Curriculum and Culture

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-5 receive daily instruction in the performing arts, fine arts, foreign languages, and science in addition to traditional academic courses.

 

 

Starting at the 5th grade level, students experience an introduction to the Majors program by receiving 60 minutes of instruction per day split between two different Majors. Students in grades 6-12 spend 90 minutes per day in a single Majors course. Commitment to the Major over the course of the student’s academic career cultivates discipline and expertise within their 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

  • Dance: Classical Ballet, Contemporary Dance (Grades 6-12)
  • Instrumental Music: String Orchestra, Concert Band (Grades 6-12)
  • Vocal Music (Grades 6-12)
  • Theatre (Grades 6-12)
  • Television & Broadcast Arts (Grades 6-12)   

 

 
School of Design

  • Art & Design (Grades 6-8)
  • Applied Arts (Grades 9-12)
  • Digital Arts (Grades 9-12)
  • Fine Arts (Grades 9-12) 

 
School of Science and Technology

  • S.T.E.M. (Grades 6-9)
  • Life Sciences & Biotechnology (Grades 10-12)
  • Engineering & Robotics (Grades 10-12)

DANCE MAJOR

Classical Ballet

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:

  • Strong classical ballet technique/pointe technique and a strong desire to continue training and strengthening that technique.
  • Serious about developing classical ballet technique and remaining open to versatile ballet styles and performance themes.  
  • Knowledge and interest in history of Classical theatrical dance/ theory.
  • Classroom etiquette and discipline.
  • Performing throughout the year and after school.  

Contemporary Dance

The Contemporary Dance program is designed to meet the needs of the talented dancer who is considering a professional career in dance. The comprehensive curriculum is centered on technical proficiency, artistic development, and academic ideologies as related to contemporary dance practices. The program seeks to train dedicated dancers with attention to the whole being. Students consider their roles as dance artists, choreographers, philosophers, dance historians, and dance anthropologists. Students must participate in performances and along with this exposure, they learn professional development tactics to sustain longevity in dance within their career at school and beyond. The Major is offered to students in grades 6-12. Students in 5th grade have the opportunity to take Contemporary Dance Classes as part of an afterschool program.

 

Students Applying to Contemporary Dance Should Consider the Following Interests and Skill Sets:

  • High level of classroom etiquette, discipline, and professionalism.
  • High level of technical proficiency and serious about furthering knowledge of Contemporary Dance technique, including comprehension of terminology and vocabulary.
  • Enthusiastic about individual development as a pre-professional dance artist and respectful during peer collaboration and outreach within the community.
  • Engage in outside performances, competitions, master classes, etc. throughout the year.
  • Interest in cultivating knowledge for all aspects of dance productions, including backstage management, resume building, mock interviews and auditions, and the technical side of performances.

INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC MAJOR

The Instrumental Music Major is a performance based program focused on giving all students the opportunity to perform in a dedicated instrumental ensemble.  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 tracks, students explore career possibilities in music education, music composition, music performance, 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, intermediate, 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:

  • Be dedicated and focused.
  • Have a strong desire to continue in this Major through 12th grade.
  • Be available for after school and outside performances.
  • Already play an orchestra string or concert band instrument (violin, viola, cello, double bass, woodwind, brass, or percussion), or be willing to work hard to learn.
  • Practice at home!

VOCAL MUSIC MAJOR

Students enrolled in the Vocal Music Major learn repertoire from many genres of music and develop a respect and appreciation for the art of choral singing.  Through the refinement of their technique, students increase their ability to identify the components of musical sound and enhance their performing capabilities.  Students become musically literate through the study of Music Theory and familiar with the choral traditions of many cultures and eras of Music History.  Vocal Music Majors perform throughout the school year, and participation in these performances is required.  

 

Students Applying to Vocal Music Should Consider the Following Interests and Skill Sets:

  • Have a strong desire to sing every day for at least 90 minutes and be available for after school and outside performances.
  • Be willing to sing alone and with a choir (solo work is not a large part of this major, but students take performance tests individually).
  • Match pitch.
  • Be interested in learning how to read and write music.
  • Have the self-control and focus necessary to contribute positively in a large-group setting.

THEATRE MAJOR

 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:

  • Strong desire to develop the skills necessary for improvisation and performance.
  • Commitment to rehearsals: both in school and after school.
  • Willingness to work in groups.
  • Understanding that theatre goes beyond performance and students must participate in all areas of the art form.
  • Ability to take and apply direction on performance.

TELEVISION & BROADCAST ARTS MAJOR

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:

  • Ability to handle expensive camera, sound, and lighting equipment in a safe and responsible manner.
  • Desire to write stories and transform them into a visual realm.
  • Willingness to film after school events such as concerts, plays, exhibitions, and more.
  • An interest in how film, television, and media are used to shape our society.
  • Strong desire to use the information and skills mastered in this Major towards a degree and/or profession in media communications.

DESIGN MAJORS

Do you like to make things? Do you like to draw or build things? The Design Majors are for students who like to think with their hands, enjoy project based learning, and are curious about the art of design in the human-made world. Students begin with foundation courses introducing design and art making. In 8th grade, students transition into one of three tracks: Applied Arts, Digital Arts, or Fine Arts. In 10th grade, students select a specific discipline within that track to pursue for the remainder of their high school career.

 

Students Applying to Design Should Consider the Following Interests and Skill Sets:

  • Enjoy working and thinking with your hands: making, drawing and building (in both analog and digital mediums). Abide in safe making practices.
  • Aptitude for the arts and how they intersect with math and the sciences.
  • Motivated by problem finding and persistent in problem solving.
  • Interest in natural patterns, the built world, and how they relate.
  • Work collaboratively, share ideas, and contribute ideas to others’ work.

S.T.E.M. MAJORS

 S.T.E.M. (Grades 6-9)

The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) Majors program emphasizes project- and problem-based experiential learning.  Throughout this 6th-9th grades, students receive a solid foundation in the areas of earth & space science, life & physical science, and engineering & computer science.  Students learn and develop through question-driven experimental design as well as through laboratory citizenship and collaboration.  

 

6th grade STEM students solidify previously practiced laboratory skills and explore various aspects of STEM as they work to identify themselves as Scientists, Engineers, and/or Makers. Students study a variety of contents throughout the year, with a heavy focus on Design and Experimental Thinking, so that they are well-rounded and well-versed in the foundational skills needed to continue their studies at the Vine Street Campus.  Students should be prepared to design questions, plan possible solutions, test their own theories, and turn every outcome into a learning experience. 

 

At the high school level, students fine tune their STEM interests and by 10th grade, they choose a track within biotechnology/life sciences or engineering/robotics.


Life Sciences & Biotechnology (Grades 10-12)

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 (Grades 10-12)

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:

  • Desire to ask questions.
  • Persistence in problem solving.
  • Ability to work collaboratively.
  • Embrace the value of iteration.
  • Aptitude for Science & Math.

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 sixth through eighth, 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:

  • Classical Ballet and Contemporary Dance
  • String Orchestra and Concert Band
  • Vocal Music
  • Theatre
  • Television & Broadcast Arts (7th-8th Grades)
  • Digital Design & Fine Arts
  • Creative Writing
  • S.T.E.M.
(Applies to Philadelphia Performing Arts ONLY)

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:

  • College Prep — for average students who will be college and career ready at the conclusion of grade twelve;
  • Honors — for students who are able to pursue in-depth study and who are willing to spend extra time outside of class working independently to complete require additional reading and writing assignments;
  • Advanced Placement — utilizing College Board Advanced Placement curriculum, receive college credit on the completion of a mandatory exam;
  • College courses — begins in tenth grade.

String Theory Schools’ curriculum is aligned with the Pennsylvania’s Standards Aligned System (SAS), http://www.pdesas.org/, and the Pennsylvania Common Core Standards, www.corestandards.org.

High School Graduation Requirements

Major: 8 credits

English: 4 credits

Social Studies: 3 credits

Math: 3 credits

Science: 3 credits

Additional Math/Science: 1 credit

French: 2 credits

Health/PE: 1 credit

High School Course List

ENGLISH

  • English 1: College Prep
  • English 1: Honors
  • English 2: College Prep
  • English 2: Honors
  • English 3: College Prep
  • English 3: Honors
  • AP Language and Composition
  • Upper Level English: Author Study: Shakespeare
  • Upper Level English: Thematic Study: Why Are We Here? Exploring the Meaning of Life through Literature
  • Upper Level English: Genre Study: Discovering Your Voice and Purpose through Biographies & Memoirs
  • Upper Level English: Genre Study: Science Fiction
  • Upper Level English Honors: Resonate: English Comp and Visual Storytelling
  • Upper Level English Honors: Illuminate: Public Speaking and Storytelling

MATH

  • Algebra 1: College Prep
  • Geometry: College Prep
  • Geometry: Honors
  • Algebra 2: College Prep
  • Algebra 2: Honors
  • Pre-Calculus: College Prep
  • Pre-Calculus: Honors
  • Calculus: Honors
  • Financial Literacy
  • Statistics
  • AP Statistics
  • SAT Math
  • Elementary Statistics for Entrepreneurship
  • Quantification for Design though Foundations of Math
  • MicroEconomics through Design

WORLD LANGUAGE

  • French I
  • French II
  • Advanced French

SCIENCE

  • Biology: College Prep
  • Biology: Honors
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Physics 2
  • Environmental Science
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Astronomy
  • Forensics
  • Epidemiology

SOCIAL STUDIES

  • World Cultures: College Prep
  • World Cultures: Honors
  • American History: College Prep
  • American History: Honors
  • US Government: College Prep
  • US Government: Honors
  • AP US Government
  • Philadelphia History
  • African American History
  • Contemporary Social Problem/Social Entrepreneurship
  • Business Ethics

ADDITIONAL COURSES

  • Music Theory
  • AP Music Theory
  • Pathways to Credit
  • Pathways to Service
  • Pathways to Independent Study Projects
  • Architecture – Principles and Methods
  • Particle Gaming
  • Particle Game Development
  • Concert Choir
  • Music Production
  • College, Career, and Community

 

 

 

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.

Extracurricular Activities In the Arts Include:

  • Choir
  • Dance
  • Dance Instructional
  • Arts Film
  • Instrumental
  • Jazz
  • Literature
  • Orchestra
  • Poetry
  • School Musicals
  • Plays
  • Theater
  • Theater Group
  • Visual Arts
  • Vocal Music

Sports Programs:

  • Baseball
  • Boys Basketball
  • Girls Basketball
  • Cheerleading
  • Cross country
  • Boys Soccer
  • Girls Soccer
  • Softball
  • Boys Volleyball
  • Girls Volleyball
  • Swimming

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