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The English department is proud to offer classes that reflect the diverse literary landscape of our country and our world. In our quest to open our students’ hearts and minds to perspectives and viewpoints beyond their own, we provide a curriculum that draws from varied canons so that many voices are heard and appreciated.

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The Upper School History curriculum begins focusing on global history and geography from the development of the early civilizations to the global convergence in the 13th - 15th centuries. Students examine the formation of the modern world through the lenses of history, politics, and geography. With this solid background in world history, students are ready to focus on the major forces that have shaped the United States such as political liberalism, nationalism, industrialization, and imperialism. In 12th grade, students will choose from electives during the first semester based on both teacher expertise and student interest.    

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The Upper School mathematics curriculum prepares students for the challenges of collegiate level work through the mastery of fundamental concepts and skills. Careful consideration is taken to place students in appropriate courses. Progress with geometric, algebraic, and trigonometric skills without the aid of technology is emphasized. Additionally, students learn to harness technology to perform investigations and to solve complex application problems. Advanced Placement courses in calculus and statistics are available for qualified students. 

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Science courses in Upper School offer students a survey of the core sciences through lab-based instruction. In all classes, students design unique and genuine experiments. Ninth grade students are taught many practical skills and concepts using the physical sciences to prepare them well for higher-level thinking and communicating effectively as a future scientist in advanced courses. Starting in 10th grade, students can select a traditional route or an accelerated route. Depending on the route taken, students have numerous choices during junior and senior year designed to support any college aspiration. AP Biology, AP Environmental Science, AP Physics C, AP Chemistry, Applied Science-Engineering, and Anatomy and Physiology are offered to students who have met the prerequisites. Students are expected to take four years of science in their time at VMS.

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Performing Arts Courses Offered

At the Upper School level, the Performing Arts program is designed to allow students with interests in music or drama to further develop their skills through both exploratory and performance-based courses. Upper School music performance will include Instrumental Ensemble, Theatre, and a Performing Arts Appreciation.  All students entering 10th grade in 2021 are required to complete one semester of Performing Arts during their time at VMS.  

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Visual Arts Courses Offered

In Upper School, students may take a variety of Visual Arts courses designed to enhance their skills and hone their talents. In the areas of drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, ceramics, photography, and digital media art, students take a sequence of classes of increasing skill level to meet the art requirements. Upper School electives combine studio work with theory, aesthetics, criticism, and understanding of the arts. Introductory level courses cover critical skills and concepts such as composition, color fundamentals, understanding of materials and techniques involved in the specific medium that is being practiced. As students progress to higher level classes, they use these skills and develop more complex techniques, leading to the artist's individual voice and unique styles of artwork. For Upper School students who seek more intensive studies, AP Studio Art, Senior Portfolio, and Senior Projects in the arts are possible. 

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World Languages

One of the overarching goals of the World Languages Department is for students to cultivate an intrinsic interest in a critical world language that they will carry with them long after they complete their studies at VMS. To accomplish this goal, the department strives to develop high levels of language proficiency alongside an increasingly profound understanding of the cultures in which the languages are utilized. A high degree of emphasis is placed on providing students with scaffolded opportunities for successfully communicating in the target language. The faculty consistently seeks to connect the language to important issues of culture, as well as foster an environment in which students come to understand the value and relevance of Spanish and/or Chinese to their own lives and future goals. 

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Upper School Curriculum

Click below to view the courses offered as part of our Upper School Curriculum Guide 2023 - 2024.