably take this class. We will spend all semester experimenting with alternative essay structures, reading, analyzing, and mimicking work by some of the great essayists of the 20th and 21st centuries. We will steal the best storytelling tricks from the fiction writer’s toolkit, and we will borrow strategies of persuasion from classical and contemporary rhetoricians. The course will be built on the workshop model, meaning that you will have to be both brave and nice: over the course of the semester, each student will courageously share his/her original work and will respectfully respond to the work of peers. Expect to be reading, writing, and critiquing constantly, but also expect to kind of sickly enjoy it.

Grade: 1112

Investigations (2S)

By building a course devoted to non-fiction, I hope to both broaden and challenge your understanding of what’s happening in the world around us by exploring: Who’s writing about it, what they’re saying about it, why it’s important, and to enter into the conversations that emerge from it. First, we will explore non-fiction writing through the lens of investigative journalism, reading works on various “whistle-blower” topics, as well as viewing a “whistle-blower” film, The Insider and Frontline’s award-winning documentary League of Denial. Additionally, we will read a variety of longer social/political commentaries on relevant topics from publications including The Atlantic, Scientific American, Vanity Fair, and The Economist. As a capstone experience, you will each conduct your own in-depth investigation into a topic of your choosing. Bring your opinions!

Grade: 1112

Fairy Tales (2S)

“Once upon a time….” So begins perhaps the most pervasive storytelling mode in our world: that of the fairy tale. We use fairy tales as pedagogical tools for teaching values of right vs. wrong, as “means to conquer the terrors of mankind through metaphor” (Zipes), and even as vehicles of resistance against the dragons we encounter every day. This course aims to immerse students deeply in the various modes of the great fairy tale tradition. It will ask students to engage their critical analysis skills as well as their creative writing skills. As scholars, we will interrogate western fairy tale canon in conjunction with non-western folklore and fairy tale tropes, “Disneyfication,” and the increasing ubiquity of fairy tales in contemporary pop culture. As creative writers, we will emphasize becoming “chefs” rather than “cooks,” intentionally using elements of narrative and poetic form and content to create specific effects in contemporary, creative retellings of these classic tales.

Grade: 1112

Novella Workshop (H) (2S)

Whether you have a story idea burning in your mind or are simply drawn to fantastical worldbuilding, star-crossed characters, or diabolically ingenious plots, this class will give you a deeper understanding for narrative storytelling in a variety of genres. Even if you’ve never written something longer than a few pages, our class will help you develop the sustained attention, workshop know-how, and writerly habits-of-mind needed to author your own polished novella (≈80-120 pages) by the semester’s end. In learning the delicate balance of brevity and depth characteristic of the novella form, we will collaboratively analyze various novellas, short stories, and even films. Individually, students will conduct their own guided research and independent reading, discovering the writing styles, settings, and stories that most fill them with wonder before writing their own.

Grade: 1112

Media and Cultural Studies (H) (2S)

In this composition-heavy course, students will develop a sophisticated understanding of the symbolic language of our media-saturated environment and their place in it. Media Semiotics aims to answer questions such as: How does the interplay between our curated online personas and non-digital lived experiences form or displace our ‘authentic’ identities? How do video/board games’ narratives and world-building impact player perceptions of reality and morality? In what ways do consumer spaces, like REI or Lululemon or even Trader Joe’s, both attract and create their own ideal consumers? Through various written and multimedia projects (including timed writes, podcasts, and video essays) students will apply theoretical frameworks (semiotics, postmodernism, postcolonialism) to interactions between media narratives and societal paradigms. Our core texts come from culture studies critics and authors such as Viet Thanh Nguyen, Malcom Gladwell, Maya Phillips, Neal Gabler, Michael Pollan, Avery Trufelman, Roxane Gay, and Emily Nussbaum.

Grade: 1112

A Literary Exploration of Delight (2S)

When we think of delight or wonder, we might think of extraordinary, “mountain top” experiences, but the truth is that peak, high intensity moments do not comprise most of our daily existence. Our lives are, in fact, made up of small moments that are easy to overlook in the business of living. By more closely noticing and savoring these moments, we can enrich our daily existence immensely. Poet W.B. Yeats wrote, “The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”

In this class, we’ll encounter a variety of essayists, writers, philosophers and poets who celebrate the small joys and ordinary wonders of everyday life. You, the students, will build a practice of noticing and documenting your own experiences of daily delight. Over the course of the semester, you will write a series of short reflections in different genres engaging in what the poet Ross Gay calls “scrounging for delight” and honing your “delight radar.” At the end of the semester, each of you will write and present a brief talk in which you share with your audience a deep dive into something that brings delight to your life.

Grade: 1112

Poetry Workshop (2S)

Rip out the printed page. Riot with your words. Write the world as you wish it to be. In this workshop, we won’t just read world-changing poetry; we’ll author it. Whether you’re getting in touch with your inner poet or simply seeking new ways of communicating gracefully, this course is for you. You will train in a wide array of literary techniques that will spark your imagination and transform your language. The structure of each class meeting will vary from day to day and will include poetry critiques, surrealist games, reading discussions, collaborative writing activities, and publication workshops.

Grade: 1112

Science Fiction and the Classics (2S)

Were you one of those kids who could never get enough Greek mythology? Or maybe Percy Jackson or The Hunger Games were more your jam. Are you an unabashed Trekkie and/or Star Wars fan? Perhaps you fancy yourself a connoisseur of more rarefied sci-fi from purists like Isaac Asimov (of Foundation and I, Robot fame) and Frank Herbert’s Dune. If any of these pique your curiosity, then this is the class for you! Many sci-fi stories we know and love today actually have their roots in ancient Greek and Roman literature. As we journey (or trek!) from antiquity to the present, we will trace the development of science fiction as a genre, uniting the ancient Greek and Roman worlds with the modern science-fiction universe. Reading assignments will be of three types: (1) primary ancient and pre-modern sources; (2) critical essays by pioneers in the field of self-conscious science-fiction writing; (3) modern science-fiction short stories, along with television shows and feature films. Most days will be occupied by Socratic-/seminar-style discussion of assigned readings and/or viewings, and the course will be capped by a research project in which students either analyze a science-fiction text not covered in class or write an original short story (screenplay, etc.) of their own that is informed by Classical texts and themes.

Grade: 1112

Classics of Literature (1S or 2S)

This survey course explores literature favorites, both old-school and contemporary, and is perfect for students who have always wanted to read those English class “power titles.” Books like these have gained near mythical status thanks to regular references in pop culture, creative adaptations, and the indelible mark they’ve left on generations of readers. After this class, you too will be able to say, “I’ve read that!” Discussion, synthesis with other works, and multimedia studies will form a significant portion of our time together. Written outcomes of this course include both in-class and take-home analytical essays as well as creative and personal writing. Come excited for a grab-bag of great literature! Readings may include: The Scarlet Letter, Hamlet, The Awakening, The Joy Luck Club, Invisible Man, Frankenstein,and more!

Grade: 1112

Argumentation and Communication (H) (2S)

From newspaper headlines to online forums, talk shows to viral videos, our world can be bitterly divided. Now, perhaps more than ever, we need to engage in civil discourse. This course invites you to become effective communicators in a society filled with conflicting goals and purposes. Together, we’ll explore thorny questions: how do we recognize (and construct) effective arguments? What is the place of dialogue, debate, dissent– and listening in the midst of it all? How do we use rhetorical strategies responsibly? To help us grapple with these questions, we’ll read a variety of nonfiction arguments as well as one self-selected book per quarter. Class activities will include discussion of selected readings, games, debates, and writing workshops. We’ll sharpen our written and oral skills with extensive writing, including an editorial, a satire, a debate, and a speech. By the end of this course, students will gain a deeper appreciation for the complexity and beauty of their own voice and the voices of others.

Grade: 1112

Literature and Science (2S)

Science and literature have a deep and tangled history. The Roman philosopher Lucretius, for example, wrote one of the earliest scientific treatises… in verse. This seminar looks at the relationship between these two fields as it is played out in a number of different genres. We’ll read novels by writers such as Thomas Pynchon or Octavia Butler; poetry by poets like A.R. Ammons, Jorie Graham, Percy Shelley, Tommy Pico, Franny Choi & Rosalie Moffett; and creative nonfiction about fields such as chaos theory, set theory, climate science, quantum mechanics and evolutionary biology.

That’s half of the class—the reading and the content. The other half is about your writing. In addition to short response pieces and in-class presentations, there will be three major writing assignments: a poem or short story that engages in some way with science; a close reading of a work of literature; and your own piece of “pop-science” writing, on a topic of your choosing.

Grade: 1112

5 Months, 4 Books 2S (2S)

Calling all bookworms! This course is designed for passionate readers who seek to explore diverse genres, engage in thought-provoking discussions, and develop increasing autonomy to analyze texts. Throughout the semester, students will delve into a curated selection of classic and contemporary literature, spanning various cultures, time periods, and perspectives. Readings may include: American Dirtby Janine Cummins, All the Light We Cannot Seeby Anthony Doerr, The Nickel Boysby Colson Whitehead, A Prayer for Owen Meanyby John Irving, Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrowby Gabrielle Zevin, The Great Aloneby Kristin Hannah, and Mad Honeyby Jodi Picoult. The emphasis is on fostering a deep appreciation for the written word while honing the skills necessary for independent literary exploration. Collaborative discussions will be a central aspect of the course, providing students with the opportunity to share their insights, challenge perspectives, and refine their communication skills. Students will be encouraged to express their understanding of literature through articulate, persuasive commentary (both written and multimedia) and creative projects, such as writing original pieces inspired by the works they read. Overall, 5 Months, 4 Books aims to foster a lifelong love of reading, enhance critical thinking skills, and encourage students to become independent, thoughtful readers.

Grade: 1112

Magical Realism and Horror (2S)

From the genres of magical realism to cosmic horror, humans have often felt compelled to say, “but what if the things that scare us in the dark are actually real?” In this course, we will be examining some of the ways in which writers have used fantastical elements from their traditions in storytelling to both respond to colonialism and work to preserve indigenous and diasporic cultures. Texts may include authors such as Cañas, Khaw, Roanhorse, and Jemisin.

Grade: 6

Mathematics 6

The goal of this course is to create a solid foundation in mathematics that students will need and use in the years ahead. Emphasis is on strengthening computation skills, especially those involving fractions, decimals, and integers, and developing a thorough approach to problem-solving. Students will be challenged daily to develop mathematical habits of mind such as making sense of problems, utilizing appropriate solution strategies, communicating their methods with mathematical justification, and persevering through challenges. Organization of thinking and documentation of work are strongly emphasized. This course is designed to meet the needs of students with a variety of math backgrounds and provide challenge and engagement at all levels.

Topics covered include number theory, problem-solving, proportional reasoning, integer operations, data and statistics, probability, and geometry. The use of variables is woven throughout the curriculum to help prepare students for pre-Algebra.

By the end of 6th grade, students should feel confident in their abilities to reason through complex problems and be comfortable working with variables.

Grade: 7

Pre-Algebra 7

This Pre-Algebra course provides students the opportunity to stretch their abstract thinking, critical thinking, and analytical reasoning. Students will continue to work on documenting in organized steps and sharing verbally their thinking and solution strategy.  In addition, they will learn to defend their methods in peer review. In this course students will be presented with challenging but accessible problems, and asked to reason through them collaboratively with their peers.


Students will be introduced to formal algebraic thinking and apply algebraic concepts to their prior problem-solving strategies. Other topics include exponents, geometry (angle relationships, surface area and volume of 3D shapes), scale, ratios, proportions, percents, statistics, and probability.

Grade: 7

Pre-Algebra (E) 7

Topics studied include those listed in Pre-Algebra 7. In addition, students are further challenged to investigate connections between concepts and pushed towards deeper understanding and flexibility in problem-solving, through more rigorous applications.

Grade: 8

Algebra 8

This Algebra 1 course prepares students for the rigors of future classes by providing a strong foundation of algebraic concepts. Students will explore multiple representations of the linear, quadratic, and rational functions. Extensive treatment of the fundamental skills that underpin various relationships precedes the study of these functions. Real-life applications will be explored whenever possible. Additional topics covered include a review of operations with integers and rational numbers, solving equations and inequalities, operations on polynomials, radicals and rational expressions, factoring, functions and graphs, linear systems, and quadratics.

Students practice cooperative problem solving and learn effective communication skills that use the appropriate mathematical language to present problem solutions.

Grade: 8

Algebra (E) 8

Topics studied include those listed in Algebra 8. In addition, students are further challenged to investigate connections between concepts and pushed towards deeper understanding and flexibility in problem-solving, through more rigorous applications. Students are also introduced to the idea of a mathematical proof.

Grade: 6

Science 6

In this course, students examine numerous phenomena using the scientific inquiry process: ask questions, plan and carry out investigations, analyze data to construct arguments based on evidence, research and communicate findings, and ask new questions. In making their own discoveries, students strengthen their listening and public speaking skills by sharing observations and debating conclusions with each other. They also develop their data presentation and writing expertise, weaving in skills they use in their math, social science, and English classes. Additionally, this course actively incorporates both the Middle School Habits of the Heart and Mind and Habits of Learning.

The middle school science curriculum progressively weaves together physical, biological, Earth, and chemical sciences as students continue to build their skills. Units are classified by questions. Sixth grade scientists begin the year honing their scientific observation and inference skills with an array of discrepant events as they explore, “What does it mean to be a scientist? What are scientist stereotypes? Am I a scientist?” As they go through the inquiry process, they apply these skills to examining energy transfers and transformation in toys. Next, they explore heat: “What is heat? How does it behave?” Students take their understanding of heat transfer to engineer, budget, and build a structure to keep an ice cube, “the penguin,” from melting during climate change. After focusing on cause and effect, students zoom out and explore the carbon cycle with computer simulations, role-plays, and diagramming to uncover our human impact on the system during the Sustainability Unit. They then spend two weeks in Whitaker Lab building trellises for the school garden out of repurposed materials, using drills, saws, collaboration, and design to build a structure that brings awareness about climate change mitigation to their school community. Finally, students shift their focus to human body systems. They ask “How do systems collaborate to allow me to do the activities that bring me joy?” During this unit, students examine cells under the microscope, model the complex inputs and outputs of cell organelles using analogies, develop and run their own exercise physiology experiment, and dissect sheep hearts and lungs. By the end of the year, students have a notebook full of their discoveries, and are ready to take on more complex scientific challenges in seventh grade, and in the world around them.

Grade: 9

Modern World History

The course begins with a look at how global trade led to an explosion of wealth and cultural production in the Ottoman Empire, Mughal India, Qing China, and Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. We then examine how the 19th-century world was shaped by topics such as Enlightenment ideals, nationalism, industrialization, imperialism, and reactions against these developments. The second semester focuses on the 20th century and the continuing tension between integration in a global, mostly Western-dominated system and the preservation of local traditions. The two world wars, decolonization, and the challenges facing the world in the 21st century are also major topics. Emphasis is placed on developing students’ skills in discussion, analytical writing, and conducting research.

Grade: 10

US History

This course examines the factors that led to America’s transformation from a relatively weak, divided, and isolated collection of colonies into the dominant nation of the twentieth century. In this course we will study the foundations of the United States; The Civil War and Reconstruction; Industrialization and Immigration at the turn of the 20th century; U.S. Imperialism; the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression; the impact of both World Wars on America’s government, economy, and society; the Cold War; and the Civil Rights Movement. Readings and class activities are structured to provide students with an opportunity to hear a variety of voices, explore differing and often opposing interpretations of history, and develop the tools necessary to define and support their own point of view. Special emphasis is placed on historical thinking and reading skills, media literacy, and the careful analysis of primary and secondary sources, as well as historical writing. Course requirements include several analytical essays and an independent research project.

Honors option available.

Grade: 7

Science 7

In this course, students continue to hone the science fundamentals they developed in sixth grade. They deepen their understanding of the physical, biological, chemical, and engineering world while drawing on key concepts explored in the prior year. Students use scientific practices to generate hypotheses, design and conduct experiments, gather and analyze data, argue from evidence, and form meaningful conclusions. Students strengthen their observation, listening, writing, and speaking skills through a variety of experimental, written, oral, and visual tasks. In addition, this course actively contributes to the seventh grade interdisciplinary goals of developing study skills, improving organization and time management, and practicing mutual respect and tolerance through cooperative learning.

We will begin the year by investigating and exploring the nature of science by planning, implementing, analyzing, and communicating our designed experiments. Students will apply these skills as we move into our first unit in astronomy, where we will focus on understanding how the universe formed and continues to change. Next, students will zoom into one part of the universe, the Earth, where they will dive into its history, formation, and surface dynamics through weathering and erosion. They will use their observational skills by practicing how to identify rocks and minerals. Also, they’ll learn how fossils form and why it is so rare. Then, students will study how living organisms are classified and evolve. Next, students will use this knowledge to look into the debate and science surrounding global climate change and human impacts on natural ecosystems. Throughout the whole year, we weave in an overarching project that integrates a National Park of their choice. In each unit, they will apply their skills of asking questions, problem-solving, research, communication, data analysis, modeling, and engineering to their park.

Students will continually work towards becoming ambassadors of science. There will be an emphasis on open-ended dialogue, and students will be expected to go beyond Knowing by Doing. As we explore the various topics and practice the skills of a scientist, we will also continually ask the question: “How does science affect me and the world around me?” While answering this question, it is my hope students will become aware of the scientific issues of the day and learn how each of us is connected to the Earth and to each other.

Grade: 8

Science 8

This course asks students to continue to develop a passion for science and to build on the skills they have learned in sixth and seventh grade. Students construct meaning about the chemical and physical world by exploring and testing their current ideas, making new discoveries, and presenting their findings to peers for discussion. In eighth grade students further expand their ability to design and construct a scientific investigation; gather, analyze, and interpret data; communicate scientific processes and explanations; construct scientific models based on data; think critically, logically, and creatively; and establish the relationship between evidence and reasoning. Students strengthen their writing skills and flex their capacity to defend theories with evidence while developing their own concepts of quality work, building communication skills, and improving analyses through the examination of one another’s ideas.

Students build upon the rich content knowledge and skills established in sixth and seventh grade to delve deeper into the world of science. Throughout our studies of chemical reactions and chemistry, mechanical and electromagnetic waves, physics of motion, and forces, students use the scientific method to test their ideas about the world around them. Students then construct theories, which are tested further, analyzed by their peers, and addressed in class discussions. Throughout the course, students will also hone their skills as engineers. They will learn to empathize, ideate, and problem solve through the design thinking process as they create concert venues for their favorite artists or build impact proof contraptions for communities in need.

Grade: 1112

Adv. Topics in History (H): Modern Europe

“Europe is a miracle.” Many observers of the geographical concentration of cultural and linguistic diversity on this tiny continent have shared this sentiment from a 2019 interview with French President Emmanuel Macron. How can peoples who spent centuries at each other’s throats come together in the 21st century to iron out economic and political cooperation for mutual benefit? What is their responsibility today to the colonies they exploited for national gain in the past? Take this advanced class if you want to break it all down. The discipline of history demands patience for rigorous skill exercise in reading and evaluating sources, attending to the narrative details of 500 years of Europe’s history, conducting research and frequent analytical writing assignments. Although this class will go a long way in preparing a student for the AP European History exam, our priority is lively engagement in learning. This class will be time and effort well spent, as historian Carl Becker maintains: “the value of history is, indeed, not scientific but moral. It enables us to control, not society, but ourselves – a much more important thing; it prepares us to live more humanely in the present and to meet rather than to foretell the future.”

Prerequisites: A- or higher in US History or B+ or higher in US History (Honors). This class is open to juniors and seniors.

Grade: 12

Advanced Topics in History (H): Government and Politics

Our 3rd Vice President murdered our First Secretary of the Treasury in a duel, and 11% of all US presidents have been assassinated, so is 2024 really shaping up to be the most contentious political race in the nation’s history? Find out in AT Government, where we won’t so much study politics and government as much as we will attempt to live it. The fast-paced, two-semester course will rigorously examine the origins, development, and structure of the American government and political system, including the judiciary’s increasing role in safeguarding civil liberties, the intricate dynamics between state and federal authorities, and the ongoing evolution of civil liberties interpretation. We will cover Congress’s structure and legislative processes, the Executive Branch’s powers, and its federal governance role, leaving students prepared to ace the AP Gov exam should they choose to take it in May. Great emphasis is given to current political controversies, the 2024 Election, and understanding the impact of recent Supreme Court interpretations of the Constitution. Students are expected to participate in substantive discourse, conduct analytical research, and develop strong argumentative skills in both written and spoken formats. Your voice and opinions matter, and will guide and shape the direction of the course, through roundtable discussions, fiery debates, and creative blog entries.

This class is for seniors only.

Grade: 101112

Global Issues for Global Citizens (1S or 2S)

From global poverty to human trafficking, from climate refugees to animal poaching, from war crimes to child marriage – the problems on this planet are many. But, there are ways you and I can work with other like-minded cosmopolitans and humanitarians to solve them. This course seeks to empower you to understand global issues in all their complexity and to take action. You will study the role of global governance institutions (e.g., the United Nations with its Sustainable Development Goals), non-governmental organizations (NGOs), terrorism and security, global public health, environmental policy, international trade, foreign aid and development play on the global stage. Our class activities, along with guest speakers, will help us understand that there is no “one size fits all” to the vexing issues that face our planet and us. But, this course is as much experiential as it is academic! You will participate in the Youth Philanthropy Project (YPP) - a unique opportunity to advocate for a cause you are passionate about in collaboration with an NGO of your choosing. Over the past seven years of the Global Issues class, students have won over $70,000 for their NGOs from the generosity of the HAND Foundation and the Koum Family Foundation. For more information about the YPP, read this article about last year’s finalists and the NGOs they represented. Join our class so you too can be part of the good we are doing for the world! No prerequisite – open to all juniors and seniors and to sophomores, if space is available.

Note: Honors option available to juniors and seniors.

Prerequisites: Open to seniors and juniors, and sophomores if space is available. 

This course can only be taken for one semester. 

Grade: 101112

Pursuit of Happiness: The Psychology, Anthropology, and Philosophy of Happiness (1S or 2S)

According to the United States Declaration of Independence, the right to pursue happiness is self-evident. Yet it is not self-evident that we Americans are generally happy. How can we pursue happiness? How might we lessen stress and discomfort and discover greater ease?In exploring responses to these and related questions, this course surveys philosophies and religious paths that emphasize the practice of happiness rather than its pursuit. These include the classical Greek philosophy of Stoicism, elements of Hinduism, Taoist philosophy, and, in particular, lineages in Buddhist practice and philosophy. We also examine literature from positive psychology as well as elements of indigenous and Western religions. Within the scope of this content there are four primary aims: to understand the development of each tradition within its distinct historical and cultural context; to compare and contrast wisdom teachings and practices; to consider the relevance of traditions in light of contemporary research in psychology, ethics, biology, and related fields; finally, the course encourages students to try out different contemplative trainings and to reflect on their effects

Honors option available to juniors and seniors. 

Prerequisites: Open to seniors and juniors, and sophomores if space is available.

Grade: 101112

Ethnic Studies I: Race, Ethnicity, Nationality and Power in America (1S)

Embark on a transformative journey through the lens of Ethnic Studies, where we deconstruct the historical and contemporary constructions of race, ethnicity, and nationality, and their impact on marginalized communities. This interdisciplinary exploration weaves together history, sociology, and psychology to illuminate the path towards social justice and educational equity. At the heart of this course lie three guiding principles:

1.) Knowledge and Love of Self: through critical analysis: we equip you with the tools to embrace your unique heritage and celebrate the richness of diverse experiences.

2.) Self-Determination: we empower you to reclaim your narrative and understand how social forces shape your identity.

3.) Solidarity: we foster a community of understanding and action, recognizing the interconnectedness of our struggles and building bridges across cultures.. We also work hard at unmasking the social construction of identity and decoding the complex tapestry of race, ethnicity, and nationality, unraveling their artificial constructs and reclaiming our authentic selves. We trace the roots of Ethnic Studies and journey through the history of this critical lens, understanding its evolution and its role in social movements that fight for equality. We will amplify the voices of Native American and Latinx Communities to gain nuanced perspectives on the historical and ongoing struggles for humanization and equality faced by these marginalized groups.

A bonus feature – this class comes with dual enrollment through San Francisco State University’s Step to College program that lets you earn 3 Cal State transferable credits – all for free! These credits count towards both your high school diploma and your future college degree. No prerequisite – open to all juniors and seniors and to sophomores, if space is available.

Honors option available to juniors and seniors. 

Open to seniors and juniors, and sophomores if space is available.

Grade: 101112

Humanities I: Renaissances (1S)

Why do humans often look to the past as they try to envision a better future, and what role can the arts play in driving social change? The French word “Renaissance,” or rebirth, has been used to describe this revival of art forms from older times in order to move society in a better direction. Our course begins with the Italian Renaissance of the 16thC, when artists (like Michelangelo) and thinkers (such as Machiavelli) reached back to the legacy of the Ancient Greco-Roman Classical World to develop a worldview that accommodated the growing powers of people outside the traditional power centers of the Catholic Church or traditional nobility. We then turn to the concept of Renaissance in 17thC Mughal India and Ming China (field trips to the Taj Mahal and Forbidden City, anyone?), where leaders of a different ethnicity than their citizens used the arts to consolidate their empires. The course concludes with a look at how the concept of renaissance nourished African-American artists and thinkers in the 20thC Harlem Renaissance (Langston Hughes is one example) and 21stC Afro-Futurism (think Black Panther) movements. Our interdisciplinary, Humanities-focused approach relies on the analysis of artistic primary sources (literature, art, music, and philosophical texts), informed by a study of their historical context. You will also produce works of art, literature or music to demonstrate your understanding of the course content.

Who is eligible to take this course for history credit? Students in Grades 10-12. Students taking this course for History credit may elect the Honors designation.

Who is eligible to take this course for English credit? Students in Grades 11-12. This course does not carry an Honors option for English credit.

Grade: 101112

Economic Theory (1S)

Are you interested in applying your analytical skills to the ways businesses and consumers make decisions about production and consumption? Are you curious about how governments try to influence inflation, unemployment, economic growth, and international trade? We’ll explore the first of these questions, also known as microeconomics, in the first quarter of the class. The second question concerns macroeconomics, which we’ll focus on in the second quarter. Together they will prepare you for an introductory-level college class. They will also give you the tools you need to learn about environmental and development economics if you decide to continue with Menlo’s spring-semester economics class. 

Honors option available to juniors and seniors. Juniors who use the class to fulfill their History graduation requirement will perform independent research projects culminating in a formal research paper.

Open to seniors and juniors.

Grade: 101112

In Gods We Trust (1S)

Get ready for an eye-opening journey through the heart of America’s religious tapestry! In this exciting new course, we will learn about the historical development of the beliefs and practices of the three dominant religions in our country – Jews, Christians, and Muslims – in the context of our Constitution’s First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of and from religion. Whether you’re religious, a skeptic, “or spiritual but not religious,” all are welcome to critically examine how these religions influence contemporary debates about religion’s role in government, policy, sports, and media. Because religion is alive, ever-changing, and practiced, we will engage with faith leaders from all three traditions and visit places of worship. We will not shy away from any of the vital questions: How do these religions provide meaning and purpose in people’s lives? How do individuals from these religious backgrounds navigate their religious identities within America? What role do these religions play in division, conflict, and violence in U.S. society? How do these religions intersect with contemporary issues such as electoral politics, civil rights, immigration, gender and sexuality, and global conflict? What are the historical and contemporary examples of interfaith dialogue and cooperation? Through various projects, including organizing a Menlo School interfaith summit, we will grow in our religious literacy and intercultural competence while having a lot of fun doing it! No prerequisite – open to all juniors and seniors and to sophomores, if space is available.

Honors option available to juniors and seniors. 

Open to seniors and juniors, and sophomores if space is available.

Grade: 101112

Philosophy I (1S)

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” (Socrates)

First and Second Semester Philosophy differ: First Semester Philosophy is primarily focused on exploring and understanding the landscape of philosophical ideas throughout history and learning about the various theories and philosophers regarding a range of philosophical topics.

In this course, we examine such questions as: What is the meaning of life? The purpose of life? Who decides, and how do we do so? What is the connection between my mind and body (and soul?)? What does it mean to be an “authentic” person? How do I know whether God exists? Can this be proven? What is the role of belief and faith in examining this issue? What is art? What is good art? What do I know, and how can I know it? How does language frame our reality? In what way am I truly free to choose what I do? What factors influence my choices, i.e. advertising, nature & nurture, my DNA, etc.? What is “fairness”? How can we maintain a just and fair society? What does it mean to behave ethically? In exploring these and other issues the student will learn the approach taken by some of the greatest thinkers throughout history. From a skills perspective, philosophy students should expect to develop the ability to decipher the logical structure of an argument and, in doing so, determine whether an argument is both valid and cogent as well as to understand various logical fallacies and pitfalls. In addition, students will hone their ability to write clearly and creatively, defending their own position on various abstract “big picture” issues in both written and spoken form. No prerequisite – open to all juniors and seniors and to sophomores, if space is available.

Note: Honors option available to juniors and seniors.

Open to juniors and seniors, and sophomores if space is available. 

Grade: 101112

Psychology I: Relationships and Groups (1S)

This course is about unpacking psychological theory and research relevant to your transition to adulthood and life in college. It’s about you. This course first looks at research that helps us understand how relationships start, how they change, and why they end. Next, we look at the psychology of social groups - how do group situations change how we think and act? How do groups shape identity and the people we learn to become? We will answer these questions by learning relevant research and theory connected to your own lived experience. 

Honors option available to juniors and seniors.

Open to juniors and seniors, and sophomores if space is available. 

Grade: 101112

Modern Middle East (1S)

The region of the Middle East seems to overflow with unresolved historical tension over borders, ethnicity, religion, denomination, and numerous foreign policy conundrums over the last century. Some suggest the combustibility of the region is ultimately a result of Western imperialism; others point to the centrality of oil and the West’s desire for democratic allies to promote trade and help them access resources and markets. Still other schools of thought identify religious and cultural factors as the most volatile forces at play. Regardless of these disparate perspectives, the complex factual narrative is only half of the problem for anyone trying to understand the Middle East in the 21st century. There is also the matter of different assumptions and biases that have influenced Western understanding (and misunderstanding) of the region over time. This class is designed to face all these challenges head-on. We will take a close look at the turning points in the region’s history since 1919, and aim to develop a nuanced picture of the forces at work today.

Note: Honors option available to juniors and seniors.

Prerequisites: Open to juniors and seniors, and sophomores if space is available. 

Grade: 101112

Refugees I (1S)

While we tend to associate the term “refugee” with recent images of people in crowded boats traversing the Mediterranean, it is clear that all of human history is a story of migration and movement, starting as early as the Neolithic-era movement of populations from the Mediterranean into Europe nearly 9000 years ago. Outside of the Neolithic era, we will also consider a number of other time periods during the medieval and early modern eras and events, including the religiously-motivated movement and exile of persecuted populations out of Europe as well as what historians consider to be the Age of Mass Migration (1850–1913) and explore the historiography on the subject. Students will sharpen their primary source analysis skills, expand their argumentative writing toolkit, and conduct independent research. Honors students will become experts in the topics by reading and presenting selections from additional readings and will consult substantially more sources than non-Honors students in the culminating research projects

Note: Honors option available to juniors and seniors.

Open to juniors and seniors and sophomores if space is available. 

Grade: 101112

Election 2024 (1S)

The likely Biden-Trump rematch is being called the most consequential election showdown in generations. In this class we will find out why: what are the issues? What are the stakes? What will the outcome mean for the future of our democracy and the US role in the world? In this semester-long class we will not only follow the presidential election closely – the rhetoric, the strategies, and the coverage – but also learn about the mechanics and architecture of American campaigns and elections – money, media, advertising, polling, interest groups, and political parties. We will also cover the contest for control of the House and the Senate.

Note: Honors option available to juniors and seniors.

Open to juniors and seniors and sophomores if space is available.

Grade: 101112

Humanities II: Self-Portraits (2S)

What historical factors contributed to the birth of the self-portrait as a genre in 15thC Western Europe and its explosion in popularity in modern times? How does this trend towards elevating self-representation in the arts and media relate to our current moment, when social justice calls for visibility and representation of diverse identities? In what ways can we see the self-portrait as a form of agency and resistance?To answer these questions about the history and significance of self-representation, we first study the birth of the self-portrait during the European Renaissance. We then read Oscar Wilde’s queer landmark novel The Picture of Dorian Gray(1891) and learn about Freudian idand its influence on the Modernist self-portraits of the 20thC. The 4th quarter is devoted to British feminist Virginia Woolf’s extended essay “A Room of One’s Own” (1929) and Korean-American author Michelle Zauner’s memoir Crying in H Mart(2021). Our interdisciplinary, Humanities-focused approach relies on the analysis of artistic primary sources (literature, art, music, and philosophical texts), informed by a study of their historical context. You will also produce works of art, literature or music to demonstrate your understanding of the course content.

Who is eligible to take this course for history credit? Students in Grades 10-12. Students taking this course for History credit may elect the Honors designation.

Who is eligible to take this course for English credit? Students in Grades 11-12. This course does not carry an Honors option for English credit.

Grade: 101112

Modern Political Rhetoric (2S)

The United States is on the verge of one of the most consequential elections in American history. Seize the moment to become more politically aware and more confident in discussing politics. Improve your advocacy for political and social causes that are important to you. Now is the time to become the politico you were always meant to be! This course blends the study of political science and rhetorical analysis to assess the power of political persuasion to make history. To start, you will develop your own campaign to influence your peers regarding an issue important to you using a variety of expert-verified tactics and strategies. Then, by centering two key moments in modern American history – the HIV/AIDS fight of 1981-1996 and the modern environmental movement from 1969 to the present – you will study what it takes to bring about sustainable change across America. Through this historical inquiry, we will engage politicians and other political operatives to understand how to become effective change-makers with public language in social media, speeches, social movements, art, and other mediums. In successfully completing this course, you will become more knowledgeable about how political change is made and how you can become an ambassador for the change you’d like to see in our country.

Note: Honors option available to juniors and seniors.

Open to seniors and juniors, and sophomores if space is available.

This class is part of the Climate Concentration and counts toward the program’s requirement.

Grade: 101112

Current Affairs and Civil Discourse (2S)

We are living through history, and they say journalism is the first draft of history writing. So we’ll try to understand the period we are living through – political ferment and polarization, the challenge to post-WW II liberal world order, racial reckoning, etc – as first-draft historians. Most of the readings will be from newspapers and periodicals, and we will listen to podcasts and TV news segments. The course will end with a research project of the student’s choosing. No prerequisite – open to all juniors and seniors and to sophomores, if space is available.

Honors option available to juniors and seniors. 

Open to seniors and juniors, and sophomores if space is available.

Grade: 101112

Ethnic Studies II: Challenging the Status Quo through Critical Praxis and Direct Action (2S)

Witness the power of collective action in the fight for human and civil rights. This course spotlights the inspiring stories of marginalized groups, particularly African Americans and Asian Americans, who have organized to resist oppression and affirm their human and civil rights. We’ll delve into real-world examples of direct action and grassroots organizing, analyzing their strategies, successes, and ongoing challenges. Through case studies, historical investigations, and contemporary movements, you’ll gain valuable insights into the power of collective agency and its impact on social change. Key features of this course include: dual enrollment in a college course; direct action and grassroots organizing to explore the tools and strategies used by marginalized groups to advocate for their rights; African American and Asian American focus in which we’ll learn about the historical and contemporary struggles of these communities for equality and justice; case studies and historical analysis of specific examples of successful and ongoing movements for social change; critical thinking and advocacy skills in which we’ll develop our abilities to analyze social issues, evaluate solutions, and advocate for positive change. No prerequisite – open to all juniors and seniors and to sophomores, if space is available.

Honors option available to juniors and seniors.

Open to seniors and juniors, and sophomores if space is available.

Grade: 101112

Philosophy II (2S)

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” (Socrates)

First and Second Semester Philosophy differ: Second Semester Philosophy is primarily discussion-based so the student should be prepared to participate in classroom discussions focused on various contemporary and historically rooted philosophical ideas and theories.

In this course, we examine such questions as: What is the meaning of life? The purpose of life? Who decides and how do we do so? What is the connection between my mind and body (and soul?)? What does it mean to be an “authentic” person? How do I know whether God exists? Can this be proven? What is the role of belief and faith in examining this issue? What is art? What is good art? What do I know and how can I know it? How does language frame our reality? In what way am I truly free to choose what I do? What factors influence my choices, i.e. advertising, nature & nurture, my DNA, etc.? What is “fairness”? How can we maintain a just and fair society? What does it mean to behave ethically? From a skills perspective, philosophy students should expect to develop the ability to decipher the logical structure of an argument and, in doing so, determine whether an argument is both valid and cogent as well as to understand various logical fallacies and pitfalls. In addition, students will hone their ability to write clearly and creatively, defending their own position on various abstract “big picture” issues in both written and spoken form. Lastly, students will learn to read closely and critically in order to decipher the position of a philosophical paper, how it is defended, and what their own position on that issue is (and why). No prerequisite – open to all juniors and seniors and to sophomores, if space is available.

Prerequisites: Open to juniors and seniors, and sophomores if space is available. 

Grade: 101112

Refugees II (2S)

The news and social media are often filled with the deeply emotional and often jarring stories of individuals fleeing their homes. To deepen our perspectives on the issue, this elective will examine the powerful forces that motivate migration at a range of scales from political conflicts to environmental hazards in the post-World War II era. We will consider the trends in international migration and its impacts using examples from Europe, the Mediterranean region, and more. While there are many positive impacts of migration, such as cultural diversity and economic growth, tensions can arise, since international migration not only changes the ethnic composition of populations, but also challenges the concept of the nation-state due, in part, to how it impacts national identity. Students will sharpen their primary source analysis skills, expand their argumentative writing toolkit, and conduct independent research. Honors students will become experts in the topics by reading and presenting selections from additional readings and will consult substantially more sources than non-Honors students in the culminating research projects.

Open to juniors and seniors, and sophomores if space is available. 

Grade: 101112

Psychology II: Applied Psychology (2S)

This course is about learning the psychology behind issues that matter most to you and sharing those findings with people who need to hear them. The first unit of the course begins with a wide scope and introduces students to the ‘greatest hits’ from a range of psychological fields. We preview the psychology of mental health and social media, sports performance, memory and learning, developmental stages, persuasion, and human relationships. The second unit reviews research methods in the field of psychology - how do psychologists ethically design research to answer the big questions of their field? In the final unit, students will develop their own questions and design small research studies to answer them. Students will then share their findings with a target audience that could benefit from their investigation. If you are interested in this course at the honors level, it is recommended (but not required) to first take Psychology I. Open to all juniors and seniors and to sophomores, if space is available.

Note: Honors option available to juniors and seniors.

Open to juniors and seniors and sophomores if space is available. 

Grade: 101112

Environmental and Development Economics (2S)

This class will teach you to apply basic microeconomic and macroeconomic theory to some of the most pressing real-world economic problems of our time. Environmental economics covers the past, present, and likely future costs and benefits of policies that seek to limit the environmental impact of human economic activity. Through looking at a series of case studies, you will learn to compare the cost of taking action to the cost of failing to do so. Development Economics focuses on how different countries, and different groups of people within them, grow richer or poorer over time. We will also examine the ways that governments act to increase or restrict opportunities for economic mobility in areas like taxation, education, and migration. 

Honors option available to juniors and seniors. Juniors who use the class to fulfill their History graduation requirement will perform independent research projects culminating in a formal research paper.

Prerequisite: Economic Theory 

Open to seniors and juniors. 

Grade: 9

Integrated Geometry and Algebra

Integrated Geometry and Algebra is designed for students who enter the ninth grade needing additional review and practice in foundational algebra skills. Although the focus of the first several units is on developing mechanical proficiency, we expect students to move beyond basic procedural competence to develop a strong conceptual understanding of the material. In addition, students will learn how to document their work and how to study effectively for assessments in mathematics. Beginning in the second quarter, the curriculum is integrated with geometry through examination of the following topics: points, lines planes, angle types and angles formed by parallel lines with transversals, triangle types, congruence, similarity, trapezoids, applications of the Pythagorean Theorem, solution of Pythagorean inequalities, basic right triangle trigonometry, circles, tangents to circles, 3-D solids surface areas and volumes. The course ends with an introduction to functions, quadratics and factoring.

Prerequisite: Place into the class via departmental placement test

Grade: 6

French 6

In sixth-grade French classes, students embark on an exciting journey of language acquisition, delving into a curriculum that focuses on practical communication skills. Through interactive activities and engaging lessons, they learn to articulate their names, ages, and interests with confidence. Expanding on this foundation, students explore their hobbies, honing their ability to express personal preferences and interests. The curriculum also encourages students to engage in conversations with peers, fostering an environment where they can compare and contrast their hobbies and interests with friends. Furthermore, students will be discussing favorite seasons and elaborate on appropriate attire. This will allow students to gain a holistic understanding of language within the context of their daily lives.

Grade: 910

Analytic Geometry and Algebra

A primary goal of the freshmen math program at Menlo is to shape a student’s conception of what it means to study mathematics. We want students to shift from thinking of their teacher as a sole locus of knowledge, to thinking that mathematics is a subject in which each student can construct his or her own mathematical understandings. To that end, the AG&A class is, by choice, textbook free. Within each unit of study, students are given daily problem sets from their teachers. New definitions are explained in the context of new problems. Students spend little to no time “taking notes” in a traditional sense. Class time is devoted to students solving problems and engaging in meaningful discussions about these problems, either with a nearby peer, in a small group of peers, or, sometimes, as an entire class. Because any study materials the students have are in large part self-created (they must work through the written problems, rather than reading a textbook author’s solution), we find that the materials are both relevant and meaningful. Topics studied include but are not limited to: systems of equations, angles in a plane, properties of quadrilaterals and regular polygons, properties of parallel lines, problem solving with circular sectors, triangle congruence, polygon similarity, right triangle trigonometry, coordinate geometry, transformations, graphing lines, and finding volumes of solid figures.

Prerequisites: Placement into this class happens via departmental placement test,  or via completion of IGA.

Grade: 7

French 7

Within the seventh-grade French program, our curriculum is strategically crafted to nurture proficiency in both oral and written communication, enabling students to articulate themselves with assurance in the French language. Throughout the academic year, students immerse themselves in the complexities of narrating aspects of their school experiences, daily lives, and culinary habits, acquiring pragmatic language skills tailored for effective real-world communication. Be it through engaging discussions, crafting written dialogues, or participating in cultural projects, students are furnished with the essential resources necessary for their transformation into confident French speakers and adept writers.

Grade: 9

Analytic Geometry and Algebra (H)

Honors Analytic Geometry & Algebra covers the same course content as the non-honors course. Students move through basic principles and new concepts quickly, spending less time gaining basic practice, and more time engaging with larger multi-step problems. The Honors Analytic Geometry and Algebra course is as much a course in mathematical problem-solving as it is a course in traditional Euclidean geometry.

Prerequisites: Place into this class via departmental placement test.

Grade: 8

French 8

In the eighth-grade French curriculum, we aim to cultivate proficiency in both spoken and written language, enabling students to express themselves with confidence in French. Over the course of the year, students immerse themselves in the nuances of describing their daily routines, their city, and narrating stories, acquiring practical language skills for effective communication in real-world scenarios. Whether engaged in lively conversations, participating in writing communication, or undertaking cultural projects, students are provided with the essential tools for their journey toward becoming assured French speakers and writers.

Grade: 6

Latin 6

Latin 6

The primary goal for students is to develop reading and writing skills in Latin. Throughout the course, students explore the Latin language by reading short narratives, completing novice writing projects, and participating in various practice activities and games. In addition, they explore the histories of words and their roots in Latin and Greek. Integral to the study of language is reflection on the foundations of western civilization through explorations of Roman daily life, history, literature, geography, and mythology. In addition, students develop strategies for optimizing memory, launching clear written and oral expression, and establishing critical thinking skills. 

All Latin students belong to the California Junior Classical League and have the option to participate in local and statewide conventions.

Grade: 10

Algebra 2

This course introduces students to several topics in secondary mathematics, including functions and their transformations, inverse functions, inequalities, quadratic functions and their transformations, polynomial inequalities, exponential functions and sequences and series.  Students should elect to take this class if they are looking for an approach to algebra 2 that will allow them to study specific topics for longer periods of time. This course prepares students for Precalculus but not Advanced Precalculus.

Prerequisites: Completion of AGA or AGA (H) or completion of IGA plus recommendation from IGA instructor.

Grade: 1011

Algebra 2 with Trigonometry

This course introduces students to several topics in secondary mathematics: Functions and their transformations, Inverse Functions, Inequalities, Quadratics, Polynomials, Exponentials, Radian Measure and the Trigonometric Functions, Logarithms, Probability and Combinatorics, and Sequences and Series. Emphasis is placed on process, depth of understanding, and the development of mathematical intuition, not on memorization of rote facts. Students are encouraged to use mathematical methods that are meaningful for them.  From this course, students can move on to either Precalculus or Advanced Precalculus.

Prerequisites: Completion of AGA or AGA (H) or completion of IGA and recommendation of instructor. 

Grade: 1011

Algebra 2 with Trigonometry (H)

This is an Honors course in Algebra 2. Topics studied include those listed for Algebra 2 plus a thorough treatment of rational functions, principles of end behavior as a precursor to studying limits, modeling with trigonometric functions & inverse trigonometric functions. Problem Sets are designed to challenge students depth and flexibility of understanding, in addition to their mathematical creativity.  This course prepares students for Advanced Precalculus or Honors Precalculus.

Prerequisites: Recommendation from freshman math instructor in conjunction with the department chair.

Grade: 7

Latin 7

Latin 7

During the second year course, students work to understand and use more complex grammar and more extensive vocabulary, especially in reading and writing. They now learn the other verb tenses, having primarily focused only on present tense in the previous year. They continue to ponder the foundations of western civilization through explorations of Roman daily life, history, literature, geography, and mythology. Students refine strategies for improving memory, polishing written and oral expression, and deepening critical thinking skills. 

All Latin students belong to the California Junior Classical League and have the option to participate in local and statewide conventions.

Grade: 1112

Intro to Applied Math & Data Science

This course is designed for those students who want an alternative to traditional math courses. Data Science is a field of mathematics that uses mathematical reasoning, statistics, and graphical visualization of data to understand the world around us. Big Data also comes with concerns around digital privacy, data ethics, algorithmic bias and the concerns with artificial intelligence. In this course, students will explore the societal concerns associated with Big Data, explore how to display and analyze data, and create and use mathematical models based on linear, quadratic and exponential data. Students will complete the course with an exploration into the designs of experiments and surveys culminating with the implementation and analysis of a school-wide survey. In order to complete the goals of the course students will make substantial use of the statistical software language R.

Prerequisites: Algebra 2. This class is designed for students who are not likely to take Calculus

Grade: 11

Pre-Calculus

Building on the algebraic skills acquired in previous classes, this course attempts to deepen and strengthen students’ conceptual understanding and computational fluency. We extend and reinforce key algebraic concepts in the definition, application and manipulation of polynomials and rational functions, refining students’ graphical skills and exploiting technology as an aid to visualization and as an invaluable tool in tackling more complex problems. The heart of the course is devoted to a thorough presentation of the elementary transcendental functions: exponential, logarithmic, trigonometric, and inverse trigonometric functions. During the second semester students also explore some topics from discrete mathematics including sequences, series, elementary counting techniques and probability. This class prepares students for Calculus during their senior year

Prerequisites: Successful completion of Algebra 2.

Grade: 8

Latin 8

Latin 8

During the third year of study, students read complex Latin narratives proficiently and are able to express themselves with greater ease and length in written Latin. They explore and reflect on how the history of words, ideas, culture, and art has shaped our modern world, especially in relation to their travels in Washington D.C. Students concentrate on further strengthening and refining their learning skills in preparation for more advanced levels of language study, especially Latin, in upper school courses. Upon completion of this course, students are ready to enter upper school Latin at the second or third level. 

All Latin students belong to the California Junior Classical League and have the option to participate in local and statewide conventions.

Grade: 11

Introductory Calculus

In this course students will explore the precalculus topics of exponential and logarithmic functions, polynomial and rational functions, analytic trigonometry, and conic sections. Emphasis will be placed on careful derivations, problem solving, and applications. In addition, students will begin the study of differential calculus, including limits, continuity, and the concept of a derivative. Additional topics may include the study of probability, sequences and series, polar coordinates, and parametric equations. This course prepares students for AB Calculus.

Prerequisites: Recommendation of Algebra 2 or Algebra 2 with Trig teacher. 

Grade: 6

Mandarin 6

The Middle School Mandarin Chinese program is an interactive course designed with a dual emphasis on communicative skills and cultural understanding. In the first year, students will learn to talk about themselves and the people in their lives. They will be able to carry out conversations in Mandarin to exchange basic information related to themselves. Discussion and exploration of Chinese culture are integrated into the curriculum and enriched by an annual field trip and hands-on activities such as dumpling making. While the emphasis is on developing overall proficiency, considerable attention is devoted to building a strong foundation in pronunciation and character writing to prepare students for success in higher level classes.

Grade: 11

Introductory Calculus (H)

This challenging course is aimed at the independent learners who are comfortable with handling symbolic language and abstract thinking challenges. Students work together in small groups in an effort to discover new concepts and explain new ideas from multiple perspectives. The course is aimed at honing the individual student’s mathematical creativity and providing a broad base of skills prior to taking advanced calculus courses and higher. There is greater emphasis on formal justification and proper notation. Students begin the year by engaging with contest level math problems that address many of the topics from Honors Algebra 2. In addition to extending previously studied topics such as transformations of functions, quadratic maximization, graphing rational functions, and exponential and logarithmic functions, the course includes a thorough introduction to differential calculus, going beyond and deeper into what is covered in the Introductory Calculus course. In addition, the course covers an extension of trigonometry, including trigonometric identities, the Law of Sines and the Law of Cosines, parametric and polar functions and their graphs, an exploration of methods of proof, and a thorough treatment of vectors. This class prepares students for BC Calculus.

Prerequisites: Recommendation of Honors Algebra 2 Teacher

Grade: 7

Mandarin 7

The second-year Mandarin course has a dual goal of developing students’ language skills in Mandarin and deepening their understanding of and appreciation for Chinese culture. Students will grow more confident in their speaking and writing, and learn to handle a wider variety of conversational situations, such as discussing hobbies and food preferences. While the focus is on overall communication skills and cultural competency, fundamentals of the Chinese language, including proper pronunciation and character writing, will continue to be emphasized. Lessons will be taught in a progressively immersive approach in order to increase learners’ exposure to authentic language input and prepare them for real life interactions with native speakers. Discussions of traditional values and practices, historical and current events, and contemporary Chinese culture will be integrated into all aspects of the class and deepened through experiential learning activities like a cooking project and an annual field trip.

Grade: 12

Calculus

This course introduces students to the elements of differential and integral calculus, placing particular emphasis on applications drawn from economics, finance and the life sciences. It is designed for those interested in managerial studies, business, economics or the life sciences. We will feature units on financial literacy, investment mathematics, consumer loans, income taxes, budgeting, and retirement planning. This course is different from other calculus courses in its focus on problem solving over rigorous theoretical depth, modeling over abstract theory, and the use of technological tools over lengthy computations.

Prerequisites: Completion of Advanced Precalculus, completion of Precalculus with a B- or better, or permission from the department.

Grade: 8

Mandarin 8

Building on the foundation laid in the previous two years, students in their third year of Mandarin study will learn to communicate with more precision and complexity in a wider range of topics such as school life and fashion. Lessons will be taught in an immersive setting in order to maximize learners’ exposure to authentic language input and prepare them for real life interactions with native speakers. Cultural understanding and appreciation will continue to serve as the underpinning of this course, where discussions of historical and current events, traditional values and practices, and contemporary culture will be integrated into all aspects of the class, and deepened through a research project and an annual expedition to a local Chinese community.

Grade: 6

Spanish 6

In the sixth grade Spanish course, students will explore the fundamentals of the Spanish language and its associated cultures. The curriculum includes speaking, reading, and writing in Spanish, as well as engaging with the diverse traditions of Spanish-speaking countries. The course aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the geography, customs, and cultures of the Spanish-speaking world. Throughout the program, students will acquire basic communication skills, facilitating the use of Spanish in various contexts both inside and outside the classroom. By the end of the academic year, students can expect to be proficient in introducing themselves, discussing topics such as family, friends, community, and school, and expressing preferences and interests.

Grade: 7

Spanish 7

In the seventh grade Spanish program, our curriculum is designed to foster both spoken and written proficiency, empowering students to confidently express themselves in Spanish. Throughout the year, students delve into the intricacies of describing their school life, home routines, and eating habits, providing them with practical language skills for real-world communication. Students explore the rich traditions of Spanish-speaking countries, gaining a deeper understanding of the diverse and fascinating cultures that shape the Spanish-speaking world. Whether it’s through dynamic conversations, writing exercises, or cultural projects, students are equipped with the tools they need on their journey to become confident Spanish speakers and writers.

Grade: 12

Advanced Calculus I (H)

Advanced Calculus I (H) is a rigorous mathematics course that prepares students for challenging college level calculus courses. We encourage students who have been successful with the previous Introductory Calculus courses to consider the Advanced Calculus class the following year. Advanced Calculus I (H) can be thought of as a turning point in a student’s study of mathematics, as the course demands a highly developed ability to think abstractly and aptly draw on skill sets developed in previous courses to tackle the calculus tasks before them. Teachers are dedicated to encouraging the development of a self-reliant learning style with strong inductive, deductive, and abstract reasoning skills to serve students well in a collegiate environment. 

With some independent preparation, students who take this course may feel equipped to take the AP Calculus AB exam.

Prerequisites: Recommendation from Introductory Calculus teacher or completion of Introductory Calculus Honors.

Grade: 12

Advanced Calculus II (H)

Advanced Calculus II (H) is a year-long course in which the content of a standard year-long college-level single variable calculus course is covered. The course begins with a review of the concepts of a limit and a derivative and their underpinnings. From there, it moves on to explore techniques and applications of limits and differentiation, analysis of functions, antiderivatives, Riemann sums, definite integrals (and their applications to modeling, area, length, and volume problems), integration techniques, solving and finding approximations to solutions for first order ordinary differential equations, the calculus of polar and parametric curves, sequences, tests for convergence of infinite series, power series, and Taylor series.

With some independent preparation, students who take this course may feel equipped to take the AP Calculus BC exam. This class is meant to prepare students to take a multivariable calculus class upon completion and offer them the same level of preparation for that multivariable calculus class as a standard college calculus course; therefore, it covers some content beyond the scope of the AP Calculus BC examination.

Prerequisite: Placement in this course requires the recommendation of the student’s Introductory Calculus (H) teacher or the recommendation of the student’s Introductory Calculus teacher with a strong performance on an additional placement test.

Grade: 8

Spanish 8

In the eighth grade Spanish program, our curriculum is designed to foster both spoken and written proficiency, empowering students to confidently express themselves in Spanish. Throughout the year, students delve into the intricacies of describing their childhood, travel, and telling a story, providing them with practical language skills for real-world communication. Students explore the rich traditions of Spanish-speaking countries, gaining a deeper understanding of the diverse and fascinating cultures that shape the Spanish-speaking world. Whether it’s through dynamic conversations, writing exercises, or cultural projects, students are equipped with the tools they need on their journey to become confident Spanish speakers and writers.

Grade: 678

Spanish for Spanish Speakers

Spanish for Spanish Speakers (formerly Heritage Spanish) is a course for students who have had significant exposure to the language and may already possess a high level of oral and listening proficiency.
Objectives include building upon the language knowledge that students bring to the classroom and advancing their proficiency in Spanish for multiple contexts. Special attention is given to building vocabulary, acquiring and effectively using learning strategies, and strengthening composition skills and reading comprehension in Spanish. Cultural projects and readings reinforce learners’ understanding of the diversity of Spanish-speaking communities and the multiple issues related to the Hispanic cultures in the USA.
The course is conducted entirely in Spanish and includes middle school students in all three grades of both native and non-native backgrounds. Oral participation is emphasized to further develop oral skills by regularly practicing presentational speaking tasks. Spanish for Spanish Speakers provides students with an array of opportunities to communicate effectively and accurately, including movie reviews, article reactions, book reports on short novels, and interviews with family members about their personal experiences and family traditions.

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Español para hispanohablantes (anteriormente llamada Heritage Spanish) es un curso para estudiantes que han tenido una exposición significativa al idioma y que ya pueden poseer un alto nivel de competencia oral y auditiva.
Los objetivos incluyen aprovechar el conocimiento del idioma que los estudiantes aportan al aula y mejorar su dominio del español en múltiples contextos. Se presta especial atención a la construcción de vocabulario, la adquisición y el uso efectivo de estrategias de aprendizaje y el fortalecimiento de las habilidades de composición y comprensión lectora en español. Los proyectos culturales y las lecturas refuerzan la comprensión de los estudiantes sobre la diversidad de las comunidades de habla hispana y las múltiples cuestiones relacionadas con las culturas hispanas en los Estados Unidos.
El curso se lleva a cabo completamente en español e incluye estudiantes de secundaria en los tres grados (6to., 7mo., y 8vo.), tanto de origen nativo como no nativo. Se enfatiza la participación oral para desarrollar aún más las habilidades orales mediante la práctica regular de tareas de presentación oral. Español para hispanohablantes brinda a los estudiantes una variedad de oportunidades para comunicarse de manera efectiva y precisa, incluidas reseñas de películas, reacciones a artículos e informes de libros sobre novelas cortas y entrevistas con miembros de la familia sobre sus experiencias personales y tradiciones familiares.

Grade: 1112

Applied Statistics & Epidemiology

Have you ever wondered whether athlete performances were lucky or legit? Are you curious about how to study design for diseases or drug trials? Would you be at all interested in acquiring tools to manage complexity or spot when someone might be lying to you? Do you like thought experiments that avail you those a-ha moments? This course blends statistical exploration, probability, epidemiology, game theory and discussion of social phenomena in one course! In terms of rigor, we start light to build confidence and community before we ramp up into deep investigation of the aforementioned disciplines. Students walk away with greater savvy as to sampling, bias, (mis)representation of findings, and certainly the gift of simulation to arrive at statistical inference.

Prerequisites: Completion of Algebra 2.

Grade: 1112

Probability & Statistics (H)

Probability and Statistics (H) will provide students with the skills to understand and to apply elementary probability theory and to collect, organize, describe, and analyze numerical data. Students will study and then use computational, simulation, and visualization tools and techniques to gain insights from datasets drawn from domains such as genetics, politics, finance, sports, marketing, engineering, and economics. 

With some independent preparation, students who take this course may feel equipped to take the AP Statistics exam.

Prerequisites: Completion of Honors Algebra 2, Introductory Calculus, or Introductory Calculus (H)

Grade: 12

Advanced Topics in Math (H)

Advanced Topics in Mathematics is designed to provide students who have completed the traditional calculus sequence with the opportunity to continue their mathematical studies, deepening and broadening their understanding and preparing them for the possible further study of mathematics. Topics covered may include multivariable calculus, linear algebra, differential equations, topics in discrete mathematics, and calculus-based probability theory.

Prerequisites: Completion of Honors Precalculus plus either concurrently enrolled in Advanced Calculus (H) or have completed BC Calculus/Advanced Calculus (H).

Grade: 6

P.E. 6 - Boys

Students are able to participate and be exposed to activities and teams at various levels of competition and commitment. Our program structure provides every student a chance to participate in structured competition or learn a sport. They are given the opportunity to learn basic skills, improve physical fitness, learn rules and tactics, sportsmanship, and to work as a team.

Students work as a team, learn sportsmanship, and develop skills needed to participate in the variety of sports and teams by structured practices and expert coaching. The sixth grade program consists of the following sports: Intramural sports offerings include Dance, P.E., Swimming, Tennis and Water Polo. Interscholastic sports offerings include Coed Cross Country, Flag Football, Girls Softball, Swimming, Boys Basketball, Girls Soccer, Coed Water Polo, Boys Soccer, Baseball, Coed Tennis, and Girls Volleyball. Each student is able to pick four Intramural or Interscholastic sports per year and participate in our Cross Country Meets, Swim Meet, and Track and Field Meet.

Grade: 9

Conceptual Physics

This is a conceptual course designed to prepare students for chemistry, biology, and subsequent science courses. This class will focus on fundamental science study skills to give students the tools necessary to succeed in future science courses. The course develops students’ ability to understand concepts, observe phenomena, collect and interpret data, and present and write succinct and coherent lab reports. Problem-solving is introduced with careful attention paid to mathematical understanding. Students collect, graph, and interpret data regularly, often using digital probes interfaced with computers in the laboratory. The course teaches skills and content through a combination of lecture and hands-on experiments and demonstrations. Topics studied include waves, sound, light, mechanics, heat, and electricity & magnetism.

Enrollment in Integrated Geometry and Algebra is required for Conceptual Physics.

Grade: 6

P.E. 6 - Girls

Students are able to participate and be exposed to activities and teams at various levels of competition and commitment. Our program structure provides every student a chance to participate in structured competition or learn a sport. They are given the opportunity to learn basic skills, improve physical fitness, learn rules and tactics, sportsmanship, and to work as a team.

Students work as a team, learn sportsmanship, and develop skills needed to participate in the variety of sports and teams by structured practices and expert coaching. The sixth grade program consists of the following sports: Intramural sports offerings include Dance, P.E., Swimming, Tennis and Water Polo. Interscholastic sports offerings include Coed Cross Country, Flag Football, Girls Softball, Swimming, Boys Basketball, Girls Soccer, Coed Water Polo, Boys Soccer, Baseball, Coed Tennis, and Girls Volleyball. Each student is able to pick four Intramural or Interscholastic sports per year and participate in our Cross Country Meets, Swim Meet, and Track and Field Meet.

Grade: 9

Physics 1

The freshman physics course is a conceptual course designed as a preparatory course for chemistry, biology, and subsequent science courses. While concepts are stressed, the course involves the use of algebraic equations at a basic level to develop problem solving skills. The course develops students’ ability to observe phenomena, collect and interpret data, and present and write succinct and coherent lab reports. Students collect, graph, and interpret data regularly, often using digital probes interfaced with computers in the laboratory. The course teaches skills and content through a combination of lecture and hands-on experiments and demonstrations. Topics studied include waves, sound, light, heat, mechanics, and electricity & magnetism.

Grade: 10

Chemistry

This course provides a strong foundation in chemistry by favoring application of essential principles over broad coverage of topics. The goal of the course is to build critical skills and interest in the nature of materials through observation of familiar materials and their properties. We will conduct some more involved laboratory studies to link fundamental concepts with common applications of how things work. In addition, the course will focus on organic and biochemistry to prepare students for success in biology. This course is for students who learn best when given time to process and apply material, spending time discovering the significance of basic concepts rather than rapidly addressing new ideas.

Prerequisites: Open to all sophomores.

Grade: 78

P.E. 7/8 - Boys

Seventh graders continue to build on learning individual skills, teamwork and sportsmanship. They further develop strategies, rules, and tactics needed to participate and have success in their sport. The emphasis of seventh grade is on participation and becoming a team player.

Students work as a team, learn sportsmanship, and improve skills needed to participate in the variety of sports and teams by structured practices and expert coaching. The seventh grade program consists of the following sports. Intramural sports offerings include Dance, P.E., Swimming, Tennis and Water Polo. Interscholastic sports offerings include Coed Cross Country, Flag Football, Girls Softball, Swimming, Boys Basketball, Girls Soccer, Coed Water Polo, Boys Soccer, Baseball, Coed Tennis, and Girls Volleyball. Each student is able to pick four Intramural or Interscholastic sports per year and participate in our Cross Country Meets, Swim Meet, and Track and Field Meet. The seventh grade can participate on our varsity “B” teams or on a few occasions tryout for our varsity “A” team.

Grade: 10

Chemistry (H)

Honors Chemistry is a demanding introduction to the foundations of matter and its behavior. Topics include fundamentals as well as modern atomic theory, chemical equilibrium, electrochemistry, and thermodynamics, drawing upon skills and knowledge gained in physics. In order to cover a broad range of topics and include real-world applications, new topics are introduced quickly and mastery is built through problem-solving and laboratory investigation. Laboratory activities explore increasingly complex systems with numerical techniques where applicable. The course includes a detailed foundation in organic and biochemistry to prepare students for biology. This is a course for students with good analytical skills, curiosity about nature, and desire to apply knowledge in complex ways.

Prerequisites: Earn an A- in Physics 1 or teacher approval.

Grade: 78

P.E. 7/8 - Girls

Seventh graders continue to build on learning individual skills, teamwork and sportsmanship. They further develop strategies, rules, and tactics needed to participate and have success in their sport. The emphasis of seventh grade is on participation and becoming a team player.

Students work as a team, learn sportsmanship, and improve skills needed to participate in the variety of sports and teams by structured practices and expert coaching. The seventh grade program consists of the following sports. Intramural sports offerings include Dance, P.E., Swimming, Tennis and Water Polo. Interscholastic sports offerings include Coed Cross Country, Flag Football, Girls Softball, Swimming, Boys Basketball, Girls Soccer, Coed Water Polo, Boys Soccer, Baseball, Coed Tennis, and Girls Volleyball. Each student is able to pick four Intramural or Interscholastic sports per year and participate in our Cross Country Meets, Swim Meet, and Track and Field Meet. The seventh grade can participate on our varsity “B” teams or on a few occasions tryout for our varsity “A” team.

Grade: 11

Biology

Biology uses chemistry as a launching point to start students on a journey from microscale to macroscale. Topics explored include biochemical molecules and digestion; cell and organelle structure and function; human physiology and reproduction; genetics and molecular biology; a biotechnology unit that utilizes modern laboratory techniques and explores bioethics; ecology; and evolution. The biology faculty works closely together to develop ways to encourage deeper thinking in our students. This work has resulted in an academically challenging and exciting course that is in a constant state of evolution as the team brings new ideas and approaches to the teaching of biology.

Prerequisites: Completion of Chemistry.

Grade: 12

Advanced Topics in Biology (H)

Advanced Biology is designed to represent a year of college laboratory biology. The goal of the course is to provide students who enjoy biology an opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of the process and content of biology. Topics studied include cellular energetics, molecular genetics, plant science, developmental biology and physiology (with an emphasis on systems not studied in Biology, such as immunology, and neurobiology). Considerable emphasis is placed on the development of skills in experimental design and interpretation. Students will learn advanced modern laboratory techniques (such as chromatography, spectrophotometry, microarrays, antibody assays and microscopy). Students should expect regular reading, from both a traditional textbook and other sources such as scientific journals.

Prerequisites: Earn a B+ in Biology or have their Biology teacher’s permission.

View student testimonials for this course and other science courses here.

Grade: 1112

Anatomy & Physiology

Human Anatomy and Physiology is a course that includes an in-depth study of the eleven body systems that maintain homeostasis from anatomical, physiological, and histological perspectives. The structure and function of the body’s systems will be investigated using microscope investigations, laboratory exercises, and dissections designed to give the student hands-on experience with different tissues and organ systems. Additionally, students will be exposed to topics such as medical careers, medical ethics, healthcare and health insurance, as well as what it is like to live with a chronic condition. This course culminates with a visit to the Division of Clinical Anatomy at Stanford University where students will have access to interactive digital resources, physical models, and cadaver specimens. This course will be extremely beneficial to those students seeking a future in health-related fields, however, any student would benefit from taking this course as a way to gain a better understanding of how their bodies are designed and the best way to take care of it.

Prerequisites: Complete Chemistry.

View student testimonials for this course and other science courses here.

Grade: 101112

Experimental Archaeology (1S OR 2S)

This is a spring or fall semester-long interdisciplinary, project-based course set mostly in our new outdoor classroom. The aim of the course is to explore how humans moved from the Stone Age into the Bronze Age by exploring Archaeology, Ancient History, Science, and Art.

Students will carry out a series of experiments over the semester to learn and replicate skills from fire lighting and flint knapping to pottery making and bronze casting. Students need to be willing to get their hands dirty as many of the experiments will be carried out in an outdoor setting, and you will get dirty! At the same time, we will look at how archaeologists work and we will learn about some of the most important archaeological sites and civilizations from around the world. The course will end with a simulated archaeological excavation and a final project in which the students will use the skills they have mastered to create an object from one of the civilizations covered in the course.

Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

View student testimonials for this course and other science courses here.

Grade: 1112

Advanced Topics in Chemistry (H)

Advanced Topics in Chemistry is a challenging and exciting course which offers an in-depth dive into chemistry. Students probe deeply into the nature of matter and its changes on both the macro- and microscopic levels. Topics include the structure of matter, chemical bonding, chemical reactions, quantum mechanics, and the role of energy in chemical changes among others. The course promotes a qualitative (i.e. descriptive) understanding of chemistry and has a substantial quantitative component as well. The goal is to intimately bridge the conceptual, mathematical, and laboratory aspects of the science to develop a deep and practical understanding that enables complex problem solving. There is little memorization in AT Chemistry; instead, students master the concepts and learn to apply them to solve a wide variety of problems including in the lab, where students learn to be independent and devise their own procedures for many of the experiments. This course is ideal for those who enjoy the many facets of chemistry.

Prerequisite: B+ or better in Honors Chemistry

View student testimonials for this course and other science courses here.

Grade: 101112

AP Physics 2

AP Physics 2 is a college-level course in physics designed for students interested in studying physics as a basis for more advanced work in the life sciences, medicine, geology, and related areas, or as a component in a non-science college program that has science requirements.  Credit for advanced placement for the AP Physics 2 course provides the student with an opportunity either to have an accelerated college program or to meet a basic science requirement; in either case, the student’s college program will be enriched.

The course includes topics in both classical and modern physics. A knowledge of algebra and basic trigonometry is required for the course; the basic ideas of calculus may be introduced in connection with physical concepts, such as acceleration and work.  Understanding of the basic principles involved and the ability to apply these principles in the solution of problems are the major goals of the course.  The lecture stresses the concepts of physics. The labs develop skills of experimentation, observation, analysis, and use of lab equipment including computers.  Problem-solving emphasizes mathematical and analytical skills as applied to physical laws and concepts.

The course seeks to be representative of topics covered in similar college courses, as determined by periodic surveys. Accordingly, goals have been set for coverage of six general areas:  mechanics, fluids, kinetic theory and thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism, waves and optics, and modern physics.

Prerequisites: Rising sophomores: earn an A in Physics and have Physics’ teachers permission. Rising juniors and seniors: earn an A- in Physics both semesters or have Ms. Jensen’s permission.

 

 

View student testimonials for this course and other science courses here.

Grade: 12

Advanced Topics in Physics: Quantum Mechanics (H) (1S) Electromagnetism and Relativity (H) (2S)

This is an advanced course in physics where we discover the fascinating world of
Harmonic Motion, Rotational dynamics, Electro-magnetism, Super-conductivity,
Quantum Mechanics, Relativity theory and Particle physics. Students will be challenged to think in four dimensions, apply calculus to real-world problems, and suspend how they think the universe works in order to be open to how it really works. Students will read articles in cutting-edge physics, solve problems in topics of current research and do hands-on experiments. Students will be very well prepared for the AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism exam from this course. Students can also prepare for the AP Physics C: Mechanics test with their knowledge from AP Physics 2, material from this class, and some extra work outside of class. If you are part philosopher, part engineer, and part scientist with a thirst for knowledge and a passion for solving tough problems this class is for you.

Prerequisites: Completion of or simultaneously taking AP Calculus BC

View student testimonials for this course and other science courses here.

Grade: 101112

Environmental Science

Did you know that the 2017 hurricane season was the most expensive season on record, costing the United States approximately $280 billion dollars in damages? Have you heard of the term environmental injustice; the majority of those housed near toxic waste sites, congested highways, and landfills are disproportionately people of color in the United States, meaning those populations are subjected to higher air, water, and soil pollution? Many project that by the year 2050 wars will be fought over resources such as clean water and food shortages due to major drought and other natural disasters. The study of environmental science and the need for environmental activism, policy, and reform are paramount to the continued success of our species. Your generation more than any other will see a slew of new environmental issues crop up, and will be responsible for solutions for lasting change. Become a part of this vital and exciting conversation.

This class will be highly interdisciplinary, pulling from geology, earth science, chemistry, biology, history, political science, and current events. Through field trips, lab activities, and outdoor field research we will study the environment and our impact on it, and use critical thinking skills to propose solutions to some of the most important issues of our time.

Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

View student testimonials for this course and other science courses here.

Grade: 910

French 1

French 1 assumes limited or no prior experience with the language. Students will acquire the speaking, writing, and listening skills to be able to understand and use in informal scenarios using common expressions and basic phrases. The course is conducted primarily in the target language and often incorporates authentic materials. At the end of the course, students will be able to talk about familiar scenarios in basic detail:

  • Introduce self and others
  • Create questions about self and about others in the present tense on varying topics
  • Describe self, others, activities
  • Express actions, activities and events in the present tense
  • Discuss own likes, dislikes as well as those of other people
  • Create informal, interpersonal conversations that are culturally appropriate
  • Use and understand appropriate vocabulary for informal settings
Grade: 6

Computer Science 6

The goal of this course is to introduce students to the breadth of Computer Science. Topics covered include Algorithms & Programming, Networks & the Web, Computer Graphics, and Robotics & other Embedded Systems. Developmentally appropriate tools like Scratch (block-based programming) and TinkerCAD(3D design and printing) allow students to access and develop the core concepts and skills of Computer Science without being impeded by high levels of abstraction and syntax. Projects in this course emphasize the creativity inherent in Computer Science.

Grade: 7

Computer Science 7

The seventh grade Computer Science course continues to build on the skills and experiences of the previous course. Students revisit the four realms of Computer Science explored in sixth grade (Algorithms & Programming, Networks & the Web, Computer Graphics, and Robotics & other Embedded Systems). In some areas students engage with the same tools at higher levels of complexity while in others they approach the topic from a new perspective, using the lens of a new tool. They begin to develop greater autonomy in their learning, through more open-ended projects. Students are asked to make connections to the big ideas and essential questions of other subjects and of their larger context as they find and solve problems.

Grade: 910

French 2

French 2 assumes control of vocabulary and shows no significant, fossilized errors in Novice level material. Students will continue to develop the topics of Level 1, working to enhance acquisition of speaking, writing and listening skills necessary to understand spoken and written material in the target language. The course is conducted primarily in the target language. At the end of the course, students will be able to talk about familiar scenarios in increasing detail:

  • Express needs
  • Express feelings and reactions to less tangible situations.
  • Express and understand less concrete ideas.
  • Deal with most situations likely encountered while traveling.
  • Describe events, experiences, dreams, hopes, and ambitions.
  • Talk about family, school, and social settings.
  • Demonstrate understanding of culturally appropriate behavior.
  • Give brief explanations for opinions and plans.
Grade: 1011

French 3

French 3 assumes control of vocabulary and grammar structures learned in previous levels. The class is designed to strengthen the grammar skills students have acquired, to introduce new advanced grammar, and to lay down the foundation for the interpersonal, interpretative, and presentational skills needed to succeed in advanced language classes. Students continue to use authentic materials such as newspaper articles, documentaries, movies, music, etc. The class is conducted primarily in the target language. At the end of the course, students will be able to write, to speak, and to orally comprehend familiar (formal and informal) scenarios in great detail and will be able to understand the main ideas in complex texts on concrete and abstract topics:

  • Express themselves in both written and oral communication
  • Demonstrate understanding of spoken and written material in the target language beyond textual comprehension.
  • Connect their own knowledge about the world with the material that is presented to them.
  • Develop critical thinking skills, cultural competency, and understanding of the language from a native speaker’s viewpoint.
  • Interact with a degree of spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers possible without strain for either party.
  • Produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain viewpoint on a topical issue giving advantages and disadvantages of various opinions.
Grade: 8

Computer Science 8

In the eighth grade course, we engage with more abstract elements of Computer Science. Students move from a block-based to a text-based programming language (Python) and projects throughout the curriculum become more programming-dependent. Students are introduced to concepts like recursion and object-oriented programming. They continue to develop autonomy and are encouraged to seek out both the challenges and the support that will engender a meaningful learning experience. As they leave our program, we hope that students will have begun to develop identities as creators rather than consumers of technology, and that they will be ready and excited to further explore Computer Science in the ways that best suit each individual student.

Grade: 1112

French 4

French 4 assumes control of vocabulary and grammar structures learned in previous levels. The class is designed to strengthen the grammar skills students have acquired, to introduce new advanced grammar, and to lay down the foundation for the interpersonal, interpretative, and presentational skills needed to succeed in advanced language classes. Students continue to use authentic materials such as newspaper articles, documentaries, movies, music, etc. The class is fully conducted in the target language. At the end of the course, students will be able to speak, to write and to orally comprehend familiar (formal and informal) scenarios in great detail and will be able to understand the main ideas in complex texts on concrete and abstract topics:

  • Express themselves in both written and oral communication
  • Demonstrate understanding of spoken and written material in the target language beyond textual comprehension.
  • Connect their own knowledge about the world with the material that is presented to them.
  • Develop critical thinking skills, cultural competency, and understanding of the language from a native speaker’s viewpoint.
    Interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers possible without strain for either party.
  • Produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain viewpoints on a topical issue giving advantages and disadvantages of various opinions.

NOTE: Upper Intermediate requires an independent learner who is ready to explore new language topics more quickly, to begin using these more advanced concepts in real-life situations, with a strong control of concepts learned in levels 1, 2, and Intermediate, and few or no fossilized errors in expression.

Note: This course has an honors option.

Prerequisite: B or better in French 3 or teacher permission.

Grade: 1112

Advanced Topics in French: Le Septième Art (H)

French and Francophone cinema, art, literature and history of the 20th century

Advanced Topics in French is a deep dive into French cinema, an important new form of art and technology that flourished in the 20th century. We will explore the connections and interplay of French language films with other artists, musicians and writers of that time. For example, we will learn about the Surrealist and Dadaist movements of the 1920’s and their impact on art, politics and society. We will watch films from the French New Wave movement that began in the 1950s and learn how directors like Truffaut and Godard completely transformed filmmaking and storytelling through their experimental visual and narrative style.

Teachers from other disciplines will come to share their expertise on history, art history, and music. Through an interdisciplinary approach, we will explore how French identity evolved throughout the century taking into account the colonial wars, the women’s movement, immigration, the student and worker revolts of 1968, and other social disruptions in French society. By immersing ourselves in a wide array of artistic forms from this period of time, we will come to understand the influence French art and culture has had in shaping the western world.

Grade: 910

Latin 1

Latin I introduces students to the world of the ancient Romans by studying the Latin language, culture, history, and, of course, the myths. As students learn new Latin vocabulary, they are encouraged to deepen their understanding of the words by learning English derivatives; this further enriches their own personal English vocabulary as well. Students learn to read Latin following the tales of Sabina through the Suburani textbook series; this series is unique in that it focuses on the underrepresented groups in the Roman Empire and truly allows students to get a picture of daily life in ancient Rome. Additionally, we sometimes speak Latin in order to enhance our understanding of the language itself. The goal of this course is to build a foundation which will allow students to read authentic Latin literature in the advanced levels.



Grade: 910

Latin 2

Latin II continues the study of Latin grammar, history, culture, mythology and English derivatives; some topics of cultural interest may include life in Pompeii and Greece, gladiatorial games, and weddings. This course continues to follow the adventures of Sabina through the Suburani textbook series; this series is unique in that it focuses on the underrepresented groups in the Roman Empire and truly allows students to get a picture of daily life in ancient Rome. Latin is spoken in class on occasion in order to deepen students’ understanding of the language itself. Students will continue to build a foundation which will allow students to read authentic Latin literature in the advanced levels. 

Grade: 101112

Latin 3

Latin 3 picks up where Latin 2 leaves off, covering the foundational elements of Latin grammar & syntax in order to strengthen students’ understanding and prepare them to read authentic Latin literature. The course is further enriched by continuing to examine culture, mythology, history and the influence of Latin on English; for at least a portion of the course, we continue to follow Sabina through the Suburani textbook series. Furthermore, students have more opportunities to explore Classical areas of interest such as art, architecture, progress and problems in the time of the Roman Empire

Note: This class has an honors option

Grade: 101112

Latin 4

This course offers students a chance to reinforce skills and concepts learned in the earlier levels of Latin while they are being introduced to some primary source Latin. Students will also take a detailed look at Roman civilization and its influence on modern life. There will be ample opportunity to read adapted and authentic Latin from a variety of authors in both prose and poetry; students get some choice in which authors we read.



Grade: 101112

Latin 5

This course offers a chance to continue reinforcing skills and concepts learned in the earlier levels of Latin while transitioning to primary source Latin. Students will also take a detailed look at Roman civilization and its influence on modern life. Students will read authentic Latin selections, both poetry and prose, from antiquity, the Middle Ages, and even the modern day; students get some choice in which authors we read.

Grade: 101112

Advanced Topics in Latin (H): Intro to Literature

The purpose of this course is to expose students to more authentic and unabridged Latin literature. Each year, the readings follow the interests of the students in the class. In recent history we have read works by Horace, Seneca, Ovid, Vergil, Caesar, Plautus, Cicero, Catullus, Pliny the Younger, and Livy. Through the literature, we will examine the history and culture of the Romans. Additionally, we often take up the challenge of composing basic stories of our own in Latin!

This course is a prerequisite for the thematic AT Latin course, unless otherwise approved by a Latin teacher.

Grade: 101112

Advanced Topics in Latin (H): Love & Friendship

The purpose of this course is to expose students to pure, authentic, unabridged Latin literature. Each year, the readings revolve around a certain theme or literary genre dictated by the interests of the students in the class. Possible course themes may include (but are not limited to): satire; epistolography (letters); epic poetry; historiography; elegiac (love) poetry; rhetoric; the female perspective; oral (spoken) Latin. Additionally, we often take up the challenge of memorizing and reciting passages of authentic Latin (in both poetry and prose) and composing Latin elegiac couplets in the style of Ovid!

Students will work with the instructor to determine the topic and focus of the course. 

Topics vary from year to year, so the course may be taken more than once.

Grade: 910

Mandarin 1

Mandarin 1 is an introduction to the language and cultures of Mandarin-speaking countries and communities. Basic speaking, listening, reading, and writing of Mandarin will be introduced and practiced within a cultural framework. Mandarin will be the primary language of instruction at the end of the year. Emphasis will be on language as an expression of culture and a medium of communication. Conversation practice in the target language will be part of the regular instruction to reinforce pronunciation, grammar, and syntax. At the end of the course, the student will be able to:

  • Recognize the patterns and connections between language, thought patterns, and culture.
  • Formulate questions and answers about simple everyday situations based on the learned materials.
  • Demonstrate the ability to communicate in Mandarin using listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills in the Novice-Mid level of the ACTFL student performance descriptors.
  • Be aware of the historical and cultural developments in the different Mandarin-speaking countries and communities
  • Engage in critical analysis and comparison of the student’s own values and cultural assumptions with those of Mandarin-speaking countries and communities.
Grade: 910

Mandarin 2

Mandarin 2 is for students with three years of previous study in middle school. This may also be the appropriate class for a student who has some previous study in weekend Chinese school. On the placement test, we look for sufficient mastery of pinyin dictation, pronunciation and tones, novice-level vocabulary and expressions taught in Mandarin 1, word order with time and location, alternative questions, measure words, and the ability to compose a handwritten paragraph, minimum of 120 characters in topics such as self-introduction, hobbies and making appointments. Students also need to be able to communicate orally in the Novice-Mid level of the ACTFL student performance descriptors. This class and all subsequent levels are conducted mostly in Mandarin. At the end of the course, the student will be able to:

  • Start to recognize, construct, and formulate intermediate-level functions of the Mandarin language.
  • Demonstrate the ability to communicate in Mandarin using expanded listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills in the Novice-High level of the ACTFL level of the ACTFL student performance descriptors.
  • Increase the use of complex vocabulary and guess strategies for unknown vocabulary and structure.
  • Identify the cultural assumptions revealed by language (examples: greetings, complements)
  • Engage in critical analysis and comparison of the student’s own values and cultural assumptions with those of Mandarin-speaking countries and communities.
  • Examine the traditions and social practices in different settings and geographical regions of the Mandarin-speaking people.
Grade: 1011

Mandarin 3

Mandarin 3 is for students who have completed Mandarin 2 and for exceptionally strong students with three years of previous study in middle school. This may also be the appropriate class for students who has some previous study in weekend Chines school. On the placement test, we look for sufficient mastery of pinyin dictation, pronunciation and tones, beginning intermediate vocabulary and expressions taught in Mandarin 1 and 2, and the ability to compose short paragraphs: a minimum of 250 characters handwritten essay on topics such as school, shopping, and transportation. Students also need to be able to communicate orally at the emerging Intermediate-Low level of the ACTFL student performance descriptors. This class and all subsequent levels are conducted mostly in Mandarin. At the end of the course, the student will be able to:

  • Recognize, construct, and formulate questions and answers about more complex everyday situations.
  • Demonstrate the ability to communicate in Mandarin using expanded listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills in the Intermediate-Low level of the ACTFL student performance descriptors.
  • Increase the use of complex vocabulary and guess strategies for unknown vocabulary and structure.
  • Identify the importance of cultural and social assumptions revealed in the language (examples: greetings, complements, direction, and flow of descriptions)
  • Identify the cultural, traditional, ethical, and contemporary values of the Mandarin-speaking countries and communities
  • Explore the student’s own values, cultural and social assumptions and contrast them with the traditional and contemporary values of Mandarin-speaking countries
Grade: 1112

Mandarin 4

Mandarin 4 is for students who have completed Mandarin 3. Students entering this level must demonstrate adequate proficiency in intermediate vocabulary words, expressions, and grammar. Students at this level receive intensive review and practice of intermediate-level grammar and language functions. Students are expected to be able to communicate at the Intermediate-Mid level of the ACTFL student performance descriptors by the end of the year. This class and all subsequent levels are conducted mostly in Mandarin. At the end of the course, the student will also be able to:

  • Identify the importance of cultural and social assumptions revealed in the language (examples: greetings, compliments, direction, the flow of descriptions, and logic of reasoning.)
  • Draw out main ideas and locate critical linguistic elements such as grammatical patterns in texts.
  • Narrate, describe, compare, and handle simple situations or transactions such as making a flight reservation and ticketing.

Please Note: This course has an honors option.

Grade: 1112

Mandarin 5

Mandarin 5 is a continuation of Mandarin 4. Read and discuss texts dealing with geography, history, literature, social and cultural practices of the Chinese-speaking world. Review the linguistic functions and grammatical structures of intermediate Chinese. Speaking, listening, reading, and writing Mandarin will be introduced and practiced within a cultural framework. Mandarin will be the primary language of instruction. Emphasis will be on language as an expression of culture and a medium of communication. Develop reading, listening, speaking, and writing skills at the Low Advanced level. Conversation in the target language will be part of the regular instruction to reinforce pronunciation, grammar, and syntax. At the end of the course, the student will also be able to:

  • Demonstrate the ability to communicate with control of linguistic functions and the grammatical structure of Mandarin at Low Advanced level in listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
  • Distinguish, identify, and appraise the linguistic features of Mandarin-speaking countries and communities.
  • Use 75% to 90% of the target language to examine, discuss, and analyze the historical, cultural, social, and economic developments in the different Mandarin-speaking countries and communities.
  • Engage in critical analysis and comparison of the student’s own values and cultural assumptions with those of Mandarin-speaking countries and communities.

Prerequisites: A- or better in Mandarin 4 or demonstrated proficiency in the language competency description of Level 4

Grade: 1112

Advanced Topics in Mandarin: Food, Culture, and Global Connections (H)

This student-centered, project-based learning course explores the intricate relationship between Chinese food, culture, and global connections. The curriculum will investigate Chinese cuisine’s historical roots and regional diversity, tracing its development through dynasties, migrations, and trade routes. Students will investigate how Chinese culinary traditions have transcended borders, influencing and adapting to various cultures worldwide. Special emphasis will be placed on the Chinese diaspora and its impact on shaping local cuisines and creating identities. Food traditions and stories in the family and communities will also be celebrated through research and presentations.

Classroom discussions, guest lectures, case studies, and hands-on experience will spotlight the social-cultural significance of food rituals, dining etiquette, and the symbolism behind Chinese culinary traditions. Students will analyze the role of food in fostering social cohesion, identity preservation, and intergenerational connections with Chinese communities globally. Mandarin will be the primary language of instruction.

Prerequisites: Permission of current instructor.

Grade: 910

Spanish 1

Spanish 1 assumes limited or no prior experience with the language. Students will acquire the speaking, writing, and listening skills to be able to understand and use in informal scenarios using common expressions and basic phrases. The course is conducted primarily in the target language and often incorporates authentic materials. At the end of the course, students will be able to talk about familiar scenarios in basic detail:

  • Introduce self and others
  • Create questions about self and about others in the present tense on varying topics
  • Describe self, others, activities
  • Express actions, activities and events in the present tense
  • Discuss own likes, dislikes as well as those of other people
  • Create informal, interpersonal conversations that are culturally appropriate
  • Use and understand appropriate vocabulary for informal setting
Grade: 910

Spanish 2

Spanish 2 assumes control of vocabulary and shows no significant, fossilized errors in Novice level material. Students will continue to develop the topics of Level 1, working to enhance acquisition of speaking, writing and listening skills necessary to understand spoken and written material in the target language. The course is conducted primarily in the target language. At the end of the course, students will be able to talk about familiar scenarios in increasing detail:

  • Express needs
  • Express feelings and reactions to less tangible situations.
  • Express and understand less concrete ideas.
  • Interact with day to day situations.
  • Describe events, experiences, dreams, hopes, and ambitions.
  • Talk about family, school, and social settings.
  • Demonstrate understanding of culturally appropriate behavior.
  • Give brief explanations for opinions and plans.
Grade: 1011

Spanish 3

Spanish 3 assumes control of vocabulary and grammar structures learned in previous levels. The class is designed to strengthen the grammar skills students have acquired, to introduce new advanced grammar, and to lay down the foundation for the interpersonal, interpretative, and presentational skills needed to succeed in advanced language classes. Students continue to use authentic materials such as newspaper articles, documentaries, movies, music, etc. The class is fully conducted primarily in the target language. At the end of the course, students will be able to write, to speak, and to orally comprehend familiar (formal and informal) scenarios in great detail and will be able to understand the main ideas in complex texts on concrete and abstract topics:

  • Express themselves in both written and oral communication
  • Demonstrate understanding of spoken and written material in the target language beyond textual comprehension.
  • Connect their own knowledge about the world with the material that is presented to them.
  • Develop critical thinking skills, cultural competency, and understanding of the language from a native speaker’s viewpoint.
  • Interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers possible without strain for either party.
  • Produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain viewpoints on a topical issue giving advantages and disadvantages of various opinions.
Grade: 91011

Heritage Spanish 3

Heritage Spanish 3 is a course specifically designed for heritage speakers. A Spanish heritage speaker is someone who grew up speaking Spanish at home with family that has cultural and ancestral ties to a Spanish-speaking country, but lives in an English-dominant community. This makes them stronger in spoken language, but have a need to better develop their reading, writing, and formal grammar skills. This immersive class focuses on enhancing students’ abilities in reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills, while also fostering a sense of identity and cultural competency. The course emphasizes the exploration of the rich cultural diversity within the Spanish-speaking world, encouraging students to delve into their own heritage and the broader Hispanic cultures. The use of literature, music, videos, and cultural immersion activities, will ensure a comprehensive and enriching learning experience designed to empower heritage learners with a stronger connection to their language and cultural roots.

Grade: 91011

Heritage Spanish 4

Building on the foundational work of Heritage Spanish 3, we’ll continue to refine students´ reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills, working towards stronger fluency and confidence with the language and cultural competency. Students will explore contemporary issues and evolving identities amongst the Spanish-speaking countries. We will use authentic literature, music, and multimedia experiences, connecting students to their own heritage and gaining a better understanding of the Spanish-speaking world. Through interactive discussions, presentations, and collaborative projects, students will refine their oral and written communication, tackling complex topics that affect the Spanish-speaking world and their own communities. Students who successfully complete Heritage Spanish 4 will move on to Spanish AT in their language progression.

Grade: 1112

Spanish 4

Spanish 4 assumes control of vocabulary and grammar structures learned in previous levels. The class is designed to strengthen the grammar skills students have acquired, to introduce new advanced grammar, and to lay down the foundation for the interpersonal, interpretative, and presentational skills needed to succeed in advanced language classes. Students continue to use authentic materials such as newspaper articles, documentaries, movies, music, etc. The class is primarily conducted in the target language. At the end of the course, students will be able to write, to speak, and to orally comprehend familiar (formal and informal) scenarios in great detail and will be able to understand the main ideas in complex texts on concrete and abstract topics:

  • Express themselves in both written and oral communication.
  • Demonstrate understanding of spoken and written material in the target language beyond textual comprehension.
  • Connect their own knowledge about the world with the material that is presented to them.
  • Develop critical thinking skills, cultural competency, and understanding of the language from a native speaker’s viewpoint.
  • Interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers possible without strain for either party.
  • Produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain viewpoints on a topical issue giving advantages and disadvantages of various opinions.

NOTE: Students who take this course with the honors option are expected to be independent learners who are ready to: explore new language topics at a faster pace, use these more advanced concepts in real-life situations, and demonstrate a strong control of concepts learned in Levels 1, 2, and 3, with few or no fossilized errors in expression.

Note: This course has an honors option.

Prerequisite: Successful completion of Intermediate Spanish and Department placement.

Grade: 101112

Advanced Topics in Spanish: Expression and Exploration (H)

This Advanced Topics class will cover themes of identity and self discovery, social justice and resistance, immigration and asylum, and poverty, hopes, and dreams. The class will consider these themes by exploring film, literature, poetry, art, and music and will allow students to explore aspects of culture and reflect on their own identities. 

Prerequisite: Permission of current instructor.

Grade: 1112

IP Capstone Seminar (H) (1S and/or 2S)

The Interdisciplinary and Personalized (IP) Capstone Project Seminar at Menlo, which involves a 1- or 2-semester elective course, provides students with meaningful opportunities to build on their previous coursework, immerse themselves in project design principles, and become knowledge creators and autonomous learners. By forging impactful academic explorations in a classroom context with peers and instructors, IP Capstone students forge new ways to distinguish themselves in their studies during their high school years by orienting their project in one of the 4 fields of study, including Arts & Letters, Civic Leadership, Community Engagement, and Global Scholars. Modeling a form used in higher education, students work with instructors as well as mentors, hone their research and reflective writing as well as oral communication skills, present their conclusions before faculty, family, and friends, and produce a final deliverable. In the first weeks of the course, our approach focuses on the shared skills needed to successfully ideate, develop, and complete a long-term project of their design. Examples of skills learned include design-thinking principles in the initial stages, pointers for effective research, advice for contacting professional experts, and/or setting up internships and field visits. Next, students move into the independent work phase in which students focus on their projects as well as their peers’, which requires taking initiative, giving attention to written and oral communication skills, and committing to frequent check-ins for staying on track. They also learn the skill of managing unforeseen problems and/or obstacles that may emerge in the project development process. Students are expected to meet a series of benchmarks at various stages of the project.

This is an Honors-level course open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

Grade: 9101112

CS1: Computer Science 1

Assuming no previous experience with computers or computer programming, CS1 introduces students to the infinite possibilities of computer science and the art of programming. Students will use multiple programming languages to learn to think algorithmically and solve problems efficiently. Programs and projects are inspired by real-world applications of computer science to the arts, humanities, social sciences, and sciences. To end the year, CS1 culminates in a gratifying final project: a highlight of many students’ coding experiences at Menlo. CS1 is offered Pass/No Pass, rather than for a letter grade. 

Watch a video about Computer Science at Menlo here.

Watch a video overview of this course here.

Prerequisites: None

Grade: 101112

CS2 (H): Data Structures & Algorithms

Building off of the foundation laid in CS1, CS2 dives deeper into the field of computer science while expanding students’ programming skills. Students begin the year learning Java, one of the most popular and important programming languages. Students will learn about new topics, such as classes, objects, inheritance, and recursion. As the year progresses, CS2 challenges students to work on progressively larger and more creative programming projects. This culminates in the final project: a month-long endeavor to design and program a video game complete with mouse and keyboard input. In addition, students will be given significant preparation for the AP Computer Science A exam.

Watch a video about Computer Science at Menlo here.

With some independent preparation, students who take this course may feel equipped to take the AP Computer Science A exam.

Prerequisite: CS1

Grade: 101112

App Design & Development

In App Design and Development, students learn how to build apps that solve real problems for real people. The course focuses on iOS app programming, using the language Swift to build applications for iPhone or iPad. The course teaches students to program in Xcode, the same platform that real Swift programmers use daily. Students also learn to use graphics editors to design app layout and user interface. As the course progresses, students build multiple apps, each more complex than the last. The course culminates in the design and creation of an original app to be published in the App Store.

Prerequisite: CS1

Grade: 1112

Advanced Topics in Computer Science (H)

In Advanced Topics, students begin applying their programming skills in a truly project-driven course. After taking at least two years of computer science at Menlo, students are ready to tackle applications fields of computer science such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, data science, cybersecurity, and more. While engaging with these new topics, students learn new programming languages—such as Javascript and SQL—while working with advanced data structures and algorithms. Choice plays a big role in the class, as students spend significant periods of time working in teams on a variety of ambitious programming projects. Topics vary from year to year, so the course may be taken more than once.

Watch a video about Computer Science at Menlo here.

Prerequisite: CS2, or App Design and permission from instructor

Grade: 9

Freshman Seminar

A foundational part of the 9th grade experience, the Seminar is composed of six different classes that students rotate through over the course of one semester (1st or 2nd). Classes include: Ethics, Human Sexuality and Sexual Health, Community Engagement, Human Behavior, Identity, and Design Thinking. The central mission is to develop self-awareness and responsibility within the global village by empowering students to effectively care for themselves and others. The Seminar also provides students with an opportunity to explore Menlo’s values and how they come to life in and out of the classroom. Classes are intentionally kept small to foster active conversation and community building among the students.

Grade: 678

Learning Seminar

This interactive program, developed by researchers at Harvard’s School of Education, will teach learning strategies directly and explicitly through the Learning Seminar. Students will develop the necessary organizational, self-advocacy, time management, planning, self-monitoring, and study skills to meet the intellectual and emotional demands of their educational journey. Mastery of the SMARTs curriculum will be reviewed through teacher assessment and student reflection. It is our hope that students will understand which strategies work best for their individual learning styles, and will feel confident in using these tools throughout their educational experience at Menlo and beyond.