11th Grade Academics


American Literature

In the American Literature class, students explore American culture, traditions, and history through a diverse study of literature.  The texts students examine follow a historical progression of America, beginning with oral stories of Native Americans and ending with works from contemporary American authors.  As students read and examine these texts, they discuss and revisit essential themes such as The American Dream and Nightmare, Identity, The Human Condition, Good and Evil in the World, Freedom and Responsibility, and Individuality and Conformity.

Some of the primary texts students read include The Red Badge of Courage by Stephan Crane, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, and A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry.  During the year, the class also delves into short stories, poetry, essays, and current magazine articles.  Through this broad study of American literature, students develop skills in vocabulary, reading comprehension, literary analysis, writing, speaking, and critical thinking.


AP English Language and Composition

This course is designed to help students become both skilled readers of prose written in a variety of rhetorical contexts and skilled writers who compose for a variety of purposes. Students will learn to read primary and secondary sources carefully, to synthesize materials from these texts in their own compositions, and to cite sources using conventions recommended by professional organizations such as the Modern Language Association (MLA), the University of Chicago Press (The Chicago Manual of Style), and the American Psychological Association (APA). Students in this class should be willing to work hard and challenge themselves to think clearly and express themselves at a relatively high level of sophistication.

This course is for juniors and seniors.  It will be two-semesters long.  The first semester will be devoted to understanding rhetoric and the various techniques authors use based on pathos, ethos, and logos.  Reading and writing assignments will be structured to analyze and demonstrate certain specific techniques.  For this purpose Everything’s an Argument by Lunsford and Ruskiewicz works very well paired with selections from The Norton Sampler edited by Thomas Cooley.  The second semester will switch over to a more thematic approach.  Students will read classical and modern pieces devoted to specific themes.  Students can choose for themselves which techniques they would want to apply from the first semester in order to address each theme in their assignments.  A World of Ideas, edited by Lee Jacobus, has a fantastic selection of classic works suited to this purpose.

Writer’s workshops will be interspersed throughout the year to help students develop ideas, organization, word choice, sentence fluency, voice, and conventions in their essays.



Pre-Calculus is intended for high school juniors. The course encompasses operations with complex numbers and their geometric representation; key features of polynomial, rational, exponential, and trigonometric functions; creating and solving of equations, inequalities, and systems thereof.

The students study vectors; the Laws of Sines and Cosines; operations with and applications of matrices; inverse functions; conic sections including ellipses and hyperbolas; as well as parametrically defined functions and polar coordinates. The students will become more solid with what they have learned in Algebra II, make additional connections, and expand their understanding of functions and mathematical methods as preparation for Calculus.


U.S. History

This is a comprehensive course intended to cover key topics and information from the Pre-Columbian period up to the current presidential administration. Students will take a thematic approach to analyzing U.S. History along with seeing history through different perspectives (including disenfranchised groups). American achievements will be celebrated, but students will not receive a whitewashed version.

The class will explore controversy and failure during readings and discussions on the American experiment with nationhood as well as much deserved feathers in the cap. Time will be spent analyzing and responding to historical documents, literature, and influential speeches. Students will improve upon their map reading skills along with analyzing charts and graphs containing relevant statistics. The course is designed for 11th grade students who will be taking some version of SAT or ACT this year. Therefore relevant articles from SAT and ACT testing materials that relate to social studies and/or humanities will be introduced.


AP World History

This rigorous study of the world over the past 12,000 years is designed to prepare students for the AP test in May and introduce them to college level study, including proper note-taking techniques. Students will be assessed in a variety of ways, including multiple choice quizzes and tests, unit exams, short answer questions, essays, analyzing primary source documents, producing geographically relevant maps, and participating in thematic, topical discussions.

Students will better understand the past by analyzing different time periods and geographical regions while focusing on specific themes. These themes include: interaction between humans and the environment; development and interaction of cultures; state building, expansion, and conflict; creation, expansion, and interaction of economic systems; and development and transformation of social structures.

Students will develop historical thinking skills including: analyzing evidence; interpretation; comparisons; contextualization; synthesis; causation; detecting patterns of continuity and change over time; periodization; and argumentation. Students will be able to make distinct connections of historical events from one time period to the next to understand how the links of the past have shaped the present. U.S.


Chinese V Honor

Chinese V is an advance level Chinese language course designed for high school students who have passed both AP Chinese and our Chinese IV course and/or have equivalent proficiency. This course is intended to further develop their language and literacy skills and understanding of traditional Chinese culture beyond the AP level. Students will read a variety of genres and texts including short stories, poetry, novels, fiction and nonfiction works, and analyze them in different aspects. They will understand historical influence, consider the philosophical and cultural stance of the authors, and draw inferences.

Students will expand their vocabulary while focusing on the four language skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Students will also gain exposure to traditional Chinese written language and culture. They will demonstrate research techniques and an ability to write with an understanding of audience and purpose.

Over the one year course, they will produce a range of writings including reading logs and journals, character studies, speeches, creative pieces, and different kinds of essays such as compare and contrast, analytic, expository, narrative, reflective, persuasive, and research. The assignments will be challenging to non-native speakers of Chinese, but not impossible to accomplish. This course will bring advanced level non-native speakers of Chinese closer to literacy. All the course materials will also be in Mandarin Chinese. Students will engage in class discussions, debate, have lectures, keep a writing and/or reflection journal, have comprehension question homework, have vocabulary development homework, write their own original poetry, make class presentations, have group work and/or group projects, and conduct research.



This course provides students with the fundamental concepts of physics. The major topics covered are mechanics, energy, waves, magnetism and electricity, and some aspects of modern physics. In the first semester, the students learn how Galileo and Newton described motion, and how simple machines drove life in traditional culture. The students apply their understanding of acceleration, forces, pressure, and impulse to tell how to increase safety in modern-day traffic situations.

In the second semester, the students learn about waves and how use them to understand sound and light phenomena. The students learn that magnetic and electric phenomena seem different but are actually related to each other, which historically lead to the creation of the electric motor. The course concludes with some topics from 20th-century physics. This physics course is mainly presented as laboratory science that provides an understanding of many of the scientific principles we meet in our daily lives.


AP Biology

AP Biology is an elective course for juniors and seniors who have successfully completed Biology and Chemistry. This course puts an emphasis on the following areas of study: the possible evolution of life; the use of free energy at a molecular level in biological systems for growth, reproduction, and dynamic homeostasis; transmission, retrieval, storing, and response of information essential to life processes in living systems; and the complexities of interactions among biological systems.

Students will be required to engage in Socratic seminars, jigsaw group projects, presentations, and small group discussions. Interdisciplinary thinking will be strongly encouraged, with students being expected to relate the theories of molecular biology to chemical principles and to apply these theories in ecological contexts. This course is strongly recommended for aspiring scientists, engineers, and medical students. Students enrolled in this course will be required to take the AP Biology exam in May.