At The New School, our students take charge of their academic lives.

“Our curriculum focuses on applied learning, critical and creative thought, and mastery of academic skills – what we call “deep learning” – and is, we feel, an ideal preparation for college and life beyond. We know, too, that giving students choices in the direction of their work fosters “ownership” – students feeling invested in their work, positive about themselves, and inspired to set higher and higher expectations for their work.”
Steve Roushakes, Head of School

Teachers/Advisors, the Academic Dean, and the Head of School work closely with our students and their parents to choose classes that stretch them intellectually and build skills while fulfilling their graduation requirements. Our students are given a great deal of choice, particularly in the high school, to encourage them to invest in their education. Rather than general classes (e.g., English 9, Chemistry 10, Social Studies 11), students choose from a generous selection of fascinating classes within each discipline (e.g., The Search for Self in Literature, The Chemistry of War, The Art and Science of Dreams). In essence, our curriculum focuses on applied learning and mastery of academic skills, rather than memorization of facts.

2022-2023 Course Catalog

English

Creative Nonfiction, English 1 (SW)

Feature writers take a topic and make it meaningful, adding personal experience, distinctive voice, and unique style. Your reporting will bring unengaging facts and experiences to life. You will craft profiles, personal essays, interviews, news features, reviews and more. Exploring various works representative of the genre, we will discover and make our own the extraordinary tools required to reach beyond the page and capture a reader. EQ: How can we find our authentic voices and use them to create meaningful connections?

Philosophy of the Self, English or Social Studies 2 (SW)

What does philosophy have to say about what it means to be an individual in a world full of people? In this course, we will discuss the concepts of knowledge, reality, perception, identity, consciousness, free will, belief, truth, and experience. Students will engage with selected readings through analysis and reflection as to how such concepts do or do not apply to their own experiences of existing in the world. EQ: What defines the self?

Literature of Hope, English 1(SW)

Many of us study the Holocaust, but never learn about the victims of Stalin’s cleansing of the Baltics during the same decade. In this class, we will read Between Shades of Gray  (Ruta Sepetys), the World War II-era story of 15 year old Lina, a Lithuanian teenager whose life is brutally upended when the Soviets invade the Baltics and deport her family to Siberia. We will consider both the novel and historical context to answer the question: How do we retain our humanity and compassion in the darkest times?

Why Do We Write, English 1 (SW)

The idea of writing a paper can lead to fraught trepidation, and many students have difficulty even knowing how to begin. But writing is not some ritualistic trial imposed by sadistic teachers; we teach writing because it is a central tool to making us all smarter. Composing ideas and musings into a formal paper (or even an email or journal entry) allows us to hold more concepts simultaneously so that we can consider the relationships, relevance, and implications of different ideas. This course will study the benefits of writing from the perspective of self-betterment and personal growth, looking at the way grammar, style, and structure play an integral role in honing our thinking. The exhibition will take the form of a research paper answering the essential question: Why do we write?

Challenging the Canon, English 2

Novels defined as “classic literature,” or part of the “literary canon,” have historically dominated classrooms in America. Both terms convey a hierarchy based on value–we keep reading them generation after generation because they’re great literature. But for a story to be published, promoted, and taught in schools, people in positions of power must decide what makes literature “great.” Given this, should we still adhere to the “canon” when deciding curriculum?

In this class, we will read the established classic, The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerland), followed by the 2014 young adult novel, The Great (Sara Beninscara). Common themes of privilege, power, and betrayal weave through both, while language, character, and syntax differ greatly, raising the question: What books should be taught?

Banned Books, English 2 (SW)

It will be no shock to anyone who has been paying attention the last few years, but the freedom of expression in writing has been challenged countless times throughout human history. Depending on when and where you look, you’ll find books that have been classified as inappropriate or taboo based on their content, and others that have been or seized and burned and their creators jailed or physically harmed. In this course, we will read and discuss literature that has been censored at some point in history and will especially emphasize books that have been challenged locally and recently. We will explore what motivates censorship and argue for the value of controversial literature. EQ: How can we assert the value of controversial literature?

AP English Literature & Composition (SW)

The AP English Literature & Composition course engages students in the careful reading and critical analysis of imaginative literature. Through the close reading of selected texts, students deepen their understanding of the ways writers use language to provide both meaning and pleasure for their readers. As they read, students consider a work’s structure, style and themes, as well as such smaller-scale elements as the use of figurative language, imagery, symbolism, irony, and tone. This class will provide you with intellectual challenges and a workload consistent with a typical undergraduate university English literature course. You will read a lot of fantastic texts over the course of the year and you will produce a lot of writing, much of it timed. In-depth discussions about the novels, stories, and poems we are reading will drive the class on a daily basis.

Theatre of the Absurd, Arts 1 (High School and Middle School students)

Theatre of the Absurd is a genre of Theatre that abandoned the conventional dramatic approach and broke down boundaries in ways that shocked audiences worldwide. When these types of plays first reached audiences they were received with dismay, ridicule, amusement and applause even while, or because they could not be fully understood. So why is this type of Theatre so important in the larger context of Theatre and can we gain deeper meaning from this obscure style? Through this class students will explore a variety of texts as well as approaches to performing as well as developing and experiencing your own absurdist works.

Creative Writing Workshop & Publication, English 1

In this class students will develop and polish their writing through the workshop process: brainstorming, drafting, revising, getting feedback, final editing, and publishing. During each quarter students will workshop and publish several smaller pieces and/or one longer piece of writing. At the end of each quarter students will publish their writing online and/or in print. Creative Writing Workshop class is your chance to develop writing skills and explore forms and genres.

English Foundations, English A/B

English Foundations is a required course for international ESOL students and an advisor-recommended course for students who need extra support with language skills. This class will prepare students to approach high school academics comfortably and confidently, focusing on building effective communication skills through the four parts of language (reading, writing, speaking, and listening). This includes basic grammar structure and rules, organization and clarity in writing, expansion of academic vocabulary, reading comprehension and reflection, and improvement in pace and pronunciation. During the second quarter, English Foundations will introduce academic activities that focus more on research methods, analytical writing, and advanced reading comprehension. Students will have ample time to practice speaking, work collaboratively with other students, and receive one-on-one feedback about their progress with English language skills.

Norse Mythology and the Silmarillion, English 2 (SW)

Odin, Thor, and Loki. Elves, dwarves, and dragons. In this seminar-based course, we will explore the world of Norse mythology that has fascinated writers, dreamers, and thinkers for generations. During the first quarter, we will read and discuss Norse Mythology, a retelling of the Norse myths by science fiction and fantasy author Neil Gaiman. We will also read The Saga of the Volsungs, one of the most famous Germanic heroic tales. During the second quarter, we will delve into J.R.R. Tolkien’s unfinished masterpiece, The Silmarillion, which draws on Norse, German, and Finnish mythology to create the rich backstory behind The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

Utopian Literature, English 1/2 (SW)

What does utopian literature have to say about our world and what is the purpose of such theorizing? In this course, students will explore the concept of “utopia” as portrayed in literature from Plato to Voltaire to actual modern day attempts at creating ‘utopia’. This course will involve a significant amount of reading as a variety of authors will be presented. Most classes will also involve active discussion of selected readings from both a literary and sociological perspective.

How Words Matter, English 1 (SW)

Language is one of the most powerful forces in human culture. We use thousands upon thousands of words per day, from speaking to singing to texting to typing to writing. Words shape our thoughts and beliefs and can change anything from our mood to the course of history. Language is used to construct systems of inequality and oppression, but is also used to resist, rebel, and rebuild. In this class, we will explore words in as many forms as we can, consuming the best of what others have shared, and creating our own pieces, from poetry, to speeches, to literary analysis. We will look at viral voices on social media, analyze powerful prose and poetry, listen to inspiring speeches, and ask ourselves: In what ways can words be creative, constitutive, hurtful, healing, or transformative?

American Playwrights, English 1

This course will explore some of the most prominent American playwrights this country has seen. Students will explore the main trends and themes that appear in American Theatre from the 19th Century onwards. By looking at specific plays as well as background readings students will become more engaged with works they read and begin to understand their voices.

Reading & Writing Poetry, English 1

In this class we will read a variety of poems by diverse authors and write a lot of poetry (at least twice a week). We will examine questions like “What is poetry anyway?” and “How can I use poetry forms and conventions to make my poetry better?” We’ll learn literary terms and techniques that are part of poetry. At the end of the course we will publish our poetry. If you’re looking to learn about poetry and flex your creative muscles, join us!

Scholarly Writing, English 1 (SW)

This class will offer additional help to students learning the method of analytical writing and help them meet The New School’s scholarly writing expectations in order to complete the junior portfolio and prepare for the senior exhibition.

Don Quixote, English 2 (SW)

Are you feeling hopeful and optimistic these days? Or are you feeling doubtful and uncertain? Either way, Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, will speak to you. In this seminar-based class, we will read and discuss the madcap adventures of Don Quixote and his faithful squire Sancho Panza as they travel through the world of 16th-century Spain. We will also reflect on why this hilarious but deeply meaningful novel continues to be relevant in the world today.

Film Appreciation: Exploring Science Fiction, Arts or English 2

This course will dive into the movie genre of science fiction. Students will explore movies from different time periods within this genre. These films will be placed into context and students will learn how to extrapolate and reflect on what themes, symbolism, and characteristics were predominant in this genre through the use of film theory. After gaining this perspective, students will be able to discuss films on a deeper and more meaningful level.

Foreign Language

American Sign Language 2, Foreign Language (SW)

ASL 2 is for students who have already completed ASL 1. This class will expand on previously learned ASL skills with vocabulary and conversation (including in groups), and will generally involve more immersion in the language. We will work on understanding Deaf idioms, Deaf play, and will also look at ASL in music. Additionally, students will get a Sign Pal from the Deaf community to practice with. During quarter 2, students will also receive intermittent writing instruction from Austin and will write a research paper on a topic in Deaf history and/or culture for exhibitions.

American Sign Language 1, Foreign Language

The goal of this class is to learn basic ASL: the alphabet, greetings and other key vocabulary, and the skills for short conversations, including proper hand shapes, movements, and facial expressions. Eye contact is hugely important to ASL and will be emphasized. Additionally, we will study Deaf culture (the dos and don’ts of conversation in the Deaf community).

Spanish 2, Foreign Language

Spanish 2 builds upon knowledge gained in Spanish 1. This course will also reinforce the skills learned in Spanish I: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Emphasis is on perfecting pronunciation, mastery of the basic grammatical structures, and increased communicative proficiency. Acquisition of functional vocabulary is expected. Through films and readings presented and discussed in class, we learn about culture, emphasize conversation and solidify the student’s interpersonal skills.

German 3, Foreign Language

In German 3 students will continue to build upon their foundational knowledge, and begin to become more comfortable in both the grammar and speaking the language. The course will be supported by our Klasse! Textbook series, as well as supplemental material. Assessments will be both skill and project-based, with the goal being both comfortable and functional in the language. Several cultural field trips (in person or virtual) to embassies, local restaurants, and museums will be planned, as well as guest visitors! 

Spanish 1, Foreign Language

Spanish 1 is a dynamic and interactive introduction to the Spanish language and culture. Through easy readings, everyday dialogues, songs, and movies, the students will learn basic vocabulary and grammar structures for daily routine situations while expanding their knowledge about the culture and customs of the Spanish-speaking world.

German 1, Foreign Language

German culture and language has shaped more than you realize: Music you listen to, the food you eat, and even the current English language you speak have all been heavily influenced by German! In this German class, students will gain insight into the German language, culture, history, and people. We will explore German, Austrian, and Swiss videos, film, art, music, literature, historical figures, and other authentic content. The immersion approach, anchored by our new Klasse! A1 curriculum, which includes authentic teen themes, stories, videos, music, and activities. Several cultural field trips (in person or virtual) to embassies, local restaurants, and museums will be planned, as well as guest visitors. Assessments are both skill and project-based. 

Spanish 3, Foreign Language

Spanish 3 is conducted primarily in Spanish. This course is designed for students who want to continue expanding their knowledge of the Spanish language and culture. Through the readings and films presented in this class, the course reviews and refines grammar structures, expands vocabulary and improves students’ oral and written communication skills through discussions, written reports, and presentations. Cultural aspects are closely integrated with the language elements, giving students an appreciation for the diversity and cultural richness of the Spanish-speaking world.

Honors German, Foreign Language

In this German class, students will deepen and grow comfortable in their listening, reading comprehension, writing, and conversation skills. We will use a variety of materials including current newscasts, articles, scripts, games, music, videos, and films. Assessments are both skill and project-based, with the goal of enjoying being functionally fluent auf Deutsch. Several cultural field trips (in person or virtual) to embassies, local restaurants, and museums will be planned. We will also continue to explore the German-speaking world and those who live in it. 

Honors Spanish Seminar, Foreign Language 

Only in Spanish! These courses are designed to provide students with a variety of opportunities to further improve their proficiency in the four language skills. Through literature, current event readings, and films presented in class, these courses emphasize communication by applying interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational modes of communication in real-life situations. We also will review and refine grammar structures and expand vocabulary. Cultural aspects are closely integrated with the language elements. We will likely only offer two quarters of this class, depending on where the highest interest is. Students can earn either Spanish 4 or Honors Spanish credit depending on their level.

French Language Lab, Foreign Language Various Levels

To serve our students who want to continue to study the French language, we are partnering with the online language platform LanguageBird, which is a highly reviewed, accredited program that offers high school course credit through personalized, one-on-one lessons and conversations at a range of levels. Check out their website to learn more! The courses are somewhat self-paced and we are currently offering it for the first semester during afternoon modules (enough time to earn a full credit of French).

Mathematics and Applied Math

Personal Finance, Applied Math 1 or Social Studies 1

Financial literacy is key to helping us reach our goals in life. It is essential that we are able to recognize options, analyze those options, and plan for our success. Students will learn strategies for managing and tracking their spending and saving.  We will discuss the many financial decisions that will likely affect students’ lives from selecting a credit card, understanding their credit score, saving for retirement, buying a house or a car and what expenses they can expect to incur when they are out on their own.

Pre-Algebra

Pre-Algebra prepares students for the study of Algebraic concepts. During the year we will explore units that include but are not limited to rational number operations, expressions, inequalities, graphing, data and statistics, and geometry. 

Algebra 1

This most fundamental of mathematics courses covers the basics of solving and graphing linear and quadratic equations. Additionally, students will learn to factor equations, simplify radicals, and solve systems of equations. 

Geometry

This comprehensive course in geometry is designed to build logical reasoning and spatial visualization skills. The class is largely cumulative, as is all mathematics, in that we will continue to build on and utilize what we have already learned. Topics to be covered include deductive reasoning, lines in a plane, the study of polygons with particular stress on triangles, transformations, congruence, similarity, properties of circles, constructions, areas and volumes of solids, coordinate geometry, and basic trigonometry.

Algebra 2

Algebra 2 is divided into three topics: 1) the basic mechanics of algebra—an extension of what was learned in Algebra 1; 2) the principle of functions—the idea that equations can be seen as mathematical “machines” which take input and create output; 3) the idea of “modeling”—that functions can be used to represent real behavior in the world. Students will learn and review work with linear functions before expanding into quadratics, exponential, and logarithmic functions, as well as basics of trigonometry (building on principles learned in Geometry). Algebra 2 prepares students for Pre-Calculus.

Pre-Calculus

This course builds on the concepts learned in Algebra 2 and prepares students for calculus and other advanced math courses. Specifically, we will study various families of functions, the parametric and polar forms of representing functions and other relations, trigonometry, matrices, and some isolated topics in discrete mathematics; if there is time there will be a brief introduction to the concepts of instantaneous rates of change and limits (the beginnings of calculus!). There will be a strong focus on viewing functions from various perspectives (such as verbal, numeric, graphical, and algebraic). Throughout the course, we will use the graphing calculator (TI-84) technology to help us understand functions from these various perspectives.

Middle School Math Concepts

Middle School Math Concepts incorporates basic math and arithmetic calculations. We will explore units that include but are not limited to fractions, decimals, integers, expressions, ratios, proportions, and the coordinate plane.

Algebra 1

This most fundamental of mathematics courses covers the basics of solving and graphing linear and quadratic equations. Additionally, students will learn to factor equations, simplify radicals, and solve systems of equations. 

Geometry

This comprehensive course in geometry is designed to build logical reasoning and spatial visualization skills. The class is largely cumulative, as is all mathematics, in that we will continue to build on and utilize what we have already learned. Topics to be covered include deductive reasoning, lines in a plane, the study of polygons with particular stress on triangles, transformations, congruence, similarity, properties of circles, constructions, areas and volumes of solids, coordinate geometry, and basic trigonometry.

Calculus

This class will cover the basics of calculus – limits, derivatives, and integrals – with in-depth looks at both the conceptual and computational aspects. The class will not be paced to the AP exam, but rather to the students’ understanding and should prepare students to either take BC Calculus next year in high school or Calculus 2 in college.

AP Calculus AB

This class is geared toward the AP Calculus AB test taking place in May. This means we will cover Functions, Limits, Derivatives, and Integrals as well as some applications. Periodically we will review actual AP tests from past years in order to prepare for the AP test. Since the final objective of this course is to have you ready to take the AP test, we will be moving at a steady pace. 

Pre-Algebra

Pre-Algebra prepares students for the study of Algebraic concepts. During the year we will explore units that include but are not limited to rational number operations, expressions, inequalities, graphing, data and statistics, and geometry. 

Algebra 1

This most fundamental of mathematics courses covers the basics of solving and graphing linear and quadratic equations. Additionally, students will learn to factor equations, simplify radicals, and solve systems of equations. 

Algebra 2

Algebra 2 is divided into three topics: 1) the basic mechanics of algebra—an extension of what was learned in Algebra 1; 2) the principle of functions—the idea that equations can be seen as mathematical “machines” which take input and create output; 3) the idea of “modeling”—that functions can be used to represent real behavior in the world. Students will learn and review work with linear functions before expanding into quadratics, exponential, and logarithmic functions, as well as basics of trigonometry (building on principles learned in Geometry). Algebra 2 prepares students for Pre-Calculus.

Pre-Calculus

This course builds on the concepts learned in Algebra 2 and prepares you for calculus and other advanced math courses you may take in the future. Specifically, we will study various families of functions, the parametric and polar forms of representing functions and other relations, trigonometry, matrices, and some isolated topics in discrete mathematics; if there is time there will be a brief introduction to the concepts of instantaneous rates of change and limits (the beginnings of calculus!). There will be a strong focus on viewing functions from various perspectives (such as verbal, numeric, graphical, and algebraic). Throughout the course, we will use the graphing calculator (TI-84) technology to help us understand functions from these various perspectives.

Math In Art, Applied Math 1

Math and art seem to be diverse topics. This Math in Art course aims to help you see that mathematics is not just about equations and logic but also about patterns, symmetry, structure, and beauty in nature and art. You will be surprised to find how nature has integrated these two disciplines so well. We will investigate the Fibonacci Sequence, the Golden Ratio, Fractals and the Mandelbrot Set through the play of numbers in nature and man-made objects, one/two/three point perspective drawing, Bezier curves through string art, theorems involving folding papers to precise measurements through origami, geometric patterning through agamographs, and quilting.

Mathematics of Baking, Applied Math 1

In this course, mathwise, students will brush up on fractions and percentages and all the arithmetic that goes along with them, learn how to utilize spreadsheets, learn best practices for consistent and accurate measurement, and explore the quantification of error allowance. All of this will be taught in the context of baking cookies, bread and cake and developing, analyzing and executing their recipes. Students will have weekly baking assignments to do at home and so must have access to an oven and standard baking ingredients. EQ: How do the changes in measurements within a recipe affect the outcome?

BC Calculus Exam Preparation

This class will seek to prepare students who are taking or have completed AP Calculus AB for the AP Calculus BC exam in May. In the first half of the quarter, lectures will cover topics in the BC exam not covered in the AB course. The second half of the quarter will focus on drills necessary to prepare students for the exam. Because the BC Calculus material relies on understanding of AB topics, students not currently taking the AB course should plan to do some review on their own prior to the start of the course. Students will be required to do 30-60 minutes of homework each night. Students need to have completed AP AB Calculus or be currently enrolled to be eligible.

Physical Education and Health

Nature Walking for Wellbeing: Exercise & Exploration, PE 1 or Health 1

In Nature Walking we will walk in nature! …and do other things, too. We usually walk along the Cross County Trail along Accotink Creek, which we access via Thaïs Park next to the school. Each week has a theme–e.g., clouds, flowers, insects–which we will explore as we walk along the trail. During rainy/very cold (< 25 degrees) we may dance or do yoga or some other form of low-impact exercise. 

Nature Walking & Movement, PE 1 or Health 1

We’re going to get to know the land around us. We’ll walk the Cross County Trail along Accotink Creek, which we access via Thaïs Park next to the school. On days when going outside isn’t desirable, we’ll explore the history behind the land we’re on, we’ll read about nature, and we’ll exercise our bodies and minds in other ways. We may do yoga, low-impact exercise, and meditation.

Mountain Biking, PE 1

The New School is uniquely located near Fairfax County’s Cross County Trail, which connects south all the way to Occoquan and north to Great Falls. A short half hour ride away is Wakefield Park, which has several criss-crossing, hair-pinning, bumpy, steep, and narrow mountain biking paths. This course will build biking competency and endurance to the point where such difficult trails can be enjoyed. As a level two P.E. class, it is required that students who enroll be adept at basic riding. Students will need to provide their own mountain bikes (not road bikes) of a reasonably high quality (i.e. from a bike shop or outfitter as opposed to from a box store like Wal-Mart or Target). Finally, students should be prepared to ride in all weather with appropriate apparel.

Soccer, PE 1

The beautiful game is a unique blend of endurance, power, understanding, and creativity. To succeed requires a dedication to developing physically and intellectually, being aware of your role and the roles of those around you. Just like any of the “academic” courses on offer at the school, this course will require persistence and effort. By the end of the course, you will be in much better shape and have a greater appreciation for the teamwork and collaboration that is necessary for high-pressure situations. This course is recommended as a co-requisite for participation on the soccer team.

Basketball, PE 1

Our minds and bodies are intricately connected: a healthy mind makes a healthy body. Likewise, a healthy body makes a healthy mind. It is through a course of basketball that we may explore this concept, and your teacher is an avid player. We will be indoors much of the time stretching, running, passing, and playing basketball. Basketball is a social activity that requires personal collaboration: participation is mandatory, and we will have fun.

Personal and Public Health, Health/PE or Social Studies 1 (Open to 8th graders)

In this course we will do a combination of practicing habits that promote our own mental and physical health and studying and creating short school-wide public health campaigns around various aspects of health. Some of the topics we may explore in this regard are exercise, sickness avoidance, nutrition, happiness, and mental acuity. EQ: How can we encourage and promote the mental and physical health of ourselves and those around us?

Indoor & Outdoor Fitness, PE 1

In this class, students will set personal health goals and will create an individual plan with the teacher to meet them. The teacher will expose students to a variety of indoor and outdoor fitness activities to help students in this process. 

Frisbee, PE 1

Our minds and bodies are intricately connected: a healthy mind makes a healthy body. Likewise, a healthy body makes a healthy mind. It is through a course of Frisbee that we may explore this concept. We will be outdoors much of the time–stretching, running, passing, and playing Frisbee. Frisbee is a social activity that requires personal collaboration: participation is mandatory, and we will have fun.

Dance Exercise, PE 1

In this class, students will work toward group and individual fitness goals through a combination of cardio, strengthening and stretching exercises. Dance styles may include Ballet, Modern, Zumba, Jazzercise, Kpop, and Hip Hop. Students may also have the chance to improvise and lead class.

Sciences

Invertebrate Zoology, Biology 1

Over 90% of the world’s animals are invertebrates… and they have been the most successful animals throughout geologic time.  What accounts for this success?  How do their body plans solve adaptive “problems” in order to survive, reproduce, and thrive in their environments?  How have changing earth conditions allowed for periods of rapid evolutionary change?  We will explore invertebrate evolution, body structure and function, taxonomy, adaptations, and more. EQ: How do invertebrate body plans reflect adaptation to their changing environments?

Conspiracy Theories, General Science 1

Get out your tin foil hats! In this class we will question scientific principles that we have previously accepted. We will select many “truths” to research, prove or disprove through experimentation, then create resources to educate our community. Students may study the dimensions of the Earth, the construction of The Great Pyramids, or the existence of aliens. This course is project-based with a focus on experimental design and science communication. Essential Question: When are we able to accept a scientific finding as fact?

Does Your DNA Define You?, Biology 1/2 (SW)

Our genes define many of our characteristics, but do they define the trajectories of our lives?  This course will explore basic DNA concepts (structure, replication, cell division, heredity and gene expression), study examples of genetic disorders, and then move into issues of bioethics, genetic counseling, genetic discrimination, and gene therapy.  Students will explore a DNA-related topic of their choice for their scholarly writing in the form of a research paper. EQ: To what extent does your DNA Define You?

The Substance of Civilization, Chemistry 1/2 (SW)

We will read Stephen L. Sass’ “The Substance of Civilization,” which examines the relationship between different materials and our society. We will also perform experiments that complement the text. What makes glass, steel, and paper such valuable mediums? How do they compare to other materials? EQ: How did different materials contribute to the development of our society? 

Experimental Methods in Chemistry, Chemistry 1

This course offers a sound background in the scientific method and experimental design in the context of demonstrating chemical principles and properties.  Once students have chosen their topic/problem, they will be given the freedom to design their own experiments with faculty feedback, refining their experiment design and ensuring replicability and reliability.  Students will present their methods and results in The New School Science Fest as part of their exhibitions. EQ: How can I design experiments to reliably demonstrate chemical principles?

Synthesizers, Physics 2

Math requirement: must be in Algebra 2 or higher this year to take this class.

Synthesizers are so named because they synthesize different elements of sound to form more complex sounds. In their focus on waveforms, timbre and amplitudes as opposed to instruments and playing style, they move from the realm of traditional music theory to incorporate a more scientific language. In this way, synthesizers also represent a synthesis of physics and music. In this class, we will be aware of both the musical and electronic aspects of synthesizers, and will study the way that certain electronic circuits have various effects on sound. We will also study the history of the synthesizer, and will hear various examples of how synthesizers have been used in composition since their creation. The class will work together to build their own synthesizer, and use it to present an exhibition answering the essential question: How can sound be imagined as electricity, and how can electricity be manipulated to produce pleasing sounds?

Sustainable Agriculture, General Science or Social Studies 1

Students will learn about how modern agricultural practices impact ecological cycles and explore the science behind technologies and methods by which we may lessen our impact and feed ourselves sustainably. Specific focus will be given to soil and watershed ecology as well as low impact farming practices. 

Geochemistry, Chemistry 1

What is lava made of, and how does it turn into the rocks we see at earth’s surface? How are the particles in mineral crystals arranged, and how does this affect their properties? How does water interact with soil and rocks via biogeochemical cycles? This course will explore the chemical concepts within the overarching field of geology to answer these questions and more. EQ: How do the physical and chemical properties of earth materials interact?

Astrobiology, Biology/General Science 2

Is there any other life out there in the cosmos, and — more importantly — how would we even find it if it is out there? This course will explore the field of astrobiology, the science of life in the universe. Students will approach this topic from a variety of scientific disciplines, including biology, chemistry, physics, and astronomy, as they apply to the hunt for evidence of life on other worlds as well as to the possibility of human life beyond Earth.

AP Physics

Math requirement: must be in Precalculus or higher this year to take this class.

AP Physics C is meant to emulate as closely as possible the rigors and demands of a college level physics course. This requires that you do more than memorize and reiterate given information – your success in this class, as in college, will depend on your ability to think critically and creatively to solve problems with which you have had little practice. You will be trained in these skills through the course’s approach of self-guided student-centered inquiry.

AP Environmental Science, Biology or General Science Honors

The AP Environmental Science course is designed to engage students with the scientific principles, concepts, and methodologies required to understand the interrelationships within the natural world. The course requires that students identify and analyze natural and human-made environmental problems, evaluate the relative risks associated with these problems, and examine alternative solutions for resolving or preventing them. Environmental science is interdisciplinary, embracing topics from geology, biology, environmental studies, environmental science, chemistry, and geography. EQ: How can we measure the interaction between human and ecological systems?

Roller Coasters, Physics Level 1

Math requirement: must be in Geometry or higher this year to take this class.

Amusement park rides are designed to simulate danger, make your adrenaline flow and bring your heart to your throat! However these rides are firmly based on laws of physics and a huge amount of number crunching happens during the design of any ride with safety of the passengers first and foremost in the mind of the designer. In this course we will be studying the design aspect of the common  rides. At the completion of this course, which includes written, oral, laboratory, and field experience activities, you will have an enhanced understanding of the following laws and concepts of physics on the macroscopic scale: measurement of distance and time, kinematics, work, power, energy, force, rotational motion, and frictional forces.

Marine Biology, Biology 1

How do deep ocean fishes withstand the pressures and darkness of a trench environment? What is marine snow? What adaptations allow animals to survive the constant pounding of ocean surf? And how do they deal with all that salt? This course will explore the unique conditions and challenges of different ocean biomes and explore how organisms adapt and succeed in these underwater environments. EQ: How do organisms adapt and thrive in the varying conditions of ocean biomes?

Green Chemistry, Chemistry 1

This course will look into ways to build a sustainable future through the development of green chemistry. We will be learning the underlying concepts of this branch of science through projects that promote ways to uphold the twelve principles of green chemistry. Throughout this course we will be studying some of the outstanding research and inventions that green chemists have achieved. This course will be geared towards understanding that we can go green at the manufacturing end rather than at the end product stage.

Ornithology, Biology 1

How did birds evolve from fuzzy feathered dinosaurs to what we see today? What about their body structures and behaviors makes them able to fly, migrate long distances, and exhibit the wide range of social behaviors we see today? How is global climate change affecting birds, and what is the relationship between humans and birds? We will explore these questions throughout this course. EQ: How are birds uniquely adapted for flight, migration, and social behavior?

Plagues and Society, Biology 1 (Open to 8th graders)

How did the Black Plague change the world? Who really can take credit for “inventing” vaccines?  How did the AIDS outbreak in the 1980s illuminate social inequalities?  This course will use a selected text to explore the Plague, SmallPox, and HIV/AIDS, as well as incorporate our ongoing experiences with COVID-19.  We will examine biological, sociological, immunological, religious, cultural, and technological impacts of major disease outbreaks. EQ: What are the biological and social implications of widespread infectious disease?

Chemistry of Cosmetics, Chemistry 2

In this course, we will explore common cosmetic products and the chemistry behind them. We will investigate introductory organic chemistry principles then work in the lab to create and test our own products using these ideas. We will closely explore the relationship between lip balms and organics, bath bombs and reactions, perfumes and aromatics, etc. This course will be project based with a large focus on experimental design and data analysis. EQ: How can our understanding of chemical principles improve our cosmetic products? 

Chemistry in Everyday Life, Chemistry 1 (Open to 8th graders)

This course is geared towards developing an appreciation & understanding of the role of chemistry in our everyday lives. By examining the materials of our everyday lives, we will gain useful insights into what these common substances are and how they work. We will study the basic concepts of chemistry while examining the chemical products we use in the fields of fuels, food, plastics, cosmetics, medicines etc. We will also study the beneficial and harmful impacts of chemistry in our everyday lives.

Machines, Physics 1 (Open to 8th graders)

Human ingenuity has created heat in the cold, height from the ground, and strength from weakness. Physical challenges present our most compelling case for creation: wheels, levers, hammers and nails, airplanes, and countless other machines have all hugely expanded human capabilities. This class will explore how machines work and how they have helped us become more capable. For their final projects, students will build their own machines that either make their lives easier in some way or grant them new abilities that they lacked before.

Survival Science, General Science 2

If you woke up one day without the conveniences of modern society, how long would you last?  How can your knowledge of chemistry, biology, and engineering practice help you create tools to meet your physical needs? In this class, students will get to learn about the science of survival, and then apply what they learned in both urban and wilderness settings. Topics such as water purification, food preservation, homeostasis, and heat conservation are covered. EQ: How can I use material resources and scientific principles to adapt to survival situations?

Humanities

Climate Policy, Government 1/2 (SW)

The biggest issue facing humanity in the 21st century is climate change. Your generation is inheriting a world in which hurricanes are more destructive, floods are more common, droughts last longer, and wildfires are more uncontrollable, all because the world’s governments have been unable to implement policies that address the realities described by climate scientists. In this course, we will learn the science behind the consensus on climate change, and specifically explore policy proposals to mitigate the damage being done, as well as the geopolitical barriers to implementing those policies. For their exhibitions, students will present bills they have written to address climate change in the format of a debate in the US Senate. EQ: Why has the global community struggled to implement policies designed to prevent climate change, and how can the global community be successful in the future?

Black History, US History 2

The experience of Black Americans is not only historically unique, but an integral component of the American experiment, one which particularly demonstrates both the fragility and the determination behind the American dream. This course will study the history of Blacks in America beginning with their migrations during the colonial era. Students will examine the impact of the institution of slavery, the discrimination of the Jim Crow era, and the conflicts of the early 1900s as the Black community began to pursue political and social equality. The class will culminate with the Civil Rights movements of the mid-twentieth century.

Philosophy of the Self, English or Social Studies 2 (SW)

What does philosophy have to say about what it means to be an individual in a world full of people? In this course, we will discuss the concepts of knowledge, reality, perception, identity, consciousness, free will, belief, truth, and experience. Students will engage with selected readings through analysis and reflection as to how such concepts do or do not apply to their own experiences of existing in the world. EQ: What defines the self?

​​What is Socialism?, Government, World Studies/Geography, or US History 1

The resurgence of socialism has generated both great fear and excitement, but are we sure we know what it is? This class examines the historical tradition of socialism (and its cousin, communism). We’ll study famous socialist thinkers and look at case studies of socialist countries. We’ll examine how today’s socialism looks different from socialism in the past. EQ: What is socialism?

Conspiracy Theories, Social Studies or General Science 1

Get out your tin foil hats! In this class we will question scientific principles that we have previously accepted. We will select many “truths” to research, prove or disprove through experimentation, then create resources to educate our community. Students may study the dimensions of the Earth, the construction of The Great Pyramids, or the existence of aliens. This course is project-based with a focus on experimental design and science communication. Essential Question: When are we able to accept a scientific finding as fact?

AP Comparative Government and Politics, Government Honors (SW)

AP Comparative Government and Politics introduces students to a comparative approach in political studies. In the course, students will examine political structures, policies, and economic and social challenges of six selected countries of study: China, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, and the United Kingdom. Students analyze and compare the effectiveness of various approaches to global and societal issues, examining how different governments attempt to solve similar problems. They will build upon their academic skill set, interpreting data, developing evidence-based arguments, and comparing and contrasting information.

American Indian History, US History 1 (SW)

Like all minorities in American History, American Indians have a rich story which is too seldom told. This course will give a voice to that narrative, and we will study the complex histories of different North American tribes before the arrival of Columbus in 1492. The class will also explore the varying experiences of American Indians following European colonialism and study the tumultuous relationship of the United States of America and its first inhabitants. As a scholarly writing course, the class will study analytical writing skills and compose a research paper. 

International Ethics, Government or World Studies/Geography 2 (SW)

How do nations interact with each other in an ethical manner? How do we determine what the moral choices are? In this course, students will apply theories of moral philosophy to real world political events in an attempt to better understand the meanings of ethics and justice in the setting of international politics.

Applied Sociology, Social Studies 1 (SW)

Students will learn to use specific research methods used in the field of Sociology.  They will read excerpts from studies and see how these methods are used. Guided discussions will be a large part of the course as students learn to understand the sociological perspective and methods. By the end of the course, students will work together to design their own study and report that will include data that they have collected themselves as well as research from other studies. 

The Substance of Civilization, World Studies/Geography or Chemistry 1/2 (SW)

We will read Stephen L. Sass’ “The Substance of Civilization,” which examines the relationship between different materials and our society. We will also perform experiments that complement the text. What makes glass, steel, and paper such valuable mediums? How do they compare to other materials? EQ: How did different materials contribute to the development of our society? 

World Governments Government or World Studies/Geography, Level 1

World government introduces students to various types of governments around the globe. The course will explore different governments’ origins within the context of their country’s history and culture. We will compare and contrast how various governments design the theoretical framework of their governments as well as how they function in practice. The course materials will include basic information on political concepts and structures of government, case-studies, and current events.

Psychology of Language, Social Studies 2

Perhaps the most incredible human feat is one that we all accomplish: learning our native language as an infant, without any direct instruction. How does natural language acquisition happen? How did humans develop the remarkable ability to communicate with such complexity in the first place? What happens when something interferes with language acquisition? Furthermore, what is going on in our brain when we process and produce language? How do we adjust our language in various social situations? How does language reflect the systems and patterns of culture and society? In addition to exploring these questions, this course serves as an introduction to the basic concepts of linguistics – including phonology (sounds), morphology (the makeup of words), and syntax (grammar) – using the English language as a case study, and comparing it to other global languages. EQ: How does the mind create language?

Sustainable Agriculture General Science or Social Studies 1

Students will learn about how modern agricultural practices impact ecological cycles and explore the science behind technologies and methods by which we may lessen our impact and feed ourselves sustainably. Specific focus will be given to soil and watershed ecology as well as low impact farming practices. 

History Through Fashion, US History 2

Fashion as a system can suppress our individuality or exert power over others, but can also be used to construct our identities and express our authentic selves. In this class, we will explore the development of fashion in America from the 1600s-modern day, and its connection to changes in women’s lives, from social and political status, to development and expression of gender, ethnic, and racial identities. We will look at the styles and trends over time, along with the historical context of America to answer the question: Does fashion have the power to exert social and political change, or merely reflect it?

Personal Finance, Applied Math 1 or Social Studies 1

Financial literacy is key to helping us reach our goals in life. It is essential that we are able to recognize options, analyze those options, and plan for our success. Students will learn strategies for managing and tracking their spending and saving.  We will discuss the many financial decisions that will likely affect students’ lives from selecting a credit card, understanding their credit score, saving for retirement, buying a house or a car and what expenses they can expect to incur when they are out on their own.

The History of Thieves, World Studies/Geography 1 (SW)

Would you steal a loaf of bread to feed your family? In this course, we’ll study thievery in its many forms, from Robin Hood to pirates to colonialism to taxation, and more. This course will define theft and look at examples of things that people may or may not consider to be thievery. We’ll consider the ethics and morality behind thievery and discuss the various historical punishments to the crime. EQ: How do different societies’ views of thieves reflect their social values and laws?

The Story of Egypt, World Studies/Geography 1

More than any other ancient civilization, Egypt still fascinates us today. Mysterious gods, towering pyramids, the bright River Nile snaking through the desert. It seems like a magical dream world, familiar yet exotic. In this course, you will learn all about ancient Egyptian culture and civilization, from how it began to how it grew, flourished, and eventually declined. Along the way, you’ll learn about Egypt’s great cities and monuments and its complex religion, and glimpse the lives of famous kings and queens, nobles, priests, and commoners.

The Wars That Changed the World, World Studies/Geography 2

In 1919, The War to End All Wars ended with scrawled signatures on a treaty at Versailles. Brutal, deadly, and impossible to forget, the war changed the world–but not in the way people hoped. The conflict that was supposed to be the last of its kind was instead the first. Both World Wars demolished empires, toppled kings, irrevocably changed gender roles, created new nations, and fed the rise of Great Powers. In this class, we will examine the mechanisms of such global change, exploring the question: How is power acquired, exercised, and abused?


Is There Progress?, World Studies/Geography or Social Studies 2 (SW)

In this class we will investigate the idea of progress and human history in the light of the ideas of progress. First we will look at the idea’s history from ancient times to today. We will engage in an in-depth critique of the ideas of declinism and progress. Finally, we will determine if progress can be measured and decide for ourselves if there is indeed progress of any kind. For the Scholarly Writing component of the course, each person will research a topic–e.g., global warming, literacy, species extinction, war–and write a short paper about it. 

Personal and Public Health, Health/PE or Social Studies 1 (Open to 8th graders)

In this course we will do a combination of practicing habits that promote our own mental and physical health and studying and creating short school-wide public health campaigns around various aspects of health. Some of the topics we may explore in this regard are exercise, sickness avoidance, nutrition, happiness, and mental acuity. EQ: How can we encourage and promote the mental and physical health of ourselves and those around us?

Women’s History, US History Honors

Fifty years ago, a new kind of history was born. For the first time, scholars realized that an important part of history had been neglected: the experiences of women. This course will retell the familiar stories of American history as they were experienced by women while analyzing the evolution of female identities and roles in the United States. We will discuss how women influenced, directly or indirectly, trends in American society, politics, and culture and examine how their experiences differed due to class and race. 

Current Events, World Studies/Geography or Social Studies 1 (Open to 8th graders)

In this class we will explore local, national, and international current events and the news stories created about them. Every day we will look at the headlines and trendlines in the news. At the start of the quarter we will explore the newsmaking process to gain awareness of what makes the news…and what is left out. Besides diving deeply into the news of the day, we will determine what important current events are overlooked by journalists. For the culminating project, students will explore one issue or area and teach the class about it. Current Events class will be fun, engaging and challenging!

1493: From Columbus to Globalization, World Studies/Geography 1 (Open to 8th graders)

Although we might not think about it, virtually everyone alive today is more connected to everyone else than ever before. Despite the fact that people speak different languages and live in different countries, clearly distinct cultures no longer exist. For better or for worse, we are all part of an increasingly global culture and civilization. How did the world get this way? What are the roots of globalization, and what are its consequences? In this course, we will consider these questions and more as we read 1493: From Columbus’s Voyage to Globalization. We will also consider the future of globalization. Is further globalization inevitable or desirable?

American Political Parties, US History/Government 2 (SW)

Despite George Washington’s dire warning that political parties would “become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people,” a party system has characterized America’s government ever since.  A surprisingly poorly-understood topic, American Political Parties will unravel the evolution of party politics in America, from the founding fathers to today’s system. This course will investigate each party’s interpretation of the Constitution, the proper role of government, and their actual policies, as well as their effects on the American political landscape.

History and Culture of Japan, World Studies/Geography 1

In this class we will study the unique history and culture of Japan. We will learn about Japan’s unusual geography, prehistory and history. We will study the Yamato family’s long reign as emperors…the oldest ruling dynasty in the world. We will explore Japanese medieval history–daimyo, samurai and shoguns–and the unusual period of the Tokugawa Shogunate. We’ll next turn to modern Japan–the pre- and postwar eras as well as the 21st Century–with a focus on Japanese culture, including anime, manga, cinema, cuisine, TV, and video games. If there is student interest, we will take a trip to Japan (optional) over Spring Break.

Computer Science and Electives

Study Hall, no credit given

Study hall serves two purposes: First, study hall allows you to take fewer classes each quarter, keeping your workload to a reasonable level. Second, it gives you a set time to do homework, research, and work on projects for which you may not have the resources at home. Students are expected to manage their time and workload independently.

Floating Study Skills/Tutoring, Elective 1

This year, in the high school only, we are piloting a new study skills program where the teacher, Chethan, will pull enrolled students from Study Hall to work with them one-on-one each week and as needed. Teacher and student will collaborate to make a plan and a schedule for a relationship that supports the students’ work in their core academic classes. The focus of these meetings will largely be the same as in previous years: helping students develop their organization, time management, communication, and study skills. Chethan will also offer specific support around writing, math, and other academic skills. This “class” option is available alongside A Module and C Module Study Halls.

Drafting With Vectorworks, Computers 2

Vectorworks is a computer software program that allows architects and designers to create plans through drafting in 2-D and creating detailed 3-D renderings of their ideas through the planning and concept stages of a design. In this course you will learn how to use all the basic tools of the software, and by the end of this course you will have greater knowledge of creating plans and designs.

Architectural Design, Computers 1 (High School and Middle School Students)

In this course, students will explore interiors and architectural design through 2D and 3D modeling using SketchUp. Students will explore the different styles of architecture and interior design through history and learn to recreate and adapt designs to create new, exciting, and thought-provoking environments. Creativity, critical thinking, and analysis skills will be exercised and refined through the design techniques learned. By the conclusion of this course, students will have a good understanding of architecture, color theory, and basic design concepts.

Music Recording and Performance, Arts and Computers 1

Music exists as two separate art forms. On the one hand, music as it has traditionally existed is a fleeting performance art; the music exists only through its performance, similar to how a poem is meant to be read aloud, and does not exist on the page. In the late 1800’s, however, it became possible to record sounds through mechanical means, and play back the same recording over and over. In the 20th century, electronic instruments and advanced recording techniques brought about an era where music has more in common with sculpture than poetry; a piece of music is honed and perfected, with each shift in timbre and rhythm intentional and precise. This course will examine the duality of recorded and performed music, and students will learn to play music live as well as to record live instruments or create them from pure technological manipulation to produce songs in a studio setting.

Digital Design, Computers 1

Students will learn to use professional software to visually convey information effectively. Students will learn the basics of color theory and document and photo composition as they work in Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator. They will use their skills to design logos, business cards, and flyers. One does not need to be an “Artist” to take this class.

Web Development, Computers 2

The 21st century is happening online. Businesses, institutions, and individuals all must maintain a web presence in order to fully participate in society. And yet so much of the tools we use to interact and present ourselves are provided by others. This course aims to put you in control of your internet presence by teaching programming with a focus on web development. We will start simply with HTML and CSS, ultimately building in JavaScript and Python integration to web applications. By the end of the course, you will be able to design your own website and understand how the internet works.

We love visitors and welcome the opportunity to discuss in depth our one-of-a-kind program.

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