Our Majors curriculum fosters learning in all curricular areas, thus preparing our students for higher education, lifelong learning, and a wealth of career options. Our Majors program is an accelerated model that is part of our unique, core curriculum. Starting at the middle school level, students are required to enroll in a Major, which is a rigorous discipline of study either in the Sciences or the Arts. Based on the multi-intelligences, the Majors program is designed for students to gain valuable and authentic experiences by discovering individual pathways for learning and creating.
Major courses are an integral and inspirational component of the student’s day. To prepare students for the Majors program at the elementary level, students in grades K-4 receive daily instruction in the performing arts, fine arts, foreign languages, and science in addition to traditional academic courses.
All middle and high school students deepen their knowledge and expertise within their Major, as 90 minutes per day is devoted to the pursuit of content and practices in a rigorous discipline of study either in the Sciences or the Arts. Commitment to the Major over the course of the student’s academic career cultivates discipline and expertise within his/her field of study and is a catalyst for choosing a future career path. Each Major program delves deeply into the subject, and students cultivate an immense skill set at the conclusion. As students develop within their Majors, internships and other opportunities exist to work with professionals in their chosen fields.
SCHOOLS OF MAJORS
School of Performing Arts
School of Design
School of Science and Technology
Middle School: (1) Classical Ballet (2) Contemporary Dance
High School: (1) Classical Ballet (2) Contemporary Dance
The Classical Ballet program is designed to develop technically sound, artistically conscious, and stylistically versatile dancer-artists. The curriculum is centered on Classical Ballet with an emphasis on establishing strong classroom technique and performance ability. Technique classes for female students include pointe work. Students are assessed on technique facility, classroom etiquette, and performance, as well as an understanding of dance terminology and history. Ballet majors study choreography and have the opportunity to create their own work.
Students Applying to Classical Ballet Should Consider the Following Interests and Skill Sets:
The Contemporary Dance program prepares students to become well-rounded performers. The Major includes many different styles of dance including contemporary ballet, modern, and jazz dance techniques. Students are given the opportunity to perform in these versatile genres. Students are required to conduct theoretical research on specific styles to fully understand each technique. Not only do students enhance their physical abilities, but also expand their knowledge of the many styles of choreography used in the professional arena. Through the study of Contemporary Dance, students have the opportunity to create their own work.
Students Applying to Contemporary Dance Should Consider the Following Interests and Skill Sets:
Middle School: (1) String Orchestra (2) Concert Band
High School: (1) String Orchestra (2) Concert Band
The Instrumental Music Major focuses on developing a student’s understanding of music concepts that serve as the foundation for future development of aesthetic judgment. Students apply knowledge and understanding of the elements of style, form, and cultural heritage to listen to, perform, create, and defend their musical choices. In both Instrumental Music Major tracks, students explore career possibilities in music education, music composition, the music business, and music therapy. Both tracks play an integral role in school performances and attend various outreach programs during the school year.
String Orchestra focuses on continuing the development of skills on the violin, viola, cello, or double bass. Middle school and high school students, depending on their level, are placed in beginner, general, or advanced ensemble.
Concert Band track will continue to develop skills on woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments.
Students Applying to Instrumental Music Should Consider the Following Interests and Skill Sets:
Middle School: (1) Vocal
High School: (1) Vocal
Students enrolled in the Vocal Music Major develop an understanding of music composition, theory, and production. Through the refinement of their technique, students increase their ability to identify the components of musical sound and enhance their capabilities for composing and performing. Students become musically literate, familiar with music of other cultures, and able to write and create short rhythms and melodies. Vocal Music Majors are members of the school’s Concert Choir, performing throughout the school year. Various choirs are created based on the interests and abilities of the students as they progress through the major.
Students Applying to Vocal Music Should Consider the Following Interests and Skill Sets:
Middle School: (1) Theatre: Drama & Musical Theatre
High School: (1) Theatre: Drama & Musical Theatre
The Theatre Major introduces students to performance through the theatre discipline. Students develop skills such as speech articulation, problem- solving, critical thinking, teamwork, and responsibility through scene study, character development, improvisation, and movement. Students are introduced to basic theatre terminology. Additionally, students are expected to participate in all aspects of theatre, ranging from acting to set design, to costumes and makeup. Students are trained in Broadway dance and vocal music to round out their theatre education. Theatre Majors develop confidence in their individual ideas and abilities and experience self-growth through artistic expression. As students progress through these tracks, they continue to develop and strengthen the necessary skills to enhance their performance quality.
Students Applying to Theatre Should Consider the Following Interests and Skill Sets:
Middle School (Grades 7-8 ONLY): (1) Television & Broadcast Arts
High School: (1) Television & Broadcast Arts
Students who major in Television & Broadcast Arts explore and navigate through the ever-changing field of visual communications. From film to television, to online content, TV broadcasting offers students the opportunity for hands-on experience in front of and behind the camera in all aspects of video production. The Major guides students from the evolution of an idea, into a fully planned project, through production and into post-production, editing and marketing. Students see their ideas come to life and become visual content creators. This course prepares students for college programs and careers in video production.
Students Applying to Television & Broadcast Arts Should Consider the Following Interests and Skill Sets:
Middle School: (1) Digital Design & Fine Arts
High School: (1) Fine Arts (2) 3D Design
The relationship between fine arts and digital design is a fluid one. Fine artists use technology and digital artists depend on classical drawing and design skills to support their work. Middle school Students in Digital Design & Fine Arts Major develop both technological and fine arts skills. Students study and discuss works from distinguished artists in each medium, examining current techniques and applying these techniques to projects assigned in this course. Students individually produce material for each medium to submit for critique, discussion, and grading. Student learn to both give and apply constructive criticism of peer work. By high school, students choose an area of expertise on which to concentrate their studies. Students focusing on the Digital Design component of this major have the opportunity to work with the Vine Street Campus’ motion capture studio, working in 3D animation. High school students in Fine Arts develop their skills through more traditional media with consistent integration of technology in the project-based course. Students not only gain a deeper understanding of fine art, design, and animation, but also establish a strong language for the craft while simultaneously strengthening their portfolios and developing their own unique style. The senior year capstone projects consists of a portfolio presentation in front of peers and faculty. It is a celebration of growth and achievement as students demonstrate they are the innovators of tomorrow.
Students Applying to Digital Design & Fine Arts Should Consider the Following Interests and Skill Sets:
This is a technology based track that exposes students to the computer animation pipeline through a variety of challenging concepts. Students taking this course will use industry standard software and a production quality motion capture studio to creatively expose the basics of designing in a three dimensional space.
High School: (1) XD: Experience Design
XD: Experience Design is the practice of designing products, processes, services, events, omnichannel journeys, and environments with a focus placed on the quality of the user experience and culturally relevant solutions. The design process is geared to enhancing user satisfaction with a product by improving the usability, accessibility, and desirability provided in the interaction with a product. For students passionate about getting out a message, creating interactive experiences, running campaigns or crafting and sharing a compelling product narrative, this major will provide the skills and knowledge for success.
Students Applying to XD: Experience Design Should Consider the Following Interests and Skill Sets:
Middle School: (1) Creative Writing (Not Available for Lottery Applicants)
Students who major in Creative Writing explore the genres of fiction and nonfiction in poetry, scripts, podcasts, and stories. The best writing pushes into the reader’s mind and soul. It creates worlds that ensnare the senses and characters that capture the imagination. Creative Writing students examine writing techniques that authors use to craft amazing works of literature and apply these techniques to their own stories. The techniques students study and utilize include setting, character, theme, plot, and sentence construction. Students are encouraged to explore their passion in writing by setting and meeting their individual literary goals. Individual pathways vary from creating a weekly podcast to drafting an original novel. In addition to individual studies, students learn to peer edit and produce group works and projects. Students are responsible for researching, brainstorming, drafting, editing, publishing, and presenting their own original works throughout their enrollment in the Creative Writing Major.
Students in Creative Writing Should Maintain and Cultivate the Following Interests and Skill Sets:
Middle School: (1) S.T.E.M.
High School: (1) S.T.E.M. (2) Life Sciences & Biotechnology (3) Engineering & Robotics
The S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) Majors program emphasizes project- and problem-based experiential learning. Throughout 5th-9th grades, students receive a solid foundation in life & physical science, engineering & computer science, and question-driven experimental design. These broad experiences provide students with the opportunity to hone their S.T.E.M. interests and focus their high school S.T.E.M. experiences down a biotechnology/life sciences or engineering/robotics track beginning at the 10th grade level.
The Biotechnology & Life Sciences curriculum includes a foundation in laboratory and biomedical sciences, life sciences, environmental science and sustainability, and the social and ethical questions associated with advancements in these disciplines. Students learn to read, synthesize, and draw conclusions from scientific publications. Students develop the foundational knowledge to design and conduct their own biological experiments in response to relevant questions in the field.
Engineering & Robotics students receive a foundation in engineering design principles, CAD design, fabrication, computer science, robotics, and electrical and mechanical engineering. Students develop a thorough grounding in the principles and practices of robotics, as well as the scientific and mathematical principles upon which they are built. Courses are focused on advanced concepts in engineering and programming to provide students with the foundational knowledge to examine, innovate, and create technology.
Students Applying to S.T.E.M. Should Consider the Following Interests and Skill Sets:
In our Elementary Schools, students begin their learning in kindergarten with immersion into our caring and highly individualized program of both academics and the arts. The curriculum creates an outstanding foundation from which academic success can be scaffolded. Students progress from one level to the next with the requisite skills not only in content but also in higher order thinking, prepared to analyze for deeper meaning.
Beginning in kindergarten, the arts program introduces students to the performance and visual arts such as drawing, vocal music, instrumental music, and dance. As their talents develop, opportunities are created for them to stretch their learning and interests. Choir, dance class, and art shows allow the students to demonstrate their learning and newly honed skills.
Research shows that early foreign language exposure enhances a child’s primary language development, thus increasing his or her brainpower!
This is why we begin our foreign language skills program in kindergarten, which naturally leads to greater success in foreign language study in high school and college. French is our language of choice and the language of the arts. The French Department uses the American Council of Teaching Foreign Language Standards for the curriculum, providing students with an interdisciplinary, cross-curricular study of the French language and culture.
As the years have passed, we have been intentional about infusing Creative Writing in all content and curricular areas, from kindergarten through 8th grade. Best practices in education dictate writing across the curriculum, and our students certainly validate their learning through written expression. Students write personal narratives, folk tales, scripts and stories related to ELA and the grade level content.
In grades five through eight, our Middle Schools, students continue to develop both academically and artistically. All content areas are now divided and taught by department, thus allowing students to experience each subject more thoroughly and distinctly. Novels are read through both independent reading and guided instruction. ELA, Math, Social Studies and Science round out the academic program. Students may take advanced classes in grades seven and eight. If students take Algebra in the eighth grade, they must also take the Keystone exam at the conclusion of the course.
Beginning in middle school, each student chooses a major, and one block per day is devoted to the pursuit of content and practices in that major. For students in middle school, the Majors are introductory, and serve as preparation for the rigor of high school Major programs.
While Majors evolve based on student interests and enjoyment in the elementary years, our current list of Middle School Majors includes:
High School begins in ninth grade and concludes with graduation in grade twelve. A typical ninth grader’s school year consists of five academic blocks, one extended majors class, one lunch period, and one advisory / mentoring period.
High school courses typically fall into one of four categories:
Typically high school freshmen take the following courses as part of their core academic program:
Both advanced and enrichment programs provide needed support for students who will benefit.
Students in tenth grade usually enroll in the following courses:
Options exist for students who will benefit from other courses, including both advanced and remedial work.
College programs exist for students beginning in tenth grade, and qualifying students are able to attend local universities for one course per term, in addition to the regular in-school program. Various schools, such as Drexel University and University of Pennsylvania, offer programs for our high achieving high school students. Visit our College Partnerships page.
Students in eleventh and twelfth grade enroll in any or all of the following courses:
Electives such as Current Events and Forensics are offered based on interest, and announced in March of the preceding year for enrollment purposes.