High School Electives

Cross-Cultural Communication

This course prepares professional artists with the communication skills and cultural awareness needed to express their artistic intentions to the public. The course also explores some of the fundamental ways in which Eastern and Western art and music differ. Students learn skills in public speaking, oral presentation, etiquette, and the media. Students learn how to conduct successful interviews and produce media advisories and press statements.

World History II

This is an advanced course designed to deepen a student’s knowledge of world history and geography. The course covers selected topics from prehistory to present, delving into cultural, eco-nomic, political, and ideological themes as well as global and comparative geography. Students study cause and effect relations; major historical developments such as imperialism, nationalism, modernization, and industrialization; and how historians seek to create “history” out of systemic research and unbiased analysis. By the end of the course, students will be able to explain why and how major historical developments occurred. Students are encouraged to take the SAT subject test in World History upon completion of this course.

U.S. History and Government II

This advanced course engages students in a study of U.S. history and government from pre-Columbian times through the present. The course deepens students’ understanding of the eco-nomic, social, political, and cultural history and foreign policy of the United States. The majority of the course’s focus is on American history and government after 1790. Students will examine information and facts through the lens of major themes running throughout United States history such as evolving definitions of freedom and democracy, tensions between state and federal gov-ernments, and the extent of the government’s role to protect and regulate. Projects and assign-ments throughout the year include frequent essay writing, reading and interpreting primary sources, research, debate, and oral presentations. Students are encouraged to take the SAT subject test in U.S. History upon completion of this course.

Chinese History II

This course requires satisfactory completion of Chinese History I or a comprehensive Chinese language and cultural background. Students study the formation of China’s intellectual, social, and political culture in antiquity and trace its development through various dynastic periods.. The course looks in particular at the resilience and weaknesses of China’s imperial system during its final centuries before examining the challenge that China’s traditions posed to those seeking insti-tutional reform and modernization. Through research projects, students develop skills in historical research, analysis, and writing.


This course covers advanced algebra, trigonometry, and analytic geometry. Topics include func-tions and function theory; types of functions such as polynomial, rational, trigonometric, expo-nential and logarithmic; the study of conics, sequences and series; normal probability distribu-tions, non-linear regression, and hypothesis testing; and an introduction to calculus that includes limits, critical points, and continuity. Upon completion of this course, students are well-prepared for college-level Calculus, and are encouraged to take the SAT subject test in Math Level 2.

Biology II

Biology II involves the scientific study of living organisms. The course considers the interactions among the vast number of organisms that inhabit planet Earth. It presents the basic form and function of these organisms, from cells to organ systems, and from simple viruses to complex humans. It delves into interactions between organisms, and between an organism and its envi-ronment. Scientific process and laboratory skills are emphasized along with biology’s connections to other scientific disciplines. Students learn scientific writing skills and also examine current bio-logical issues. This course promotes scientific thinking through problem solving, a process that encourages curiosity and careful inquiry. Students are encouraged to take the SAT subject tests in Biology-E (Ecology) or Biology-M (Molecular) upon completion of this course.


Physics is the study of matter and energy and their interactions. It provides a systematic under-standing of the fundamental laws that govern physical, chemical, and biological processes. The major topics covered are conceptual study of laws of motion, forces, energy and momentum; properties and states of matter; heat and thermodynamics; wave motion; sound; light; and elec-tricity and magnetism. Additional topics include geometrical optics and nuclear physics. Students must have taken or be enrolled in Algebra II and Trigonometry. Students are encouraged to take the SAT subject test in Physics upon completion of this course.


Students develop the ability to represent three-dimensional spatial relationships accurately on a two-dimensional plane. These early drawings are a vital tool for training the eye to see correctly. Each step of the drawing process is demonstrated and reinforced through repetition. Students use both charcoal and pencil and start by drawing geometric shapes and still life. They also use plaster casts to develop a sense for the shapes of the human figure.

Chinese Painting and Calligraphy

This course focuses primarily on the proper brush and ink techniques for the two major styles of scripts: Kai Shu (Standard Script) and Li Shu (Clerical Script). This course is particularly useful for those who are interested in learning more about Chinese characters and the Chinese language. Historically, the practice of Chinese calligraphy has been seen as a way to improve character and is considered a necessary habit for a learned person to acquire. Students are also introduced to the role of calligraphy in Chinese painting and in Chinese culture as a whole.


Students who have completed most of their high school requirements may select the college-level Advanced Electives. Advanced electives foster a broader acquisition of skills and knowledge char-acteristic of the liberal arts and sciences while expanding the student’s realm of intellectual in-quiry. Advanced electives are offered on an as-needed basis in the following areas:

Chinese Civilization

This course is a thematic survey of Chinese civilization, one of the richest and oldest continuous cultures in the world. Students examine the defining intellectual, religious, literary, political, and artistic developments that have shaped China over millennia.  The topics range as far back as the Neolithic period, and proceed through the dynasties over the last 5,000 years. The study of Chinese civilization is fundamental for students to understand the development of Chinese military, political, economic, and philosophical systems. The course also emphasizes enduring values, sensibilities, and beliefs within the development of Chinese civilization.

The goal is to arrive at a basic “cultural literacy” that encompasses China’s festival calendar, dynastic cycle, key religious practices, literary and artistic achievements, architecture, family structure, means of governance, and early science and technology. The course includes readings and interpretation of primary source texts.

AP Chinese Language and Culture

This course develops students’ proficiency in the “5 Cs” goal areas in foreign language acquisition: communication, cultures, connections, comparison, and communities, with a focus on mastering the language across the three communicative modes: interpersonal, interpretative, and presentational. Its aim is to provide students with ongoing and varied opportunities to further develop their Chinese proficiency within a cultural frame of reference. The course also interweaves age-appropriate and interest-specific content while providing students with frequent formative assessment. Instructional materials and activities are carefully and strategically adapted from authentic sources to support the linguistic and cultural goals of the course.

AP World History

The purpose of this course is to develop greater understanding of the evolution of global processes and contacts and interaction with different types of human societies. This understanding is advanced through a combination of selective factual knowledge and appropriate analytical skills. The course highlights the nature of changes in international frameworks and their causes and consequences, as well as comparisons among major societies. The course emphasizes relevant factual knowledge deployed in conjunction with leading interpretive issues and types of historical evidence. Focused primarily on the last thousand years of the global experience, the course builds on an understanding of cultural, institutional, and technological precedents that, along with geography, set the human stage prior to 1000 C.E. Periodization, explicitly discussed, forms the organizing principle for dealing with change and continuity from that point to the present. Specific themes provide further organization to the course, along with the consistent attention to contacts among societies that form the core of world history as a field of study.

AP Art History

This course engages students at the same level as an introductory college art history course and prepares them for the AP Art History exam. It examines major forms of artistic expression from the ancient world to the present and from a variety of cultures. Special emphasis is placed on the Renaissance in Europe through the 19th century in the West and China’s Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties. Students will reflect on essential questions such as the origin of artistic creativity, the role of arts and artists in culture and civilization, and the interrelation of art and thought. They will develop inferential skills in order to interpret art works and cultures.  A course-long art project chosen from selected topics will help students explore meaningful ways of interpreting art works and cultures.

AP English Language and Composition
(English Language Arts 600)

This course guides students to become skilled readers of prose written in a variety of rhetorical contexts and to become skilled writers who compose for a variety of purposes. Both their writing and their reading should make students aware of the interactions between a writer’s intention and audience expectations. The overarching objective is to enable students to write effectively and confidently in their college courses and in their professional and personal lives. This course emphasizes the expository, analytical, and argumentative writing that forms the basis of academic and professional communication, as well as the personal and reflective writing that fosters the development of writing facility in any context. In addition, the course teaches students to read primary and secondary sources carefully, to synthesize material from these texts in their own compositions, and to cite sources using conventions recommended by professional organizations.

AP Calculus

This is a course in college-level calculus that culminates in the AP Calculus A examination. This course teaches topics associated with functions: graphs and limits, directives, integrals, and polynomial approximations and series. Students will have the opportunity to work with functions represented graphically, numerically, analytically, and verbally. Students will use computer software and graphic calculators to solve problems, experiment, interpret results and support conclusions.

AP Computer Science

This is an introductory course on computer science for students whose future work or study may involve technology and computers. It follows the AP Computer Science curriculum standards and prepares students for the AP Computer Science A exam.

This course teaches students to design and implement computer-based solutions to practical problems; to select and use commonly-used data structures and algorithms; to code fluently in an object-oriented paradigm using the programming language Java and its commonly used class libraries; and to read and understand large programs consisting of several classes and interacting objects.

AP Music Theory

This course introduces students to musicianship, theory, musical materials, and procedures. The course emphasizes the use of harmony in music and addresses the integration of melody, texture, rhythm, form, musical analysis, and composition.  The course also addresses the influence of history, culture, and individual style. Musicianship skills such as dictation, general listening skills, sight singing, and keyboard harmony are an important part of the theory course. The student’s ability to read and write musical notation is fundamental. It is strongly recommended that the student be equipped with at least basic performance skills in voice or on an instrument to enroll in this class.

AP Studio Art – Drawing

The Studio Art Drawing course is designed to address a broad interpretation of drawing issues and media. The class covers drawing techniques such as light and shade, line quality, rendering, composition, surface manipulation, and illusion. The course covers these areas in the context of various media, including drawing, water color, painting, printmaking, and mixed media.

The course also addresses two-dimensional (2-D) design issues. Design involves purposeful decision making about how to integrate the elements and principles of art. The principles of design (unity/variety, balance, emphasis, contrast, rhythm, repetition, proportion/scale, figure/ground relationships) are articulated through basic visual elements: line, shape, color, value, texture, and space. Instruction in these areas is introduced in a way that helps guide artists make decisions about how to best organize and communicate content.