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High School Orchestra

Grade Nine

Observation - What do I see?

Taking a big step forward, 9th grade students look at the world with new eyes as both excitement and apprehension lead them through this first year of high school.  As opposites, these experiences sum up the theme of this year as students hone their observation skills and find the balance between opposites in all that they do.  Their skills and experiences from previous years provide a foundation as they test the world to find their own truth.  Their question, “What am I and the world made of?” moves them towards a journey of interest in the world. Specific blocks of study, such as Tragedy and Comedy, and Revolutions, bring this theme of exploring opposition into all subject areas.  With each year, their capacity for self-reliance increases, as does their understanding and empathy for each other.

Major Areas of Study:

Math - Algebra 1 and Discrete Math

Science - Organic Chemistry, Physics (thermodynamics/electricity), Earth Science/Geology

Humanities - Art History, Composition, Civics, American Literature, Far East studies

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Experimenting in Lab

Grade Ten

Consideration - How did it happen?

During the tenth grade year there is often a shift in which students turn their attention outward to discover a new connection with themselves as a part of the whole. With this deep interest can sometimes come a sense of loneliness as well, as they become conscious of a sense of separation between themselves and the world.  As a method of finding a balance in their thinking, tenth graders can gain confidence through the practice of consideration - how something came to be and the parts that were played within it. They look at movement and tension between opposites as they did in 9th grade, but now focus on the work it takes to find harmony.  This theme is seen in all areas of study, from land formation in Earth Science, to Civil War and even research writing.

Major Areas of Study:

Math - Geometry 1

Science - Chemistry (acids and bases), Physics (mechanics), Biology (Embryology), Earth Science/Geography

Humanities - Medieval History, Civil War, Survey of Ancient Civilizations, Poetry, Writing for Research, The Odyssey and the Greek Play

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Drama Performance

Grade Eleven

Analysis - Why is it?

The eleventh grader becomes comfortable with ambiguity and complexity, and is able to truly enter into objectivity for the first time. They come to regard the self as a distinct entity, worthy of study and capable of free choice. Motivation changes from extrinsic (rewards-based) to intrinsic (what is meaningful to me?). In response, the curriculum looks at unseen forces and encourages students to develop thinking not restricted to the physical senses.  Music and world religions allow the experience of the unseen to expand into conscious reflection, while sciences encourage the previously developed powers of observation to be used for more theoretical application in both the microscopic (chemistry) and macroscopic (astronomy) realms.  Sustainable agriculture is a unique block in 11th grade in which students apply the knowledge they have gained in a number of areas (earth sciences, world cultures, math, and social sciences) to look at ways to meet the needs of the earth and the people who rely on it in a mutually-beneficial way.

Major Areas of Study:

Math - Algebra II, Pre-Calculus

Science - Chemistry (atomic structure), Physics (magnetism and electricity), Biology (Botany), Earth Science (Astronomy)

Humanities - Music History, Romanticism, U.S. Expansion, Comparative Religions, Creative Writing, The College Essay, Shakespeare

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Students During Break

Grade Twelve

Synthesis - Who am I?

Seniors desire meaningful challenges that test their inner drive for critical thinking while being a part of community that actively develops leadership capacities—empathy, compromise, and creative collaboration—traits necessary for innovative action in the world. The twelfth grade year encourages the development of an inner resolve for self-directed learning and leadership. Students begin to fully evaluate their answers to the questions, “What is my place in the world?” and “How can I contribute my gifts to the greater good?” The curriculum reflects and supports this questioning, including several classes taught seminar-style where students co-create the content and facilitate discussion. Seniors are tasked with maturing their awareness of individualistic needs and goals in relationship with the larger community. Simultaneously, each is engaged in a year-long exploration, dubbed the “Senior Project,” an individual journey where each student pursues an inner question that requires personal discipline, creative thinking, and scholarship.

Major Areas of Study:

Math - Calculus or Contemporary Math

Science - Chemistry (biochemistry), Physics (light), Biology (evolution)

Humanities - Contemporary Issues, Modern U.S. History, Russian Literature, 12th Grade Project

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