The Upper School

In Upper School, we are committed to the values expressed in our Founder’s Statement: humanistically-oriented education grounded in understanding, appreciation, and growth of the individual.

As expressed in the work of Howard Gardner, we see our students as possessing multiple intelligences. Our task – our sacred trust – is to lead our students in a process of discovery and definition of those intelligences that ends in their placement in the right college for each student. This is only possible if they know who they are and where they want to go.

The Upper School offers a progressive, creative, and dynamic educational program which recognizes each student’s capacity to learn, understand, and apply knowledge in myriad of ways.   We believe how each student learns, constructs, understands, and uses knowledge is as important as what she or he learns.

While maintaining the small class size and friendly environment that permeates the two lower divisions at RCDS, the Upper School is departmentalized and has an increased level of rigor.  We recognize that we are preparing students for higher education, and that we are uniquely qualified to find the right college for each student based on their individual needs, talents, and aspirations.  This begins with students identifying and clarifying those goals and aspirations, so the focus is on ethical reflection, individual responsibility, and achieving personal excellence. 

The academic program of the Upper School provides a solid foundation in all major disciplines:  the Humanities (English and history), world languages, mathematics, science, and the visual and performing arts.  As in the Children’s School and Middle School, the Upper School curriculum is organized around experiential and multidisciplinary learning.  Class work and activities are integrated around a focused course of study.  Field trips, overnight trips, and whole-school assemblies enhance the curriculum and prepare students for greater independence and intellectual challenge.

The Upper School Humanities program encourages individualism and appreciation of learning through in-depth study of language, literature and history. History is taught through a multi-faceted lens that broadens student perspectives by providing a firm foundation in the basic themes of a diverse range of civilizations, cultures, and countries. Teachers approach the study of these cultures using the Socratic Method which encourages students to think critically about issues of importance in history, literature, and their own lives.

Upper School students write frequently.  The writing process, involving reflection, drafting, and re-writing, with collaboration and feedback from classmates and teachers, occurs at all grade levels.  Under the guidance of the teachers, students edit their own and each other’s work and rewrite to polish several pieces for their own writing portfolio. The draft-revision process and peer editing are major components of the writing process.   While teachers still provide guidance, students are expected to master the basics of written communication as essential tools in the process of expression and self-discovery.

As in the lower schools, the Upper School mathematics curriculum parallels the cognitive development of the students as they progress from the concrete to the abstract. Basic skills and problem solving techniques are intertwined and given equal emphasis throughout the curriculum. Students explore and create a variety of strategies and learn to support their methodology through the use of logical reasoning. Process is valued along with product. The students are encouraged to enjoy mathematics as a pure, intellectual activity as well as see its practical applications. The math department aims to engage students critically and creatively in rigorous challenges that call upon them to develop intellectual, analytical, research, and communications skills.

Upper School science broadens students’ vision of the world and helps them redefine their understanding of that world.  As the student progresses through the grades, and at a level appropriate to their intellectual growth, demands are made for understanding explanations of increasingly complex sets of related facts about the workings of nature.  Each science course taps these increasingly complex conceptual, mathematical and spatial skills, which continue to develop throughout the high school years.

Seniors are encouraged to use the Independent Studies program as a means for exploring their WISE project before the year begins. While the Independent Studies program is separate from WISE and has different criteria for evaluation and grading, students frequently choose to bring the two programs together or use their Independent Studies results to explore possible WISE projects before the second semester of senior year.

A typical Upper School academic program includes the following:

Ninth Grade Tenth Grade Eleventh Grade Twelfth Grade
US/World Literature US/World Literature European & World Literature

A.P. English

Electives: Spoken Word or Comics & the Graphic Novel

American Literature

A.P. English

Electives: Spoken Word or Comics & the Graphic Novel
Geometry or other appropriate course  Algebra 2 or other appropriate course Pre-calculus, Calculus
or other appropriate course 
Statistics, A.P. Statistics, A.P. Calculus (AB and/or BC) or other appropriate course
Biology Chemistry or Physics Chemistry or Physics
Electives: Environmental Science, A.P. Biology, A.P. Physics C
Science electives
Electives: Environmental Science, A.P. Biology, A.P. Physics C
Western Civilization Non-Western Civilization History 11/12
A.P. History
History 11/12
A.P. History
French, Spanish, or Latin
French, Spanish, or Latin French or Spanish
French or Spanish
Electives: Photography, Music, Art, Drama Electives: Photography, Music, Art, Drama Electives: Photography, Music, Art, Drama Electives: Photography, Music, Art, Drama

Rockland Country Day School   34 Kings Highway Congers, NY 10920   Tel: 845-268-6802
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