Upper School Program


The Tools to Take You Anywhere

The Tools to Take You Anywhere

Upper School

The Upper School at Northwest will challenge you in ways that expand your worldview and deepen your self-understanding. 

We offer an interdisciplinary liberal arts program which includes an expansive study of mathematics, science, humanities, arts, and modern languages. By exploring issues, ideas and methods across these subject areas, our students learn to read critically, write cogently, think broadly, and solve complex problems. 

Through this program of study, students acquire the knowledge, skills and confidence to embrace the expectations and evolving demands of college and beyond. 

Get Ready to Stretch

Express Your Ideas Effectively

In our signature humanities program, you’ll study history and literature together—learning to do your own research, develop informed opinions...

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Express Your Ideas Effectively

In our signature humanities program, you’ll study history and literature together—learning to do your own research, develop informed opinions, and express your ideas effectively in writing, public speaking and debate.

Collaborate, Experiment & Analyze

You’ll establish a strong foundation in science and math courses, which integrate problem-solving, hands-on labs, and the use of...

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Collaborate, Experiment & Analyze

You’ll establish a strong foundation in science and math courses, which integrate problem-solving, hands-on labs, and the use of real-time data. 

Students in Advanced Biology Topics, test mussels from the Puget Sound to identify if they are local or invasive species. A math modeling project uses a Federal Reserve simulator to model the impact of real-life economic events on inflation, unemployment, and interest rates. Physical science students design catapults with  a set of predetermined parameters to learn the importance of precision and consistency in design.

Expand Your World View

As an upper school student, you will have unparalleled opportunities to develop into a global citizen through engagement, immersion, and study...

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Expand Your World View

As an upper school student, you will have unparalleled opportunities to develop into a global citizen through engagement, immersion, and study. A homestay in Spain will immerse you in the language. A friendship with an international student living in the dorms will teach you how lives around the world are similar and different.  And a research project studying the Tibetan Independence Movement will teach you the importance of human rights.

Develop Leadership Skills

You'll develop intellectual independence, personal responsibility, and leadership skills during your upper school years. There are a number of ways...

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Develop Leadership Skills

You'll develop intellectual independence, personal responsibility, and leadership skills during your upper school years. There are a number of ways for you to grow in these areas, for example, educating our school community on social justice issues through Days of Learning, taking an active role in our Carbon Neutrality Task Force or serving as a tutor for younger students.  There are even opportunities to be a teaching assistant during your senior year.

Value Social Responsibility

Northwest’s curriculum and co-curricular activities are centered on our core values of social justice, environmental sustainability, and global engagement. We...

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Value Social Responsibility

Northwest’s curriculum and co-curricular activities are centered on our core values of social justice, environmental sustainability, and global engagement. We foster an understanding that responsibility for the needs of the community does not lie with one individual or group, but with every student.

Think Differently

The best problem solvers are creative thinkers, so the arts are a central part of the upper school experience. Through...

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Think Differently

The best problem solvers are creative thinkers, so the arts are a central part of the upper school experience. Through artistic self-expression you will deepen and expand on your strengths.  You'll develop skills ranging from agile thinking to healthy risk-taking to resilience. 

Even early on, as a student at Northwest, I was learning to think for myself. In Humanities, we brought in newspaper articles and discussed the underlying messages we were being fed in the news and teachers asked us to form our own opinions. Deconstructing the messages within the media and creating my own meaning is something I will use for the rest of my life.
– Tani Ikeda '05, is an Emmy winning director who creates narratives, documentaries, music videos, and commercial films.

A Northwest Education Inspires a Love of Learning

Our graduates enjoy careers as research doctors, surgeons, physical scientists, technologists, authors, artists, entrepreneurs and the list goes on. They credit their Northwest education for inspiring their further education and sense of purpose.

Graduation Requirements

Northwest requires the following minimum course of study in Upper School:

  • Humanities: 4 years
  • Mathematics: minimum 3 years
  • Science: minimum 3 years
  • Modern Languages: minimum 3 years
  • Visual and Performing Arts: 4 years
  • Physical Education: 2 years
  • Environment: 4 years
  • Immersive Summits: 4 years

Students pursue an integrated and sequential study of world civilizations in grades 9-11, fulfilling English and social science requirements in a double-credit course.The program incorporates history, literature, philosophy, and art through weekly lectures, discussion seminars, and writing tutorials. In grade 12, students complete a trimester-long civics course and two history/cultural studies electives to complete Northwest’s social science requirement, as well as three trimester-long English electives.

Mathematics, Science and Modern Languages

Most seniors take a fourth year of study in Math, Science and Modern Languages. All seniors must take a fourth year of study in at least two of the three subjects.

Visual & Performing Arts

A minimum of six arts courses are required over four years. To fulfill the arts distribution requirement, students must take at least one course in each of the four departments and at least one art course per year. Based on individual circumstances it is possible to petition for reduction of this requirement.

Physical Education/Health

Students must fulfill a two-year Physical Education requirement in order to graduate. One year of PE credit is earned through 9th grade PE which is a required 3 trimester long course. Additional credit toward the two-year physical education requirement can be met through enrollment in dance, outdoor education, or fitness, or by participation on an interscholastic sports team. It is recommended that students fulfill the PE requirement through participation in a variety of these activities. 


Two times a week, students and faculty work in mixed-grade teams to care for the school and immediate surrounding areas. This activity supports environmental sustainability, facilitates leadership development, and builds community. Four years of satisfactory work in Environment are required to graduate.

Intensive Summits

For two weeks every spring, students participate in an immersive, crossgraded academic experience. Summits offer authentic learning with real-world applications in Seattle and across the nation. Examples of Summits include Urban Agriculture and Sustainability; Science Fiction, Science Film; and The March Goes On: Civil Rights Past, Present, and Future.

English Language Learning

International students who receive ELL support are gradually integrated into more courses with fluent English speakers each year. Physical education/health, arts courses, sports teams, class trips, the Environment Program and the Outdoor Program offer additional chances for interaction.

Requirements by Grade

Ninth Grade

Take the equivalent of eight courses plus Environment and Summits. 

See Details

Tenth Grade

Take the equivalent of seven courses plus Environment and Summits.

See Details

Eleventh Grade

Take the equivalent of seven courses (minimum) plus Environment and Summits.

See Details

Grade 9


Participate in the equivalent of eight courses plus Summits* and Environment**, Humanities counts as two courses and students take two arts/electives. Environment is two times each week.

  • Humanities 9 or Humanities – ELL
  • Math
    • Algebra I
    • Geometry
    • Algebra II
    • Pre-Calculus
  • Physics
  • Modern Languages
    • Chinese
    • French
    • Spanish
    • Beginning Grammar/Writing – ELL
  • Arts/Electives (select two courses)
  • Physical Education/Health (full-year course required in 9th grade)

Summits* — an immersive, two-week long, interdisciplinary, multi-grade, deep dive into a topic, offered during the last two weeks of school. Required.

Environment** — Caring for our school environment for 10 minutes, 2 days per week. Required.

    Grade 10


    Participate in the equivalent of seven courses (minimum) plus Summits* and Environment**, Humanities counts as two courses and students take two arts/electives. Environment is two times each week.

    • Humanities 10 or Humanities 10 – ELL (counts as two courses)
    • Math
      • Algebra II
      • Pre-Calculus
      • Calculus
    • Biology
    • Modern Languages
      • Chinese
      • French
      • Spanish
      • Intermediate Grammar/Writing – ELL
    • Arts/Electives (two courses)

    Summits* — an immersive, two-week long, interdisciplinary, multi-grade, deep dive into a topic, offered during the last two weeks of school. Required.

    Environment** — Caring for our school environment for 10 minutes, 2 days per week. Required.

    Note — The class of 2028 and beyond will take chemistry in 10th grade and biology in 11th grade.

      Grade 11


      Participate in the equivalent of seven courses (minimum) plus Summits* and Environment**. Humanities counts as two courses and students take two Arts courses each trimester.

      • Humanities 11 or Humanities ELL – Transitional year for ELL Students
        • Math
          • Algebra II
          • Algebraic Applications
          • Pre-Calculus
          • Calculus
          • Advanced Calculus
        • Chemistry
        • Modern Languages
          • Chinese
          • French
          • Spanish
          • English Composition & Advanced Grammar – ELL
        • Arts/Electives (two courses)

        Summits* — an immersive, two-week long, interdisciplinary, multi-grade, deep dive into a topic, offered during the last two weeks of school. 

        Environment** — Caring for our school environment for 10 minutes, 2 days per week.

        Note — The class of 2028 and beyond will take biology in 11th grade and will have completed chemistry in 10th grade

        Grade 12

        Participate in the equivalent of six courses (minimum) plus Summits and Environment. Typically, seniors take five academic courses and two arts.

        Math Pre-Calculus, Calculus, Advanced Calculus, Statistics, or Math Modeling
        Science Advanced Chemistry, Advanced Topics in Biology, or Physics
        Modern Languages Chinese, French, Spanish, or Advanced English Composition ELL

        Summits* — an immersive, two-week long, interdisciplinary, multi-grade, deep dive into a topic, offered during the last two weeks of school.

        Note— The class of 2028 and beyond will have covered physics in 9th grade and will have elective options in 12th grade.

        At Northwest, we called teachers by their first names and we felt we could approach the teachers and ask questions. We could have an honest discussion with them; we could have a disagreement. In the sciences you are going to question everything. You're going to go to your boss and have a dialogue. You'll never get anywhere in science if you don't know how to ask questions. Northwest was really good at encouraging that open inquisitive attitude.
        – Kate Rozen Gagnon '06, Assistant Professor, Molecular Genetics, Temerty Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto



        Upper School Course Catalog


        Humanities 9

        The Ancient World Through the 17th Century

        In this course, we examine a variety of world cultures from early civilizations to the 17th century.

        Students learn the basics of Humanities methodology, asking questions such as: What does it mean to be human? How have different societies defined what is (and what is not) human? How does the individual relate to society? How do societies interact with one another? How do societies interact with the natural environment?

        Using an analytical framework called the Five Elements of Society, Humanities 9 students study world history, literature, philosophy, and visual art while drawing connections to current world events. The course includes a survey of the origins of major world religions.

        Informed by Northwest’s mission statement and core values, the Humanities 9 curriculum reflects the conviction that including a diversity of ethnic, racial, religious, gender and economic perspectives is essential to a comprehensive understanding of the human experience.

        Full texts may include Parable of the Sower, Epic of Gilgamesh, Oedipus Rex and Antigone and The Tempest. Students read excerpts from Sapiens, The Aeneid, primary sources from Ancient Greece and Rome, religious texts such as the Torah and Talmud, the New Testament, the Qur’an, Tang poetry, and medieval poetry and literature (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Canterbury Tales, The Prince and The Decameron.

        Students practice the following skills — historical questioning and primary source analysis; persuasive, expository, creative and narrative writing; literary analysis and strategies for close reading; note-taking, annotation and organizational skills, and presentation and rhetorical skills — through projects such as literary and historical analysis essays, reader’s theatre, creative writing (narrative fiction and poetry); research projects, and student-led seminars and debates and current events project.

        Humanities 10

        Dominant and Counternarratives of U.S. History

        In Humanities 10, we will study the rise of the “modern” world, starting in the 17th and 18th centuries and ending with a focus on the 19th Century in an American context.

        Over the course of the year, students survey many important topics for understanding this transformative era: Colonization and Slavery, the Enlightenment, the origin and philosophy of the U.S. State, the Industrial Revolution, Immigration, Westward Expansion, and Imperialism.

        In line with our integrated approach, students investigate these topics through a combination of literary, historical and social-scientific perspectives. Informed by the mission and values of the school, the Humanities 10 curriculum reflects the conviction that the inclusion of ethnic, racial, religious, gender, and economic diversity is essential to a comprehensive understanding of the human experience.

        In Humanities 10, students are challenged to consider issues of historiography by placing dominant narratives of national history up against counter-narratives from those who have been historically marginalized (such as the enslaved, the colonized, the oppressed).

        By seeing through a historiographic lens, students learn how to consider the role of power and context in the way that history is narrated and recorded, and they gain historical insight into very current debates about how U.S. history should be taught and understood today.

        Humanities 11

        Imagining Nationalism & Internationalism in the 20th Century

        Humanities 11 is an interdisciplinary course, challenging students to adopt diverse reading practices from history, literature and cultural studies.

        In a collaborative teaching and learning environment, students learn to craft arguments in a range of disciplines for both academic and popular audiences. The course is structured around student-driven inquiry and analysis, with both creative and formal academic assignments.

        Rather than a comprehensive survey, the course touches down on particular case studies, guided by ongoing inquiry into the politics of nationalism and internationalism in the 20th Century as they developed in diverse cultural, geographic and social contexts.

        Through each case study, students seek to understand how race, class, gender and sexuality play a role in the way nationalist and internationalist ideologies developed and were resisted.

        From Jim Crow in the United States to European fascism to liberation movements in Latin America, students use each case study to explore and understand the assumptions and the struggles of our present moment. In each case study, we ask:

        • How do different philosophies of both nationalism and internationalism develop, in tension, over the course of the 20th century?
        • How do various ideologies of difference (including race, gender, sexuality, class) inform conceptions of nationalism and internationalism?
        • How do different narratives imagine and construct national and international communities?
        • How do different storytelling strategies challenge dominant nationalisms or internationalisms?

        Full-length texts include: Quicksand by Nella Larsen, Company K by William March, Citizen 13660 by Mine Okubo, and Maus by Art Spiegelman. Throughout the year students also read selections from primary historical sources, short stories, documentaries, film and poetry.

        Selected Assignments and Projects Students practice formal academic writing, literary analysis, and historical, critical thinking in assignments such as “Black Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance: Historicizing Literature Essay;” “The Politics of Remembering the Holocaust” essay, and “Indigenous Worldviews in ‘Latin America’" essay.

        Students practice applying historiographic and cultural analysis in creative applications through such assignments as the “World War I Missing Chapter Vignette;” and “Japanese-American Incarceration: Curating a Museum Exhibit.”

        In the third trimester students join academic conversations through scholarly research, reading, and writing skills. Projects include “Modern China: Structured Academic Controversy;” and the “20th Century Social Movements” capstone research paper and public symposium.

        Eleventh grade international students may be enrolled in a sheltered section of this course, designated Humanities 11: Transitional.

        About Grade 12 Humanities Electives

        In their senior year, Northwest students choose a series of electives that define their course of study in two tracks: Humanities 12: Social Studies and Humanities 12: Language Arts.

        Students choose from a list of trimester-long electives in both tracks and have the chance to sample several focused, inquiry-based lines of study in diverse topics and fields.

        Topics and approaches for these courses reflect student interest, instructor areas of expertise and passion, and the larger mission of the school. These more focused courses aim to align with the school’s educational goals for student-centered learning, and to prepare them for the challenge of college-level pacing and expectations.

        Humanities 12: Social Studies Students begin the year focusing on civics and U.S. government studies in a curriculum built around a trimester-long Civic Engagement Project. In this project, seniors volunteer their time to an electoral campaign, social justice project, nonprofit organization or other approved political project of their choosing.

        Through these projects, students find ways to channel their interests by authentically engaging in the political process.

        The course facilitates reflection on these experiences in civil service and an analysis of the larger social, political and historical contexts for this kind of engagement.

        After the first trimester of Civics, seniors rotate through two more trimester-long electives designed to facilitate learning in the fields of history and the social sciences from a variety of different critical perspectives and areas of study.

        Humanities 12: Language Arts In this track, students rotate through three trimesters (a whole year) of electives in the Humanities, including courses in Literary Studies, Philosophy, Cultural Studies, Art History and Media Studies.

        As with most Humanities courses at The Northwest School, these courses engage students in a combination of academic and creative writing, all with the aim of encouraging complex learning on identity, representation and the important role of art and culture in our social and political worlds.

        At the end of the year, students complete a cumulative portfolio project, where they will reflect upon connections that they have independently formed across their Humanities 12 courses in both tracks.

        This final reflective piece is intended to encourage independent learning and personal growth, while encouraging all students to see a larger goal or purpose for their education in the interdisciplinary study of art and society.

        Grade 12 Humanities — Social Studies Electives


        The first step in Northwest's 12th grade Humanities Social Studies track is a course on the history and practice of political participation in the United States, which centers on  seniors' Civic Engagement Project.

        Building on a historical account of the philosophical and political origins of the U.S. Constitution and government studied in 10th grade, this course develops students’ understanding of the historical and political challenges that face our democracy today. It will also give students the opportunity to engage in meaningful work in their communities and to reflect upon that work both historically and politically.

        In its most general form, civics can be understood as a study of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. Typically, this entails an education in the structures and principles of U.S. government with a focus on civic participation in democratic processes, often in the name of producing informed and engaged citizens.

        Civics at The Northwest School is rooted both in the school’s commitment to global perspectives and social justice education, and to the department’s mission of teaching rigorous, critical approaches for analyzing history, politics and culture.

        Rather than grounding the course in a definition of “citizenship” (itself, a contested term that is at the heart of many debates about justice in our time), this course opens a space for challenging questions about the efficacy of our institutions, the legitimacy of our laws and principles, and the exclusions that are built into ideas of citizenship and national belonging.

        In their Civic Engagement Project, students document their experiences with volunteer work, and submit those experiences to critical reflection 

        In the course, students work towards a definition of civic engagement and participation that is the property of citizens and non-citizens alike and which engages all members of our learning community in shared inquiry.

        Africana Studies

        Black Internationalism and African Decolonization
        This course introduces students to the histories of Black internationalist movements across the United States, Caribbean and Africa.

        It considers how and why Black thinkers began to look beyond national borders to search for and imagine freedom, finding the idea of the “international” at different moments throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

        Students consider the ways that historical Black internationalist thought both influenced and contributed to nationalist decolonization efforts on the African continent.

        They also produce group presentations that apply the theoretical framework of “internationalism” to the histories of decolonization in places such as Senegal, Algeria, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa.

        Modern Latin American History

        Finding Voice, Fighting Power: Modern Latin American History from Independence to the Present
        This course covers Latin American history from the pre-colonial period to the 21st Century, focusing two major regions: Mexico and Brazil. Students examine primary and secondary sources to analyze issues of political power, racial ideology and identity, indigenous rights, competing theologies, colonial and post-colonial structures, violence and resistance, and economic inequalities, to understand how social processes have shaped the culturally diverse lives of Latin Americans. Students apply these frameworks  to investigating specific issues such as environmental policy, indigenous autonomy, war on drugs, media representation, etc.

        Looking at a variety of written and visual forms of media, art, speeches, music and films, investigating specific topics, and participating in role-play activities, students develop an understanding of the social and historical forces that have affected Latin American society over the past centuries to present day.

        Media Studies

        Media Literacy for Social Action
        This course centers on media literacy in the social and news media spaces. Social media can be dangerous and exploitative, and it can also be an inspiring, world-changing space uplifted by advocates, rebels, critics, artists and activists.

        Like any other tool, social media needs to be turned in the right direction and it is critical that the next generation develops their own compass and toolkit for navigating online spaces.

        Students explore how social media algorithms work, how social media affects us as consumers and creators, and what it means to be an ethical, responsible digital citizen navigating the space safely in an era of polarization, misinformation, trolling and hate-centered extremism.

        The course also explores how social media can be a fertile, imaginative space of creation where people develop new visual, textual and aesthetic languages to describe who they are and how they want to be in the world.

        Students research and analyze how writers and activists center on uplifting (their own) intersectional identities, educating others, and creating from a place of compassion, kindness and directness to counter racism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, ableism and more.

        Students practice constructing their own arguments through research and analysis, and content creation in response to their own interests, identities, and what is happening in the world today.

        Prison Studies

        Prisons, Policing, and Abolition
        In this course, students study the root causes of mass incarceration and the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC).

        Students also — as Black feminist scholar-activists Beth Ritchie, Angela Davis and Gina Dent describe in Abolition. Feminism. Now. — work towards “a hope and joy in the possibility of abolition.” To do so, this course engages with a range of interdisciplinary materials that bridge conversations between scholars, artists and activists who are all working towards abolition.

        The first unit focuses on understanding the historically grounded root causes of mass incarceration.

        As we develop an intersectional feminist methodology, our approach will include attention to how race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, citizenship and other ideologies of difference intersect with, and are foundational to, the Prison Industrial Complex.

        Students explore debates about abolitionist theories and practices threaded throughout the course. They will have opportunities to follow their own interests and develop leadership skills in class assignments.

        While PIC is a broad umbrella term, in the second unit students dive deeper into various subtopics of their choice. These studies culminate in a creative, interdisciplinary, counternarrative Public Humanities project crafted for younger audiences.

        Grade 12 Humanities — Language Arts Electives

        Creative Writing: Identity, Joy, Justice, Action

        This creative writing course centers joy and self-awareness in the reading and writing process.

        Creative writing from a critical identity lens requires that we move beyond the writing maxim, “Show, don’t tell” and shift into a space where students consider the ways in which writing is political.

        This course challenges students to consider how their positionality impacts how they read and write. Designed for students who wish to become better readers and creative writers, this course exposes students to a variety of writing styles and genres, with a particular focus on writers of color who celebrate their identities and amplify writing as a form of activism.

        Students practice reading and writing in various genres, including narrative, verse, and creative nonfiction, using materials drawn from their own work and selected texts from established and peer writers.

        Hope in Misery: Science Fiction and Social Justice

        “At its best, science fiction stimulates imagination and creativity. It gets reader and writer off the beaten track, off the narrow, narrow foot path of what “everyone” is saying, doing, thinking — whoever ‘everyone’ happens to be this year.” — Octavia E. Butler in Positive Obsession, Bloodchild: And Other Stories

        “Without new visions we don’t know what to build, only what to knock down. We not only end up confused, rudderless, and cynical, but we forget that making a revolution is not a series of clever maneuvers and tactics but a process that can and must transform us.” — Robin D.G. Kelley in Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination

        This course looks at how hope and social justice are imagined in science fiction stories where the future is presented as bleak and miserable.

        Joining scholarly and activist conversations, the class works together to think about how particular authors imagine social justice community organizing strategies. Students consider the authors' different visions of “hope in misery.”

        The course imagines the near future through a science fiction lens to help students better understand the present, as they work towards envisioning and creating more equitable and just futures.

        The class texts include aliens, magic, new technologies and other fantastical qualities, and will inspire new and creative ideas for creating social change today.

        Innovation in Modern Latin American Art and Literature

        This course introduces seniors to seminal works from a broad range of genres, including literary prose, poetry, manifesto, crime fiction and visual art by Latin American writers, thinkers and artists from the 20th and 21st centuries.

        This class discusses major developments in Latin American social thought to explore how literature negotiates and shapes contemporary concerns regarding gender, class, race, sexuality and colonialism.

        Students also examine these topics within the contexts of modernity, nationalism, capitalism, revolution and dictatorship. Students also develop their critical skills in literary and cultural analysis, and build their argumentative and creative writing abilities.

        Postcolonial Literature

        This course examines literature produced by people in colonized and formerly colonized countries in the Caribbean, Africa and South Asia.

        Students read a variety of literary genres (including a novel, poetry, short stories and memoir selections) that reflect upon the experiences of people living in the path of U.S. and European empires.

        As students learn to think historically about how the cultural encounters between colonizer and colonized have shaped the politics of the literature we read, they will learn about the relationships among history, art and political resistance.

        Shakespeare Studies

        Exploring Gender and Sexuality in Hamlet
        For centuries, philosophers, literary theorists and artists have turned to Shakespeare — and Hamlet in particular — to examine universal aspects of the human condition: Love, war, power, grief, madness, spirituality and identity, among others.

        Shakespeare has been charged with, above all, “inventing the human” (Harold Bloom). Hamlet himself ponders the great existential question — to be or not to be? This class challenges this claim of universality and timelessness of Shakespeare and his plays.

        Students explore critical interventions into questions of identity — specifically, how the question “what does it mean to be human” obscures particularities of gender and sexuality, silencing voices in the play that speak to topics such as masculinity, misogyny, maternal relationships, hysteria, homosociality and queer identities.

        Throughout the course, we will explore historical and contemporary theories of gender and sexuality, as well as adaptations of Hamlet that place questions of identity in the foreground.


        Algebra 1

        This course builds the mathematical foundation for all other Upper School math courses. Students move on to expand their understanding of linear equations, inequalities, and systems of linear equations and inequalities. They use these representations to model relationships and constraints but also abstractly reason with them.

        Students write, rearrange, evaluate and solve equations and inequalities, learning to explain and validate their reasoning with increased precision. Students deepen their understanding of functions and their ability to represent, interpret, and communicate about them — using function notation, domain and range, average rate of change, and features of graphs.

        They also see categories of functions, starting with linear functions (including their inverses) and piecewise-defined functions (including absolute value functions), followed by quadratic functions. For each function type, students begin their investigation with real-world and mathematical contexts, look closely at the structural attributes of the function and analyze how these attributes are expressed in different representations.

        The course ends with a close look at quadratic equations. Students extend their ability to use equations to model relationships and solve problems.

        They develop their capacity to write, transform, graph, and solve equations—by reasoning, rearranging equations into useful forms, and applying the quadratic formula. In solving quadratic equations, students encounter rational and irrational solutions, providing an opportunity to deepen their understanding of the real number system.


        Geometry is a course of logic and problem-solving in both two and three dimensions.

        Students begin learning the fundamentals of geometry, such as points, lines and angles, and build on those concepts by working with congruence and similarity in polygons. Students engage with triangles, through which they are introduced to the Pythagorean Theorem, special right triangles, and right triangle trigonometry.

        Logical reasoning is emphasized through justification of processes and writing proofs to defend reasoning. Properties of circles are then explored to solve for area, circumference, sectors, arcs and segments. Students work with geometric concepts in the coordinate plane, and compute area and volume.

        Throughout the year, students will reinforce skills learned in Algebra I and connect them to geometry. Prerequisite: Successful completion of Algebra I

        Algebra II

        Students begin the course with a study of sequences, which is also an opportunity to revisit linear and exponential functions. Students represent functions in a variety of ways while addressing some aspects of mathematical modeling.

        This work leads to looking at situations that are well modeled by polynomials before pivoting to a study of the structure of polynomial graphs and expressions. Students do arithmetic on polynomials and rational functions and use different forms to identify asymptotes and end behavior.

        Students also study polynomial identities and use some key identities to establish the formula for the sum of the first terms of a geometric sequence. Next, students extend exponent rules to include rational exponents. They solve equations involving square and cube roots before developing the idea of a number whose square is expanding the number system to include complex numbers. This allows them to solve quadratic equations with non-real solutions.

        Building on rational exponents, students return to their study of exponential functions and establish that the property of growth by equal factors over equal intervals holds even when the interval has non-integer length.

        They use logarithms to solve unknown exponents and are introduced to the number and its use in modeling continuous growth. Logarithm functions and some situations they model well are also briefly addressed.

        Students learn to transform functions graphically and algebraically. Prerequisite: Successful completion of Geometry

        Algebraic Applications

        Algebraic Applications is designed for students who have completed a course in Geometry or Algebra II and seek additional reinforcement in fundamental algebraic concepts before advancing to Algebra II or Pre-Calculus.

        Students have opportunities for additional practice as well as pre-teaching, or re-teaching, of Algebra II concepts to build fluency and understanding. Through review and exploration of key Algebra II concepts, students will strengthen their understanding of algebraic expressions, equations, functions and problem-solving strategies.

        The course emphasizes building fluency in algebraic manipulation, simplification and solving equations and inequalities. Topics covered may include linear and quadratic functions, systems of equations, polynomials, rational expressions, exponential functions and an introduction to trigonometry.

        By the end of the course, students gain the confidence and proficiency necessary to tackle more advanced mathematical concepts. Subject to approval from math chair. Prerequisite: Successful completion of Algebra II or Geometry.


        This course is for students who desire a theoretical, conceptual and rigorous mathematics course after completing Algebra II. Pre-Calculus continues the in-depth study of functions started in Algebra II with an emphasis on preparation for Calculus.

        Rational, exponential, logarithmic and trigonometric functions are presented along with their applications. Students learn to move fluently between verbal, numeric, graphic and formulaic representations.

        Real-world phenomena are modeled by each function. Prerequisite: Successful completion of Algebra II.


        This first-year calculus course focuses on the mathematics of motion and change.

        Students are introduced to limits, derivatives and integrals, and their connection through the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus.

        Students learn to calculate instantaneous rate of change, area under a curve, and other aspects of functions, and apply these skills to real-world applications with techniques such as related rates and optimization. Prerequisite: Successful completion of Pre-Calculus.


        Statistics is available to seniors as a primary math course, or as an elective in addition to another math course. 

        The course aims to equip students with essential skills in interpreting, processing and visualizing data, offering a comprehensive understanding of statistical concepts and their applications in our data-driven society. The course emphasizes the critical role statistics play in making informed decisions.

        Students learn to interpret, process and visualize the data they confront in daily life. Students read, discuss and write about the use and misuse of statistics in media and politics. Students also learn how to calculate probabilities in a wide array of situations to predict the likelihood of an event occurring before it even happens. 

        Finally, students learn how to properly design a statistics project to answer a research question of their choosing. Prerequisite: Successful completion of Algebra II.

        Mathematical Modeling with Financial Applications

        This course is available to seniors as a primary math course, or as an elective in addition to another math course.

        Students study applications of mathematics including economics at the macro and micro levels, and finance at the federal and personal levels.

        Students also study the creation of algorithms and big data. The class dives into the stock market, game theory and the use of mathematical models to simulate decision-making. Prerequisite: Successful completion of Algebra II. This course is only available to seniors.

        Advanced Calculus

        This is a second-year calculus course. Topics include limits, vectors, proofs and advanced integration techniques.

        Students differentiate and integrate functions and relations expressed parametrically and in the polar coordinate plane to find area, volume and arc length.

        Students also explore infinite sequences and series, convergence tests, improper integrals, power series and Taylor polynomial approximations, culminating in Euler’s identity.

        The course concludes with an extension of the ideas of calculus to three dimensions, including equations and intersections of lines and planes and partial derivatives. Prerequisite: Successful completion of Calculus.


        Grade 9 — Physics

        This course seeks to deepen students' understanding of the rules that govern their physical world.

        This is an introductory physics course that includes the study of kinematics, forces, energy, electricity and magnetism. Students learn to develop and apply models through careful observation, guided inquiry, group discussion and collaborative hands-on investigation.

        They learn to communicate their thinking through multiple visual, mathematical and verbal representations. Students focus on the concepts, skills and ways of thinking underlying their further study of science. This course is limited to ninth-graders.


        Biology for 10th graders provides each student with a strong foundation in the fundamentals of the living world, and gives them tools to think critically, creatively and inquisitively about current and future scientific and global issues.

        The course starts small: Learning about the molecules that comprise all living things; these molecules make up cells, the building blocks of life. Students study the organ systems of the human body, emphasizing how these are all connected.

        The course moves on to genetics and evolution, and finishes the year examining ecology. Students collaborate with peers on a variety of inquiry-based activities and labs.


        In this course, students learn about the science connecting the properties of their world to a submicroscopic world of atoms, ions and molecules. The chemistry curriculum has four primary goals:

        1. Making students chemically literate in a highly chemical world.
        2. Preparing students for any college-level chemistry course they may choose in the future.
        3. Providing students a foundation in critical thinking and problem-solving skills from a chemistry perspective, though useful in all disciplines.
        4. Giving students skills to solve problems and answer questions by working in a laboratory.

        In the first two trimesters, students learn the language of chemistry by writing formulas, using those formulas in chemical equations, and then using those equations to calculate quantities used in chemical processes. In the third trimester, they probe the microscopic level and investigate models of the atom, relate those to trends on the periodic table, and synthesize both of those into learning about how atoms bond to make molecules.

        Grade 12

        Advanced Chemistry

        This course will be a more in-depth examination of the world of chemistry, building upon the foundation established junior year. The course requires mathematical and abstract skills as students explore complex topics. Each unit features labs that help students build techniques as well as introducing them to a variety of chemical procedures. Students in this course should be curious about the world around them, be good collaborators, and be ready for the challenge of a rigorous chemistry course. The topics covered in the class include significant figures, properties of gases, thermochemistry, chemical kinetics, chemical equilibrium, and acids and bases.

        Registration Note: To enroll in this course students must have earned a B or above in all three trimesters of Chemistry and thoughtfully completed the interest form sent to all rising 12th graders. Enrollment in the single section of this course, as well as the opportunity to take two Science courses, will be determined by Science faculty based on science grades and interest form responses.

        Advanced Topics in Biology

        Students in this year-long course discover how to use genetics as a tool to improve human health. Through exciting labs, they use modeling (of insulin), transformation (of bacteria to explain insulin production), and electrophoresis (to detect genetic mutations). They also learn to use sophisticated scientific tools like BLAST to detect the BrCa1 gene, a model ELISA to test for HIV, and they attempt a biohacker CRISPR lab.

        In the later part of the year, students use genetics to understand the threats to sustainability in the marine environment. They explore and monitor near-shore habitats while learning fundamental oceanography and marine biology. Students gain the critical skills to understand, design and communicate scientific research. As they push into areas at the forefront of scientific discovery, students debate and grapple with ethical issues around advancing genetic knowledge and technology.

        Note: To enroll in this course students must have earned a B or above in all three trimesters of Biology and thoughtfully completed the interest form sent to all rising 12th graders. Enrollment in the single section of this course, as well as the opportunity to take two Science courses, will be determined by Science faculty based on science grades and interest form responses.

        Physics 12

        Physics encourages students to gain a deeper conceptual understanding of the rules of the physical world, utilizing mathematical calculations to describe physical interactions and making connections between science and the most important questions our society faces. Students regularly complete laboratory investigations and engineering design projects to strengthen their scientific understanding and gain experience in the skills and practices of a scientist. Topics covered include: Kinematic motion, forces, energy, electricity and aerodynamics. A range of math levels is accommodated through differentiated coursework, depending on aptitude and background. Note: This course is only open to seniors.

        Modern Languages


        Placement into Chinese is proficiency based. Grade levels for all courses may vary.

        Chinese I

        This course is an introduction to standard Chinese (Mandarin). Students learn the Pinyin Romanization system and use acquired oral language skills in a variety of activities and games. While students focus primarily on oral proficiency, they also learn to read and write basic Chinese characters, and to recognize these words in context.

        By the end of this course, students will reach the ACTFL Novice Mid level of oral proficiency and will have acquired the following language skills: Ask and answer basic questions, make self-introductions, and describe likes and dislikes.

        Students also learn to deliver short oral presentations in Chinese, make two cultural presentations, and engage in short reading and writing activities. Students employ these skills within the framework of familiar contexts such as family, leisure activities, and home and school life. The course also touches on Chinese food, festivals and traditions.

        Films viewed may include The Road Home (Wo de fuqin muqin) and Beijing Bicycle (Shiqi sui de danche), which give insight into Chinese family life and society in both rural and urban communities. Both films will be watched with English subtitles, occasionally focusing on the Chinese dialogue for comprehension.

        Chinese II

        This course continues from Chinese I, focusing on building students’ command of oral communicative structures in more sophisticated contexts, and building reading and writing skills using Chinese characters with gradually less Pinyin support, using supplementary elementary story texts.

        Unit themes include: Learning to describe school life in the United States and China, daily activities and hobbies, and learning about Chinese locales. Students work on building oral fluency with the goal of conducting the class entirely in Chinese by mid-year. Students reach the ACTFL Novice High oral proficiency level by the end of the course.

        Films viewed may include Not One Less (Yi ge dou bu neng shao) and Shower (Xizao), with an increased focus on the language spoken in Chinese without the benefit of English subtitles.

        Chinese III

        Chinese III continues the focus on increasing oral proficiency and fluency, along with a review of major Chinese grammatical patterns, and more intensified practice of Chinese characters to engage students in intermediate-level spoken proficiency tasks.

        Class discussions and presentations compare the differences between Western and Eastern values on topics such as holidays and etiquette. Students' reading is supplemented with annotated news and culture articles found on several websites, along with using an intermediate-level supplementary reader. Students reach or approach the ACTFL Intermediate Low level by the end of the course.

        Films viewed in this course show the lives of ordinary Chinese people in cities and rural areas, such as Together (He ni zai yiqi) and Postmen in the Mountains (Na shan, na ren, na gou), with students completing comprehension tasks viewing the films without English subtitles.

        Chinese IV

        Chinese IV aims to engage students in more independent work in Chinese, either in projects interviewing Chinese-speaking international students or by reading authentic texts online and providing oral reports to the class.

        The cultural focus of this class shifts to learning about life in Taiwan and Hong Kong as well as China, with screenings of Taiwanese and Hong Kong films like Yi Yi, The Wedding Banquet (Xiyan), Comrades, Almost a Love Story (Tian mi mi) and Eat Drink Man Woman (Yinshi nannü), concentrating on how Taiwanese and Hong Kong Chinese cultures compare to and contrast with mainland Chinese and other world cultures.

        Students are expected to function in performance tasks meeting ACTFL Intermediate Levels, moving toward tasks that approach advanced level skills. A minimum enrollment of four students is required for this course to be offered.

        English as a Learned Language

        ELL Grammar & Writing I

        This class helps students begin to develop strong academic writing and grammar skills. They learn about sentence structure, grammar, mechanics and the writing process. They are introduced to standard organizational patterns of the paragraph and the basic concepts of essay writing. Throughout the year, students practice using the rules of English grammar in both speaking and writing activities, which include playing grammar games, working on individual and group projects and giving presentations to the class. Key course goals are to help students develop the foundations of academic grammar and gain confidence to communicate clearly and with detail in writing.

        ELL Grammar & Writing II

        This class presents a more in-depth study of English grammar and helps students use different grammatical structures to express ideas through paragraphs and essays. Students learn and practice standard academic patterns of essay organization and work to develop a mature writing style. Several grammar-based projects, writing assignments, and presentations are required as students work to become comfortable with common writing conventions and strong, confident, capable communicators in writing and speaking.

        ELL English Composition & Advanced Grammar

        This advanced course in English language is designed to help international students improve their language skills in all areas: Grammar, listening, reading, writing and speaking. In this class, students use a variety of academic and technical discourse in English to work on such activities as reading comprehension, paraphrasing and summarizing. Through examination of student samples and daily discussions, students will learn what effective writing means. As students strengthen their writing skills, they will reflect on different writing styles and techniques. Several grammar-based projects, writing assignments and presentations are required.

        Advanced English Composition

        The purpose of this class is to provide an intensive experience of reading and writing in English. Students will gain confidence with the elements of good writing: Purpose, theme, voice and structure. Students also practice and become familiar with the steps of the writing process: Brainstorming, drafting, revising and editing. As writing and reading are interdependent processes, students also read and respond to a variety of texts — assigned and of their own choosing. Throughout the year, students read and analyze short poems to strengthen vocabulary and literary analytic skills, as well as developing confidence and familiarity with a range of voices and styles.


        Placement into French is proficiency based. Grade levels for all courses may vary.

        French I

        This course is designed for beginners and is taught entirely in French. The course aims to develop the skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing to a basic level of proficiency so that students can communicate ideas in French and understand some cultural aspects of the French-speaking world.

        The focus is on learning the tools to exchange basic information with others. Students learn how to talk about themselves, their immediate surroundings (family, friends, school, free-time activities and others), and how to get by in a French-speaking country.

        Students begin the year learning to describe who they are (learning numbers to share age and phone numbers, expressions for giving and asking for personal information such as address and languages spoken). We also learn to describe life at school by discussing schedules, classes, and likes and dislikes.

        Students connect with Northwest's sister school in Angers, France, and compare school life in the United States to school life in France. Later, students learn to describe their families and friends and discuss family structures.

        Finally, the focus shifts to free time as students learn to describe their daily routines, recreational activities, and wishes and plans. The curriculum includes:

        • Building oral and written proficiency
        • Learning grammar
        • Developing metalinguistic awareness
        • Understanding authentic documents (films, songs, short texts) and cultural topics

        French II

        This course is taught entirely in French and begins with reviewing and expanding the material covered in French I. Students review the major verb groups and develop grammar and vocabulary skills through such significant units as their relationship to devices, the environment, climate change issues and current events (e.g., elections, cultural and societal issues, controversies).

        Students study French culture and society as well as the broader francophone world. They read short texts (often complementing topics studied in Humanities) and read and memorize poems. Students also view French language films, followed by discussions and written assignments.

        The course strongly emphasizes the development of listening and speaking skills to be able to engage in more complex conversations. The year’s primary goals are to develop a solid foundation for the continuous study of French and encourage oral and written expression.

        French III

        This course is entirely taught in French. Students review and extend the learning of the past tenses, as well as learn the future and the conditional. They expand their oral skills through class discussions and group presentations.

        Films and projects are directly linked to grammar and the Humanities 11 curriculum. For example, students read the script for Louis Malle's movie, Au revoir, les enfants, and study the film as a basis for conversations about World War II France, and themes surrounding the occupation, anti-semitism, collaboration and resistance.

        The main goal at the end of French III is for students to sustain a conversation, express their opinions and challenge others’ opinions both in class and through more developed written compositions.

        French IV

        At this advanced level, students approach French mainly as art. Students study literary texts (several short stories and one larger piece), as well as do translation, discuss current events, and engage in conversation with students from our partner school in Angers, France.

        Students review grammar and study according to their needs and the texts they read. Students study relative clauses to help their mode of expression, learn the future tense and the conditional mode, the literary tense of passé simple, and the subjunctive. Themes, books and films are chosen according to the class’s interests, language level and popular culture.

        The last trimester is often devoted to personal and collective projects and presentations, such as the creation of an online magazine, a book of poems, a short soap opera or one-act play.


        Placement into Spanish is proficiency based. Grade levels for all courses may vary.

        Spanish I

        This course is designed for students with little to no background in Spanish. Taught primarily in Spanish, the course focuses on teaching the 5 C goal areas of the ACTFL guidelines: Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons and Communities. Students engage in a variety of listening, reading, writing and speaking activities.

        The class teaches basic skills and communication through the following topics: Introductions and simple conversation, numbers and the alphabet, the weather, hobbies and activities, sharing personal information, school classes and activities, diversity of people and language in Latin America, future plans and present tense verb conjugations.

        Spanish II

        This is a continuation of the Spanish I-B curriculum and is taught primarily in the language. Students continue to deepen their Spanish language proficiency. Each lesson targets the four essential skill areas: speaking, listening, reading and writing.

        In each trimester, students engage in themed units of study and benefit from the opportunity to use the language creatively and meaningfully. Students experience the value of cultural differences from various Spanish-speaking countries through authentic materials, some of which are project-based research. By the end, they are able to express themselves on basic topics in the past, present, and future tenses. Ultimately, students gain an understanding of the true practicality of learning a world language.

        Spanish III

        This class is entirely taught in Spanish. The course aims to advance the skills students have acquired in their study of Spanish: Speaking, listening, reading and writing. Students focus on communication and consolidate the skills and knowledge acquired at the beginner and intermediate levels.

        Students should increase their language proficiency; as a result, they can communicate ideas and understand new and more challenging cultural aspects of the Spanish-speaking world. Developing metalinguistic awareness and understanding authentic documents and cultural topics are all part of the curriculum.

        Students start the year with oral and written activities to get to know one another and review previous material. Main study units include topics such as environmental ethics, life in the city, and well-being. Students learn to express their opinions and feelings, give recommendations, navigate urban life in a Spanish-speaking context, and talk about their health.

        Because no foreign language study takes place without studying the target culture, we also listen to music, watch films, and read authentic journalistic or literary texts from the Spanish-speaking world.

        Spanish IV

        This course completes the three-year Spanish language requirement in the Upper School.

        Students begin to examine in more detail the connections between cultures and communities, with increased emphasis on critical thinking; students apply sophisticated grammar structures and vocabulary. Students focus on what they can do with the language while solidifying and expanding their intermediate-level proficiency.

        The course uses an intermediary lens to explore topics and centered around a review of level III. Intersectionality informs topics about the arts, such as meaning, social role, differences between art and entertainment. Students examine the professional world and relevant current local and global events.

        Spanish V

        Taught entirely in Spanish, this course is the first of two advanced Spanish courses offered in the Upper School for students interested in furthering their command of the language.

        Students continue to examine the connections between cultures and communities, and gain critical thinking and problem-solving skills by applying increasingly sophisticated grammar structures and vocabulary. Students discuss key themes relevant to today, such as technology and its challenges, global issues, multiculturalism, diversity, equity and inclusion, environmental awareness and local community engagement.

        Spanish VI

        This advanced Spanish elective aims to help students enhance their communication skills while solidifying their language knowledge gained at previous levels.

        In the course, students immerse themselves in Spanish by engaging with authentic materials such as newspapers, films, music and literature. They also explore short stories, novels, plays, essays, and poetry from diverse Spanish-speaking regions, including Spain, Latin America and the United States. This helps refine their interpretive, interpersonal and presentational abilities.

        Spanish VI emphasizes critical reading and analytical writing and fosters cultural awareness, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The course applies advanced grammar structures and vocabulary in conjunction with discussions on contemporary issues such as technology, globalization, multiculturalism, diversity, equity, inclusion, environmental sustainability and local community involvement.

        Overall, this course serves as a platform for students to deepen their linguistic proficiency and engage meaningfully with the complexities of the modern world.

        Additional Electives

        Journalism, Peer Mentoring, Computer Science, Programming

        These courses are not arts courses and do not satisfy arts distribution requirements. Students must be enrolled in at least one arts course at all times, so no student may take two of these additional electives at the same time. These courses are offered for credit,however, and students interested in taking these electives should have no difficulty meeting their arts distribution requirements.


        How do you tell a good story? How do you tell a true story? How do you build an online presence and use social media to promote your stories? In this course, students work to find stories that matter to them and get those stories into the hands (and phones) of readers. They learn how to recognize a good story, research and gather facts, conduct interviews, and shape the information into an engaging piece of writing.

        In the era of fake news, this course emphasizes truth-telling and fact-checking. Students' stories cover news, arts, sports, features and editorials. Their work appears in The Northwest School's print newspaper, The Publishing Haus. Students also focus on expanding their digital presence and entering into journalistic discourse on social media.

        Together, students make decisions about how best to design and format our publications. For students who want to bring their passions — for politics, justice, art, music, sports, photography or digital media — to readers at Northwest and beyond, this is the class for them.

        Peer Mentoring

        This year-long class offers students the opportunity to develop essential leadership skills and a knowledge base around issues that impact youth and young adults.

        The most significant element of being a peer mentor is active participation and engagement in class and in the Northwest community. The class supports and develops peer mentors, allowing them to grow into responsibilities as leaders within the community of students, faculty and families.

        Class activities typically include discussion, outside reading, field trips, guest speakers, exploration of community resources, leadership development and mentoring younger students.

        Mentors also get opportunities to teach and facilitate opportunities in the Middle School, ninth grade, Community Meeting, Advisory, etc. On occasion, peer mentors may be asked to miss one of their classes to work with students in other grades. Mentors may also lead some aspects of student orientations and other programming throughout the year.

        Interested rising juniors and seniors must submit an application for admission to this class. Information about the application and deadline is distributed to students in the spring. Selections are made before registration.

        Computer Science Principles

        This course aims to provide knowledge and skills for students meaningfully participate in an increasingly digital society, economy and culture. Students learn about how the internet works, and study the basis for computing and programming. Students also take a critical view of the social impact of computing as well as its impact on the environment.

        Topics include an introduction to scripted language (JavaScript) and event-based programming, and the social impacts of computing. Students can choose the computing innovations they wish to dive into: Generative art, conversational AI or deep fakes; they research the pros and cons of these technologies.

        Students also select the means for sharing their research — through debates, flash talks and film reviews. They also apply the general principles of program design and algorithmic thinking to create their own applications. All students can succeed in computer science when given the right support and opportunities, regardless of prior knowledge or privilege. The course materials have been developed to actively eliminate and discredit stereotypes and elevate equity within the field.

        Programming I • Grades 10-12

        This course begins with writing simple programs in Python 3 to learn fundamentals. Topics include variables, expressions, operators and string operations, functions, stack diagrams, Boolean operators, conditional execution and basic data structures (lists and dictionaries).

        Students create increasingly complex projects as they learn additional topics. The course also provides opportunities for independent exploration of programming concepts in Python.

        In the second half of the year students create interactive games and move on to more advanced topics, such as data science and machine learning basics. While the course uses Python throughout the year, many of the skills learned are transferable to other programming languages.

        Physical Education & Health Courses

        Grades 9-12

        Students must fulfill the two-year Physical Education requirement to graduate. One year of P.E. credit is earned through 9th grade P.E. (see below). Additional credit toward the two-year physical education requirement can be met through enrollment in dance, outdoor education, or fitness, or by participation on an interscholastic sports team (see below).

        The school recommends students fulfill the P.E. requirement through participation in a variety of these activities. If none of these options work for a given student, the physical education requirement may be partially fulfilled through participation in an organized off-campus activity or program. This option should be requested in writing by the student and must be approved by the Upper School Director, Athletic Director and Registrar. Contact the Registrar’s Office for further information.

        Interscholastic Athletic Teams

        Fall: Cross Country (Boys & Girls), Fit Club/Strength & Conditioning (Boys & Girls), Soccer (Girls), Ultimate (Boys), Volleyball (Girls)

        Winter: Basketball (Boys & Girls), Fit Club/Strength & Conditioning (Boys & Girls), Mixed Ultimate (Boys & Girls)

        Spring: Track & Field (Boys & Girls), Fit Club/Strength & Conditioning (Boys & Girls), Ultimate (Girls)

        The school awards 0.8 credits toward the two-year P.E. requirement for each season of athletic participation. If you have questions, contact Britt Atack, athletic director.

        Required Forms
        Students may not participate in practices or contests unless all the following forms have been submitted:

        • Fall/Winter/Spring Athletics Waiver Form (needed annually)
        • Consent to Treat Form (annually)
        • Current Sports Physical (within past 24 months, covering the whole season)
        • Baseline ImPACT Concussion test (within past 24 months, covering the whole season)

        Required forms can be completed in parent/guardian Blackbaud accounts. Detailed information will be emailed to students and families prior to each season.

        How to sign up for a sport

        Sports team registration for the following school year is completed in the spring on Blackbaud when students register for their fall classes. Students who miss this opportunity may also sign up by contacting Britt Atack in the Athletics Office. Registered athletes and their parents/guardians will receive detailed athletics information for their sport after the registration period.

        Grade 9 Fitness, Health and Wellness

        All 9th graders enroll in a full-year health and fitness P.E. course. The class combines physical activity and training with a health and wellness component addressing physical, social, emotional and mental health, as well as mindfulness, nutrition, mental health and mental illness, sex and relationships, drugs and alcohol, among others).

        The course challenges students to apply information and practices to their daily lives. They are expected to both reflect and act upon their fitness, health and wellness needs.

        Students have regular access to all training equipment and facilities in the 401 building. Required for all 9th graders. Meets state requirements for health education.

        Outdoor Education

        This course provides students with opportunities to develop a wide variety of outdoor recreational skills and interests.

        The course exposes students to such activities and skills as hiking, bicycling, camping, rock climbing, sea-kayaking, rafting, alpine (downhill) skiing, Nordic (cross-country) skiing, snowshoeing, snow cave and igloo building, camp cooking, and outdoor safety.

        Because participants visit wilderness areas highly susceptible to human impact, the course stresses environmental ethics and minimum-impact camping.

        The course does not meet during the week; students instead participate in day-long or overnight trips on weekends. Students enroll in this class only in those trimesters in which they take part in outdoor offerings.

        The amount of credit (half or full) granted is based on the level of participation each trimester's outings. To earn full credit, students must complete at least five days of outdoor experience in that trimester. Occasional training and planning sessions are scheduled as needed, usually at lunch or after school. The course counts for P.E. credit.

        Fit Club/Strength & Conditioning

        Open to all Upper School students, this course is offered after school in the Fitness Mezzanine. Fit Club participation enhances students' fitness, strength and mobility. Strength & Conditioning is tailored to personal goals and/or sport-specific fitness, power and functionality.

        The program offers two sessions each day: Fit Club meets 3:45-4:30 p.m., and Strength & Conditioning follows from 4:30-5:30 p.m. Students  attend as their schedule allows; attendance is not mandatory.

        However, students earn P.E. credit based on attendance (full credit by participating an average of three or more sessions per week; half credit earned by participating an average of 1.5 times per week).

        Fee The athletics participation fee ($125) is required for this course. The fee is covered by the Northwest School Experience Fund for students who receive financial aid. Eligibility forms (waivers and sports physical exam) are required prior to participation.

        Performing and Visual Arts

        Our extensive arts course catalog can be found on the following pages: