Interior Masthead

high school students learning with laptops

Upper School (9-12)

Our academics provide a solid foundation across all disciplines while leaving space for individual pursuits and passions. At Friends Select, learning is meant to cajole, to provoke, to inspire, to deepen, and to connect. By providing students with a program designed to teach kids how to think and not what to think, our students demonstrate independence and agency in their work in and out of school.

We offer a broad range of electives in every subject. Students have a hand in designing their course selection around their interests so they can work toward the college that’s best for them—be that a top-tier research university or a prestigious art school. We see students refining both their skills for college and their interest in their high school years: some students pursue internships with local colleges and universities, while others show dedication to an ongoing service project.

We challenge students to pursue their individual interests. We never dictate the path of success. We give students ownership over their own future, and help them achieve their goals.

Curricular Structure

Our Upper School curriculum focuses on mastery of core academic subjects, with an emphasis on research skills, writing, problem solving, and public speaking. Over four years, we challenge students with increasing levels of independence, critical thinking, problem solving and leadership.

Ninth and Tenth Grades

The first two years of Upper School build a strong foundation. Students explore diverse subjects and learn to think from multiple perspectives. Students explore culture through the lenses of literature, history, philosophy, religion, and art. Most ninth and tenth grade students take the following course load*:

Ninth Grade Course Load Tenth Grade Course Load
English 9: Explorations of Genre English 10: Romanticism and Modernism
History 9: The Medieval World History 10: Modern World History
Geometry (or Algebra I or II, or more advanced courses) Algebra II (or Geometry or Precalculus, or more advanced courses)
Physics Chemistry
Language (Latin, Spanish, or Mandarin) Language (Latin, Spanish, or Mandarin)
Physical Education (half year) Physical Education (half year)
Religious Thought (half year) Religious Thought (half year)
Visual or Performing Arts Visual or Performing Arts

* Note that 6 courses are required and many students take 7 courses to preserve 1 study hall period per day. On occasion, a family may petition the school for a student to take 8 courses.

Eleventh and Twelfth Grades

In the final two years of Upper School, students gain independence and put theory into practice. Community service projects, internships, electives, and independent study opportunities help students pursue their interests and become active citizens of the wider world. Below are two examples of what eleventh and twelfth grade students can take*:

Eleventh Grade Course Load (with a focus on the humanities) Twelfth Grade Course Load (with a focus on math and science)
English 11: American Literature English 12 English Electives (Shakespeare (Semester 1) and Women's Literature (Semester 2)
History 11: U.S. History and Politics History 12 History Electives: History of Political Imagery (Semester 2)
Latin IV Advanced Chemistry
Precalculus Anatomy and Physiology (Semester 1)
Biology Calculus
English Elective: The Power of Memory (Memoir Reading and Writing)- (Semester 1) Statistics
History Elective: History of Race and Gender- (Semester 2) Computer Science

*Most eleventh and twelfth grade students take 6 courses per year, but some opt for one more or less, depending on outside of school commitments.

Curriculum

English

The English Department’s goal is to foster analytic reading and writing. Students read many varied and rigorous texts, ranging from the Middle Ages to the twenty-first century and from all continents. Read more.

History

History courses are required in ninth, tenth, and eleventh grades. The department offers semester electives in the senior year. Several of our courses present students with interdisciplinary experiences--particularly in art and music--as well as interdivisional activities. Read more.

Science
The upper school science program strives to provide students with a thorough appreciation of the more rigorous core science from Physics to Chemistry to Biology (required for graduation), as well as an opportunity to explore more individual interests through our variety of electives. Read more.

Mathematics

The math program in upper school is designed to help students master algebraic and geometric skills required for work at the college level. Read more.

World Languages

The world languages department encompasses both modern and classical languages. At this level students can either continue in their language of study of Latin, Mandarin Chinese, or Spanish from Middle School or switch to a new language. Read more.

Visual Arts

Upper Schoolers choose from a rich array of artistic study, from metalsmithing to painting to digital media. Read more.

Music

The Upper School Music curriculum includes Instrumental Ensembles and Choir. These groups work daily to prepare three performances a year and are given equal class time to all other academic pursuits. Read more.

Drama

FSS Theater presents two mainstage productions each year (in the fall and spring). Students can get involved in a variety of ways: performing onstage, building/painting scenery and props, designing costumes, or running light and sound. Read more.

Libraries

The library is designed to support and enhance the middle and upper school curriculum, and to encourage recreational reading. A variety of resources, both print and online, are available for students and faculty to use. Students visit the library to conduct research, borrow books, study quietly, or work in small groups. Teachers also bring groups to the library for instruction and research. Read more.

Physical Education

The upper school curriculum is designed to continue the focus on developing both individual and team sport skills while increasing the emphasis on fitness. Using the fitness center for both cardiovascular training and strength training enables our students to understand, design, and implement a personal fitness program that will lead a physically active lifestyle. A health unit is a part of each year in physical education. All juniors are enrolled in a CPR/AED and First Aid certification course. Juniors and seniors who participate in two team sports are able to waive their PE requirement. Read more.