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Upper School Curriculum Guide 

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At St. Paul’s School for Girls, we help each of our students become the most incredible versions of themselves possible. In an environment of absolute love and support, founded on principles of inclusion and compassion, SPSG cultivates a bold and courageous community of unique girls. As part of a family of sisters, our girls are inspired intellectually and ethically as each one forges her own academic and intellectual path. While providing a robust foundation and framework in each of the disciplines. We empower our students to seek multiple perspectives, ask authentic questions, communicate with confidence, work in teams, solve problems across disciplines, and create original work. We emphasize process and value dialogue. Age appropriate challenges and choices, along with opportunities for healthy risks and reflection, empower each of our girls with the skills, spirit, creativity, and confidence to inspire, innovate, and contribute to her community.

MISSION: St. Paul’s School for Girls educates hearts and minds in an inclusive community that is grounded in the Episcopal values of respect, integrity, and spiritual growth. We empower voice, nurture intellectual curiosity and creativity, and inspire confident leaders who serve in the world.

DIVERSITY STATEMENT: Believing that every child is a child of God and that trust, understanding, and mutual respect lie at the heart of our community, St. Paul’s School for Girls is committed to creating a supportive learning environment where all individuals are valued for their unique contributions and are able to achieve their highest potential. We strongly believe that a diverse and inclusive community is the best learning environment for our girls and prepares them to live, work, and thrive in an increasingly global and multicultural community. We reject all prejudice, particularly those based on race, national and ethnic origin, religion, socioeconomic status, gender identity, sexual orientation, and physical characteristics.

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1. An innovative thinker with the skills and knowledge to ask compelling questions, seek multiple perspectives, and create original work

2. A lifelong learner who demonstrates intellectual curiosity and a passion for new ideas

3. A confident communicator, prepared to engage in thoughtful dialogue, bring groups together to solve problems, and inspire positive action

4. A healthy risk taker who embraces challenges, demonstrates initiative, and is resourceful and resilient

5. A joyful woman who holds work and responsibility in balance with time for physical fitness, spiritual growth, personal interests, and friends and family

6. A conscientious community member who demonstrates empathy and integrity, respects every individual as a child of God, and acts as a steward of the earth’s resources

7. A leader with global perspective who serves others and contributes to the betterment of her society

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The Arts: 1.5 credits, completing at least one full credit (two semesters or one year-long course) by the end of the sophomore year

English: 4 credits and successful completion of the Senior Paper

Health, Wellness, and Physical Education: Physical Education/Activity Points – 5 points required for graduation

All Students are required to take the following classes:

  • Grade 9: PLUS (Preparing for Life in the Upper School)
  • Grade 10: Lifetime Fitness and Wellness
  • Grade 10: Health
  • Participation in one full year of Inertia Dance Program (0.50 credit/1.0)
  • Participation in one full Season of a JV or Varsity SPSG sport (0.25 credit, max 0.50/year)
  • Participation in one semester of Kinetic Wellness class (0.25 credit, max 0.50/year)
  • Participation in fall musical (0.25 credit) - Participation in one SPSG sports club, personal fitness activity, or dance class that meets for 12 weeks and at least 3 hours per week (0.25 credit, max 0.50/year)
  • Independent, off campus study is available by application and prior approval only. 

Transfer students will be asked to supply evidence via a transcript about previous health, wellness, physical education and sport participation. A pro-rated scale may be implemented on a case by case basis based on transcripts.

History and Social Sciences: 3 credits of history/social science, including Modern World and United States History.

Math: 4 credits of mathematics, including Geometry and Algebra 2

Science: 3 credits of science, including Biology, Chemistry, and Physics

Religious Studies: 1 credit, including World Religions in Grade 9 and at least one semester-long elective offering, taken in Grade 11 or 12

World Language: 3 consecutive years of one language; exceptions may be made only by the Upper School Head, in conjunction with Upper School Learning Specialist

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Recommendations for Honors and AP Courses are made annually by each academic department. In making recommendations, departments will consider the general items listed below in addition to specific departmental criteria.

In some cases, course recommendations may be reevaluated once the school year begins. If the placement is not effective for a student, provisions for review will be made before the end of the drop-add period. Grades, student drive, and teacher comments are the primary evaluative tools to move a student from an honors class to a college preparatory section. Likewise, a student who demonstrates honors-level skills may be moved to the honors or AP section if the timing will not place the student at a disadvantage.

General Criteria for Honors and AP Classes

1. High academic achievement, as evidenced by Honor Roll and/or High Honor Roll recognition

2. Consistent high grades of at least a B+ or better in an honors or an AP class, or an A- or better in a standard college preparatory class

3. Consistent drive and a high caliber of sustained effort to meet all class expectations

4. Strong reading comprehension and critical and abstract thinking skills (qualitative and/or quantitative depending on the class requested)

5. A demonstrated willingness to tackle difficult concepts, issues, and problems

6. Strong standardized test scores (i.e. ERB, ISEE, EXPLORE, PSAT or SAT)

7. Independent, consistent, and timely preparation for class and long-term projects

8. Evidence of strong interest in the subject

9. Current teacher’s recommendation

Summary of Additional Requirements, by Department or Course
(A detailed description of requirements is available on each department’s page on the SPSG website)

The Arts

  • AP Studio Art: Submission of a portfolio of work to be reviewed by committee. The portfolio must consist of a significant body of work that represents a student’s developed art skills across multiple art classes


  • Graded writing samples
  • Reading comprehension skills above grade level
  • For AP classes, Verbal and Writing scores of 600 or better on the PSAT

History and Social Sciences (general)

  • Graded writing sample
  • Evidence of critical thinking demonstrated through discussion
  • Reading comprehension skills above grade level
  • High motivation and a solid work ethic


  • Ability to be an independent worker
  • Ability to think abstractly and a willingness to tackle difficult concepts and problems


Please note that the recommendation of the department is the primary criterion for all science course placements. For each course, department members will consider the specific considerations listed below in making their recommendations.

Physics Honors

  • A in Science 8
  • New Students: a 6 or better on the ISEE math section and a math teacher’s recommendation

Chemistry Honors

  • B+ or better in Honors Physics or an A in Standard Physics

Biology Honors

  • B+ or better in Honors Chemistry or an A in Standard Chemistry
  • Evidence of strong writing skills

AP Chemistry

  • B+ or better in Honors Chemistry or an A in Chemistry
  • B+ or better in Algebra 2

AP Psychology

  • B+ or better in Honors sciences or an A in Standard sciences
  • B+ in Honors or AP English 11

World Languages

  • Evidence of strong oral and written proficiency
  • Evidence of strong reading and aural comprehension skills

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All students are required to take 1.5 credits (three semesters) in the Arts by graduation, completing at least one full credit by the end of the sophomore year. All Arts classes are offered in coordination with St. Paul’s School; Dance, Theatre, and Visual Arts classes are coeducational, and some Choral Music concerts are coordinated with St. Paul’s School.


Dance 1-2 - Modern and Contemporary: This full-year course is designed to enlighten and immerse students in the history of the dance art form. Students take classes in early Modern technique, Horton, and contemporary dance styles. The goal of this course is to prepare the student for all Upper School dance classes. The students’ understanding of the performing art culminates with a main stage performance or backstage experience at The Ward Center for the Arts.

Dance 3-4: Modern and Contemporary: This full-year course continues the study of Dance 1-2 through the beginner-intermediate study of Postmodern, Jazz, and contemporary techniques, including the understanding of anatomy and musicality. In addition, students begin their study of dance notation and improvisation, learning the skills necessary for dance composition. The students’ understanding of the performing art culminates with a main stage performance or backstage experience at The Ward Center for the Arts.

Dance 5-6:  Modern: Students in this full-year course begin advanced study of Modern technique, including the continued study of improvisation and composition. Through their understanding of the body and use of improvisation, students develop their own dance combinations and styles reflecting the influences of current Modern choreographers. The students’ understanding of the performing art culminates with a main stage performance or backstage experience at The Ward Center for the Arts.

Dance 5-6: Contemporary: This full-year course continues the study of Dance 3-4: Contemporary. Students in this advanced class explore the complexities of contemporary dance techniques as well as the history behind the art form and its birth from the world of Jazz dance. Styles explored may include African, Hollywood, and Lyrical, as well as American Hip Hop techniques.  The students’ understanding of the performing art culminates with a main stage performance or backstage experience at The Ward Center for the Arts.

Inertia Dance Company: Inertia is a full-year course that may be repeated for credit and is designed for the most advanced dancers at the St. Paul’s Schools. Students must audition in August at the Audition Workshop/Clinic for positions in the company. Positions include Auxiliary, Apprentice, Corps de Ballet, Demi-Soloist, Soloist, and Principal. Required rehearsals are held after school hours and on some weekends. The company performs new and classical repertoire, including having the opportunity to work with special artists-in-residence. Students are expected to maintain strong academic standings and represent SPSG to the very best of their ability. In addition, students are required to attend three technique classes per week, either in school, through The Dance Conservatory (SPSG’s after-school dance program), or off-campus at pre-approved venues.

Inertia Dance Company: Inertia is a full-year course is designed for the most advanced dancers at the St. Paul’s Schools.  It may be repeated for credit and students must audition in August at the Audition Workshop/Clinic for positions in the company. Positions include Auxiliary, Apprentice, Corps de Ballet, Demi-Soloist, Soloist, and Principal. Required rehearsals are held after school hours and on some weekends.  The company performs new and classical repertoire, including having the opportunity to work with special artists-in-residence.  Students are expected to maintain strong academic standings and represent SPSG to the very best of their ability.  In addition, students are required to attend three technique classes per week, either in school, through The Dance Conservatory (SPSG’s after-school dance program), or off-campus at pre-approved venues.

Dance for the Athlete: This course is designed specifically for the athlete to enhance and refine athletic performance through techniques and training traditional to Dance. Students will focus on improving agility, flexibility, and balance. This beginner course introduces the study of somatics, yoga, and correct anatomical movement. Students will gain an understanding of anatomy, movement, stretching and conditioning, and the relationship between dance and athletic movement. No dance experience is required.  Students enrolled in this course will participate in the dance concert.

Choral Music

Through a sequential music curriculum, students in Ivynotes and The Saints learn how to read music, learn basic music theory and music history, train their voices for a lifetime of singing, grow as artists, explore poetry and other texts, rehearse and perform music in different languages and cultures, develop natural talents, increase musical aptitude, and develop strong aural skills. In addition, students will create closer friendships with peers, increase their ability to focus and multi-task, have fun, and bring joy to others.  Students in this choral ensemble will perform for two end-of- semester concerts as well as for other campus events.

Ivynotes - Choral Ensemble: In this class for Grades 9 and 10, students participate in what we hope will be a lifelong exploration of choral music-making. Students in Ivynotes are exposed to vocal music in a variety of styles and influences from diverse cultures and traditions from around the world, including Classical, musical theatre, pop, Jazz, and Contemporary A Cappella, providing those bedrock skills that are prerequisite for future music- making experiences at SPSG and beyond. Students in the choir develop healthy vocal techniques, improve music-reading skills, and recognize music vocabulary. The Ivynotes perform in the Winter and Spring Choral Concerts, Chapel services, and other school-wide venues. The class may be repeated for credit, and it may be taken as a semester or year-long course.

Saints – Advanced Choral Ensemble: This full-year course is open to advanced singers in Grades 10, 11 and 12 by permission of the instructor, and draws upon acquired knowledge from Ivynotes or previous musical experiences. This choir is dedicated to achieving high quality performances of a wide variety of treble choral music, though the focus is an emphasis on those skills that are prerequisite to collegiate-level ensemble singing.  Emphasis is placed upon developing effective vocal techniques and sight-singing skills while rehearsing and performing music from a diversity of cultures, styles, and time periods. Saints maintain an active performance schedule, with appearances in the Winter and Spring Choral Concerts, in SPSG Prayers, Baccalaureate, SPSG Graduation, and in a variety of other venues, on and off campus. This course may be repeated for credit.

AP Music Theory (OSH):

Prerequisite: Ability to read at least one clef of music and proficiency in an instrument or voice Offered online through One Schoolhouse

AP Music Theory will introduce advanced concepts of music theory to students. The aim of this course is to improve students’ performance, aural, analytical, and composition skills. AP Music Theory is an intensive, fast paced course that touches on aspects of melody, harmony, texture, form, musical analysis, and composition.  This course also includes an aural section of sight-singing, melodic and harmonic dictation, and listening examples. Each student will be required to compose and perform original compositions, both as an individual and in a group setting. All students enrolled in this course will be prepared to take the Advanced Placement exam in the spring. Yet AP Music Theory is not just about the exam; the student will experience a growth in her performance skills and all-around musicianship. This is a crucial course for anyone looking to pursue music professionally or for anyone who has a passion in music and wants to explore her interest.

Theatre Level 1

Acting 1: This one-semester course introduces students to various acting techniques and the elements of theatre. Basic concepts are presented through the use of exercises and improvisation. Students develop the skills and freedom necessary to react spontaneously and honestly moment-to-moment. Specific focus areas include physical and vocal expression (emphasis, diction, projection, movement, and physical control), text analysis, character intention, and playing an action rather than an emotion. Throughout the course, students gain confidence and develop technique performing alone and with other actors through units including improvisation, pantomime, audition technique, monologue performance, scene analysis, and character development. The course culminates in the presentation of a one-act play that is performed and produced by the ensemble.

Technical Theatre 1: This one-semester introductory course explores fundamental techniques of designing, creating, and manipulating scenery, properties, costumes, sound, and lighting to enhance the theatrical event. The course offers the theoretical and historic background of these subject areas and techniques and then utilizes the practical application of this knowledge through the students’ work on several theatre program productions. The course is designed for the student to acquire the foundation that will be necessary to continue with more advanced study in our sequential Technical Theatre program.

Theatre Level 2

Acting 2/3: This one-semester course focuses on developing the fundamental skills used in rehearsing and performing scenes from classic dramatic literature. Through an exploration of various acting techniques, students acquire the tools and skills necessary for honest characterization. Students explore acting through the perspective of the Stanislavski technique and the methods developed by Uta Hagen. This course explores scene study in comedy and drama, as well as classical speech, and places specific focus on actor’s voice: vocal and physical strength, control, and expression. Acting 2/3 culminates in a showcase of scenes prepared and rehearsed throughout the course. This course may be repeated for credit by permission of the instructor.

Musical Theatre Performance 1/2: This one-semester course is designed to train students in the skills of the musical theatre performer. It introduces the American musical theatre repertoire and concentrates on ensemble and solo singing, with an emphasis on vocal technique, diction, and musicality. Movement and musical theatre dance styles such as Jazz technique and dance combinations are also introduced.  A combination of acting, voice, and movement exercises allows students to explore and develop their total instrument. Students work on individual musical theatre   pieces, with instruction focusing on imaging, phrasing, articulation, and audition technique. Students learn and rehearse “scene into song” from the diverse musical theatre repertory, enabling the students to develop versatility and a sense of style. This course places emphasis on developing honesty, ease, and expressiveness in musical theatre performance. Students are also introduced to musical theatre audition technique and to musical theatre history. This course culminates in the Musical Theatre Showcase, a presentation of Broadway musical scenes and songs selected by the instructors.  The course may be repeated for credit by permission of the instructor.

Technical Theatre 2: This one-semester course is offered to students in Grades 10-12 and focuses on the principles of theatrical design including sets, props, costumes, lighting, and sound, while continuing to build upon the practical and theoretical topics from Technical Theatre 1. Students learn how to achieve an artistic effect that supports the vision and intent of the director, designer, and playwright. Students also have the opportunity to focus on one of the areas of design if they have a preference. The permission of the instructor is a prerequisite for enrollment in this course.

Theatre Level 3

Theatre Arts 1 – Advanced Techniques in Acting: This is a one-semester course that builds on the acting techniques developed in Acting 1 and 2 and focuses on performance critique, preparation, and production. Intended for advanced acting students, this course emphasizes in-depth scene and character work from contemporary plays of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Students explore a variety of plays and playwrights to understand trends and style. Rigorous work in textual analysis and character development are the primary focus of the class, which also explores practical techniques in the selection, preparation, and performance of scenes. Students build their skills in listening to and responding to a partner and working off of impulse. The course improves physical awareness and coordination, breath control, concentration, and general body conditioning, as the foundation for character embodiment. Using the exploration techniques of Tadashi Suzuki, Anne Bogart, Sanford Meisner, Rudolf von Laban, F.M. Alexander, and Jerzy Grotowski as a framework, students find new ways to create and observe the function of the human body and mind in creative expression. (This is one of two semesters required for the IB curriculum at this level. The other is Theater Arts 1- Comedy Workshop.)

Theatre Arts 1 - Comedy Workshop: Comedy Workshop, a one-semester course, is an exploration of the classic structures of comedy and the athletics of the unique comic mind. The first quarter is designed to introduce students to physical comedy with a specific focus on vaudeville, clowning, and Commedia dell’Arte. Students will explore the use of physicality and mask work to perform scripted and unscripted scenarios. Second quarter begins with a strong focus on improvisation and ensemble work. Status play, narrative storytelling, and structured improvisation exercises are used to develop the artist’s freedom and confidence. The ensemble learns to trust the spontaneous response and their own comic madness. Students will use improvised scene work and life observations to develop characters and ideas for standup material and sketch comedy. The course will culminate with a performance of improvised and scripted comedy. (This is one of two semesters required for the IB curriculum at this level. The other is Theater Arts 1- Advanced Techniques in Acting.)

Theatre Level 4

Ensemble Theatre: This course offers actors, directors, designers and writers a hands-on experience of developing and working as an ensemble theatre company.  The first semester is a practical, on-your-feet introduction to collaborative and devised theatre-making. Students will be exposed to a variety of processes, including adaptation, group writing, found text, Viewpoints and Composition, improvisation, as well as methods of offering critical feedback on works-in-progress. Regarding their own pieces, students will be encouraged to use source material of great personal interest to them. The curriculum explores the successive phases of creating, rehearsing, and presenting assigned projects from a variety of starting points. Collaborative ability, communication skills, imagination, and risk-taking are the foundations for this rigorous coursework. This work will culminate in the generation, rehearsal, and performance of an original piece of devised theatre. The second semester builds on the creative processes explored in semester one, as students engage in an in depth exploration of the play production process, from initial readings and play analysis through design and production. All elements of production are explored, as students will take on roles as actors, directors, dramaturges and designers. Having selected the play for production, students choose to focus their time on one element of production design and work in teams to tackle the varying production tasks along the way. The course will culminate in the presentation of the spring main stage theatre production. While this course may require rehearsals outside of class time, students involved in athletics or other after school activities are still encouraged to enroll.

This course is offered as a full year course and may be repeated. It is available to grades 9-12 (Prerequisite: Advanced Techniques in Acting and Director’s Lab or with permission from instructor)

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Visual Art Level 1

Visual Art 1: Whether students have a casual interest in art or are art-lovers looking forward to building a portfolio throughout their upper school years, this introductory class is the place to start. In this one-semester class, students work on building skills and confidence in the art-making process. Students are exposed to a variety of materials, techniques, styles, global cultural influences, and experiences to contribute to their growth as artists through their efforts in the course.

Graphic Art 1: This one-semester course is offered both fall and spring semesters to all Upper School students. This introductory art class incorporates art concepts and problem-solving skills, symbols, typography, illustration, and portfolio development. Students use traditional art media, Adobe Photoshop, and Illustrator in their design work in the course.  In addition, students explore the historic and cultural contexts of significant works and influential figures in the genre.

Visual Art Level 2

Visual Art 2: This one-semester introductory painting and drawing course develops art concepts and problem-solving skills in drawing from observation. In this one-semester course, students begin to explore colors in light and shadow with a variety of materials, including drawing media and oil paints. Although most students in the class will have taken Visual Art 1, Visual Art 1 is not a prerequisite for sophomores, juniors, or seniors who would like to begin taking Visual Art.

Digital Photography 1/2: This one-semester class is offered to students in grades 10-12 and introduces students to digital photography as a fine art medium and to the digital camera and computer as powerful tools for artistic expression. Students learn basic camera operations and functions to acquire and explore digital imaging techniques of composition, content, and applications. Through the use of Apple’s iPhoto as well as Adobe Photoshop, students manipulate their photographs taken both on and off campus to develop intriguing imagery. Access to a 35mm  digital camera with at least 3 megapixels is preferred, though cell phones with good quality photo capability may be used as well. If a student does not have access to a camera, the school will provide one for use in the class. This course may be repeated for credit by permission of the instructor.

Graphic Art 2/3: This one-semester course is offered to students in Grades 10-12 who have completed Graphic Art 1 or 2. This course continues the exploration of art concepts and problem-solving skills in the areas of illustration, photography, and manipulated computer images. Students use traditional media, continue to build their Adobe Photoshop skills, and continue in their studies with Adobe Illustrator. Projects in Graphic Art 3 also include real world assignments such as package design and other projects related to commercial applications. This course may be repeated for credit by permission of the instructor.

Visual Art Levels 3 and 4

Visual Art 3: Students in this one-semester class continue to develop their skills in painting and drawing from observation through exploration of the color created in light and shadow and as found in portraits, figures, and landscapes. Students develop, enhance, broaden, and deepen a portfolio in preparation for more advanced courses.

Visual Art 4: In Visual Art 4, a one-semester course, students develop an advanced portfolio in preparation for AP Studio Art.  Assignments become more self-directed as the year progresses, and students begin working with a series of related artworks in preparation for AP Studio Art.

AP Studio Art: The AP Studio Art class is a full-year course that provides the interested and talented art student the opportunity to create a body of work reflecting a consistent theme and style for submission to the Advanced Placement program. Because this course has a rigorous schedule of assignments, the students develop an extensive portfolio over the course of the year while improving their skills. Many students also submit a college portfolio. Students are exposed to art in our community and are expected to show their work in our various school art shows.

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Graduation Requirement: All SPSG students must take four full years of English and successfully complete their senior paper to earn a diploma.

All Upper School English classes place an emphasis on writing, and the Writing Workshop program is a signature component of English classes throughout the Upper School. The Writing Workshop program requires students to write papers on a consistent basis, critique the work of peers within their editing groups, revise, and then submit their final drafts.  The rewriting of graded papers is encouraged. Students write in a variety of modes, including expository, narrative, creative, and analytical writing. Instruction in grammar and editing is embedded throughout the program.

English 9: Developing the motif of the journey, this course emphasizes the literature of ancient Greece and medieval Europe. Haroun and the Sea of Stories, the summer reading selection, introduces this motif through the lens of magical realism. Students continue to build their foundational knowledge of literary genres and archetypes with a variety of texts, including Sue Monk Kidd’s novel, The Secret Life of Bees, Homer’s Odyssey, and Sophocles’ Antigone. The Shakespearean selection for this course is Macbeth. Students continue vocabulary-building exercises and grammar review, along with a full emphasis on the Writing Workshop program. In addition, students compose a variety of analytical and critical essays, including a final research paper.

English 9 Honors: Students begin this course with the summer reading text, Girl with a Pearl Earring, and an examination of writing craft, including the use of point-of-view, voice, and narrative structure. Students explore the same motifs and historical eras as in English 9; however, assignments are more rigorous, discussion is more complex, and there are additional opportunities for independent learning. In addition to the texts studied in English 9, students in Honors English 9 may also read Euripides’ Medea, Nella Larsen’s Passing, Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony, and Marjane Satrapi’s, Persepolis.

English 10: English 10 emphasizes the development of critical reading and writing skills through a thematic focus on “community, belonging, and exile” in works from the Renaissance, Victorian, and modern periods. Students study works of comedy and satire, emphasizing literary and rhetorical techniques. Works may include Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, and Pope’s The Rape of the Lock. The summer reading selection, Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, lays a foundation for the course themes. Writing Workshop continues, including the introduction of the formal literary research paper, as well as continued work with vocabulary and grammar. Students in English 10 complete a final thesis-driven research paper which includes literary criticism.

English 10 Honors: Students explore the same motifs and historical eras as those in English 10. In addition to reading many of the same texts, students may also read Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest and Moliere’s Tartuffe. Students continue Writing Workshop assignments, alternating between analytical and creative or personal assignments.  Comparison of texts, as well as comparative analysis, is a focus.  In all genres of writing, students strive to develop their clarity, focus, and voice.  Over the course of the year, students learn to develop and pursue independent topics in their writing.

English 11: This course highlights American and British literature from the Romantic to the Modern periods, with an emphasis on significant literary movements and defining historical moments. Through the essays and artwork of the American transcendentalists and the poetry of the British Romantics, students trace the development of a uniquely “American” literary tradition informed by the themes of "utopia,” “memory" and "progress”. Other texts include Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Shakespeare’s Othello, and Morrison’s Beloved. English 11 also emphasizes literary conventions and the art of persuasion, including Aristotelian rhetoric and elements of style. Students continue participating in the Writing Workshop model through the development of an original thesis and research paper based on the work of a 19th century author. 

AP English Language and Composition: Students in this course read an array of nonfiction selections with an emphasis on stylistic conventions, grammar and usage rules, and contextual vocabulary. Students develop additional skills in composing analytical, argumentative, personal, and creative pieces through a rigorous Writing Workshop approach. The summer reading selections include Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own and Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me.  Students are required to craft a research paper which explores two complementary works of 19th century literature.

English 12: Students in all sections of English 12 are required to complete a research paper that is due in November. The paper, assigned at the conclusion of junior year, is a study of three works by a contemporary author; students meet with a mentor from the English department for guidance as they develop their thesis. Students are required to take one first-semester English elective and one second-semester English elective, unless they are taking AP English 12, which is a full-year course.

AP English Literature and Composition: The focus of Advanced Placement English is world literature, with an emphasis on 20th-21st century fiction and drama. Students will study the literary movements that impacted these works and various critical approaches to literature with specific attention to Archetypal, Psychoanalytic, and Marxist critical theory. This advanced course demands extensive reading and writing as well as significant participation from students during seminar-style class discussions.  In preparation for the AP Literature exam in May, students will learn how to analyze a text at the sentence-level and discuss the ways in which an author's use of language generates and intersects with theme. Critical writing will be a significant element of the course, so the rigorous and weekly Writing Workshop approach of AP English 11 continues, and students will be required to complete at least one essay or analytical paper for each major work of literature.  A number of essays will be written in-class as a way of preparing for the format of the AP English exam.  One of our central goals will be to read the course texts closely for both form and meaning and to articulate the relationship between an author's language choices and the meaning of the work as a whole. This is a discussion-driven class which requires active engagement, collaboration, and a genuine desire to broaden personal worldview. Texts may include Crime and Punishment by Fydor Dostoevsky, Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison and Sweat by Lynn Nottage.

English Electives

Please note that the department will select and teach electives each year from among those listed below based on student interest and faculty expertise.

Comparative Nonfiction and Literature: The Transformation of the Modern American Table: An academic course is very much like a communal meal. We gather every day around a table to sample new ideas—some appetizing, some unappetizing—that challenge what we know and how we view our world.  As psychologist Elizabeth Capaldi writes, “Every eating experience is a learning experience.” Whether convenient, fast, organic, processed, gourmet, ethnic, or local, the foods available to Americans have never been more plentiful and diverse, or riper for discussion. Coupled with big changes in who does the cooking, where meals are consumed, and what we know (or think we know) about what’s good for us, the story of Americans and food in the twentieth century is about much more than what’s for dinner. This course will explore those changes and some of the factors - new technologies, influential people, and broad shifts in social and cultural life - behind them. Through diverse readings, viewings, and tastings, we’ll consider how we are nourished, inspired, and sustained. Students will study texts such as Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate, as well as passages from Luke Barr’s Provence, 1970: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American Taste and Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life.

Global Literature: This senior elective course examines 20thcentury literature by authors from around the world.  Students study the authors’ country of origin and the works of literature in their cultural/historical contexts in order to discuss and write critically about these works within a framework of cultural diversity.  Topics addressed in this course are the devastating effects of totalitarian regimes, communism, assimilation, gender, and patriarchal societies. Countries explored include Cambodia, Nigeria, India, and China. Readings may include In the Shadow of the Banyan, The Thing Around Your Neck, Fasting, Feasting and Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress.

Twentieth Century Short Story: This spring-semester elective examines short fiction of the 20th century. Students will read stories and novellas that highlight some of the major themes of 20th and 21st century fiction. Much emphasis is placed on the short story as it exists in our global world today. Students will be asked to write both critically and creatively as they master the art of short stories. Works may include stories by Tan, Faulkner, Hemingway, Joyce, Walker, Kincaid, Carver, Borges, and Silko.

Literature and the Arts: This elective integrates the Arts into the study of literature in order to deepen students’ understanding of the text, to challenge students’ understanding of themselves and of others, and to foster sophisticated observation, comprehension, reflection, and analysis of both art and literature. All genres of literature, primarily from the 20th and 21st century, are paired with various art forms. For example, Emily Dickinson’s poetry is paired with Martha Graham’s ballet Letter to the World. Thornton Wilder’s Our Town is paired with Norman Rockwell paintings. Ian McEwan’s Atonement is paired with the musical compositions Danse Macabre and the prelude to Act 1 of Wagner’s Lohengrin, paintings of Narcissus, and artwork from the Dada movement reflecting skewed perspective. Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon is paired with African American painting and photography from the Smithsonian’s Oh, Freedom! Website and African American quilts involving pattern and Biblical symbolism. Passage selections from Don Quixote and Candide are paired with the corresponding musical/opera and ballets. Assessments include quizzes, tests, and essays on the literature and on the art as it supports our study of literature. Students also create their own artwork as a culminating creative project to showcase their understanding of the literature.

Modern Drama: This elective focuses on “classic” modern plays and prize-winning contemporary plays that are considered avant-garde.  Students study dramatic theory and various movements in theatre, such as theatre of the absurd. Plays include Death of a Salesman, My Children! My Africa! Rabbit Hole, Waiting for Godot, No Exit, The Metamorphosis, and Ruined. Students attend a live play performance in the area, when possible. Assessments on their reading, interpretation, and analysis of the plays include quizzes, tests, discussion, and critical essays, culminating in a creative project that takes a scene from modern drama and envisions it from page to stage.

Film and Literature: This course explores the relationship between film and literature. What are the possibilities and/or problems with adapting a book, play, short story to film? What makes a film worthy of being its own genre of a story? This elective analyzes the interplay between modern literature and film. Students read 20thcentury works of fiction and drama, including Hamlet, analyzing for plot structure, setting, characterization, theme, and point of view. They write analytically in response to the historical and rhetorical choices of the authors. Then, utilizing the terminology of film analysis, students compare and contrast film adaptations of literary texts, critiquing directors’ choices based on their view of and research on the authors’ intentions. Their comparative papers and presentations focus on character development, dramatic structure, and theme.

Literature Through the Lens of Social Identifiers: This senior elective course examines 20th century literature through the lens of major social identifiers: ability, age, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, and social/political beliefs.  Students discuss literature from a variety of genres, such as novels, dramas, poetry, and short story in order to think and write critically about the importance of how one’s identity shapes our experiences and understanding of the world.  Readings include Fences, Exit West, Equus, Sweat, Anthem, and several shorter works of prose and poetry. 

Women’s Literature: The goal of the class is to provide a global and contemporary look at women writers and themes of inclusion and the search for home and identity. Texts may include: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie, Girl at War by Sara Novic, and The Leavers by Lisa Ko.

Creative Writing: While exploring contemporary poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, this course expects students to interact with and develop their own creative writing as they hone their analytical skills through essays exploring literature. Students will be exposed to a variety of forms, allowing them to develop their voice, generate drafts, and understand how literary masters use these same techniques in classic and contemporary literature. Students will participate in craft discussions and traditional workshops, encouraging them to provide thoughtful and critical feedback. In order to support instruction in literary analysis and creative writing, students will study a variety of literary vocabulary, advanced grammar skills, and genres. 

Sport and Literature: No other aspect of American culture offers examples of heroism, pride, identity, cheating, scandal, and disappointment as that of sports.  Nearly every newspaper and television news program has a segment devoted to sports.  Why are sports so important to American culture?   What do sports do for a person, an institution, or a nation? Through short stories, poetry, essays, fiction, and non-fiction, we will examine the many aspects of sports, including the individual and collective psychology of group dynamics, competition and rewards. This course will continue to develop independent, critical proficiency through writing, reading, speaking, and viewing different genres of sports literature. No matter what your experience with sports, you will learn about the appeal of sport and the role that it plays in the cultural imagination.

The Graphic Novel: This course combines literary and historical approaches to investigate one of the most rapidly growing and increasingly influential forms of literature: the graphic novel. The graphic novel or comic is now critically recognized as a major form of communication and contemporary creative arts. The course represents an interdisciplinary approach to knowledge mirrored by the graphic novel’s joint ancestry in fine arts and literature. It will include a historical overview of the form’s development across the twentieth century, complete with analysis of relevant broader institutional and cultural factors illuminating the growth of American media culture more generally. Providing students with the critical skills necessary to read and understand this deceptively complex medium—and visual storytelling in general—the course exposes students to a series of works that define and redefine the genre while illustrating a variety of artistic and storytelling approaches to central themes of the American experience: politics, sexuality, class, censorship, violence, cultural and ethnic diversity. In addition, students will read selections from graphic narrative theory and comics history, beginning with Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics.



Graduation Requirement: A comprehensive and developmentally appropriate health and wellness curriculum is taught through advisory, assemblies, 9th grade PLUS (Preparing for Life in the Upper School) class, 10th grade Health classes, and the required semester of Lifetime Fitness and Wellness. Topics include body image, disordered eating, breast cancer prevention, cognitive restructuring, safety in relationships, sexuality education, and alcohol and other drugs prevention.

Grade 9 PLUS (Preparing for Life in the Upper School): PLUS is a semester long course that combines health topics with Life Skills and is taught by the school counselor. Because 9th grade is a transition year, not only academically but also socially, emotionally and cognitively, PLUS topics and interactive discussions allow students to build knowledge and skills to become confident and empowered learners and young women.  The curriculum focuses on specific content areas such as healthy relationships, assertiveness, leadership, goal-setting, decision- making, identity development and self- confidence. The course is graded pass/fail.

Upper School Health and Wellness: Health classes meet weekly and explore a variety of age-appropriate topics such as adolescent development, body image, respect for all, safety in relationships, drug and alcohol prevention, and social networking. These classes are interactive and reflective in nature and seek to cultivate student voice, self-­­respect, and respect for others.

Lifetime Fitness and Wellness: Lifetime Fitness and Wellness is a semester long course covering several fitness and wellness topics. Students begin the semester learning about the five components of wellness including intellectual, emotional, physical, spiritual and social wellness.  Students will also engage in goal setting and record SMART fitness and wellness goals.  Students will participate in physical activities ranging from yoga, to weight room fitness and team games with the goal of developing a firm understanding of the importance of fitness. Finally, students will focus on the importance of sound nutrition.

Kinetic Wellness: is a one semester, school-day course designed to provide students the opportunity to integrate movement with personal wellness in meaningful and authentic ways. The course will be movement based and require fitness clothes and appropriate footwear for activity, and count as 1 point for graduation. The course will focus on the essential understandings of physical literacy by allowing students to participate in a wide variety of physical activities. The class may be repeated for points.

Team Manager: Students may apply to be a manager of a team to earn one sports point.

Students wishing to be a manger for a V or JV level team should submit their request in writing to the athletic director.

Selection will be made based on availability, seniority, knowledge of the sport, and previous participation in the sport.

It is expected that the manager plays a strong support role to the head coach. If for any reason, the manager is not fulfilling the duties as outlined, the manager will not earn the PE point.

In order to earn the point, students must attend all home and away games as well as two practices each week to assist with any and all duties the head coach requires. These duties include:

  • Gameday preparation
  • Uniform Distribution and Collection
  • Social media support – provide AD with team pictures
  • Score Reporting
  • Gameday clock management
  • Greeting visiting team
  • Video-taping games and practices
  • Maintain team communication
  • Equipment Management – balls, water, med kit
  • Additionally, students should engage in 30-40 minutes of physical activity during practice including but not limited to:
    • Warm-up with team 
    • Conditioning activity with team
    • Assist with retrieving balls, timing runs, moving equipment
    • Movement during down time in practice i.e. walking laps

The role is open in the following sports:

Field Hockey (V and JV), Volleyball (V and JV), Cross Country, Indoor and Outdoor Track, Soccer (V and JV), Basketball (V and JV), Lacrosse (V and JV), Softball (V).

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Graduation Requirement: All students are required to take at least three years of history/social science in the Upper School, including Modern World and United States History. After sophomore year, students can choose from a variety of electives and AP courses to complete their requirement.

Grade 9

Modern World History: This is a broad survey of world history from 1450 through the end of the Cold War. Students examine the beginnings of modernization in Europe, the spread of colonial rule, and the responses to imperialism in India, Africa, Asia, and North and South America. Students explore the causes and consequences of revolutions and the development of global conflicts in the twentieth century. The course promotes strong understanding of global geography and emphasizes the development of reading, writing, and research skills. Students have opportunities to work collaboratively and independently on a variety of projects and activities, including papers, presentations, skits, and art. Each unit concludes with an assessment and may include several smaller assessments during the unit. Various types of assessments are utilized, including multiple choice and short answer questions, document-based essay questions, comparative essays, timelines, and research-based projects. Some assessments may be performance-based, such as debates and simulations. The text is Modern World History: Patterns of Interaction, by Roger Beck et. al. Additional readings are provided as handouts or as online resources.

Modern World History-Honors: Students in the honors section read additional primary and secondary sources and are required to conduct more detailed research and comprehensive analysis. Honors students write frequent analytical essays and are expected to demonstrate comprehension of longer reading assignments.

Grade 10

United States History: This survey course examines the period from Colonial America to World War Two, with an emphasis on political, social, and economic continuities and changes. Units are organized chronologically and emphasize the development of critical reading and thinking skills. Students have opportunities to work independently and collaboratively on a variety of projects and activities, including research papers, essays, and presentations. Students are expected to analyze, interpret, and evaluate evidence in order to form defensible opinions, make judgments, and evaluate the significance of point of view in historical argumentation. Student learning is assessed in a variety of ways, including multiple choice and short answer tests, charts, class presentations and research papers.

AP U.S. History: This course is aligned with the new standards for AP U.S. History and proceeds according to time periods, themes, and key concepts that have been developed by the College Board.  Students develop college-level reading and writing skills as they engage with a wide variety of documents, including primary documents, the textbook, and other secondary sources such as maps, graphs and charts, and political cartoons. Student learning is assessed regularly using a variety of methods designed to prepare them for success on the AP exam, including multiple choice and short answer questions, analytical essays, and research papers


All SPSG history electives are coordinated courses, open to students at St. Paul’s School for Girls and at St. Paul’s School. “SP” next to a class indicates a coordinated class taught at St. Paul’s School and “SPSG” indicates that it is taught at St. Paul’s School for Girls. Please note that the department will select and teach electives each year from among those listed below based on student interest and faculty expertise.

The Cold War and Beyond Honors: Students in this course will explore the nature of the Cold War, the factors that led to the end of the Cold War, and the characteristics of the post- Cold War world.  The course is designed to provide a global perspective while allowing students to explore the causes and consequences of global shifts in individual regions and states.  Students will have the opportunity to compare and contrast events in East Asia, for example, with those in Latin America, Oceania, South Asia and central Asia. Course materials will be drawn from a variety of primary and secondary sources and students will engage in individual and collaborative research on a variety of topics.

World History into the Twenty First Century Honors: World History into the 21st Century, Honors 2: This second semester course will begin with the end of the Cold War and examine the political, economic and social changes that accompany the formation of a new world order from approximately 1989 until the present day.  The first semester course is not a prerequisite, but the approach will continue to provide a global perspective while allowing students to explore the causes and consequences of global shifts in individual regions and states. Students will have opportunities to direct their own research and emphasis will be placed on developing strong historical writing skills.

History of the Atlantic World: This course will examine the complex relationships and interactions between the United States, Africa, and Latin America as they develop from the 16th century through to the present day. The course will be focused on broad topics that relate to the political, social, economic and cultural changes that occur within and among the participants in the Atlantic World. Students will read a variety of sources and perspectives and have opportunities to engage in original historical research and writing.  Assessments will include periodic tests and quizzes, as well as writing assignments and both collaborative and individual project opportunities.

Issues in International Diplomacy: This course will introduce students to the concepts, methods and institutions that underlie the international order in the modern world, as well as forces of change that challenge that order. Students will explore the practice of diplomacy in a variety of historical and present-day situations and engage in debates and simulations reflecting important issues. Students will be able to identify the foreign policy goals of various state actors as well as analyze the methods used to reach those goals. With the US presidential election in full swing, we will examine and analyze the foreign policy positions of the presidential candidates. Course materials include a variety of secondary and primary resources and students will conduct meaningful research on a consistent basis

Latin American Studies: This course provides an interdisciplinary approach to the study of Latin America and the Caribbean.  Students will explore the history of the region up to the present day using a variety of primary and secondary sources, including art, history and music.  Students may choose a particular country, region, or discipline to explore in greater depth through individual research projects.  Emphasis will be placed on the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and students will have ample opportunities to design projects and avenues of exploration and analysis.

Macro Economics: This course, available to juniors and seniors, introduces students to the fundamental economic issues of scarcity and trade-offs, the market forces of supply and demand, and marginal decision- making.  Particular attention is given to the structure and functioning of the national and global economies. Macroeconomic concepts such as inflation, recession, unemployment, taxation, fiscal and monetary policies, and global trade are the primary focus of the course.  Students study the tools of macroeconomic decision- making and apply macroeconomic theory to determine the expected outcomes of alternative policy decisions. They follow economic current events and debate and discuss economic issues such as minimum wage increases, balanced budget amendments, and public sector involvement in local and national economies.  Assessments include independent and collaborative work, occasional projects, and tests and quizzes in the format of the AP Macroeconomics Exam.

Sociology: This course introduces the field of sociology, in which students learn to utilize the specific methods of the discipline to analyze human society and institutions. Units are arranged around topics such as collective behavior, group interaction, social status, social roles, subcultures, social change, and demography.  Students work collaboratively and independently on a variety of projects and presentations that explore and analyze topics of their choice.  Assessments include tests of basic vocabulary and content knowledge as well as analytical writing assignments, projects, and presentations.  The text for the course is Sociology: The Study of Human Relationships by W. Laverne Thomas. Students also read Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich and Scratch Beginnings by Adam Shepard.

Women’s History: The Women’s History elective explores the roles and contributions of women in the United States from the nineteenth century to the twenty-first century through political, economic, social, and cultural history. The course will examine women’s experiences and history from multiple perspectives, using a wide range of source material.  Students will also continue to practice and strengthen historical thinking and writing skills. Through collaborative and hands-on projects and writing assignments, students will conduct primary source research and work together to create their own understanding of women’s history in the United States and women’s contributions and significance to world events today. 

Constitutional Issues (SP): This course introduces students to constitutional decision-making made every day in the U.S. judicial system.  It examines constitutional provisions concerning the separation of powers, federalism, and fundamental rights through a combination of readings, court opinions, lectures, and class discussions.  Upon completing the course, students are familiar with the structure of the constitution; rights, powers, and responsibilities delineated by the U.S. Constitution; modes of constitutional interpretation; major rulings of the Supreme Court; and current and potential issues facing the Court.  Through this course, students gain a more complete understanding of the significance of the Constitution in our everyday lives.


All AP and IB History and Social Science courses are year-long, coordinated courses, open to students at St. Paul’s School for Girls and at St. Paul’s School. “SP” next to a class indicates a coordinated class taught at St. Paul’s School and “SPSG” indicates that it is taught at St. Paul’s School for Girls.

AP World History (SPSG): AP World History examines the course of human events from the earliest societies through the present, with instruction designed to prepare students to succeed on the AP World History Exam in the spring.  The course is divided into six time periods, each of which is explored and analyzed using five themes and according to several key concepts which pertain to specific time periods.  Students develop college-level reading and writing skills as they engage with a wide variety of source documents, including the textbook, primary documents, other secondary sources, maps, graphs, and charts.  Assessments are designed to measure content mastery as well as critical thinking and analytical writing skills. AP-style multiple choice tests are coupled with writing assignments drawn from past free response questions on the Exam.  Students also have the opportunity to pursue independent research and to work collaboratively on projects.  The text is Traditions and Encounters: A Global Perspective on the Past, by Jerry Bentley and Herbert Zeigler. Supplemental reading from a variety of sources is made available to the students by the teacher.

AP European History (SPSG): This course for juniors and seniors is an in-depth survey of European history from the Renaissance to the present, with instruction designed to prepare students for the AP European History Exam in the spring. College level reading and writing skills are developed as students engage with a wide variety of primary and secondary sources and explore the changes and continuities in European society, political and economic structures, and Europe’s role in the world. Students also engage in intense study of cultural and intellectual institutions and their development. Class activities include discussions, collaborative projects, as well as individual research and presentations. Assessments are comprised of AP-style multiple choice tests and a variety of analytical essay responses to questions that have appeared on AP exams, in addition to review materials prepared by students in a variety of media.

IB Global Politics (SP): This course is a study of the origins, development, structure, and functions of our national government. Topics include the framework of the Constitution, Federalism and the three branches of government as well as the working processes of governmental bureaucracy, political participation and policy formation. Upon completion, students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the basic concepts and processes of the American political system. The role of state and local government will also be discussed in the class.

IB Global Politics (Standard Level 1): Global Politics is an exciting, dynamic subject that draws on a variety of disciplines in the social sciences and humanities, reflecting the complex nature of many contemporary political issues. We will explore fundamental political concepts such as power, equality, sustainability, and peace in a range of contexts. We will develop an understanding of the local, national, international, and global dimensions of political activity and processes.

The IB Global Politics SL1 course lays a foundation of understanding of the main political theories of realism, liberalism and constructivism. This will allow us to create structure and give context and background to the issues discussed. The foundational unit explores the nature of power, the operation of the state, and the function and impact of international organizations. We will also discuss topics from other units: Human Rights, Development and Peace and Conflict with an emphasis on the latter. The class is structured to provide as many experiential opportunities to engage with the material. By using games, simulations, and debates, the students will not only discuss politics but will also have to do and experience politics. Students will explore all issues at different levels of analysis ranging from the community level all the way to the global level. They will also be challenged to approach politics through different group and individual perspectives. This will allow them to solidify their own understanding of the world while at the same time expanding their outlook.

IB Global Politics (Standard Level 2): The IB Global Politics SL2 course encourages students to continue challenging their understanding of the world by developing international perspectives, fostering a concern for global issues, and raising students’ awareness of their own responsibilities at a local, national and international level. This year provides a more in-depth discussion of the Human Rights and Development units. Although a personally, culturally challenging course, it is also highly rewarding in broadening understanding and engagement with those surrounding the student.

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Graduation Requirement: Successful completion of the SAT Prep course is required during sophomore year.

STEPPiNG (Student Transition and Educational Preparation Program in Ninth Grade): This study skills course is designed to assist students needing additional support in developing the study and organization skills necessary for success in the Upper School. STEPPiNG includes activities intended to supplement, reinforce, and practice skills taught in other courses. The course emphasizes reading and writing skills, strategies for comprehension, and vocabulary development. In addition, students focus on organization of work, work space, and time management skills. The intention of the course is to equip the student with skills needed to achieve her maximum potential at SPSG.

SAT Prep: All sophomores are required to take one of the following SAT preparation options taught by Capital Educators: a 1-month winter course, a 1-month spring course, or an intensive 1-week summer course. All options include the same number of hours, as well as the administration of a Diagnostic SAT. Sophomores and juniors are encouraged to participate in additional special events such as an introduction to the PSAT and a general review session.

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Graduation Requirement:  SPSG requires graduates to complete four years of mathematics, including the successful completion of Algebra 2.  All students must have demonstrated mastery of Algebra 1 in Middle School or Grade 9 before beginning Geometry.


Algebra 1: This course emphasizes the mastery of core algebraic fundamentals through an extensive study of operations and properties of real numbers, functions, linear equations, inequalities, systems of equations, polynomials, quadratic equations, and radical expressions.  The goal of this course is to strengthen basic math skills and develop the concepts and problem-solving skills necessary for algebraic thinking. Upon completion, students should be able to apply the above concepts to solve practical problems.

Geometry: This course presents key geometric terms and concepts beginning with points, lines, and planes and ending with the study of three-dimensional objects. Topics include parallelograms, triangles, circles, area, volume, Euclidean techniques, coordinate geometry, proofs, and transformations. Students apply the knowledge they have acquired to authentic situations with an emphasis on the STEAM areas of science, technology, engineering, and art. Students explore dynamic geometry through the use of online drawing tools and other technology resources that provide opportunities to review, practice, and apply knowledge.

Geometry Honors: This course analyzes characteristics and properties of two- and three-dimensional figures in space, requiring students to make conjectures and formulate mathematical proofs using both classical Euclidean techniques and other representational systems such as coordinate systems and transformations. Students then apply their new knowledge to a wide range of authentic situations, emphasizing the STEAM areas of science, technology, engineering, and art, as well as pure mathematics. Varied types of assessments allow students to demonstrate their developing skills in reasoning abstractly, critiquing the arguments of others, modeling with mathematics, problem-solving, and using appropriate tools strategically, including computer- based sketch tools.

Algebra 2: This course reviews and expands the basic content studied in Algebra 1.  Students are introduced to more advanced algebra topics, including imaginary and complex numbers, rational exponents, and inverse and polynomial functions.  Problem-solving strategies and efficient, effective use of the graphing calculator are skills that are woven throughout the course.  Because algebraic thinking is found in almost every sphere of modern life, a thorough grounding in the abstract and applicative aspects of Algebra 2 is essential.

Algebra 2 Honors: This course quickly reviews Algebra 1 topics, enriching and expanding on them. New topics include imaginary and complex numbers; rational exponents; inverse, rational and polynomial functions; exponential and logarithmic functions; and the basics of trigonometry. The major concepts of a function, its domain, its range, and transformations of functions appear as threads linking all of the functions studied throughout the course. Students tackle the rich variety of abstract concepts and applications available in the Algebra 2 curriculum and learn to solve problems that require higher-level abstract thinking and applications in new situations.

Algebra 3/Trigonometry: This course is for students who have completed Geometry and Algebra 2. It provides a comprehensive review of algebra topics and a complete study of trigonometric functions and their inverses. Trigonometry topics include trig equations, identities, graphs, and the laws of sines and cosines. Students learn to apply and adapt a selection of strategies and algorithms to solve problems using both traditional and technological tools.

Precalculus:  For students who have completed Algebra 2, this course is challenging but moderately paced. Topics include trigonometry, basic analytic geometry, and elementary and transcendental functions, with an emphasis on domain and range of functions, complex numbers, and basic algebraic concepts that are fundamental to success in calculus.  This course requires higher-level abstract thinking, and, whenever possible, students study functions from all four perspectives: verbally, analytically, graphically, and numerically. The course is designed to prepare the students for future course work in mathematics such as calculus and statistics.

Precalculus Honors: This course is challenging, intensive, and fast-paced and provides a mathematically sound preparation for students who intend to study calculus or Advanced Placement Calculus. Advanced mathematics topics are discussed using a theoretical approach enhanced by technology. Topics include trigonometry, basic analytic geometry, elementary and transcendental functions, complex numbers, and basic algebraic concepts used in calculus.

Calculus: Students who wish to enroll in this course must have successfully completed precalculus. This course is designed to be a moderately paced introduction to differential and integral calculus. Students will gain a basic understanding of rates of change and accumulated change using analytical, graphical, numerical, and verbal models to represent real-world problems. Students will use graphing calculators extensively to enhance their understanding of these concepts.

AP Calculus (AB): This course follows the study of precalculus and is intended to provide students with a deep and rich understanding of differential and integral calculus. Throughout the course, students build the relationships that tie together functions, limits, derivatives, and integrals. Computations are always studied in the context of their applications. Whenever possible, students study functions from all four perspectives: verbally, analytically, graphically, and numerically. All students complete the course by taking the AP Calculus (AB) exam in the spring.

AP Calculus (BC): Students who have completed AP Calculus (AB) continue their study of calculus in this rigorous course.  Equivalent to a second semester university calculus course, this class focuses primarily on advanced techniques of integration, the study of infinite series, and the exploration of parametric, vector, and polar functions.  Enrichment in this course includes exploratory projects and challenge problems that provide students with the opportunity to think deeply about mathematics in search for elusive answers.  The students complete this course by taking the AP Calculus (BC) exam in the spring.

Multivariable Calculus and Differential Equations (OSH): After covering some advanced topics in the calculus of a single variable, Multivariable Calculus and Differential Equations explores topics that are studied in a typical college-level Calculus III course, including vectors and vector-valued functions, curves and surfaces in space, partial derivatives and gradients, multiple integration, and line and surface integrals. The course’s final unit introduces differential equations, including exact first-order equations, second-order homogeneous and non-homogeneous linear equations, and series solutions. Built on a foundation of sophisticated problem solving, the course also features discussions, projects, and exploratory activities that help students develop their advanced math skills in a collaborative and creative way.

Prerequisite: Successful completion of AP Calculus BC or equivalent

Statistics: This course is designed for juniors and seniors who have a solid fundamental understanding of algebra skills. It can be a primary mathematics course for seniors or an elective (second math) course for juniors and seniors. This class introduces the practice of statistics, with emphasis on the application of statistical procedures to analyze and produce data and to draw statistical inference from the data. Students use technology extensively to provide visualizations of statistical theory and practice. The course focuses on the relevance of statistical reasoning to such fields as medicine, education, environmental science, business, psychology, and sports, to name a few.

AP Statistics: This course is designed for seniors as a primary mathematics course or for juniors and seniors as an elective (second math) course. It focuses on the study of data and statistical reasoning, divided into four main topics: data analysis, experimental design, probability, and statistical inference. The students who take this fast-paced course should have a sound working knowledge of the graphical and algebraic concepts learned in Algebra 2, as well as solid writing and critical analysis skills. Through a variety of projects, students apply the analytical methods they learn in class to real- world scenarios by collecting and analyzing data and presenting their results. Technology is used extensively in this class to enhance the understanding of statistical analysis and to provide dynamic visualizations of statistical theory and practice. All students complete this course by taking the AP Statistics Exam in the spring.

The course may be offered online through One Schoolhouse. Should that be the case, students are asked to meet with the Academic Dean about enrollment.

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Graduation Requirement: One full credit, including World Religions in Grade 9 and at least one semester-long elective offering, taken during Grade 11 or 12.

Grade 9

World Religions: This required, ninth grade course is an introduction to five of the world's religious traditions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Students focus on the history of each tradition and explore that history through traditional and modern media.  In addition to introducing the academic study of the world's religions, the course will also explore the challenges of religious diversity today and will provide opportunities for interdisciplinary exploration with World History 9.


Please note that the department will select and teach electives each year from among those listed below based on student interest and faculty expertise.

Applied Ethics: In this course, students will learn various ethical theories, consider and construct one's personal worldview while exploring ethics in medicine, business, law, as well as personal and societal decision-making. Students will also reflect on the role that moral and religious philosophy informs and shapes ethical thinking and behavior.

The Holocaust: This course addresses the events and conditions that led to one of the most well-documented genocides of the twentieth-century, the murder of six million Jewish men, women, and children in Europe. The course will weave together religion, politics, science, and history to develop a deeper understanding of how and why this particular genocide happened. Special emphasis is placed on the following topics: the role of religion in the historical persecution of Jews and the growth of political anti-Semitism during the 1930’s; the role of religious leaders during the Holocaust; how religious beliefs motivated some to shield and hide Jews at great personal risk to themselves; some of the ethical and moral dilemmas raised during and after the Holocaust; Judaism and Christianity in a post-Holocaust world; and how the Holocaust led to a reevaluation of faith among Jews and the eventual creation of the State of Israel. The course concludes with a field trip to the U.S. Memorial Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. Texts include A History of the Holocaust by Yehuda Bauer and The Holocaust and the Christian World, edited by Carol Rittner.

Prophets as Social Reformers: This course will examine the role, message and values of both the Biblical Prophets and Jesus, and their impact on modern political and social reformations. By the end of the course, students will be able to demonstrate their understanding of how the message and values of these individuals shaped western society and how the worldview of the Biblical literature inspired modern political and social reformers. Students will demonstrate their mastery of the material through a series of written responses and essays, and a concluding project where they will present to their class on the lasting impact of an influential person of their choice

Religion in Politics: This course will explore how religious beliefs and traditions influence political discourse, the way controversial issues are framed, and of course the way Americans vote. Students will explore these topics by examining the political and religious discourse on the following themes: separation of Church and State, immigration reform, capital punishment, birth control and reproductive rights, and LGBT rights. Special emphasis will be placed on religious texts and prominent theologians from various Christian traditions, as well as Jewish traditions. By the end of the course students will have gained a greater appreciation for how and why religious beliefs and traditions play such a prominent role in American political discourse.

Women in the Bible: This course will examine the portrayal and roles of women within the literature and culture of both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. Special emphasis will be placed on patriarchal societies, the culture of ancient Israel, the role of women in public vs private spheres, and how the Biblical tradition portrays women as mothers, warriors, victims, heroines, and so much more. The class will conclude with the changing role of women in current religious traditions.

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Graduation Requirement: All SPSG students are required to complete three full years of science, including Physics, Chemistry, and Biology.

Grade 9

Physics or Physics Honors is required for all SPSG students and students complete the physics requirement in grade nine.

Physics: This course introduces students to the study of motion and the relationship between matter and energy. Topics covered include: kinematics, Newtonian mechanics, energy, momentum, waves, and sound, with an emphasis on a structured approach to problem solving. Students participate in hands-on laboratory experiences to gain a better grasp of the physical principles being discussed.

Physics Honors: This course provides students with an introduction to the study of motion and the relationship between matter and energy. Topics covered include kinematics, Newtonian mechanics, energy, momentum, rotational dynamics, simple harmonic motion, waves, and sound. Students spend at least 25% of their instructional time engaged in hands-on, inquiry-based laboratory work. Verbal and mathematical justifications of arguments based on physical principles are emphasized. Students should have taken or be concurrently taking Algebra II.

Grade 10

Chemistry: This course is a descriptive study of the properties and changes of matter. These properties are described through the study of material structure and through models that predict matter’s chemical and physical properties. The course topics include atomic theory, chemical and nuclear reactions, stoichiometry, organic chemistry, chemical equilibrium, solutions and acid-base chemistry, and electrochemistry. This course emphasizes problem solving with appropriate and engaging labs for each topic.

Chemistry Honors: This theoretical chemistry course is a quantitative study of the properties and changes of matter. These properties are described through a study of material structure and by models that predict matter’s chemical and physical properties. The course topics include atomic theory, chemical and nuclear reactions, stoichiometry, organic chemistry, chemical equilibrium, solutions and acid-base chemistry, and electrochemistry. Topics are investigated in greater depth than in Chemistry. The course emphasizes problem solving with appropriate labs for each topic.

Grade 11

Biology:  This course examines the major themes in biology from a guided inquiry-based approach.  Major themes include the chemistry of life, DNA, cells and cell processes, genetics, ecology, evolution, and physiology. Inquiry-based laboratory experiences teach students how scientific research is conducted.  These experiences include activities such as hypothesis development, experimental design, and data collection and analysis. Students are assessed in a variety of   ways, including exams, quizzes, pair share, laboratory reports, projects, and presentations.

Biology-Honors: This course examines the major themes in biology from a guided inquiry-based approach. Topics include macromolecules and the chemistry of life, DNA structure and function, cells and cell processes, genetics, ecology, evolution, and physiology.  This course challenges students in their understanding of the mechanisms that drive living organisms and the environments in which they live.  Guided inquiry-based laboratory learning prepares the students for advanced studies in the sciences, engaging students in hypothesis development, experimental design, and data collection and analysis. Students are assessed using a variety of methods including exams, quizzes, laboratory reports, laboratory poster presentations, and projects.


Please note that all SPSG science electives are coordinated courses, open to students at St. Paul’s School for Girls and at St. Paul’s School. “SP” next to a class indicates a coordinated class taught at St. Paul’s School, and “SPSG” indicates that it is taught at St. Paul’s School for Girls. The department will select and teach electives each year from among those listed below based on student interest and faculty expertise.

Anatomy and Physiology: This semester elective course intended to provide a survey of the human body systems and its interactions. It will investigate the structure, function, and relationships of the cell, tissues and organs. Students complete lab work as appropriate, including dissections. In addition, this course emphasizes the maintenance of healthy body systems, which leads to topics such as nutrition, genetics, stress, sleep and aging.

Astronomy: Exploring the Universe: We’ll start our exploration of the universe by investigating how ancient people knew so much – and perform our own experiments to replicate their achievements.  How did the ancient Scots build temples where light would shine down inside a sacred passage only on the Winter Solstice?  How did the ancient Greeks figure out the Earth was round and its circumference? We’ll move on to gain insight into the big questions of the universe: Can humans survive on other planets?  Where did our solar system come from?  What is the big bang?  How do stars live and die?  What is a black hole and what would happen if I fell into one?  Is there life out there in the cosmos?  And, of course, why isn’t Pluto a planet anymore?  Observational astronomy will be an integral part of the course and some nighttime viewing will be required in lieu of class time.

Brain and Behavior: This full-year course introduces brain anatomy and brain function from the cellular level to human behavior. This class is an upper-level neuroscience course designed to discuss and review significant neuroscience principles as defined in the Core Concepts of Neuroscience by the Society for Neuroscience. General topics include the following: how the brain works, its structures, and how it is formed; the extent to which brain equals behavior; and why it is important to increase our understanding of the brain.

Food Chemistry: This course will challenge students to take on the role of scientist and chef, as they boil, bake, and toast their way to better understanding of science concepts from chemistry, biology, and physics. By cooking edible items such as pancakes and butterscotch, students have the opportunity to learn about physical changes in states of matter, acids and bases, biochemistry, and molecular structure.   

The principles of food chemistry will be presented including fundamental and relevant chemistry and functionality of major and minor food constituents including water, antioxidants, carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, pigments, and preservatives.  

Upon completion of this course, the student will: 

  • Understand food chemistry in terms, issues, research and relevance to the food industry 
  • Identify the functional properties of foods and food molecules 
  • Relate specific chemical interactions to specific food systems 
  • Describe how food processing, handling, and storage alter food quality 
  • Differentiate among factors influencing food chemistry and food quality 

Marine Biology: This is an introduction to the diverse array of marine organisms and marine habitats. The course will examine the ecology of oceans from the intertidal zones and estuaries to the deep sea. Adaptations to environmental factors and ecological relationships will be covered. This course explores the different groups of marine organisms, with the aim is to broaden the knowledge of marine biological diversity for students. This will be a hands-on, project-based class. One of the outcomes for the class is the creation and maintenance of a salt water aquarium(s) containing tropical fish and other organisms that make salt water their home.

Microbiology: What is Hepatozoon americanum? Chikungunya? Will they affect me? Or my pets? This one semester elective will examine the basic principles of Emerging diseases and Medical Microbiology.  “Med Micro” will examine the categories of bacteria, viruses and their associated diseases. This course will study the detection, treatment and outcomes of many modern diseases. A brief introduction to the immune system and the emerging interest in the microbiome will also be incorporated into the class.  There will be some discussion of tropical and fungal diseases.   Current and historical issues will be investigated, such as antibiotic resistance, emerging diseases, evolution of bacteria and viruses.  Ethics will be discussed as it pertains to health care around the globe and the effects of disease on economic and social constructs. This course will consist of collaborative, independent research, projects, and presentations.  There may be some introductory laboratory work geared toward the technology of bacterial identification.

Practical Electronics: This is a hands-on course!  We’ll master the fundamentals of electricity and circuitry by building our own circuits.  Working with bread boards, figuring out integrated circuits, soldering, prying open devices to see their guts and how they work, and frying a few components along the way – that's how we learn.  Along the way, we’ll build some fun toy circuits, like wearable flashing lights and an intruder alarm.

Psychology: Introduction to psychology, the study of human behavior. Possible topics for this course include: the history of psychology, neuroimaging, brain anatomy, personality, learning, emotion, and psychological disorders and treatments. This year-long course is open to Juniors & Seniors who are curious about human behavior and interested in careers in psychology, medicine, teaching, sales, customer service, and politics, to name a few. Note: This course is not AP Psychology.

Survivor Science: The Science That Could Keep You Alive: What do you do if you are stuck on an island and have to survive?  How do you respond when the zombies attack or the triffids arrive?  What science can you apply to help keep yourself alive and find help?  What skills will you need?  Come to this semester long class and learn some useful science for surviving in a hands-on practical setting.  The content is open for discussion.


AP Biology: This course is designed to engage students in the study of biology at the college level. Students study topics such as cell and molecular biology, genetics, organismal biology, ecology, and evolution. Classes are taught through hands-on learning, class discussion, lecture, and independent research.  Laboratory experiences utilize open inquiry methods in which students design their own research, engage critical thinking skills and problem-solving skills, and develop their curiosity for further study of a particular topic. Students engage in research design, basic laboratory skills used in a modern biology laboratory, mathematics, and statistics. The curriculum is synchronous with the College Board AP curriculum and culminates with the AP Biology Exam.

AP Chemistry: The AP Chemistry course provides students with a foundation to support future advanced course work in chemistry. Through inquiry-based learning, students develop critical thinking and reasoning skills. Students cultivate their understanding of chemistry and science practices as they explore the following topics: descriptive inorganic chemistry, atomic and molecular structure, acid-base reactions, oxidation-reduction reactions, chemical bonding, stoichiometry, solution chemistry, chemical equilibrium, chemical kinetics, electrochemistry, and states of matter.  This course also includes an introduction to organic and nuclear chemistry. This course requires that 25 percent of the instructional time provides students with opportunities to engage in laboratory investigations.

AP Environmental Science: This course will introduce the structure, function and interactions of atmospheric, terrestrial and aquatic systems, as well as the impact of the human population on such systems. Topics will include scientific concepts of ecology and methods for understanding human population growth and their impact on the environment, including cycles of carbon, water and other materials, weather and climate, and sustainability of natural resources, in particular water and energy. The course will evaluate natural environmental processes, as well as human impacts to these processes, using case studies and real data to demonstrate the role of science in solving pressing environmental problems. We will take field trips to observe behavior and ecosystems in Maryland, demonstrate population growth models, discuss how behavior affects population and reproduction. As part of our Green School initiative, students will apply what is learned to finding solutions to lessen our environmental impact by developing a project that identifies and solves a problem that we face here at SPSG.

AP Psychology (SPSG): This course begins with the 1879 “birth” of Psychology as the study of consciousness and follows its evolution to today’s definition: the scientific study of behavior and the mind. This theoretically diverse and complex science examines everything from the methods that are used to collect and interpret psychological data, to the complexities of the brain and the physiological bases of behavior, to contemporary explanations of personality and treatments of psychological disorders.  Students practice daily critical thinking skills as they learn psychological concepts and apply a healthy dose of skepticism as they read research findings.  Assessments are designed to prepare students for the AP Exam in the spring and include multiple choice tests, analytical essays, and summaries of research findings and critical reviews. This elective may be taken to fulfill either history or science credit, but it may NOT be counted towards both graduation requirements. The text for the course is Psychology: Themes and Variations, by Wayne Weiten. Additional readings are provided by the teacher.

IB Psychology (SP): Psychology is defined as the scientific study of behavior and mental processes. By developing an understanding of the biological, social, and cultural influences on human behavior, students will be able to evaluate different explanations of why humans act the way they do. The IB syllabus pursues this understanding primarily through biological, cognitive and socio-cultural levels of analysis, while also exploring abnormal and developmental perspectives, health, sports psychology and the psychology of human relationships where time and choice permit. The investigation of each level will focus on its historical and cultural context, key concepts, basic assumptions, methodology, strengths and weaknesses, and application. Students study research methodology and replicate an experimental study which will serve as their internal assessment, and they will read and discuss studies such as Roger Sperry's split-brain experiments, Freud’s theories of personality, Pavlov's classically conditioned dogs, Elizabeth Loftus and the implantation of false memories, Ebbinghaus' discovery of the learning curve, twin studies that explore “nature vs nurture” and the role of free will and determinism. The course’s focus on experimental research will place a large emphasis on the scientific method and surrounding ethical issues. Through a thorough exploration of brain development, neurotransmitters, memory, language, emotions, stress, mental illness, and learning, students will develop an awareness of how the applications of psychology in everyday life are derived from psychological theories.

IB Sports, Exercise, and Health Science (SL) (SP): SEHS involves the study of the science that underpins physical performance in sports and exercise. The course integrates anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, psychology, and nutrition. Students will cover a range of topics including but not limited to musculoskeletal anatomy, movement in sports, sports and exercise training, cardio-respiratory anatomy, exercise physiology, nutrition and energy systems, skill in sport, the human brain, motivation in sport and exercise, and sports psychology.  Students will also carry out practical investigations in both laboratory and field settings. This provides an opportunity to acquire the knowledge and understanding necessary to apply scientific principles and critically analyze human performance.

Forensic Science (SP): Forensic Science is the application of science to those criminal and civil laws that are enforced by police agencies in a criminal justice system. Specifically, forensic science deals with the analysis of evidence. This full- year course offered at St. Paul’s School uses the areas of biology, chemistry, physics and geology to determine the evidential value of crime-scene and related evidence. Specific topics include fingerprints, toxins, hair and fibers, ballistics and DNA. Lab activities accompany each topic. Noteworthy "famous" cases are discussed. Students may elect to take   only the first semester and receive .5 credit.

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Graduation Requirement: Students must successfully complete three consecutive years of one language in the Upper School. Exceptions may be made only by the Upper School Head, in conjunction with the learning specialist. Please note that all SPSG World Language classes are coordinated courses, open to students at St. Paul’s School for Girls and at St. Paul’s School, to maximize opportunities for students. Chinese, French, and Spanish are taught at St. Paul’s School for Girls and German, Japanese, and Spanish are taught at St. Paul’s School.  Students at both schools may choose to take any of the five languages offered on our shared campus. To extend their experience, students are encouraged to take advantage of the many cultural events, travel and exchange opportunities available as a part of the programs in each language.


Chinese 1: This introductory course acquaints students with Mandarin Chinese.  Students learn standard Mandarin pronunciation, tones, and grammatical structures through engaging and interactive class activities and interviews with international students from China. Students introduce themselves and interact with these native speakers using basic language skills. In addition, students participate in creative tasks and projects, such as writing and performing skits and dialogues and making videos. Students practice the fundamental language skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing, and begin typing Chinese characters through the pinyin system. Chinese cultural topics integrated into each unit enhance students’ understanding of China, as well as Chinese culture, society, and customs. Quizzes, tests, projects, and presentations assess all skill areas as well as cultural understanding.

Chinese 2: This advanced introductory course continues and extends students’ language ability from Chinese 1. Students gain broader knowledge of vocabularies and grammatical structures through creative and interactive class activities. Students continue to apply their fundamental language skills through skits, interviews, and making videos. Chinese cultural topics include holidays, cuisine, ancient and modern arts, and the environment. Students engage in longer and more meaningful dialogue with native speakers. Quizzes, tests, projects, and presentations assess all skill areas as well as cultural understanding.

Chinese 3: This intermediate level course, conducted in Chinese, continues to emphasize the skills developed in previous studies. In addition, students incorporate more in-depth cultural, community, modern society, and global topics into their language study. Students use the target language at all times during classroom discussions.  They interact with a broad range of authentic Chinese-language materials and continue to strengthen their language skills through narrative writing and in- depth historical and cultural research projects.

Chinese 4: This intermediate high-level course includes discussions of current events, assignments on topics such as family traditions, careers, environmental protections and social media/technology influences.  Students are expected to compare and contrast their own cultures to the Chinese culture. Students are exposed to various authentic materials including Chinese news, blogs, TV shows and movies.  Students are assessed through individual interviews, projects and reading and writing assessments.   

Chinese 5: Upon completion of the Chinese 4 course, students are evaluated individually to assess placement into Chinese 5. This advanced level course offers students the opportunity to perfect their narrative writing skills as well as engage in more sophisticated conversational Chinese. Students are required to speak in the target language during all classroom discussions. Assessments include all skill areas as well as cultural understandings.


French 1: This introductory course assumes no prior knowledge of French.  Students acquire the sound system as well as the necessary vocabulary and grammatical structures needed to accomplish basic real-life tasks such as greetings, using numbers, ordering in restaurants, and describing themselves and others and wherethey live. They learn about shopping for food and clothing, traveling, sports, and talk about events in the past, present, and future.  Students become acquainted with Francophone geography and famous monuments and works of art, as well as daily life in Frenchspeaking countries. They practice listening, reading, speaking, and writing on a daily basis. Listening and speaking proficiency are emphasized through skits, dialogs, and small-group activities. Students are assessed on all skills via homework, quizzes, tests, and projects. 

French 2: This early intermediate course reinforces and builds the students’ ability to communicate in French, developing the acquisition of essential vocabulary and grammatical structures needed to function in a variety of situations. Students explore topics such as daily routines, movies, health, computers, traveling, and cooking. Students engage in debates and skits, as well as conversations and discussions that they can truly understand and that could occur in real life. Students interact in the target language using authentic resources such as videos, audio recordings, and songs. Reading materials such as short narratives, literature, letters, and newspaper articles inform students about Francophone peoples and cultures from around the world. Representative topics may include cultural and historical sites, medical services and driving in France, health in Africa, cuisine in Morocco, and phone access in various francophone countries. Assessments cover speaking, reading, and writing as well as cultural understanding and take the form of group or individual projects, skits, presentations, quizzes and tests, writing prompts, projects, dialogues, and presentations assess all skills as well as cultural understanding.  

French 2 Honors: is an accelerated course for self-motivated students demonstrating strong ability in their reading, writing, speaking, and listening.  Placement into the honors track is based on student performance and teacher recommendation. They will also complete extended speaking, reading, writing, listening and cultural exploration that will allow them to apply all their skills for a rich, personalized experience in French. 

French 3: This intermediate course, conducted in French, further develops and builds students’ ability to understand and express themselves both orally and in writing. The course covers past tense narration in greater depth, enabling students to use all major time frames successfully. Students learn the subjunctive and other moods to express abstract concepts such as doubt, possibilities, and suppositions. Students practice listening, reading, speaking, and writing daily, and collaborate in small groups on a regular basis. Representative topics include the everyday life and leisure activities of young people in France; the history, customs, and heritage of Francophone countries; and the media, current events, and social problems. Short films and audio pieces form the basis for discussions and debates. Students are assessed on all skills using homework, quizzes, tests, and projects. 

French 3 Honors: is an accelerated course for self-motivated students demonstrating strong ability in their reading, writing, speaking, and listening.  Placement into the honors track is based on student performance and teacher recommendation. Reading short stories and performing orally on a variety of topics will enhance their ability to use the language. They will also complete extended speaking, reading, writing, listening and cultural exploration that will allow them to apply all their skills for a rich, personalized experience in French. 

French 4:  Conducted in French, this advanced course reinforces concepts covered in French 3 and introduces the remaining major grammatical structures.  Students further develop their language skills in the context of comparing unique cultural products, perspectives, and practice with their own experiences. Students explore themes such as racism, personal identity, social issues in Francophone countries and the media. By engaging with authentic French language media resources, students connect with other disciplines, their local community, and other parts of the world. Quizzes, tests, writing prompts, projects, debates, dialogues, and presentations assess language skills as well as cultural understanding.  

French 4 Honors: This advanced course acts as a prerequisite to a preparation for seamless entry into the AP French Language and Culture course and the IB program. Students continue working on the advanced writing, speaking, listening, and reading skills, as well as the grammar and vocabulary relevant to the themes and format of the AP and IB exam. Students will learn to integrate context, personal experience, communication tools and cultural information in order to communicate fully in French and apply their skills for a complete experience of French. 

French 5 / AP French: This advanced course develops and refines students’ ability to use French in a variety of formal and informal contexts and provides preparation for the Advanced Placement Exam in French Language and Culture. Students understand and produce French in interpretive, presentational, and interpersonal modes. Students investigate and compare different Francophone communities from around the world. Themes addressed include Global Challenges, Science and Technology, Contemporary Life, Personal and Public Identities, Families and Communities, and Beauty and Aesthetics. Students enhance their understanding of complex grammatical structures and expand their working vocabulary. Students practice listening, reading, speaking, and writing daily and complete exercises modeled on the format of the AP exam. They work independently on a frequent basis with French language sources they find outside of class. Students in this course take the AP French Language and Culture exam in May. 

Advanced French is a post AP/IB seminar course in which students explore topics of their own choice under the guidance of the teacher. The class will combine a presentation of topics such as Francophone literature, movies, cartoons or plays that will help students identify, describe and analyze information relevant to a research topic of their choice. During the second part of the course, each student will plan, develop and independently undertake a research project with the advice and guidance of the teacher. The topic of study may be anything of interest to the student, within the program and will be developed out of newspaper articles, movies, novels, news programs, etc.  Topics of research can be but are not limited to topics such as “The influence of TV shows on Francophone culture, Relationship between Francophone literature and Francophone culture, The expression of social justice in the French written novels etc. The four major themes explored in the course will be, Modernity, Voyages, Society and Environment. Students are expected to present their progress to the teacher regularly and their final work at the end of the school year. The final work will include a 20-minute oral presentation and discussion and a 20-page academic paper that includes title page, table of content, thesis, research methodology, conclusions, notes and bibliography. 


St. Paul's Upper School offers German from level 1 through 4. Students in levels 3 and 4 may qualify to participate in Honors courses. In the first two years, students are introduced to a wide range of vocabulary and the essentials of German grammar. Via varied forms of language acquisition (i.e. presentations, games, coordinated reading activities, etc.) students begin to formulate a strong, structural knowledge of the language. In years three and four, students continue to expand their vocabulary while also honing their grammar skills and adding complex structures to their repertoire. The goal of these courses is to master advanced intermediate- level proficiency in the speaking, reading, and writing of the German language. Throughout the German program, students are immersed in the culture of the German-speaking world. Speaking and listening skills are emphasized every year, but during the last two years in particular, students also learn to express themselves in a variety of writing formats. German level 4 classes are conducted entirely in the German language.  Additionally, Students participate in numerous German events (Oktoberfest, Weihnachtsfete) and language competitions during the year. Many students participate in the school's biannual exchange to Münster, Germany. Students can be prepared to take the AP Language and Culture exam.


The St. Paul’s Schools offer a full gamut of Japanese from levels 1 – 7. Japanese levels 1 – 4 emphasize speaking, listening, reading, and writing to master basic oral communication skills with continued exposure to Japanese custom and culture. Classes are conducted in Japanese and students are graded for their efforts to communicate in the language. Students focus on new vocabulary, grammar, and culture.  Students learn between 60 and 100 new Kanji characters in levels 1 and 2, increasing the number of Kanji characters with each successive year. Japanese 5 and 6 further develop the four language skills and continue to deepen students’ knowledge of Japanese culture and society. Readings are more extensive and complex. Students are encouraged to hone their skills through creative projects and discussions.  Japanese 7 is an independent study course based upon the student’s interest.


Spanish 1: This introductory course assumes no prior knowledge of Spanish.  Through communicative activities, students acquire the sound system as well as the necessary vocabulary and grammatical structures needed to accomplish basic reallife tasks such as greetings, using numbers, and describing themselves and others.  Students will be able to describe and compare and contrast daily activates, school routines, eating habits, places where they live and likes and dislikes.  Proficiency is emphasized as students learn to ask and answer questions, make plans, participate in dialogues, make oral presentations and write short narratives and emails.  Students become acquainted with Spanish-speaking cultures and cultural practices through listening, reading, writing and authentic audiovisual resources.   

Spanish 2 / Spanish 2 Honors: This early intermediate course reinforces and builds on the content, skills and cultural understanding covered in Spanish 1.  Through a communicative approach, this course teaches students strategies for describing themselves, interacting about the past, influencing others, and making plans for the future.  Students are introduced to new concepts such as the past tenses (the preterit and the imperfect) and commands.  Through authentic resources such as videos, articles, paintings, stories and poetry, students deepen their understanding of cultural products, practices and perspectives of Spanish-speaking communities.  They explore topics such as daily routines, schools, clothes, getting around in a city, childhood experiences, celebrations and holidays, cooking, sports and the arts.  Students hone their proficiency through daily paired and group activities.  Spanish 2 Honors is an accelerated course for self-motivated students demonstrating strong ability in their reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. Spanish 2 Honors students will cover a broader range of grammatical concepts, including the present perfect tense and formal and informal commands. Placement into the honors track is based on evidence of student performance in the classroom and teacher recommendation.

Spanish 3 / Spanish 3 Honors: This intermediate course develops and builds upon the language skills and cultural understandings gained in Spanish 2.  Conducted in Spanish, this course reinforces and introduces the complex grammatical structures necessary to interact with detail in the past tenses, give and interpret opinions, influence others, make conjectures and imagine the future. Students discover multiple perspectives while exploring topics such as the natural environment, sports competitions, health, art, relationships, community service, work, building the future, myths of the past and the historical impact of encounters among cultures and peoples in Latin America. Internet-based digital exercises and authentic Spanish-language media help students practice their language skills in real-life contexts.  Students further hone their proficiency through daily paired and group activities. Quizzes, tests, writing prompts, projects, dialogues and presentations assess all skills as well as cultural understanding. Spanish 3 Honors is an accelerated course for self-motivated students demonstrating strong ability reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. In addition, Spanish 3 Honors students begin to read and interpret literature such as short stories and poems from the Spanish- speaking world. Placement into the honors track is based on evidence of student performance in the classroom and teacher recommendation.

Spanish 4 / Spanish 4 Honors: Conducted in Spanish, this advanced course reinforces concepts covered in Spanish 3 and introduces the remaining major grammatical structures. Students further develop their language skills in the context of comparing unique cultural products, perspectives, and practices with their own experiences.  Students explore themes   such as Global Challenges, Science and Technology, and Personal and Public Identities.  By engaging with authentic Spanish-language media resources, students connect with other disciplines, their local community, and the world.  Spanish 4 Honors acts as a prerequisite   to and preparation for seamless entry into the AP Spanish Language and Culture course. Students begin working towards mastering the advanced writing, speaking, listening, and reading skills, as well as the grammar and vocabulary relevant to the themes and format of the AP exam. Placement into the honors track is based on evidence of student performance in the classroom and teacher recommendation.

Spanish 5: This course is conducted in Spanish. Through literature, articles, videos, film and special events, students will have the opportunity to deepen their understanding of Spanish-speaking communities and cultures while developing proficiency.  Students will practice conversational skills through authentic communicative activities, such as interviews, role-plays, debates, presentations and class discussions. This is not a grammar-based course, although students will have the opportunity to strengthen their ability to express themselves clearly and increase their range of vocabulary.  Students will set personal language goals and create portfolios to track their progress.  In addition, students will develop a personal project of interest in which they will use their Spanish skills in the community.   

Spanish 5 Honors: This advanced course is conducted in Spanish and explores a variety of themes through Latin American and Spanish literature and art.  Students will analyze important works that encompass genres ranging from poetry, plays, novels and short stories.  Students will develop oral and written communicative skills through discussions, creative projects and writing exercises.  This is not a grammar-based course however, students will put into practice the advanced grammatical strategies they have acquired in previous courses and will increase their range of vocabulary.    

AP Spanish: Language and Culture: This advanced course is designed for students who have successfully completed Spanish 4 Honors.  Students who have successfully completed Spanish 4, and demonstrate strong motivation, may enroll in this course with teacher recommendation. This course develops and refines students’ ability to use Spanish in a variety of formal and informal contexts and provides preparation for the Advanced Placement Exam in Spanish Language and Culture.  Students investigate and compare how Spanish- speaking countries and communities from around the world address unit themes: Global Challenges, Science and Technology, Contemporary Life, Personal and Public Identities, Families and Communities, and Beauty and Aesthetics.  Students reinforce their understanding of complex grammatical structures and expand their working vocabulary.  In addition, students hone their ability to research in Spanish. Authentic Spanish-language media and Hispanic literature form the basis of student-produced cultural presentations, formal interpersonal writing, dialogues, and persuasive essays.  Students practice listening, reading, speaking, and writing daily, and complete exercises modeled on the format of the AP exam.  They work independently on a frequent basis with Spanish sources they find outside of class. Students in this course take the AP Spanish Language and Culture exam in May.

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AP Principles of Computer Science: AP Computer Science Principles will introduce students to the creative aspects of programming, abstractions, algorithms, large data sets, the Internet, cybersecurity concerns, and computing impacts, all of which are essential to over 130 careers. AP Computer Science Principles will give students the opportunity to use technology to address real-world problems and build relevant solutions. This course is geared not just to students interested in pursuing computer sciences, but also to students who are interested in the skills they use every day with computers and other technologies. Students may take AP Principles of Computer Science as a mathematics elective; however, this course will not be considered as part of a student's required four years of mathematics. 
Prerequisite: Algebra 1; No pre-requisite knowledge of any programming language required

Design Thinking: Design Thinking is a creative approach to problem solving, community collaboration and innovation. The class teaches students to examine each step of the five areas in the design thinking process so that they enhance their skills as empathizers, visual and strategic thinkers, reflectors and storytellers through a mixture of readings, discussions and collaborative hands-on, human-centered projects to solve real world problems.  The projects students design are firmly rooted in students’ individual passions as well as what they uncover, through careful research, as being needed for the improvement of their community. At certain phases of their project design, students will engage in prototype development, multiple feedback loops and then the final fabrication of concrete solutions.  Over the course of the year, students will apply what they have learned to projects within their communities, beginning locally and expanding outward globally.

Entrepreneurship: This course develops an understanding of the fundamentals of entrepreneurship and innovation, especially focused in the field of technology innovation. Students will explore the basics of entrepreneurship such as designing a business model, marketing an idea and influencing others, and developing innovations to solve problems. In addition, students will learn the historical and current landscape of   technology innovation from the beginning stages in Silicon Valley to the large market now in Baltimore, MD.  The course will bring in outside experts to share their stories, site visits to innovative spaces and companies, and workshops with innovators to develop ideas and gain an understanding of the industry.

Sophomore Seminar Series is a year-long co-curricular course dedicated to the development of real-world skills that are both timeless and immediately applicable. Students are exposed to concepts ranging from financial literacy and career exploration to philanthropy, servant leadership, civil discourse, and public speaking with the goal of preparing them for life beyond SPSG. The career exploration seminar culminates in Sophomore Shadow Day, which allows each student to travel off-campus to shadow a professional in a field of interest. Seminar workshops are led by a team of faculty, staff, and administrators. The course meets once per week and is not graded. 

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Scholars who  Present,  Inquire,  Research,  Innovate,  Test,  Utilize, and  Solve 

The SPIRITUS program promotes individualized learning paths and processes by providing a unique opportunity for students to engage in an exploratory, inquiry-based research endeavor of their own design over two-years. The program fosters intellectual growth, collaboration, and leadership by allowing students to pursue personal passions, from entrepreneurship to environmental science, from social justice to sociology, from physics to philosophy, and from medicine to management. SPIRITUS Scholars seek to redefine the broad application of a “Scholar’s” reach; as such, it is not girded to one definition of what it means to be a Scholar. Under the guidance of the program director, faculty advisors and off-campus mentors, students pose questions, pursue answers, and develop connections and opportunities for life beyond SPSG.

The SPIRITUS program is open to Juniors and Seniors with an appetite for open-ended research, personalized coursework, an innovative mindset, and real-world experience. Students must demonstrate an acumen for both self- directed learning and a willingness to work with others in a supportive, collaborative setting. There are three components to the student application: an online application, a faculty recommendation, and an in-person interview with the SPIRITUS advisory committee during the spring of their Sophomore year. Research questions need not be fully developed at the time, though students are expected to articulate why this program is of interest to them, and what they hope to gain from such an experience.

In the first year of the program, Scholars are introduced to and equipped with research skills and methods through a semester-long seminar, Research Methods Seminar, which focuses on inquiry-based learning, building a robust cohort, and developing mastery of a host of skills that will serve Scholars and their project development in multiple ways. Once a viable question or hypothesis has been developed, the juniors work individually with the S.P.I.R.I.T.U.S program director and a peer partner to identify mentors and curate a customized syllabus. Opportunities may include interviews, site visits, enrollment in enrichment MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course), participation in related workshops and speaker series, and more.

The culminating piece of the Scholars experience is the successful presentation of a capstone project, demonstrating a mission, a vision, and measurable, tangible results.

Credit/Grading: S.P.I.R.I.T.U.S Scholars are accepted into the program with the understanding that it enhances their learning and personal experience. The two-year program is a graded course, with quarterly and semester grades. Successful completion of the program results in a designation on the student’s transcript. Students participating in the program receive an elective credit for the successful completion of each phase of the program.

Completed and Current Projects Include:

  • “Bettering Baltimore: A Documentary on the Effects of Gentrification on Baltimore City Residents”
  • “Remember the Arts: Traumatic Memory Loss and Art Therapy”
  • “PLAY Better: Educating and Empowering Athletes to Prevent Overuse Injuries”
  • “The Face Behind Your Food: A Photodocumentary Exploring the Lives of Migrant Workers”
  • “Know Your HAIRitage: Advocating for the Fair Trade of Hair”

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Upper School Technology: In Upper School, students explore web 2.0 applications, ethical use issues, and publishing tools throughout the curriculum. Classes such as Graphic Art and Digital Photography allow students to develop an in- depth understanding of specific programming and publishing applications and to use these tools to express their creative voice and vision. In addition to SPSG’s technology offerings, students may take computer science courses through the Online School for Girls.

1:1 Laptop Program: The 1:1 Laptop Program in the Upper School brings increased opportunities for exploration, collaboration, and long-term technology-based projects by requiring a laptop for each student. Faculty incorporate technology at all levels to provide a robust and relevant classroom environment and to facilitate project-based and collaborative learning, to develop global perspectives, and to promote interdisciplinary thinking. Students use technology to take ownership of their learning by comparing perspectives, drawing connections, articulating the relevance of their studies, and developing creative solutions to authentic problems. Examples of essential skills integrated into upper school classes include interacting and collaborating with peers on papers; Skyping with peers from SPSG’s global partner schools; evaluating, selecting, and organizing resources; designing persuasive presentations; and producing original work. All SPSG classes use Finalsite, a learning management system that allows students and teachers to collaborate and share resources and assignments through class and group webpages.  Recognizing that safe and effective use of technology are critical skills for students in the 21st century, SPSG emphasizes and models Internet safety and digital literacy throughout its academic and advisory programs.

IDEA Lab: Graphic Arts and Digital Photography students gather around iMacs in the IDEA (Innovation, Design, Engineering, and Arts) Lab to critique one another’s work, and the editors of SPSG’s yearbook and newspaper, The Green Years and The Epistle, meet in the IDEA Lab to brainstorm, plan, and produce these important publications.

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The Learning Commons: The Learning Commons inspires students to become lifelong learners and innovative thinkers who demonstrate intellectual curiosity, ask compelling questions, and are adept at evaluating information from multiple perspectives to develop original ideas and work. It is a vibrant hub of learning at the center of our academic wing where community members can browse new books, settle into a comfortable chair to read a magazine, research a wide variety of topics through the robust collection of databases, or gather in a quiet room to collaborate on a group project. Programs such as community summer reading, author visits, and book discussions promote a love of reading and encourage students to pursue a passion.

The Director of Learning Commons Services works in partnership with classroom teachers to embed information literacy skills throughout the curriculum and to support students as they progress through a carefully planned scope and sequence of age-appropriate research papers in core subject areas. Throughout their upper school experience, students learn to plan effective approaches to research, to refine information searches for better results, to track sources effectively and ethically, to compare and contrast scholarly perspectives, and to organize and synthesize research to communicate their own ideas persuasively.

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St. Paul’s School for Girls’ membership in the One Schoolhouse consortium allows our students to pursue a passion, exchange ideas with students from girls’ schools across the nation, and develop independent study habits, thus preparing girls for leadership in today’s complex world.  OSH offers a safe and supportive environment in which girls can take such a healthy academic risk.

SPSG’s partnership with the One Schoolhouse expands opportunities for SPSG students to take a range of courses. SPSG offers full credit for One Schoolhouse classes and includes One Schoolhouse classes directly on our transcripts.

One Schoolhouse Mission Statement

One Schoolhouse’s mission is to “empower learning and transform education.” They do this by “leading through innovation; inspiring learners; and partnering with schools and organizations”.

Guided by current research on how girls learn best, the School believes in and has dedicated itself to:

  • Connection - Emphasize connection among participants;
  • Collaboration - Incorporate collaboration into the learning experience;
  • Creativity - Inspire and reward creativity;
  • Application - Engage in real-world problems and applications while having students probe the social and ethical dynamics that define and stretch our global society

Application and Tuition

Each year, SPSG is pleased to provide financial assistance for a group of girls to take an OSH class. Financial assistance will be divided among the most highly qualified students, based on record, interest, application, and work ethic. Preference is given for classes that SPSG does not offer, but students may also apply for a class that is already offered at SPSG to alleviate a schedule conflict or to try an online class. Students may apply for funding to take an OSH class during the course registration process. Students interested in an One Schoolhouse class should speak with the Academic Dean.

OSH Courses

Credit approved Online School for Girls courses for the upcoming school year are listed below.

To read more about each course, visit



11232 Falls Road
P.O. Box 8000
Brooklandville, Maryland 21022
TEL: 410-823-6323
SECURITY: 443-862-2294
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