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Upper School Curriculum

The pursuit of academic and personal excellence balanced with an emphasis on social and emotional wellness prepares students exceedingly well for college and for life. 

Our curriculum is both extensive and rigorous. Advanced classes are offered in most subjects. Electives enrich learning and allow students to explore their passions. Teachers value all learners; invest in teamwork; and encourage students to take risks and strive for improvement. Excelling is admired and students are inclined to stretch themselves.


The purpose of the English curriculum is to help students improve their reading and writing skills, practice communicating their ideas in multiple rhetorical formats, and hopefully come to understand themselves and their world more clearly. Students gain confidence in their ability to read critically by asking questions of a variety of texts—fictional and nonfictional, historical and contemporary, canonical and non-canonical. As a department, we focus on process as well as product; students practice skills sequentially as they move through the curriculum. At each level, they are encouraged to reflect upon their work and to set goals specific to their improvement. Finally, the English curriculum emphasizes critical thinking as students learn to formulate research questions, gather credible research, responsibly handle source material, and synthesize information.

English 9
Students enhance their reading and writing skills by studying canonical and contemporary works of world, British, and American literature. Through these works with their varied voices and perspectives, we examine thematic questions common to people of different languages, historical periods, and cultures. Students practice skills of literary analysis in close reading exercises, critical essays, and assessments. Students also learn to identify grammatical features of sentences and sentence structures, and they practice punctuation skills that will help them become better editors of their own writing in the upper school and beyond. Additionally, students practice research skills with application to public speaking and writing.

Honors English 9
Students learn to identify aspects of genre and style as they study contemporary works of world, British, and American literature and genres such as epic poems and tragedy along with poetic forms and creative nonfiction forms. In the process, honors students explore how some canonical works converse with contemporary literature and critical perspectives. Through varied voices and perspectives, we examine thematic questions in these works as students practice analytical skills in their reading, close reading exercises, critical essays, and assessments. Students can expect an accelerated reading pace with more demanding texts than the English 9 curriculum. They also produce varied, substantial creative works in response to these texts. Students also learn to identify grammatical features of sentences and sentence structures, and they practice punctuation skills that will help them become better editors of their own writing in the upper school and beyond. Students also practice research skills with application to creative works and critical interpretation of ancient myth in modern contexts along with a hybrid research project linked to course reading. This course is a good choice for students who have a love for reading, writing, and discussing literature and ideas.

English 10: Writing, Genre, Identity, and Culture
Sophomores work to improve their reading, writing, and critical-thinking skills through the examination of genre. In English 10, students will read fewer longer texts and more short-form works in order to gain greater breadth of style and genre. Students become more flexible and adaptive writers throughout the year by reading, researching, and then creating their own examples of multiple genres. They tackle several important grammatical concepts each term to work toward a more fluent and precise use of language and syntax. In addition, students participate regularly in student-led discussions. They also present research-based work conducted through the interdisciplinary Sophomore Symposium, a research project completed in conjunction with their tenth-grade history course.

English 10 Honors: Facing the Monster in Self, Other, Culture, and Criticism
Class members study the cultural identity and the figure of the cultural "other" through both canonical and contemporary texts that present additional challenges to reading comprehension, vocabulary, and pace. In addition, students read examples of literary and historical criticism to strengthen their understanding of argument and analysis and begin to work with critical perspectives, particularly postcolonial literary theory, to focus their analyses of the texts. Writing assignments in the honors class require greater independence of thought and are designed to equip students with the fundamental skills of analysis, synthesis, revision, and research needed to succeed in the AP English Language and Composition course should they choose to enter it next year. Several important grammatical concepts are tackled each term to work toward more fluent and precise use of language and syntax. Students also participate regularly in student-led discussions and present work on interdisciplinary research questions through the annual Sophomore Symposium, a research project completed in conjunction with their tenth-grade history course.

English 11 American Literature: An Exploration of One’s Voice Among Many
Students explore ways in which American writers—fiction and nonfiction—have engaged with their immediate community and used their work to shape our society. Throughout the year, students expand their knowledge so that they can participate in this world of ideas and explore the subtleties of these texts. As students sharpen their ability to ask questions and draw inferences, they see how language is a powerful tool. By drafting and editing their own writing, students work to refine their critical thinking skills and to produce polished essays—creative and analytical. During their junior year, students undertake an interdisciplinary research project that requires them to gather scholarly sources and synthesize this information in order to compose a nuanced analysis of a vintage ad.

English 11 AP English Language and Composition: Exploring the Nuances of Rhetoric
Students in AP English learn to read critically and to analyze the rhetorical and stylistic devices at work in a wide variety of challenging texts, including creative, persuasive, and expository essays. Specific to this AP course, students examine how writers use the nuances of language as a tool to craft their message for a particular audience and to achieve their desired purpose. Students also practice research skills through reading, annotating, and synthesizing essays on a range of historical and contemporary issues. In addition to formal analysis, students also work on developing their own voice, structuring an argument, and crafting personal narratives that speak to important transformational moments in their lives. Like their peers in American Literature, AP students undertake an interdisciplinary research project that requires them to gather scholarly sources and synthesize this information in order to compose a nuanced analysis of a vintage ad. AP students then extend their knowledge of the rhetoric of advertising by creating their own print advertisement and presenting it to professionals in the field.

AP Literature and Composition
This course challenges seniors to engage with contemporary and historical texts on many levels: personal, creative, rhetorical, and theoretical. Students will recognize that they build persuasive interpretations by asking complex questions of texts. Thus, they explore their speculations through student-led class discussions, individual presentations, research tasks, team teaching, informal blog posts, timed writings, and formal analytical essays. Students will develop fluency in reading fiction, drama, and poetry as they develop confidence in their ability to articulate compelling analyses and express their insights with precision and subtlety.

English 12
English 12 prepares seniors to write across the curriculum, with an emphasis on literary analysis, personal narrative, professional writing, and rhetoric. Through studying short literary works (essays, short stories, and poems), students hone their analytical skills on a variety of texts by a wide range of authors. Through a long-term, collaborative, interdisciplinary professional-writing project, they develop their abilities to work in groups, to persuade audiences through their writing, and to support arguments using library research. And through creative assignments, they exercise their imaginative self-expression and love of language.

Creative Writing / Literary Magazine (elective, open to grades nine through twelve)
Students may enroll in creative writing as a full-year course for one or more years during high school. Taught by well-known published poet and poetry advocate Joel Long, students work and explore various forms in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, or drama. Through an extensive series of exercises and visits by guest writers, students hone their craft and find pleasure and insight in the creative process.

In the latter part of the school year, students produce the school’s literary magazine, Tesserae. The publication is a consistent winner of the National Council of Teachers of English Programs to Recognize Excellence in Student Literary Magazines, in which over 400 schools compete. Tesserae has also won the Magazine Pacemaker Award from the National Scholastic Press Association, “in recognition of general excellence and outstanding achievement by a high school magazine in a national competition.”

History, Social Science, Religion, & Ethics


People love history. One of the oldest disciplines in the world, history offers them stories, asks of them questions, and poses to them dilemmas they struggle to reconcile as they work to understand themselves and the world around them. To this end, the design of our program and approach to teaching fosters a continued fascination with the past.

Students develop skills related to research, writing, and use of evidence that empower them to harness a strong factual foundation to offer nuanced and sophisticated interpretations of the past. In each course required by the department, students translate reading and classroom work into projects interpreting questions about specific historical eras.

Rowland Hall requires three years of history instruction of all students. Each class studies together, examining a particular history as a group. As seniors, students are encouraged to apply their historical knowledge to the present in Political Science or to choose an elective as a capstone experience.

In the Upper School, ninth-grade students take one of a pair of non-Western history surveys: Eastern Civilizations (Asia and the Middle East) or Latin America and the Atlantic. Sophomores choose between Western Civilization and AP European History as they explore the past in the context of the western world while also examining how historians have offered competing interpretations of that past. Juniors explore the history of the United States, beginning in the pre-Columbian world and moving forward in time to the late twentieth century. They ask questions related to the formation of national identity, the development of an American political and social context, and the ways that the United States has encountered the world in the course of its history. Seniors may enroll in Political Science, which compliments their understanding of the past with an interrogation of the political present. In their study of American government, human behavior, philosophy, and international relations, students strive to become politically literate, protected, and engaged. A rotating selection of history electives provide a detailed look at specific topics within the discipline. Recent offerings include: The Supreme Court, Food and Culture, Disability in the Past, and the History of Economic Thought.

Eastern Civilizations
Eastern Civilizations examines Asian and Middle Eastern history from the fifth century BCE to the present. Its content encompasses the rise and fall of empires, as well as the origins and expansions of major religions, in societies from China to Turkey. The course introduces students to the skills necessary for strong historical analysis, and develops both their intellectual independence and their comfort with complex historical arguments. Ultimately, the course serves in both its content and skill development as a companion to the Western Civilizations course students will take as sophomores.

Latin America and the Atlantic
This course surveys the history of societies from Mexico and the Caribbean to South America, as well as the broader Atlantic world in which Latin America formed. Starting with an overview of the most recent scholarship on the pre-Columbian Atlantic, students then examine the connections forged between the Americas, West Africa, and Europe in the 15th-17th centuries. The course continues through the wars of independence and the nation-building that followed, and into the 20th century. While there is an emphasis on economic and cultural themes in Latin American history, taking a Spanish language class, or having Spanish fluency or literacy, is not a course requirement.

Western Civilization
The sophomore Western Civilization course is a one-year survey covering European history from the Classical World through the late twentieth century, with a particular focus on the interconnections between Europe and the broader world. The course emphasizes foundational historical habits of mind and strives to help students approach the study of history in a way that enables them to not only master content, but also to systematically analyze the significance of various historical periods. The course stresses interpreting the European past and its legacy by examining major political, social, economic, and cultural trends. By drawing on primary sources and scholarly secondary sources, students also develop critical historical thinking, research, and argumentative writing skills, especially the ability to compare and contrast evidence, to examine significant changes over time, and to evaluate competing historical interpretations.

AP European History
AP European History covers the period from 1350 through the Cold War era and both prepare students for a university level European history course and for success on the Advanced Placement European History exam. The course’s primary goals are to develop (a) an understanding of some of the principal themes in modern European history, (b) the ability to analyze historical evidence and historical interpretation, and (c) an ability to express historical understanding in writing. In order to accomplish these goals, students will critically read, evaluate, and discuss their textbook, primary sources, and intellectual, and cultural developments of the European past. In terms of critical thinking and writing, students will apply the comparative method, assess change over time, and synthesize multiple primary sources into persuasive evidence-based arguments (DBQs). Students will frequently practice these writing skills on DBQs, long essay, and short answer questions. In the course of mastering the temporal history of the European past, students will also explore different historical approaches, assess divergent interpretations of the past, and develop methods of researching and evaluating historical evidence.

United States History
The primary goal of United States History is to establish a basis for a thoughtful engagement with American history as a whole. The course encompasses American history from the colonial period to the present. Economic, social, cultural, political, and diplomatic history appear individually and in combination, demonstrating the ways that Americans balanced the competing interests in their lives over time and space. Reading widely in scholarly secondary as well as primary sources, students develop a solid foundational understanding of the origins of the American nation and the many complexities and conflicts that forged it. In addition, the course fosters critical thinking skills related to reading, analysis, discussion, and writing.

Advanced Topics in United States History
Advanced Topics in US History offers students an enhanced introduction to the temporal, social, cultural, economic, and political histories of the American colonies and the United States. The course surveys American history but emphasizes engagement with historical concepts such as contingency, agency, and positivism as analytic tools. In addition, students learn to integrate competing narratives based in race, class, gender, region, party, religion, and immigrant status. Chronologically, the course begins before the advent of European contact with the Americas and ends in the first decade of the 21st century. It employs scholarly monographs, primary source materials, art, and essays to convey not only the intellectual concepts of the past but also the lived experience of each period.

History/Social Science Electives

Political Science
Political Science is a survey-style course designed to expose students to every area of the discipline. Each unit mimics a course one might take if pursuing a degree in political science. These units include: American Government, Political Behavior, Campaigns and Elections, Constitutional Law, Lobbying, Movements, International Relations, and more. The ultimate goal of the class is to transform each student into “politically literate, protected, responsive, and engaged” member of different communities. The study of politics demystifies the system, challenges apathy, and requires a critical understanding of power. Politics is the process and the product of our learning and will be both the means and the end of our work. Upon completion of this course, students will be better able to identify, explain, and evaluate politics wherever it’s happening.

AP Psychology
The AP Psychology course is designed to provide students with a broad overview of the diverse field of psychology and prepare students for the AP Psychology examination. The course explores psychological facts, principles, and theories within each of the major subfields of psychology including, but not limited to, research methodology and statistics, biological bases of behavior, learning, cognition, memory, development, personality theory, and abnormal behavior. Additionally, all students work in small groups in order to carry out a year-long empirical research project of their own design. The project requires an in-depth literature review of past research, formulation of a testable hypothesis, construction of an experimental research design, collection of empirical data, statistical analyses and interpretation of that data, and a final written report utilizing APA guidelines. AP Psychology can be taken as a science or history elective in a student’s senior year.

Religion and Ethics

World Religions
This one-trimester required course fulfills the graduation requirement for World Religions, and is strongly recommended to be taken during ninth or tenth grade. This is a comparative survey of the world’s religious traditions using a nonsectarian, cultural studies approach. Students will study Indigenous cultures, Hinduism, Buddhism, Chinese religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, with opportunities to research and discuss other religious groups through the course. Students will reflect on their own religious positionality while developing empathy for a diversity of beliefs, practices, and worldviews. Methods of study include reading, film, discussion, artistic response, reflective writing, and academic writing. The course culminates in research and creative response to a comparative theme in religious studies.

This one-trimester required course fulfills the graduation requirement for Ethics, and is strongly recommended to be taken during eleventh or twelfth grade. This course familiarizes students with major ethical systems of thought, with an emphasis on developing personal frameworks for understanding ethical dilemmas and making ethically informed decisions. We will engage with the work of ancient, modern, and critical ethicists using case studies from current events and our own lives. Throughout the semester, we will focus on the following questions: What is ultimately real and valuable? How can we make sense of our experiences? What is the right thing to do? What is a just society?


The goal of all math classes is for students to grow in self-confidence and in their ability to solve problems. This requires a certain level of productive struggle with new skills and strategies on a daily basis. Students will employ concepts from algebra, geometry, and statistics in modeling real-life applications and building a skill set that prepares them for college success. Lessons are designed to challenge students to take their abilities to the next level, be resilient to setback, and eventually, master the concepts. Students develop an approach to learning that ensures success in math class and in everyday life. Galileo said that the universe is written in the language of mathematics, and Rowland Hall students will become fluent in this powerful form of communication.

Algebra 1
A rigorous full-year course for ninth graders who could benefit from extended exposure to and practice with algebraic concepts. This course is also appropriate for students without extensive experience in algebra. Topics include number operations, variables, exponents, properties of numbers, solving and graphing linear equations and inequalities, solving and graphing absolute value functions, solving linear systems, quadratic functions including methods of solution, manipulating polynomials, and factoring.

Prerequisite: Successful completion of an Algebra 1 equivalent and teacher recommendation.
This course provides students with a strong background in planar geometry while applying skills developed in Algebra 1. Students develop Euclidean geometry through transformational approach. The usual topics of congruence, properties of polygons, circles, similar figures, and trigonometry are based on rigid transformations and their distance preserving properties. Deductive reasoning is developed, informally and formally throughout the course. In parallel, students develop strong grounding in measurement: linear, two and three dimensional, and angle and arc.

Algebra 2
Prerequisite: Successful completion of Algebra 1 and Geometry.
This course prepares students for the more advanced high school mathematics classes, such as precalculus and calculus. Emphasis is placed on the fundamental mathematical techniques and skills that are essential in calculus and beyond. The first semester reviews the structure and properties of the real number system, and extends those concepts to complex numbers. A thorough investigation of the solutions of first- and second-degree equations and inequalities is combined with a study of the properties of functions and their graphs. Systems of linear equations are studied from a modeling perspective. Polynomial functions are also studied in depth. The second semester deals with radical equations and exponential and rational functions. The final topic is trigonometry.

Honors Algebra 2
Prerequisite: Successful completion of MS Compacted Mathematics program or teacher recommendation.
This course is designed for ninth-grade students who intend to complete AP Calculus BC. It covers the material in the Algebra 2 course plus matrices, conic sections, sequences and series, and trigonometric graphs and equations. The honors course includes a rigorous development of mechanics and solution techniques along with a greater focus on theory and analysis.

Prerequisite: Successful completion of Algebra 2.
This course invites discovery and exploration. Students develop strong mathematical reasoning through integrated technology and challenging problem solving. The ultimate goal of Precalculus is to prepare students for success in AP Calculus and AT Statistics. The visualization and exploration capabilities of technology encourage the student to actively participate in the learning process, to develop intuitive understanding of mathematical concepts, and to solve applied problems using actual data. Students learn how to use algebraic functions as a modeling language for describing observed patterns and behaviors. Students have opportunities to collect and interpret data, to make conjectures, and to construct mathematical models. The course focuses on encouraging students to become competent and confident problem solvers. Group activities give students the opportunity to work cooperatively as they think, talk, and write about mathematics. Precalculus emphasizes the study of functions. The year begins with an analysis of function behavior, followed by the study of polynomials, complex numbers, rational functions, and exponential and logarithmic functions. Students will spend the majority of second semester on trigonometry before the year concludes with an exploration of sequences and series, particularly those that model linear and exponential patterns, essential building blocks of calculus. Themes of limits and rates of change are woven into the curriculum throughout the year.

Advanced Topics in Precalculus (Honors)
Prerequisite: Successful completion of Honors Algebra 2 or teacher recommendation after successful completion of Algebra 2.
This is a rigorous accelerated course designed for tenth-grade students who intend to go directly to AP Calculus BC in eleventh grade. Throughout the course, students will be expected to work cooperatively as they embrace challenging concepts and articulate their observations. The skills and concepts necessary for success on the AP exam are given time and emphasis. The course will include an algebraic study of geometric concepts and analysis of functions. Students will study relations and functions with their accompanying graphs and situations that they model. These will include exponential, logarithmic, trigonometric, vector-valued, polar, and parametric functions as well as their inverses. Analysis will include limits, difference quotients, and function behavior. In addition, calculus topics such as differentiation, integration, and their applications will be studied in depth. Each semester the students will complete an in-depth project, one with a focus on mathematical investigation, and another where they will develop a mathematical model. Both projects will utilize some form of appropriate technology and polished written communication of results. A graphing calculator is required to enhance concept connections and to support solutions. Demonstrations in class will be performed with the TI-84. Students will not take an AP exam for this course in the spring. The AP Calculus BC exam will be taken at the end of the following year.

AP Calculus AB
Prerequisite: Successful completion of precalculus and teacher recommendation.
Advanced Placement Calculus AB is a full-year elective. This course is primarily concerned with developing students' understanding of the concepts of calculus and of its methods and applications. This course emphasizes a multi-representational approach to calculus, with concepts, results, and problems being expressed graphically, numerically, analytically, and verbally. The connections between these representations are also important. AB Calculus requires students to implement all mathematical concepts covered in previous high school classes. They must then use these concepts as tools to further their mathematical understanding. Competency in geometry formulas, rational, radical, polynomial, exponential, logarithmic, and trigonometric functions is expected. The graphing calculator is used regularly to reinforce relationships among multiple representations of functions, to confirm written work, to implement experimentation, and to assist in interpreting results. The first month of calculus is dedicated to the study of limit theory. This topic leads to the two main concepts of the course: differentiation and integration. The first semester introduces both differentiation and integration and their basic formulas. Topics include definition of the derivative using limits, the fundamental differentiation formulas, tangent lines, rates of change, related rates, and applying calculus to principles of physics, i.e., velocity and acceleration. The first semester also includes the study of approximating an area under a curve using Riemann Sums and the Trapezoidal Rule. This leads to the use of limits to find an exact area, and subsequently to the definition of the definite integral. The second semester begins with u-substitution and more advanced techniques of integration. This is followed by the calculus of exponential growth, logarithms, and differential equations. Volumes of revolution is the concluding topic and one of the highlights of the year. Preparation for the AP Calculus AB examination is one of the main objectives of the class. All students enrolled in the class are expected to take the AP examination.

AP Calculus BC
Prerequisite: A score of 3 or above on the AP Calculus AB examination or successful completion of AT Precalculus, and teacher recommendation.
AP Calculus BC is an advanced placement elective for students who have successfully completed AP Calculus AB or AT Precalculus. This rigorous and challenging course provides the equivalent to two semesters of college calculus (Calculus I and II at the University of Utah, for example). Preparation for the AP Calculus BC examination is the primary focus for this course. As a result, students will spend the majority of their time grappling with difficult problems in a cooperative setting where they can have meaningful, mathematical conversations with their classmates and present at the board. A graphing calculator is required to enhance concept connections and to support solutions. In addition, an approved graphing calculator is required for the AP exam. Demonstrations in class will be performed with the TI-84. This course builds upon and extends the topics in the AP Calculus AB curriculum. Topics include limits, the definition of the derivative, and the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, and several techniques of integration. Differential and integral calculus will be applied to related rates, optimization, and motion (linear and curvilinear) problems. In addition, solving differential equations, finding area and volume, and the analysis of parametric, polar, and vector-valued functions are introduced. And finally, students explore numerical methods of approximation include Newton’s method, Riemann sums, trapezoidal approximations, Euler’s method, and Taylor series.

Advanced Topics in Statistics
Prerequisite: Successful completion of precalculus and teacher recommendation.
Advanced Topics in Statistics offers students a challenging introduction to statistical analysis. The course is centered around four broad themes: (1) producing data; (2) exploring and summarizing data; (3) probability and randomness; and (4) statistical inference. Throughout the course students will work with real data, and significant emphasis is placed on interpreting and critiquing numerical results within the context of the dataset. Advanced Topics in Statistics is designed to serve students across a range of mathematical backgrounds. Students can successfully engage in the course with no knowledge of calculus, and at the same time students with exposure to calculus will be challenged to integrate their understanding of these two branches of mathematics. At the end of the course students will be able to consume and communicate quantitative information, generate valid datasets through experimental design and random sampling, and draw inferences about a larger population based on information from a sample. While the course is not tailored toward preparing for the AP exam, successful students are encouraged to take the AP exam if attending a college that accepts AP credit.

Advanced Topics in Mathematics
Prerequisite: Successful completion of AP Calculus BC and teacher recommendation.
Secondary school mathematics often leaves little room for a student to get to know the fields of modern mathematics. In this course, we will familiarize ourselves with topics which are the objects of study of current mathematical research. We will take a broad stance and include work both in applied and theoretical mathematics. The areas of study will extend students’ work in calculus to include topics in differential equations and their applications in science. We will use mathematical software to model real world phenomena through the use of linear algebra. We will work on topics in graph theory, cryptography, number theory, as well as geometry and topology. The course will culminate with an independent research project students will share with their peers and wider audience through a paper and an oral presentation.

Personal Finance (math elective)
Prerequisite: Successful completion of Algebra 2. Junior or senior standing.
Personal finance provides students with the opportunity to explore many of the significant financial decisions made over the course of a human life. Financial behavior will be presented as existing along a spectrum that ranges from pure saving and pure consumption. Students will be encouraged to use goal setting and budgeting to adopt a financial identity along this continuum that is sustainable, responsible and enjoyable. Course content is roughly structured in the chronological order in which students will make significant decisions: basic financial instruments, higher education, employment, car and home ownership, insurance, investment, raising a family, and retirement. Over the course of the year students will acquire proficiency with spreadsheets, understand the math governing compound interest, and learn to consume and communicate quantitative information through graphs and tables. The year ends with a “game of life” project, in which the students use their acquired tools to make choices that guide a hypothetical 18-year-old alter ego from college to retirement. Please note this course is a math elective and does not count as a required math credit toward graduation.


The science department aims to help all students develop as critical thinkers, flexible problem solvers, and responsible citizens. Core courses in biology and chemistry highlight fundamental biological and physical concepts, providing the foundation necessary to choose from a range of electives in the junior and senior years. In all classes, student focus on both the content and the practices of science. Opportunities to ask questions, conduct experiments, and analyze data are provided on a regular basis. We hope that students will become confident in evaluating evidence, constructing arguments, and applying their knowledge to novel situations.

Evolutionary Biology
Evolution is the unifying theory of biology. Ninth-grade students will engage with the theory of evolution by using evidence to solve problems and compose arguments. They will study evidence for shared biochemistry, common ancestry, heredity, natural selection, and speciation. They will encounter examples that range in scale from proteins and genes to fossil whales and pandas.

Our first unit begins in the forests of the high Uinta’s and the headwaters of our state, and flows over the course of the year to the Great Salt Lake Basin. Lessons begin with adaptive radiation of plants, and cascade into evolution, the Carbon cycle, organic molecules, diversity of animal form and function, and natural and unnatural processes in the ecosystem.

Honors Evolutionary Biology
In addition to the regular curriculum, honors students will have the opportunity for advanced research, composition, and argumentation. They will compose research projects including videos for the Breakthrough Junior Challenge. Other research topics include the ancestry and evolution of plants, the adaptive radiation of animals, and the transformation of complex organs like wings, the brain, or eyes. Honors students will study more complex elements of a system. For example, natural selection leads to adaptation and honors students will study how adaptations are a balance between different forces of natural selection.

AT Biology
AT Biology is a second-year biology course that asks students to investigate the role of molecules and cells in living systems. Major topics include the biochemistry of life, cell structure and function, and molecular genetics. Throughout the year, the lab is central to the work of the course. Students will conduct experiments and analyze data on a regular basis; in addition, they will look at the work of other scientists as they develop their ability to relate data to underlying scientific concepts. To succeed in the course, students must be willing to experiment in the lab and work through analysis of results in a collaborative setting. In addition, students will need an understanding of the major concepts covered in tenth-grade Chemistry.

This survey course serves as an introduction to chemical concepts and techniques. Topics of study include the nature of matter, atomic theory, chemical bonding, chemical reactions, and states of matter. Most topics are approached from both qualitative and quantitative angles. Students learn about matter through demonstrations, laboratory experiments, simulations, and lectures. Students conduct lab investigations in which they collect and analyze data, and then use data to support scientific claims.

Honors Chemistry
This survey course serves as an introduction to chemical concepts and techniques. Topics of study include the nature of matter, atomic theory, chemical bonding, chemical reactions, and states of matter. Most topics are approached from both qualitative and quantitative angles. Students learn about matter through demonstrations, laboratory experiments, simulations, and lectures. Students conduct lab investigations in which they collect and analyze data, and then use data to support scientific claims.

A good candidate for honors chemistry has a record of setting a positive example in class by active participation and close attention to directions and class rules. Honors students should be motivated and excited by the prospect of being independent problem solvers with strong critical thinking skills—willing to take risks in order to apply their critical thinking. Comfort with basic math and algebra is necessary.

AT Chemistry
What is energy? What are the different types of energy? How does energy flow determine if chemical reactions will occur or not? What happens when you mix an acid and a base? How are acid and base reactions key to the operations of living organisms? What controls the speed at which reactions take place? Do reactions occur that can change the nucleus of an atom? The human body is composed of atoms -where were all these atoms originally formed? How is the law of conservation of mass not quite true?

AT Chemistry is a second-year chemistry course that will endeavor to answer these questions and more, and do so from an experimental perspective. Students who take this course should be interested in thinking and working through data analysis in a collaborative lab-based class setting. Strong math skills and a firm understanding of the topics explored in the tenth-grade chemistry course will be important.

Physics is an algebra-based, college preparatory, laboratory course that is a mathematical survey of Newtonian mechanics, electricity and magnetism, and modern physics. The course is centered on several laboratory activities that ultimately lead to fundamental concepts of physics. Students are introduced to a problem that relates to a physical phenomenon. They will proceed to solve the problem through experimentation and analysis of data, and will form a conclusion from this lab work. Through this process related scientific laws and theories are introduced. Students who have successfully completed a year of algebra and geometry, and are currently enrolled in Algebra 2 or higher, are welcome to participate in this course.

AT Physics
Must have strong math background.
Advanced Topics Physics is a full year, laboratory based physics course that will focus on key concepts of Fluid Dynamics, Thermodynamics, Electrostatics and Circuits, Magnetism and Induction, Optics, and Modern Physics. Through inquiry based learning and laboratory activities, students will build on their understanding of physics and in the scientific process. This course will provide the students with a venue to use their advanced mathematical skills in problem solving and project building. AT physics will require that the student be very comfortable with algebra, trigonometry, and basic calculus topics of integration and derivations, so students should be enrolled in Calculus BC (or have already completed that course).

Environmental Science
This class explores the relationship between humans and the natural world through the disciplines of biology, chemistry, ecology, economics, and politics. It is designed to synthesize these diverse disciplines through research, projects, writing, debates, and discussions. In combination with the lecture component of the class, students will monitor study sites near the campus, explore and analyze data, provide research results and explore issues through discussions and work with professionals. Students become aware of the importance of sound scientific research to assess the condition of the environment and learn to question research data critically. Frequent collaborative opportunities with other classes at Rowland Hall and outside community organizations is common.

Ornithology (seminar—offered on rotating semesters)
Ornithology students will study the adaptations and diversity of avian life with particular attention to birds of our region. Field trips to our local mountains and wetlands provide the opportunity to study resident and migrant birds in their natural habitat. We watch rough-legged hawks catch mice; observe the complex social life of waterfowl. Near Bryce National Park, we see sage grouse roosters strut on their lek while hens scrutinize their every move. Students will learn to identify birds by field marks and sound and contribute their observations to the eBird database at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

AP Psychology
The AP Psychology course is designed to provide students with a broad overview of the diverse field of psychology and prepare students for the AP Psychology examination. The course explores psychological facts, principles, and theories within each of the major subfields of psychology including, but not limited to, research methodology and statistics, biological bases of behavior, learning, cognition, memory, development, personality theory, and abnormal behavior. Additionally, all students work in small groups in order to carry out a year-long empirical research project of their own design. The project requires an in-depth literature review of past research, formulation of a testable hypothesis, construction of an experimental research design, collection of empirical data, statistical analyses and interpretation of that data, and a final written report utilizing APA guidelines. AP Psychology can be taken as a science or history elective in a student’s senior year.

Computer Science

Computer science (CS) at Rowland Hall is much more than learning a coding language. CS teaches students design, logical reasoning, and problem solving—all valuable beyond the computer science classroom. CS encourages students to solve problems through abstraction, algorithmic thinking, and utilizing the design process. This fosters growth mindset, learning from failure, and process-focused curriculum. CS courses can tap into students’ interest in technology, helping them become technology innovators, and design technical solutions to problems in science, math, social studies, the arts, and literacy. Topics of CS classes include proficiency and literacy in hardware, software, computer programming (coding), physical computing (engineering and robotics), data analysis, design, digital citizenship, and computational thinking.

Exploring Computer Science (trimester)
Freshmen and sophomores; background and experience unnecessary.
This course introduces students to the field of computer science through an exploration of engaging and accessible topics. Rather than focusing on a particular language or software, students learn conceptual ideas of computing and how certain tools or languages might be utilized to solve certain problems. The goal of the class is to develop in students the computational practices of algorithm development, problem solving, programming, and interface design. The course also explores the limits of computers and ethical and societal issues. Completion of this course provides the background and experience students need to take AP Computer Science Principles.

Introduction to Java (trimester)
Freshmen and sophomores; background and experience unnecessary.
Java Fundamentals is a one-trimester course for students wishing to build experience with the Java programming language, either as a preparation for the AP Computer Science A class, or as an exploration in and of itself. Java fundamentals will explore the fundamentals of data types, operators, control structures, and basic class design using Processing language and Java as well as Inquiry based learning.

*AP Computer Science Principles (full year)
Juniors and seniors preferred; sophomores with approval.
AP Computer Science Principles offers a multidisciplinary approach to teaching the underlying principles of computation. The course will introduce students to creative aspects of programming, using abstractions and algorithms, working with large data sets, understandings of the Internet and issues of cybersecurity, and impacts of computing that affect different populations. AP Computer Science Principles will give students the opportunity to use current technologies like Android app development and processing (java) programming language to solve problems and create meaningful computational artifacts. Together, these aspects of the course make up a rigorous and rich curriculum that aims to broaden participation in computer science.

*AP Computer Science A (Java) (full year)
AP Computer Science A is equivalent to a first-semester, college-level course in computer science. The course introduces students to computer science with fundamental topics that include problem solving, design strategies and methodologies, organization of data (data structures), approaches to processing data (algorithms), analysis of potential solutions, and the ethical and social implications of computing. The course emphasizes both object-oriented and imperative problem solving and design using Java language. These techniques represent proven approaches for developing solutions that can scale up from small, simple problems to large, complex problems. The AP Computer Science A course curriculum is compatible with many CS1 courses in colleges and universities.

Web Design Seminar
The purpose of the class is to help students develop programming skills in basic HTML, CSS, and Javascript languages. Students participate in online tutorials at home each week through Code Academy, Khan Academy, and W3schools. In class, they troubleshoot problems and discuss issues of graphic design, human computer interaction (HCI) principles, and the trends in current web design architecture. No previous experience is necessary.

Advanced Web Design Seminar
Building on a foundation of learning in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, the class explores libraries such as jQuery and Bootstrap and works with databases and forms with PHP and SQL. Students spend time each week on tutorials and developing interactive web tools. Time in class is spent working collaboratively with teammates on final projects and design presentations.

*May be taken to fulfill science requirement.

World Languages

The principal goal of the World Languages Department is to help students reach a superior level of communicative competence as it pertains to the four main language skills of reading, writing, speaking, and listening. The five Cs (communication, cultures, connections, comparisons, and communities) mentioned in the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages' Standards for Foreign Language Learning: Preparing for the 21st Century also help to inform and guide the program.

Mandarin Chinese

Mandarin Chinese I
This beginning Mandarin Chinese course is intended for students with no prior knowledge of any Chinese dialect or written Chinese. Mandarin Chinese is based on the Beijing dialect and is the national standard language of the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan). This course will introduce the Chinese Pinyin Romanization system—tones, rules of phonetic spelling, and pronunciation; and Chinese characters—creation and evolution, stroke order, structure, the writing system, and calligraphic techniques. Reading and writing skills are introduced and students develop basic skills in listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

Mandarin Chinese II
Students continue to develop and master the essential linguistic skills required for listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The structure of the class focuses on learning the basic grammar and vocabulary elements by studying language in authentic contexts using simplified Chinese characters and Pinyin. Oral/aural drills, role-playing skits, group activities, conversation, multimedia resources, and realia are used to reinforce individual and collaborative effort. Students also develop an introductory understanding of the history and culture of China.

Mandarin Chinese III
Students will further develop the four essential linguistic skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing by expanding the grammatical structures and vocabulary studied in Chinese I and Chinese II. The ongoing mastery of vocabulary and grammar introduced at each level is essential for future success in Chinese. Oral/aural drills, oral presentations, role-playing skits, question and answer practice, conversation, compositions, group activities, multi-media resources, and realia are utilized to reinforce grammar concepts and sentence structure. Individual and collaborative efforts are essential factors for the development of proficiency. Students also continue to explore the history and culture of China.

Mandarin Chinese IV
This advanced course will further develop the four essential linguistic skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing for students. We will emphasize the grammatical structures while expanding the vocabulary studied before. The topics will move to more abstract subject matter. In addition to spoken style, more written style expressions are gradually introduced in this level. Chinese history and culture are also integrated.

AT Mandarin Chinese
AT Chinese Language and Culture is a full academic year course for qualified students who finished Chinese IV or equivalent courses. The goal of this course is to help students reach the second-year college level of proficiency and to succeed on the AP Chinese and Culture exam across the three communicative modes: interpretive, interpersonal, and presentational if they choose to take it. In addition to communication, the course also addresses the other four goals of the Standards of Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century: cultural competence, connections to other school disciplines, comparisons between Chinese language and culture and those of learners, and the use of the language within the broader communities beyond the traditional school environment.


French I
French I is designed to give students an understanding of basic sentence structure. This sentence structure will include direct and indirect object pronouns and elementary negations as they fit into usage with the three basic first-year verb tenses: the present, the passé compose, and the future. How to form questions with the above tenses will be included. The three verb families will be taught extensively as well as a wide variety of irregular verbs. Vocabulary will include everyday nouns from a variety of situational settings. Examples include clothing, food, household items, and destination. This vocabulary will be taught in conjunction with definite, indefinite, relative pronouns, the partitive, and contractions. Students will also learn adjective agreement and placement. Through the above-mentioned vocabulary, the class will study cultural aspects of the Francophone world and geography. By January of every year, the class will be taught entirely in French, and the students will be required to use only French in the classroom.

French II
All classes of French II are in the target language. French I material is reviewed for the first six weeks after which the following tenses are introduced and practiced: the imperfect, the conditional, the pluperfect, the past conditional, and the present participle. As well, a variety of prepositions requiring the infinite are taught. In conjunction with all of these tenses “si clauses” are taught. A great deal of oral practice through skits, class drills, and extra credit activities in class emphasize the use of these tenses. Idiomatic expressions are sprinkled throughout the year with the bulk extensively taught in the later part of the year. Vocabulary builds up throughout the year. Francophone cultures are taught through films, lectures, and some readings. Adverbs are added as well.

French III
A review of French II takes place during the first trimester. The subjunctive tenses is introduced at the end of the first semester and studied in the second semester. Relative pronouns, y, en, and increased idiomatic expressions are added. In the second semester, beginning readings are introduced through magazine articles, La Chèvre de Monsieur Seguin. Short stories by Maupassant: Walter Schnaffs and Les Prisonniers. This is in preparation for the literature class.

Advanced Topics French 4 / Advanced Topics French 5
Advanced Topics French is composed of two one-year revolving courses so that students may choose to take two years of literature without rereading anything. Essay writing and discussions of philosophy are principal components of the course. Students study the following works:

  • L’Etranger by Albert Camus
  • Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand
  • Huis Clos by Jean-Paul Sartre
  • Rhinocéros by Eugène Ionesco
  • Selections from: Lettres de Mon Moulin by Alphonse Daudet and Contes Choisis by Guy de Maupassant
  • Poetry by Jacques Prevert, Rimbaud, and Verlaine
  • Film Study: Les Amis du Chambon and Au Revior, Les Enfants
  • Indignez-vous by Stephané Hessel
  • Intense study of Algeria with use of the films The Battle of Algiers and Des Hommes et des Dieux


Spanish I
At this level, the focus is on systematic development of the four basic skills of language skills of listening for comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing to reinforce the structure of the language. The goal is to move students toward “communicative competence.” These four language skills are presented within the context of everyday life and the Spanish-speaking world (including the US) and its culture. The classroom format for Level I includes the following: interactive activities, oral question and answer segments, short dialogues, skits, etc. The students are expected to speak in Spanish during the class period with infrequent exceptions as of the spring of Level 1. The grammatical structures for simple present and past are presented along with basic vocabulary and idioms. All grammar will be sequenced throughout the language levels. Mastery of this material is essential for progression to the next language level.

Spanish II
The focus continues to include the four language skills (listening for comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing) with an increased emphasis on the more complex grammatical structures. This course includes a review of the simple present and past as well as the progression to the imperfect past, the future and conditional, and the compound structures of present perfect and past perfect. Grammar is used as a tool to achieve communication competence. In addition to similar teaching techniques (interactive activities, question and answer segments, and so forth) students at Level II have the opportunity to increase their language learning through participation in conversation topics and projects. For example, students have the opportunity to do an interview of a native speaker and later in the year to participate in an interdisciplinary study of and presentation on a South American country. There is also a community activity with a neighborhood school. At this level, students are expected to be speaking in Spanish during the class with infrequent exceptions.

Spanish II Conversation
This course covers the curriculum of Spanish II (including the grammar components) but is for those especially interested in specifically improving their conversational skills specifically. Typically, half of the class period is conversation with vocabulary building.

Spanish III
This course continues to introduce students to the Spanish language with more advanced grammatical structures and vocabulary, while continuing to review past structures learned in previous Spanish classes. Communication is stressed by focusing on the four language learning skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Emphasis is placed on using the language in a number of real world and practical situations. Students will continue to develop an appreciation and understanding of the Spanish-speaking world and its varied traditions and histories, particularly through various reading texts (short stories, poetry, and articles on cultural aspects). The class is conducted entirely in Spanish.

Spanish IV
Spanish IV is an advanced, college-level course, and prepares students for AP Spanish or an upper-level university Spanish class. It is taught entirely in Spanish. Special focus is placed on reading, writing, and class discussion. Through the study of Spanish and Latin American fiction, history and current events, students will be encouraged to look beyond the superficial and delve deeply into the rich complexities of the many cultures that make up the Spanish-speaking world. Topics include: The Spanish Civil War, Understanding Poverty Through Literature, The Impact and Importance of La Virgen de Guadalupe in Mexican Society, and Understanding Catalonia’s Relationship with the Rest of Spain. Throughout the year, advanced grammar and idiomatic expressions are also taught and reviewed in order to give students the tools they need to communicate their ideas more clearly, accurately and confidently.

AP Spanish
The further development of the four language-learning skills will continue to be stressed in preparation for taking the AP Exam in May. Students will continue to acquire a deeper appreciation and understanding of the Spanish-speaking world and its varied traditions and histories. They will read, interpret, analyze and discuss current affairs articles, as well as works of fiction (including the novel Rosaura a la diez by Marco Denevi). A variety of authentic materials is used throughout the school year, including podcasts, audio-visual sources, news websites (BBC Mundo, El País), Américas Magazine, and Andrés Oppenheimer’s Basta de historias. Students will continue to sharpen their writing skills and are given ample opportunity to write in a number of styles, including formal emails and persuasive essays. The class is conducted entirely in Spanish.

Fine Arts

Through both experiential and rigorous programming, the art curriculum at Rowland Hall inspires students to use art to respond and care for the world around them. Working collaboratively to build something larger than themselves through ensembles and events, artists inherently develop compassion that spirals out of the school and into the world. Through the many interactions that unfold in arts classrooms each day, our students learn through direct experience, that curiosity, imagination, vulnerability, and failure, are catalysts for growth. This process evokes the joy of discovery, the power of critical thinking, the insight of reflection, and the use of creativity to respond to a rapidly changing world. The Rowland Hall Arts Department fosters an inclusive school environment grounded in trust, wherein students honor and respect themselves, their community, and the spaces they inhabit. Empowered with the values and qualities inherent in our course work, our students can embrace lives of thoughtful purpose.


Upper School Dance Ensembles 4, 5, and 6
All three courses cover the same curriculum on a spiraling continuum. As the student develops, the depth of the curriculum does as well. Each is a full year course. Dancers must audition each year for placement. Students study dance technique in depth. Emphasis is placed on both proficiency and fluidity in a variety of traditional and contemporary styles. All students collaboratively create two cumulative large-scale, high quality productions each year that are thematically unified. The theme is chosen or evolves from the following rotating curricula:

  • Improvisational research
  • Daily practice of technical skill and anatomy
  • Exploration of compositional structure
  • Explorations of personal and collective voice through writing, movement, research, and dialogue
  • The study of production elements


Advanced Topics: Music Theory and Composition (2018-2019)
Music Theory and Composition is a year-long course open to students who have a grasp of reading musical notation, usually through study of an instrument. In the class, students will develop foundational skills in written and aural identification and analysis of music, with the goal of understanding the most common harmonic and rhythmic patterns of classical, jazz, and popular music. Students will demonstrate mastery of each musical concept with dictation, score analysis, and short composition exercises. As the year progresses, the class will focus more on arranging, orchestration, and composing in a variety of styles. Through collaborative performance and a creative workshop process, students will develop personal voice, expression, and technique as composers. At the end of the class, students will give a recital to the school community featuring their own compositions.

In 2018-2019, the choir class will meet as a regular class period during the school day. Choir will be a trimester class that can be taken all year or by one or more trimesters.
Choir is open to any student with a love of singing. In practicing the art of choral music, students will develop vocal technique and musicianship skills, and perform a variety of events on and off campus. Students will develop skills such as pitch placement, rhythmic reading, relaxed and resonant vocal tone, correct breathing and posture, knowledge of music terms, balance and blend, diction, as well as rehearsal and performance technique. Repertoire ranges from classical to a cappella, ancient to modern, simple to complex. In each piece, we aim for accuracy, expression, and style. Performances over the course of the school year may include music department concerts, chapel services, collaborative fine arts concerts, region festivals and competitions, and other opportunities in the local community.

Chamber Orchestra
Prerequisite: Instructor permission
Chamber orchestra is open to all classical and folk musicians with experience reading music. In chamber orchestra, students develop musical independence, communication, and expression, while improving instrumental technique and music theory skills. Students perform a variety of classical, folk, and popular music as a large group, as well as form trios, quartets, and other ensembles. Performances over the course of the school year may include music department concerts, chapel services, fine arts concerts, solo/ensemble festivals, and other events on and off campus. Students are encouraged to continue private instruction outside of class while enrolled. Instruments included in the ensemble in past years have focused on string instruments (violin, viola, cello, and bass), but have also included flute, clarinet, oboe, French horn, piano, harp, acoustic guitar, and percussion.

Advanced Chamber Ensemble (ACE)
Prerequisite: Audition required
Student-driven advanced chamber music class with emphasis on musicality, phrase, intonation, and ensemble skills. Students should be able to play concertos, sonatas, and etudes of high level. There will be three to four performances with competition in spring. Repertoire for performances will cover various genres. Rehearsals are flexible and scheduled by students with the faculty coach. Expectation of high level playing is balanced with sensitivity to student academic workload and schedule.

Jazz Band
Prerequisite: Instructor permission
Jazz Band students develop their musicianship through practicing, studying and performing a wide variety of jazz, funk and rock music. In addition to improving their music literacy and instrumental technique, members of this class learn music vocabulary and compositional strategies for improvising melodies in a variety of musical styles. As members of an ensemble, jazz band students nurture their listening skills and learn to perform supportively and symbiotically with the other members of the band. The Jazz Bands participate in at least one concert at the end of each term, and also perform at various functions in and outside of the Rowland Hall community throughout the year. Jazz band students are asked to practice at least 150 minutes a week outside of class, and are strongly encouraged to study privately with an experienced professional on their instrument.

Visual Art

Studio Art I, Studio Art II (trimester)
The goal of these sequential studio art classes is to provide understanding of, and experience, in a variety of art media and techniques. Studio Art I and II offer opportunities for students to learn and explore drawing, painting, printmaking, assemblage, sculpture, computer design, and color theory through a variety of projects. Each class strives to create a challenging and positive environment that places concepts, materials, tools, and understanding in the hands of the student. Art historical perspectives are continually reinforced as are conceptual issues presented through contemporary art. Collaboration with other disciplines is embraced when appropriate.

Studio Art III (11 or 12) (trimester)
Advanced Studio Topics, a class taken in the junior or senior year provides a challenging yearlong opportunity to explore concepts and techniques in the visual arts. Students enrolled are introduced to a wide variety of art making media in a structured environment. They are challenged to find individual solutions to projects that meet the criteria of well-rendered, well-conceived, thoughtful artistic study and practice. The resulting student works demonstrate a year of technical and conceptual achievement, and in some cases, provides the individual artist a foundation on which to pursue more self-guided discovery in AP Studio Art.

AP Studio Art (12) (full year)
Students approved by the visual art instructor, art department chair, and the Assistant Head of the US may enroll in this course.
AP Studio Art is a class offered to art students in grade twelve who are thinking about careers in visual art and the pursuit of visual art at the university level. Students pursue individual solutions to projects that require a growing level of creativity, and confidence. The goals of this one year of AP Studio Art are twofold: to prepare motivated students for the Advanced Placement Studio Art exam and submission of a comprehensive portfolio of work in May, and to provide the serious student of art a rich and rewarding experience that delivers a better understanding of the demands made by strenuous studio practice and consistent creative thought.


Musical Theater/Interdisciplinary Production (spring semester)
This course aims to build the most mature interdisciplinary concert in the Upper School. Singers, dancers, actors, and musicians are welcome to register for this course. This is a rigorous course that requires student involvement for up to two hours daily. All serious artists and/or hardworking students interested in exploring this production are welcome.

Technical Theater (full year)
Technical Theater (aka Stage Crew) will be opened to mature eighth-grade students (with instructor’s permission) through twelfth-grade students. Stage Crew students assist in the daily behind-the-scenes running of the Larimer Center for all performing arts events, morning meetings and assemblies, and the occasional Larimer Center rental for outside groups and organizations. Students learn aspects of lighting design and programming, sound design, and stage management. Stage crew members build and paint theater sets, using basic construction skills.

Theater Production
Open to all beginning to advanced actors, Theater Production is a class that occurs after school, outside of the regular class period rotation. One straight play will be supported through skill building and production over the course of the semester.

Debate, Student Council, & Publications

Introduction to Debate
Intro to Debate is a one-trimester beginning level course offered in the fall for students who are new to high school or have never debated before. This is a regular class that rotates throughout the schedule. After completing this course, students will have a set of portable argumentation and advocacy skills that they can use in a variety of experiences throughout the curriculum at Rowland Hall. Students will initially learn and practice structured extemporaneous speeches with emphasis on verbal and nonverbal delivery skills (organization, projection, inflection, eye-contact, hand gestures, and more). Students will then build a foundation for effective argumentation and advocacy (claim/warrant/evidence) by participating in public forum and policy debate formats. This class is ultimately for students who want to explore debate and may choose to participate in the debate team (usually in a beginner’s division). The majority of students in this class are ninth graders, but any student who chooses to explore debate could enroll in the class.

Public Debate
Public Debate is a two-trimester class for students interested in participating in the debate program and is offered in the fall and winter trimester. This is a regular class that rotates throughout the schedule and students should re-enroll in this class every year they want to compete for the team. Students from any grade level may enroll in this class so long as they have completed Intro to Debate or competed in Middle School. This class emphasizes “Public Forum” and traditional “Lincoln-Douglas” debate events as well as individual speaking events. For a complete description of these events, please visit the National Speech and Debate Association. From a competitive standpoint, students who take this class will still want to succeed in debate, but will also be able to rigorously pursue other extracurricular activities. Public Debate students will be eligible to compete at all local tournaments and one to two national travel trips.

Policy Debate
Policy Debate is the most advanced class offered for debaters and is for students who have prioritized debate above other activities. The two-trimester class is held after school and will end at 3:45 (with occasional extended practices). Students from any grade level may enroll in this class so long as they have completed Intro to Debate or competed extensively in Middle School. This class will emphasize growth in the policy debate format and thus will be more rigorous and will require more independent research and practice. For a complete description of these events, please visit the National Speech and Debate Association. With more dedication, some additional opportunities will be available. Policy Debate students will be eligible for all local tournament opportunities and a variety of national trips depending on performance.

Independent Debate
See instructor for prerequisites.
Independent debate is for students who want to participate in the program but don’t have room in their school schedule. Students with varying experience levels and goals would meet with the instructor to hear announcements, register for tournaments, and receive small amounts of coaching. Students would supplement this time with independent work. Students would apply for academic credit at the end of each trimester and would receive a grade if their level of participation warranted it.

Student Council
Student Council is a leadership course designed for all students elected into office during the spring of the preceding year. Either through programming and event planning or through project implementation students will engage with a leadership curriculum designed to strengthen their understanding and capacity in leadership. In addition to regularly scheduled classes all members of Student Council are expected to participate in after school activities and programs including Leadership Senate which meets twice per semester as well as Spring Training and the Student Council Retreat which is held annually prior to the start of school.

The express purpose of this student-run class is the production of the school newspaper and yearbook. The publications staff will plan, design, write, photograph, edit, and publish these documents with the guidance of the faculty advisers. Students will gain experience in journalism, design, technology, and photography and will be influential in investigating and reporting on the issues relevant to the school community.

Digital Photography
The digital photography class teaches the basic skills necessary to produce quality photographic images. Students will explore camera physics, exposure, studio lighting and digital manipulation of images through the use of Photoshop software. Students study current and historical photographic trends and will go on short field trips in town. In addition to technical acuity, the students will be led to an appreciation of the history of photography and become articulate about the impact photography has in their daily lives. All students will complete a digital portfolio of their work.


Health Education (two trimesters required)
Health classes provide students with a solid base of information upon which to make life decisions filtered through the lens of values provided by individual families. The information provided is research-based, reflects current best practices, and discussion is open. Questions are encouraged and entertained insofar as they are appropriate to the direction of the class, fit the maturity level of the students, and aid in dispelling common myths or stereotypes, or misinformation. An overarching theme of the class is personal responsibility and risk reduction, and how these themes apply to the choices one makes, as well as how each choice can alter the course of the student’s life, and the lives of those around them. Therefore, students are encouraged to learn with an eye toward gaining deeper understanding in order to recognize the role of personal responsibility in making strong, self-empowered decisions regarding their health, and the health of those around them.

Health I: Healthy Lifestyles (tenth grade)
The Healthy Lifestyles course is required of all sophomores, and is developmentally appropriate. The course covers the following: positive self-esteem, physiology of stress, stress management, depression and suicide, coping strategies, principles of exercise and fitness, the importance of sleep, gender roles, abstinence, sexual respect, contraception, healthy and abusive relationships, sexually transmitted diseases, drugs and their effects on the individual, as well as the impact on family and society. A key strand that flows through all of the topics is the importance of one’s personal responsibility for one’s own choices and actions. The essential question is, what choices do I make when I am in charge of myself?

Health II: Adolescent Issues (eleventh grade)
Adolescent Issues is a required course taken during the junior year. The course covers general life skills for college, reproductive anatomy, identity development, positive relationships, and maintenance of healthy relationships, escaping abusive relationships, responsible sexuality, abortion, HIV/AIDS, sexual assault/date rape, body image, and available community resources. The following are discussed using gender and cultural theory: issues of power and control, gender construction/performativity, LGBTQH issues, social binaries, body image/disorders, violent masculinity/submissive femininity, and the influence of pop culture and media on all of the above. A key strand that flows through the course is the power of making positive choices to enact change on both the personal and political levels. The essential question is, who do I choose to be, and how does that choice intersect with the world around me?

Physical Education & Sports

Over 70 percent of Rowland Hall’s Upper School students participate on at least one of our school’s interscholastic athletic teams or in our dance program. Students who choose not to participate in one or a mix of these two ways are required to fulfill 25 hours during the school year by participating in our Open-Class Personal Fitness program. Open-Class offerings are varied and change throughout the year. Students are able to select from these and attend as their schedules and interests allow. Rowmark Ski Academy students are exempt from the Personal Fitness requirement.

Personal Fitness offerings provide students with opportunities to explore and experience a variety of activities that aim to encourage a lifelong appreciation for physical fitness. Through an understanding of the principles of training along with the development of physical skills, coordination, and practice time—all leading to improved fitness—students will be able to participate and enjoy a broad range of activities to serve their individual interests and needs. Within a nurturing environment, students of all levels of fitness will be assisted in developing and refining their knowledge of health fitness concepts and skills leading toward a higher level of physical health.

Personal Fitness—Hiking the Bonneville Shoreline Trail
Join classmates, teachers, and staff for Friday after-school excursions along the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. Opportunities to saunter sections of the Shoreline Trail are posted along with other Personal Fitness Open-Class offerings.

Athletic Teams
Rowland Hall is classified as a Division 2A school in Region 17 of the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA). Read more on our athletics page.

Special Programs: Interim & Project Action

In order to ensure our students are truly citizens of their world, Rowland Hall encourages student travel and experiential learning in a number of ways, including the Upper School’s Interim program.

Interim provides local, national, and international learning experiences outside the Upper School classroom. The week-long program during spring trimester provides hands-on activities and experiences that promote self-reliance, responsibility, and teamwork as well as an opportunity to build relationships outside of the traditional school setting.

Benefits of Interim include: the opportunity for students to be immersed in their language of study or a new culture or region; experiential learning in an academic area such as the sciences, history, or arts; outdoor adventures where students challenge themselves physically and learn about the natural world and their relationship to nature; a chance to recognize a community’s needs and assets through community service; the opportunity to learn and practice new skills; the ability to exercise organizational and leadership skills in new settings; the enjoyment of getting to know students from other grades; and the enhancement of respect for others outside the classroom.

Recent trips have included whitewater rafting the Yampa River; cultural and linguistic experiences in Spain, China, and Montreal; volunteering with Utah’s Navajo population; and traveling to historic cities in the United States with a focus on United States history and architecture. Locally based interims have covered filmmaking, culinary arts, environmental issues, and sports nutrition and psychology.

Project Action: Winged Lions Engage, Reflect/Respond To, and Build Their Community
Our Beyond the Classroom Program is a four-year sequence of experiences designed to take the classroom into the field, expose students to life skills and possible paths, serve the greater community and develop leadership skills, culminating in a Project Action. Project Action requires students between their sophomore and senior years to engage, reflect, respond, and build on the mission-centered concept of community engagement. In short, to embrace being community builders. A student’s engagement with community through Project Action can occur within the walls of Rowland Hall, in our local community, within our global communities, or a combination of all of these. Internships are available for interested seniors after AP Exams.

Through Project Action, students align themselves with a community-building opportunity in order to fill a need in the community they have identified. The work in this project may be strictly local or connected to a global issue acted upon locally. Project Action is an opportunity to apply learning, foster leadership, and live the mission of Rowland Hall.

More About Our Advanced Courses

Rowland Hall offers a wide range of Advanced Placement (AP) and Advanced Topics (AT) classes. Students should be aware that AP and AT courses carry increased homework requirements and possibly summer work, and all students enrolled in AP classes are required to take the AP exam. Rowland Hall’s advanced courses are viewed by college admissions professionals during the college application process as the most challenging courses taught at Rowland Hall. AP exam scores are not required by any college or university in the admission process. Students may submit AP exam scores to the college they attend for consideration for advanced placement and/or credit. Finally, students may opt to take AP tests in a subject even when the corresponding course is not offered.

In certain areas, Rowland Hall faculty members and administrators believe the school can offer a richer academic experience without teaching to the course requirements and test expectations of the AP program. We believe that our AT offerings prepare students to perform well on any AP test a student elects to take. Watch the video below to hear why our Upper School Science Department has shifted from AP to AT courses.

Admission to AP, AT, and honors classes is made on the basis of departmental recommendations and on what students, teachers, parents, college counselors, academic support, and administrators believe is the appropriate course load for the student. Every student completes a course-load planning form which is reviewed by the academic support counselors, the principals, and the student’s current teachers. Ultimately, the students—with guidance from the aforementioned parties—decide the best schedules for themselves, knowing their other interests and involvements outside of the academic school day.

Current AP and AT offerings are listed below and detailed above, under their respective subject areas.

AP Classes
AP Calculus AB
AP Calculus BC
AP Computer Science A
AP Computer Science Principles
AP English Language and Composition
AP English Literature and Composition
AP European History
AP Psychology
AP Spanish Language
AP Studio Art
AT Classes
AT Biology
AT Chemistry
AT French IV
AT French V
AT Mandarin Chinese
AT Music Theory and Composition (every other year)
AT Physics
AT Precalculus (Honors)
AT Statistics
AT Mathematics
AT United States History

The Upper School Experience

Personalized Attention

Student working with teacher in science class.

Our Upper School has an average class size of 13. Every student is well-known and supported in the ways that best meet their needs.

You Belong at Rowland Hall