The Upper School English Department is made up of experienced teachers with a passion for literature and the teaching of writing as a process.
There are several main goals of the four levels of Upper School English instruction. One is to produce strong critical thinkers. We also believe in providing individual writing instruction, which allows students the personal attention required to strengthen their writing skills. This is done through formal classroom instruction as well as through the use of individual writing consultations outside of the classroom.
Students in English 9 and English 10 read, discuss, and write about a variety of literary works. These include those written by American, British, and European authors such as Salinger, Steinbeck, Shakespeare, Chekov, Shelley, Remarque, and Sophocles. Grammar and vocabulary instruction is also included as a regular part of the curriculum. A course in style, usage, and grammar is also required for ninth grade students to support their mastery of the writing process.
Students in eleventh and twelfth grades take AP Language and Composition, AP Literature and Composition, or select from a choice of semester long seminar classes in order to satisfy their graduation requirement. The seminar offerings vary each semester but include titles such as Detective Fiction, Shakespeare’s Festival of Comedies, Poetry and Poetics, The Art of Short Story, American Dreams and Nightmares, and Literary Non-Fiction.
The Laguna Blanca School Department of Mathematics envisions success for all students in Middle and Upper School mathematics courses through appropriate placement, small class sizes, and individualized support. We provide a complete range of courses, including Honors and Advanced Placement level classes. All math courses are taught by educators who have specialized in the field of mathematics and who have a passion for mathematics as well as for teaching.
The Math Department requires students to creatively solve a wide variety of problems that include concepts from algebra, geometry, statistics, trigonometry and calculus as they progress through the program. Students are expected to demonstrate computational accuracy, neatness, and conceptual understanding of the mathematical techniques being used. Technology is integrated into the program from the earliest levels and includes the use of graphing calculators and computers.
The Social Science Department is committed to the principle that history should be more than a series of dates and events. History is the vehicle through which we not only learn about the past but also understand the present. Combining an in depth assessment of political, social and economic history as well as current events, students at Laguna Blanca cultivate analytical skills and expand their critical thinking. Students are taught to translate their knowledge into the written word in exams and research papers and to expand these skills each successive year, culminating in a major research paper. Our goal is to help students be better equipped to participate as citizens with a sense of social responsibility and moral consciousness.
The Science Department's philosophy is that one learns science by doing science. All units are centered on activities, demonstrations, and labs, as we attempt to understand natural phenomena. The science teachers are scientists and continue to be teachers and students of science. The Department's mission is to inspire our students to investigate their world, to think for themselves, and to experience all of which they are capable.
For grades eight through twelve the World Languages Department offers Spanish, French, and Latin through the Advanced Placement level. Along with the four skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking, the department strives to provide the student with the opportunity to communicate with native speakers, to understand and compare cultures, and to make connections with communities and other disciplines. Language clubs, field trips, speakers and extracurricular activities enhance classroom instruction.
The World Languages Department’s most valuable resource is its teachers. Enthusiastic, professional, and dedicated to our students, our faculty members are life-long learners. Each member of our faculty has earned a Master’s Degree or higher, and all attend conferences, workshops, and enrichment classes on a regular basis. Among our faculty are native speakers of French and Spanish with an excellent command of the English language, and one of our Spanish teachers lived in Spain for 15 years, giving students a taste of Castilian Spanish. Our Latin teachers have spent considerable time in countries related to classical studies. We are proud of the many students who graduate with proficiency in two languages other than English.
A number of interdisciplinary courses are offered which cross one or more academic disciplines and which engage and challenge students to immerse themselves in topics of conflict and importance in the modern world.
The Laguna Blanca School Technology Department recognizes the importance of technical literacy in today’s information-rich, technological society and in the future. We strive to provide students with the tools, skills, and access to the technology they need in order for them to be productive members of the School community and beyond. Instruction in the use of technology is developmentally appropriate from kindergarten through grade 12, and technology is used to enhance learning, research, and productivity in the arts, mathematics, science, and humanities.
Adolescence is a distinct and very important stage of life that brings many changes and opportunities to a young person’s life. Keeping this in mind, the Upper School Personal Development program seeks to allow students to become more conscious about their decisions, enhance the quality of their interpersonal communication, and help them establish goals and weigh values. It consists of a seminar style class designed to address age appropriate, wellness-related issues such as interpersonal communication, management of conflict and stress, drug-abuse education, sexuality, responsible behavioral choices, and personal identity.
The Academic Services department provides different levels of support for students who qualify with a documented learning challenge. Students receive a formal Student Support Plan which outlines their strengths and weakness and lists reasonable accommodations based on their psycho-educational report. Some may choose to simply utilize an extended time accommodation or peer notes strategy. Others may opt to hold their study halls in the newly remodeled Academic Services Study Center where they can receive help with organization or tutoring for a particular subject area. All eligible students can drop into the Academic Services Study Center whenever they like to enjoy the movable furniture, supportive atmosphere, and quiet study space. The members of the Academic Services team work with teachers, students, and parents to help students find their most effective learning style and experience success.
Students must complete the departmental requirements listed below. Only courses taken and completed with a passing grade will count toward graduation. Students must complete a minimum of six courses every semester. The one exception would be a second-semester Senior enrolled in four or more AP-level classes, who may opt to enroll in five classes. Any exceptions to this policy must be approved in writing by the Head of Upper School.
|Dept.||Specific Term and Course Requirements|
|3 years |
(including geometry & algebra II)
|3 years |
(including world history & U.S. history)
|3 years (biology, chemistry, & physics)|
Completion through Level 3 of one language
|Fine Arts||A one-year course in the arts, either in a visual or performing art, is required. This must be a UC-approved course. An additional 1-semester art course is required in the other art discipline. (Students who have taken a one-year course in a visual art must take a performing art; students who have taken a one year course in performing art must take a visual art.)|
1 semester of public speaking
1 semester of Personal Development
1 season of interscholastic athletics per year
16 documented service hours