Upper School Curriculum

World Languages

The world languages program works to produce scholars who are open-minded, sensitive, curious, independent, and motivated. Students broaden their worldview through the study of language, and we want them to be comfortable taking risks as they learn their second (or third) language. We hope our students will use their functional language skills to engage in a global community.

In the Upper School, we offer seven languages: French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, Latin, and Ancient Greek. There is an emphasis on authentic language use. In the classroom, faculty emphasize the four language skills of reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Students practice and demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways through both written and performance-based assessments, as well as individual and collaborative projects and activities. We are a nurturing community of teachers and learners and can provide individual support as needed.

We offer honor societies in Arabic, Chinese, French, Spanish, and Russian. Trips abroad and exchange opportunities are also offered. The study of poetry in our world languages classes is celebrated during the biannual Birgit Baldwin International Poetry Festival.

World Language Certificate Program

There are three required components to the World Languages Certificate program. Students must formally study two languages beyond the beginning level and double the amount of language credits required for graduation. Students may earn cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude certificates depending on the number of foreign language credits. Additionally, students must complete an experience that extends the language study to other areas of the student’s life in order to demonstrate the relevance of language acquisition in today’s global society. Finally, at the end of their senior year, students give an oral presentation to the language faculty spoken in both of their languages of study. Click here to learn more.

 

Science

The Roland Park Country School science department seeks to empower our students to be observant investigators and discerning evaluators of what they encounter in their daily lives. We want them to achieve a dynamic understanding of their roles in their surrounding environments and develop the skills and motivation to take responsibility for and make life choices that consider their relationships to natural systems, human communities, and future generations. Throughout their years in the Upper School, students study biology, physics, and chemistry. In addition, they have the opportunity to take electives on a variety of subjects, including advanced placement (AP) classes.

English

At Roland Park Country School, the English department strives to instill in students a lifelong love and appreciation for literature that extends beyond the classroom into their daily lives and choices. Students’ skills and confidence in their oral and written expression is strengthened though a well-developed program that increasingly asks them to be the authors of their own stories. The fundamental practice of thoughtful reading and critical thinking is developed, encouraged, and nourished through the curriculum and daily instruction.

In the Upper School, the curriculum builds upon the skills developed in the lower divisions and pushes students to be increasingly independent and sophisticated in their reading and writing. There is more emphasis on annotating text, building from literal to metaphorical meaning through understanding of literary devices, thinking more critically about different genres, and increasing comfort with literary and critical analysis. Students strive toward constructing and defending compelling thesis statements, using fluid quote integration, properly citing their sources, and creating a more sophisticated writing style and voice.

History

The curriculum in the Upper School’s history department is informed by the latest research and developed with an eye toward helping students succeed in an increasingly globalized, diverse, and digital world. We present a continuous system of skills to help our students broaden their horizons and develop a sense of global citizenship. Our introductory two-year world history sequence emphasizes this approach. Community-centered study addresses and encompasses many cultures and identities; this has long played a part in the study of history at Roland Park Country School. 

The history department uses a variety of internet resources and personal devices. Upper School classes utilize online databases and textbooks, and the conduct of individual research enhances lessons of digital citizenship. We also offer a rich variety of rigorous courses as upper level electives, ranging from global to local in their focus and examining the world through a variety of critical lenses. We aim to graduate informed, analytical, and critical historians who not only identify problems but orient themselves toward solutions.

Math

In the Upper School, our goal is to increase our students’ mathematical literacy. We teach number sense, abstract thinking, creative problem solving, and clear communication skills through curricula informed by research and delivered at developmentally appropriate levels.  The Upper School curriculum is student-centered, problem-based learning that emphasizes a conceptual understanding of mathematics through student-led discussions and presentations.
 
The Upper School integrated math program encourages students to take risks, notice and test patterns, form conjectures, brainstorm strategies, analyze their responses for reasonableness, support their opinions and solutions, and, consequently, develop solid problem-solving skills.

 

Physical Education

Upper School students are required to be physically active during each trimester, or sports season, with the exception of seniors, who need to complete only two trimesters of activity. Students may either play on a RPCS athletic team, take dance classes (10th-12th grades), or participate in F.I.T. (Focus on Individual Training) classes. The F.I.T. concept allows students the ability to create their own fitness programs based on personal interests. Learning how to create and maintain good fitness and wellness habits allows our students to take ownership and responsibility of their “fitness for life” experiences. Students may choose fitness-based classes, such as Pilates, weight training, and yoga, or sport-based classes, including tennis, squash, golf, and traditional PE games.

Additionally, students complete an online “Health, Wellness and More” course for one trimester. The purpose of the course is to educate and engage students in various health topics through their Upper School years. The course topics are based upon grade level.

9th Grade Course: The food industry. Students will view the film “Fed Up,” which examines the health and sugar industries in the U.S.
10th Grade Course: Nutrition. Topics include vitamins and current events topics related to nutrition.
11th Grade Course: Exercise and well-being. Topics include brain function and exercise, sun care, vaccines, and the rise in activity trackers.
12th Grade Course: Preparing for the next step. Topics include Title IX and sex discrimination, current events, consumer protection, and mindfulness to help prepare students for their post-high school lives.

Visual Arts

students develop artistic skills and unique visual voices. Students begin their journey in “Foundations of Visual Art,” a required course that introduces the elements and principles of art and design and allows individuals to explore different art materials and practices. Next, the girls have an opportunity to take additional electives in studio art, design, ceramics and photography, all of which are intended to encourage creative expression and specialization in specific art media.  Advanced Placement studio art courses are offered at the highest level, allowing students to develop a portfolio of their best work to submit for college credit. Research, design, fabrication, exhibition, analysis and critique of student and master works are all essential components of the expansive curriculum. Within each specialized course, the RPCS visual arts program promotes critical thinking, observational awareness, and the act of creating, relevant skills that carry over into all areas of study.

Performing Arts

The performing arts program at RPCS allows each student, regardless of experience, many opportunities in both performance and non-performance classes to challenge themselves creatively through individual and ensemble explorations in dance, music, and theater. As we maintain high performance standards, the focus for the students is primarily on the process. Our students discover the joy of sharing their talents collaboratively across all three divisions, while gaining a true appreciation and understanding of the arts’ importance within the school and greater community. 

Through our performing arts offerings, we have some of the best opportunities to represent the diversity of our students and community. Upper School students may select a performing arts course that meets their comfort level. Students may also audition for select performing arts ensembles: Footlights Theatre Ensemble (FTE), Roses Repertory Dance Company (Roses), and Semiquavers, our a capella group. Once students have graduated from the Upper School, they should have a preliminary understanding of the performing arts and be prepared to engage in a college- level course.

The material and repertoire in each discipline is reflective of the diverse world in which we live, and reflective of the community in which we reside. We bring the outside world in by inviting guest artists to work with our students through residencies and masterclasses. Our students travel often into the community to attend performances at local theaters, colleges/universities, and our symphony hall. We have been fortunate to hear talkbacks following many of these performances, as well as invite professionals from these venues to our classrooms. Our ensembles also engage with our community by performing at pediatric hospitals, country clubs, private businesses, and retirement centers.

College Counseling

RPCS offers a comprehensive college counseling program designed to help students at every stage of the college search, application, and decision process. Three college counselors support, guide, and educate our students as they engage in self-reflection to consider a wide variety of colleges and universities, ultimately evaluating what school will be best for them – academically, socially, and financially. We emphasize “fit” over perceived prestige. In our supportive environment, students learn to establish goals based on interests, to manage the tasks involved in a complex process, and to make healthy and confident decisions about the next step in their education. Recognizing the important role that parents play in the process, numerous programs for parents at each grade level are offered throughout the year.

Another primary role for the college counseling office is to advocate for our students and our school. We do this by hosting college representatives on our campus for fall information sessions, visiting college campuses each year to remain current on offerings and admission standards and practices, as well as to promote RPCS. We are always attentive to the relationship between our college counseling office and those of the colleges and universities that interest our students.

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Advisory

The Upper School advisory program supports the growth and development of each student. Using a collaborative approach that includes the advisory team, grade-level teachers, the student, and the school’s academic support services, our individual advisors address the needs of each student to nurture her personal development, monitor her academic progress, encourage community involvement, and foster open communication between the school and her family. By personalizing the learning process, the advisor helps each student navigate her academic program, discover her strengths and areas for growth, and become a more self-aware learner. Through advisory discussions, activities and relationships, our students learn to seek balance, advocate for themselves, make informed decisions and take responsibility for their actions. Small advisory groups promote connectedness and strive to be safe places in which to reflect upon personal values, as well as community standards.