12th Grade Academics


British Literature

This course is designed for college bound seniors. We will explore the origins of the English language and English literature in-depth by focusing on British classical works and a few other European works that have significantly influenced western thought and culture. We will look at the classic hero’s journey and relate it to mankind’s use of myths, symbols, and archetypes to help explain our lives.

We will develop a sophisticated vocabulary including understanding the origins of words. We will also systematically improve upon reading comprehension, literary response & analysis, writing skills (including creative writing alongside persuasive writing), classical rhetoric applied to both speech and writing, and delivering a variety of presentations for different audiences (including using multi-media tools). Analysis of poetry, prose, and drama will take a thematic approach, emphasizing critical thinking, and covering a variety of academic skills.


AP English Literature and Composition

There is nothing better than curling up in a comfy chair with a good book.  This course is intended for seniors who are interested in taking their literacy skills to a higher level.  It is a full year course (two semesters).  Students must have 3 years of high school level English as a pre-requisite. We will look at great works of literature from the 1600’s until the present and analyze not only their timeless themes, but also their authors’ craft and use of literary elements.

This is a challenging course with a lot of reading and a lot of writing (on par with a college level literature course).  Students will keep a literary journal throughout the year and write reflections on all units.  Students will also prepare for the AP test in May and write AP style essays for homework and for in-class tests that will be timed.  There is a summer reading assignment prior to the first day of class in the fall semester.


AP Calculus AB

AP Calculus AB is often the culmination of high school math as it integrates many methods learned in previous courses. AP Calculus AB is an introduction to the mathematics of differentiable functions. The students get to know the meaning of differentiation as a method to find instantaneous rates of change and slopes of tangent lines. They learn the commonly used differentiation rules as well as special methods such as implicit differentiation and the calculation of related rates.

The students learn the meaning of integration as a method to find net change and areas between curves. Then these methods are applied to the calculation of solids. With the study of differential equations the students are well prepared for the AP Calculus test.


Discrete Mathematics

Discrete mathematics is the field that underlies much in computer science and mostly deals with the use of integers. Our course requires students to write mathematical proofs. Although we will introduce several computer science type projects during the year, it is not a computer science course. Students must expect to be primarily solving mathematical problems; writing proofs and/or using mathematical induction; studying integers and their divisibility properties; analyzing, searching, and sorting algorithms; and working with graphs and sets. The main topics of the course revolve around basic logic, lists and sets, relations and partitions, advanced proof techniques, recurrence relations, functions and their properties, permutations and symmetry, discrete probability theory, number theory, and graph theory.

Discrete Mathematics is primarily intended for high school seniors. All students must have already taken and passed high school Geometry and Algebra II as prerequisites. It is recommended that students have also taken and passed Pre-Calculus.


AP U.S. History

The AP U.S. History course will be two-semesters long and culminate with the AP test in May 2016. This course is primarily intended for 11th grade students. Students will read all required materials in advance so that class time can be devoted to various Socratic seminars, jigsaw type presentations, small group discussions, debates, projects, note taking & developing a word bank, viewing film clips and artistic works, reading and analyzing primary sources of evidence, and applying concepts from the readings toward analysis of current events. Students will be expected to be active participants in class and in their own learning.

Our main textbook will be the The American Pageant 14th Edition by Kennedy, Cohen, and Bailey. The course will be taught thematically with students focusing their attention on the characteristics of U.S. History divided into 9 distinct time periods (from 1491 to present day). Weekly topics will follow the basic structure of the textbook chapters (in that order – a chronological order of events in U.S. History). Each weekly topic will have supplementary readings and/or viewings from a variety of sources listed below (see supplementary materials). Students will be assessed on how they accomplish historical thinking skills, academic skills, and AP test type questions, essays, and/or tasks. Students will have a major exam at the end of each of the 9 time periods…plus several full-length practice exams before the AP test in May.



During the fall semester, students will be introduced to the workings of the American federal government and the meaning of democracy. After students better understand how the American government operates, as a whole, they will spend the rest of the semester focusing on the three branches of government (legislative, executive, and judicial).

Students will learn key terms related to government. Students will understand what the president and his administration do and what powers they have, what power the constitution gives to Congress, how a proposed bill becomes a law, and how the federal courts function (especially the Supreme Court). Students will study the U.S. constitution and how it shapes laws and individual rights.

Students will finish the semester by taking the U.S. citizenship exam, which is graded and required to pass the course. Students will be assessed in a variety of ways, including multiple choice quizzes and tests, unit exams, short answer questions, and writing short topical essays. Students will also watch relevant films and follow current events to complement their learning.



In the spring semester, students will learn the basics of macroeconomics. Students will learn key economic terms, how money moves throughout the economy, how banks and other financial institutions operate, the role of the government in shaping economic policy, how economic growth is measured, the importance of trade and exchange, the power of incentive in affecting consumer behavior, analyze changes in economic activity, and other important economic issues. In addition, students will learn real-world skills such as keeping a monthly budget, how to invest money for retirement, the real cost of borrowing money with compound interest, and how the stocks/bonds and mutual funds markets work.

Finally, students will analyze and produce relevant economic charts and graphs, and use mathematical equations related to economic functions. Students will be assessed in a variety of ways, including multiple choice quizzes and tests, unit exams, short answer questions, and writing short topical essays. Students will also watch relevant films to complement their learning.


AP U.S. Government and Politics 

Freedom is a precious gift.  It is also a gift that takes vigilance to maintain.  Our society needs young people who not only have tolerance for all backgrounds, but are also aware of how America’s democracy functions.  It is a teacher’s responsibility to expose students to their rights as human beings, the procedures of government, contemporary issues facing society, and how to bring about non-violent change and/or win-win solutions.  It is also a teacher’s responsibility to instruct students in the arts of dialectic (to listen to and discuss different points of view in order to reach new understandings) and of rhetoric (to present one’s opinion effectively).

The AP U.S. Government and Politics course is for seniors (12th grade students) who have taken and passed US history (preferably AP US History).  This course will be one-semester long and taken in combination with AP Macroeconomics, which will be taught in the spring semester.  Students will read all required materials in advance so that class time can be devoted to various Socratic seminars, jigsaw type presentations, small group discussions, debates, note taking & developing a word bank, viewing film clips and/or original sources, and applying concepts from the readings toward analysis of current events.

Students will be expected to be active participants in class and in their own learning.  Students will craft AP style essays throughout the course as well as write a research paper that ties current events with concepts studied in class.


AP Macroeconomics 

The study of economics is central to understanding how human beings choose to develop their societies.  Economics also has tremendous influence on the development of self-concept and personal freedom.  It is quite interesting to look at history, sociology, government, politics, and the struggle for human rights through an economic perspective.   Students will need that perspective in order to become informed citizens.

Our AP Macroeconomics course is one-semester long.  The course is for 12th grade students.  It is taken in the spring semester after students take AP U.S. Government & Politics in the fall.  Both formal and informal assessments are built into the course.  Homework may include (but not be limited by) chapter questions, preparing summaries, analyzing economic data, preparing questions for discussion, preparing arguments & positions (including evidence collecting to support one’s argument), creating charts & graphs, writing business letters to current figures in government, international business, and economics, and crafting AP style essay and/or long answer questions.

There will be seven unit tests and one final exam.  Unit tests correspond to the major content areas listed in the AP Macroeconomics course description (economic concepts, measurement of performance, national income & price determination, the financial sector, inflation/unemployment/stabilization policies, growth & productivity, international trade & finance).  They contain multiple-choice and free response questions similar to those found on the AP exam.   Every unit test will have a free response long essay.  The final exam will mirror the entire AP test itself.


Chinese VI Honor

Chinese VI is an advance level Chinese language course designed for high school students who have either passed our Chinese V course 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 historical and literary genres and texts including Chinese legends about key figures, poetry, novels, fiction and nonfiction works, and analyze them in different aspects. The course progresses along historical lines, following the major dynasties of China.

Students 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. We will read two full Qing Dynasty novels this year in their original language. This will be quite a challenge (similar to English literature students reading Shakespeare). Students must also improve upon their writing skills. They will demonstrate an ability to write with an understanding of audience and purpose. 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.


AP Chemistry

This course is designed for students who wish to expand their knowledge of modern chemistry beyond the two-semester introductory chemistry course. The AP students will be exposed to a much more immersive and in-depth study of chemical principles and their applications, including advanced atomic theory, the nature of the chemical bond, thermodynamics, dynamic chemical equilibria, kinetics, electrochemistry, acid-base theory, and organic and nuclear chemistry.

The course is strongly recommended for prospective science, engineering, and medical students. Students will be expected to provide detailed, in-depth, insightful analyses of the subject material through problem sets, professional-quality laboratory reports, and examinations.