Major Courses (College Prep)
All College Prep major courses meet for three hours on Monday through Saturday mornings. Major courses for which you may earn credit have an additional 1.5-hour session during the first half of the afternoon, four days per week.
If you take a morning-only major course, you’ll also take a minor course during the first half of the afternoon, four days each week.
Note: Students in courses marked with an asterisk (*) do not take an afternoon minor course, because afternoon sessions are needed for additional coursework. SAT Preparation is an exception; see details.
Gain the scholarly skills that will be crucial throughout your high school and college careers: developing and writing research papers, persuasive essays, and literary analysis. You’ll concentrate on creating strong thesis statements, building focused paragraphs, and looking deeply at individual texts. You’ll engage in extensive free writing, peer editing, and note taking; these tools and techniques will help you build a strong foundation. And weekly reviews of grammar and punctuation rules are an important component of the class, as are exercises designed to hone each student’s individual writing voice.
What do YOU want to say? In this course, you’ll explore and experiment with the writing of fiction, personal essays, and poetry, developing your own ideas as you produce a portfolio of work. You’ll work in groups and one-on-one with the instructor, and you’ll engage in workshop-style feedback sessions as well as teacher and peer editing. Assignments often are tailored for individual students in response to needs and interests. You’ll read a variety of works to facilitate both discussion of what constitutes good writing and experimentation in your own work.
This advanced writing course will focus on AP English and prepare you for the language and composition class that may be in your future as a high school junior or senior. You’ll learn the fundamentals of rhetoric and dive into college-level texts. You’ll study argumentative and analytical prose techniques while furthering your literary synthesis skills. Covering a full academic year’s content, it’s rigorous work — good preparation for college.
An independent press is a crucial part of a democratic and free society. This course is an opportunity to not only deepen your understanding of journalistic history, but also to be a journalist and uncover stories of your own. Learn how to find article ideas, identify sources, conduct interviews, and organize and structure a story. Explore how technology has changed the media and the way that information is disseminated. Learn when it’s appropriate to include your own voice and opinion in a piece of journalism as you work on a portfolio of stories and read and discuss national and international current events.
How does the mind work? How do our thoughts and emotions shape our actions in the world? Are there differences in the way people learn? This class covers a full academic year’s content and uses literature, library research, experiments, and group projects to dive into the study of human behavior. You’ll explore traditional topics such as learning, memory, development, personality, the biological basis of behavior, and psychotherapy. You’ll also get into newer sub-fields of study such as forensic (criminal) psychology, health psychology, the psychology of terrorism, and gender psychology. The practical application of psychology to everyday life is a major focus of the course.
Looking back helps us think about the future — that’s what makes the study of history so crucial. This intensive course — which covers a full academic year’s content — moves chronologically through the American past, looking at the United States as it developed from an agrarian society to an urban-industrial, global power. You’ll read the work of eminent historians, engage in seminar discussions, do independent research, and write your own work, all with the goal of including a variety of perspectives. The course includes a research paper and multiple essays, and you’ll be expected to gather and apply supporting evidence to your writing with the goal of critically assessing a variety of issues in U.S. history.
War in Film and Fiction
War is, tragically, a constant in our lives today and throughout human history. It’s been estimated that in the past 3,400 years, humans have been entirely at peace for just 268 of them — just eight percent of recorded history. How do nations tell that story? This course explores that question. You’ll look at how different nations interpret war and how those interpretations have both reflected and shaped their cultures. You’ll read novels and watch films and write, write, write! Our goal is to build analytical and writing skills that you’ll need for advanced high school and college work.
A History of Hatred
Why have certain groups of people scorned and targeted other groups because of ethnicity, skin color, gender, or faith? From events in Darfur and the former Yugoslavia to the genocides in Rwanda and Turkey and by the Nazis in Germany and Poland, this course will help you understand what has fueled bigotry throughout history. You’ll explore European attitudes toward indigenous peoples as well as concepts of gender and gender preferences and the idea that political motivation often fuels public attitudes toward those perceived as “the other.”
You make economic decisions every day. Do you buy what you want or what you need? Why should anyone care if the stock market drops 500 points or the price of oil doubles? Economics is the study of how people use their limited resources. Covering a full academic year’s content, this course investigates the concept from the microeconomic perspective — individual behavior and business decisions — which can benefit students going forward in math and other studies that require analytical thinking, as well as the macroeconomic perspective — growth, inflation, trade, and employment — for students who are leaning toward political science and history.
This introductory Mandarin Chinese course focuses on the basic skills of language acquisition: listening, speaking, writing, and reading. You’ll be immersed in the Chinese phonetic system (Hanyu Pinyin Romanization) through basic grammar, simplified character-writing, and language drills via conversation, songs, and Chinese social media. The goals are for you to learn approximately 150 Chinese words, be able to engage in simple conversations, and gain an understanding of Chinese culture, history, philosophy, and customs. The course is designed for students with little or no previous study of the language.
This class covers a full academic year’s content and includes the following topics: properties of mathematical systems; solution of equations and inequalities; solution of equations that involve square root and absolute value; graphs of linear equations and systems, slope, and intercepts; graphs of inequalities; operations on polynomials and on rational and irrational expressions; and solution of quadratic equations by factoring and by the quadratic formula. The solution of word problems is an integral part of the course.
This class covers a full academic year’s content with the objective of developing geometric ideas logically, using deductive and inductive reasoning and direct and indirect proof. Topics include the properties of triangles and other polygons, parallel and perpendicular lines, congruence and similarity, circles, and the properties of solids. Prerequisite: Algebra I.
This class covers a full academic year’s content (excluding trigonometry) and includes review of Algebra I, functions and relations, linear functions, systems of linear equations and inequalities, quadratic functions and complex numbers, exponential and logarithmic functions, rational algebraic functions, irrational algebraic functions, and quadratic systems. There is an emphasis on solving word problems using mathematical models in real-world applications. You’ll be required to have a Texas Instruments graphing calculator (TI-Nspire CAS). Prerequisite: Algebra I.
This class covers a full academic year’s content and is designed to prepare you for Advanced Placement AB or BC calculus. It entails a detailed study of the elementary functions: polynomial and rational functions, exponential and logarithmic functions, and trigonometric functions. Special emphasis is placed on the graphs of these functions to gain insight into their behavior. You’ll be required to have a Texas Instruments graphing calculator (TI-Nspire CAS). Prerequisite: Algebra II.
This class covers a full academic year’s content and will introduce you to basic biological principles and the methods used in science. Homework and lab work are designed to encourage you to interact with the material and to understand how experiments are used to further our understanding of interrelationships between organisms and their environment.
This class covers a full academic year’s content and includes background skills, atomic theory, the periodic table, chemical bonding, chemical reactions, and the mole concept, among other topics. You’ll attend lectures and engage in discussion, problem solving, laboratory work, demonstrations, and group projects. Recommended: Algebra II.
This class covers a full academic year’s content and is designed for strong science and math students. You’ll gain an understanding of the basic principles of motion and the forces that govern the universe. We emphasize problem-solving techniques, mathematical reasoning, and data analysis. Prerequisite: Algebra II.
NOTE: Because afternoon sessions are required for additional course work, students in courses marked with an asterisk (*) do not take an afternoon minor course (exception: see Minor Courses, SAT Preparation).