Besant Hill School Course Catalog
THE MISSION OF BESANT HILL SCHOOL
The mission of Besant Hill School is the development of each individual’s intellectual and artistic abilities. Through awakening the spirit of inquiry, we encourage each student to pursue integrity and excellence. Our non-competitive community builds honesty, respect, compassion, and responsibility. Our goal is to develop a lifelong habit of learning as embodied in our school’s motto, Aun Aprendo—I am still learning.
BESANT HILL SCHOOL PORTRAIT OF A GRADUATE
Our graduates will:
- Honor their individual strengths and be resilient.
- Embody the ideals of environmental activism.
- Model global citizenship.
- Think critically and synthesize knowledge.
- Engage in their creative and artistic passions.
“Our purpose is to teach our students to wish to go on educating themselves. And for our graduates our valedictory wishes can be summed up in a single phrase: May you go on Learning! (Aun Aprendo – I am Still Learning)” Aldous Huxley, Commencement Address 1951
Besant Hill School Graduation Requirements
|Science||3 years (including 1 year of biology and 1 year of chemistry)|
|World Language||2 years of the same language/ 3 years highly recommended|
|Mathematics||3 years (through Math III)|
|Social Science||3 years (including World History and American (US) History)|
|Arts||3 years (visual arts and performing arts; at least one year of the same)|
|Electives||At least 3 years|
|Yearly ePortfolio Completion required for grade progression|
|Senior Capstone Project|
English I Full Year- 1 Credit
Throughout the year, ninth grade English learners will practice writing five-paragraph literary outlines and essays, narrative writing, small and large group discussion skills, and reading skills such as the Signposts by examining texts including poetry, contemporary novels, short stories, and plays. Students will engage with literature through annotations, class discussions led by the teacher or the students, presentations, visual and performative projects, reading quizzes, on-demand writing, and strengthening their collaborative and individual work. As the year progresses, students will reflect on themselves as readers, writers, and thinkers through their online ePortfolios. Additionally, each student will set reasonable goals for their individual improvement and learning throughout the school year.
English II Full Year- 1 Credit
English II is a comprehensive English course of literature, composition, and language. Students will apply and develop skills in reading, writing, and analysis through the study of multiple genres, including short story, the novel, drama, poetry, non-fiction, film, and other forms of media. The course will also focus on vocabulary and grammar as it pertains to writing skillfully. Writing will not be limited to only the academic forms— in addition to academic writing in the form of the academic essay, students will also be expected to write creatively and practice the various forms of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry studied throughout the course. Our study of literature will not only help students develop as skillful readers and writers, but it will also help them to develop as critical thinkers. The seminar format will also be a central feature of the course. Through discussion and collaboration, students will be challenged daily to continue developing not only their skills in speaking and listening, but also their ability to collaborate with peers in a mature, constructive, and inquisitive manner.
English II Honors Full Year- 1 Credit
Throughout this course, students will learn to be effective writers and readers of the English language through the study of literature and the practice of its skills. We will look at literature and its writing through the eyes of the people that write it and those that it affects. Students will develop a vocabulary of terms pertaining to each literary form we study and use these terms in order to discuss and analyze the works of noted literary figures, as well as to produce creative works of their own. In addition to the study of literature, students will study proper writing mechanics and elements of essay and research writing. Mastering the use of the English language is a valuable asset and powerful tool, and throughout this course, we will hone these techniques and create valuable and lasting skills for the future. Students in Honors English II will be exposed to a wide range of both classic and contemporary literature. Each major text will be examined in its cultural context to appreciate the history, diversity, and complexity of world issues and their connections to one’s own experiences. Throughout the year, students will reflect on their learning through the use of an ePortfolio.
English III/IV Full Year- 1 Credit
This combined Junior and Senior-level English class scaffolds the writing of literary essays, small and large group discussion skills, group and partner endeavors, and literary analysis skills through texts including poetry, contemporary novels, short stories, films, and plays. Students will be challenged to read texts from various cultures, historical periods, and perspectives and to investigate the authors, time periods, and beliefs associated with the texts they explore. They will practice critical inquiry while seeking deeper meaning in the stories they read by identifying and examining literary concepts. Students will contribute to the structure and pace of the class by bringing their own ideas and curiosities to their lessons and discussions. They will provide feedback on their own written work and progress as well as one another’s, documenting their growth and goals through their ePortfolios.
English III Honors Full Year- 1 Credit
This Junior English class for motivated learners encourages students to expand their skills through the writing of literary essays, inquiry and evidence-based discussions, small group and partner endeavors, investigation of literary terms, and analyzing works including poetry, contemporary novels, short stories, films, and plays. Students will be challenged to read complex texts from various cultures and perspectives, and to research the authors, time periods, and beliefs associated with the texts they are exploring. English III Honors students will contribute to the structure and pace of the class, bringing their own ideas and curiosities to their lessons and discussions. They will provide feedback on their written work and progress as well as one another’s, and they will also reflect on their progress and goals by documenting their assignments in their ePortfolios.
AP English Full Year- 1 Credit
In this course, students will engage in an advanced study of literature and writing, which agrees with the standards expected from a college-level English course. The curriculum requirements in this class will follow the specifications set forth in the AP Literature and Composition Course Description. Due to these considerations, students should expect to read and analyze challenging, dense, and thought-provoking material and be prepared when they come to class with questions in order to engage in discussion. Students will be expected to read a wide variety of texts and to look at them with a perceptive critical eye while examining all the elements that are required for close analysis. They will develop a vocabulary of literary terms and use these terms in order to discuss and analyze the works of noted literary figures from a variety of time periods, locations, and genres. Writing assignments in this course will consist of in-class timed writing and out-of-class formal process essays.
Creative Writing Full Year- 1 Credit
Creative Writing is an elective course that focuses on the process of writing for purposes of entertainment, refinement, and sharing. Feedback on specific writing assignments will come in the form of a workshop style approach, whereby students engage in peer editing. Writing assignments will require multiple drafts, augmenting the notion that much of quality writing involves the often laborious task of re-writing. These assignments will culminate in a portfolio, as well as public readings. Additionally, students will read and discuss a variety of work, such as short stories, poems, excerpts of memoir, personal essays, and novels, etc. This course also requires students to keep a writing journal that they will add to during class and as part of their homework, with a minimum daily and weekly word count.
The English as a Second Language Program is designed for students who are not native speakers of English. Students are placed in ESL levels by scores on the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and TWE (test of written English), and other assessment tools. First and second level ESL courses may be taken in a student’s freshman and sophomore years. By the student’s senior year, they will be mainstreamed into our academic program with additional academic support if needed. The ESL program has three levels. The student will be placed in level one, two, or three depending upon their initial TOEFL and other assessments. We honor each student’s different learning styles and requirements and use testing only as a guide for placement. The student’s prior English and academic experiences are also taken into account when placing a student in ESL levels.
Level One ESL
ESL Literature Full Year- 1 Credit
This introductory ESL course is designed to immerse English language learners into the realms of literature and writing. Students will read engaging academic short stories and novels and write about them. They will develop their understanding of sentence structure and grammar mechanics and learn new vocabulary. By the end of the year, students will be able to produce comprehensive paragraphs and will have been introduced to academic essay writing.
Language Acquisition Through Community Learning Full Year- 1 Credit
This introductory ESL course is designed for English language learners to improve their overall ability to communicate in English as they gain mastery of the language. Using a communicative approach, students will improve their language production in a safe environment that encourages a desire to communicate in English. Students are exposed to a variety of materials that will provide opportunities to use and understand English academically, professionally, and conversationally.
ESL Writing Full Year- 1 Credit
This first level ESL course is designed to give beginning students a solid foundation in academic writing. Students learn the fundamentals of English grammar and write paragraphs and essays that demonstrate their ability to express thoughts and ideas clearly.
Level Two ESL
American Literature Full Year- 1 Credit
The first semester of American Literature begins with the learning and usage of literary terms to gain a common language with which to discuss literature. Next, we move into a study of the short story, reading several traditional American authors. We focus on an analysis of the literature, understanding setting, characterization, plot, and themes while also looking for examples of imagery, irony, foreshadowing, and figurative language. We then study poetry, analyzing works by Frost, Dickinson, Hughes, and others for both meaning and structure. We end the first semester reading Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck. Reading to understand major themes is a focus, along with plot, character development, and setting. The second semester concentrates on modern American writers, reading many minority and immigrant authors and using short stories and poems. Focus is on reading more independently while gaining vocabulary and a greater understanding of literature. At the end of the semester, we focus on film as literature, looking at some of the great American films.
English II (s) Full Year- 1 Credit
In this intermediate academic English writing course, students study grammar, develop vocabulary, and learn to write strong sentences and create thoughtful paragraphs and essays. Students are introduced to fundamental research skills needed to be successful in a college preparatory environment. Over the course of the year, students read contemporary articles that encourage students to analyze, synthesize, apply knowledge, and develop an individual voice around thought-provoking topics. Students explore a range of academic subjects that improve vocabulary, grammar, and writing skills.
American Studies Full Year- 1 Credit
American Studies is an interdisciplinary class that explores American history, society, and culture from the 1600s to the present time. American culture and values are analyzed and understood through the examination of primary sources, fictional writing, academic writing, movies, and other forms of media. The course focuses on American history and culture through the thematic lens of immigration, geography, art, music, fashion, economics, sports, mass media, and technology. This course is centered on a student’s participation, critical thinking, and analytical understanding of both primary and secondary sources. The class progresses through the academic year in challenging students to think analytically by participating in class discussions, presentations, academic writing, and projects. The class is designed to challenge students to critically think about how and why culture and values change throughout history.
Level Three ESL
Advanced Composition Full Year- 1 Credit
This course is designed to introduce advanced language learners to the demands of college preparatory reading and writing. Students are exposed to provocative and thematic texts that encourage and assist in the development of high-order analytical and critical thinking skills. They learn to interpret public dialogue, stimulate their opinions, and engage in thoughtful discourse that inspires written work. This course expands viewpoints and strengthens critical analysis. The class emphasizes grammar mechanics, vocabulary, and the development of thoughtful academic writing.
ESL Support Full Year- 1 Credit
ESL Support is designed for mainstreamed English language learners to give them academic support to assist with their classwork and overall English language acquisition. With a small student-teacher ratio, the class focuses on all academic skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking. Utilizing a variety of language tools and technology, students work with the teacher to improve their language skills. The students have an opportunity during this class to work on TOEFL and SAT/ACT preparation and college application preparedness.
World Language Department
French I Full Year- 1 Credit
This class is an introduction to the French language. In a full immersion context, we will develop self-confidence in speaking a foreign language. The class focuses mainly on conversation, and we will learn the alphabet, colors, numbers, how to greet, ask questions, describe and speak about different subjects, all in the present tense and immediate future. Students learn how to conjugate and use with confidence verbs, nouns, and adjectives, how to make comparisons, and how to express their likes and dislikes. They learn how to structure a short story and how to retell an event. We will also read multiple-page stories and write paragraphs. The French culture is an important aspect of the class, and we will work on different projects about famous people, history, food, literature, travel, and art in French-speaking countries. Participation is imperative for doing well in this course. Our goal is to achieve accurate and native-like communication and fluency.
French II Full Year- 1 Credit
In this course, students learn how to speak with confidence in the past, imperfect, progressive and formal future tenses. Classes are conducted solely in French without relying on translation or tedious memorization techniques. Students learn how to use prepositions to indicate locations as they read and retell short stories. They learn the conditional and the past progressive tenses and reflexive verbs. They learn about current events, food, transportation, travel, the environment, and the arts in the French-speaking world. We read, discuss, and write about Internet news articles, short stories and novels. Our main focus is to improve the students’ fluency by building up their vocabulary and ease with verb tenses. Participation, participation and more participation is imperative for doing well in this course.
French III Full Year- 1 Credit
In this course, students learn how to speak with confidence in the past, imperfect, and formal future tenses. They learn how to use prepositions to indicate locations as they read and retell short stories. They learn the conditional and past progressive tenses and reflexive verbs. They learn about current events, food, transportation, travel, the environment, and the arts in the French speaking world. We read, discuss, and write about Internet news articles and the novel, “Le Petit Prince.” Our main focus is to improve the students’ fluency by building up their vocabulary and ease with verb tenses. Participation, participation, and more participation is imperative for doing well in this course.
AP French Full Year- 1 Credit
The AP French Language and Culture course is taught 100% in French. Students are fully immersed in the French language through daily conversations, real-life situations, discussions, and games that promote the use of their oral skills. Using authentic materials, including but not limited to online articles, audio and audiovisual resources, newspaper articles, magazines, and literary works, students are provided opportunities to further develop their proficiency across the three modes of communication: Interpretive, Interpersonal, and Presentational. Frequent mini-lessons in grammar are designed to correct errors, which are detected during class participation. Cultural instruction includes the study of ALL French-speaking countries, practices, and perspectives of their people and culture, food, art, and literature. This course is the culmination of the four-year sequence of French Language and Culture study at this college preparatory school. All four levels are entirely taught in the target language and students are required to only communicate in the target language while in class. In this advanced level of French, students communicate with the instructor exclusively in French inside and outside of the classroom.
Spanish I Full Year- 1 Credit
Spanish I is a course conducted solely in Spanish without relying on translation or tedious memorization techniques. This class is an introduction to the Spanish language. In a full immersion context, we will develop self-confidence in speaking a foreign language. The class focuses mainly on conversation, and we will learn the alphabet, colors, numbers, how to greet, ask questions, describe, and speak about different subjects, all in the present tense and immediate future. Students learn how to conjugate and use with confidence verbs, nouns, and adjectives, make comparisons, and express their likes and dislikes. They learn how to structure a short story and retell events. We will also read multiple-page stories and write paragraphs and short stories. The Hispanic culture is an important aspect of the class, and we will work on different projects about famous people, history, food, literature, and art in Spanish speaking countries. Participation, participation, and more participation is imperative for doing well in this course. Our goal is to achieve accurate and native-like communication and fluency.
Spanish II Full Year- 1 Credit
Spanish II is a course conducted solely in Spanish without relying on translation or tedious memorization techniques. This is the second course of a series of four levels. In this course, students learn how to speak with confidence in the Past, Imperfect, Present, and Past Progressive Tenses. They learn how to use prepositions to indicate locations. They learn how to use reflexive verbs in every tense they have already learned. Students read, retell and make up their own short stories. Native-like pronunciation and communication are our main focus.
Spanish III Full Year- 1 Credit
Spanish III is a course conducted solely in Spanish without relying on translation or tedious memorization techniques. This is the third course of a series of four levels. In this course, students review the past, imperfect, progressive, and future tenses. They learn the conditional and past progressive tenses. They learn about transportation, traveling, and the environment. They also learn about food in the Spanish-speaking world. Our main focus is to improve the students’ fluency by building their vocabulary. We read two novels in Spanish and discuss the events in the story. Participation, participation, and more participation is imperative for doing well within this course.
AP Spanish Full Year- 1 Credit
The AP Spanish Language and Culture course is taught 100% in Spanish. Students are fully immersed in the Spanish language through daily conversations, real-life situations, discussions, and games that promote the use of their oral skills. Using authentic materials, including but not limited to online articles, audio and audiovisual resources, newspaper articles, magazines, and literary works, students are provided opportunities to further develop their proficiency across the three modes of communication: Interpretive, Interpersonal, and Presentational. Frequent mini-lessons in grammar are designed to correct errors, which are detected during class participation. Cultural instruction includes the study of ALL Spanish-speaking countries, practices, and perspectives of their people and culture, food, art, and literature. This course is the culmination of the four-year sequence of Spanish Language and Culture study. All four levels are entirely taught in the target language and students are required to only communicate in the target language while in class. In this advanced level of Spanish, students communicate with the instructor exclusively in Spanish inside and outside of the classroom.
Social Science Department
Cultural Geography Full Year- 1 Credit
This entry-level course looks at culture and geography through different thematic lenses. Cultural Geography allows us to look at the changing world, the global village, and how geography has a cultural and societal response. Students develop their critical thinking skills as they examine maps, primary sources, and secondary sources. The course focuses on these skill sets to not only improve the students’ geography skills but to encourage them as active learners. Students will approach this class constantly questioning and incorporating different disciplines that may include: an environmental, sociological, political, and economic perspective. This course’s focus is to develop skills needed for a successful high school career and development of critical learners.
World History Full Year- 1 Credit
World History at Besant Hill School is an intermediate level course designed to investigate the development of the world’s civilizations by studying their political and economic systems, as well as their social, cultural, and religious contributions to history. Throughout the academic year, the students will learn about major historical events that shaped society, geography, and human relationships. Attention is paid to both Western and non-Western cultures, as well as the relationship between the two. Students will also develop critical thinking skills and use their knowledge to discuss the current economic and political dynamic worldwide as they develop as thoughtful global citizens.
World History Honors Full Year- 1 Credit
The World History Honors course at Besant Hill expands upon the coursework offered in the World History class and offers a curriculum of increased rigor and challenge. Students will read primary texts and bring this insight to class discussions, as well as completing an independent reading assignment each semester. Some of the skills taught in this honors course include the ability to comprehend nonfiction text from a variety of sources, the ability to acquire and retain information from a lecture using a variety of note-taking techniques, the ability to formulate original ideas based on academic research, the ability to use both primary and secondary sources to generate defensible arguments, and the ability to execute multiple research-based written works in MLA format with proper citation. At the completion of this course, students will demonstrate the critical thinking skills necessary to adapt to and engage in the rapidly changing world as global citizens.
US History Full Year- 1 Credit
This course examines the history of the United States using both primary and secondary sources. The class will focus on themes in history ranging from American Indian Cultures, Colonial America, Revolutionary War, Civil War, Industrial Revolution, Immigration, and Cold War, among others. The primary focus of the class is to engage students to become analytical thinkers and to look at the history of the United States from a multi-perspective lens. Goals for this course are for students to understand, evaluate, and analyze primary and secondary source material.
AP US History Full Year- 1 Credit
Advanced Placement United States History at BHS is a chronological and thematic survey course in United States History covering the time period from Colonial America (1492) to contemporary America (2000s). “The AP program in United States History is designed to provide students with the analytical skills and enduring understandings necessary to deal critically with the problems and materials in United States history. An AP United States History course should thus develop the skills necessary to arrive at conclusions on the basis of an informed judgment and to present reasons and evidence clearly and persuasively in an essay format (Collegeboard.com).” The course will emphasize key themes in United States history including: American diversity, identity and culture, demographic change, economic transformations, the environment, globalization politics, reform, religion, slavery and its legacies in North America, and war and diplomacy. That said, the overriding theme throughout the year involves American diversity and changing political and social reactions to that diversity.
Philosophy Semester- 0.5 Credit
Introduction to Philosophy is an upper-level course designed to introduce and reinforce an understanding of rational thought. It will focus on core issues in philosophy such as: the meaning of life, arguments for and against the existence of God, the problem of evil, the nature of reality, the search for truth, the mind-body problem, the importance of freedom, morality and ethics, and aesthetics. Cross-cultural, feminist, and post-modern perspectives will be explored, in addition to the Western canon. Students will reflect on these issues through debate, discussion, and formal papers to develop analytical skills, evaluate arguments, and think critically and independently.
Global Issues Semester – 0.5 Credit
The Global Issues course will empower students with the critical thinking, analytical, and communication skills required to address a world in which increasing interdependence and interconnection demands global competence. Global Issues identifies and introduces those significant and diverse issues and events that have emerged as worldwide priorities in the 21st century, including; the global economy, human migration and immigration, climate change and environmental sustainability, human rights, conflict and terrorism, and worldwide threats to public health. Through research, analytical writing, collaborative debate, and inquiry-based discussion, students will better understand the influences that impact their personal bias and how their opinions withstand the test of reputable source-based evidence and facts. They will be expected to respect multi-perspective views, understand the critical necessity for media literacy, and reflect on their challenge as globally responsible citizens to bridge the barriers that divide.
Psychology Full Year – 1 Credit
The Psychology course at Besant Hill School is designed to educate students on the history of psychology, basic theories and principles, and guide students to a better understanding of self and personal identity. Students will explore the five, broad pillars of psychology as designed by the American Psychological Association’s high school curriculum: Biological, Cognition, Development and Learning, with an emphasis on adolescent development, Social and Personality, and Mental and Physical Health. This course will also scratch the surface of the ethical principles of psychology. Students will broaden their understanding through discussions, essays, and research to allow for critical thinking and self-discovery.
AP Human Geography Full Year- 1 Credit
In Advanced Placement Human Geography, students will investigate the patterns and processes that have molded the human understanding, use, and alteration of Earth’s surface and in doing so will understand the distribution, process, and effects of human populations on the planet. The main topics of study include spatial analysis, population, migration, culture, language, religion, ethnicity, political geography, economic development, industry, agriculture, and urban geography. A range of activities, models, and case studies are explored which help students to compare global issues.
Math I Full Year- 1 Credit
Math I is the first course in an integrated four-year sequence of math courses. Students will study algebraic concepts such as linear and exponential equations and function; they will develop their statistical foundations and perform data analysis; and they will learn geometric topics such as simple proofs, congruence, and transformations. All of these topics (algebra, statistics, and geometry) are intertwined, and efforts have been made to introduce multiple topics that utilize the same mathematical skills in a logical progression. Along the way, students will have the opportunity to express their creativity with artistic math projects.
Math II Full Year- 1 Credit
Math II is the second course in an integrated four-year sequence of courses. Math II examines the structure of algebra as a reflection of the real and complex number systems. Emphasis is placed on solving systems of equations, inequalities, and exponential and logarithmic equations. Technology is used to explore applications of real-world experiences and introduces and expands upon the areas of studies throughout the year. The objectives of this course are to develop further proficiency with polynomials and factoring, to understand the word relations and functions in a mathematical context, and to create a clear understanding of the real number system. All of these topics (algebra, geometry, and statistics) are intertwined, and efforts have been made to introduce multiple topics that utilize the same mathematical skill (for instance, visual displays is a theme in geometric and algebraic constructions, and data representation) in a logical progression. The relationship between data, graphs, and equations is stressed throughout.
Math III Full Year- 1 Credit
Math III is the third course in an integrated four-year sequence of courses. Math III progresses from the standards learned in Math I and Math II. In addition to these standards, Math III is extended to include algebraic concepts such as: the complex number system, inverse functions, trigonometric functions, and the unit circle. Math III also includes the geometric concepts of conics and circles. Integrated Mathematics combines topics and skills from different mathematical disciplines (including algebra, geometry, probability, and statistics) to enable students to use a variety of skills and strategies to become effective problem solvers and communicators of mathematics.
Math IV Full Year- 1 Credit
Math IV is the fourth course in an integrated four-year sequence of courses. The goals of the program are to build student skills and interests in the use of algebra as a means to describe the physical world and solve problems, to develop spatial relationships, logical arguments, problem-solving skills, and an understanding of axiomatic systems through the study of geometry, and develop skills in compiling, representing, and analyzing data, and gain insights into the likelihood of events in the study of probability and statistics. All of these topics (algebra, geometry, and statistics) are intertwined, and efforts have been made to introduce multiple topics that utilize the same mathematical skill (for instance, modeling, conic sections, and trigonometric functions all require an understanding of transformations) in a logical progression.
Math IV Honors Full Year- 1 Credit
Pre-Calculus weaves together the previous study of algebra, geometry, and mathematical functions into a preparatory course for Calculus. A more interactive and more visual approach is adopted. Topics include functions and graphs, quadratic functions, inequalities, polynomials, and rational functions, exponential and logarithmic functions, trigonometric functions and equations, applications of trigonometry, systems of equations and matrices, analytic trigonometry, topics in combinatorics and an introduction to Calculus. Along the way, students will have the opportunity to express their creativity with artistic math projects.
AP Calculus Full Year- 1 Credit
AP Calculus is an introductory college-level calculus course. Students cultivate their understanding of differential and integral calculus through engaging with real-world problems represented graphically, numerically, analytically, and verbally and using definitions and theorems to build arguments and justify conclusions as they explore concepts like change, limits, and the analysis of functions.
AP Statistics Full Year- 1 Credit
AP Statistics is an introductory college-level statistics course that introduces students to the major concepts and tools for collecting, analyzing, and drawing conclusions from data. Students cultivate their understanding of statistics using technology, investigations, problem-solving, and writing as they explore concepts like variation and distribution; patterns and uncertainty; and data-based predictions, decisions, and conclusions.
Science Full Year- 1 Credit
The content of this course will begin at large-scale Earth processes and then narrow the scope to smaller-scale topics. The first semester will focus on Plate Tectonic theory, geological processes, and mineralogy. The second semester will begin with climatology and oceanography and transition into life-science disciplines such as environmental science, ecology, and biology. A benefit of the pacing of this class is that it allows for the interests of the students to drive the class into further detail where appropriate. By the end of this course, students will have an exposure to a wide variety of scientific disciplines, as well as beginning experience performing labs and writing formal lab reports.
Environmental Science Full Year- 1 Credit
This course is designed as a Place-Based Environmental Science lab course. Place-based environmental sustainability education is essentially the study of the relationship between all things and the environment in which they are found. The implicit understanding cultivated is that all things are in relationship and interconnected to the environment, including we humans. Place-Based environmental education integrates experiential investigations of the local environment to cultivate an awareness of the fundamental principles of environmental science, the development of environmental systems thinking, a sensitivity for the natural history and natural habitats of the local environment, and an appreciation for human interdependence and interconnection with the environment.
Biology Full Year- 1 Credit
This lab and field-based life science course empowers students to develop a mastery of biological concepts and skills through the exploration of cell biology, genetics, conservation biology, ecology, and evolutionary biology. Throughout the course, biology students are able to embrace the tenants of Aun Aprendo and enhance their global citizenry by participating in community-based projects centered around endangered Southern California Steelhead fish recovery programs and habitat restoration programs for migratory seabird nesting sites. Skills gained through the biology course will equip students for future laboratory sciences and enhance each students ability to think critically and synthesize knowledge.
Chemistry Full Year- 1 Credit
The goal of this course is to increase the scientific literacy of all students through constant exposure to science practices in the context of the composition and interactions of matter. The goal of this course is to encourage students’ critical thinking skills in the process of learning how to assess and apply information in a scientific manner. The content of the chemistry curriculum begins with the definition of matter and then progresses from simple to complex explanations of the organization of matter. In the first semester, students explore the composition and interactions of atoms, and in the second semester, the focus expands to the compounds or molecules formed by atoms and the interactions of these molecules.
Botany Full Year- 1 Credit
Botany is a high school science course that is designed to provide students with an intimate understanding of the scientific structure and function of plants. In addition, this course will emphasize the practical application of plants in agriculture and, in particular, the application of sustainable agricultural practices. The course will use traditional classroom practices, multimedia resources, and hands-on work in the school garden and landscapes to accomplish the class objectives that are listed below. This course also prepares students to produce greenhouse/nursery plants and to maintain plant growth and propagation structures. Students study soil media, native and introduced plant identification, integrated pest management techniques, plant pathology, and advanced techniques in sustainable agriculture. The course is largely project-based and emphasizes the application of knowledge and skills. A significant percent of class time is spent in the field or gardens on campus.
AP Biology Full Year- 1 Credit
The goal of this course is to encourage students to engage in critical thinking and to learn how to assess and apply information in a scientific manner. Students use biological content to propose scientific experiments, design data collection strategies, analyze scientific data, and form conclusions based on scientific data. Students also relate biological knowledge across four major divisions of biology; biochemistry, genetics, evolution, and ecology. AP Biology students will be expected to participate in a wide variety of inquiry-based laboratories and field studies. These opportunities offer students a platform to engage with biological phenomena in a professional and real-world way.
AP Environmental Science Full Year- 1 Credit
AP Environmental Science is the equivalent of a college-level survey course designed to convey the multidisciplinary scientific principles, concepts, and methodologies required for understanding the interrelated systems interacting to support the natural world around us. Areas of study for this course include the fields of Geology, Biology, Chemistry, Geography, as well as Environmental Science. Emphasis is placed on the use of science as a unifying process for identifying, analyzing, and interpreting a wide variety of topics and recurring environmental themes and the evaluation and risk assessment of environmental issues and concerns that may be either natural, man-made, or both.
Performing Arts Department
Music Ensemble I Full Year- 1 Credit
Students of any experience level can explore the world of instrumental music in the Music Ensemble I class. In a small, safe, and encouraging environment, students learn the fundamentals of playing an instrument and the joy of music-making as an ensemble. All genres are explored in this class, Rock, Jazz, Classical, Blues, and Pop. Development of sound technique, reading standard notation, and self-expression through musical performance are the primary objectives of this year-long course.
Music Ensemble II Full Year- 1 Credit
Building on the fundamentals learned in Music Ensemble I, Music Ensemble II is a fun and challenging opportunity for instrumentalists to take their playing to another level. Along with elevated levels of instruction and study, students in this class often find themselves performing in a wide variety of contexts at both on and off-campus venues. In Music Ensemble II, students increase their musical skill level and their ability to express themselves through music by the rigorous study of their instrument as well as the detailed analysis of the musical masters of a host of different genres. It is an ideal environment for musical and personal growth as we explore critical thinking and self-expression in an intimate and engaging environment.
Music Ensemble III Full Year- 1 Credit
Music Ensemble III is an exciting performance experience at an advanced level. Students continue to build on their previous skills and work to develop high levels of musicianship and expressivity in a small ensemble setting. This class frequently performs off-campus and represents the school at events such as Ojai Day and Regional Jazz festivals. The focus of this class is the further development of individual musical expression and technique within the context of an advanced ensemble performance experience. Technique, Music Theory, various musical genres, and advanced level ensemble performance are the primary objectives of this class. Through the rigorous study of one’s instrument and the repertoire of master composers of Jazz, Rock, Classical, Pop, and Blues, students not only learn how to have fun making great music, but also the significant roles that Self Reflection, Critical Thinking, and teamwork play in making music at both extremely high levels of technical and musical excellence.
Guitar Ensemble Full Year- 1 Credit
Guitar Ensemble is a fun and challenging class that welcomes guitarists of all levels of ability and experiences. In a creative and engaging environment, students learn proper playing techniques, how to read traditional notation, how to play songs both in small and larger group contexts, and the thrill of performing on stage. Through rigorous practice and the exploration of a diverse repertoire of genres, students will experience the joy and power of self-expression with an ensemble experience. The primary objectives of this experience are to encourage and develop technical skills, increase reading literacy on the guitar, teach self-reflection and critical thinking, and develop a life-long love of music and learning of all kinds.
Music Theory Full Year- 1 Credit
The music theory course at Besant Hill School is a yearlong class that explores the operations and analysis of music from the fundamentals of music to advanced concepts and practical applications. Studies throughout the year include concepts in harmony, melody, form, rhythm, music analysis, ear training, sight-singing, melodic and harmonic dictation, basic keyboard skills, and a historical overview of styles and periods in Western Classical Music, American Popular Music, and Jazz.
Acting Full Year- 1 Credit
This course explores the foundational skills that make up the actor’s technique. From Stanislavsky to Stella Adler to Shakespeare and Tom Stoppard, along with everything in between, students are introduced to and creating characters and scene work by using a variety of traditional and contemporary approaches to acting. Performances in class and on the main stage occur regularly and provide the practical opportunities necessary to build confidence in their theatrical performance, as well as their public speaking and presentation skills in general. This class is augmented from time to time with speakers and/or presentations from working professionals. Field trips, plays, and films will also occasionally be required as part of the curriculum.
Performing Arts Full Year – 1 Credit
Performing Arts is a survey-style class that provides the opportunity to discover and engage in your particular likes and potential through improvisations, theater games, stage directions, acting techniques, theater history, basic music theory, and vocal/choral production techniques. The course also culminates each semester in at least one school/community performance. The class is also augmented from time to time with speakers and/or presentations from professionals in any of the fields. (Recent guests have included Broadway and regional theater personalities, and we even have had opportunities for students to serve as AD’s and or extras in the filming of motion pictures!) Field trips to museums, concerts, plays and films are also occasionally offered. This course is open to all students with no prerequisite requirement.
Chamber Singers Full Year- 1 Credit
This performance-oriented course is open to all students in grades 9-12 who wish to participate in ensemble singing. Previous choral experience is not necessary, and there is no audition required in order to participate. The repertoire covers a wide range of music from classical to pop and several formal concerts are produced throughout the year. Attendance is required at all school concerts, as well as any choral festivals, competitions, and other performance opportunities outside of the school day. Recognizing the principles of individual responsibility and collective accountability, as well as developing a lifelong appreciation of music, are several of the important goals of the class.
Visual Arts Department
Studio Art Full Year- 1 Credit
The Studio Arts course introduces students to the fundamentals of art and design. Students engage in exercises, projects, experiments, and learning art vocabulary to help develop a technical art and design foundation. Students work from a variety of sources both inside and outside of the classroom. Several different mediums are examined. Drawing, painting, color theory, printmaking, collage, and three-dimensional techniques are some of the methods covered. Content and style are examined using history and culture as a device to help students find a deeper-rooted meaning in their work. Group critiques, one-on-one dialogue, and an artist’s journal are used to help further their research.
Advanced Studio Art Full Year- 1 Credit
The Advanced Studio Arts class focuses on developing technical skills and creating artwork derived from students’ individual interests. The course fosters creativity by refining specific techniques and emphasizing the value of being open to numerous forms of artistic expression. Students learn to find artistic inspiration and direction through research, experimentation, professional artists, and the world around them. Students work individually and in groups on assigned and self-created projects. One-on-one dialogue with the teacher, art vocabulary, and group critiques are used to help students understand and talk about the formal and conceptual qualities of their own artwork, as well as others. A professional portfolio will be maintained along with a journal. Portfolio development and artist statement support will be offered to students applying to college art programs.
Ceramics Full Year- 1 Credit
Besant Hill School and Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts support a long tradition for ceramic artwork. Ceramics is instructed at Lower Campus, in a secluded and peaceful spot. Students create functional work and sculpture through the application of a variety of hand-building techniques, wheel-throwing techniques, and glazed finishes. The class is open to students of all skill levels and instructs students on the development of their artistic expression through the clay medium.
Art History Full Year- 1 Credit
Art History is designed for students to gain a basic understanding of the timeline of art history from Western and non-Western cultures. The course introduces students to influential artists and artwork pertaining to the many periods of creative history. A hands-on/project-based approach with discussions and creative research are emphasized. A curatorial approach is used as a vehicle for students to explore, compare, and contrast the many different genres and subjects of different cultures and time periods. Tactile projects are put into practice. Articles by historians and critics are studied along with selected chapters from a textbook. Students should leave this course with a better appreciation and understanding of how art has impacted the way we see and react to the world around us.
Film Full Year- 1 Credit
The goal of the Screenwriting & Film Production Class is to provide an introduction to all aspects of film – from script to screen – and a vocabulary for intelligent discussion and critical evaluation of a film’s effectiveness. Through watching and analyzing great movies from the perspectives of the screenwriter, cinematographer, director, editor, and composer, students will learn new vocabulary and a deeper understanding of the roles and contributions each of these collaborators make to the story. Students will have the opportunity to create several short films in several genres. Students will serve as crew on each other’s projects, an opportunity for hands-on experience in various aspects of production. Using the vocabulary learned in the earlier class sessions, students will provide each other with constructive feedback during the post-production process. By year’s end, students should have acquired a deeper understanding and a more critical way of thinking about film, as well as acquiring the skills to further explore the medium.
Digital Arts and Photography Full Year- 1 Credit
In Digital Arts and Photography, students will use computer software and digital cameras to create visual works of art. The progress of this class will be highly individualized based on each student’s experience and motivation. Students will learn the Adobe Creative Suite, starting with Photoshop, and the functions, tools, bars, drop-down options, filters, brushes, and color palettes that make up the Photoshop interface. Students will be challenged to create shapes, layouts, type treatments, and various graphic elements and will understand the specific function of the Adobe Creative Suite and how it can harness and enhance their artistic visions. Additionally, students will learn photographic techniques and learn the skills to utilize Canon EOS Rebel T7 DSLR cameras.
Bookmaking and Publishing Full Year- 1 Credit
Bookmaking and Publishing is a course designed with the intention of giving students a foundation for graphic design with the specific intention of producing print media. Over the year, students will learn how to produce a visually pleasing design, and they will produce a range of different printed products. Posters, postcards, booklets, holiday cards, the school yearbook, and an art magazine are all examples of media that will be designed and produced by students in the course. Throughout the first semester, each student will sharpen their technical and visual skills in producing a range of smaller products. During the second term, the class will bring their skills together to design and produce the school yearbook.
Instructional Support Program
All students in Instructional Support (ISP) focus on 10 areas of learning: Organization, Time Management, Prioritization, Goal Setting, Learning Styles and Self-Advocacy, Study time and Environment, Note-taking, Test-taking, Reading and Writing Strategies. All instruction and activities are metacognitive in nature and designed to help students understand the “why” behind learning. Level 1 ISP focuses on building basic routines and creating habits that support learning. Students will be introduced to the master binder system, will learn how to effectively take and revise notes, and will examine various learning and study strategies. Students in Level 1 ISP are developing as learners with the support of the ISP staff and will meet 5 days a week. They will be assigned to an ISP period during the school day and will receive support during the after school/study hall period during the two days a week when their class does not meet. Students will communicate with their teachers every other week regarding their grade in progress. Level 1 is designed for students who will benefit from daily interaction with an adult to help monitor their academic progress and assignments.
All students in Instructional Support (ISP) focus on 10 areas of learning: Organization, Time Management, Prioritization, Goal Setting, Learning Styles and Self-Advocacy, Study time and Environment, Note-taking, Test-taking, Reading and Writing Strategies. All instruction and activities are metacognitive in nature and designed to help students understand the “why” behind learning. Students in Level 2 have learned and implemented ISP learning strategies and are moving towards independence while still receiving interaction with an adult to help monitor their academic progress and assignments. Students in Level 2 attend ISP Class 3 days a week and have the option of attending ISP study hall nightly, but are not required to attend. Students in Level 2 will be responsible for taking a grade check around to their teachers every other week, and those grades will be emailed home upon the ISP teacher’s receipt of the grade check.
All students in Instructional Support (ISP) focus on 10 areas of learning: Organization, Time Management, Prioritization, Goal Setting, Learning Styles and Self-Advocacy, Study time and Environment, Note-taking, Test-taking, Reading and Writing Strategies. All instruction and activities are metacognitive in nature and designed to help students understand the “why” behind learning. Students enrolled in Level 3 are preparing to transition out of Instructional Support. These students will meet in class with the Instructional Support staff 1 time per week. This meeting allows for students to check in with a staff member, evaluate their prior academic week, and plan for the coming week. Students in Level 3 will be required to take a grade check to their teachers once a month and grades will be emailed home to parents when the ISP teacher has received the grade check from the student.
Besant Hill School of Happy Valley
8585 Ojai Santa Paula Rd
Ojai, CA 93023
Tel: (805) 646-4343
Fax: (805) 646-4371