Upper School Photo 3

Upper School

Upper School delivers an all-around high school experience providing rigorous academic work, opportunities for leadership, athletics, and a strong college counseling program. Faculty hold high expectations for their students, accompanied by an unwavering commitment to their success.

Teaching students to write well is one of the hallmarks of our curriculum. Students are instructed across disciplines in the art of the analytical and personal essay, with emphasis on the organization and development of a well written argument. Our alumni often comment that the training in writing they received while at WPS was outstanding.

Our Upper School prepares students for the demands of college and the rigors of 21st-century careers and citizenship.

College-Preparatory Curriculum

Worcester Prep’s robust graduation requirements call for four years of English, mathematics, science, history and foreign language. Other required courses include Art and Music Appreciation, Integrated Technology, Sophomore and Junior SAT Prep, and physical education.

In addition to regular college prep classes, a diverse selection of electives, and honors courses, Worcester Prep currently offers Advanced Placement (AP) courses in English Literature, English Language, American History, Calculus AB, Calculus BC, Physics, Biology, and Chemistry.

Students may also choose from a number of electives including art, digital engineering, robotics, dance, voice, drama, photography, and technology.

Following is a sampling of courses Worcester Preparatory School offers to its Upper School students. The list is not all inclusive and courses may be added, changed, or deleted as required.

Academic Subjects

English - In English 9 and 10 the emphasis remains on perfecting grammar and writing skills as well as studying literature. In the Grade 9 curriculum a detailed study of the MLA handbook occurs and a research paper using the MLA is required.

Literature is genre based and vocabulary is also studied.  In Grade 10, the reading emphasis is on World Literature. English 11 and English 12 are college preparatory courses that refine writing skills and literary analysis.  American literature is the focus in English 11 and British literature is the focus in English 12. Students also may choose AP English 11 (Language and Composition) and AP English 12 (Literature and Composition).

AP English Literature and Composition - Students in AP English Literature and Composition engage  in the careful reading and analysis of literary works.  Students develop critical standards for the independent appreciation of poetry, drama, and fiction. Students are also involved in the practice of writing and learn to use various modes of discourse to recognize the assumptions underlying various rhetorical choices. Writing assignments focus on the critical analysis of literature and include essays and research papers in exposition and argument.  Literary selections focus on works from both the American and English traditions and from various periods from the sixteenth century on.

AP English Language and Composition - Students in AP English Language and Composition are trained to become skilled readers of prose written in a variety of historical periods, academic disciplines, and rhetorical contexts.  A concentration is place on the connection between reading and writing prose of many kinds.  The course focuses mainly on nonfiction in order to help students grow increasingly aware of how authors from different periods and disciplines suit their writing choices to specific aims. The course will bring students to an awareness of the different stylistic effects created by different syntactical choices and levels of diction.

Foreign Language - Incoming 9th grade students are given foreign language preference forms. At that time students may choose either French, Spanish or Mandarin. Preferences are, however, not guaranteed. Once students are enrolled in either French, Spanish or Mandarin, transfers to the other language may not be allowed.

The first level of each foreign language course includes an introduction to the culture or cultures of the countries in which the language is spoken as well as the basics of grammar and conversation. The sound system and intonation patterns are presented as the students gain an elementary understanding of the spoken language. Other course levels available are II, III, and IV. In these offerings more difficult grammar, writing, vocabulary, literature, and speaking patterns are presented. In upper level courses, class sessions are conducted, for the most part, in the target language.

Other course levels available are French II, French III, Honors French IV, Spanish II, Spanish III, and Honors Spanish IV.

History - In Upper School World History I is offered to Grade 9 students. This course covers classical history up through the Renaissance. World history II is a course for Grade 10 students and emphasizes the major historical developments from the European explorers to the present day.

U.S. History is a survey of American History offered in Grade 11.  AP US History is also offered and prepares students to take the Advanced Placement U.S. History test in May.

Contemporary Issues is required of all Grade 12 students. Students study the general concepts of political science and some economics.  The focus is on current issues and their political and social implications in the world today. Course content comes from current magazines, media, and resources persons.

Two electives are available to Grade 12 students. Economics allows students to study the  basic tenets of our economic system. Military History provides in-depth study of the US Civil War in the first semester and World War II in the second semester.

Math - In Upper School Algebra I is offered to new students and those needing more time to grasp basic algebraic structure.  Students then begin to adjust to logical systematic thinking in Geometry. Proof-oriented class sessions encourage students to organize their thoughts and work. The next course is Algebra II where special attention is given to developing the student’s ability to think algebraically.

The higher level math courses include Honors Pre-Calculus, which provides a solid preparation for those students planning to take AP Calculus I and AP Calculus II. There is also an Algebra III college level algebra course offered to juniors and seniors and a statistics course offered to seniors.

Science - Upper School science courses are taught in two well-equipped science labs. The main science lab is a spacious facility which is enhanced with extensive scientific apparatus including microscopes, models, laser equipment, specimens, an environmental chamber, technology resources, and storage areas. Safety equipment includes eye washes, a shower, and blankets. Adjacent to this lab is an experiment preparation room with refrigeration facilities, and chemical and equipment storage. A smaller lab also includes the same safety features and storage. A lecture room is also adjacent to the main lab.

Science courses at the Worcester Preparatory School are designed to meet the needs of scientifically-oriented students as well as those desiring a basic science background. Lab work, demonstrations, and investigations are all integral parts of the program as students are encouraged to discover through experimentation, discussion, and lecture. All students are required to take a science course each year.

Grade 9 students study Physical Science. This is a course especially designed to give students practice in the techniques of the scientific method. A hands-on experiment-oriented course, which includes content emphasizing the study of atoms, molecules, compounds, elements, molecular motion, and energy.

Biology, a course for the Grade 10 students, encompasses a study of the basic biological processes of the human body as well as the growth and development of various organisms. The biological basis of behavior is covered in this study. An Advanced Placement Biology course is also offered.

Chemistry, required for Grade 11, is a lab-oriented course which covers atomic theory, conservation laws, kinetic theory, condensed phases of matter, the periodic table, atomic structure, energy changes, rates of reaction, equilibrium, oxidation, carbon compounds, etc. AP Chemistry is also offered.

Physics and Advanced Placement Physics generally taken by Grade 12 are laboratory oriented courses covering scientific principles such as the study of motion, force, projectiles, and wave motion.

Special Subjects

Art - Art Appreciation, required for graduation, is a course in which students are introduced to the fundamental facts, history, and concepts of art. Students learn to recognize an artist's work and to converse on the techniques used as well as the schools of art which influenced each artist. This course carries ½ credit and is part of the GPA.

With the instructor's approval, students in Grades 9 - 12 are eligible to take Art Elective, an arts and crafts practicum. In this course virtually all of the possible media in art are used and studied on advanced levels.

Technology - Students in Grade 9 and Grade 12 have scheduled Integrated Technology classes in the computer lab, which have ½ credit each.

Computer Elective classes feature desktop publishing, multimedia programming, web development and technology troubleshooting.  A Computer Programming elective is offered to Grade 12 students. Two five-period a week classes are offered as an elective for seniors. One emphasizes programming and the other, design.

Besides the computer lab in the main building there is a computer lab in the library for student use.  Also, there are mobile computer labs with laptops and iPads. Worcester has a wireless network and most rooms are equipped with iPads and Smart, Epson, or other interactive systems. 

Several faculty have created their own eBooks to reflect what they cover in their classes.

Electives - Students may also choose from a number of electives including art, digital engineering, robotics, dance, voice, drama, photography, and technology.

Music - Music Appreciation, a course for students in Grades 9-12, is required for graduation. Building upon the knowledge and skills taught in music classes in grades K-8, students learn to listen to music for the aesthetic benefit as well as for technical analysis. Emphasis is placed upon a study of the theoretical and historical bases of music. Students also learn to recognize important classical works as they gain an understanding of the many forms and arrangements in music. This course carries ½ credit and is part of the GPA.

Physical Education - The physical education program provides students with activities that will help them develop the skills, coordination, fitness, and good sportsmanship, which come from involvement in healthy physical activities with others. At all levels, emphasis is placed upon the development of the skills of movement and the conditioning of the heart, lungs, and muscle systems of the body. Students develop an appreciation of good physical conditioning as well as an interest and desire to participate in lifetime recreational sports. A balance is provided in those activities commonly grouped as team and individual sports, self-testing activities, dance and rhythms.

The program generally presents basic skills which can be employed in a comprehensive intramural, interscholastic, and recreational program for all boys and girls. Some of the activities for girls include archery, basketball, field hockey, dance, tennis, volleyball, lacrosse, and track and field. Boys' activities include soccer, volleyball, basketball, archery, conditioning, dance, tennis, track and field, softball, and lacrosse.

Weight Training is offered as an elective course for Grade 11 and 12 students. Students are taught how to use exercise equipment and various workout strategies.

Physical education is required of Upper School students in Grades 9 and 10.