Upper School Curriculum
The Upper School consists of grades 9 through 12. Upper School students through grade 11 take a minimum of six academic subjects. Students in grade 12 take five or six academic subjects, with a maximum of seven if one is an AP Visual or Performing Arts class. Additionally, a number of courses offered in the Upper School are done so at the honors or Advanced Placement levels. Entrance to these courses requires departmental approval and Upper School administrative approval. To graduate, students must take the following courses between grades 9 and 12:
- Religion: Required each year
- English: Required each year
- Science: Three years, including physics
- Social Studies: Three years, including American history
- Mathematics: Three Years, including precalculus
- Languages: Completion of third level of one language
- Physical Education: Required each year
- Performing & Visual Arts: Foundations courses required in grade 9, additional study in Performing Arts, Visual Arts, or Technology beyond grade 9 foundation courses.
- English 9 (Foundations of Western Literature)
- World History I
- Theology 9
- Mathematics (Algebra I, Algebra II/Trig Honors, Geometry, Geometry Honors)
- World Languages (French, Spanish, Mandarin or Latin)
- Physical Education
- Exploration of Computer Science
- Foundations courses in Visual Arts and Performing Arts
- Electives: second language; Performing Arts (chorus, bells, orchestral ensemble); Life Skills
- English 10 (World Literature)
- World History II
- Theology 10
- Chemistry or Honors Chemistry
- Mathematics (Algebra II and Trigonometry, Algebra II and Trigonometry Honors, Geometry, Honors Precalculus)
- World Languages (French, Spanish, Mandarin or Latin)
- Physical Education
- Electives: Engineering; second language; Performing Arts (bells, chorus, drama, orchestral ensemble, solfège); Visual Arts (ceramics, film/video, painting and drawing, photography, sculpture); Introduction to Computer Science; , Life Skills
- AP English Literature and Composition
- Mathematics (Algebra II and Trigonometry, AP Calculus AB, Precalculus, Honors Precalculus)
- Honors Physics, Physics, AP Biology, or AP Chemistry
- US History
- Theology 11
- World Languages (Level III, IV or AP)
- Physical Education
- College Counseling
- Electives: Engineering I or II; World Language beyond Level III or a second language; Performing Arts (bells, chorus, drama, orchestral ensemble, music theory); Visual Arts (portfolio in photography, ceramics, painting, sculpture and drawing); Film/Video II; Intermediate Computer Science
- English (Electives)
- Theology 12
- Physical Education
- College Counseling
4 other full credit courses from among the following:
- AP Calculus AB
- AP Calculus BC
- AP Statistics
- Linear Algebra
- Multivariable Calculus
- AP Biology
- AP Chemistry
- AP Physics C: Mechanics
- Advanced Topics in Physics
- Engineering I or II
- Environmental Science
- Physics/Honors Physics
- Current Events
- Economics (Macro- economics, Entrepreneurial Microeconomics)
- History (Immigrants in American History, History of the Modern Middle East, The Late Great 1968)
- AP French Language
- French V
- French V Honors
- AP Latin
- Mandarin IV
- AP Spanish Language and Culture
- AP Spanish Literature and Culture
- Spanish IV
- Spanish V
- AP Art History
- Advanced Computer Science
- AP Music Theory
- AP Art 2D Design (design, drawing or photography)
- AP Art 3D Design (ceramics, sculpture)
- Performing Arts (chorus, bells, drama, orchestral ensemble)
- Visual Arts (photography, ceramics, painting and drawing or Film/Video III
- Independent Capstone Project
- World Languages
- History/Social Science
- Computer Science
- Visual Arts
- Photography and Film/Video
- Performing Arts
- Physical Education
- Student Success Center
- Library Program
- Public Speaking
- Service Learning
- Campus Ministry and Retreat Program
The guiding beliefs of the English Department rest upon the expectation that each student learns to function effectively with balanced concentration on all areas of language: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. A strong focus on writing and analytical skills facilitates a student’s emerging self-awareness and her ability to think critically and to articulate her thoughts. The English program seeks to balance respect for a student’s ideas with the development of structures and skills that will help her to express herself with precision. Reading selected works from varied genres and geographies connects the student’s own concerns with the larger world, especially through the lens of Goal III: “educating to a social awareness which impels to action.” The four-year writing program provides intensive instruction in narrative, descriptive, persuasive, and expository writing. In the process, students are well prepared for college writing and the verbal portions of standardized tests such as the ACT and SAT.
English 9: Foundations of Western Literature
Foundational texts in Western literature serve as the core of the study of literature in English 9. As students read and discuss increasingly challenging texts, studied in conjunction with the grade 9 World History curriculum, they work to sharpen their analytical skills as well as the expression of those skills in speaking and in writing. Formal grammar and usage study complement the emphasis on clear, organized writing. Writing assignments include expository, analytical, personal and more creative models, and throughout the year the stages of the writing process are practiced and reinforced. Regular vocabulary study helps to enrich students’ diction and the varied expression of their ideas. Texts include: Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, Homer’s The Odyssey, Sophocles’ Antigone, Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, and Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, as well as selected myths, essays, and poetry.
English 10: World Literature
The writing program in grade 10 emphasizes the process of drafting in the instruction of expository writing. Students write a range of essays to understand the different purposes (persuasive, informative, comparative, analytic) a writer must identify when trying to reach her audience. The ability to read texts closely and in context is developed through critical reading of novels, plays, and poetry; representative selections from around the world serve as the core of the study in literature. Grammar and usage lessons build upon the foundation from English 9 and address issues as they emerge in the revision process. Texts include: Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus, Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Satrapi’s Persepolis, Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate, Garcia Marquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold, as well as selected short fiction and poetry.
English 11: AP English Literature and Composition
This course stresses a student’s ability to write cogent, extemporaneous arguments about literature and the larger world. Students continue to practice expository writing, with an emphasis on literary analysis and, later in the year, the personal narrative. Representative selections from the multicultural texts of America, from the 1800s to the present day, serve as the core of the study in literature. Additionally, this course hones critical reading, grammar, and vocabulary skills in preparation for the SAT/ACT and the AP Exam in Literature and Composition. Successful completion of this course allows students to opt for the SAT Literature Subject Test in the spring. Texts include: Roth’s The Plot Against America; Whitman’s Leaves of Grass; Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric; Morrison’s Beloved; Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby; Ellison’s Invisible Man; as well as selected nonfiction.
English 12: Confessional American Poets
The critic M. L. Rosenthal first applied the term “confessional” to the poetry of Robert Lowell, and the term has since expanded to include a mode of highly personal and revealing poetry associated with Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, John Berryman, and others. In this class, we will closely read the work of American poets whose work is said to be confessional, while also questioning the very idea of confessionalism in poetry. For example, we will explore what makes a poem confessional, whether poetry can ever be non-confessional, and how confessional poetry relates to other modes of confession. Moreover, we will question the long-held notion that the confessional poet lacks artistic skill, and instead relies on biography and emotional wounds; that the mode is therefore a therapeutic tool rather than art. Poets may include Robert Lowell, Allen Ginsberg, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton and John Berryman.
English 12: Dystopian Literature
Dystopian literature is having a moment right now. From The Hunger Games to the Divergent series to the Hulu depiction of Handmaid’s Tale, artists and audiences alike are finding grim delight in imagining nightmarish worlds that are not far off in the future. These fictional worlds underline the very real fears of current society by extending current issues—like authoritarian governments, overreliance on technology, lack of privacy—to a foreseeable doom. Needless to say, there is rarely a happy ending in the dystopian novel. This course will begin with selections from both Plato’s Republic and Sir Thomas More’s Utopia to examine the relationship between utopias and dystopias. We will then turn our attention to contemporary texts: George Orwell’s classic 1984 and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. In the final weeks of the course, we will read Nobel Laureate Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, his famously difficult novel to categorize, to consider whether it is a dystopia.
English 12: Elements of the Grotesque
“Like fairy tales, the art of the grotesque and horror renders us children again, evoking something primal in the soul.” —Joyce Carol Oates, “Reflections on the Grotesque”
In this course, we will explore the uses and functions of the grotesque in the short fiction of two great American writers, Flannery O’Connor and Shirley Jackson. We will examine how both of these writers use horror and the grotesque to “evoke something primal in the soul”–both the soul of America, as they address issues such as religion, gender, race, slavery, and historical memory–and the individual soul, as they delve deeply into the individual’s guilt and loneliness. Together, we will attempt to define the grotesque and how it functions in the Gothic short fiction of O’Connor and Jackson. The course will begin with Jackson’s often overlooked early novel Hangsaman; we will then move to the short stories of both writers, as well as excerpts of their letters, essays and journal entries.
English 12: Friendship and Love
Before Regina George of the cult classic film Mean Girls ostracized Cady Heron for liking math more than makeup, Caroline Bingley of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice criticized Elizabeth Bennet for dirtying her ankles on her strenuous walk to see her sick sister—how so not fetch (Regina would say), how unladylike (Caroline would cry)! However, viewers and readers alike might be baffled—or not—to discover that these two sets of women appear to be friends, or at least friendly, at times, which begs the question: why are female relationships--especially female friendships--so complicated? Even before Austen’s satirical novels about social circles, Aristotle characterized friendship according to utility, pleasure, and truth; not surprisingly, the latter kind of friendship is rare because a genuine relationship depends on mutual trust, recognition, and affection. In this course, we will evaluate the friendships we encounter in Ian McEwan’s Atonement and Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend. What makes these relationships between the sisters in Atonement and the almost-sisters in My Brilliant Friend so memorable and moving? How does life, full of unexpected events, family stress, class differences, jealousy, envy, and love, hinder these relationships? As we acquaint ourselves with the social dynamics of both novels, we will appreciate how the main characters derive their strength from their close ties with other women and define themselves in terms of, or in contrast to, those relationships. More importantly, we will learn that words, written and spoken, can build a bond and just as easily destroy it. Through close readings, focused discussions, and creative written responses, we will deconstruct the definitions of love and friendship to determine what a constructive relationship looks like in literature and life. This course will present an opportunity to reflect on the meaningful relationships you have cultivated here, within the halls of 91st Street, over the last four (or more) years. Texts include: Ian McEwan’s Atonement and Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend, as well as selected short stories and nonfiction.
English 12: Imagining New York
New York City does not have the distinction of being an official state capital, but it is arguably the unofficial capital of the entire world. While other cities may lay claim to periods of historical importance, industrial prominence, or to leading certain fashions, New York City, with its masses of people, its promise and its peril, towers as tall as its skyscrapers in the imagination. This course will survey a wide variety of texts in order to examine how the city captivates all who encounter it, and we will trace the city’s growth as a center of commerce, political power, intrigue, greed, and dreams. We will hear singular New York stories from a multiplicity of viewpoints throughout its history, and we will begin to narrate our own. Texts include: McCann’s Let the Great World Spin, Wharton’s Age of Innocence, Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk, Kushner’s Angels in America, as well as selected poetry, short stories, and nonfiction.
English 12: Narrating Childhood
Novels that focus on childhood or present stories from the point of view of a young person often require authors to find a proper balance between closeness and distance to personal memory. Closeness is what allows us to feel the energy, delights, and traumas of childhood as a child might; the distance enables the writer and readers to understand those experiences as only adults can understand them. In this class, Narrating Childhood, we will read fiction featuring a child or young adult protagonist. A central discussion will focus on the idea of the reliable narrator. Is a child more or less likely to provide a truthful narration? We will be looking at the work of Carol Rifka Brunt, Donna Tarrt, Heather O’Neill, and Sue Monk Kidd. Students will also be creating their own childhood narratives.
English 12: Uncanny Latin American Short Fiction
The word "uncanny" describes something strange, mysterious, unsettling, and vaguely familiar. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Manuel Gonzalez, and Jorge Luis Borges are from different eras, nationalities, and backgrounds. The enduring thread between them is a focus on the uncanny details of daily life that toe the line of fantasy using language and imagery that are far more haunting than wistful. In this course, we will dive into short stories about a Mexican man in Texas who bought a unicorn, a point in space that contains everything in the universe, and a very old man with enormous wings, among others. This course will focus on developing close-reading skills, discovering how language can be ominous, and creating our own eerily unique stories. Texts include The King is Always Above the People by Daniel Alarcón, The Miniature Wife and Other Stories by Manuel Gonzalez, Collected Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges, and other selected short fiction.
English 12: Therapeutic Narrative
The work of the novelist or memoirist and that of the psychoanalyst, seemingly unrelated forms of human activity, are connected in a significant way: both reflect the rise of an interest in individual consciousness. The process of transformation as depicted in various works of writing parallels the process of psychotherapeutic change. In this course, we will look at the ways in which novelists and memoirists use narrative as a way to facilitate healing—for themselves and for the reader. Although the works we will be looking at are not about psychotherapy per se, they do reflect the writers’ and protagonists’ emotional growth. We will also create our own memoirs as a means to deepen self-awareness and promote positive development.
English 12: Toni Morrison’s Novels
In her forward to Sula, Toni Morrison writes, “Outlaw women are fascinating-not always for their behavior, but because historically women are seen as naturally disruptive and their status is an illegal one from birth if it is not under the rule of men. In much literature a woman’s escape from male rule led to regret, misery, if not complete disaster. In Sula I wanted to explore the consequences of what that escape might be, on not only a conventional black society, but on female friendship.” In this course, we will examine how two of Morrison’s “outlaw” characters, Sula and Pilate, from Sula and Song of Solomon, respectively, escape the expectations that their communities and families foist on them and how they intentionally seek to construct their own sense of identity. We will look at the consequences of their choices on their friendships, relationships with family and lovers, and their communities. Through close reading, discussion, and writing responses, we will consider ideas about identity as fixed versus as in flux, the motivations that drive people to self-identify in certain ways, the challenges of encountering certain aspects of oneself, and that despite how seemingly self-aware one can be, there are always facets of identity that remain hidden until “ discovered.” The course will present an opportunity for you to reflect on the aspects of your own identity—those which you have assumed from your own communities as well as those that you have deliberately cultivated and crafted—as you prepare to venture into your new communities next year. Texts include: Toni Morrison’s Sula and Song of Solomon.
English 12: Victorian Literature
Queen Victoria, a pillar of morality and propriety, colored the culture of her eponymous era (1837-1901) in lavender and lace. The year 1859 captures the spirit of the age with three milestones in publication history: Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, John Stuart Mill’s work on utilitarianism, and Samuel Smiles’ “bible” on self-help. For all the relative peace and prosperity of the Victorian age, times were hard—and as disorienting as a tumble down the rabbit-hole—due to imperialism, industrialization, and social issues such as “The Woman Question” and workers’ rights. Discontent lurked beneath the veneer of decorum, as evidenced by the prevalence of social critiques that masqueraded as novels. In this fall elective, John Fowles’ Neo-Victorian novel, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, will function as the looking glass through which we will consider how three novels from the past reflect and problematize this age of improvement. Specifically, we will complicate the narrator’s definition of Homo sapiens, those who are “in flight from the real reality,” by following the protagonists’ flights and fights as they evolve into their symbolic species, the individual. Alongside the protagonists, we will engage in our own acts of resistance by reading critically and writing our way to an understanding of the Victorian age as novel and (un)conventional, as really real and still relevant, and as a touchstone for the twenty-first century. Texts include: Fowles’ The French Lieutenant’s Woman, Brontë’s Agnes Grey, Caroll’s Alice's Adventures in Wonderland / Through the Looking-Glass, Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, as well as selected essays.
English 12: Women in Literature
This course will examine recurring images of women in literature and the social contexts and constructions of identity. We will pay particular attention to the marginal, in-between places that women often inhabit in literature and will examine stereotypes of “the madwoman in the attic” and the derivation of hysteria as an exclusively female phenomenon. The course will also examine stereotypes of feminine sexuality and how deviance from accepted norms of what it means to be a good wife, mother, and friend influences conceptualizations of identity. Texts include: Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, Rhys’ The Wide Sargasso Sea, and Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire.
The Upper School program offers French, Latin, Mandarin and Spanish. The curriculum is planned to help students acquire an ease of expression both in writing and in speaking, a knowledge of the respective countries and cultures and an understanding of literature.
This course is designed to accommodate students who have had little or no previous training in French. The work is necessarily intensive, and equal emphasis is placed on aural and oral skills, reading and writing. The study of French culture and geography is introduced. At the successful completion of this course students are eligible for French II or French II Honors.
This course continues the development of aural and oral skills, reading and writing. Vocabulary and grammar are important elements of the curriculum, which is designed to ensure the development of aural comprehension and culturally authentic speech. The program also encourages cultural awareness. At the completion of this course, students are eligible for French III.
French II Honors
This is an advanced and enriched course. Equal emphasis is placed on high achievement in oral/aural competency and reading and writing skills. Development of thematic vocabulary, mastery of grammar, and verb forms are the focus of this level. The cultural element of the program focuses on geography and the understanding of the economy as well as social life in France. At the completion of this course, students are eligible for French III or French III Honors.
This course stresses aural and oral competency as well as reading and writing. A review of grammar and vocabulary is conducted in order to increase students’ proficiency. Emphasis is placed on developing the ability to communicate ideas through oral and written expression. Aspects of French and francophone cultures are studied.
French III Honors
This is an accelerated course that prepares students for the AP French language class the following year. A comprehensive and meticulous review of grammar is integrated with the examination of various themes of French environment. Equal emphasis is placed on high oral and aural competence and advanced aptitude in reading and writing. Intensive vocabulary acquisition is also part of the course.
French IV is designed for those students who would like to continue the study of French. This course emphasizes oral and written communication as well as an introduction to literature. Hands-on language learning and authentic, activity-based situations will not only enhance language skills but also encourage cultural exploration. Upon completion of this course, students may be eligible for AP French Language and Culture.
French V is a continuation of French IV. French V is a program designed for those students who would like to continue the study of French. This course emphasizes oral and aural skills with a systematic review of written communication. Hands-on language learning and authentic, activity-based situations will not only enhance language skills but also encourage cultural exploration. This course emphasizes active usage and interaction, using art, music, literature, film and other cultural references to translate theoretical foundation into communicative output.
AP French Language and Culture
This is a college-level course in preparation for the Advanced Placement examination in French Language and Culture. This course emphasizes the use of language for active communication. Equal emphasis is placed on advanced oral and aural competence, as well as advanced aptitude in reading and writing. A systematic study of vocabulary and cultural content will be conducted in order to speak and write accurately and logically. Little attention is given to literature but emphasis is placed on customs, current events, sociology and politics. This is an intensive curriculum and includes much reading, essay writing, research and oral presentations. The course concludes with the AP French Language and Culture examination.
French V Honors
This course is designed for students who have previously taken AP French Language and Culture. Divided into four parts, the course will explore modern literature, business, classic literature, and films. The reading of a novel and a play will be the center of the literary aspect of the course. Study of current events will lead to advanced conversation and a sophisticated understanding of the French economy and politics. This part of the course will allow students to further their knowledge of French trade and international markets. Lastly, students will explore the language through cinema.
The first-year course introduces students to the basics of Latin grammar and syntax, including all of the indicative verb tenses and noun declensions. Considerable attention is paid to developing translation skills, both of seen and sight passages, and to Latin composition. Elements of Roman history and culture figure prominently in the readings and in class discussions.
This course completes the study of the basic forms of the Latin language and continues with advanced syntax. Students translate various episodes from Roman history and mythology and then move on to selections from Caesar’s Gallic Wars. In addition to studying the historical background of the Late Republic, students also focus on the military and political career of Julius Caesar.
This course will strengthen and refine students’ grasp of Latin grammar by combining a review of advanced syntax with close readings of ancient prose and poetry. In the fall, the course will focus on the Amores and Metamorphoses of Ovid, through which students will hone their literary critical skills and become familiar with a large number of rhetorical terms. In the spring, the course focuses on Petronius’ Satyrica and considers not only its grammatical and stylistic features but also its historical context. At the conclusion of this course, students will be well prepared to take the Subject Test in Latin.
This bridge to the AP will deepen students’ literary critical skills and provide broader exposure to Latin literature. In the first half of the year, the course focuses on the poems of Catullus, with special attention paid to Alexandrian poetry and its influence on neoteric poets in Rome. In the spring semester, the focus shifts to the Odes and Epodes of Horace, with special emphasis on how Greek lyric poetry and contemporary political events influenced Horace’s poetic craft.
AP Latin Literature
This course prepares students to take the Advanced Placement exam in Latin. The reading program for the current year, set by the College Board, includes selections from Caesar’s Gallic Wars and Vergil’s Aeneid. In addition to translating Caesar and Vergil, students will also compose analytical essays on themes shared by these two authors.
This introductory course focuses on the fundamentals of listening, speaking, reading, and writing; moreover, it is designed to develop students’ confidence and interest in learning Chinese. Students will learn the Chinese phonetic system of Pinyin and the Chinese writing system through a systematic introduction. They will also be able to recognize and reproduce three hundred characters in simplified form by the end of the second semester.
This intermediate course is a natural continuation of what was introduced and mastered in Mandarin I. It aims not only to solidify but also to advance students’ overall skills in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The words and sentences are built on their previous knowledge and students will learn to combine different grammar structures into longer and more complex sentences. Students will be able to recognize and reproduce more characters in simplified form.
This course is designed for students who completed Mandarin II. It aims to further develop students’ overall linguistic command of modern Chinese. The goals of this course include a beginning mastery of reading, writing, oral comprehension, oral communication and knowledge of Chinese culture. Students are assessed on these skills through written homework, classroom participation and regular quizzes and tests.
This course is meant for students who have successfully completed Mandarin III. The main goal of this course is to assist students in developing more advanced Mandarin language skills. In addition to expanding upon their vocabulary, students will be expected to sustain increasingly complex conversation and to write with greater coherence and accuracy. Students will also continue to develop a rich in-depth appreciation for Chinese literature. By the end of the course, students should be able to read and write approximately 1500 characters and demonstrate strong intermediate to advanced level conversational fluency.
This course is designed to accommodate students who have little to no previous training in Spanish. The work is necessarily intensive, and equal emphasis is placed in aural and oral skills, reading and writing. At the completion of this course, students are eligible for Spanish II or Spanish II Honors.
The study of grammar is continued and conversation is stressed. Simple texts, situational dialogues and listening and speaking exercises are used to improve skills in all areas of the language. The geography, history and culture of Latin America and Spain are studied. Upon completion of this course, students are eligible for Spanish III.
Spanish II Honors
This is an advanced and enriched course in which equal emphasis is placed on high achievement in oral/aural competency, as well as reading and writing skills. Development of thematic vocabulary, mastery of grammar, and verb forms are the focus of this level. The cultural element of the program focuses on various aspects such as history, customs and literature of different countries of the Spanish-speaking world. At the completion of this course, students are eligible for Spanish III or Spanish III Honors.
Grammar is reviewed and reinforced through oral and aural exercises as well as the reading of short cultural summaries. Emphasis is placed on developing students’ ability to communicate ideas orally and in writing. Study of Spanish and Spanish-American cultures continues.
Spanish III Honors
This is an advanced course preparing students for the AP Spanish Language class the following year. Spanish grammar and significant reading and writing assignments are the focus of this course. Students are expected to use Spanish in class. Study of Spanish and Spanish-American art and cultures continues to be an important part of the curriculum. At the completion of this course, students are eligible for Spanish IV or AP Spanish Language.
Spanish IV is designed for those students who would like to continue the study of Spanish. This course emphasizes oral and written communication as well as an introduction to literature. Hands-on language learning and authentic, activity-based situations will not only enhance language skills but also encourage cultural exploration. Upon completion of this course, students may be eligible for AP Spanish Language and Culture.
Spanish, movies and art: a historical and cultural look at the Spanish-speaking world through its rich artistic heritage. The objective of this course is to expose students to a number of historically and culturally relevant events of the Spanish-speaking world as described by a number of carefully selected works of art and movies such as Isabel, Juana la Loca and El perro del hortelano, the paintings of Frida Kahlo, Oswaldo Guayasamín and others. Every unit will consist of the study, through movies or relevant works of art, of the historical, social, cultural and economic factors present in the different countries at a particular point in time. The students will also study the current political, cultural and social environments of the said countries, draw contrasts and analyze the changes that have taken place. The purpose of this course is to awaken intellectual interest in the minds of the students about the Spanish-speaking world, its past, present and future.
AP Spanish Language and Culture
This is a college-level course in preparation for the Advanced Placement examination in Spanish Language and Culture. This course emphasizes the use of language for active communication. Equal emphasis is placed on advanced oral and aural competence, as well as advanced aptitude in reading and writing. A systematic study of vocabulary and cultural content will be conducted in order to speak and write accurately and logically. Emphasis is placed on the six themes designated by the College Board: family and community, science and technology, beauty and esthetics, contemporary life, world challenges and personal and public identity. This is an intensive curriculum and includes much reading, essay writing, research, as well as oral presentations. The course concludes with the AP Spanish Language and Culture examination.
AP Spanish Literature and Culture
This course supports the formal study of a representative body of literature written in Spanish, from Peninsular Spain, Latin America, and the United States. Students have varied opportunities to develop proficiency in Spanish across a range of skills—with emphasis on critical reading and analytical writing—and to reflect on the many voices and cultures of the Spanish-speaking world.
The goals of the Mathematics Department are to develop the ability to reason mathematical concepts, to develop proficiency with skills and to provide students with a solid foundation for advanced mathematical studies and for the use of mathematics in their daily lives. Upper School students are required to take mathematics through grade 11 and to successfully complete Precalculus. Students in grades 9 through 12 will use graphing calculators for class, homework and tests.
Algebra I with Summer Geometry (Grade 9)
This course covers a full year of algebra in preparation for summer Geometry, Algebra II & Trigonometry in 10th grade, PreCalculus in 11th grade and Calculus during senior year. Topics include the solution of linear equations and applications to problem solving, the graph and equation of a line, solution of systems of linear equations, operations with polynomials, factoring, solution of quadratic equations by factoring and formula, properties of the graph of a quadratic function, properties of exponents, probability and statistics, operations with rational functions, solution of rational equations and properties of and operations with radicals. Summer Geometry usually runs through the middle of July and covers all the topics covered in the 9th grade standard Geometry class.
Geometry (Grade 9)
This is a full-year course in Euclidean geometry with an emphasis on the writing of proofs. Topics include properties of segments and angles, perpendicular and parallel lines, triangle congruence, properties of quadrilaterals, triangle inequalities, similarity, right triangles, right triangle trigonometry, circles, metric geometry, coordinate geometry and transformation. Algebraic concepts, specifically radicals, quadratics, and systems of linear equations, are reinforced and applied throughout the course. Students will build on their problem solving skills as they develop the ability to reason through problems using postulates, theorems, and inductive and deductive reasoning.
Geometry Honors (Grade 9)
This is a full-year course in Euclidean geometry that emphasizes the writing of proofs and is taught in a way that will offer a challenge for students who wish to pursue a more rigorous study of the material. Extra work will be required of all honors students. Students learn to use TI-Nspire software to formulate conjectures. Topics include properties of segments and angles, perpendicular and parallel lines, triangle congruence, properties of quadrilaterals, triangle inequalities, similarity, right triangles, right triangle trigonometry, circles, metric geometry coordinate geometry and transformations. This course will develop each student’s ability to engage in inductive and deductive reasoning to produce mathematical proofs. Students will provide mathematical justifications for their observations, calculations, and conclusions, building their own analytic skills. Students will explore the relationships between geometric figures and the applications of these relationships in the real world. Students will think analytically and logically in order to make connections between geometrical relationships.
Algebra II & Trigonometry with Precalculus Honors (Grade 10)
This course is an accelerated study of Algebra II, Trigonometry, and Precalculus that extends past other courses into the faculty planning weeks and emphasizes both the breadth of Algebra II & Trigonometry and the depth of Precalculus. The course begins with a general study of algebraic skills, functions, and graphs. Students will explore quadratic, polynomial, rational, exponential, logarithmic, logistic, and trigonometric functions, focusing on properties, equations, inequalities, graphs, and applications of each type of function. Students will then study probability, statistics, conics, and matrices. The course culminates with a study of continuity and limits, the first key topics of calculus.
Precalculus (Grade 11)
This class is a grade 11 mathematics option that begins with the in-depth study of key precalculus concepts of function and trigonometry. Statistics and discrete mathematics topics are included to prepare students for grade 12 electives. The graphing calculator is used extensively throughout the course. Students develop mathematical models for real-world applications from a wide range of fields, including business and science. By year's end, students will have been introduced to all topics covered on the SAT II subject test. This course will be taught using the iPad and an e-text. The iPad will be used to deliver content and provide a more customized approach to learning. By the end of the year, students will have been introduced to all topics covered on the Math II Subject Test.
Honors Precalculus/AB Calculus (Grades 10 and 11) This course begins with a half-year precalculus program focusing on the properties of trigonometric, logarithmic, exponential and polynomial functions; appropriate integration of graphing calculator technology and algebra is emphasized. The remainder of the year is devoted to the study of basic differential and integral calculus using the syllabus of the Advanced Placement AB level course. By the end of the year, students will have been introduced to all topics covered on the Math II Subject Test. This course will be taught using the iPad and an e-text. The iPad will be used to deliver content and provide a more customized approach to learning.
Calculus (Grade 12)
Students will study limits and basic differential and integral calculus. Students will use the derivatives in applications that include optimization and related rates and integration to find area under curve and volume. A strong background in precalculus is a requirement.
AP Calculus AB (Grades 11 and 12)
This course is a continuation of the Honors Precalculus class in grade 11 and continues the study of basic differential and integral calculus using the syllabus of the Advanced Placement AB level course. AP Calculus AB will focus on the four major concepts of college Calculus: functions, limits, derivatives, and integrals. Students will not only learn the skills and concepts associated with the four major concepts of calculus, but they will apply them to real world phenomena. Their processing, decision-making, and other problem-solving skills will develop throughout the course. Students will become comfortable with multiple representations of functions (numeric, graphic, algebraic, verbal) and solve problems using each representation. Students will also use technology to deepen their understanding of how various representation of problems are related to each other. The graphing calculator is essential to this course and the student’s ability to create and share mathematical representations of problems and solutions.
AP Calculus BC (Grades 11 and 12)
This course is a continuation of the Honors Precalculus class in grade 11 and continues the study of basic differential and integral calculus using the syllabus of the Advanced Placement BC level course. AP Calculus BC will focus on the four major concepts of college Calculus: limits, derivatives, integrals and the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, and Series. Students will not only learn the skills and concepts associated with the four major concepts of calculus, but they will apply them to real world phenomena. Their processing, decision making, and other problem-solving skills will develop throughout the course. Students will become comfortable with multiple representations of functions (numeric, graphic, algebraic, verbal) and solve problems using each representation. Students will also use technology to deepen their understanding of how various representations of problems are related to each other. The graphing calculator is essential to this course and the student’s ability to create and share mathematical representations of problems and solutions.
AP Statistics (Grade 12)
This course follows the syllabus set by the Advanced Placement program of the College Board, but is designed to be accessible to a wider range of students than calculus. Students are introduced to major concepts and tools for collecting, organizing, analyzing and drawing conclusions from data. Topics include univariate and bivariate data distributions, measures of center, measures of spread, developing models and correlation and residual plots, among others. Both graphing calculators and computers are used extensively, and students do substantial independent project work.
Multivariable Calculus (Grade 12)
Students will build upon the concepts introduced in AP Calculus BC and extend their knowledge of functions to include more than two dimensions. Focus will be placed on parametric equations and vector functions. Vectors will be graphed in three dimensions, to allow students to analyze quadratic surfaces and cylindrical and spherical coordinates. Students will use a wide variety of techniques to maximize and minimize functions. Arc length, speed, rectilinear motion, and other topics introduced in AP Calculus BC are extended to the third dimension. Limits, continuity, derivatives, and integrals are analyzed with multivariate functions. The course includes numerous applications to physics.
Linear Algebra: Topics in Discrete Mathematics (Grade 12)
Students will build upon their prior knowledge of linear equations to discuss the linear dependence/independence of vectors and to analyze vector spaces and subspaces. Students will use matrices to solve systems of linear equations using inverses, matrix multiplication, and Gaussian elimination. Determinants of matrices will be used to explore the properties of matrices, such as eigenvalues, eigenvectors, and eigenspaces. This course will involve computations, proofs, and applications in its study of solving linear equations.
The academic study of theology is at the heart of the curriculum for all Sacred Heart students during each year of their Upper School education. The curriculum is rooted in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures and explores Catholic sacraments, ethics and philosophy, as well as the quest for life’s meaning in other world religions. The church’s teaching regarding social and moral issues is emphasized as a call to faith that expresses itself in charity and service. Students are encouraged to reflect on what they learn in light of their faith experience. In light of the framework of the Catholic Church, a Christo-centric approach is used in all courses.
During the course of this year, students explore the Bible and the revelation of Jesus Christ in Scripture. They learn how to read the Bible and become familiar with the major sections of the Bible and the books included in each section. They learn about divine and natural revelation and how the Scriptures are authored by God through inspiration. Students become familiar with the role of tradition and the importance of interpretation. They pay particular attention to Jesus Christ Incarnate as the ultimate Revelation to us from God. In analyzing who Jesus is, the living Word of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, the students will also learn who he calls them to be.
The course examines the nature of religious experience and expression in the symbols, rituals and stories of the world’s religions. In addition to studying many of the world’s major religious beliefs and practices, students will also spend time visiting religious sites and watching videos or reading stories from members of various traditions. By reading and exploring the religious experiences of others, students will gain a better understanding of the world’s religious diversity and will build greater appreciation for how religious traditions are variously lived by their adherents. The study of world religions will also serve to develop in students an empathetic appreciation for diverse peoples and the practices and beliefs they hold dear. Ideally, this empathy and understanding will lead to a deepening of the students’ own religious self-understanding and awareness. This course will also pay special attention to the Catholic Church’s Vatican II emphasis on dialogue and cooperation with non-Christian traditions, and we will revisit aspects of Christian theology and Christology as the touchstone and axis point for the study of comparative religions.
This course focuses on the person of Jesus Christ, reflecting on the place of Christ in the New Testament, in subsequent theological, ethical, and sacramental reflection and in the visual arts. Students learn to do exegetical work and to use the historical-critical method in their interpretation of biblical texts. Each student proposes a research project on a specific Christological theme and shares her research with the class in a 40-minute presentation at the end of the year. Additionally, a select group of students is encouraged to share their work with the Upper School student body at a spring chapel service.
The course examines the western tradition of philosophical thought and its influence on the Church and Christianity. Students will be exposed to the great thinkers and debates of western culture and become familiar with philosophical methodology and terminology. In the second semester, the course will more narrowly focus on ethical schools of thought and applied ethics. Students will master different ethical systems and apply them to specific issues and case studies, as they more fully form and inform their own conscience.
The focus of the Upper School science program is the development of scientific literacy to enable the student to function in a technological society. Science courses provide students with experience in problem solving, competency in laboratory work and facility in critical thinking. Three years of science are required including physics. Electives are offered to juniors and seniors interested in taking more advanced science courses.
Biology (Grade 9)
Grade 9 Biology is designed to introduce students to ways of knowing and understanding the living world at various levels of complexity. The course includes consideration of the chemical nature of cells and an examination of the evolution of living things. Students learn to respect the primacy of evidence in the advancement of the biological sciences. Relevant laboratory experiences reinforce the key concepts of this life science course.
Chemistry (Grade 10)
This course introduces students to fundamental chemical principles and concepts through inductive laboratory experiences and reasoning. Topics explored include atomic and molecular structure, periodicity, bonding, gases and thermodynamics. The course integrates laboratory activities, classroom demonstrations and problem-solving activities and fosters an understanding of chemical processes and phenomena. Throughout the course, mathematical relationships are utilized and explored when appropriate and meaningful in scientific investigations.
Honors Chemistry (Grade 10)
Honors Chemistry is an accelerated introductory-level chemistry course intended for motivated students who possess strong backgrounds and skills in math. Students explore fundamental chemical principles and challenging concepts via an in-depth analytical and experimental approach. In addition to introductory materials, advanced topics such as thermodynamics, chemical kinetics and equilibrium, solutions, acids and bases, and electrochemistry are explored. An emphasis on problem solving using various mathematical skills, coupled with lab experiments, further solidify and enhance students’ learning and understanding of these concepts and processes.
Physics (Grades 11 and 12)
Physics introduces the quantitative study of the most fundamental behavior of natural systems through the topics of dynamical motion, electricity and magnetism, and waves. These topics are applied to understand everyday phenomena, the Solar System and Universe, the quantum structure of the atom, and technology. This course requires mathematical problem solving as an essential basis for understanding the concepts but also explores the historical context of the hallmark discoveries of physics.
Honors Physics (Grades 11 and 12)
Honors Physics introduces the same topics as covered in Physics, but delves deeper into the mathematical problem-solving and quantitative reasoning skills necessary to understand more advanced treatments of the discipline. This course is a required prerequisite for AP Physics and is intended for highly driven students who demonstrate strong mathematical proficiency.
Engineering I (Grades 10, 11 and 12)
In this course, students use engineering principles and standards as they focus on the design process and its application. Through problem-solving, students work in groups and individually to apply their knowledge of research and design to create solutions to various design challenges. The course emphasizes the use of technology to help create and build solutions to solve proposed problems and create written documentation for communicating solutions to peers and the school community as a whole. This course exposes students to important concepts and topics such as energy, mechanisms, materials, and electronics and circuits.
Engineering II (Grades 11 and 12)
Students study the design concepts of form and function, as well as the application of the design process. Through project-based studies, engineering students develop their problem-solving skills and draw on fundamental engineering principles to formulate solutions to various challenges. Working in cooperative groups and individually, students explore hydraulic, electrical, and communication systems. This course will expose students to the important concepts of mechanical, fluid, and pneumatic control systems, circuitry, analog and digital fundamentals, and coding.
Introductory Biochemistry(Grade 11 and 12)
Introductory Biochemistry is an entry-level course for juniors and seniors interested in the processes of catabolism (breakdown) of lipids, proteins, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins at the molecular level. These processes provide the basic essentials for cellular function and the subsequent biosynthesis to form more complex molecules. The course will include topics such basic organic chemistry, an introduction to biochemistry, nutritional testing and cellular measurements, and the energy aspects of metabolism. Laboratory based, the course will provide opportunities for student research during the second semester. These individual research projects will correspond to student interests and easily fulfill the Capstone requirement.
Environmental Science (Grade 12)
The course explores the many factors involved in decision-making in the context of environmental studies. The specific topics will be student generated, but grounded in the “sciences” with connections to any other disciplines. An initial exploration of what science is, and is not, will form the foundation for the remainder of the course. The course is modeled as a “college-type” seminar format with debates, peer-reviewed presentations, independent study, readings from the course text, selected articles, scientific journals and the popular press. This course challenges students to understand all sides of controversial issues. Since the dynamics in the science lab can only model approximate conditions in real world, field work and experiential learning will be utilized as much as possible. There is an honors option in this course.
AP Biology (Grades 11 and 12)
This course is a rigorous introduction to college-level biology and prepares students for the AP examination. The concepts focus on cellular and molecular biology, heredity and evolution and organisms and populations. This course is intended for highly motivated students who are willing to devote considerable time and focused attention to learning biology at the first-year college level. Laboratory experiments teach students to develop a sophisticated approach to data collection and analysis, reinforcing the concepts and mathematical relationships of biology.
AP Chemistry (Grades 11 and 12)
Mathematically and conceptually demanding, AP Chemistry is a fast-paced and rigorous course of study and prepares students for the AP examination. It is intended for highly motivated students who are willing to devote considerable time and focused attention to learning chemistry at the first-year college level. Laboratory experiments teach students to develop a sophisticated approach to data collection and analysis, reinforcing the concepts and mathematics of chemistry.
AP Physics C: Mechanics (Grade 12)
AP Physics C: Mechanics is a year-long calculus-based treatment of physics similar to the material encountered during the first semester of a college-level physics course for physical scientists and engineers. It is intended for highly motivated and mathematically inclined students who are eager to devote significant time to the study of forces, gravity, momentum, angular momentum, energy, and waves. While the course includes extensive laboratory experiments and analysis, AP Physics C students will primarily learn to solve advanced mathematical physics problems, including those problems that rely on the use of calculus. The essential concepts of calculus will be taught in class and should help students develop not only a greater understanding of physics, but also a fuller appreciation of the beauty and elegant sophistication of the mathematical underpinnings of the natural world.
Advanced Topics in Physics (Grade 12)
Open to students currently enrolled in AP Physics C: Mechanics, this course allows students to apply calculus-based physics to some of the most interesting topics in all of Physics. Students will examine some of the topics on the AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism syllabus necessary to understand Maxwell’s four equations of electromagnetism. The rest of the course will be allocated to in-depth studies of a number of the topics encountered in Honors Physics including special relativity, the formation of the solar system, and the quantum mechanics of the Bohr atom. Potential capstone project topics within the course might include learning the essentials of linear algebra, statistics, or computer programming in order to analyze and understand the experimental data sets that support these landmark theories of Physics.
The Upper School History and Social Science department hopes to foster the curiosity, empathy, respectful debate, and courage required by our increasingly pluralistic society and globalized world. Classes attempt to achieve this by developing the historical skills of close reading, analysis, evaluation, and research. We also practice grappling with multiple points of view and conflicting interpretations in order to reach nuanced and balanced understandings of the past and of the present. We study previous and contemporary dilemmas in order to develop the intellectual and emotional skills that are required to apply the Goals and Criteria of the Sacred Heart network in our local, national, and international civic life. In the process, students are prepared for college writing and standardized tests.
World History I: Prehistory through 15th Century (Grade 9)
The course begins with building the foundations for the study of history (historiography) with an analysis of the summer reading, The Epic of Gilgamesh. Using this epic poem, we not only practice how to evaluate sources, but also how to develop and organize the rich historical interpretations of the Neolithic Revolution. Then we dive into comparative study of other early civilizations in Africa, Asia and the Americas. Next, the development of Classical Civilizations is explored, along with an examination of their interactions with pastoralists. Finally, the year ends with the study of the Post-Classical Period and the acceleration of global contact that led to the Modern Era. Thematic connections between literature and its historical context are emphasized through the reading of The Odyssey, Julius Caesar and Antigone in English 9. Library research is introduced through projects that focus on information evaluation skills and proper citation formatting. Students also develop their digital literacy and civic skills by evaluating news sources in a running current events project.
World History II: 15th Century through the Present (Grade 10)
In this second half of the Sacred Heart world history sequence, students bring their studies of the global past up to the present, as they continue to grapple with the thorny question of whether world history represents a story of progress. The year begins with a discussion of the summer reading assignment, Tom Standage’s History of the World in Six Glasses, which serves as a bridge between the ninth and tenth grade courses. We then continue through a series of thematic units as we explore the variety of forces that have knit the world ever more closely together over the past five centuries. The course emphasizes historical analysis, communication skills, and ethical judgment, and assessments will take many forms, including in-class discussions and debates, independent research, primary source analysis, written essays, and creative projects. Students will also participate in the National History Day program, through which they will produce a work of original historical scholarship and will have the option of presenting at local, state, and national NHD competitions.
United States History (Grade 11)
This course investigates the major themes and events in American history since colonial times that have helped to shape the American character. The course of study is guided by the central questions: What does it mean to be “American”? How has the meaning of American identity changed, and not changed, over time? Students will trace the origins, essence, and significance of American identity across time by closely examining ten key turning points in American history. Students will be challenged to critically analyze a wide variety of primary and secondary sources and to develop organized, well-substantiated, and precise analytical essays. The course includes the writing of a research paper that evaluates the solutions posed by various constituents to solve a dilemma in American history. Active class participation is an integral part of the course. This course prepares students for the SAT United States History subject test in May/June.
Psychology (Grade 12)
This course serves as an introduction to the study of psychology as a science. It covers major topic areas such as the structure/function of the nervous system, biological basis for behavior, Personality Theory, Sensation/Perception, Learning Theory and so on. Year-long themes include: the nature of scientific theory, the necessary and sufficient aspects of a “theoretical explanation” of behavior and the ethical implications of the diagnosis and treatment of behavior.
Macroeconomics (Grade 12)
In keeping with the Sacred Heart goal of preparing students “to be active, informed, and responsible citizens locally, nationally, and globally,” this course invites students to embrace the individual and communal responsibility of informed economic decision-making. This policy-oriented course will explore macroeconomic topics including the causes of booms, recessions, and crises; the effects of fiscal and monetary policies; the state’s role in managing and regulating markets; and the challenges of globalization, inequality, and international development. Students will approach these problems from a theoretical and practical perspective, becoming proficient in a wide range of economic concepts while also applying them to understand historical and contemporary issues. The course will make frequent use of reporting on current events, including articles and analysis from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and The Financial Times. At the end of the semester, students will develop a detailed analysis of a piece of economic policy recently enacted or under consideration in New York City, assessing the policy for its impact on a broad range of communities within the city.
The Late Great 1968 (Grade 12)
1968 was a watershed year in global history. From Berkeley to Mexico City, from Paris to Prague, and from Trento to Tokyo, the years from the late 1950s to the early 1970s witnessed a moment of political and cultural upheaval that challenged the authority of governments, societies, long-standing institutions, and traditional ways of thought. The events associated with the ‘long 1960s’ transcended the realm of conventional politics: long hair, exotic clothing, rock music, and ostentatiously casual behavior became distinctive marks of a ‘restless youth’. The decade of the 1960s witnessed the rise of mass movements dedicated to racial, economic, and sexual justice, the overthrow of long-standing colonial regimes in Africa and Asia, and the mobilization of a new transnational countercultural activism among the youth, all amidst the backdrop of the ensuing Cold War. In this course, students will be challenged to connect, contextualize, and compare the radical reform movements of the 1960s that birthed new social, cultural, and political norms both at home and beyond our borders. Throughout the semester, students will examine a wide variety of primary and secondary sources including speeches, films, memoirs, and political treatises to gain a greater understanding of the aspirations, transnational connections, and achievements of 1960s-era activists. Students will finish the semester by completing a research paper that applies a comparative, transnational, or global lens to a topic, event, or movement of their choosing.
Current Events (Grade 12)
This semester-long course empowers students to be informed and active consumers of the news as well as thoughtful participants in a robust democracy. Part of the course is designed to be flexible for analyzing and evaluating the most up-to-date current events and will rely on seminar-style discussions and responsible research of news articles, blogs, podcasts, and documentaries. The other part of the course gives students the opportunity to pursue their curiosity by reading non-fiction books and supplementary sources to investigate a contemporary issue. Throughout the year students will practice distinguishing between opinion and fact, between evidence-based statements and less substantive rhetoric, between reductionist and nuanced reporting, and between sensationalism and credible journalism. The course will culminate in a final project that requires community engagement and personal reflection.
Entrepreneurial Microeconomics (Grade 12)
Microeconomics is the branch of economics that studies how individual firms make decisions, and in this course, students will explore this question through a practical introduction to the challenges of starting a socially responsible small business. In addition to mastering foundational microeconomic concepts including price elasticity, measures of profit, and costs of production, students will also consider these problems from the entrepreneur’s perspective, addressing issues including possible sources of startup funding, marketing strategies, and the process of researching and writing a business plan. And, given the school’s Goal Three “commitment to justice, peace, and the integrity of creation,” we will explore how a combination of sound public policy and ethical business leadership might generate both profit and social progress. The course will culminate in a business pitch competition, in which student teams develop detailed proposals for new small businesses and present them to an audience of their peers, faculty and staff, and guest judges.
Immigrants in American History (Grade 12)
Long considered a “nation of immigrants” and a “melting pot”, there is no denying that America is a country that was birthed, built, and molded by immigrants. But the story of immigration to America is complex, complicated, and multifaceted. This course traces the history of immigration and the meaning of citizenship from America’s very beginnings to the present day. In this course, students will investigate the many issues, events, and controversies surrounding the history of American immigration: questions of inclusion and exclusion, settlement patterns, issues of race, gender, and ethnicity, and the evolution of federal immigration policy. As we move chronologically through time, students will be pushed to critically analyze, question, and critique commonly held narratives surrounding immigration by examining a wide variety of primary and secondary sources to substantiate their interpretations. This course will place particular emphasis on exploring lived immigrant experiences throughout American history. Throughout the semester, students will conduct independent research, engage in mock debates on immigration issues, and apply historical context and perspective to current events surrounding immigration.
History of the Modern Middle East (Grade 12)
This course is a broad survey of the rich and complex history of the Middle East. It begins by investigating the term itself, since the definition of the “Middle East” is contested. The class will then turn to a chronological organization of the region’s history, beginning with the challenges faced by the Ottoman Empire at the turn of the 20th century and ending with the most current events of the region. Along the way we will examine the extent to which imperialism, modernization, nationalism, and migration impacted the lives of different states and groups of people. Specific turning points that will be examined include: the impact of WWI; the secularist reforms of Ataturk; the genesis and continued significance of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict; the rise of Nasserism; the Islamic Revolution of 1979; the Persian Gulf Wars; the Arab Uprisings of 2011; and the ongoing civil and proxy wars in Syria and Yemen. Students will engage closely with an array of primary and secondary sources, weigh multiple perspectives, and develop their own evidence-based arguments in writing, research, and class discussions. As a final project, students will have the choice of either conducting an interview to aid in the research of a topic of their choice, or creating a secondary source that can be used to teach others about a topic of their choice.
The mock trial program is a competition that has two purposes. The first is to teach high school students basic trial practice skills. Students learn the dynamics of a courtroom, how to conduct direct and cross-examinations, how to present opening and closing statements and how to think on their feet. Students will also learn to analyze legal issues and apply the law to the facts of the case. The second, and most important, purpose of the competition is to teach professionalism. Students learn ethics, civility and how to be zealous but courteous advocates for their clients. Good sportsmanship and respect for all participants are central to this competition. The program is open to students in grades 9 through 12.
Model United Nations
The goal of the Model UN is to simulate real United Nations and international bodies. Each participant will represent a country, a person or organization and advocate their policy and interests on a committee. Model UN hopes to facilitate greater understanding of international issues and promote a sense of international responsibility between participants. Ultimately, delegates should come away with a better understanding of the processes of international politics and negotiation and recognize the importance of multilateral cooperation. Model UN helps students better understand the international system, along with the numerous problems it faces. The program is open to students in grades 9 through 12.
Sacred Heart recognizes the impact of technology on society today and the far-reaching effects it will continue to have on our future. Interested students are encouraged to take additional elective computer science courses in grades 10 through 12. Elective courses are “hands-on” experiences in which students use their creativity, imagination and understanding of the software to produce projects that utilize the capabilities of the software they are using. Computer science is a rapidly changing field and our courses emphasize the computational thinking and digital literacy skills that will help our students think critically and make informed decisions about the digital world around them. We emphasize that computer science is ultimately about problem solving, critical thinking, and creativity. Students will work with a range of applications and gain the skills to think critically about the role that technology plays in their lives, make a webpage, write a program, or build a robot.
Upper School students have a range of technical resources to support their coursework. Each US student has an iPad for use throughout the year. Students use G Suite to store and back up their work, access e-mail for academic purposes and have access to the Internet through a high-speed T-1 connection. The computer lab is open daily for student and faculty use from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and until 4:30 p.m. on Friday.
*Courses and topics may be subject to change due to distance learning
Exploration of Computer Science (Grade 9)
In Exploration of Computer Science, students will get an overview of computer science, computational thinking, robotics and engineering. Students will begin the first unit by taking exploring different engineering and CS industries and looking at female leaders in STEM. Beginning in November, students will use Arduinos to design a programmable light-up Christmas ornament. After Christmas break, students will then learn about the Engineering Design Process and work as an engineering team to design a sailable boat. The final unit will be learning about mathematical computation by completing a math programming challenge in Python. The year will conclude with a “Tech for Social Good,” an open-ended project where they can choose between using Micro-bits, Raspberry Pi, or Circuit playground programmed in Python, to bring awareness to local or global issues.
Web Development and Physical Computing (Grade 10)
Intro to Python and Data Analysis (Grade 11)
This course will take students from the basics of Python to exploring many different types of data using popular Python libraries. Students will create images in python and learn how to print on the laser cutter and sewing machine. Students will also learn how to prepare data for analysis, perform mathematical computations, create meaningful data visualizations, and predict future trends from data. Students will analyze datasets from familiar Taylor Swift lyrics to large open-sourced data sets such as NYC public data, SAT scores based on the 5 boroughs, tuberculosis deaths in third world countries, and much more.
Advanced Computer Science (Grade 12)
This course is designed to be equivalent to an intro-level computer science class at the college level. The first half of this course students will learn Python programming language. Students become comfortable viewing data and manipulating data through Python. Students will also explore Python libraries that intersect with Chemistry, Physics, Biology, and mathematics. The second half of the course, students will identify and research a global issue and develop a solution using Python or another programming language.
The Visual Arts program is designed to meet the needs of Upper School students for creative visual expression and literacy through disciplined work to develop individual gifts. Effective and affective learning that incorporates historical perspective and theory in addition to studio practice offers students opportunities for growth in imaginative, intellectual, emotional and sensory abilities through guided experiences in each art medium. All students take Visual Foundations in grade 9. Older students may elect courses in photography, ceramics, sculpture, painting/drawing and film/video. Advanced Placement courses are offered in all media, including AP Studio Art Portfolios in 2-Dimensional Design (including photography), 3-Dimensional Design (ceramics and sculpture) and Painting, Drawing, PrintMaking and Mixed-Media.
Visual Foundations 9
This course is the gateway and prerequisite for all 10th-12th visual art classes. It introduces students to visual issues including line, color, texture, value, perspective and composition. Through problem solving assignments and critiques, students acquire a wide range of perceptual, technical and critical skills with 2D (painting, drawing and photography, both digital and darkroom) and 3D art forms (ceramics and textiles). Film History is explored with class lecture and the viewing of film clips supplemented with the text Understanding Movies by Louis Ginannetti. Students keep a sketchbook and receive weekly homework. Their work is exhibited throughout the school year. Assignments build sequentially from skill building exercises to projects that place greater emphasis on individual expression supported with sound craftsmanship. Visual concepts and correct use of visual vocabulary are emphasized through critiques that provide the opportunity for students to practice analytical skills in an atmosphere that is both intellectually critical and emotionally supportive. Exposure to historical and contemporary works of art through various media such as an art history textbook and field trips contextualize each assignment.
In Sculpture, students will explore the principles and elements of three-dimensional art and the idea that all sculptures are forms, but not all forms are sculpture. Students will learn techniques such as mold making and carving, creating sculpture through addition and subtraction with a variety of materials such as wire, wood, and textiles.
Art Portfolio Drawing
In this course, students continue to develop their established knowledge base of materials and techniques with more advanced mediums such as stone and plaster. Using a wide breadth of media through projects and prompts, students learn how to create three-dimensional forms while developing and strengthening their individual voices. In preparation for the AP test their senior year, importance is placed on creatively problem solving with the material at hand. Students will explore contemporary, modern, and historically important artists and their works to inspire and inform their own art. Encouraged to make bold choices with their art practice, students explore all possibilities of three-dimensional art making.
AP 3D Design Sculpture
The AP portfolio is centered on a “sustained investigation.” Students use a combination of their technical knowledge, risk-taking, ideas, exploration, and their own observations. The concept of a body of work will be introduced. Using a variety of approaches, students will develop their concentration through themes, concepts and or translating a single medium. With class and open studio time, students are guided while working independently. Group discussion and critiques broaden students to differing perspectives. New York is used a resource, students are encouraged to visit the many world-class museums and galleries to see examples of art in person. Discovery of different mediums and individualized concepts are used to visualize the form.
Painting and Drawing
Students explore contemporary and historic styles, techniques and approaches to image-making, combining new and traditional media in painting, drawing and printmaking. With emphasis on a personal relationship to materials and subject matter, students are challenged to transform ideas from imagination and observation into meaningful, complex visual statements. Trips to museums and galleries, research and class critiques build skills of visual analysis enabling students to interpret, understand and utilize what they see. This course can be repeated in Grades 10 through 12 with students working at individual skill levels.
Art Portfolio Drawing
In Art Portfolio Drawing, grade 11 students have an opportunity to work with a broad range of media and conceptual approaches. This course is the first half of a two-year sequence that culminates in senior year with the submission of an Advanced Placement Studio Art Portfolio in either 2D Design (emphasis on experiments with design elements and principles) or Drawing (including painting, printmaking and mixed media). Students learn critical skills in visual analysis, developing an awareness of art history and critical theory through critiques, readings and trips to museums and galleries in addition to studio experience. One Visual Arts course beyond grade 9, or permission of the instructor, is a prerequisite for this course.
AP Art 2D Design or Drawing Portfolio
The Advanced Placement Art Portfolio course in grade 12 emphasizes painting, drawing or printmaking and culminates with the submission to the College Board in May of an AP portfolio in either Drawing or 2D Design. This year is devoted to completion of the Breadth section and to the development of the Concentration section. In addition, five pieces are selected from those two sections to be submitted as the Quality section. For students who have invested time and effort in visual expression throughout Upper School, this course offers a challenging and rigorous environment for both structured and independent work. Studio Art Portfolio or permission of the department through a portfolio review is a prerequisite.
Emphasis is placed on the development of skills with wheel, hand building (slab, molds and extruder) and glazing techniques. Projects are assigned to challenge students to explore creative possibilities with construction of form keeping in mind function, sculptural concepts, color, and texture that convey the theme. Students are exposed to a variety of clays and glazes, both low fire and high fire. Raku and saggar firing field trips are scheduled during the year. Glaze science is explored as students learn about the fundamentals of raw materials culminating in the creation of unique clays and glazes that are tested and shared with colleagues. Field trips to galleries and museums, visiting artists and exposure to other forms of historical media support the development of expression in this medium. Student work is exhibited throughout the school year and entered in Scholastic Art competition and included in the school art publication, IRIS.
Art Portfolio Ceramics
Students develop skill with the wheel and hand building techniques. They create clays and glazes with raw materials that explore creative possibilities as they express various themes in their work that fulfill the requirements of assigned projects. Field trips to galleries and museums supplement critique and class lectures of domestic and international, historical and current ceramic art. Students learn about slip casting, use of porcelain clay, raku and saggar field trips provide other firing experiences beyond the school oxidation kilns. Open studio time is provided to support the creation of the Breadth Section for the AP Portfolio senior year. Projects are designed to expose a variety of techniques to guide students in their individual expression in this medium. This class meets three times a week.
AP Art 3D Design Portfolio (Ceramics)
The Advanced Placement Art 3D Design Portfolio in grade 12 culminates with the submission of twenty ceramic works of art to the College Board in May. Senior year is devoted to the creation and completion of the Concentration Section of the AP Exam. This offers a challenging and rigorous exploration of individualistic expression in clay and glaze supported with advanced skill of acquired technique. Students explore a theme grounded in research of either classical or current ceramic art supporting their thesis. Field trips, outside firing opportunities and visiting artists are provided to support this in-depth creation of personal work. This class meets four times a week along with open studio time allowing students to work independently supplemented with individual instruction.
In the courses that make up the Photography and Film/Video curricula, students are introduced to the history of both media with library and internet materials, periodicals, DVDs, guest speakers and field trips. Students experience the creative process in the photo/art medium and are encouraged in their engagement with personal creative expression through class discussion, group critiques and research utilizing the photo/film library materials. Learning to use both traditional darkroom methods and digital applications, students have access to school equipment for shooting and editing. Student work is displayed throughout the year and during the school’s film festival and is entered in the New York State Scholastic Art Awards competition.
Students are introduced to the fundamentals of darkroom developing, camera function and digital applications through a series of assigned projects with historical references to past and current photo art. Basic principles of design are explored along with the introduction of mixed media materials, which present opportunities to explore creative expression. An extensive library of periodicals and other materials encourages students to develop skills of visual analysis, critical thinking and visual interpretation of content. Students have access to 35mm, medium for- mat, 4 x 5 and 8 x 10 view cameras and open darkroom studio time for developing black and white prints. Color imagery is produced by scanning color negatives, importing digital work and then printing on Epson 3880 printers. Field trips to galleries and museums are scheduled along with visiting artists who share and discuss work. Photo art is submitted to the Scholastic Art Competition and exhibited in school throughout the year.
Art Portfolio Photography
Students become more independent and self-directed at this stage of learning. Having developed skills in the earlier prerequisite photography course, they are capable of a higher level of accomplishment and exploration, utilizing more creative techniques and procedures with dig- ital applications and 2D and 3D materials. Each student presents a statement of interest, a photographer whose work inspires her, and a statement of the equipment and material needed to explore her objective. Visits from artists and trips to galleries and museums with subsequent written critiques are assigned to all students. A portfolio for finished work is provided for each student to assemble past and present work that can be submitted to the AP application in grade 12. Work is exhibited throughout the year and submitted to the Scholastic Art Competition.
AP Art 2D Design Portfolio (Photography)
The AP 2D course of Breadth and Concentration Portfolios culminates with the submission of twenty-four original photo art works. These compositions convey skill with photography supported by advanced technique and the ability to communicate content through visual imagery. The Concentration Portfolio presents twelve images that illustrate the development of a singular theme conceived and actualized throughout senior year. Five Quality Works will be selected from both sections to be sent for evaluation by the College Board. The entire collection will be viewed and judged digitally by three separate judges. Students work both independently and on assignments that present new techniques and procedures to support the development of the arc of creativity of the thesis. Class critiques, entry to Scholastic Art Competition and exhibition throughout the year bring constructive evaluation of this body of work. This class meets four times a week with additional studio time with the darkroom and digital facilities. Students are able to borrow equipment for outside use.
Film/Video I, II and III
Students are challenged to create a broad range of films ranging from documentary, realistic, and classic, to formalist/avant-garde visual narratives. Short films and animations are designed to initiate students into the technical and creative aspects of this medium, using a range of recording equipment and professional editing software. Film history and theory are introduced throughout the year to provide a contextual background for course projects in the form of screening, discussion, and readings. AV equipment is available for student use, along with access to an extensive library of films and film literature. Student work will be shown to the greater community at our Film Festivals.
AP Art History
AP Art History explores the visual arts of different cultures, from the beginnings of art making in the prehistoric era, through modern times. This course is designed to prepare students for the spring AP Art History exam. Students are introduced to key concepts and vocabulary for the study of art through lectures, museum and gallery visits, as well as hands-on workshops of historical traditions using artist tools, techniques, and media. This course seeks to acquaint students with the historical contexts within which works have been produced as well as to develop the skills necessary for analyzing major works. Supplemental readings and discussions on subjects such as acquisition history, conservation practices, and recent discoveries help to deepen our ever evolving understanding of historical works of art.
Upper School Chorus
This ensemble, open to students in grades 9 through 12, meets twice a week. Vocal development is emphasized through ensemble singing, technical study and sight singing. Choral works from the standard classical choral repertoire as well as from jazz, contemporary music and musical theater are studied and performed. Students have the opportunity to perform solos and to work in small ensembles. The Chorus performs throughout the year at various events and presents major performances at Christmas and in the spring. The Chorus also presents a student-directed Broadway review and collaborates on major oratorio works with other independent schools.
Upper School Orchestral Ensemble
The Orchestral Ensemble is open to students in grades 9 through 12 and meets once a week for an hour and a half. Students are eligible to elect this course if they have a minimum of two years of private study experience with their instrument of choice. The ensemble will explore orchestral music from the wide range of “classical” repertoire. Students will have the experience of playing in small chamber groups as well. Study will culminate in performances at Christmas and in the spring. There will also be opportunities throughout the school year for orchestral students to perform at various sacred and secular school functions.
Madrigals is a select group of singers chosen from the ranks of the Upper School Chorus. This is a small ensemble that meets for one hour a week and performs in a variety of styles. Students are selected for their vocal excellence as well as their musicianship skills. The Madrigals perform along with the Chorus at the Christmas and spring concerts. In addition, the Madrigals are invited to perform at various other functions both at school and in the greater metropolitan area.
Students in grades 9 through 12 have the opportunity to ring in an English handbell choir. Note reading, musical sensitivity and group participation are the fundamentals for members of the choir. All members of the choir are taught to ring all octaves of the bells. Rehearsals are twice weekly. The choir performs throughout the year.
Performing Arts Foundations
With a focus on style and genre this course gives an overview of the history of the performing arts. Exploring performance practice styles from the medieval era to contemporary 21st century art music, students are exposed to a wide range of genres and learn to make connections between music, dance, drama and events in history. Discrete units in vocal music, drama, and a library research/speech project provide hands-on approaches to the performing arts. The juxtaposition of sacred vs. secular, art vs. popular, and traditional vs. avant-garde in particular in the world of music is used to help students gain a perspective on how the arts evolve and change as civilizations proceed in time.
Solfège or sight-reading is a comprehensive course designed to acquaint the music student with the fundamentals of matching pitch to notation. Students are tutored in note-reading and gain sight-singing skills that enable them to become effective and literate musicians. Basic theory concepts and traditional solfège exercises are emphasized so that all-around musicianship is developed. This is the introductory course in a three-year sequence leading to the AP Music Theory course in grade 12.
Music Theory I
This course explores the rudiments of music theory, sight singing and ear training. Students gain a firm foundation in note-reading in various clefs, intervals, major and minor scales, chord identification, metric organization and rhythmic patterns. Through listening examples, composition and score analysis, students gain the necessary skills for advanced music theory and harmony in anticipation of the AP Music Theory course. Admission by permission of the instructor is required.
AP Music Theory
This is an advanced theory and tonal harmony course designed to equip music students with the necessary skills to recognize, understand and describe the basic materials and processes of music that are heard or presented in a score. The course proceeds with integrated approaches to the student’s further development of sight-singing, dictation, analysis, and composition. More sophisticated and creative tasks are included: composition of a bass line, realization of a figured bass, realization of Roman numeral progressions and analysis of repertoire including study of motive treatment, examination of rhythmic and melodic interaction of individual voices of a composition and harmonic analysis of functional tonal passages. Music Theory I is a prerequisite.
Upper School drama classes meet two periods per week. Students explore theater in depth, learning new theatrical styles and acting methods and using them to workshop and perform scenes from various genres. Students are taught directing skills and have the opportunity to direct themselves and each other. Ultimately they take full responsibility for scenes performed at the end of the year. Improvisational skills are also developed through games and warm-up exercises.
Performing Arts: Extra-Curricular Activities
The Performing Arts Department sponsors two major productions a year: a fall drama production and a winter musical. Being collaborative in nature, these programs encourage teamwork and personal growth and help to develop a sense of community. While they are a major time commitment, many of the most successful students and school leaders are involved in these programs.
The cast of the musical is chosen by audition open to all Upper School students. Rehearsals take place three afternoons a week after school. They culminate in a matinee and two evening performances during the winter. The choice of musical is taken from the wide range of American musical theater repertoire.
The cast of the drama production is chosen by audition and is open to all students in the Upper School. Rehearsals take place on Mondays and Wednesdays after school and result in two evening performances during the fall term. Plays are chosen to introduce students to the major works of playwrights that encompass a variety of theater styles.
The forensics team competes annually in local, regional and national speech and debate tournaments. Upper School students in grades 9 through 12 are eligible and there are no prerequisites. Students must be available one free period per week and must compete in a minimum of five tournaments annually. The local competition season is October through March. Opportunities abound to improve stage presence, self-confidence, expression and public speaking skills, as well as to compete and socialize with students from other schools and regions.
In keeping with the Sacred Heart’s mission to educate the whole child and to encourage students to take responsibility for their health and well-being, the Upper School has developed a comprehensive wellness program. Multifaceted, the program seeks to cultivate in students the understanding that their overall sense of well-being is informed by several factors—physical, psychological, social, and emotional—and the choices that they make in their lives. The wellness program encourages students to take a stake in their personal growth by helping them identify and choose options that promote their overall integrity and well-being.
Several departments collaborate to deliver the wellness program which continually builds on the foundation established in the earlier high school grades. In 9th and 10th grades, the program seeks to promote the understanding of the range of factors encompassed by wellness, to help students identify personal strengths and vulnerabilities in their own sense of wellness, and to provide mentors and models in helping students cultivate resilience and healthy decision-making in their lives in and outside of school. In 11th and 12th grades, the program seeks to strengthen the student’s sense of using “wise freedom” in taking responsibility for her own well-being. In encouraging students to use their self-knowledge to make choices that promote health and wellness, the program seeks to cement the foundation for healthy decision-making that the students can continually turn to as young adults when they leave Sacred Heart.
Components of the Upper School Wellness Program include but are not limited to Life Skills classes (grades 9 & 10), Physical Education (grades 9-12), Advisory Program (grades 9-12), College Counseling program (grades 9-12), Peer Support (grade 9), Campus Ministry and Retreat Program (grades 9-12).
Biological, socio-cultural, psychological and spiritual dimensions of human development are explored in life skills classes in grades 9 and 10 and through lectures and workshops led by leading clinicians in various fields. Students discuss decision-making, peer pressure, sexuality, individuality, families, friendships, community, nutrition, online media, depression and anxiety, drug/alcohol education and other aspects of students’ health. Units are led by the Upper School Social Worker as well as guest lecturers, all experts in their fields.
Although students in grades 11 and 12 do not have Life Skills classes, they continue to discuss topics related to their physical, psychological, social and emotional health through lectures, workshops, retreats designed in collaboration by the support team and other departments.
Grades 9 through 12
The physical education program for grades 9-12 offers students a series of physical activities which complement the extensive interscholastic athletic teams and introduce wellness programs that foster student interest in lifelong activities. All students will experience core-curricular courses in self-defense, swimming, CPR/AED certification, fitness concepts and yoga technique along with other elective options.
As a member of the Athletic Association of Independent Schools of New York City, Sacred Heart competes on a varsity and junior varsity level with ten neighboring schools each season. In addition, games are scheduled with a number of other private schools. Varsity and junior varsity teams include basketball, cross-country, badminton, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track and field and volleyball. Grade 8 teams include basketball, soccer, softball, swimming, track and field and volleyball.
This program is designed to support the academic program at Sacred Heart and offers assistance to students who are having difficulty with writing, reading comprehension, organization and/or study skills. The particular needs of individual students are addressed through one-on-one or small group instruction. The purpose of the program is to provide students with the support they need to meet the requirements of their various academic courses as they improve their skills and grow toward greater independence in their educational endeavors.
The college counseling program is a comprehensive four-year process that begins with informal counseling in grades 9 and 10 for students and their parents. In junior year, students are introduced to the college search process through weekly classes. The classes continue to meet weekly throughout the first semester of the senior year, exposing students to topics relevant at that stage of the college application process.
The mission of the library program, guided by the Goals and Criteria of Sacred Heart Schools in the United States, is to support the curricular needs of all students, to integrate the effective use of library and information resources in the curriculum, to provide an environment conducive to learning, study and research, to foster a lifelong appreciation of literature and reading for pleasure, to help students critically select and evaluate information in all formats and to support the faculty’s development of curricula and teaching strategies.
Upper School library services are centered in two landmark rooms overlooking Central Park. Library staffing, hours, instruction and collections are designed to serve the needs of the whole Upper School community. Two librarians are available during and after school hours. Library research classes in grades 9, 10 and 11 are an integral part of the curriculum. Information literacy instruction, reader’s advisory and research assistance are available for all students on request. Librarians also assist faculty with research and the use of online information resources. The Upper School library collections include more than 15,000 books and DVDs and more than 50 magazine and newspaper subscriptions. Hundreds of new library resources are added annually to enrich learning for both students and faculty.
The resources of a virtual library are available both in school and at home. The Library Online webpage provides access to the patron’s catalog and to numerous specialized subscription databases and eBooks, which contain the full text of thousands of periodicals, including The New York Times, encyclopedias and dictionaries.
The library program is dedicated to maintaining the highest quality of instructional services, acquiring the best materials in all formats and keeping pace with the latest information technologies.
Upper School students learn the rudiments of compelling oral presentation: concise organization of content, performance technique, and audience interaction. Because public speaking is integrated into curricula, oral assessments foster communication and technology skills, and encourage students to demonstrate a nuanced and personal mastery of academic material. Oral presentations range in length from three to forty minutes, and range in style from persuasive orations to public address.
“Genuine love always takes the form of service. In a world plagued by injustice, torn by violence and fear, you must stand by the most wounded and needy. At a school of the Sacred Heart, you will learn to take little steps and big steps to set God’s Kingdom right.” —Life at the Sacred Heart, 1982
Sacred Heart is committed to be agents of constructive change.
- We are dedicated to delving deeper to understand the underlying causes of injustices and move our faith towards action.
- We strive to act for justice in the areas of: Health, Hunger, Housing, Environment, and Education.
- We strive to develop ways to share our resources that are not readily available to many local and international organizations.
- We strive to collaborate with organizations that seek the same common purpose.
Our hearts are open to these challenges and we strive to live out the mission of our school through our 3 tier service-learning program.
In the 9th grade, students begin a unique two-year Social Justice sequence that prepares them to look within by exploring their personal values and ways to become active citizens in our local community through YPI (Youth and Philanthropy Initiative). In addition to looking inward, they look outward by exploring social issues that impact NYC. The skills learned through the YPI curriculum prepare our students to move into Sacred Heart’s 10th grade Social Action program, where they commit to volunteering at one agency through their sophomore year to address the needs of the most needy. Through personal and group reflection, students enter their final two years of high school with a firm foundation, which allows them to lead social action initiatives.
In grades 11 and 12, students participate in leading myriad service-oriented clubs and have the opportunity to participate in domestic and international service-learning immersions. We strive to build individual student character and foster interdependent student and adult relationships in and beyond the walls of our school. The service work completed by Sacred Heart students is explicitly beneficial to the participants through deep reflection on what is learned from each experience.
As students prepare to graduate from Sacred Heart they have the opportunity to intern in our school’s H.E.A.R.T. program, which addresses the needs of families living in under-resourced communities in NYC. Health Education And Responsible Tools provides children and their families with the tools to develop lifelong habits and routines to foster wellness, health, self-esteem and academic achievement. By providing fitness opportunities, access to affordable & nutritious food, and techniques for healthy food preparation, the goals of H.E.A.R.T. will be to educate, support and empower the families to extend these outcomes into their daily lives. Many of our college alumnae will then return to teach classes at H.E.A.R.T., which includes participating in a teacher training institute run by our present and retired faculty.
The service-learning program in the upper school is organized through the office of the Director of Community Outreach in collaboration with faculty, staff, parents and administrative offices and often with other divisions.
Campus Ministry, in conjunction with the student activities and community service programs at Sacred Heart, aims to enrich the Upper School academic program by providing students with a range of spiritual practices and experiences to enhance their Upper School years. The campus ministry team, comprised of students, religion faculty and the school priest, coordinates liturgies, sacramental opportunities, prayer services, retreats and celebrations of Sacred Heart traditions and feasts. All students and faculty, regardless of religious background, are encouraged to participate or to help with the planning of campus ministry events. They act as lectors, cantors and Eucharistic ministers and share their gifts of song and dance at Eucharistic celebrations.
The carefully planned retreat program in the Upper School complements the religion curriculum and offers an opportunity each year for students to explore their relationship with God, self, and others. Students of each grade are chosen to be retreat leaders to give the retreats structure and content. They meet with the religion faculty a few times before any given retreat. Seniors meet weekly over the course of several months to prepare the Kairos retreat for the juniors. Faculty volunteers participate in the grade level retreats and actively engage in the discussions or give witness to their faith.
The Grade 9 retreat takes place in November and inducts the students into the Sacred Heart family as a new and unique freshman class. They reflect on the meaning of being part of a new class community and how they can bring their individual gifts to strengthen the group. Special attention is given to team building and discovering unity within plurality. The Grade 10 retreat emphasizes student reflection on how they can be their best selves, loving God, neighbor, and self evermore fully. What are the experiences and relationships that help them thrive and allow them to share their gifts with the community and beyond through service? Grade 11 goes on a Kairos retreat. This retreat has been designed and adapted for juniors. Students leave on a Wednesday after school and return by Friday afternoon, usually the week after Christmas vacation. It is an overnight retreat outside Manhattan. It builds from one day to the next. Six to eight student leaders (from the senior class) with two members of the religion department and different faculty who have been selected prepare this retreat over a period of several months. These leaders and faculty members then share their stories and connect Jesus to their own story of growing in faith during the actual retreat. Besides faith sharing, there are a variety of activities included and occasions of prayer and reflection provided. A few of the themes addressed, are: Lifeline, Knowing Yourself, God’s Friendship, Results of and Obstacles to God’s Friendship, and Love in Action. Grade 12 is a time of transition. As a continuation of Kairos, the senior retreat’s focus is on Life Directions. Students discuss values, options and ideals. What choices are life-giving? What is the right direction? How to leave high school? How to cope with the risks of leaving family and friends? What do they regret in their past but what can they learn from it to move on? Is this the end, the beginning, or the continuation of a spiritual life after CSH? What role does God play in their choices?