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Upper School Course Descriptions

2D Design

Do you love to draw or paint? Then this course is for you! We will focus primarily on the use of two-dimensional materials such as pencil, charcoal, pastels, colored pencils, watercolor and acrylic paint, collage, and printmaking. The class will be made up of a mix of 10th, 11th, and 12th graders. Students will sketch, design and execute 2D compositions. Students will work on written and group critiques as part of their formal assessments. A wide range of styles and techniques will be addressed in regards to the development of the different media and each student’s artistic expression.

Pre-requisite: Introduction to Visual Arts

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2D Studio Art

Middle School Studio Art encourages students to practice foundational visual techniques while expanding their creative confidence and problem-solving skills. Seventh grade art focuses on the elements of art, while eighth grade art emphasizes the principles of design. Through a variety of projects from simple sketches to extended assignments, students work on honing their motor skills in drawing and painting while testing out personal styles of expression. Each rotation features a range of historical and cultural inspirations, often tied to themes that students are discovering in SocCom, world languages, geometry, and American studies. Students acquire vocabulary that will help them become stronger critical thinkers and more perceptive learners in all of their classes.

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3D Design

This course is geared toward students interested in developing their three-dimensional artistic sensibilities. Students work on sketches and sculptural models, design and execute 3D compositions, and participate in written and group critiques as part of their formal assessments. By touching on many time periods and cultures, students come to understand different movements in art and the artists that influenced the changes we see in art today. Students are challenged to use familiar materials in new ways as well as learn more about ceramics and mixed media sculpture.

Pre-requisite: Introduction to Visual Arts

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Activism 101

In this course, you will be introduced to, discuss and analyze the relationship between art and activism, and how artivists use their practice as a way to speak out against injustices and social ills. We will explore the works of artivists from the mid to late 20th century, the cultural and social movements that influenced them, and follow the line of influence and inspiration to contemporary artivists today. In addition to research, mini-lectures, and group work, students will apply knowledge gained from these artivists and their works to create small-scale, hi-impact works that can be shared with both school and local communities as a way to engage the public in artivism.

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Advanced Algebra 1

Advanced Algebra 1 is a problem-based course in which skills and mathematical concepts are strategically embedded in the problems themselves.  It provides an in-depth study of linear models, number sense, absolute value, quadratic models, and exponent properties that will help students build a strong algebraic foundation for future classes. In addition to the mastery of these concepts, other major class objectives include developing perseverance to grapple with problems, appropriately and strategically using technology, constructing models, reasoning abstractly, and applying ideas quantitatively.

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Advanced Digital Photography

This course expands on the fundamentals taught in the introductory Digital Photography class. Students learn more complex methods of shooting and manipulating images, as well as sophisticated conceptual approaches to extended projects. Each major project requires students to produce a series of cohesive images and a written artist’s statement. The class includes both digital and analog media and emphasizes the development of a personal creative vision.

Pre-requisite: Introduction to Digital Photography

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Advanced Theater Arts

Advanced Theater Arts provides a forum for serious actors to further hone their craft by challenging them with more complex material, providing them with added tools for interpreting and conveying that material, and offering them the opportunity to create their own play. The advanced course consists of two-thirds scene study, and one-third play writing and rehearsing for our Festival of One Acts. Students perform four times for a general audience, the culminating event being the production of student-written, one-act plays in the spring. Students drive all technical components of their second production, providing them with a stepping stone toward Honors Theater Ensemble the following year. Additionally, advanced actors perform in two campus-wide arts festivals, one Community Life period, and the ESU Shakespeare Monologue Competition.

Pre-requisite: Introduction to Theater Arts

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African American Literature

In this course, students have the opportunity to spend a year studying Black literature and history in-depth. We explore a broad array of texts, subjects, and issues, beginning with 19th century slave narratives and going all the way to contemporary Young Adult literature by Black authors, always with a focus on what’s going on in the world right now. As students study over 150 years of Black writing, primarily in the United States, we make connections between the diverse texts we read through styles and techniques, as well as through common themes and topics, such as race and racism, gender, sexuality, belonging, the history of slavery, and Black Lives Matter. Given that the themes we discuss are still relevant today, students continually make connections to the present, using the literature we read and the topics we discuss to inform their understanding of current issues. This course offers a wide variety of written and artistic assignments for students to hone their skills and explore their creativity. Students work  on writing in various forms throughout the year, getting support from their peers and the teacher as they hone their craft. In addition, we discuss serious, sensitive, and very real topics, and students are expected to engage with thoughtfulness, care, and respect. Still, we have a lot of fun along the way, finding joy in the texts we read, the subjects we discuss, and the bonds we create as a class. The texts we read does not focus exclusively on oppression and discrimination, and as we explore Black culture, literature, and history in the United States, we make a point of discussing and celebrating the joy and beauty of the Black community. This course is best- suited for students who are interested in de-centering whiteness in the literature they read. No prerequisites required.

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Algebra 1B

This course reinforces and solidifies concepts taught primarily in the second half of Algebra/Geometry 1. The goal of the course is to develop and strengthen students’ computational, procedural, and problem- solving skills in order to provide a solid foundation in algebraic concepts that will support the learning of more complex topics that will be seen in Algebra/Geometry 2. The course is designed to engage students in the content as they further develop their problem-solving strategies. Students learn how each new skill applies to solving problems in the real world, continue the development of their mathematical vocabulary, and engage in work collaboratively. Students in this class are either recommended by their Algebra/Geometry 1 teacher or placed into this class as new 9th grade students.

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Algebra / Geometry 1

The Math 1 curriculum helps students to continue forming a solid algebraic foundation while introducing several geometry concepts. The course is taught in a way that allows students to collaboratively discover key concepts, and then practice mastery of skills both in class and independently at home. Analytical skills are stressed just as much as computational skills. The curriculum provides a study of number sense, while introducing functions with linear, absolute value, and exponential models. All functions will be addressed from a multi-faceted point of view; namely, algebraically, graphically, numerically, and contextually. An emphasis will be placed on making connections between these facets. We will also study systems of equations and inequalities. Coordinate geometry will be integrated within these topics, covering midpoint and distance formula, Pythagorean theorem, area as well as rigid and nonrigid transformations. 

In addition to the mastery of the concepts, other major class objectives include developing perseverance to grapple with problems, appropriately and strategically using technology, constructing models, reasoning abstractly, learning to appreciate real-life applications of the concepts, and recognizing interdisciplinary connections.

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Algebra / Geometry 1

Algebra/Geometry 1 is the first year of a three-year math sequence. The Algebra/Geometry 1 curriculum helps students form a solid algebraic foundation while introducing several geometry concepts. The course allows students to collaboratively discover key concepts, and then practice mastery of skills both in class and independently at home. Analytical skills are stressed just as much as mechanical skills. The curriculum provides a study of number sense, while introducing functions with linear, absolute value, and exponential models. All functions are addressed from a multi-faceted point of view; namely, algebraically, graphically, numerically, and contextually. Emphasis is placed on making connections between these facets. The course also explores systems of equations and inequalities. Coordinate geometry is integrated within topics, covering: midpoint and distance formula, Pythagorean theorem, area, and rigid and nonrigid transformations. In addition to mastery of these concepts, other major class objectives include developing perseverance to grapple with problems, using technology appropriately and strategically, constructing models, reasoning abstractly, learning to appreciate real-life applications of the concepts, and recognizing interdisciplinary connections.

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Algebra / Geometry 2

Algebra/Geometry 2 is the second course in a three- course sequence. It continues to help students form a solid algebraic foundation while introducing more geometry concepts. The course allows students to collaboratively discover key concepts, and then practice mastery of skills both in class and independently at home. Analytical skills are stressed just as much as mechanical skills. The course continues to provide a study of number sense, while reinforcing skills and knowledge of linear functions. New algebra topics are introduced, including polynomials with an emphasis on quadratic functions. All functions studied so far within the Algebra/Geometry sequence, specifically linear and quadratic functions, are addressed from a multi-faceted point of view; namely, algebraically, graphically, numerically, and contextually. The geometry topics introduced this year are properties of triangles, polygons, and circles with an emphasis on developing and understanding their properties and angle relationships. The course also contains a data analysis unit that builds on the data analysis that students saw in Algebra/Geometry 1. In addition to mastery of these concepts, other major class objectives include developing perseverance to grapple with problems, using technology appropriately and strategically, constructing models, reasoning abstractly, learning to appreciate real-life applications of the concepts, and recognizing interdisciplinary connections.

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Algebra / Geometry 3 with Trigonometry

Algebra/Geometry 3 with Trigonometry is the third course in our three-course sequence. At this point in the sequence, students are strengthening their algebraic foundation by putting into practice what they have learned about functions and extending that to the study of exponential, logarithmic, polynomial, rational, and trigonometric functions. The course allows students to collaboratively discover key concepts, and then practice mastery of skills both in class and independently at home. Analytical skills are stressed just as much as mechanical skills. All functions studied within the Algebra/Geometry sequence are addressed from a multi-faceted point of view; namely, algebraically, graphically, numerically, and contextually. The geometry topics introduced this year will primarily focus on the study of right triangles and their relevance to trigonometry and the unit circle. The course also contains a data analysis unit that builds on the data analysis that students saw in the prior two math courses. In addition to mastery of these concepts, other major class objectives include developing perseverance to grapple with problems, using technology appropriately and strategically, constructing models, reasoning abstractly, learning to appreciate real-life applications of the concepts, and recognizing interdisciplinary connections.

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American Literature

The content of this course seeks to establish a foundation for American ethos through the study of the literature produced from Colonial times to present day. The selection of texts, across all literary genres, uphold the theme of a multicultural America experienced beyond the traditional literary canon. Through the works of classic authors paired with literary voices from the marginalized and the silenced throughout U.S. history, texts selected for the course provide a reconstructed perspective and understanding of the multiculturalism that defines much of American identity in today’s society. This course aims to develop reading and writing skills for the purpose of argument, persuasion, analysis, and narrative prompted by the selection of texts of the course for further development in critical thinking, academic research, and civic responsibility to ethical issues in today’s society. Building on the reading and writing skills fostered in earlier courses, American Literature provides sustained practice in formal analytical writing with regular creative assignments. Students who are also taking, or have taken, AP US History or United States History will find that the two courses often complement each other.

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American Studies

American Studies is an introduction to American history and government from 1492 to the present.  Organized by trimester, the first part of the year focuses on the origins of the nation, the formation of American government, the responsibilities of citizenship, and the meaning of America’s founding ideals. Each year, students engage in a Citizenship Project and debate constitutional issues.  The second trimester focuses on race and gender across time.  More deeply reflecting on America’s founding ideals, students seek to understand the meaning of “equality” as stated in the Declaration of Independence.  They examine historical injustices like slavery and discrimination and investigate the ways in which the concept of equality is constantly evolving and social change has been sparked over time.  Ultimately, the students learn that the meaning of equality is a moving target.  In the third trimester, students dive into 20th-century history to understand how the United States has transcended periods of great change, self-doubt, and conflict to emerge as a world power that continually redefines its role on the world stage.  Students examine the struggle between the forces of tradition and modernity in the 1920s, seek to understand the economic collapse of the Great Depression, and contemplate the essential role played by the United States in the triumph over facism in Europe and Asia. Throughout the course of the year, students develop and improve their skills as writers, Harkness participants, group collaborators, presenters, critical thinkers, researchers, listeners, and debaters.

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Anatomy & Physiology

This class will provide an understanding of the structure and function of the major human organ systems. Homeostatic control mechanisms, disease states, and adaptive physiological responses to stress, exercise, and nutrient intake are considered throughout the course. Laboratory activities, dissections, and case studies will be essential components of this course.

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Ancient World History

World History is a two-year sequence that merges the histories of different regions of the world into a coherent human story emphasizing the processes and concepts behind the journey towards “civilization.” In the ninth grade, students will be tasked with a cross-cultural study of the ancient world. The course will combine a variety of assessments, and teaching methods, with a strong emphasis on self-study, Harkness discussions, skill development with an eye on college history courses, and rigorous out-of-class readings. Students explore the birth of human civilization and cultures in the first trimester, shift their focus to a study of the development and maintenance of “civilizations” during the second trimester, and move to a discussion of governments and what happens when they collapse in the third trimester. Students finish the year with a study of China, in preparation for the end-of-year class trip.

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AP 2D Art & Design: Photography

This course requires college-level quality of work and extensive shooting time outside of class in preparation for submitting the AP Portfolio in May. Outstanding technical skill, creative confidence, and written expression are necessary for students to keep pace. In addition to extended projects, frequent critiques, and Harkness discussions, the class includes current topics in the digital media world and encourages students to enter juried shows in the San Diego area.

Pre-requisite: Successful completion of Honors Photography, and a portfolio review, in-person interview, and approval from Digital Photography instructors.

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AP Art History

Why is the Mona Lisa smiling? What secrets are hidden under the Taj Mahal? How did a single photograph inspire Congress to establish the National Parks system? If you ever wanted to know the amazing stories behind iconic works of art, this course is for you! This college-level survey of global art is both fascinating and demanding. We explore a wide range of visual expressions, from prehistory through the present day, as well as their origins in the context of political, social, scientific, and religious trends. Traditions from all parts of the world factor prominently into the course and provide crucial opportunities for the discovery of cross-cultural influences. Through reading and writing assignments, Harkness discussions, presentations, slideshows, and field trips, students develop keen powers of observation, visual analysis skills, and global cultural competency. This course is open only to juniors and seniors. Taking the AP exam at the conclusion of the course is required.

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AP Biology

The goals of AP Biology are to help students develop a conceptual framework for modern biology and to prepare students for the AP exam in May. Essential to this conceptual understanding is a grasp of science as a process and a practice rather than simply an accumulation of facts. Content, inquiry, and reasoning (i.e. lab work and critical thinking), application of biological knowledge to environmental and social concerns, and recognition of unifying themes that integrate the major topics are all equally important in AP Biology. There are four major themes (‘Big Ideas’) on which the course is focused: evolution, cellular energy and communication, genetics and information transfer, and interactions. These themes weave in and out of the course curriculum throughout the year. Students in AP Biology will primarily spend class time on lab work, lecture and reading discussions, activities, and problem solving. It is recommended that all students enrolled in this course have a strong interest in biology and previously earned a “B” or higher in both Science 9 and 10 with a solid understanding of the concepts.

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AP Calculus AB

Throughout the Advanced Placement AB Calculus course, students develop a clear understanding of limits, derivatives, integrals, approximations, and the applications of these calculus concepts. Students work both individually and in groups while they acquire problem solving, mathematical reasoning, and mathematical communication skills. As a tool for preparing for the AP Calculus test, students regularly see and solve past AP Test questions. Finally, students discover the connections between calculus and the world around them when they study its influences in physics, engineering, economics, and biology.

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AP Calculus BC

AP Calculus BC extends the material of AP Calculus AB, covering one more quarter of work. In both classes, students develop a clear understanding of limits, derivatives, integrals, approximations, and the applications of these calculus concepts. In AP Calculus BC students also learn parametric equations, polar equations, and their applications, as well as spending a great deal of time on sequences and series. Students work both individually and in groups while they acquire problem-solving, mathematical reasoning and mathematical communication skills. As a tool for preparing for the AP Calculus test, students regularly see and solve past AP Test questions. Finally, students discover the connections between calculus and the world around them when they study its influences in physics, engineering, economics, and biology.

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AP Chemistry

AP Chemistry is a rigorous course that prepares students for the AP Chemistry test and for subsequent advanced Chemistry courses in college. The class emphasizes chemical calculations and the mathematical formulation of principles as they appear on the AP examination in May. Students also complete laboratories and report their results in a lab notebook. The class has an integrated approach, with students identifying and analyzing concepts that have broader applications in the world.

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AP Chinese Language & Culture

AP Chinese Language and Culture is an advanced Mandarin Chinese course aimed at preparing students to communicate successfully in Chinese-- linguistically and culturally-- within and beyond the school setting. The goal of the course is to further develop communicative skills in Chinese across the three communicative modes (interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational) and to prepare for the AP Chinese Language and Culture examination. This course provides a practical, interactive, and engaging language learning experience for students to perform at an advanced level of proficiency. Concurrently, students’ core language skills and cultural proficiency of the Chinese speaking world is expanded and deepened. Chinese is the primary language used in the classroom, where students communicate through trial and error, thus preparing for real-life scenarios. Additional authentic materials, such as alternative textbooks, films, online materials, and online one-on-one speaking with tutors in China are used to supplement learning and proficiency.

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AP Drawing

AP Drawing students produce a minimum of 20 works that satisfy the requirements of the Sustained Investigation and Selected Works sections of their chosen Portfolio (Drawing or 2D Design). Fifteen of the works will be digital images for Sustained Investigation that include works of art, design, and process documentation. Five physical works or high-quality reproductions of physical works with written responses (artist’s statements) will satisfy the Selected Works section. The final body of work submitted for the portfolio can include art created prior to and outside of the AP Drawing course. Students also learn how to identify questions that lead to creative problem solving, materials investigation, as well as interpreting processes and ideas. Students participate in group critiques that benefit the whole class by allowing them to view work by their peers and gain fresh perspectives on their own portfolio.

Pre-requisite: Successful completion of Honors Visual Arts, and a portfolio review, in-person interview, and approval from Studio Art instructors.

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AP English Language & Composition

The goals of this course are to prepare students to excel in college-level English and humanities courses by reinforcing the content and skills they have learned in their prior courses. By pairing the traditional literary texts with the basics of literary theory and criticism, this course demands that students make a paradigmatic shift in the ways they read and analyze literature. The course includes challenging material such as William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Viet Nguyen’s The Sympathizer, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis, Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit, Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me, and Gabriel Gárcia Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. These texts, in conjunction with writing instruction that includes timed essays and papers that range from five to eight pages in length, prepare students for the Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition examination in the spring. Students are occasionally asked to do creative work such as writing complex poetry and composing play adaptations. It is not recommended that juniors enroll in this course.

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AP English Literature & Composition

This course develops proficiencies in close reading, critical thinking, timed writing, and effective linguistic persuasion. The curriculum differs from other English courses insofar as it predominantly features non- fiction texts and examines them through the lens of rhetoric rather than literary analysis. Most essays are handwritten (AP standard) under time constraints. Students encounter a variety of texts, prose and image- based, which enrich their study of language, rhetoric, and argument. This course is skill-based and designed for student success on the AP test; however, students will work beyond the test, participating in in-depth conversations on cross-disciplinary topics and current events as well as learning how to speak to and write for a variety of purposes and audiences. The course’s major texts will likely include Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, and Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place.

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AP French Language & Culture

AP French Language and Culture is a French immersion class which prepares students for the AP exam in the spring. Over the course of the year students refine their reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills through discussions, writing activities, oral presentations, and simulated AP exam exercises. Emphasis is on the mastery of advanced grammatical structures and specialized vocabulary and on broadening student understanding of the francophone world through exposure to authentic content.

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AP Music Theory

This course is for those with a serious interest in studying music theory, and it builds on the fundamentals learned in vocal and instrumental music classes. Students will study musical notation, composition, harmonic and melodic analysis, figured bass, various scales and modes, musical form, sight singing, and harmonic and melodic dictation. This course will prepare you well for additional music study at the college level.

The course includes selections from vocal and instrumental music including both Western and non-Western genres. Students will use software such as Symphony Pro, Finale, and Auralia to hone their composition and aural skills.

This course aims for mastery of various musical concepts and skills. Because the breadth of the AP Music Theory Exam is extensive, a great deal of time outside of class will be essential to preparing for the numerous concepts and skills included on the AP Music Theory test. For example, practicing identification of discrete intervals (e.g., harmonic and melodic perfect intervals) will be something students will need to practice extensively outside of class using the Auralia software. As defined by the College Board, the content of the course falls into five general categories: terminology, notation, composition, score analysis (e.g., analyzing music visually and aurally for such things as form, harmonic progression, and melodic development), and aural skills (sight-singing, rhythmic and harmonic dictation). There will be daily assignments involving each of these general categories both in and
out of class

Pre-requisite: Placement test or instructor permission.

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AP Physics C

AP Physics C is a year-long, calculus-based physics course that covers material required for students who plan to major in the physical sciences or engineering in college. The course explores the full range of topics in classical Mechanics and prepares students to take AP exams at year’s end. Mechanics covers the following: kinematics; Newton’s laws of motion; work, energy, and power; systems of particles and linear momentum; circular motion and rotation; oscillations and gravitation. Students must have completed a year of Calculus or be concurrently enrolled in AP Calculus BC to be enrolled in this course. Students concurrently enrolled in Calculus AB will be considered if they have demonstrated interest in engineering and have a strong recommendation from their current science teacher.

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AP Psychology

Psychology will introduce students to the scientific study of the mental and behavioral characteristics of human beings and other animals. The major content areas covered in Psychology will include the history and theoretical approaches in explaining behavior, research methods, biological bases of behavior, sensation and perception, states of consciousness, learning, cognition, motivation and emotion, developmental psychology, personality, testing and individual differences, abnormal behavior, treatment of abnormal behavior, and social psychology. Students will be engaged in active learning, as class time will be divided between lecture, activities and demonstrations, class discussion, in-class group work, video clips, team debates on controversial psychology issues, review sessions, and practice exams. The class will be enriched with guest speakers, such as a psychologist in a private practice and a sports psychologist. In addition, the class will go on a field trip to a university psychology lab and community mental health facility.

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AP Spanish Language & Culture

In the fourth year courses, students transition from the grammar-focused content of the foundational levels of Spanish to a curriculum centered on refining proficiency in the four core language skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking. Students in Spanish 4 sharpen and expand the complex grammatical structures and vocabulary sets acquired in previous years through a wide variety of full-immersion activities including formal and informal presentations, debates, analysis of articles, audio clips, literary selections, research-based essay writing, and daily Harkness discussions. The novels and films studied in Spanish 4 further develop the students’ linguistic skills as well as deepen their cultural understanding and appreciation of the Spanish-speaking world. The Spanish 4 Honors course is designed to prepare the students for the rigors of the AP Spanish program. Honors students must demonstrate a high level of linguistic proficiency and be self-motivated and independent learners.

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AP United States History

AP US History is a detailed and comprehensive survey from pre-Colombian times through the present day and is designed most specifically to prepare students for the AP US History Exam in May. Students examine both primary and secondary sources, and are encouraged to pay particular attention to the ways in which primary sources reveal the multifaceted nature of American history. In addition to studying American history through the lens of themes such as identity, citizenship, reform, and economic transformation, we focus on how conflicting viewpoints and themes have influenced the study of American history and how diverse contributions have shaped and strengthened our society. After the College Board exam in May the final unit of the course is a deep dive into research, analysis and presentation on a special topic in US history chosen by the individual student in consultation with the class teacher.

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Architectural Foundations

Want to learn more about architecture to better understand how complex structures are designed and built? Want to know what an architect really does? Want to design buildings of the future? We will look at a broad history of architectural styles and techniques and apply geometric principles to construct replicas of famous structures, before moving onto original designs. You will be able to identify design elements and their underlying structures, think through the application of modern sustainable practices, and blend in emerging technology to craft original 3D designs and build your own models. We will study the connections between aesthetics and function, put that into practice and learn more about the diverse field of architecture. 

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Broadcasting & Production

In this production based course, you’ll gain practical skills for digital story-telling - whether that is a sports broadcast, a mystery podcast or in-depth video profiles. Learn the essentials of making radio and tv broadcasts to audio storytelling as we plan and produce our own media. Visit real working studios and talk to media professional about the reality of their jobs.  Possible final projects include deejaying a streaming show, making a mini-morning show, or creating your own topical podcast. 

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Chinese 1

This class builds on and consolidates students’ foundations in elementary Mandarin Chinese and provides students with skills in basic grammar, vocabulary, idioms, phrases, and sentence patterns. Students practice listening, speaking, reading, and writing of fixed, short sentences in Chinese. Each lesson in the textbook has a topic which introduces everyday life experiences such as greetings, family, nationality, friends, and making a phone call. Texts and discussion topics are related to school life, daily life, and Chinese culture.

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Chinese 2 / Chinese 2 Advanced

This course is a continuation of the first year course for beginning students of Mandarin Chinese. Students improve on their basic skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing Chinese for everyday communication. While emphasis is placed on the communicative skills of listening and speaking, students also continue learning to read and write Chinese characters, and write short essays on topics such as shopping, transportation, weather, and dining. Different aspects of Chinese culture and society are introduced through activities such as Chinese film, dining at a Chinese restaurant, and visiting a Chinese supermarket.

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Chinese 3 / Chinese 3 Honors

This course is a continuation of Chinese 1 and Chinese 2. Students gain more sophisticated skills in listening, speaking, reading, and writing Chinese for daily communication. A broad variety of expressions and complicated sentence structures are introduced so that students can participate in conversations on various topics related to modern Chinese society such as seeing a doctor, renting an apartment, and dating. Students also write essays in Chinese to describe preferences, travel, sports, and other topics about personal experiences. Activities related to Chinese society are organized to facilitate both language learning and
cultural knowledge.

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Chinese 4 / Chinese 4 Honors

This course is the continuation of Chinese 3. A broad variety of expressions and complicated sentence structures are taught so that students can participate in conversations on various topics related to modern Chinese society. Each lesson is a dialogue that focuses on a specific topic such as school and dorm life, dining in restaurants, shopping, choosing classes, relationships, and technology. This course continues to focus on fine-tuning the essential language skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing Chinese for daily communication. Additionally, the fourth year course provides a survey of the Chinese culture, deepening the students’ immersion into the language and culture of the Chinese speaking world. Class is conducted in Chinese, including student to student and student to teacher interactions. The Honors course requires additional reading and essay writing assignments as well as the expectation to make formal class presentations. Honors students are expected to immerse themselves in the language through supplementary authentic materials such as written texts, films, online materials, and Chinese music.

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Chinese 5

This course will give students an opportunity to further develop their four language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Also, this course will provide further development of proficiency and knowledge of the Chinese language and culture, with a specific focus on communicative skills by introducing topics concentrated on Chinese festivals, travel, economic, health, and environmental protection. This class will emphasize interdisciplinary learning through integrating language and culture with real-life task-based activities and projects. The students will have a platform to totally immerse themselves in the richness of Chinese language and culture. Chinese will be the primary language used in the classroom. In the classroom, the students will communicate in Chinese through trial and error. Only in this way they will be able to go out and use Chinese in real-life situations with confidence and assurance.

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Chinese A

Chinese A builds a strong foundation of Elementary Chinese, providing students with skills in basic grammar, vocabulary, idioms, phrases, and sentence patterns. The students practice listening, speaking, reading, and writing on a daily basis. Each lesson in the textbook focuses on a thematic topic which introduces everyday life experiences such as exchanging greetings and names, talking about family and friends, making a phone call, and discussing routines. Written texts and discussion topics are related to school life and Chinese daily life and culture. Students learn to make comparisons between Chinese culture and American culture. By the end of the course, students will be comfortable learning in an immersion-style classroom. 

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Chinese B

Chinese B is a continuation of the Chinese A course. It focuses on strengthening elementary-level skills in all four domains: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Each lesson has a topic which introduces everyday life experiences, such as asking for an address, exchanging phone numbers, making and responding to a plan, having phone conversations, describing daily life routines and schedules, and ordering food at a Chinese restaurant. Written texts and discussion topics are related to school life and Chinese daily life. Chinese culture is discussed in greater depth and is integrated into each unit. The course is student-centered, with numerous opportunities for students to be engaged in a more complex language environment through extensive, interactive classroom activities.

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Classical Music Ensemble

In this course we explore music from a wide range of historical eras. Students learn about composition techniques used by the great composers of each era in music. We learn the language of music by studying different aspects of music including theory and the principles of sound and acoustics. Our rehearsals lead up to at least one performance at the end of the semester. All members will be required to participate.

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Classical Music Ensemble

This is a performing ensemble that focuses primarily on “classical” music, but will branch out into other musical styles from time to time. Students must audition and demonstrate advanced proficiency on their instrument. This ensemble will perform in school concerts, the annual spring arts festival, and will attend a national music festival along with the Vocal Ensemble and Jazz Rock Ensemble. In addition to performances, the class will explore the historical and cultural background of classical music, and lessons may integrate with history classes at Pacific Ridge.

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Contemporary Human Geography

The study of geography is focused on preparing students to make sense of the world around them and understand the interconnectedness of the physical world and how and why humans interact with it. Geography provides the link between the physical and human world that helps to equip students with the skills, knowledge, and empathy to make informed decisions as future global citizens. During this one- year course, students will focus on the study of places, primarily focusing on the cause-and-effect relationships of the physical world and how humans interact with it. Students will immerse themselves in the study of complex issues that face upcoming generations in our highly connected world. Themes and topics will include climate change, global warming, food production, drought, desertification, land degradation, water resources, human well-being, aging populations, urban growth, ethnic conflicts, the reasons for migration and refugees, natural disasters, the spread of disease, and globalization. The study of such topics allows students to make sense of the connections between countries, cultures, cities, regions, and between regions within countries.

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Dance

Dance is open to anyone who would like to learn proper contemporary dance technique, including aspects of jazz and hip hop. No previous experience is required. Students learn basic technical aspects of dance, including traditional foot, arm and body positions, fundamental locomotor and non-locomotor movements, rhythm and musicality, basic dance stretches, strengthening exercises, and dance performance. Students are introduced to improvisation and choreography, and begin choreographing their own combinations. Each class member is required to perform at one school event during the course.

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Dance 1

Students will learn basic technical aspects of dance, including the traditional foot, arm and body positions, fundamental locomotor and non-locomotor movements, rhythm and musicality, basic dance stretches and strengthening exercises, and dance performance. No prior dance experience is required. Students will be introduced to the history of Western dance, gain exposure to different types of world dance through video and choreography, and see contemporary styles of dance on video. Students will learn various styles of choreography, be introduced to improvisation in dance, and start choreographing their own combinations. Students also may be required to perform at one or more events on campus.

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Dance 2

Dance 2 students will further their study of dance at an intermediate level. They will progress beyond the basic body positions in dance and move to complex combinations and choreography. Students will study present-day world dance forms and specific influential choreographers. Students will be expected to choreograph, stage and perform their own dance pieces for the student body.


Pre-requisite: Dance 1

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Dance 3

Dance 3 students will further their study of dance at an intermediate to advanced level. Students will continue developing their dance technique and improvisational skills and will explore their own voice in dance, both as a dancer and choreographer. Students will create their own dance works, making every decision about choreography, music, costuming, and staging, and participate in works created by other students.

Pre-requisite: Dance 2

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Dance 4

The purpose of Dance 4 is to prepare the students to have the fundamental skills moving forward to be able to establish a career as a dancer, choreographer, dance teacher or pursue any other dance-related endeavor. This class will focus on how to teach dance to others, how to choreograph for all dance levels, and will spend a trimester on commercial dance. The dancers will have the opportunity to teach, choreograph, and be an assistant choreographer for a dance film that we will be working on during this class.

Pre-requisite: Dance 3

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Data Science

This course gives students the opportunity to explore data, develop their understanding of data science, and how it is used to solve real problems. Students will learn to analyze and visualize data with a variety of models. They will use these models to predict future observations and learn how data scientists measure the success of these predictions. Students will explore the use of data in our lives and how it may impact them and others. Is the data used fair and just? Does it leave room for human error and emotion? How can it impact social injustice? This course will also introduce students to data researching tools, programs, and software that provide sampling, probability, and modeling examples.

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Differential Equations

This course is designed to be a comprehensive version of an undergraduate Differential Equations class. Differential equations is a requirement for many undergraduate and graduate-level STEM majors. The minimum prerequisite for this class is Calculus AB. Instruction in this course will emphasize the connections between procedure, understanding, and application. Topics will include solution methods for first- and second-order ordinary differential equations (ODE). Equations and solution methods for first-order ODE’s will include: Euler’s Method, Separable, and the Product Rule. Equations and solution methods for second-order ODE’s will include: Homogeneous and nonhomogeneous linear differential equations with constant coefficients, Method of undetermined coefficients, Annihilation Method, Variation of Parameters, Homogeneous and nonhomogeneous linear differential eqations with variable coefficients, Cauchy-Euler Method, Reduction of Order, and Laplace Transforms.

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Digital Filmmaking 1

The Filmmaking 1 class is divided into two main areas. Students will learn the process of videography by forming their own story ideas and then creating and editing digital video. In addition, students will study film and video concepts as well as engage in film critique. The creative process of film and video making involves many steps. Students will acquire not only the technical skills related to making a video such as lighting, production software, cameras and equipment, but also the aesthetics of what is involved in the creation of an interesting and exciting film. This requires not only acquiring the necessary technical information but it is also about understanding the creative workflow process. Students will learn how to use video cameras, import their clips and then edit their work with Adobe Premiere Pro production software. They will learn how videographers use various techniques to achieve certain effects both while shooting footage and later during the editing process. They will also learn how to incorporate the skills they may have already learned in graphic design courses with Photoshop and Illustrator into the video production process. Students will view film and video examples and then engage in discussions regarding their creative approach and composition. They will be able to see the concepts they have studied in class put to practical use in classic and modern films. Classroom study will involve different genres of film, cinematographers, directors and film as an art form. Students will also discuss the role of filmmakers in our society and how their creations can help individuals more meaningful lives. At the conclusion of the class, students understand why a good story is not enough. They must to be able to tell that story well. In this medium, storytelling involves actors, cameras, lights, sound and editing.

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Digital Filmmaking 2

This course builds on skills from Digital Filmmaking 1. Students will learn advanced techniques in filmmaking while producing several projects in a variety of formats and genres: documentary, fiction, public service announcements, experimental, poetry, music videos and documentary news items. This course emphasizes the development of writing skills through pre-production that includes scripts, storyboarding, production charts and shot lists, and includes screenwriting software such as Final Draft. Students will continue to develop their skills in camera work, framing/composition, tripod/dolly use, backgrounds and audio, with special attention to studio lighting using three-point light kits. Students expand their knowledge of Adobe Premiere and Media Encoder. with an emphasis on refined editing techniques: special effects, exposure control, transitions, audio mixing with multiple tracks, and text. This course also continues to engage students in critiquing and media literacy, developing critical thinking skills.

Pre-requisite: Digital Filmmaking 1

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Digital Media Arts

Digital Media Arts: Filmmaking, Graphic Design, or Photography 

This course introduces students to the basics of visual communication through images and design. At the beginning of the course, students research printing, photography, and digital communication in the context of community; learn digital camera functions and features; gain an understanding of proper digital photo workflow using iMacs; and begin working with Photoshop for retouching and editing purposes. The latest iteration of this course involves making films in iMovie and other editing programs. Design and storytelling skills are applied in a series of projects, both individual and collaborative.

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Digital Music Production

This course requires no formal training in music, only enthusiasm for making music and using one’s intuition while immersed in the process of being a composer or songwriter. In this STEAM-oriented course, students use software such as Logic and GarageBand to create original music individually and in collaboration with others. Students also have the opportunity to use the Pacific Ridge recording studio to add live instruments or vocals to their songs and compositions. The final project is to create an original video individually or with a team and compose original music to accompany the video.

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Digital Music Production

Digital Music Production is open to everyone. No prior experience creating music is required. This class is appropriate for those with interest in music other than or in addition to performing in a traditional band, orchestra, or choir. Conversely, those with musical training and experience will find this class an ideal outlet for personal musical expression. Experienced and novice musicians alike will gain an increased understanding of various musical styles, genres, traditions, and cultures; music theory; the psychology of music; and the art of recording and mixing. This multifaceted, entry-level class offers something for all students, regardless of musical experience. The year starts with creating music using GarageBand, Soundtrap, and Logic and culminates in the recording, editing, producing, and “selling” of an album, video, or film featuring Pacific Ridge students. Students will develop their musical knowledge as they learn practical, foundational skills that provide insight into careers in music performance, composition, entertainment business, recording business, live sound reinforcement, and audio engineering.

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Economics

The core content in Economics is divided into four sections: microeconomics, macroeconomics, international economics, and development. Microeconomics includes the fundamentals of supply and demand, the principles of how to run a business, and the role of government in correcting market failures. Macroeconomics deals with challenges faced by national economies, including unemployment, inflation, and income distribution, and how to use effective policies to address them. International economics considers how trade can help or hurt various groups in a country and how exchange rates are determined. Finally, development looks at the experience of relatively poor countries and examines strategies to improve the quality of life therein. Throughout the course, students read excerpts from influential economists such as Adam Smith as well as current articles about modern economic phenomena.

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Engineering Design

This introductory course exposes students to some of the major methods of thinking encountered in the discipline of engineering. It focuses on habits of mind and problem-solving techniques rather than on computations or analytical content. Students develop an understanding of concepts and hone creative, communication, and problem-solving skills through the collaborative completion of challenges. The course exposes students to the practices of and specialized fields within several major branches of engineering, including chemical, mechanical, aerospace, and civil. Students considering engineering as a career as well as those curious about what it means to be an engineer or who are interested in learning how to better identify and solve real-world problems will enjoy this course.

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English 10

In tenth-grade English, students continue to develop their skills in textual analysis, critical thinking, and active reading, and work with myriad writing genres, including analytical, argumentative, creative, and personal narrative. Students focus on mastering the grammar tools necessary to write clear, complex sentences in the active voice as they dive deeper into crafting direct and interesting thesis- driven works. English 10 will introduce students to new literary and rhetorical devices and build on those they studied in previous years. Sophomores will have the opportunity to create their own poetry and prose anchored in mentor texts and will experience a variety of readings and assessments designed to help them choose the type of classes they want to take over the next two years. Formal assessments will include literary analysis and argumentative essays, reviews, creative pieces, group projects, in-class writing, and more. Class readings and discussions will focus on how an individual’s identity gets shaped by his or her cultural and family history, and external and internal exploration. Primary texts include Elie Wiesel’s Night, Sally Morgan’s My Place, Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, River Solomon’s The Deep, Jayson Reynolds’ Long Way Down, James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, and Sara Nović’s Girl at War. These will be supplemented by short stories, poetry, and non-fiction articles.

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English 7

The seventh-grade English program emphasizes critical reading and writing skills while fostering an appreciation for literary expression. Through the study of art and literature, students learn to analyze narrative structure, to support their inferences with textual evidence, and to identify literary devices. Frequent Harkness discussions develop communication and critical thinking skills as students learn to listen attentively to others and to speak with more clarity and confidence. Seventh graders write in a variety of genres, from creative journal entries to academic essays. They also study vocabulary in context, as well as basic grammar (the principal parts of speech, sentence structure, and punctuation). Key texts include short stories and poetry, as well as The Little Prince, Same Sun Here, Persepolis, and Twelfth Night. Each trimester, students also read and respond to books of their choice. 

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English 8

Eighth-grade English examines the concept of what it means to be part of a community through contemporary works that students can personally relate to and classical texts that broadly address an individual’s place in society. The year begins with a look at class and social order with The Importance of Being Earnest and then examines changing perceptions of race by pairing To Kill a Mockingbird with Just Mercy. The themes of order and change are further explored in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in which the rules of marriage, gender, and class give rise to social conflict. We finish the year with The Book Thief, which allows students to complete their look at societies by reflecting on their own experiences. The eighth-grade writing program builds off of the fundamental skills learned in seventh grade, helping students refine their abilities by composing literary analysis papers, in-class essays, poems, and original plays. Following the idea that good writing depends on active reading, we place a strong emphasis on passage analysis. Students learn to annotate their texts to improve comprehension and prompt deeper interpretation. With the Harkness method, students take more ownership of roundtable discussions, helping to refine their peers’ ideas and leading the group towards compelling insights.

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English 9

The ninth-grade English program, in reinforcing and expanding on grammar and writing study from middle school, hones and consolidates the foundation for college-level reading, writing, and self-advocacy skills that are expected in advanced courses at Pacific Ridge. In the first trimester, the course begins with extensive review and analysis of students’ summer reading selections, culminating in planning, drafting, and completing an in-class essay focused on course themes, especially around identity development. Through Homer’s The Odyssey, students experience a foundational text in Western literature that challenges them with complexity of literary form and devices as well as ethical questions about encounters with other cultures and ideas. Students consider the extent to which stories—especially myths—both reflect and inform a civilization’s values. As they explore ancient Greek myths in this unit, students also engage in the creation of their own myths in the context of our culture’s mythmaking values and modes. In the second and third trimesters, students turn their attention to crafting persuasive arguments for a draft-based academic essay on The Odyssey and for a formal, public oration. They observe Huxley’s Poles of Essay Writing—Autobiographical, Objective/Factual, and Abstract/Universal—in a variety of speeches, and then work to employ these rhetorical techniques in their own compositions. The curriculum teaches students to consider multiple perspectives in formulating an argument and to approach writing and public speaking as civic arts with the power to shape communities. As students develop their own diverse voices, they also explore a wide range of voices and perspectives in a final unit on short stories from around the world.

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Entrepreneurship & Venture Capital

Third trimester will focus on entrepreneurship and business development as teams of students launch their new business by researching logistics, drafting a business plan, and pitching their proposal to a group of potential investors. We will analyze the role that venture capital and other funding sources play in launching a business. Students will describe their executive summary, company description, market analysis, organization and management structure, service or product line, marketing and sales, funding request, and financial projects to create their plan. Learn how to leverage social media, stakeholders, and start-up capital to secure the seed funding to make your business dream a reality! 

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Entrepreneurship & Venture Capital

Third trimester will focus on entrepreneurship and business development as teams of students launch their new business by researching logistics, drafting a business plan, and pitching their proposal to a group of potential investors. We will analyze the role that venture capital and other funding sources play in launching a business. Students will describe their executive summary, company description, market analysis, organization and management structure, service or product line, marketing and sales, funding request, and financial projects to create their plan. Learn how to leverage social media, stakeholders, and start-up capital to secure the seed funding to make your business dream a reality! 

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Essentials of Calculus

This non-AP course provides students with a foundation in limits, derivatives, and integrals. The emphasis of the class will be real-world problem solving, and students will learn how calculus is a powerful tool to solve problems in the world of business, the physical sciences, engineering, and the social and biological sciences. This course will strike a balance between theory and modeling as well as paper-and-pencil manipulation and the use of technology. This class is ideal for those students who would like to maintain a rigorous mathematical track without the rapid pace of the Advanced Placement calculus courses offered at Pacific Ridge.

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Ethnic Studies

This course provides students with an interdisciplinary study designed to expand their knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of the United States’ various cultures. Students will focus on the experiences of African, Indigenous, Latinx, Jewish and Asian Americans, and other racialized peoples in the United States. Students will engage in academically rigorous and inclusive content around identity, history and movement, systems of power, social movements, and equity. Researching current events, students will examine how power, privilege, ethnocentricity, systemic oppression, and cultural hegemony influence collective and individual experiences in the 21st Century.

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Film Studies

Throughout the course students will learn how to develop an appreciation of film based on a study of cinematic traditions contained within narrative, documentary, and experimental forms, and acquire a critical, technical, and aesthetic vocabulary relating to particular cinematic practices and structures. One of the goals of this class is to explore filmmaking traditions and styles from a number of diverse cultures, as well as  to foster a critical awareness of how the language of film employs image and sound to produce meaning and elicit spectator response. Students will examine how meaning in film is conditioned by the uses of camera, editing, lighting, sound, and acting. They will explore the impact of technological developments on film production and evaluate the importance of genre and the legacy of individual “auteurs”. In addition, we will pay particular attention to the cultural, political, and economic factors of various national or transnational cinemas, including their systems of production, distribution, and exhibition. Above all, the class is designed to broaden perspectives, strengthen analytical vocabulary, and enhance the student’s critical thinking capacity. Our units will vary from year to year, but often will include groupings from German Expressionism, Soviet Montage, Italian Neo-Realism, French New Wave, Documentary Tradition, Independent American Cinema, Iranian Cinema, Bollywood, Chinese Cinema-Hong Kong New Wave, Palestinian and Israeli Cinema.

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Financial Literacy

This course aims to prepare students for financial competence as they anticipate college and independence. We examine personal finance in great detail, including banking, budgeting, credit and credit card use as well as tax and retirement planning. We also compare leasing versus owning, renting versus buying, ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ debt. We check in regularly with WSJ, CNBC, and NYTimes Finance. Given that students are eager to learn about stock picking, we employ many different valuation models and philosophies, and discuss the merits and limitations of each. We welcome guest speakers, including Pacific Ridge alumni from a variety of industries. Our texts will vary from year to year, but are likely to include Bogle’s Common Sense Investing, Stanley’s The Millionaire Next Door and O’Neill’s How To Make Money in Stocks. Students teams will also compete against each other in a course-long stock portfolio simulation.

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Forensics

Forensic science is an interdisciplinary field that draws on multiple fields of science (chemistry, biology, and physics) in application to criminal justice. You will apply problem solving skills and learn real analytical techniques to assess a crime scene and characterize blood, fiber, hair, textiles, soil, toxins and DNA. These techniques will include chromatography, spectroscopy, PCR and gel electrophoresis and be applied to solving a hypothetical crime. Come join the PRS Crime Lab.

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French 1

French 1 introduces students to the French language and francophone cultures around the world. After taking this course, students will be able to make and respond to greetings and introductions, engage in simple conversations, express likes and dislikes, make requests, and obtain information. Over the course of the year, students write short paragraphs, res short stories, and listen to various authentic materials. Students are also taught to recognize and appreciate French cultural and historical concepts as they learn vocabulary and grammar that will prepare them for the next level of French.

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French 1B

French 1B is a course designed to strengthen the foundational-level content and skills introduced French 1 in order to build superior preparedness for entrance into French 2. French 1B focuses on the more complex present tense grammatical structures from the first level of French, emphasizing skill development in speaking, listening, reading, and writing in the target language. Students refine their abilities to describe and compare, express important ideas, understand expressions using emotion, and use a variety of verb tenses. Students also write short paragraphs, including formal and informal letters. They read extracts from authentic French texts and watch films and videos displaying cultural content from francophone regions around the world.

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French 2 / French 2 Advanced

In French 2, students build their vocabulary through the study of thematic units centered on the home, food, health, and technology in an immersive environment. The textbook is supplemented with online activities, short stories, articles, videos, and films which, expose students to various facets of French history, culture and current events. As with all levels of French, emphasis is placed on integrating new grammar and vocabulary into spoken and written expression. To this end, students converse only in French when in class. They perform skits, give oral presentations, and engage in group discussions to practice pronunciation, oral comprehension and expression. Writing starts in the form of short answers, gradually building to longer paragraphs, short stories, and essays.

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French 3 / French 3 Honors

In French 3 and French 3 Honors, students reinforce their understanding of the past, present and future tenses and are introduced to more advanced grammatical structures. They explore such themes as personal relationships, the influence of media on society, and social revolution. Online activities, texts, articles, videos and films supplement each of the thematic units. Students converse solely in French, developing their oral proficiency through group discussions and individual presentations. Emphasis is also placed on adding complexity to written expression through a variety of writing activities. Whenever possible, connections are made to topics studied in other classes, especially World History and English. new grammar and vocabulary into spoken and written expression. To this end, students converse only in French when in class. They perform skits, give oral presentations, and engage in group discussions to practice pronunciation, oral comprehension and expression. Writing starts in the form of short answers, gradually building to longer paragraphs, short stories, and essays.

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French 4 / French 4 Honors

In the completely immersive French 4 class, students engage in cross-cultural comparisons between France and the United States while increasing their ability to express more complex thoughts and opinions in French. To this end, we read, discuss, and write about authentic texts chosen from a variety of sources. Students focus on balancing verb forms and grammar points across major forms of communication: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. The novels and films studied in French 4 deepen their cultural understanding of the francophone world. The French 4 Honors course is designed to prepare the students for the rigors of the AP French program. Honors students must demonstrate a high level of linguistic proficiency and be self-motivated and independent learners.

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French 5

French 5 is offered as an alternative to AP French Language and Culture. The course focuses on broadening students’ understanding of francophone cultures around the world through exposure to authentic sources which include novels, plays, films, and news articles. Speaking only in French, students engage in class discussions, role-play, and complete a variety of group and individual projects. While emphasis is on oral communication, students also devote time to learning new vocabulary and reviewing grammatical structures.

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French A

French A introduces students to the French language and French-speaking regions of the world. Students develop their oral and written expression by engaging in simple conversations and writing short paragraphs to express likes and dislikes, make requests, and obtain information. Finally, students learn about Francophone culture through authentic French resources which include texts, course readers, videos and films. By the end of the course, students will be comfortable learning in an immersion-style classroom. 

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French B

French B builds upon the reading, writing, listening and speaking skills acquired in French A. The course places a strong emphasis on oral proficiency. Students refine their ability to describe, compare, and express ideas and emotions in the past, present, and future tenses. Students also write short paragraphs and read extracts from French and Francophone poetry, articles, and stories. Finally, students continue to learn about Francophone culture through authentic French resources including texts, course readers, videos, and films. The course provides numerous opportunities for the students to be engaged in a more complex language environment through interactive, student-centered classroom activities.

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Genre Studies

Genre Studies helps juniors and seniors establish their creative voices in writing by providing them with varied opportunities to express themselves in four distinct genres: poetry, short story, drama, and screenplay. Although this class does not practice the writing skills necessary for formal academic papers, this class does help to that end because establishing one’s creative voice often transfers over into more academic genres of writing. As we read, we take into consideration such elements as plot, structure, character, and figurative language; however, we take great care not to over-analyze. We often write responses to our reading, but we never write academic essays. The class reads texts such as Strand and Boland’s The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms, Mary Oliver’s A Poetry Handbook, Stephen King’s On Writing, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Jhumpa Lahiri’s One World: A Global Anthology of Short Stories, and August Wilson’s Fences in order to give students authors and styles to emulate as they find their own voices. Students also read various other contemporary essays, magazine articles, poems, short stories, and plays to help inspire their own writing. Initially, students are asked to freely experiment with verse, prose, and dramatic composition; over the course of the year, they refine and revise their work into finished pieces. The class culminates in the students producing a substantial work that may be a book of poetry, a collection of short stories, a novella, a book chapter, or a play. No suggested prerequisite. Recommended for students who enjoy writing and are interested in producing original work.

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Graphic Design 1

This course explores both practical and creative applications for graphic design as an essential form of contemporary two-dimensional art and communication. Students learn the basics of creating digital art, typography, layout, and logo design, as well as effective presentation skills. Emphasis is placed on imaginative brainstorming, addressing visual challenges, learning and creating projects and publications using Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Dreamweaver software programs. The class is designed for students in all Upper School grades.

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Graphic Design 2

This course is designed for advanced 10th, 11th and 12th grade students who want to take on the next level of graphic design tools and projects. Students challenge themselves with more complex design projects – integrating photography, printmaking and web – and begin to seek out creative problems that are personally interesting and challenging to them. We focus on new skill-enhancing design problems, individually designed projects, and work that serves the outside community. The class projects vary widely and look to greatly enhance the range of skills each designer has and help them produce portfolio-worthy work. Finally, we meet with professionals in the graphic design field and visit a ‘design-shop.’

Pre-requisite: Graphic Design 1

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Hands-On Aerodynamics

Use engineering concepts (rooted in math and physics) to design, build, and test systems within the context of fluid dynamics! In this project based course, you will gain an understanding of core engineering concepts in fluid dynamics and use the engineering design process to test concepts and prototypes. The course will consist of learning engineering through problem-based curriculum and hands-on experimental activities. Learned concepts will culminate in a final design project. You will select your own project. Projects can be anything within the space of fluid dynamics. This would include aerodynamics (cars, planes, wind turbines, kites, rockets, and more), hydrodynamics (boats, turbines, submarines, etc), and pressure vessels (propulsion units, actuators, and so on).

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Health

This class fosters students’ physical, mental, and social well-being as it provides them with the knowledge and skills that can lead to lifelong positive attitudes and behaviors related to health. The following topics will be explored over the course of the trimester: personal and community health; nutrition and physical activity; injury prevention and safety; mental, emotional, and social health; identity; bullying and stereotypes; alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs; sexual health and human growth development.

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Honors Algebra / Geometry 1

Honors Algebra/Geometry 1 is the first course in our Honors math sequence. It uses a problem-centered approach to learning all the algebra and geometry topics included in the Algebra/Geometry 1 course in addition to the study of absolute value functions and radicals. Students in this course should expect to examine the content in greater depth, emphasizing the connection between procedure, understanding, and application. The pace of this course is demanding, and students are expected to engage in discussion about the topics, work together to solve challenging problems, build strong mathematical arguments using evidence to support their ideas, and make connections between concepts. They will begin to create a strong, well-developed algebraic and geometric foundation for their future math courses. In so doing, they will learn the skills to grapple with challenging problems, appropriately and strategically use technology, construct models, and reason abstractly. Above all, students in this course should enjoy the rigor of problem-solving and feel comfortable being challenged.

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Honors Algebra / Geometry 2

Honors Algebra/Geometry 2 is the second course in our Honors math sequence. It uses a problem-centered approach to learning all the algebra and geometry topics included in Algebra/Geometry 2. In addition, students will explore quadratic functions at a deeper level, which includes deriving the quadratic formula, completing the square, and eventually comparing and contrasting the characteristics of linear, absolute value functions, and quadratic functions. Students will also study circles centered anywhere on the coordinate plane and discover properties about their inscribed angles. Points of concurrency are also explored in this course. As was the case in Honors Algebra/Geometry 1, students in this course should expect to examine the content in greater depth, emphasizing the connection between procedure, understanding, and application. The pace of this course is demanding, and students are expected to engage in discussion about the topics, work together to solve challenging problems, build strong mathematical arguments using evidence to support their ideas, and make connections between concepts. They will continue to strengthen their skills in grappling with challenging problems, appropriately and strategically use technology, construct models, and reason abstractly. Above all, students in this course should enjoy the rigor of problem-solving and feel comfortable being challenged.

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Honors Algebra / Geometry 3 with Trigonometry

Honors Algebra/Geometry 3 is the third course in our Honors math sequence. It uses a problem-centered approach to learning all the algebra and geometry topics included in Algebra/Geometry 3. In addition, students will explore exponential and logarithmic functions at a deeper level, while discovering both exponent and log properties. Students will also derive the Law of Sines and Cosines, develop an understanding of trigonometric identities and reciprocal trigonometric functions, construct and use radians proficiently, and explore polar coordinates. At this point in the honors sequence, students should have facility with examining the content in greater depth. The pace of this course continues to be demanding, and students are expected to engage in discussion about the topics, work together to solve challenging problems, build strong mathematical arguments using evidence to support their ideas, and make connections between concepts. They will continue to strengthen their skills in grappling with challenging problems, appropriately and strategically use technology, construct models, and reason abstractly. Above all, students in this course should enjoy the rigor of problem-solving, as they are on track to pursue more complex mathematical topics found in Honors Precalculus.

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Honors American Literature

This class approaches American literature from the eighteenth to the twentieth century with the sophisticated objective of exploring the Anglo- American canon’s idea of what it is to be American. Building on the reading and writing skills fostered in earlier courses, Honors American Literature provides sustained practice in formal analytical writing with occasional creative assignments. Texts generally correspond to time periods studied in APUSH or United States History, and students will find that the two courses complement each other. Although the reading list varies from year to year, students commonly study works by Lahiri, Hawthorne, Melville, Thoreau, Emerson, Twain, Whitman, Dickinson, Fitzgerald, Morrison, and O’Brien. Among other things, this class is distinguished from American Literature by a heavier reading load and higher expectations for written work.

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Honors Classical Music Ensemble

This is a performing ensemble that focuses primarily on “classical” music, but will branch out into other musical styles from time to time. Students must audition and demonstrate advanced proficiency on their instrument. This ensemble will perform in school concerts, the annual spring arts festival, and will attend a national music festival along with the Vocal Ensemble and Jazz Rock Ensemble. In addition to performances, the class will explore the historical and cultural background of classical music, and lessons may integrate with history classes at Pacific Ridge. Honors students earn this credit through advanced study in music theory and additional integrated projects between music and other disciplines.

Pre-requisite: One year in Classical Music Ensemble and an audition arranged with instructor.

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Honors Dance Ensemble

The Honors Dance Ensemble is for our most advanced and dedicated dancers. This course prepares advanced dance students for college-level dance programs and a career in the arts. The course emphasizes demonstration of advanced technical skills, artistic vision, and versatility through the exploration of different dance genres. Students are responsible for learning and performing choreographic works, maintaining a rigorous technical foundation, and creating original student compositions to be performed at one of our dance concerts. The end of the year culminates with the development and presentation of a fully produced concert performance of completed works for a live audience.

Pre-requisite: Dance 2 or 3 and audition arranged with instructor.

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Honors Digital Photography

In Honors Digital Photography, the third course in the photography sequence, students craft self-directed projects in order to develop their personal vision, creative confidence, and technical fluency in digital media. This level builds on the second-year photography course (Advanced Digital Photography) and fully prepares students for the challenges of college-level work in Advanced Placement Photography. Honors Digital Photography requires a commitment to taking creative risks, honing advanced skills such as studio lighting and Photoshop editing, and thinking critically about historical and contemporary issues in visual media.

Pre-requisite: Advanced Digital Photography

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Honors Environmental Science

Everything we do, from drinking a cup of coffee to driving our cars, has an environmental impact. Honors Environmental Science takes an in-depth look at how people have rights and responsibilities with regard to the world’s resources. We begin by using scientific principles to understand the interrelations of the natural world and the impact of humans on natural systems. Students then carefully evaluate the risks and economic realities associated with environmental problems while working towards analysis of potential solutions. During he course, we investigate environmental topics and issues unique and important to California.

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Honors Jazz Rock Ensemble

Honors Jazz Rock Ensemble is open by audition to students who play any instrument. Students perform various styles of music such as pop, jazz, rock, swing, funk, and fusion, and the periods of music included range from early jazz through contemporary popular and rock tunes. In addition to learning about playing in an ensemble, students focus on advanced improvisation skills, ear training, reading music, and understanding music theory. Honors students must complete additional music theory assignments and produce an approved final project such as a composition or transcription; perform in all school-sponsored arts performances; and take on a leadership role in class.

Pre-requisite: One year in Jazz Rock Ensemble and an audition arranged with instructor.

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Honors Physics

Honors Physics is designed to provide a rich, hands-on, laboratory-based experience in secondary school physics with an emphasis on algebraic and quantitative problem solving. It is an introductory course recommended for students who are considering majoring in math, science, or engineering in college, or for any student who wishes a solid mathematical foundation in physics. Students learn to use experimentation and inquiry to discover the functional relationships that exist in the physical world, and to apply graphical analysis to enhance further understanding. Classes are taught in a collaborative environment, with students working together on labs, problems, and discussions.

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Honors Precalculus

This course provides students with a rigorous preparation for the subsequent study of AP Calculus AB and BC. As was the case leading up to this course, the pace is extremely demanding, and students are expected to engage and lead each other in discussion about the topics, work together to solve challenging problems, build strong mathematical arguments using evidence to support their ideas, and make connections between concepts. The central theme of this course is functions as models of change, and the students move from looking at function behavior through an algebraic lens to examining it from a calculus perspective. The course covers a breadth of pre-calculus topics. Students build on their knowledge of polynomials, exponential, logarithmic, and trigonometric functions, and use these ideas as a springboard to develop an understanding of complex numbers, sequences and series, rational functions, and limits. In the final trimester, students begin their study of differential calculus, so they will be fully prepared to take on Advanced Placement Calculus the following year.

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Honors Statistics

Honors Statistics provides high school students with an in-depth, hands-on study of descriptive statistics, relationships in data, experimental design, and statistical inference. Students develop strategies for collecting, organizing, analyzing, and drawing conclusions from data. In this student-centered course, students will learn to design, administer, and tabulate results from their own surveys and experiments. Probability and simulations will aid students in constructing models for chance behavior. Sampling distributions will provide the logical structure for confidence intervals and hypothesis tests. With an emphasis on real-world, relatable contexts, students will design their own surveys based on their own experiences and interests in games of chance, business, medicine, policy-making, natural/social sciences, and sports. They will use a TI graphing calculator, current statistical software, and Web-based java applets to investigate statistical concepts that arise in their self-designed experiments. To develop effective statistical communication skills, students will regularly prepare written and oral analyses of their real data with the audience being both the class and other stakeholders, which could include their peers, administrators, and/or parents and community members.

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Honors Theater Arts

The purpose of this course is to provide an intensive, hands-on continuation of instruction for students as a theater ensemble. Students will build upon their working theater vocabulary and the essential skills and knowledge that an actor employs. Through exercises, readings, and practical assignments, the student actor explores the imagination as their primary creative resource. The student can ultimately expect to become more self-aware in their craft. This course builds on the skills learned in the Advanced Theater class and is recommended to be taken for two years. Second-year ensemble students will serve as directors and mentors for first-year ensemble students.

Pre-requisite: Advanced Theater Arts and audition arranged with instructor

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Honors Visual Arts

This class is designed for 11th and 12th graders who are ready to work on individualized portfolios that reflect their own personal artistic styles. Students in Honors Visual Arts begin by exploring the “foundations” of visual arts, visually interpreting important pieces from Art History that influence artists today. Throughout the course, students assemble a body of work that demonstrates growth over time in subject matter and content, and the development of specific techniques. Group critiques benefit the whole class by allowing students to view peer work and to gain fresh perspectives on their own portfolios.

Pre-requisite: 2D Design or 3D Design

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Honors Vocal Ensemble

In this class, students learn the technical aspects of good singing: maintaining breath support; creating good tone; expanding range; and singing in various languages. The class repertoire comes from a variety of genres including classical, pop, Broadway, Renaissance, gospel, folk, and jazz. Students read music, improve their aural skills (their “musical ear”), sing in four-part harmony, and learn some basic music theory. Vocal Ensemble performs a cappella music as well as music accompanied by piano or the Upper School Jazz/Rock Ensemble. The group sings at school concerts, coffee houses, and community outreach events.

Pre-requisite: One year in Vocal Ensemble and an audition arranged with instructor.

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Industrial Desgin

Call to Artists & Designers!  Try your hand at metalworking, 3D modeling, and iterative design. We will work with a variety of materials including steel, copper, glass, wood, etc as we design and build. You will learn basic and advanced metalworking skills while working towards proficient use of the plasma cutter, welder, torch and metal shaping tools. We will create scale models of your ideas whether conceptual art or prototypes, and get feedback to improve our designs. We will use three-dimensional modeling techniques used by designers in various disciplines such as industrial design and sculpture and work with new technologies. You will work as both an artist and an engineer to solve creative problems to reach your own interesting outcomes.

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Innovation: Theory & Process

What is innovation?  In this course, we will explore innovation as not just product, but process and mindset. By studying dynamic examples from today’s world, meeting with guest experts and innovation leaders, and carrying out your own innovation project, you will develop an informed, flexible and productive innovation mindset and leadership skills. Along with a big picture understanding of various innovation models and management practices around the world, you will acquire skills/knowledge about seeding, nurturing and delivering innovation through the convergence of technology, communications, design thinking, practical planning, organizational teamwork and individual initiative. Various models of success metrics will also be considered, including not only monetization, but well-being indices, diversity and ethics, and how all those intersect through holistically observed social impact. Last, but not least, you will generate opportunities to apply what you learn about innovation by engineering changes at our school and in your own lives.

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Introduction to Algebra

Introduction to Algebra is designed to be a transition into the Pacific Ridge math program in terms of both content and mindset. Three big topics—problem solving, representing data, and skills for algebra—guide the curriculum for the course.  The topic of problem solving is addressed in nearly every class meeting with the students working collaboratively to both develop and communicate their solutions.  The topic of representing data is woven throughout the year to instill a foundation of understanding the power of a graph; over the year, this leads to a conceptual understanding of linear and beginning nonlinear functions. The third topic, skills for algebra, uses a conceptual approach to enhance the skills that students often develop in elementary school, and introduces new skills that are prerequisites for Algebra I. Specifically, the course addresses deepening real number sense, using variables and the algebraic properties, solving multi-step equations and inequalities (on the numberline), working with rational numbers in equations and inequalities, and learning various features of the TI-84Plus graphing calculator.

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Introduction to Digital Photography

What makes a photograph good? Astonishing? Evocative? Memorable? It takes far more than pointing and shooting a camera. Every day we see hundreds, maybe thousands of images, but we rarely consider how and why they were made. Digital media have increased our exposure to imagery and also transformed the practice of photography itself. While the tools and techniques of the electronic medium are dramatically different than analog film photography, the fundamental aesthetic possibilities in composition, lighting, and exposure remain the same. This course challenges students to use camera controls competently and creatively, manipulate and enhance images using industry-standard Photoshop and Lightroom software, and confidently present and discuss their visual choices during in-class critiques.

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Introduction to Piano

Introduction to Piano is an entry-level course in Music. It is aligned to the visual and performing arts California State Standards and the National Core Arts Standards. In this course, students will learn beginning level piano skills and will be guided sequentially through the following: basic skills of keyboard technique; music theory; the language of music (terminology); the critique process; the basics of music composition. Students will research topics such as musical genres, the psychology of music, historical and cultural connections to various types of music, and career options in music.

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Introduction to Theater Arts

Introduction to Theater Arts is an acting, literature, history and psychology class in one. Throughout the year, students build on the foundation they acquired in middle school theater classes. Students read and discuss a number of plays, from which they rehearse and perform for a general audience, the major event being an Evening of Selected Scenes. Additionally, Theater Arts actors perform in two campus-wide arts festivals, and the ESU Shakespeare Monologue Competition. Visits from guest artists expose students to the principles of improvisational theater integral to any actor’s technique, and students are expected to acquire a basic skill set in the art of improvisation by the end of the year. Other perks of the class include viewing and analyzing scenes from film, and sampling some of the excellent live theater in the area.

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Introduction to Visual Arts

This course, composed of 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th graders with a range of artistic talents, helps students develop their artistic sensibilities through the study of the Elements and Principles of Design, Art History, and the application of a variety of techniques to create original works of art. Students work in sketchbooks, design and execute both 2D and 3D compositions, and participate in written and group critiques as part of their formal assessments. Visual Arts projects enhance discussion of philosophical questions being studied across the Upper School curriculum, while students make connections to their own learning in personal ways that develop problem-solving skills and take their artistic expression to the next level.

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Jazz Rock Ensemble

In this course we study different genres of modern music including jazz, rock, blues, latin, and funk. Students will explore a variety of forms and chord progressions which are the building blocks of modern music. We will work on how to play solos over different forms and how to communicate with music to balance and blend. We will have at least one performance toward the end of the semester. All students will be required to participate.

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Jazz Rock Ensemble

Jazz Rock Ensemble is open to students who play any instrument. Students perform various styles of music such as pop, jazz, rock, swing, funk, and fusion, and the periods of music included will range from early jazz through contemporary popular and rock tunes. In addition to learning about playing in an ensemble, students focus on improvisation skills, ear training, reading music, and understanding music theory. Performances are scheduled regularly throughout the year at school concerts, coffee houses, and informal gatherings. Students in this ensemble learn about the cultural context of each piece of music performed, and study the social, historical, and musical significance of each piece. They also learn about the musical artists associated with each piece of music we perform.

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Journalism & Media Studies 1

This class is for students to learn about journalism and media as both scholars and practitioners in today’s globally networked, information-driven world. Students will consider the impact of journalism and media on democracy, freedom and human rights, including the strategic and practical choices that journalists make as they find and tell stories in their community via today’s media and technology. Students will then put their learning into action by working on our PRS student newspaper and hosting town hall public forums on important issues as they seek to practice “student community journalism for the public good.” In doing so, they will forge their identities and voices as writers and editors, learning about the writing techniques, research and interview skills, ethical guidelines, and communication strategies that are at the core of the journalistic profession. Readings include The Medium is the Massage by Marshall McLuhan, ongoing study of both legacy and social media from around the world, and practical instructional texts and videos on journalistic writing, multimedia technology and newspaper production. Photojournalism training is also a part of this course. This is a class where students learn by both thinking and doing.

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Journalism & Media Studies 2

This class is for students who have taken J&MS 1 and wish to keep building their journalism and media skills, along with taking a leadership role on the PRS student newspaper and mentoring students in J&MS 1. Observing, analyzing and sharing news about PRS and the surrounding community, students in this class will dig deep as investigative journalists to build longer feature stories and incorporate multimedia forms into their news reporting (for example podcasts and video clips). Apart from leading the school newspaper, students in this class will also build partner relationships with journalism and media entities beyond PRS, whether at other schools or in the world of professional journalism, both in the USA and internationally. Students will continue to practice “student community journalism for the public good” by hosting town hall forums on important issues at PRS and beyond. The media studies aspect of this course will include reading and reflection on notable books about journalism and the media, for example Life on the Screen by Sherry Turkle and The Selling of the President by Joe McGinniss. By the end of this course students will be ready to participate in university-level programs and internships with professional news media organizations.

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Marine Biology

Marine Biology is an introductory course in marine biology and marine ecology. This course will seek to integrate concepts from biology, chemistry, and ecology into one course and apply them to a better understanding of how our marine ecosystems function. The course begins with a study of ocean chemistry and the interaction of abiotic and biotic factors in the ocean. Students will then learn about various types of organisms that inhabit our oceans, beginning with marine producers and microbes and continuing through the invertebrate phyla, fish, marine mammals, birds and reptiles. The class concludes with an investigation of different marine ecosystems, such as kelp forests and coral reefs. Throughout the course an emphasis will be made on local marine ecosystems and environmental concerns, such as erosion, climate change and habitat loss. The class will visit various coastal ecosystems in San Diego County to observe the marine life in the intertidal zone and will learn how to properly survey the flora and fauna.

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Modern Markets

First trimester will focus on learning investment principles and strategies by researching stocks, bonds, crypto currencies, NFT’s, and real estate. Students will then use that knowledge to create and manage their own investment portfolio in a classroom competition. We will analyze cash flow, return on assets, earnings reports, market capitalization, and liabilities to determine the true value of an investment. Specific focus will be on financial situation and goals, long-term value investing, growth strategies, and market trends.

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Modern World History

World History is a two-year sequence that merges the histories of different regions of the world into a coherent human story emphasizing the processes and concepts behind the “civilization” of human beings. This Modern World History course aligns itself closely with novels that students read in English classes, while also drawing on science, math, art, health, and world language classes. Students engage in group and individual projects, close readings of relevant historical texts, research, essay writing, and class presentations. The course focuses on how all the events studied have, and will continue, to affect the course of world events.

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Multivariable Calculus

This seminar-style, year-long college-level course combines a semester of Multivariable Calculus with a semester of linear algebra. It extends the single-variable material from AP Calculus BC to the two and three- dimensional world of Multivariable Calculus. A central theme of calculus is the use of linear concepts to learn about general functions; this course’s linear algebra content will extend the student’s background in lines and planes to the higher dimensional spaces needed for Multivariable Calculus. We pursue projects that exploit the natural connections between calculus and many parts of physics, as well as apply linear algebra concepts to business, economics, computer graphics, and engineering.

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Nanotechnology

Nanoscience is an emerging field that is focused on investigating the unique properties of materials at the nanoscale (1 – 100 nm).  This course will take a project-based approach to teaching students about the utility of nanoscale properties as applied to innovations in textiles, health, the environment, energy and electronics.  In this sense, the course will serve as a capstone course that asks the students to develop an integrated approach to understanding science in the context of core concepts that bridge disciplines, such as size and scale, structure of matter, forces and interactions, quantum effects, size-dependent properties, self-assembly, tools and implementation, models and simulations, and science, technology and society.  

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Precalculus

This course provides students with a rigorous preparation for the subsequent study of calculus and other college-level courses. We emphasize the connection between procedure, understanding, and application. Topics of study include symmetry, vectors, complex numbers and the complex plane, sequences and series, limits, and rates of change. Once we have a basic understanding of limits, we will cover asymptotes, end behavior, continuity, and the number e through the perspective of limits. The course will conclude with a brief introduction to derivatives. In addition to mastery of these concepts, other major class objectives include developing perseverance to grapple with problems, using technology appropriately and strategically, constructing models, reasoning abstractly, learning to appreciate real-life applications of the concepts, and recognizing interdisciplinary connections.

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Product Design

In this class, you will tackle a real world problem with a creative solution. You will learn design and making skills in 2D and 3D skills to create consumer products and meaningful objects through hands-on studio projects and professional experiences. The course is a unique blend of art, design, craft, design thinking, business and entrepreneurship. Then we will use 3D design software and printing technology to create the prototypes and test solutions, as well as other forms of digital and hands-on proto-typing. Through the design process you will refine and iterate versions of your designs. We learn computer-aided three-dimensional modeling technology used by designers in various disciplines such as industrial design and sculpture, explore CAD and learn to prototype and test. You will be both artist and engineer as you solve creative problems to reach interesting outcomes.

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Programming

This class is an introduction to programming concepts and code development fundamentals. Students will learn basic computer science principles through application, by writing and executing programs in Java, following the workflow of the following: designing, coding, debugging, and maintaining the source code of a computer program. They will progress from linear script-like solutions to well-designed and developed object-oriented programs. By the end of the year, students should be able to understand and solve various computing challenges through their programming skills. Students will learn to read and write code, and design solutions in a modular, efficient manner. To this end, they will work both individually and in groups. Finally, the students will work on a project of their own design, individually or in pairs, using their skills to develop something that is of interest to them.

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Rhetoric & Composition

This course is designed primarily for juniors who want to focus on the skills needed to write successfully in college and professionally. Students enrolled in this class will learn to effectively read, interpret, and analyze various fiction and nonfiction texts in order to develop a clear and refined academic essay. Students will utilize provided models and instructions to improve their reading and annotating skills, formulate effective and clear thesis statements, and confidently work through the writing process: pre-writing, drafting, sharing, revising, editing, proofreading, and publishing. The reading load in this course is light and modern, but there are regular in-class and homework writing assignments as well as out-of-class essays that require multiple drafts. The major assessments of this class include literary analysis essays, persuasive letters, an argumentative research paper, personal narratives, and a year-long creative Writer’s Portfolio Project. No suggested prerequisite. Recommended for students who need more deliberate training in academic writing, or who want to focus on a wide variety of genres. Not suggested for students who have successfully taken an AP course, or Honors American Literature.

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Science 10

Building upon the foundation created in Science 9, Science 10 will continue to use an interdisciplinary scientific lens to explore the origin and diversity of life on earth as well as the mechanisms that govern living systems. Special focus will be given to contemplating the impact humans have upon life and our planet. Modeling, experimentations, data collection, and scientific reasoning will continue to feature prominently in the course, as will engineering and computer science as students design and build devices and sensors to pose questions and collect data. Students will tackle big questions such as “how did life originate?”, “why don’t antibiotics work like they used to?”, and “who owns your DNA?”.

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Science 7

The Science 7 curriculum is designed to engage and inspire a new generation of scientists. Our integrated and hands-on approach lays the groundwork necessary for future success in high school and beyond, focusing on laboratory skills and concepts that bring together the biological, physical, and earth sciences. The course is broken into segments, with each segment framed by a “mission,” which is typically a real-world phenomenon in need of a solution. We will be using technology, engineering design, and scientific investigation to build the knowledge required to successfully complete each “mission.” Science 7 creates the foundation Pacific Ridge students will need to prepare for a strong science education.

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Science 8

The Science 8 curriculum builds upon the skills and concepts learned in Science 7.  Through hands-on activities and investigations, students will explore the physics of moving objects, the chemistry of living things, and the biological processes that drive evolution by natural selection.  Throughout each unit of study, students will be challenged to design solutions to real-world phenomena as well as use evidence and reason to support a claim.  The course requires that students be involved in problem solving, discussing, writing, reading, designing, building, analyzing, and experimenting.  Computer science, technology, engineering design, and scientific inquiry will be practiced and developed to ensure students are prepared to meet the challenges presented to them and also to prepare them for future science courses and SHTEAM endeavors.

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Science 9

Science 9 is an integrated science course that lays a foundation for high school science by encouraging students to explore, experiment, question, and ultimately be able to explain the origins of our universe, our planet, our atmosphere, and life on earth. This course uses physical, life, earth, engineering, and computer science to challenge students to ask big questions such as “what are waves and how do they transfer energy?” and “is there life beyond earth?” through exploration of phenomena and complex systems such as the the big bang, the origin of life, and climate change. Using experimental design, data collection and analysis, building of sensors, and modeling (both physical and computational), students will be challenged to see the interconnectedness and interdependence between scientific fields and topics in order to construct a big picture understanding of how the universe and our planet work, as well as their place in and impact upon it.

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Seventh Grade Music

“Create, perform, respond, and connect” is the motto of this class. Students engage in musical activities that not only connect with each other but with skills and content students learn in many other disciplines. Singing, playing instruments, listening and responding to music, creating digital music, and moving to music are the primary activities in this class. This class is intended to help students discover that making music is not something that requires talent. Rather, it is an intuitive process that everyone can engage in and benefit from. Students with previous experience on instruments will have the opportunity to play their instruments in this class, as well as join our middle school ensemble.

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Social & Community Studies

In a complex modern world that includes many people, cultures, expectations, laws, and ever-changing borders, modern humans must strive to be productive local and global citizens. By having students explore who they are and learn about people outside of their communities, the Social and Community Studies (SOCCOM) class aims to develop global citizens who are informed, empathetic, engaged, and civically minded. To facilitate this examination of human connectedness, the class explores current and past events inside three thematic units.   In the first trimester, students explore individual, community, and national identity. They seek to understand how identity defines people, how they view and interact with others, and how identities have power and influence. Trimester two covers the concepts of power and government.  Students examine what constitutes power in our society and the larger world, the different forms of government in the world today, and what happens when governments do not serve their citizens.  In the last trimester, students examine borders and boundaries.  They explore the difference between natural and man-made borders and boundaries and the effects they have on the people living near them.  Through case studies such as Russia/Ukraine and our southern border with Mexico, students view current, real-world examples of these concepts.  In their pursuit of learning and growth, students develop important habits and skills, including self reflection, organization, and analytical thinking, as well as self-expression skills developed through debate, writing and Harkness discussions.   

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Spanish 1

This course, the first of a three-year sequence of college preparatory Spanish, introduces students to both the Spanish language and its various cultures. Students acquire basic thematic vocabulary sets and introductory grammatical structures in the present tense as they embark upon their path toward proficiency in the four basic language skills: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. In the first year, students read two short novels in Spanish, progress from writing sentences to composing simple essays, and begin to comprehend, interpret, and produce oral language within a given context.

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Spanish 1B

Spanish 1B is a course designed to strengthen the foundational-level content and skills introduced in Spanish 1 in order to build superior preparedness for entrance into Spanish 2. Spanish 1B focuses on the more complex present tense grammatical structures from the first level of Spanish, namely stem-changing verbs, the irregular verbs ser, estar, tener, and ir, verbs with irregular yo, present progressive, direct and indirect object pronouns, and reflexive verbs. The students read two short novels in Spanish, progress from writing sentences to composing simple essays, and begin to comprehend, interpret, and produce oral language within a given context. Perhaps most importantly, the course provides additional time for students to practice and master the cultural and skills-based benchmarks of the first level before moving into the second level of Spanish. Spanish 1B consistently utilizes student- centered, communicative activities that simulate real life scenarios and linguistic exchanges in order to bolster and augment proficiency of the curricular content.

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Spanish 2 / Spanish 2 Advanced

In the second year courses, students build upon the reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills acquired in the first year of Spanish, while expanding and deepening their cultural awareness of the Spanish-speaking world. New units of thematic vocabulary are presented within rich, meaningful contexts designed to nurture greater precision and fluidity of language interpretation and expression. Students advance beyond the present tense to gain proficiency in the two past tenses, learning how to differentiate between the two in a variety of contexts. The advanced course is enriched with numerous resources to supplement the core curriculum and engage the students in a more complex immersion environment. Novels, projects, writing assignments, and communicative tasks complement the grammatical content learned in class and reflect second year proficiency goals. Class is conducted in Spanish within a level-appropriate immersion environment.

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Spanish 3 / Spanish 3 Honors

In the third year courses, students build upon the reading, writing, listening and speaking skills acquired in the second year of Spanish, while further expanding and deepening their cultural awareness, understanding, and appreciation of the Spanish-speaking world. Students take on more in-depth presentations and classroom discussions on a wide variety of linguistic and cultural topics. Emphasis is placed on advanced grammatical structures — most notably the compound tenses of the indicative mood, the future and conditional tenses, and the subjunctive mood. Expanded and more detailed vocabulary sets are emphasized to increase proficiency. The Honors course is enriched with numerous resources to supplement the core curriculum and engage the students in a more complex immersion environment. Novels, projects, writing assignments, and communicative tasks complement the grammatical and cultural content learned in class and reflect the more rigorous third year proficiency goals. Class is conducted exclusively in Spanish within an advanced immersion environment and students communicate in the target language in both their prepared and spontaneous exchanges.

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Spanish 4 / Spanish 4 Honors

In the fourth year courses, students transition from the grammar-focused content of the foundational levels of Spanish to a curriculum centered on refining proficiency in the four core language skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking. Students in Spanish 4 sharpen and expand the complex grammatical structures and vocabulary sets acquired in previous years through a wide variety of full-immersion activities including formal and informal presentations, debates, analysis of articles, audio clips, literary selections, research-based essay writing, and daily Harkness discussions. The novels and films studied in Spanish 4 further develop the students’ linguistic skills as well as deepen their cultural understanding and appreciation of the Spanish-speaking world. The Spanish 4 Honors course is designed to prepare the students for the rigors of the AP Spanish program. Honors students must demonstrate a high level of linguistic proficiency and be self-motivated and independent learners.

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Spanish 5 / Spanish 5 Honors

Spanish 5 Honors is an advanced conversation class designed for students to improve communicative abilities and increase proficiency and fluidity in speaking, listening, reading and writing skills within the context of an international studies class that highlights connections between the United States and the Spanish-speaking world. The course has the following objectives: to develop the ability to understand spoken Spanish in various contexts; to develop a vocabulary sufficient for reading newspapers and magazine articles, literary texts, and other non-technical writing; to develop a greater appreciation of Spanish and Latin American cultures; and to develop the ability to express oneself in conversations, dialogues, and discussions on academic topics. The course is conducted entirely in Spanish and the students are expected to participate fully in the target language. In Spanish 5 Honors, students develop their communication skills within political, historical, cultural, and social contexts involving U.S.-Latin American and Spanish relations. In order to practice their communication, students participate in a variety of activities such as dialogues, conversations, interviews, film reviews, group discussions, and presentations. While emphasis of the course is in oral communication, writing composition is also studied. This course is best suited for the student who has already completed AP Spanish.

Prerequisite: Spanish 4 Honors required

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Spanish A

The level A course is an introduction to the language and cultures of the Spanish-speaking world. Students use basic vocabulary to describe themselves and their communities, narrate in the present tense, and grow familiar with common grammatical structures. Students use a variety of methods to get acquainted with the target cultures, and in the process, begin to compare these customs and traditions to their own. In this course, students read three short beginning-level novels in Spanish, practice their oral communication skills on a daily basis, and begin to transition from writing sentences to writing paragraphs. The class is conducted increasingly in Spanish as the year progresses. By the conclusion of the course, students will be comfortable producing foundational grammatical structures, asking simple questions, participating in novice-level spontaneous conversations, and learning in an immersion-style classroom.  

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Spanish B

In the Spanish B course, students build upon the reading, writing, listening and speaking skills acquired in Spanish A, while expanding and deepening their cultural awareness of the Spanish-speaking world. Students acquire several additional thematic vocabulary sets and more complex grammatical structures in both the present and preterite tenses. As they continue upon their path toward greater fluency, students are encouraged to communicate exclusively in the target language. Daily immersion activities, collaborative group projects, and modified Harkness discussions provide an abundance of practice in order to reach this essential goal. In this second year course, students read three short, intermediate-level novels in Spanish, develop their essay writing skills, and begin to comprehend, interpret, and produce oral language within a more advanced context. Class is conducted in Spanish within a level-appropriate immersion environment.

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Spanish for Heritage Spanish Speaker

Spanish for Heritage Spanish Speakers is a course intended for heritage Spanish speakers in grades 8-12. A Heritage speaker is “a student who is raised in a home where a non-English language is spoken, who speaks or merely understands the heritage language and who is to some degree bilingual in English and the heritage language” (Valdés 2000). The course builds upon the knowledge and skills the students bring into the classroom, while providing the tools to move beyond informal language situations and into more formal language settings. The course highlights Hispanic culture within and beyond the United States. Authentic materials will be used to expose students to a variety of content and situations that prepare them to function in the world beyond the classroom. The topics will be chosen in order to develop a strong sense of identity. Successful completion of this course will count toward the student’s Upper School language requirement. Students who successfully complete the course with a minimum of a B will have the option to take a placement test and enroll directly in Spanish 4 Honors.

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Statistics

This course covers the basic principles of descriptive statistics, relationships in data, experimental design, and statistical inference. Statistical techniques are studied with an emphasis on their practicality for drawing conclusions from data. Topics include probability distributions, sampling techniques, and binomial distributions. The course looks extensively at the principles of hypothesis testing and confidence intervals. Measuring the probability of an event, interpreting probability, and using probability in decision-making are central themes. Real-world examples of games of chance, business, medicine, policy-making, the natural and social sciences, and sports are explored.

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Surf & Skate: Design / Build

In this class, we will do stellar hands on work in custom design and fabrication of surf & skate related products. You will gain an understanding of the value of the use of eco-friendly materials while learning to shape & glass surfboards, design skate decks, and use CAD alongside hand tools to make original pieces. You will also learn the physical properties and constraints to help the design process. 

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Sustainable Fashion

Vintage, Fast Fashion, Couture, DIY, Punk, Prep, Functional or Fantastical - Fashion serves many roles and can be interpreted in so many ways. As we wear it, it conveys not only a first impression, but leaves a long lasting impact on our planet. We will dive into fashion design, couture history, new methods of production, and the larger impacts of the clothing industry. We will talk trends, visit industry leaders in sustainable fashion, and look for alternatives to fast fashion. You will also learn to design a garment, fabrics and accessories, and turn your ideas into real outfits, all while using less impactful methods of production or reuse and incorporating unique artistry and new tech innovations. 

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Theater

In seventh grade, we lay a foundation for future Pacific Ridge performers. We immediately focus on the adage: acting is NOT pretending; acting is DOING. Consequently, we focus on the first six of the 'Ten Doings’, the basis of the Pacific Ridge acting program: observe; establish your relationship with the other(s) in the scene; explore the place; decide what you want; choose how you will get it; develop your character; create the moment before; use the events of the play; know the words of the play; know the world of the play. Each week, the daily warm-up, acting exercises, and debriefs center around one of the Doings. We introduce pair work and the beginning of very simple scenes, culminating in excerpts from stage adaptations of literature that middle schoolers are reading in their English classes. Over the course of the trimester, we create a lively and professional playing space, develop our ability to invent through storytelling, experiment with the art of playing through improvisation, learn to critique one another’s work constructively, and examine the parts that compose a dramatic script. Our most important goal is to build ensemble while promoting individual self-confidence and personal growth. 

In eighth grade, we learn more advanced methods of acting and character portrayal through pantomime and improvisation. Students start with a "Simple Task" pantomime and conclude with a  "Believable Entrances" pantomime. Both projects teach students how to discover the place, create believable circumstances, and discover the world of their character. Since drama is physical, students are taught the proper way to warm up and the Five Tools of the Actor (voice, body, imagination, face/emotion, and  teamwork). By the end of this course, students will have learned the foundations of effectively portraying a character, how to successfully prepare and master an audition, and how to execute an acting scene with two or more acting partners. 

 

 

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Theories of Social Change

Theories of Social Change will provide students with the knowledge and tools to create a more just, equitable world. Many Americans only engage in direct service: serving meals to the homeless, collecting books for donation, or pulling weeds. While valuable contributions, these charitable actions solely address the symptoms of inequality. Theories of Social Change seeks to provide students with the theoretical framework and concrete tools necessary to address inequality at its roots. In this course, students will first explore social action through historical and theoretical lenses. They will learn about the history of volunteerism, social movement theory, and a variety of case studies such as the Civil Rights Movement and the fight for marriage equality. This theoretical foundation will be followed by an introduction to numerous practical tools for creating social change such as community organizing, philanthropy, nonviolent protest, and research. In addition, students will have opportunities to interact with and learn from social justice advocates and activists from the San Diego community throughout the course.

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The Politics of Business: Business & Government Relations

Second trimester will explore how business interacts with the government. We will learn about regulatory structures, compliance, elections, and litigation. We will speak with Carlsbad elected leaders about how the city works with local business, including relevant government bodies like the Carlsbad City Council and business groups like the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce. Learn about the role of lobbying, how to operate a business in changing environments, the power of advertising, and the influence of public opinion.

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Topics in Physics

Topics in Physics provides a laboratory-based experience in physics that introduces fundamental principles in the context of real-world applied examples. In the first trimester, students concentrate on astronomy, where they learn, among other topics, how to measure the positions of asteroids, how to classify stellar spectra, and how to identify different types of galaxies. Newtonian mechanics ushers in a number of new topics and principles in the second trimester, demonstrated to students in the context of direct applications such as ice-skating, seesaws, roller coasters, rockets, and hot-air balloons. In the final trimester, students study physics in modern life, taking a close look at modern inventions like automobiles, photocopiers, electric generators, medical imaging, and nuclear weapons. Throughout the class, students gain hands-on experience using laboratory equipment and computer-based data collection.

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United States History

Students in United States History analyze the ways in which geography, social groups (race and class), religion, economics, and government have influenced the course of events in our country. The class traces key themes and identities from their European and Pre-Columbian beginnings up through the Vietnam and Cold Wars. Students read a variety of texts, with a special focus on primary documents, in order to gain an in-depth understanding of the factors that have shaped modern American society. Efforts are made throughout the course to integrate the curriculum with material covered in other classes, particularly American Literature, and to improve student skills in reading comprehension, analytical thinking, and written expression.

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Upper School Physical Education

The Pacific Ridge Physical Education program intends to give students a basic understanding (rules, terminology, etiquette, etc.) of how to engage in a variety of lifetime activities. This class is not intended to develop superstar athletes; rather, the primary goal is to help students appreciate the physical and mental benefits of physical activity throughout their lifetime. Skills for each sport activity will be broken down, as students will learn them to be able to participate in game play. In addition to these activities, students will also participate in lifelong physical fitness activities such as cardiovascular conditioning, plyometrics, agility, and strength training.

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Vocal Ensemble

In this course, we sing music in a wide variety of styles including classical, folk, rock, and Broadway. We also use music theory software to learn the essentials of reading and writing musical notation. Both fundamental techniques and ensemble performances are important components of the class. Students work on concepts such as intonation, balance, blend, interpretation, and rehearsal decorum. There is a final performance in this class, and all members are required to participate. 

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Vocal Ensemble

In this class, students learn the technical aspects of good singing: maintaining breath support; creating good tone; expanding range; and singing in various languages. The class repertoire comes from a variety of genres including classical, pop, Broadway, Renaissance, gospel, folk, and jazz. Students read music, improve their aural skills (their “musical ear”), sing in four-part harmony, and learn some basic music theory. Vocal Ensemble performs a cappella music as well as music accompanied by piano or the Upper School Jazz/Rock Ensemble. The group sings at school concerts, coffee houses, and community outreach events.

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Women in Literature

The Women in Literature course examines the experiences particular to womanhood through the perspective of women writers. The course explores women’s lives and aesthetic choices from a variety of socioeconomic, cultural, and racial backgrounds, while also considering what it means to be a woman in today’s society. The texts and related discussions will dive into themes such as girlhood, gender, family, standards of beauty, sexuality, discrimination, violence against women, and women’s rights. The course will also consider how women writers have responded to being marginalized throughout history. An important part of the course is an overview of the American feminist movement and representative texts (Wollstonecraft, Woolf, and Walker) that have informed writers, thinkers, and readers. The reading list will include a diverse range of writers and works, including poetry, prose, essays, novels, nonfiction narratives, memoirs, and a feminist manifesto. Students will write analytical essays as well as creative pieces, and they will also create presentations about all sorts of topics, including feminist art. All voices and points of view are welcome, though in the spirit of critical thinking, we will query suppositions and assumptions about women and society.

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World Literature

This course introduces a diverse set of readings and videos from every continent to broaden students’ perspectives and prepare them for lives and careers in the global society of the 21st Century. We will explore how ideas, languages, cultures and points of view around the world interact and influence each other, and how we as readers and writers can develop and communicate about how we define ourselves and our communities. Readings include short stories, novels, poetry, memoir and a screenplay by R.K. Narayan (India), Sayaka Murata (Japan), Bong Joon Ho (South Korea), Chibundu Onuzo (Nigeria), Raymond Queneau (France), Bruce Dawe (Australia) and Reyna Grande (Mexico/USA). This class is ideal for students interested in world languages and/or literature that interacts with multimedia, social issues, history and art. It is also designed for students who wish to explore the cultures and issues of today’s world, as most of the readings were published recently. Assignments include creative writing projects and analytical essays, along with regular journaling, note-taking, debating, and game-playing to develop deeper shared understandings and enjoyment.

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Yearbook

Note: This course may only be taken one time for arts credit. Yearbook students must fulfill their second year of the arts requirement by taking a different course.

This course guides students in the development of the school yearbook and the literary magazine, both published at the end of the year. All students are exposed to the basics of visual design and journalistic writing in the introductory portion of the course. Students will learn the graphic design program, InDesign/eDesign, early in the first trimester in order to put new knowledge to work throughout the year. Every student will also have an introduction to photography and have the opportunity to refine their skills throughout the year and creating images that the entire school will enjoy. Students work together as a staff, so collaboration and teamwork are crucial and required to creating The Founder, the PRS yearbook -- our final product of the course. Students will develop a strong aesthetic eye for clean, unified design and the ability to manage the organization and deadlines of the project effectively and efficiently.

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Zombiology

This course explores zombies in popular culture in conjunction with the biology of infectious diseases. The class lays the ground rules for the zombie apocalypse world that is created by three different graphic novel series, and it will use concrete biology to attempt to explain the near-total absence of scientific evidence in most of these narrative universes. You will examine the undead features of zombies, such as reanimation, metabolic reactions, evolution, and response to stimuli, and consider mathematical modeling of the spread of new and emerging diseases. Following this, a Neuroscientist from UC San Diego will present his work on the zombie brain, and his current research on neural oscillations, cognition, and disease. We will spend a week on hypothetical survival situations and two weeks on zombies in film and television. The class culminates in student projects—of any form—on the material learned over the course of the trimester.

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