Twelfth Grade Course Descriptions


In twelfth grade English, we move to evermore challenging texts and independent work in preparation for the rigors of college-level academic work. We begin the year with a short story unit focusing on a range of authors, including James Baldwin, Tim O'Brien, and Junot Diaz. Early in the year, we begin building strategies for reading challenging non-fiction work, beginning with literary criticism on short stories, followed by a non-fiction unit centered on the philosophical and real-world aims and problems of prisons and punishment in society. We explore the social contract through works by Plato and Utilitarianism through Jeremy Bentham. Modern accounts of prison life and attempts at rehabilitation round out the unit. The Great Gatsby and Toni Morrison's Sula give students a glimpse into the world of the modern and post-modern novel, respectively, as well as a platform for exploring the values of love and success in diverse communities and eras. Sophocles’' Antigone allows students to enter the tug-of-war between familial, personal, and societal loyalties. Finally, the senior thesis, a major research project centered on a literary work read independently, gets students to work on a longer, research project that models college-level assignments in it's scope, at least ten pages with a full annotated bibliography, and complexity.

Advanced Placement English

This class is designed to prepare students for the level and types of reading and writing that will be expected of students in college and on the AP exam in the spring. Texts will include memoir excerpts, Go Tell It On the Mountain, Oedipus Rex, Brave New World, Hamlet, Beloved, and a novel of the student’s choice (chosen from a list of authors who commonly appear on the AP Exam), as well as classic and contemporary short fiction and poetry.

AP English requires a significant commitment of time and energy from students. A typical work load consists of about 25-30 pages of reading per night and weekly essay assignments, culminating in the Senior Thesis, a 12-15 page critical essay on a novel of the student’s choice.

AP Biology

AP Biology is a college-level course that aims to expand the depth and breadth of students’ knowledge and understanding of biological concepts. This course will prepare students to take the AP Biology Exam in May, while also building their skills in experimental design, scientific literacy, and critical thinking. Topics covered include biochemistry, origins and evolution of life, cells and cell membranes, cellular energetics, plant structures and reproduction, comparative animal anatomy and physiology, molecular and classical genetics, and ecology. In class, students will learn the material through a combination of lectures, discussions, readings, and laboratory experience, which includes 12 official AP Biology labs. Outside of class, frequent writing assignments and lab reports hone students’ critical thinking and literacy skills in preparation for the AP Exam. Successful completion of introductory biology, chemistry, and algebra II are prerequisites for this course

Anatomy and Physiology-Elective

This course will focus on exploring the science of the human body. Students in this course will gain an in-depth knowledge of the major organ systems– including the nervous system, the musculoskeletal system, the cardiovascular system, the digestive and excretory systems, the immune system, and the reproductive systems – and an understanding of how these systems work together to keep us alive and healthy. After studying each of these organ systems, we will spend the final quarter examining topics such as embryonic development, human nutrition, and cancer. A major focus of the course will be health and disease: we will read current news articles on health topics, and discuss how to design and make sense of medical and epidemiological studies. In addition, each student will complete an independent research project on a disease or health-related topic of his/her choice. Lab work will also be an important component of this course, including dissections and experimental labs.