Upper School Course Catalog
- Fine Arts
- World Languages
- History and Social Science
- Graduation Requirements
- American Drama
- American Gothic: From Poe to King
- Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Literature: A New Tradition Takes Shape (Advanced)
- Asian and Middle Eastern Literature
- The Comedic Tradition
- Creative Writing: Narrative Journalism (Advanced)
- The Harlem Renaissance
- Literature of the American World (Advanced)
- Philosophical Literature
- "Self/Service": Edges of Obligation in Literature (Advanced)
- Shakespeare and Leadership (Advanced)
- Short Fiction
In order to understand American theater history as a significant part of modern American cultural history, we will explore the ways in which theater and performance have contributed to the construction and deconstruction of an American identity. Through plays such as The Crucible, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Angels in America, this course will examine the broad social, political, religious, and cultural contexts in which American theater and performance takes place. Students will develop a vocabulary of key terms for viewing, reading, and reviewing performances and learn to identify and analyze theatrical and literary devices employed in plays and productions.
This course will survey American horror literature, exploring in particular the religious, psychological, philosophical, socio-political, and environmental forces that shaped the particular preoccupations of American writers in this genre. Students will analyze a variety of important horror texts to include works by Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Shirley Jackson, Anne Rice, Cormac McCarthy, and Stephen King with an eye toward close analysis of the texts and assessment of the past and present significance of this literature to American culture.
This course will explore several early works from the first 600 years of what eventually will become “The English Tradition.” Starting with the most significant work from the Anglo-Saxon Period, Beowulf, the course will trace the development of a distinctly British perspective on the craft of story-telling as we discuss how the stories we tell reflect the culture of the times, and the heroes we are compelled to yearn for demonstrate all that is good and, unfortunately, bad in human nature throughout the ages. Considerable time will be spent exploring the most significant story-cycle in British literature, the legend of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. We will explore life and culture in the Middle Ages with the first major poet in the English language, Geoffrey Chaucer, as we engage with his thirty pilgrims on their journey to Canterbury. Along the way, we will also have the opportunity to observe the growth and development of a new language that will eventually have significant influence on the world stage. The course will also devote some time to examining Dante’s The Inferno, though not of the English tradition, a medieval work that greatly influenced writers throughout Western Civilization to this very day.
This course will examine the complexities of what it means to “exit the Western tradition” (borrowing phrasing from Mohsin Hamid) and explore mostly contemporary texts from the Middle East and from Asia including works such as Night by Eli Wiesel, the graphic novel American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, and Herman Hesse’s Siddartha. Some of these works contemplate how characters and their authors have tried to negotiate an American identity with a history in either the Middle East or Asia, and some of these works more completely engage other regions and identities. Our analysis of these texts will be informed by historical and cultural scholarship, and we will read and write a great deal in a variety of forms.
Audiences and readers gravitate to comedy for the joy that laughter provides. But playwrights, authors, and comedians from ancient times to modernity have employed comedy for social and political purposes as well: to subvert power structures, to assert independence, and to explore issues of identity, both personal and collective. This class will incorporate works such as Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest in order to study humor in its various forms, including slapstick, farce, satire, mistaken identity, wit, tragicomedy, observation, and self-deprecation. Students will come to understand how what makes us laugh can also make us rethink our lives and the world we inhabit.
In the 1960s, several American journalists—Truman Capote and Tom Wolfe most notably—pioneered what became a new style of nonfiction writing for newspapers and magazines; literary journalism, now also called narrative journalism, combined the factual reporting with the storytelling techniques of fiction to create absolutely riveting articles and books. Participants in this course will read works of some of these pioneering writers, including John McPhee, Tom Wolfe, Joan Didion, Rachel Carson, as well as more contemporary writers like Samantha Power and Nicholas Kristof. Students will also gain experience in reporting, researching, and writing nonfiction; they will learn creative techniques that make nonfiction compelling, even as writers adhere to factual accuracy; and they will explore the ethical issues facing journalists today in a rapidly changing media landscape.
This multidisciplinary course will examine the literature, music, dance, and art of the 1920s in Harlem, where the “New Negro” was born. The artistic energy in this period revitalized black artists who flocked to New York City to collaborate and create. While this course will focus primarily on the literary works of black American writers, such as Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Bennett, Claude McKay, and W.E.B. DuBois, it will also cover visual artists, such as Sargent Johnson, Augusta Savage, and Palmer Hayden, as well as musicians, including Chick Webb, Duke Ellington, and Fats Waller. Students will also learn dances popular with the regulars at the Savoy Ballroom, a popular dance club among blacks and whites, such as the Lindy Hop and the Charleston. The aim of this course is to expose students to the remarkable art created in this fertile time and place by American blacks and to examine their influences on subsequent artists in America and beyond.
Go West, young Bulldogs! This course examines the literary tradition of the American West and its contemporary manifestations. Core to the course is the belief that the West is characterized by frontier mythology, vast distances, marked aridity, and unique political and economic characteristics. To this end, we will examine themes fundamental to understanding the region, such as: time, geography, water, peoples, and boom and bust cycles through works including Larry McMurty’s Lonesome Dove, Willa Cather’s My Antonia, and David Grann’s Killers of the Flower Moon.
In this course we will consider the ways that literature has registered and furthered some of the most inviting and challenging questions ever posed by philosophers. Our course will begin with a study of ethics, the most applied and perhaps most practical branch of philosophy, and then continue to think about issues of justice, consciousness, metaphysics, and truth. Major thinkers to be considered alongside our readings will be Plato, Kant, Spinoza, Hume, Nietzsche, Freud, Sartre, Arendt, and many others. Shorter works by writers such as Dostoyevsky, Kafka, Borges, Beckett, and others will supplement our literary works. If time allows, films such as Waking Life and The Examined Life will also further illuminate our work with these complex ideas. Many written assignments will help students grapple with our literary texts as well as with the profound questions of philosophy.
At the center of this course is a question that’s both practical and philosophical: What is our obligation to serve the society we inhabit, and what should be the limits of that obligation? Students will soon discover fundamental differences in how members of disparate cultures regard a person’s place in society and the relative significance of a human life. This course will expand students’ historical and cultural understanding of values like purpose and duty, freedom and country and will include works such as The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro and Prima Levi’s Survival in Auschwitz (If This is a Man). If history teaches that human existence should not merely be a means of serving institutions with their own agendas, and independence matters more than conformity, what are the dangers of seeking personal fulfillment, and how should collective needs factor into a person’s life decisions?
Leadership is an elusive, even vexing concept, yet through literature and the examination of dramatic characters we will attempt to elucidate it. The centerpiece of the course will be Aeschylus’s Oresteia and three Shakespeare plays – Henry IV (Part One); Hamlet; and King Lear – four plays we will study and use to explore dimensions of leadership:
1) Preparing, forming, and readying leaders;
2) Imitating, emulating, and creating leadership styles;
3) Consensus building – cultivating and building trust;
4) Managing opposition, change, and reconciliation;
5) Interior of a leader – self-knowledge, success, and failure;
6) Irony in leadership – public appearances and private realities.
During the course, we will also read lyric verse, memorize poems, and discuss grammatical/syntactical constructions to deepen appreciation and understanding not only of poetry but also of our native tongue.
This course will focus on the short story as a literary form that, on the one hand, can present plot and characterization at the simplest and most realistic of levels, yet on the other hand, powerfully convey truths about the human condition. Our primary source will be the anthology The Art of the Short Story, which contains works by 52 recognized masters of the genre from countries all over the world, but we will focus much of our attention on American writers of the past century. As we explore the short fiction of the past 100 years in a roughly chronological fashion, we will also be tracing the development of the culture and consciousness of our country and contemporary society as it has been shaped by the accelerating change of the modern era. In addition to the primary texts, we will supplement our study with additional stories from such masters of the genre as Ambrose Bierce, Shirley Jackson, Ernest Hemingway, Dorothy Parker, Flannery O’Connor, Langston Hughes, John Cheever, Raymond Carver, John Updike, Eudora Welty, and numerous others. We will also use critical writings from Norfolk Academy’s rich store of electronic and print resources to enhance our understanding of and appreciation for the impressionistic power of the short story.
- Drama - Fall/Spring Play
- Drama - Winter Musical
- Jazz Band
- Art History I
- Art History II
- Athletic Broadcasting
- Broadcasting and Communications
- Film Studies I
- Film Studies II
- Film Studies III
- Studio Art I
- Studio Art 2A and 2B
- Studio Art III
Dance Team is a performing ensemble for students in grades 7–12 that challenges the novice and the experienced dancer in the idioms of classical ballet, modern dance, jazz, hip-hop, pointe, musical theatre, and tap. Pilates, conditioning, and the opportunities to work with guest choreographers are also features of the dance program. During the winter, the Dance Team is an integral part of the Winter Musical. Students may enroll in each season as an after-school opportunity.
Theater Arts (fall and spring season) are open to student actors—with or without previous experience—as well as those interested in the behind-the-scenes aspect of drama. The stage crafts include lighting, sound, set design, costume design, special effects, and stage management. Students may enroll in each season as an after-school opportunity. Recent Norfolk Academy productions include The Miracle Worker and Our Town.
Open tryouts are offered for all students interested in participating in the creation of the Winter Musical. Students participate in all aspects of creating, developing, rehearsing and performing in a large Broadway-style musical. Recent Norfolk Academy productions include Once Upon a Mattress, The Wizard of Oz, and Seussical. Students may enroll in the musical as an after-school opportunity.
Make harmony with others! The yearlong course in choral music is for singers at all levels of experience interested in making music in classical and popular styles. Students will perform at the winter and spring concerts and have the opportunity to audition for District 2 Chorus, a selective group comprised of students from Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and the Eastern Shore. With the directors consent, singers with ability and the desire for a challenge may form small groups and work a capella! (Note: Choral music and instrmental music classes meet during the same bell. Students may select one or both.)
Jazz Band allows brass, wind, piano, guitar, and bass students a chance to study and perform different styles of jazz as well as the opportunity to improvise! Students will perform at the winter and spring concerts and have opportunities to perform at school functions throughout the year. Participation in the Virginia Association of Independent Schoos and the Virginia Band and Orchestra Directors Association competitions and festivals are options for playing outside of school. (Note: Choral music and instrumental music classes meet during the same bell. Students may select one or both.)
String musicians will have the opportunity to develop and hone their technique through studying music of all styles. Improvisation and alternative bowing techniques can be studied as well! Students will perform at the winter and spring concerts and have opportunities to perform at school functions throughout the year. Participation in the Virginia Band and Orchestra Directors Association events are open to qualified string players interested in performing outside of school. For musicians interested in a greater challenge, chamber music ensembles may be formed with the consent of the director. (Note: Choral music and instrumental music classes meet during the same bell. Students may select one or both.)
Art History I surveys a selection of sculpture, painting, and architecture in the Western tradition, from prehistoric caves to Early Renaissance masterpieces. Students participate each day in guided discussions of artworks. Various assessments gauge recognition and recall of artworks and vocabulary while fostering critical thinking and sound writing skills. Qualified students are encouraged to prepare outside of class, with the teacher’s guidance, for the Art History Advanced Placement Examination.
Art History II surveys a selection of sculpture, painting, and architecture in the Western tradition, from Romanesque Art to contemporary masterpieces. Students participate each day in guided discussions of artworks. Various assessments gauge recognition and recall of artworks and vocabulary while fostering critical thinking and sound writing skills. Qualified students are encouraged to prepare outside of class, with the teacher’s guidance, for the Art History Advanced Placement Examination.
Are you the next great sportscaster, or do you just enjoy watching your classmates score that winning goal? Either way, athletic broadcasting is a great way for you to make a big impact on the school. You will learn how to film sporting events, the correct way to commentate, and how to operate the computer or audio mixer to control our live-streaming coverage of varsity sports. The NA-TV team works at most home varsity games to provide coverage and a public face for Norfolk Academy to the community, our parents, grandparents, friends, and potential college coaches. Each week there is a scheduling meeting where broadcast assignments are made; usually students can pick and choose the games they want to cover unless the team is extremely busy on a particular day. The broadcasting team is open to all students in grades 9–12 and runs for each athletic season, after school, as a separate team. If students complete the requirements for working on NA-TV for two seasons, they will earn a ½ arts credit towards graduation.
This course engulfs students in contemporary journalism including social media, and it asks that students truly examine their own media consumption. Students learn communications theory, history, and broadcasting history as well as social media and the impact of media on society. Students will read and write critiques of contemporary news stories, as well as monitor their media consumption in addition to writing news stories for a short-form newscast. The class will develop a television podcast to demonstrate their understanding of social media and its impact on their everyday lives.
In Film Studies I, students trace the evolution of the moving image from the earliest shadow shows to contemporary film. Students explore the critical elements and the seminal innovators who have contributed to the artistic and technical developments of film. Offering hands-on experience in filmmaking with an emphasis on writing, editing, and directing, this course aims to present students with a broad introduction to the world of film.
Film Studies II is designed for the student who has completed Film Studies I and seeks to develop more advanced filmmaking and editing techniques with a stronger emphasis on writing, camera techniques, and photography. Students enjoy greater access to technology and have the opportunity to explore special effects and cinema techniques in the areas of lighting design, props, green screen projection, composition, and public service announcements (PSA).
This course is designed for the accomplished student who has completed Film Studies II and who seeks to develop more advanced filmmaking and editing techniques with a stronger emphasis on writing. Students enjoy greater access to technology and have the opportunity to explore special effects and cinema techniques in the areas of lighting design, props, rear-screen and blue-screen projection, composition, and stop-motion animation.
Studio I is for students who are interested in the practical experience of art. Designed as a yearlong survey of the basic disciplines of a studio artist, the course is organized into the four traditional artistic disciplines of drawing, printmaking, painting, and sculpture. In addition to these disciplines, students will also be exposed to the cultural, historical, and stylistic traditions in art. Students will learn through studio work and through critical analysis during class critiques. Periodically students will have to perform a formal written critical analysis utilizing lessons in aesthetics and critical theory. By the end of this course, a student will have the foundation necessary to begin an individual line of artistic exploration in subsequent art courses.
Offered as two semester-long courses, Studio 2A and 2B are designed to be an ongoing investigation of the student’s choice, with the instructors assisting the students to continue developing their technical skills in relationship to their own creative voice. It can be taken as a one-semester course, but for students who are interested in Studio III, it is strongly recommended to take both semesters in order to fully develop ideas. Both of these semester courses expand on the skills and knowledge acquired during Studio I and are aimed at introducing students to the methods of a working artist and to the development of independent artistic practice. Each student will be challenged to find his or her own artistic voice with the help of two teachers, three studio classrooms, curated group critiques, and individualized attention. By the conclusion of the course, each student should be prepared to create a college-level portfolio that demonstrates a high degree of artistic excellence and an ability to pursue individual artistic ideas.
Studio III is designed for students who are seriously interested in the practical experience of art. The course is organized into two distinct lines of exploration: that of teacher-driven assignments (the breadth) and that of independent practice (the concentration). Students are encouraged to explore a personal, central interest as intensely as possible; they are free to work with any idea in any medium that addresses design issues. Critiques, a common structure in the college classroom, are important in this course as well. Group and individual critiques enable students to analyze their own work and help to bring new perspectives to their peers' work. Ongoing critical analysis, through individual critiques, facilitates student and teacher assessments of strengths and weaknesses in the studio. In addition, art books, web resources, and various forms of investigation, interaction, and gallery visits provide important examples for the serious study of art.
The school’s yearbook is a scheduled activity, carried out over two years, for which students may earn a fine arts credit. Yearbook staff not only exercise creative control over the yearbook’s theme and layout but they also learn lessons in photography, graphic arts, copy editing and publications production, skills which are applicable to the professional world after high school. Students also have the ability to learn some skills in Photo Shop and to hone in on page design which includes spacing, template design, and journalism. The production of the yearbook is a two-year commitment.
- French I
- French II
- French III
- French IV
- French V
- German I
- German II
- German III
- German IV
- German V
- Latin IV/V
- Spanish I
- Spanish II
- Spanish III
- Spanish IV
- Spanish V
French I students will begin acquiring the necessary vocabulary and foundational grammar concepts to build to the A1 level–the first benchmark of fluency set by the Common European Framework of Reference for Language (CEFR). Students will also explore francophone cultures from around the world–Europe, the Americas, Africa, and Asia. These units draw on the social sciences, the humanities, and the fine and performing arts to bolster language learning and enrich students’ understanding of other cultures.
In this course, students continue to develop their skills in speaking, listening, reading, and writing. The year begins with a review of the grammar covered in French I; the course then moves on to other important grammatical concepts, such as past tenses and direct and indirect object pronouns. Vocabulary focuses on words and expressions useful for short compositions. Cultural studies explore France and the rest of the francophone world, including the French-speaking nations of Africa and the Caribbean. The course is pitched to match the A1/A2 level of the CEFR.
This course builds upon grammar learned in the first two years, with a strong focus on sentence structure and syntax. New vocabulary is introduced in concert with a review of more fundamental words. After only two years of a foreign language, students’ budding speaking skills need enhancement. Once students enter the classroom, they must speak in French, engendering a fertile atmosphere where, surrounded by a constant flow of French sounds and words, students cultivate their listening skills. In addition to speaking and listening, a stronger emphasis is placed on students’ ability to read in a foreign language. As often as possible, authentic French items reinforce language learned and stimulate enthusiasm to learn more. Students are encouraged to participate in the French international exchange program during Maymester. The course is pitched to match the A2 level of the CEFR.
Since repetition is the maxim of foreign language learning, fourth-year French strives to reinforce all grammar learned in the previous three years: all parts of speech, all verb conjugations, and all syntactical structures. Taking advantage of students’ elevated reading skills, the class explores a variety of texts, including a play, short stories, and newspaper and magazine articles. Students are introduced to culture in the form of film, art, and other reading selections whose topics are exclusively focused on French behaviors and practices. Magazine advertisements and board games help students improve their extemporaneous speaking skills. The course is pitched to match the B1 level of the CEFR.
In French V, students are asked to build up their lexicon with words drawn from today's world (environment, technology, politics, etc.) and to gain quicker access to words and grammar that they already know. Improving one's speaking and writing is paramount. In addition, audio excerpts from radio and TV programs and reading selections from newspaper articles serve to guide the student as he or she gains fluency. In addition, students read a contemporary novel and play, Robert des Noms Propres, and Le Dieu du Carnage, respectively.
Throughout the year, students learn about French and francophone culture through guest speakers and authentic material. Highlights include learning about France's educational system and political way of life.
The course is geared to align with the CEFR level B1/B2, and students are expected to sit for the Advanced Placement French Language and Culture Examination in May. Activities done throughout the year prepare students for that test.
This course is an introduction to the language and the culture of modern-day Germany. Students begin the class by learning the basic vocabulary necessary to sustain an ordinary conversation, and, throughout the year, use audio, video, software, and texts to enhance their listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. Students learn to conjugate regular and irregular verbs, understand gender and case, acquire vocabulary, and talk with peers in German about their lives and interests: school; sports and activities; leisure time; entertainment; family and friends; and celebrations. German is the primary language spoken in class. The course is pitched to match the A1 level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).
In German II, students build upon their beginner knowledge of German by learning the vocabulary and situational awareness necessary to engage in conversations about travel through, and daily life in, Germany. Grammatical study becomes more sophisticated, including a greater variety of verb tenses, the introduction of adjective endings, and more complicated syntactical structures. Regular assessments test vocabulary acquisition, listening and reading comprehension, and written and oral expression. Other projects include group presentations and short skits. The course and its textbook adhere to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). By the course’s end, students are more than halfway through the A2 (advanced beginner) level.
This course builds upon the strong foundation in vocabulary and grammar from German II, and its focus is to continue to improve the student’s ability to effectively communicate in authentic situations, particularly in preparation for the German exchange in June, in which many students will take part. In the first half of the year, students will review and expand on important grammar topics and will work on written and spoken interpersonal communications, including answering letters and giving short presentations. In the second half, students are introduced to important new grammatical structures, including the subjunctive and the passive voice, and discuss topics of common concern to all young people including technology and environmental protection. Students are also introduced to German culture and literature by reading poems; by the end of the year, they progress to short stories and several films. The course and its textbook adhere to CEFR. By the course’s end, students have begun to work through the CEFR intermediate level (B1) and are encouraged to participate in the German international exchange program during Maymester in preparation for more intense study next year.
The course will focus on the four skills required in every language: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. We will practice listening and speaking as the two most important skills. The main objective of the course is to teach students to communicate in German (understand and respond appropriately in the language) in a host of real-life situations. Put simply, it is our goal to learn to understand and speak the language. To that end, we will use only German in class. Students’ determination to contribute in German will accelerate, enhance, and enrich each individual’s learning of the language. The course is pitched to match the B1 level of the CEFR.
This capstone course improves a student’s mastery of the four language skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing through practice with more advanced grammatical topics, vocabulary study, and extensive reading and analysis of modern short stories, poems, a play and a literary detective novel. Students enhance language skills through the literature, and all classes are conducted in German. Students take turns as the discussion leader of an assigned piece of reading. Class participation is essential in the course, and it is a major factor in graded assessments. Most students elect to take the Advanced Placement Examination at the end of the year. The course is pitched to match the B1/B2 level of the CEFR.
In Latin IV/V, students study the authors whose works are required for the Advanced Placement Examination. Those authors, Julius Caesar and Vergil, are taught in alternating years. This course moves beyond the basic mechanics of the Latin language into the realm of literary analysis. In the process, students will study the vocabulary, grammar, rhetoric, history, and cultural background necessary to understand, critically analyze, and write about the text.
In Latin IV/V Caesar, students read many selections from Julius Caesar’s Commentarii De Bello Gallico in Latin and then read additional selections in English. With Caesar's text as a basis, students will examine topics including Caesar's role as narrator, the rationale behind Roman expansion into Gaul, the military strategies used to achieve this, the lives of Roman soldiers and their adversaries, and examples of leadership on both sides of the conflict. In doing so, students will gain a greater understanding of Julius Caesar as a literary figure, a military leader, a politician, and eventually a catalyst for the political upheaval that led to Rome's shift from Republic to Empire in the 1st century BCE.
In Latin IV/V Vergil, students will read selections from Vergil’s Aeneid in Latin and then read the entire work in English. While students spend the majority of the year reading, translating, and discussing Vergil, students will also read authors of Rome’s Golden Age, a time during which the Emperor Augustus cultivated support for literature and art, and the Roman Empire largely enjoyed a period of peace (the so-called pax romana). In doing so, students will gain a deeper understanding of the literary milieu and socio-historical context in which Vergil composed his epic about Aeneas' legendary journey from Troy to found Rome.
Spanish I introduces the basics of grammar and vocabulary with an emphasis on the development of listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. Activities include simple conversations, compositions, games, interviews, and oral presentations. In addition, cross-cultural understanding is fostered and real-life applications are emphasized. The objective of this course is to enable students to acquire an advanced novice level of proficiency through a fun, communicative, and cultural approach to language learning. The course is pitched to match the A1 level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).
This intermediate course reinforces the concepts and vocabulary taught in Spanish I and adds several new verb tenses, including the imperfect, as well as the imperative mood. Students will dramatically increase their Spanish vocabulary as well as their listening, reading, and oral communication skills. Class participation is encouraged to increase fluency. The course is pitched to match the A1/A2 level of the CEFR.
Taught exclusively in Spanish, this course is a continuation in the study of the language that broadens the ability to communicate with ease. Oral communication is very important in Spanish III , and students are encouraged to speak as much as possible in class. Participation in the Spanish international exchange program during Maymester is encouraged. Students learn more detailed forms of the subjunctive and begin studying Hispanic literature. The course is pitched to match the A2 level of the CEFR.
This course refines and enhances the listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills gained from the first three years of language study. Students explore more sophisticated aspects of selected grammar topics. In addition to grammar, students will read for linguistic value and insight into the history, culture, and customs of Spain and Latin America. The course is pitched to match the B1 level of the CEFR.
This capstone course improves students’ mastery of the language and allows students to engage in meaningful, authentic, and independent communication. As the course progresses, students will be able to understand genuine texts and native speech, deal with most situations in a Spanish-speaking country, produce texts on a variety of topics, and orally describe their experiences and opinions. Students will also discuss advanced grammar and cultural themes through their study of literature from Latin America and Spain. Students are encouraged to sit for the Advanced Placement Spanish Language and Culture Examination in May. The course is pitched to match the B1/B2 level of the CEFR.
- Alternate History
- International Relations I
- International Relations II
- Introduction to World Religions
- Latin American History
- Political Science Grade 12 (Two semesters required)
- American Government (Required)
- American Political Foundations
- Constitutional Law
- Nationalism in the Modern World
- U.S. History (Required)
- Western Civilization
This semester-long elective course for juniors and seniors investigates the nature of causality in history. Students learn how random elements interrelate with broad trends to produce the world in which we live and the future that we will confront. The course also addresses the plasticity of historical interpretation and the role the past plays in influencing subsequent events. Students examine a number of fictional alternate histories and historical interpretations of "real" events in European and American history. For their final project, each student chooses a turning-point historical event and imagines an alternate scenario; the student then researches and writes a formal paper on the event and its impact. To enroll, students must have completed Western Civilization.
This elective course for 11th and 12th graders focuses primarily on microeconomics, with some exploration of macroeconomic theories. Students develop a thorough understanding of economic principles that apply to the decisions of both consumers and producers within the larger economic system. The course places primary emphasis on the nature and functions of product markets; it includes the study of factor markets and of the role of government in promoting greater efficiency and equity in the economy. Qualified students may elect to take the Advanced Placement Examination.
This semester-long, elective course focuses on the recent history, and current state, of world politics. Subjects that receive special emphasis include East Asia, especially China, Japan, and the Koreas; the Indo-Pakistani conflict; the Persian Gulf; the Arab-Israeli conflict; the rise of terrorism; and decolonization, civil war, and development in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition to this general material, students in the course will also closely follow current events in world politics. This course is offered every other year, alternating with International Relations II. To enroll, students must have completed or be concurrently enrolled in Western Civilization.
This semester-long, elective course focusing on the recent history, and current state, of world politics. Subjects that receive special emphasis include Russia, the European Union, the U.S. national security apparatus, and the recent U.S. wars in South Asia and the Middle East. In addition to this general material, students will also closely follow current events in world politics. This course is offered every other year, alternating with International Relations I. To enroll, students must have completed or be concurrently enrolled in Western Civilization.
Introduction to World Religions is a semester-long, elective course that seeks to expose students to the histories, varieties, and value systems of the major world religions. Included for special attention are Buddhism, Jainism, Confucianism, Daoism, Shinto, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Significant, although smaller, faiths (e.g. Sikhism, Baha’i, and primitive or indigenous religions) receive proportionate attention. This course seeks not to compare or judge religious faiths, but rather to familiarize students with different belief and faith systems. Students complete a semester project that involves either authoring a critical response to a controversial book, researching an answer to a prosposed question, or creating artwork that reflects an aspect of the religions studied in class.
This semester-long, elective course for juniors and seniors presents a broad overview of the history and cultures of the Western Hemisphere south of the United States, beginning with pre-Columbian civilizations and ending with contemporary political and social issues. It provides a chronological narrative of major events and personalities throughout the region, stressing political as well as social and cultural trends. In particular, the course addresses United States foreign policy and those countries most associated with it, such as Mexico and Cuba. Students prepare a formal research project, which may be a paper showing how a selected work of fiction reflects historical themes, a traditional research paper on a chosen topic, or an artistic or cultural presentation. To enroll, students must have completed or be concurrently enrolled in Western Civilization.
“We aim to prepare students to become useful and responsible citizens of a democracy.” ~Norfolk Academy Statement of Philosophy
These senior semester courses occupy a very important place not only in the History and Social Sciences curriculum, but also within the pedagogical philosophy of the school as a whole, which aims to produce the citizen-scholars necessary to maintaining the health of our American democracy. Equally, if not more importantly, these courses will provide students with opportunities to further cultivate the habits of mind requisite to the exercise of responsible citizenship and civic engagement. We hope that this study of political theory and practice will kindle a life-long dedication to serving our communities–local, national, and global. Finally, these courses challenge seniors to continue developing their abilities to exercise responsible rhetoric in both the spoken and written word, to engage in respectful and productive dialogue with others, to work cooperatively to achieve goals, and other critical thinking skills necessary to succeed at the college level.
All seniors must choose one of three, first semester courses–American Political Foundations, Constitutional Law or Nationalism in the Modern World–before completing the capstone course in American Government during the second semester.
The following four semester courses make up the Political Science course selections: American Government (Required), American Political Foundations, Constitutional Law, Nationalism in the Modern World.
This second-semester, required capstone course for seniors will introduce the fundamental principles of American government, political processes, and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. Proceeding from an understanding of the Constitution, we will examine the key institutions, roles, and behaviors through which our American democracy operates, including Congress, the Presidency, the federal bureaucracy, and the courts; political parties and elections; public policy; and civil rights and civil liberties. By developing greater fluency in political language and concepts, students will develop a better understanding of the different perspectives that shape the American political landscape and prepare themselves to take part in it.
This first-semester course for seniors guides students to discover the philosophical underpinnings that helped build a fledgling nation into the strongest, democratic republic in modern history. Students will sample philosophy, psychology, history, and political science as they discover their own political selves and how they fit into the American political system. Topics include the meaning and function of politics; philosophical understandings of human nature; political socialization and public opinion; American political culture and beliefs; and constitutional foundations.
This first-semester course for seniors is an in-depth study of the Supreme Court's rules on speech, press, privacy, searches, and much more. The course covers how our Constitution operates and how the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th, 10th, and 14th Amendments are protections for everyone. In the end, students will understand how the decisions of the nation’s highest court impact their own lives. In Constitutional Law, students will learn to understand our nation's founding documents, explore precedent-setting Supreme Court cases, and tackle difficult questions about what the Founding Fathers really intended. Students will also build a foundation for evaluating future judicial decisions based on Supreme Court precedent.
This first-semester course for seniors adopts a global perspective on the modern era through the thematic lens of nationalism. Arguably the most potent and plastic ideological force of the past two and a half centuries, nationalism has transformed the face of the world by creating a new form of human identity and political organization. It has proven itself capable of building new states while destroying others, inspiring movements for both liberation and conquest, and justifying both inclusion and exclusion at the same time. Students will trace the evolution of nationalism from its intellectual roots in the late eighteenth century to its post-Cold War revival, and evaluate competing theories posed by scholars in various disciplines. Through case studies drawn from across the globe, we will explore the role of nationalism as an agent not only of political change, but social, economic, and cultural change as well.
This is a full-year, elective course for juniors and seniors interested in studying introductory psychology at the college level, and for those preparing to take the Psychology Advanced Placement Examination. The course provides an overview of psychology from both the social science and natural science perspectives. First-semester lectures, readings, and films will focus on the history of, and approaches to, the study of psychology, research methods, biological bases of behavior, sensation and perception, states of consciousness, learning, cognition, motivation, and emotion. Second semester topics include issues in human development, personality theory, testing and individual differences, abnormal behavior, treatment of abnormal behavior, and social psychology.
This required course for eleventh-grade students covers the nation’s political, social, and economic history from initial European expansion to the present day. Interpretations of primary and secondary readings and class discussions comprise key components of the course. Students develop and sharpen analytical and writing skills through the strategic use of available technology and through a culminating term paper or project devoted to solving an American historical problem using extensive research and formal citations. Accomplished students may elect to take the U. S. History Advanced Placement Examination, but the syllabus does not adhere to the AP curriculum.
This elective course for tenth-grade students takes a largely chronological approach to Western Civilization from the origins of Greek Humanism and Christianity through the present. Areas of emphasis include political developments and theories, economic patterns, social trends, cultural trends, and Western interactions with the wider world. Through readings, lectures, and discussions, students are exposed to a variety of historical interpretations and primary sources. This course emphasizes the acquisition of fundamental historical thinking skills that are the foundation for further historical study in the Upper School.
- Advanced Statistics
- Advanced Topics in Math
- Algebra II (Required)
- Algebra II BC
- Calculus AB
- Calculus BC
- Computer Science
- Pre-Calculus (Required)
- Pre-Calculus BC
This one-semester course is open to those students who have completed or are currently taking Calculus AB or BC. This course adheres to the AP Statistics syllabus and is designed to prepare students to sit for the Statistics Advanced Placement Examination which can garner them credit for a university-level, one-semester statistics course, depending on the score earned.
This course provides a continuation and extension of the basic algebraic concepts from Algebra I and Geometry. Students discuss, represent, and solve increasingly sophisticated real-world problems using advanced algebraic and graphing techniques. Incorporating appropriate technology (a graphing calculator or computer), they study the properties and the algebra of functions, systems of equations and inequalities, as well as applied trigonometry. Algebra II provides a sound understanding of all elementary functions from linear through trigonometric, and explores sequences, series and matrices, determinants, and conics.
Algebra II BC is an intensive, accelerated course intended for the accomplished student with the proven motivation to prepare for advanced mathematics courses. This course provides students with a sound understanding of all elementary functions, from linear functions through the trigonometric and circular functions, and explores sequences, series, limits, matrices and determinants, data analysis, and probability. Students are recommended for this course based on their previous performance in Algebra I, Geometry, the best PSAT on record and their teacher’s recommendation.
This twelfth-grade course is for students who have successfully completed Pre-Calculus and would like to explore the major concepts of calculus in high school. Students review essential pre-calculus topics before progressing to the study of limits, the derivative, and the foundations of differential and integral calculus, and apply these topics to business, economics, and the biological sciences. Preparing students for the Advanced Placement Examination is not a goal of this course.
Calculus AB is a course in single variable calculus that includes techniques and applications of the derivative, the definite integral, and the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus. This senior-level course is equivalent to at least a semester of calculus at most colleges and universities. Students master algebraic, numerical, and graphical representations throughout the course. To shift the emphasis from mere computation to a deeper understanding of concepts, students use a graphing calculator. Students must exhibit a willingness to work both in and out of class, a willingness to collaborate with classmates to foster mutual understanding, and a sincere intent to place out of first-semester college calculus by scoring well on the Advanced Placement Examination. A Pre-Calculus grade of at least 95 and a Math SAT of at least 630 are required to take Calculus AB.
Calculus BC is a course in single variable calculus that includes all the topics of Calculus AB plus additional content in differential and integral calculus (including parametric, polar, and vector functions) and series. This course is equivalent to at least a year of calculus at most colleges and universities. Students master algebraic, numerical, and graphical representations throughout the course. A graphing calculator is used so that students might identify and elaborate upon the connections among various representations of functions. In the second semester, students make extensive use of an elementary Computer Algebra System (CAS) to deepen their understanding of the calculus of vector and polar functions. Students must exhibit a willingness to work both in and out of class, a willingness to collaborate with classmates to foster mutual understanding, and a sincere intent to place out of first-year college calculus by scoring well on the Advanced Placement Examination.
This is an introductory course in computer science for students hoping to take the Computer Science A Advanced Placement Examination. Topics include computer systems, object-oriented program design concepts and implementation, classes, strings, arrays, recursion, data structures, and analysis of algorithms. Standard Java classes and methods will be used as students develop Java applications.
The Pre-Calculus course completes the formal study of the elementary functions begun in Algebra I and continued in Algebra II, including polynomial, power, rational, exponential and logarithmic functions. Students use mathematical modeling skills to study and apply trigonometric functions and rely on technology for units that cover data analysis, the natural exponential and natural logarithmic function, circular functions, and trigonometric inverses and identities. Concepts of trigonometry extend to the study of complex numbers. Additional content includes parametric equations, limits, and continuity.
Pre-calculus BC is designed to prepare students who have a passion for math high achievement in previous math classes for integral calculus. This rigorous course extends the concepts of intermediate algebra and introduces various topics of college algebra and calculus. Pre-calculus BC topics include a detailed study of functions and their graphs, a review of polynomial, power and rational functions, a look at the theory of equations, and an investigation of the exponential, logarithmic, and logistic functions. Additional content includes trigonometric functions and analytic trigonometry, analytic geometry, parametric equations, discrete mathematics, limits, continuity, and differential calculus.
This course develops educated producers and consumers of statistics. Students explore basic descriptive and inferential statistics, engage in the exploratory analysis of data, and make use of graphical and numerical techniques to study patterns and departures from patterns. They test mathematical conjectures about relationships among variables by using published data sets or data sets collected through means of statistical inference. Students use models to draw conclusions from data, and then test the durability of particular mathematical models through the use of inferential statistics. This course is non-calculus based and may be taken after or concurrently with pre-calculus.
- Advanced Anatomy & Physiology
- Advanced Biology
- Advanced Chemistry
- Advanced Physics - C
- Chemistry (Required)
- Ecosystem Dynamics
- Organic Chemistry
- Physics 1B
- Physics 2B
Advanced Anatomy & Physiology employs a systemic approach to the study of anatomy and physiology and is intended for high-achieving students interested in pre-health fields. Students will learn both gross and microscopic anatomy of major body systems: skeletal, muscular, nervous, cardiovascular, digestive, respiratory, and reproductive. Students will engage in lectures, laboratories, dissections, and gain exposure to medical connections within each unit. Laboratories will explore sports physiology, nutritional impacts on the body, and employ engineering and design principles in the construction of support braces. Successful completion of Advanced Biology, Advanced Inorganic Chemistry, or Organic Chemistry is required for this course.
This course explores the fundamental concepts of living systems from a molecular point of view. A goal of this course is to convey the importance of science (specifically biological research) to everyday life. Students master the many facets of DNA, including current research techniques and related ethical issues. Laboratory work heightens creative and problem-solving abilities. Accomplished students are encouraged to take the Biology Advanced Placement Examination at the end of the year. Successful completion of Chemistry and completion of or concurrent enrollment in Physics is required to take Advanced Biology as a junior.
The primary goal of Advanced Chemistry is to help students prepare for their university experience; therefore, this course explores many areas of chemistry including atomic structure, states of matter, solution chemistry, thermochemistry, kinetics, equilibrium, acid/base, and redox. Advanced Chemistry is a problem-based learning environment where students will use a variety of presentation tools to explain and solve problems in today’s society. Students will perform a variety of labs that will introduce them to basic laboratory procedures and equipment that will be central to a science experience in a college laboratory. Students will also read and evaluate professional scientific journals. This course is offered every other year alternating with Organic Chemistry. Students should be well prepared to take the SAT II Subject Test and Advanced Placement Examination if they elect to do so.
Advanced Physics – C is a calculus-based, second-year, physics course. It provides a quantitative look at the concepts covered in Physics 1B along with magnetism. Students will use calculus and extended laboratory investigations to develop their understanding of forces, energy, waves, and circuits. As needed, students will be introduced to basic concepts of multivariable calculus, vector calculus, and differential equations. Students will have the opportunity to create their own lab twice during the year to investigate concepts of particular interest to them. This course prepares students for the Physics C Mechanics and the Physics C Electromagnetism Advanced Placement Examinations. Students must have completed or be concurrently enrolled in Calculus BC in addition to completing Physics 1B with an average of 92 or higher to enroll in this course.
As the central science, chemistry provides students with an understanding of the why of biology and the what of physics. In this class, students discover the forces of nature that govern the universe and encounter the composition and behavior of matter and its interaction with energy. In addition to developing an appreciation for chemistry, students observe natural phenomena through empirical study and draw conclusions about what they have seen. Class time is divided into lecture, problem-solving, and laboratory exploration of basic chemical principles. Students master measurement, periodic trends of the elements, the modern view of the atomic and molecular structure, balancing chemical equations, stoichiometry, chemical nomenclature, the laws governing gas behavior, solutions chemistry, phase changes and reaction enthalpy, equilibrium, and how to recognize and predict various kinds of reactions including acid/base and oxidation-reduction.
Ecosystem Dynamics will explore the physical, chemical and biological components of a variety of ecosystems with emphasis on the Chesapeake Bay. Through an intense, hands-on approach, students will develop an appreciation for the complexity and interconnectedness of ecosystem structures and how human activities influence ecosystems. Emphasis will be interdisciplinary and focus on scientific methodology, research studies and primary literature reviews of essential topics. The main goal of this course is for the student to be more responsible for their natural environs and be able to recognize and properly respond to current environmental issues that influence their community.
Organic Chemistry is designed for select juniors and seniors who plan to pursue an area of college study in the medical, biomedical engineering, or chemical engineering fields. In the first semester, the course will provide a rigorous introduction to the basic concepts of a college-level, introductory organic chemistry course, including drawing bond line diagrams, structure and function of major functional groups, chemical nomenclature, reaction mechanisms, and instrumental analysis. The second semester will take a hands-on approach to understanding how the structure and function of nutrition, medicine, and drugs impact the major systems of the human body. This course is offered every other year, alternating with Advanced Chemistry.
The physics course provides an introduction to the main principles of physics, which is modeled on the College Board’s Physics 1 curriculum: “an algebra-based, introductory college-level physics course that explores topics such as Newtonian mechanics (including rotational motion); work, energy, and power; mechanical waves and sound; and introductory, simple circuits.” Through inquiry-based learning, students will develop scientific critical thinking and reasoning skills. We will also explore the history of natural philosophy, astronomy, cosmology, and other topics as time allows, and emphasize the development of problem-solving ability. Knowledge of algebra and basic trigonometry is necessary.
Physics 1B is an algebra-based course, equivalent to a first-semester college physics course. It provides a qualitative understanding of physics fundamentals for the humanities-oriented student and a foundation for students interested in the applied sciences, medicine, engineering and the more mathematically rigorous courses offered at the college level. It is conducted using an inquiry-based strategy that focuses on experimentation to develop a student’s conceptual understanding of the fundamental principles and theories of general physics. The course covers Newtonian mechanics (including rotational dynamics and angular momentum); work, energy, and power; and mechanical waves and sound. It will also provide an introduction to electrostatics and electric circuits. This course prepares students for the Physics 1 Advanced Placement Examination.
Physics 2B is a second-year, algebra-based course equivalent to a second-semester, college course for students interested in the applied sciences, engineering, medicine and the more mathematically rigorous courses offered at the college level. It too is conducted using an inquiry-based strategy that focuses on experimentation to further develop a student’s conceptual understanding of the fundamental principles and theories of general physics. The course covers fluid mechanics; thermodynamics; electricity and magnetism; optics; and atomic and nuclear physics. The course is designed for students enrolled in Calculus AB or BC as seniors.
Students are required to earn at least 20.5 credits in grades 9-12.
Listed below are minimum subject requirements. Most students elect to pursue additional advanced coursework.
Foreign Language (3)
Laboratory Science (2)
Social Science (3)
Academic Electives (3)
Fine Arts (1)
Physical Education (.5)