Upper School Curriculum

  • Overview

    Grades 9-12

    The Upper School, which encompasses Grades 9 through 12, completes the program of college preparation at the Academy. As students transition from the Middle to the Upper School, learning continues to be authentic and engaging with rigorous curriculum offerings at three levels: college preparatory, honors, and advanced placement. Dialogue and interchange between teachers and students are hallmarks of the Upper School, where the focus moves from subject mastery to higher-order thinking skills. In this unique setting, students have the opportunity to develop their individual talents and creativity through a carefully sequenced and integrated curriculum.

    The Upper School program provides an excellent academic curriculum as well as varied athletic, artistic and leadership opportunities. It fields a variety of athletic teams; provides opportunities in the performing arts, including band, chorus and theater productions; and offers numerous co-curricular offerings to develop leadership ability. Students compete and consistently win in divisional, regional, and statewide academic and athletic competitions, including previous recognition in the Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering (WYSE) and Rube Goldberg contests.

    With a rigorous academic program, four-year college guidance, weekly assembly period, peer mentoring program, and standardized test review preparation, our students are accepted at the nation's best colleges and universities, including Brown, Harvard, Princeton, Dartmouth, Stanford, the University of Illinois - Champaign/Urbana, University of Pennsylvania, University of Chicago, Northwestern, Williams, M.I.T. and the Naval Academy.

    In the Upper School, students can customize their curriculum to meet individual needs, interests and abilities. With a variety of academic and co-curricular offerings, students can excel in learning opportunities in and out of the classroom. Hypothesis, experimentation, and conclusion are the focus of science classes, over nomenclature. Numerical reasoning rather than solution becomes the goal of mathematics. In history, facts give way to reasons and social understanding. While mastery is still the focus of world language, students approach fluency in real language situations. In English, students are exposed to a large sample of the best works of literature and learn to communicate concisely and precisely. In addition to its core courses, the Upper School offers exciting opportunities in the visual and performing arts with two full-length productions in fall and spring. The new Global Scholars program prepares students to serve and lead as stewards in the world, and to promote environmental awareness, global thinking, and local action.

    Whether taking on a leadership role in a school club or organization, participating in service learning projects, or volunteering in service opportunities locally or around the world, Upper School students exemplify the Academy’s commitment to excellence as independent thinkers and global leaders of the 21st century.

    Graduation Requirements:
    The minimum major course requirements for graduation from Morgan Park Academy are 24, earned while enrolled in secondary school. Of this number, 22 must be as follows:

    English: 4 credits
    Mathematics: 3 credits
    History and Social Sciences: 3 credits
    Science and Technology: 3.5 credits
    World Languages: 3 credits
    Fine Arts: 2 credits
    Physical Education/Health: 1.5 credits
    College and Career Studies: 0.5 credit
    Additional Electives: 2 credits
     
    Note: One credit of Global Studies is required. Seniors must carry a minimum of 5.5 courses if they do not elect to take a science course. Additionally, seniors must pass all courses carried.

    Additional Graduation Requirements:
    Global Retreat
    4 years of Advisory Program
    4 Project Week units

    Service Learning: Ten service hours are provided during the school year with two scheduled service days; students are expected to match the service hours with an additional 10 hours per year, for a total of 20 service hours earned each year. 80 service learning hours are required for graduation.
  • Difference

    What Makes Us Different

    Upper School Profile
    The Upper School curriculum reflects rigor:
    • Students’ ACT and SAT scores are well above the National and State averages.
    • Opportunity to earn non-Honor’s Credit in required courses. Fourteen AP courses and 10 Honors courses offered.
    • Four-year graduation requirement in English; three-years in history, math and science; two-years in world languages
    • 100 percent graduation rate, with 99 percent of students going on to college.
    • Writing is done extensively throughout Upper School and the writing process is stressed.
    • Research is continued throughout Upper School with added demands on skills, understanding and independence.
    • More than 60 percent of Upper School students achieve Honor Roll or High Honor Roll.
    • Students studying French regularly receive recognition in the National French Contest.
    Reflects enrichment:
    • Hands-on science is emphasized in the Upper School.
    • Simulation-based learning projects help students gain a deeper knowledge of topics.
    • Eleven varsity sports are offered.
    • Music, art, fine arts and physical education are part of the regular curriculum and taught by subject specialists.
    • Students can be involved in two major dramatic performances each year.
    • Students can join organizations such as WYSE, Model UN, Mock Trials, Band and Chorus.
    Reflects global perspectives and understanding:
    • Global Scholars program enhances students’ global awareness and involvement.
    • Diverse student body celebrates Diwali, Ramadan, Eid and more.
    • International Day is an extensive educational project in Upper School involving research, planning and sharing cultural knowledge.
    • Social studies is taught throughout the Upper School. Areas of study include local, US and world history, and current national and world events.
    • Electives in all disciplines allow for a deeper analysis of the subject matter.
    Reflects individualization:
    • College and wellness counseling programs to meet student needs.
    • Advisors work closely with students and families.
    • Students choose from a variety of electives in all disciplines.
    • Projects are used in addition to traditional assessment in order to allow for varied learning styles and strengths.
    • AP and Honors sections are offered in many courses.
    • Accelerated mathematics materials are used at all grade levels.
    • Open-ended and student-chosen activities, including writing projects, allow for varying developmental levels and abilities.
    Reflects state-of-the art in education:
    • Curriculum is updated on a regular basis to address student needs.
    • Program stresses a multi-disciplinary approach to science and social studies in addition to English, mathematics, world languages and fine arts.
    • Computers and SMARTBoards are used in the classroom and students continue to develop computer skills.
  • Advisory

    Advisory Program

    At Morgan Park Academy, our teachers do far more than teach facts or school subjects. We cultivate our mission through our students’ learning every day in the classroom. Character education is both respected and reinforced through teachers’ daily interactions with students.

    Morgan Park Academy places importance on its advisory program throughout the entire school. The idea that all students have someone advocating for them and guiding them through their education is crucial to their success, and plays a vital role in helping them feel part of a caring community. Having this “special faculty member” looking out for students is valuable at every grade level.

    Each coeducational advisory group has eight to 10 students in the same grade. Advisory groups meet each morning and each Tuesday afternoon, with the purpose of sharing the challenges and milestones the students encounter on their educational journeys.

    The Advisory Program strengthens student-teacher relationships, and keeps our community healthy. Advisors nurture, advocate for, and guide their advisees, and in return, students learn to share with a group of peers, and develop time management, organizational and team-building skills. The advisees develop a group affiliation, make personal connects with, and build academic and interpersonal skills within their group.
  • College Counseling

    College Counseling

    College 101

    College 102
    This semester course is designed to prepare students for the college search, application and selection process. In College 102 students will be introduced to essential college research strategies and learn the importance of maximizing college campus visits. They will prepare for college interviews, create their high school resume, write a college essay, and learn about letters of recommendation. Students will be expected to participate in activities that help them understand this process, and will become familiar with informational and school-based resources while building rapport with the College Counselor. Students will complete a portfolio of personalized college information and resources that they can use as they start applying for admission to colleges and universities during their senior year. College Planning 102 is a semester course requirement for students taken during their junior year.

    College 102
    This year-long course is designed to prepare students for standardized tests, the college search, application, and selection process. InCollege 102 students will be introduced to essential college research strategies and learn the importance of maximizing college campus visits. They will prepare for college interviews, create their high school resume, write a college essay, and learn about letters of recommendation. Students will be expected to participate in activities that help them understand this process, and will become familiar with informational and school-based resources while building rapport with the College Counselor. Students will complete a portfolio of personalized college information and resources that they can use as they start applying for admission to colleges and universities during their senior year. College Planning 102 is a year-long course requirement for students taken during their junior year.

    College 103
    This semester course is designed to help guide students complete the college application process. Students will work on essays, complete the common application and other applications, develop a resume, prepare for interviews, and apply for scholarships.

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  • Mathematics

    Mathematics

    The math offerings in the S.T.E.M. department offers a sequence of courses designed to prepare students for college admission, to facilitate advanced work in mathematics and science, and to enable graduates to use mathematics with competence and understanding in their life’s work. The faculty strives to create a coherent vision of what it means to be mathematically literate both in a world that relies on calculators and computers to carry out mathematical procedures, and where mathematics is rapidly growing and is extensively applied in diverse fields. In addition, the department works judiciously to set educational goals for its students that reflect the importance of mathematical literacy.

    Algebra 1
    This first-year algebra course challenges students to develop a better conceptual understanding of the structure of algebra and stronger problem-solving skills. Students will be actively involved in making connections among different branches of mathematics and solving real-life problems. By the nature of algebra, mastery of many of the techniques in the course is a prerequisite for higher-level math and science courses.

    Algebra 2
    This course revisits topics from Algebra I, by studying extensions or connections with other ideas. The course is designed to explore advanced topics in algebra like linear graphs, systems of equations, quadratics, right triangle trigonometry, exponents, logarithms, polynomials, and rational expressions. Trigonometry is integrated throughout the course, including a study of the unit circle. Both algebraic structure and development of computational skills will be emphasized and refined through practical applications.

    Algebra 2 Honors
    The topics from both intermediate algebra and trigonometry are studied within this year-long course. An emphasis is placed upon the understanding relations and functions including quadratic functions, polynomial functions, rational functions, exponential functions and logarithmic functions. The course is also structured for more capable students, extending the structure and concepts of algebra and stressing the development of computational skills. Problem-solving techniques are emphasized and refined through practical applications. The fundamentals of trigonometry are covered as well as matrix theory. Some basic concepts from analytic geometry are also introduced.

    AP Calculus AB
    This course consists of a full high school academic year of work which is comparable to calculus courses in colleges and universities and which meets all the curriculum requirements specified for AP Calculus AB by the College Board. AP Calculus AB is a course in single-variable calculus that includes techniques and applications of the derivative, techniques and applications of the definite integral, the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, and real-life applications of these topics.  Students solve problems from multiple points of view: graphical, numerical, and analytical. Technology plays a key role in developing conceptual understanding throughout the course, but students also learn approaches to problems which do not rely on technology.  Students completing this course take the Calculus AB Advanced Placement examination.
     
    AP Calculus BC
    AP Calculus BC is a one semester class for students who have already successfully completed an AP Calculus AB class.  It includes all the additional topics specified by the College Board beyond those already learned in AP Calculus AB.  These include further work with differentials, Euler’s Method, logistic equations, first order linear differential equations, shell method, arc length, surface areas, work, centers of mass, fluid pressure, fluid forces, further work with L’Hopital’s Rule, integrals of more complicated trigonometric functions, improper integrals, sequences, series, parametric graphs, and polar graphs.  The 4th quarter will include review for the AP Calculus BC exam, which all students in the course are required to take.
    Students solve problems from multiple points of view: graphical, numerical, and analytical.  Technology plays a key role in developing conceptual understanding throughout the course, but students also learn approaches to problems which do not rely on technology.
     
    AP Statistics
    The purpose of the course is to introduce students to the major concepts and tools for collecting, analyzing and drawing conclusions from data. Students are exposed to four broad conceptual themes: exploring data, sampling and experimentation to plan and conduct a study, anticipating patterns using probability and simulation, statistical inference to estimating population parameters and testing hypotheses. Students who successfully complete the course and AP exam may receive credit for a one-semester introductory college statistics course. Important components of the course include projects and laboratories, cooperative group problem-solving, and writing, as a part of concept-oriented instruction and assessment. This approach to teaching AP Statistics will allow students to build interdisciplinary connections with other subjects and with their world outside school. The course depends heavily on the use of technology suitable for the interactive, investigative aspects of data analysis.
     
    College Algebra and Trigonometry
    This course is designed for students who are in need of a math course beyond Algebra 2 and are either not recommended for the rigor of a Pre-Calculus course or not interested in pursuing Calculus in high school or college. Most of the topics in the course – functions, analytical geometry, matrices, and trigonometry – parallel the content of a typical first-year college math course or Pre-Calculus high school class, albeit without the depth or rapid pace of the latter.

    Geometry
    This course is designed to emphasize the study of the properties and applications of common geometric figures in two and three dimensions.  It requires students to focus on deductive reasoning skills in writing proofs to prove properties of geometric figures. Emphasis will be placed on developing logical and critical thinking while exploring topics, which include: congruent triangles, quadrilaterals and polygons, parallelism, similarity, right triangle geometry, trigonometric ratios, angles and arcs in circles. The measurement of figures including solids will be introduced as well. Coordinate geometry and algebraic principles are used intensively throughout the course.
     
    Geometry Honors
    This is a proof-based geometry course that develops new topics with both deductive reasoning and discovery activities using Geometer’s Sketchpad dynamic geometry software.  It offers students an opportunity to rely on mathematical reasoning, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills to investigate and explore geometry.  The course is designed to develop concepts and insight into parallel lines, congruent triangles, important lines in a triangle, quadrilaterals and polygons, similarity, right triangle geometry, trigonometric ratios, circles, areas of plane figures, and volumes of 3-dimensional figure.  Algebraic principles, including the use of coordinates, are applied to geometric problems.  The concept of proof is a substantial focus of the course.
     
    Numeracy for the 21st Century
    This is a full credit, year-long, senior-level math course that is offered as a hybrid independent study class. Students will have a program available to be able to monitor and provide support for concepts with which the student has difficulty. The program will be able to address the individual needs of each student, and a teacher will be present to help assist when needed. Students will work at their own pace with specified goals arranged by the teacher for certain benchmarks to be achieved. The goal is to improve the math foundation of each student in the areas in which it is needed most for that particular student.

    Pre-Calculus Honors
    This course is designed to prepare college-bound students for the first course in calculus.  The topics presented are prerequisites for calculus, including analytical geometry, exponential and logarithmic functions, trigonometry, and conic sections.  The presentation of these topics develops a sound intuitive base for understanding calculus, and provides some of the tools and knowledge needed for the study of more advanced mathematics.  Technology is used as a tool for learning that enhances understanding without sacrificing important skills.

  • Arts

    Arts

    In keeping with the philosophy of Morgan Park Academy to educate the whole child, fine and performing arts are an integral part of the Academy’s curriculum. Celebration and creativity echo throughout the fine arts, music, and drama programs. This unparalleled exposure complements the academic curriculum and helps develop well-rounded individuals.

    Acting and Directing 1
    The first quarter of this one-semester course focuses on the examination of self, successful working with “the other” (both a single partner and an ensemble atmosphere) and the basics of realistic acting. Students explore improvisation, character development, and scene analysis, with an emphasis on the moment-to-moment, honest portrayal of well-developed characters. The second quarter focuses directing theatre, TV, and film, and directing techniques including how to work with actors, how to design a set, working with sound, how to tell a story on stage, etc. Scenes are rehearsed and presented in the classroom. If preferred, students are welcome to shoot and edit video outside of class and bring in their scene work for class (note that equipment is not provided). Prerequisite: none.

    Acting and Directing 2
    This one-semester course builds off what students studied in Acting I and Directing I. Students explore advanced improvisation, character development, and scene analysis, with an emphasis on the moment-to-moment, honest portrayal of well-developed characters. Prerequisite: Acting and Directing I.

    Art Fundamentals
    Art Fundamentals Course covers components of art and its practical application. Students learn elements and rules of composition, color theory, form/shape, space, and content. Through the study and discussion of historical and contemporary art practices, students apply their knowledge to create artworks using a variety of media such as painting, drawing, collage, digital art and sculpture/installation. 

    Ceramics 1
    The Ceramics I curriculum emphasis is on hand-building forms. Through exploring the history of ceramics from Neolithic times through the present students learn how the functionality of clay objects evolved throughout the ages and how ceramics entered the realm of fine arts. Students view images of clay objects and participate in class discussions about contemporary artists and their work. They analyze clay artifacts and write about it. Early and contemporary methods for forming and firing clay are covered in this course. After an introduction to studio practices (cleaning, storing, use of tools, safety) students build clay sculptures and functional objects. They use pinch, coiling and slab-building techniques. Students experiment with texturing, coloring and glazing. They participate in an art exhibition.
    Prerequisites: Art Fundamentals

    Ceramics 2
    Building on Ceramics I, students’ work in this course will be individually driven to produce a portfolio. In addition to techniques explored in Ceramics I students learn extrusion, tile building and using a mold. They are introduced to a potter’s wheel. Discussion of works of contemporary ceramic artists as well as 21st-century artists beginning from Abstract Expressionism is a part of this course. Oral and written analysis of the works of art as well as participation in class critiques are required. Students maintain a sketchbook. They show their work in an art exhibition.   
    Prerequisites: Ceramics 1

    Drawing and Painting 1
    In this beginning level course, students gain a foundation in drawing and painting. Composition, principles of design, basic rules of perspective and advanced color theory is covered. Students study the history of painting and drawing dating back to the Renaissance and including contemporary trends in visual arts. They view and analyze relevant works of art and learn about the creative process and conceptual approaches of contemporary artists. A sketchbook/journal of both written and visual notes is required. Through participation in class critiques, students learn how to interpret works of others and how to provide constructive feedback. Students write about their work and process. They work towards developing their individual portfolios and artist statements. Students are required to show their work in an art exhibition.
    Prerequisites: Art Fundamentals

    Drawing and Painting 2
    Students’ body of work in this class will be individually driven, using advanced skills to produce a portfolio of work. Students will be required to maintain a sketchbook.   Prerequisites: Drawing and Painting 1, or Photography 1 (or its equivalent with a portfolio review and the approval of the teacher).

    History of Rock
    Students will learn the History of Rock & Roll (1940’s-Present) through songs, and major historical events.  The format will include; recognizing songs from short audio clips, identifying historical events based on songs written in era, learning musicians and social issues through song.  

    Photography 2
    Building off concepts learned in Intro to Photography, this class continues to focus on digital photography. Projects will be individually driven, and students will be required to explore a wide variety of photographic techniques.  Prerequisites: Intro to Photography or approval of the instructor. Students MUST have a Digital Single Lens Reflex camera (DSLR).

    Photography I
    Beginning level photography class focusing on using a digital point-and-shoot or single lens reflex camera.  Camera settings explored to offer creative and technical control.  We will explore the elements art and principles of design in photographic composition.  Students learn framing within the viewfinder, and utilize various compositional principles.  Students also learn to examine images through weekly critiques.  Digital processing techniques are introduced using various photo editing applications. Students should be prepared to spend at least 3 hours outside of class on assignments.

    Radio Station and Pod Casting
    This class will teach the basics of Radio Station Engineering, from the setup of a soundboard to the different types of microphones used.  The focus will be on creating material fit to publish.  Editing and mixing will be a main focus as well as general maintenance of a radio station. 

    Upper School Band
    Band is available to non-beginning instrumentalists. Musicianship (blending and balance of sound accuracy and intonation) as well as performance preparation are the main emphases. Band meets three times weekly and performs several times during the school year. Solo ensemble contest opportunities are available for Upper School vocalists and instrumentalists

    Upper School Chorus
    Chorus provides vocal ensemble opportunities for any interested Upper School students. Emphasis is placed on performance and musical learning, including singing, interpretation, and expression. Student accompanists are encouraged. Chorus meets twice weekly. Chorus performs several times during the school year.

  • English

    English

    The goal of the English classes in the Humanities department is to ensure steady growth in the critical and creative abilities of students as readers and writers, as these skills are needed to ensure students’ academic and career success. These needs are met by affording students ample opportunities to develop these skills through oral and written expression based upon analytic reading of selected literary texts not only from traditional Western and non-Western literature, but increasingly from contemporary authors in a variety of genres.

    Throughout high school, students explore ideas in a variety of written modes - from informal journal writing to more formal personal and analytic essays. Increasingly, students are engaged in real-world writing activities using various web-based tools in the writing process. Many of the students’ experiences in class are discussions, centered on the best classic and contemporary literature. In addition, students write in-class journal responses to literature, full-length essays, and independent projects.

    English classes are traditionally small and informal, allowing students to gain the necessary skills to become better writers and develop more confidence in their writing ability. This personal attention at all grade levels is the hallmark of the English program.

    Advanced Literary Studies
    The junior level course aims to explore, in an open-ended fashion, the issues raised by a wide range of seminal texts focusing primarily on drama and poetry. Students will discuss and study how drama and poetry challenge audiences, whether it be through social, political, cultural, or deeply personal issues. Reading, reflection, and discussion lead to extensive practice in various forms of written discourse. Students are expected to complete the summer reading assignment to be prepared for the first week of classes.

    American Literature
    Just as World Literature seeks to make connections between global history and literature, this course for sophomores provides literary foundations to the historical concepts being explored in their history courses. The sophomore level course explores the history and the cultural progress of our country primarily through seminal texts in American literature. We start at the roots – American Indian storytelling – and work our way from the time the Europeans started arriving until the modern era. Students will examine the issues raised by such texts through reading and reflection, journals, discussion, group projects and various forms of written discourse, and, in the process, continue to develop all of those skills which are commonly associated with literacy in the highest and broadest sense.  Students are expected to complete the summer reading assignment to be prepared for the first week of classes.

    AP English Language and Composition
    This senior course focuses on developing the skills and proper vocabulary to analyze a writer’s purpose and the techniques employed to achieve this purpose. Examining a variety of nonfiction texts, students discern both important ideas and rhetorical methods. Students practice their acquired skills by writing research papers and expository and creative essays, giving presentations, and participating in class discussion. Students are expected to complete the summer reading assignment to be prepared for the first week of classes.  The course is college level and follows the general recommendations of the College Entrance Examination Board in preparing students for the AP exam.

    AP English Literature and Composition
    AP English Literature and Compositions offers students the opportunity to study various genres of literature in-depth. Of particular interest to participants in this course will be poetry, drama, fictional prose and the epic. As students prepare for the AP English Literature and Composition examination in May, they will compose formal essays/précis that vary in length as well as familiarize themselves with critically challenging multiple choice questions that analyze selections of prose and verse. The reading requirements for this course are heavy, and class participation is mandatory for success in this course. There is also a strong emphasis on the proper use of literary terminology both in conversation and in writing. This course is offered for juniors, but seniors may take this course with administrative approval. The course is college level and follows the general recommendations of the College Entrance Examination Board in preparing students for the AP exam. 

    Graphic Novels
    An elective course which studies the significance and meaning of both celebrated and emerging classics. Whether delving deep into psychology with a work like The Watchmen or witnessing history unfold firsthand through a memoir like Persepolis, students will gain a better understanding of this genre. Students will study the relationships between pictures and words, and how the medium determines the message of each graphic novel that we study. Students will write papers and create projects that analyze the role and purpose of the graphic novels in culture – and perhaps gain a new appreciation of an often-ignored literary field.

    Journalism
    This course is designed to introduce students to the basic tenets of journalism writing and to facilitate students in writing publications for the MPA Way and other school publications. 

    Major Author Study
    An elective course which will delve deep into an author (s) of the instructor’s choice. The course will investigate and analyze various pieces of literature from the chosen author (s), explore the life of the author, his/her influences, and the historical period in which the literature is written. The course will also seek to trace the influence of the author (s) on other writers and society as a whole. Students will also learn how to analyze this literature through academic writing and construct sound persuasive arguments, building on their grammar, analysis, and rhetorical writing skills. 

    Middle Eastern Lit
    An elective course intended to widen students’ knowledge and familiarity with the Middle East. Students will read regional literature, both fiction and nonfiction, analyzing their literary content as well as their regional connections; conduct research and investigate current issues from the region, and create projects which incorporate their newfound understandings and literary knowledge. By the end of the course, students will have gained a new familiarity with this important region, while expanding their literary base and improving their academic writing and research. 

    Pop Culture and Lit
    This course is designed to connect popular literature (literature consumed by the masses) to the culture in which it was written. The course will explore popular novels, essays, short stories, plays, and poetry, pairing it with the time period, people, historical realities in which it was written, investigating how authors, writers, playwrights, and poets reacted to the society around them. It allows for a deeper investigation into literature often missed by a more standard canon, and yet, literature which is highly influential in the post-modern world of science, arts, and the humanities. Students will explore various genres and sub-genres, including but not limited to fantasy, science fiction, mystery, suspense, horror, and comedy.  Students must have completed World Literature and American Literature, earning a C or above.

    World Literature
    This freshman-level course integrates curriculum topics covered in World History; the World Literature course seeks to introduce students to primary pieces of literature from/about various parts of the world. Using complementary texts which build on the historical, cultural, and social ideas being discussed in World History, students will further their knowledge of our global world and its history through literature. Focusing on individual reader response to literature, freshmen learn to pose analytic questions and search for answers supported by the text to discuss, debate, and write about the issues uncovered. Special emphasis is placed on the in-class essay, a skill valuable throughout their academic career. Class discussions, self-evaluations and individual conferences, and a written portfolio help students understand the relationship of their thought process to both oral and written expression. Students are expected to complete the summer reading assignment to be prepared for the first week of classes.

  • people_outline

    Social Studies

    Social Studies

    The study of social sciences in the Humanities department cultivates an understanding history as a means of understanding ourselves. To achieve such an understanding, students study civilization, cultural diffusion, and innovation. They discover the consequences of human interaction with the environment. Values, beliefs, political ideas, and institutions are discussed. Also covered are various patterns of social and political interaction.

    AP Comparative Politics

    AP Gov and Politics
    This full year elective for seniors contains two AP courses and exams in government and politics: United States Government and Politics and Comparative Government and Politics. AP United States Government and Politics introduces students to key political ideas, institutions, policies, interactions, roles, and behaviors that characterize the political culture of the United States. AP Comparative Government and Politics introduces students to the rich diversity of political life outside the United States. This course utilizes a comparative approach to examine the political structures, policies, and challenges among six selected countries: Great Britain, Mexico, Russia, Iran, China, and Nigeria.

    AP US History
    This is a rigorous survey course in United States history from its pre-Columbian days until the present. This course will challenge students to think about social, economic, and political issues. Those critical-thinking skills will be developed through analysis of primary and secondary sources, research, essay writing, and class discussion. Students will identify a thesis or point of view in their readings and work on thesis development in their own writing. Test-taking and study skills will be emphasized in preparation for the AP exam. The course will require preliminary work during the summer. Students must take U.S. History as a prerequisite for this course.
     
    Consumer Economics
    In this semester course, students will acquire an array of skills that promote good personal finance habits and create an awareness of how to secure their financial futures. Budgeting, money management, taxes, credit, investments, housing, transportation, and insurance are a sampling of the many topics that students will study in this course.  *Consumer Economics is a graduation requirement.  The course is offered during the school year and the summer.

    Human Rights
    This online course covers the human rights issues of various minorities.  The course will be centered around the following areas: race, gender, sexuality, religion, ethnicity, and disability.

    Humanities 1
    In this semester elective, students will focus on the Greco-Roman, Judeo-Christian, and African cultural roots, the Humanities student learns to read a culture’s great philosophers and identify the expression of these philosophies in the art, architecture, and literature of that culture. Students then look for evidence of these thought patterns in our own culture.

    Humanities 2
    This semester elective is a continuation of Humanities I, beginning with the Renaissance and continuing through the modern age. The focus remains on the philosophies of a culture and their expression. Students will gain familiarity with the philosophers, writers, and artists who have been most influential in shaping the beliefs of our own culture. Students in this course are expected to draw upon the foundation laid in Humanities I.

    Law, Politics and Society
    This course continues the focus of the American system of government, especially the Constitution and the American legal system.  The course examines the American legal system with a study of several precedent-setting Supreme Court cases. Students will participate in several mock trials.

    US History
    This required sophomore course will challenge students to think about social, economic, and political issues in United States history with an emphasis on meaning. Students will also consider issues in historiography. How do you construct a story out of primary sources? Can history be objective? Why do we study history? Students will identify a thesis, or point of view, in their readings and work on thesis development in their own writing. Evaluation is based on research, writing, tests, and projects.  The course will require preliminary work during the summer.
     
    World History
    This required freshman course traces the emergence of mankind from its earliest pre-civilized condition to modern high-tech societies within a global context. This survey course is a basic introduction to social studies skills, including library research and writing term papers, geographic awareness and understanding, and an introduction to the separate disciplines of economics, anthropology and political science. The goals of the course are to provide a core of common understanding in terms of world history, enhance social studies skills, and provide in-depth studies of major cultural regions.

  • P.E.

    P.E.

    The Physical Education, Health and Wellness Department has designed its curriculum so each student can develop a solid foundation of skill and an understanding of a variety of sports activities. The program contributes to the development of social interaction and promotes a life-long fitness attitude. Students develop a physical fitness foundation and seek recreational activities that meet their individual needs of fitness. Sportsmanship, cooperation, decision-making, and coping skills are among the other skills taught in class that can also be used in everyday living.

    Upper School Health
    Health and Wellness is an important concept that includes all aspects of a person’s being; it means having both a healthy mind and body. This semester course introduces students to a variety of health-related issues. It allows the opportunity for students to begin to make responsible lifestyle choices. Areas of discussion and instruction are determined by current health/wellness concerns. Topics include health and wellness, personality and emotions, stress, nutrition, addictive behaviors, wellness, AIDS, and STI’s.

    Upper School Physical Education
    The Freshman Physical Education course is designed around individual and team activities that involve the teaching of advanced skills, techniques and strategies of individual activities and team sports with an emphasis on individual improvement. Physical education provides an excellent opportunity for students to develop as a total person. In this developmental stage, students are encouraged to try activities that are new or challenging. When students become somewhat proficient, their self-esteem is boosted. Therefore, physical education not only improves the students’ health, but also enhances their emotional outlook and wellness, thereby enhancing them as a whole person.During their sophomore year, students may earn P.E. credit by participating fully on one team sport.  If students do not participate on one team sport in their sophomore year, they will need to complete an approved project by the Physical Education Department.  

  • Science

    Science

    The science and technology courses offered by the STEM department develop students’ understanding of nature and the interactions of physical systems. Students learn how to draw conclusions about the physical world around them, as they experience the excitement of seeing and understanding natural phenomena. Emphasis is placed on developing both a knowledge base and problem-solving skills, which allow students to be successful in science during college and beyond. Laboratory Science (introductory chemistry and physics), biology, chemistry, and physics are offered at multiple levels. The goal is to meet the needs of the student by customizing the curriculum. Teachers provide students with an experiential approach to science; experiments dominate class activities. Small class sizes facilitate this hands-on approach to the curriculum.

    AP Biology
    Biology Advanced Placement is comparable to the first-year college biology course. This course uses a college textbook, and students have extended class periods twice a week to fulfill the college board requirements. Students explore the principles of cell life, inheritance, evolution and diversity, plant/animal structure and function, ecology and behavior. The course uses multimedia resources, experiments, computer simulations, and hands-on activities to explore each topic. Students in this course are expected to be able to perform inquiry-based learning and make connections between the different units to understand the world we live in. Students need to be recommended to take this class, and the course does require preparatory work during the summer. All students enrolled in AP Biology will take the College Board AP Biology exam in May.

    AP Chemistry
    Chemistry Advanced Placement is a college-level laboratory course that prepares students to take the AP Chemistry exam. This course provides students with an in-depth understanding of the material world. Topics include atomic structure, condensed states of matter, bonding, solutions, stoichiometry, thermodynamics, gases, kinetics, equilibrium, acids and bases, nuclear chemistry, electron energy states, and electrochemistry. All students enrolled in AP Chemistry will take the College Board AP Chemistry exam in May. 

    AP Physics 1
    The AP Physics 1 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 this course. This course will utilize guided lab-based inquiry and student-centered learning to foster the development of critical thinking skills. All students enrolled in AP Physics will take the College Board AP Physics exam in May.

    Bioethics
    This course serves as an introduction to the discipline of bioethics, covering concepts such as eugenics, stem cells, cloning, human experimentation, mandated vaccines, distribution of scarce resources, end of life/euthanasia and animal testing/rights. Students will explore several of the fundamental moral issues that arise in medicine, health, and biotechnology, discerning, defending and refuting moral courses of action. Some topics covered in this course have been ethically debated for centuries, while others are new, direct results of the current breakneck speed of advancing technology. All topics in this course include themes of racial and gender equality, as well as policies that affect the world’s most vulnerable populations, staying true to the MPA mission to help shape future global learners and leaders.
     

    Biology
    This course provides an understanding of life and the interactions of living things on this planet. Homeostasis, biochemistry, cell theory, classical and molecular genetics, evolution, ecology and basic anatomy and physiology form the framework of the curriculum. The course uses multimedia resources, experiments, computer simulations, and hands-on activities to explore each topic.

    Chemistry
    This is a college-preparatory laboratory course, which provides students with a basic understanding of all types of matter and their interactions. Topics include atomic structure, chemical reactions and stoichiometry, states of matter, reaction rates, the periodic table, equilibrium, acids and bases, and electrochemistry.

    Computer Prog 1
    This course is a senior elective available to students who have completed algebra trig and have little to no experience with computer programming.  Computer Science in Python teaches the fundamentals of computer programming as well as some advanced features of the Python language. Students will develop an appreciation for how computers store and manipulate information by building simple console-based games. This course is equivalent to a semester-long introductory Python course at the college level. The course utilizes a blended classroom approach. All content is fully web-based, with students writing and running code in the browser. Lessons consist of video tutorials, short quizzes, example programs to explore, and written programming exercises. Every unit ends with a comprehensive test that assesses student’s mastery of learned material.
     
    Computer Prog 2
    This course is a senior elective available to students who have completed Programming I or have a well-developed understanding of the Python programming language. AP Computer Science in Java teaches students to design and implement computer-based solutions to problems, implement commonly used algorithms, implement commonly used data structures, select appropriate algorithms and data structures to solve problems, and code fluently in an object-oriented paradigm using the programming language Java. The course utilizes a blended classroom approach. All content is fully web-based, with students writing and running code in the browser. Lessons consist of learning modules made up of short video tutorials, example programs, quizzes, written programming exercises, and challenge problems. Each unit ends with a comprehensive test that assesses student’s mastery of learned material. 

    Digital Citizenship
    This course fosters the development of required skills to live, learn, and work successfully in an increasingly complex and information-rich society. Students will examine the Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship and the effective use of technologies to support teaching and learning. The course uses a “content infusion” approach, in which students learn about many digital citizenship topics as they complete various projects using Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Sheets, Google Drawings, and Google Forms.
     
    Forensics Science
    This is a semester elective in the science department. This course will highlight the different science concepts and analysis techniques that are used by criminologists on a daily basis. The criminal cases that are investigated will be varied to include topics and techniques that are used in biology, chemistry, and physics.  Students must have completed Biology or AP Biology AND Chemistry or AP Chemistry.

    Human Anatomy and Physiology
    Students will gain a foundation in the eleven human body systems, and develop a strong understanding of the interconnectedness between the systems to maintain homeostasis. In this semester course, students will be expected to complete the following: fetal pig dissection (among other dissections), lab practicals (different tables identifying different anatomical structures), online practicals to express understanding of physiology, and case studies to investigate a variety of diseases and conditions. This semester course is also offered on a rotational basis during the summer.  Prerequisite: Successful completion of Honors Biology or AP Biology.

    Mobile App Coding
    This course allows students to become app developers, capable of bringing their own ideas to life.  The Intro to App Development course introduces the world of app development and the basics of Swift and Xcode. The course culminates in a final project where students can choose one of two basic iOS apps to build. App Development with Swift takes students further, whether they’re new to coding or want to expand their skills. Students already familiar with Swift, Xcode, and iOS development, can move through lessons quickly or go straight to the labs, where they’ll build mini-projects and test their code in playgrounds. By the end of this course, they’ll be able to build a fully functioning app of their own design.
    *Prerequisites: Prior programming knowledge required; Computer Programming I and II.

    Physics
    This elective college-preparatory course is at the honors level. The course is designed to acquaint students with the fundamental behaviors of matter in the universe, the states of that matter, and to frame an understanding of the universe in terms of mathematical precision and physical insights. Topics include 1-dimensional and 2-dimensional kinematics, Newton's Laws of Motion, work and energy, vibrations and waves, optics and electric current. Extensive laboratory experiences are presented, many using calculators and computer-based equipment. Formal laboratory report writing is a required component of this course. This course challenges students to apply rational reasoning and physical laws to understanding the existence of an ordered universe

  • World Languages

    World Languages

    The World Languages Department offers a sequence of courses that encourages the appreciation of language learning, while enhancing students' understanding of other cultures and history. Upon completion of the Upper School world language sequence, students are able to function in the areas of oral and written expression, listening and reading comprehension in a way allows for clear understanding of and communication with speakers and writers of the target language. Through the study of a world language, each student develops communication skills, an understanding of how language functions and an appreciation for other cultures.

    French 1 US
    In the first year of French, students are introduced to basic vocabulary and grammatical structures of the French language. They are encouraged to speak the language immediately. Audio and video components are used to ensure proper pronunciation. In addition to working toward oral and aural proficiency, preparation in the basics of French grammar is also provided. Students practice writing and reading skills in order to lay the foundation for continued study in French. By the end of the year, students start to communicate effectively in French, both orally and in writing, in the present, past, and near future tenses.

    French 2 US
    After reviewing French 1 grammar concepts, more sophisticated grammatical structures are introduced. In this class, focus on oral and aural skills intensifies. Students are encouraged to use the language in order to communicate their ideas, thoughts, and questions. Audio and video components are used to ensure proper pronunciation, as well as a solid understanding of spoken French from different Francophone countries. A strong emphasis is placed upon written expression and reading comprehension. Students write compositions of increasing length and complexity, using extensive vocabulary and complex grammatical structures. Communicative activities, oral presentations, essays, and reading comprehension exercises play an integral role.

    French 3
    Following an in-depth review of basic vocabulary and grammar, more advanced grammar is introduced. Students learn to engage in longer conversations, read and interpret more challenging texts, and understand French-language films and videos. The main objectives are the development and reinforcement of communication skills, as well as the development of reading skills and cultural awareness. Various readings help develop cultural literacy and deepen students’ appreciation of French and Francophone cultures. Students hold extended conversations in all tenses, and relate past and future narration using complex sentences. They also express conditions, emotions and wishes in complex sentences.

    French 4 Honors
    This course provides an opportunity for students who have already completed three levels of French study to continue progressing toward fluency in the language. The purpose of the course is to further develop conversation skills while delving more deeply into the culture and civilization of the countries where French is spoken.  Students view and critique one French film per quarter and read selected works of literature as springboards to self-expression in French. Students who complete this course can enroll in AP language the next year, grades and teacher recommendation permitting.  

    French 5 Honors
    The goal of this course is to further develop fluency with regard to ease of expression and accuracy in both the spoken and written language.  In this course, the students will expand upon previously learned grammar, vocabulary and idiomatic expressions to develop more sophisticated conversational skills. They will hone their listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills through a variety of activities such as engaging in both free and guided conversation, small group and paired work, situational role-playing, reading and discussing articles, texts, and stories, discussing and analyzing French language films and listening to music and recordings of native speakers.  Students will be expected to write short papers and make oral presentations.  French literature and media will be incorporated as a vehicle for class discussion and vocabulary acquisition.  Students will also view French films which will also serve as topics for discussion and as a means of vocabulary acquisition, listening comprehension practice and cultural awareness.

    French 5 Honors
    The goal of this course is to further develop fluency with regard to ease of expression and accuracy in both the spoken and written language.  In this course, the students will expand upon previously learned grammar, vocabulary and idiomatic expressions to develop more sophisticated conversational skills. They will hone their listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills through a variety of activities such as engaging in both free and guided conversation, small group and paired work, situational role-playing, reading and discussing articles, texts, and stories, discussing and analyzing French language films and listening to music and recordings of native speakers.  Students will be expected to write short papers and make oral presentations.  French literature and media will be incorporated as a vehicle for class discussion and vocabulary acquisition.  Students will also view French films which will also serve as topics for discussion and as a means of vocabulary acquisition, listening comprehension practice and cultural awareness.

    Mandarin 1
    The Mandarin course is designed for students to develop a basic knowledge of Mandarin. In the course, the student will learn the Pinyin vocalization system, how to write Chinese characters, about 800 words of vocabulary, basic grammar, and simple sentence structure. Cultural topics focus on traditions, family, cuisine, customs, and celebrations. Students increase their language proficiency and cultural awareness by viewing video, film, and audio clips and by reading selections. Students will be able to use Internet resources to learn more about China and Chinese-speaking countries in Asia.  

    Mandarin 2
    In this second level Mandarin course, students will continue to integrate cross-cultural awareness and understanding into language learning; students will participate in cultural exploration projects and culture-based activities. Students will continue to consolidate four basic language skills in Mandarin Chinese through an active, communicative approach and be exposed to more real-life related topics, develop extensive vocabularies, and learn complex grammar points. Students will continue to use Pinyin and practice their mastery of four tones. The course will help students to recognize and write an additional 300-350 characters and use modern instructional technology to learn and type Chinese characters.

    Mandarin 3/4
    In this course, students will continue to expand their character base (by approximately 200-250 new characters), will increase their oral and aural proficiency, and will be introduced to more complex grammatical patterns. Throughout the course, students also will be exposed to various aspects of Chinese culture, including daily life, celebrations, music, food, traditional beliefs, politics, and history. Students will use the same textbook series as that of Mandarin 1 and 2, with additional materials supplemented by the instructor.

    Spanish 1 US
    In the first year of Spanish students are introduced to basic vocabulary and grammatical structures. Instruction immediately encourages the use of Spanish in class. Classroom activities, combined with lab work, emphasize the development of oral and aural proficiency, communicative competence, and an appreciation for Hispanic cultures.
     
    Spanish 2 US
    This is a communicative course that focuses mainly on developing the students’ speaking and writing skills. Students are encouraged to speak Spanish at all times. Students’ writing progresses from paragraphs to compositions of increasing length and complexity. Oral presentations, essays, reading comprehension, communicative activities, and the ability to use the most important verb tenses, are essential in the curriculum.
     
    Spanish 3
    Third-year Spanish begins with a review of major verb tenses. During the remainder of the course, students learn all other major grammar topics, including uses of the subjunctive, future, conditional, and perfect tenses. Students work with reading selections that include short stories, poems, and news articles during the year. Projects include several different kinds of creative and formal writing assignments and speeches, as well as research on historical or cultural topics. Spanish is used almost exclusively in this course.
     
    Spanish 4 Honors
    This course is an option for students who have completed the third level of Spanish and wish to continue progressing toward fluency in the language. The purpose of the course is to develop conversation skills while delving more deeply into the culture and civilization of Spanish-speaking countries. This purpose is achieved while adhering to the standards developed throughout the world language curriculum which includes communication, cultures, connections, comparisons, and communities.  Students who complete this course can enroll in AP language the next year, grades and teacher recommendation permitting.  
     
    Spanish 5 Honors
    The goal of this course is to further develop fluency in expression, and accuracy in both the spoken and written language.  In this course, the students will expand upon previously learned grammar, vocabulary and idiomatic expressions to develop more sophisticated conversational skills. They will hone their listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills through a variety of activities such as engaging in both free and guided conversation, small group and paired work, situational role-playing, reading and discussing articles, texts, and stories, discussing and analyzing Spanish language films and listening to music and recordings of native speakers.  Students will be expected to write short papers and make oral presentations.  Spanish literature and media will be incorporated as a vehicle for class discussion and vocabulary acquisition.  Students will also view Spanish films which will also serve as topics for discussion and as a means of vocabulary acquisition, listening comprehension practice and cultural awareness.  

    Writing and Communications 1
    This course is designed for English Language Learners with multiple levels of English proficiency and fluency. Students will use writing, reading, speaking and listening to advance their English language skills. In order to advance these skills, active development and practice of vocabulary, idioms, sentence and paragraph structures, oral and aural competencies and grammar and punctuation systems will be explored. Time will be spent practicing, participating and studying the English language using authentic materials.  This course is also one the students can express and work on individual concerns about writing, reading, speaking and listening in the English language.

    Writing and Communications 2
    This course is designed for English Language Learners with multiple levels of English proficiency and fluency. Students will use writing, reading, speaking and listening to advance their English language skills. In order to advance these skills, active development and practice of vocabulary, idioms, sentence and paragraph structures, oral and aural competencies and grammar and punctuation systems will be explored. Time will be spent practicing, participating and studying the English language using authentic materials.  This course is also one the students can express and work on individual concerns about writing, reading, speaking and listening in the English language.