Curriculum

ENGLISH

The Pine Crest Upper School English curriculum fosters the development of accomplished readers, writers, and thinkers in collaborative settings that encourage student-centered learning. Throughout their career at Pine Crest, students read both fiction and non-fiction from a variety of world cultures and are encouraged to consider ideas and issues from a global perspective. Department offerings provide an environment for lively discussions in which students analyze challenging literature and articulate their thoughts with confidence. In addition to the classroom experience, the English Department offers opportunities for experiential learning in both U.S. and international settings. All classes incorporate the use of technology and project-based learning including Internet-based research, PowerPoint for presentations, podcasts, Google Docs, production of live TEDx Talks, and PSAT, SAT, and Advanced Placement (AP) preparations. Students who satisfy department prerequisites may elect to take honors, AP, or post-AP courses.

MATHEMATICS/COMPUTER SCIENCE

At its core, mathematics is the study of patterns and relationships. Its elegance stems from fundamental arithmetic principles and extends logically to more complex investigations of real-world phenomena. The department aims to inspire its students with an appreciation for mathematical analysis. The curriculum builds both vertically in terms of skills, and horizontally in terms of applications. Using a variety of pedagogical approaches that merge time-tested methods with modern technological enhancements, teachers provide an effective learning experience. Students gradually acquire the skills and intuition necessary to solve problems, analyze data, manipulate graphs, and reason abstractly. Ultimately, students graduate from the math program with proficiency, creativity and confidence that extend far beyond the boundaries of mathematics.

Computer science courses are designed to teach high-level logic and problem-solving skills that prepare students for successful entry into the technological and/or scientific environments of academia and work. The department is dedicated to providing a state-of-the-art curriculum in an ever-evolving discipline.

SCIENCE

Science is a process for learning about the natural world. The process depends on making careful observations and developing hypotheses to explain those observations. Changes in knowledge are inevitable as new observations challenge existing explanations. In science education, critical analysis leading to an understanding of core concepts is the focus. Mastery of vocabulary is a tool, not an end, needed to communicate understanding. Pine Crest's Science Department endeavors to make science classrooms places where creativity and invention are recognized and encouraged. Three years of laboratory sciences - physics, chemistry, and biology - are required for graduation. Physics provides the basis for understanding the laws of nature. At Pine Crest, the physics requirement is fulfilled in the eighth grade. Chemistry explains how those laws influence matter. Biology, the third course in the sequence, provides the context for applying acquired understanding of the core concepts of physics and chemistry to life processes.

SOCIAL SCIENCE/HUMANITIES

The Social Science and Humanities Department promotes an understanding of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship in a democratic society, and challenges students to understand economic, geographical, political and social themes of the world in which they will become leaders. Three and one-half Social Science credits at the high school level are required for graduation: Great Decisions is a one-half credit course, which is required for all freshmen. A Global History, United States History, and one other Social Science elective make up the remaining three required credits.

WORLD LANGUAGES

In an age of global interdependence, the World Languages Department believes that proficiency in another language is the initial step in learning about other cultures and acquiring a broader world view. In acquiring another language, students learn to be accurate, apply self-discipline, and use memory and reasoning, all of which will help them to think logically and analytically throughout their lives. All language courses offered by the Department embrace the four areas of language learning: Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking (RWLS). Pine Crest offers Chinese, French, Latin, and Spanish. Three world language credits, taken in the same language at the high school level, are required for graduation. New students are required to take a language placement test. Based upon this evaluation and teacher recommendations, the academic dean and members of the World Languages Department will advise students on appropriate course selection.

ARTS

The cornerstone of the Pine Crest academic experience is that within a challenging curriculum, an infusion of the arts is inherent throughout. This difference makes a tremendous impact on the developmental growth of every child - placing a high value on learning through fun, imagination, and inspiration. Beyond aesthetic appreciation, the arts teach students to be open minded, allow for creative self-expression, promote individuality, bolster self-confidence, and instill a drive for excellence - skills needed to succeed in the classroom and beyond.

PERFORMANCE TRAINING

The Physical Education (PE) Department provides opportunities for instruction and participation in physical activity, and opportunities to integrate related knowledge impacting health and human performance. The goal is for students to practice healthy and active lifestyles, personifying "a healthy mind in a healthy body."

One half-credit of performance training with a health component is required in the freshman year. In the health component, students will address major health concerns facing high school students. Instruction in CPR and the use of the automated external defibrillator (AED) may be included. Course work will include written assessments and presentations.

In all performance training classes, students will be introduced to proper weight training techniques in personal fitness and strength training programs. Students without experience in this area will be introduced to the development and maintenance of muscular strength and muscular endurance. Safety rules will be discussed which will include students' dress, machine use, free weight use, and spotting techniques. Students will learn how progressive exercise encourages more efficient and effective movement, how common injuries may be prevented and illnesses, such as osteoporosis, may be avoided.

All students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses will write the Advanced Placement Examinations for those courses. For a comprehensive list of course offerings within each Department, click here to review the 2016-17 Upper School Curriculum Guide.