Upper School

In Duchesne’s Upper School, your daughter expands her worldview, leads teams and groups, and grows in sophistication. The girls discover and refine their own unique voices as key contributors, authors, inventors, international travelers, and tireless volunteers. Our Upper School prepares your daughter for where she’s headed next.


2016-2017 School Profile


Upper School Academic Overview

Graduation Requirements

Duchesne’s college preparatory academic program in the Upper School is strong and challenging. Students are required to complete the following:

4 credits English

4 credits Social Studies

4 credits of Math in the Upper School

4 credits Science

3 credits Foreign Language

2 credits Physical Education and Health

7 credits Religious Studies (including Social Awareness)

1 credit Fine Arts

.5 credit Computer Studies

.5 credit Speech (Class of 2017 and 2018)

27 Total Credits Required

A student must earn at least 6.5 credits to be classified as a sophomore, at least 13.5 credits to be classified as a junior, and at least 20 credits to be classified as a senior.

Advanced Credit from Middle School

Students may receive Upper School credit for Algebra I, French I, or Spanish I taken in the eighth grade if they are placed in Geometry, French II, or Spanish II freshman year. In this case, students must take three additional credits of mathematics and complete the third level of a foreign language in Upper School.

Advanced Placement Courses

Students may elect to take Advanced Placement courses with the recommendation of the appropriate teacher and the approval of the academic dean, provided they meet the benchmarks in rubrics developed within each department. All AP courses at Duchesne have been audited and approved by the College Board.

All AP students are expected to take the national AP exams in May. Students will receive an additional 0.5 quality point at the semester for each AP course passed.

Suggested AP Course Load: 10th Grade - 1 AP; 11th Grade - 2 APs; 12th Grade - 3 APs.

Social Awareness Requirement

As part of their religious studies credit, students are required to participate in a service learning program, Social Awareness. It provides them a gradually deepening opportunity to offer their gifts of time and talent in service to the wider community. Freshmen and sophomores are involved in a minimum of four approved service projects each year. Sophomores attend a weekly Social Awareness class to prepare them for the off-campus program. For two academic years, juniors and seniors volunteer each Wednesday at schools, soup kitchens, shelters, and other agencies throughout Houston. All students turn in journal reflections on their service experiences.

Physical Education/Athletics Credit

Students must participate in physical education or the equivalent each semester throughout Upper School. Participation in one season of Duchesne Athletics satisfies the physical education requirement during that season. For the exemption to be complete, the student must fill out the appropriate paperwork from the Athletics and Physical Education director. If a ninth-grade student is planning to participate in a spring sport but does not participate in a winter sport, she must start the second semester in PE. She will be exempt from PE once the spring practices begin.

Upper School Course Descriptions

English Department

Central to the English program at Duchesne are the literary and cultural classics which are read, discussed, and analyzed in writing. The strong emphasis on writing, grammar, and vocabulary is therefore geared to the books which are read. In the ninth grade, selections are made from the literature of ancient Greece and Rome and of early Europe. Tenth grade British literature is read in historical context, with genres studied within literary eras. In eleventh grade, American literature is studied in conjunction with American history. The twelfth grade examines nineteenth and twentieth century world literature. Students read a Shakespearean play each year. The four-year program is designed to help the student read, discuss, analyze, and write clearly, skillfully, and forcefully about major works and seminal ideas of Western culture, preparing her with the background and skills necessary for further study on the university level.

WLIT - Western Literature
1 year/1 credit
Required for Grade 9

Western literature study focuses on mythology, ancient Greek epic and drama, Roman epic, Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Dante’s Inferno, the components of epic poetry, and an in-class novel, A Tale of Two Cities. A strong writing program features syntax skills, vocabulary and the structuring of the five-paragraph essay. Research skills are introduced and reinforced both through the writing of several short papers and through a research project to which the four freshman Block teachers contribute time and topics.

BRITLIT - British Literature
1 year/1 credit
Required for Grade 10

Sophomore British Literature continues the study of drama, epic, and the novel and adds lyric and narrative poetry. Literature selections begin with the Anglo-Saxon period, continue to the nineteenth century, and emphasize Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Bronte’s Jane Eyre. Students develop research skills and write expository essays. Grammar review and vocabulary study continue.

ADVBRLT – Advanced British Literature
1 year/1 credit
Grade 10
(Prerequisite: teacher recommendation)

Sophomore British Literature continues the study of drama, epic, and the novel and adds lyric and narrative poetry and the essay. Literature selections begin with the Anglo-Saxon period, continue to the nineteenth century, and emphasize Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Bronte’s Jane Eyre. The students develop research skills and write expository and analytical essays. Grammar review and vocabulary study continue. They practice the developing of theses and arguments in preparation for the AP English Language course.

AMERLIT - American Literature
1 year/1 credit
Grade 11

This course surveys major works, trends and topics in American literature that correlate with American History; it stresses close reading and analysis of poetry. In the first semester, the course develops analytical essay writing skills, emphasizing content and development of ideas. In the second semester, it offers systematic practice in the different types of expository essays and in the different modes of writing students need: essay test, summary, critical summary, paraphrase, personal essay, and persuasive paper. The Shakespearean play read in the eleventh grade is Othello.

APENGLG – AP English Language and Composition
1 year/1 credit
Grade 11
(Prerequisite: teacher recommendation)

This challenging course combines a survey of American Literature and a systematic preparation for the Advanced Placement English Language and Composition exam which the students are expected to take at the end of the year. The course aims at enabling students to read complex texts analytically and critically and to write “prose of sufficient richness and complexity to communicate effectively with mature readers.” (The College Board, AP English Course Description, May 2007, p. 6). Readings range from the classics of American Literature to contemporary opinion pieces, with a focus on persuasive prose. The Shakespearean play read is Othello. This course has been audited and approved by the College Board.

SRCMPLT - Senior Composition and Literature
1 year/1 credit
Grade 12

This course emphasizes the analysis of a variety of literary works selected from a master list of suggested readings for the college-bound, and provides students with a transition to college English. Hamlet is the Shakespearean play studied; other works examined, drawn primarily from modern continental and British literature, include plays, poetry, short stories and novels. The development of critical writing skills is emphasized, and several short research papers are required.

APENGLT - AP English Literature and Composition
1 year/1 credit
Grade 12
(Prerequisite: teacher recommendation)

This course, a major works survey of classic and modern texts, provides a broad literature background for the advanced student. During the first semester, the course concentrates on drama, from Sophocles to Stoppard, and on modern poetry. The Shakespearean play read is Hamlet. In the second semester, students read closely modern and contemporary novels and poems that frequently appear on the Advanced Placement exam they are expected to take in May. A research paper is required. All students sit for the AP examination in May. This course has been audited and approved by the College Board.

SHKLIT – Shakespeare in Literature
1 semester/0.5 credit
Grades 11-12

In this seminar, students will read and analyze a selection of Shakespeare’s plays that are not regularly covered in high school English classes, including (but not limited to) 1 Henry IV, Henry V, Richard III, The Merchant of Venice, The Tempest, and King Lear. In addition to reading scenes aloud, students will view portions of film adaptations and discuss how these adaptations contribute to our understanding of the plays. In reading documents from Shakespeare’s day, students will consider how he engaged his audiences and how he continues to engage audiences today. Reading secondary sources will likewise give students insights into the critical discussion regarding these plays. In addition to shorter writing assignments, students will be expected to write a longer research paper. The course is ultimately designed to give students an appreciation of how language and literature captivate and persuade us.

WOMLIT – Women Writers of Twentieth Century America
1 semester/0.5 credit
Grades 11-12

This course examines the work of a select group of women writers. Though they represent a wide range of genres, styles, and purposes, all have received critical acclaim. Students will think about how each writer responds to her historical and cultural context, and how, in turn, her work has shaped American culture and thought. The course demands careful and close reading on a regular basis, and participation in class discussion is required. Writing assignments include short response papers as well as a longer research project.

Mathematics Department

The objectives of the Mathematics curriculum are to help students master the fundamental skills and concepts of mathematics; to develop analytical skills and critical thinking; and to promote precision, clarity of thought and self-discipline. Thinking skills are stressed along with the use of mathematical tools, problem solving, and analysis.

ALGI - Algebra I
1 year/1 credit
Grade 9

Algebra I provides the foundations of algebra covering the properties of signed numbers and exponents and the solution of equations and inequalities. Other topics covered include factoring, simplifying rational expressions, graphing linear equations, solving quadratics and working with radicals. Entering students from outside Duchesne who do not take the math placement test are automatically placed in Algebra I.

GEOM - Geometry
1 year/1 credit
Grades 9-10
(Prerequisite: full Year High School Algebra I or Full Year Middle School Algebra I and recommendation and placement test)

This course is a study of Euclidean and coordinate Geometry. Topics covered include basic undefined terms, angles, inductive and deductive reasoning, perpendicular and parallel lines, congruent and similar figures, polygons, circles, area and volume. Students are also introduced informally to proofs.

ADVGEOM - Advanced Geometry
1 year/1 credit
Grades 9-10
(Prerequisites: placement test and teacher recommendation)

Advanced Geometry covers the same topics as the regular course but at a faster pace and in greater depth, and in a more rigorous and challenging manner. More theory is involved throughout, and greater emphasis is placed on formal proofs. Integrated throughout the course are problem solving skills and algebra.

ALGII - Algebra II
1 year/1 credit
Grades 10-11
(Prerequisite: Algebra I and Geometry or Advanced Geometry)

Algebra II encourages students to become flexible thinkers who approach problems logically. The course begins with a review of basic Algebra I skills and concepts. Problem solving is an integral part of the course. Functions and their transformations are studied with connections to real-world applications. Students use a variety of tools, methods and technology to model and solve problems

ADALGII - Advanced Algebra II
1 year/1 credit
Grades 10-11
(Prerequisite: teacher recommendation and academic achievement)

Advanced Algebra II places an emphasis on algebra as a foundation for calculus. Algebra is presented as a study of classes of functions and their transformations. Students reason and communicate mathematically as they solve problems and make connections with the real world. Students are encouraged to explore and to make sense of experience with math by integrating and linking algebra with functions, discrete math, geometry, probability, statistics, data analysis, and basic right triangle trigonometry. Students use a variety of methods, technology and tools to model and solve real-world problems.

PRECAL - Pre-Calculus
1 year/1 credit
Grades 11-12
(Prerequisite: Algebra II or Advanced Algebra II)

Pre-calculus includes the essentials of pre-calculus, algebra and trigonometry. Students use functions, equations, and basic idea of limits as useful tools for expressing, analyzing and understanding various mathematical relationships. Functions, graphing and trigonometry are introduced, providing an integration of algebra with the trigonometry.

APRECAL - Advanced Pre-Calculus
1 year/1 credit
Grades 11-12
(Prerequisite: teacher recommendation and academic achievement)

Advanced Pre-Calculus is designed to provide a strong foundation for the study of AP Calculus. Students study in depth the polynomial, exponential, logarithmic, and trigonometric functions. Attention is given to precise communication of mathematical ideas in proofs and explanations. Strong emphasis is placed on the connection between graphical and algebraic representations of solutions.

CALC – Calculus
1 year/1 credit
Grade 12
(Prerequisite: Pre-calculus)

This course introduces the student to calculus from a graphical, numerical and algebraic perspective. Technology is used as a primary tool for discovery of rules, properties, and theorems about the derivative and the integral. The course provides the student with a strong conceptual foundation for a college-level calculus course.

APCALAB - AP Calculus AB
APCALBC - AP Calculus BC
1 year/1 credit
Grade 12
(Prerequisite: Teacher recommendation and academic achievement)

This course covers the two major concepts of derivative and integral and their applications such as curve sketching, extreme value problems, rate of change, motion, and accumulation of rates of change. Strong emphasis is placed on investigating concepts from a numerical, graphical and algebraic/analytical perspective. Students develop an ability to work with the theoretical aspects of mathematics and are prepared to take the Advanced Placement Calculus test. (Qualified students may take BC Calculus as an independent study as the course is not offered every year.) Both the AB and BC courses have been audited and approved by the College Board.

APSTAT - AP Statistics
1 year/1 credit
Grade 12
(Prerequisites: teacher recommendation and academic achievement)

AP Statistics introduces students to the major concepts and tools for data collection, analysis, and formulation of conclusions. Students are exposed to four major topics: exploring data, sampling and experimentation, probability and simulation, and statistical inference. Technology and statistical software support research analysis and design. Carefully written descriptions of the statistical process are critical to preparation for the Advanced Placement exam in May, which all students in the class are required to take. This course has been audited and approved by the College Board.

Science Department

Knowledge of the physical world is required of the fully educated person. The science department approaches this knowledge through the scientific method. All science courses are therefore laboratory-centered, with emphasis on observations and logical conclusions. Thinking skills are stressed. All students must complete four credits of lab science, of which, Biology, Chemistry (or Advanced Chemistry), and Physics (or AP Physics) are required to graduate. Science elective options include: Ecology, Environmental Science, Engineering & Problem Solving, Introduction to Geology, AP Environmental Science, AP Biology, and AP Chemistry.

BIOI - Biology
1 year /1 credit
Required for Grade 9

Biology emphasizes biology as a field of inquiry and investigation. The underlying themes of continuity and diversity, as well as the common threads of evolution and genetics unify the fields of study. Students explore the cell, how cells interact to produce the many forms of successful organisms and how these organisms interact with the environment. Biochemical and physiological studies highlight the fundamental relationship of form and function. Both individual and group research and laboratory work are integral to the course.

CHEMI - Chemistry
1 year/1 credit
Required for Grade 10 or 11

Chemistry I is a laboratory-based course that provides a general introduction to chemical phenomena and scientific methodology. During the course, students will engage in data collection and analysis in order to build, revise, and understand working models of matter, energy, and change. Students will seek to understand the answers to fundamental questions posed by the discipline, and will walk away with an understanding of the particulate nature of matter, atomic theory, and chemical relationships.

ADCHEMI - Advanced Chemistry
1 year/1 credit
Grades 10
(Prerequisite: teacher recommendation and current enrollment in Advanced Algebra II)

Advanced Chemistry I is an accelerated version of Chemistry I that covers additional material and challenges students to develop a deeper understanding of core concepts. The course is designed for motivated students who exhibit an enthusiasm for science and are prepared to work independently and at a faster pace both in class and at home. Students who successfully complete this course are prepared to take AP Chemistry.

PHYSI - Physics
1 year/1 credit
Required for Grades 11 or 12

This course covers the basic physics curriculum in a conceptual manner. The emphasis is on comprehension of nature’s rules of force, energy and motion and includes explorations of mechanics, thermodynamics and waves. Mathematical relationships are used as guides for thinking rather than for the more extensive, complex calculations required in the AP Physics course.

APPHYSI – AP Physics I
1 year/1 credit
Grades 11-12 (as a substitute for the required Physics)
(Prerequisites: teacher recommendation and current enrollment in Advanced Pre-Calculus or higher level math)

AP Physics is an algebra-based, introductory college-level physics course that explores topics such as Newtonian mechanics (including rotational motion); work, energy, and power; mechanical waves and sound; and introductory, simple circuits. Through inquiry-based learning, students will develop scientific critical thinking and reasoning skills. Students are required to take the Advanced Placement Examination in May. This course has been audited and approved by the College Board.

APCHEM – AP Chemistry
1 year/1 credit
Grades 11 – 12
(Prerequisites: Advanced Chemistry I, current enrollment in Pre-Calculus or higher, and teacher recommendation)

AP Chemistry is a college level course that covers major areas of inorganic chemistry and builds upon the material covered in Advanced Chemistry I. New topics covered in the second year include thermodynamics, chemical equilibrium, kinetics, and advanced topics in bonding theory and atomic structure. This course meets an additional period every week in order to provide adequate time for laboratory investigation. The class also prepares students for the Advanced Placement Examination, and enrolled students are required to sit for the test in May. This course has been audited and approved by the College Board.

APBIO – AP Biology
1 year/1 credit
Grades 11 – 12
(Prerequisites: teacher recommendation)

AP Biology is an accelerated course which is designed to integrate and enhance the skills and knowledge acquired in Biology I. Emphasis is placed on evolution, genetics, and the physiological and biochemical interactions of organisms within the environment. Students will develop an understanding of key science practices as well as advanced reasoning and inquiry skills through course work and laboratory investigations. An extra period is added to the course to provide adequate lab time. Students are required to take the Advanced Placement Examination in May. This course has been audited and approved by the College Board.

ENGIN – Engineering Design and Problem-Solving
1 year/1 credit
Grades 11-12

This is a hands-on course in which students explore a variety of topics including the principles of engineering, tools and safety, mechanics, structural and material strength, simple machines, and electronics. Math and computer applications will be utilized to design and solve engineering problems as students practice team-building skills and clear written and verbal communication to document the engineering process.

ECOLOGY- Ecology
1 year/1 credit
Grade 10

Ecology is the study of the interactions between organisms and their environment. This course is a survey of the fundamental principles of ecological science, including concepts of population and community ecology, biodiversity, and sustainability. Students will acquire an “ecological literacy” about how the natural world works, and develop an understanding of how scientific methods are used to construct ecological knowledge. Students taking this course may be eligible to take AP Environmental Science as a science course elective if all other eligibility requirements are met.

ENVSCI - Environmental Science
1 year/1 credit
Grades 11-12

This course is an introduction to the study of the environment. The goals of the course are to develop an understanding of the earth as a system, to analyze human and non-human impacts on the environment, and to examine the history of environmental policy and regulatory development. The course will focus on human population growth, natural resources, the interrelationships of organisms and their environment, and ecosystem dynamics. As this course covers most of the same content as AP Environmental Science, but with less mathematical application, students taking this course will not be eligible to take AP Environmental Science.

APENVSCI – AP Environmental Science
1 year/1 credit
Grades 11-12
(Prerequisites: teacher recommendation and current enrollment in Algebra II or higher level math)

AP Environmental Science covers the same basic concepts that are covered in regular Environmental Science but in greater depth and with more mathematical applications. Additional topic areas are covered, including environmental economics, environmental policy and ethics, and environmental issues in the urban environment. Emphasis is placed on analyzing environmental problems, evaluating the relative risks associated with these problems, and examining alternative solutions for resolving and/or preventing them. Students spend a portion of their time on laboratory and data analysis activities. Students are required to take the Advanced Placement exam in May. This course has been audited and approved by the College Board.

GEOLOGY – Introduction to Geology
1 semester/0.5 credit
Grades 11-12
(Prerequisites: Biology I, Chemistry I, and World Geography and Cultures)

This course is intended to provide students with an introduction to the study of geology, focusing on the physical Earth, its materials, structure, dynamics and surface features. Emphasis will be placed on learning about the geology of Texas and the United States. The study of geology is the core discipline of the earth sciences and encompasses many different phenomena, including plate tectonics and mountain building, volcanoes and earthquakes, and the long-term evolution of Earth’s atmosphere, surface and life. Because of the ever-increasing demand for resources, the growing exposure to natural hazards, and the changing climate, geology is of considerable societal relevance. This course is broad in nature, introducing the earth sciences, and is intended to give the students an appreciation of their physical surroundings.

Social Studies Department

The social studies program at Duchesne provides a basic knowledge of American and world history while developing reading, writing, and research abilities. Students acquire skills of analysis and critical thinking leading to success in future studies and to responsible, active citizenship.

WGEOCUL – World Geography and Cultures
1 year/1 credit
Grade 9

In this course, students will receive an overview of several geography topics and concepts. Students will examine the influence of geography on events in the past and the present, but emphasis will be placed on contemporary issues. Units of study will encompass the following; geography skills (including maps and graphs), physical geographic processes, human geography and its impact on the environment and global economy, world cultures – including their origins, characteristics and relationships in our globalized world. The students will use critical thinking skills to analyze the above topics and discover connections to their own experiences.

MWHIS - Modern World History
1 year/1 credit
Grade 10

This required course emphasizes global economic, social and political movements in modern history. Periods and concepts stressed are transition from the Middle to Modern Age, Early Modern Asia, early exploration, Enlightenment, Revolutions, Age of Napoleon, the Industrial Revolution, Nationalism and Imperialism, political ideologies, and Twentieth-century issues. Opportunities to build analytical research and documentation skills are provided.

APEUR – AP European History
1 year/1 credit
Grade 10 (as a substitute for the required Modern World History)
(Prerequisite: teacher recommendation)

AP European History covers the period beginning with the later Middle Ages and continuing through the Cold War and into the contemporary world. The class focuses on the significant people and events that have shaped the course of Europe and helped to define the new world order. In doing so, the class analyzes key historical themes, concepts, and patterns in an effort to understand the history of Europe and recognize the significance of the daily application of this knowledge. A complex understanding of the material covered in this course serves as a building block for understanding current and future international affairs and will help the student to define her role in those affairs. All students enrolled in the course will sit for the Advanced Placement Examination in May. This course has been audited and approved by the College Board.

USHIS - United States History
1 year/1 credit
Grade 11

This course provides a college-preparatory survey of the history of the United States from colonial times to the present. U.S. History is designed to provide students with the knowledge and analytical skills necessary to deal critically with issues and materials in American history. A broader and equally important goal is to develop thoughtful, informed individuals who will participate responsibly in the public forum. A major research paper is required.

APUSHIS - AP United States History
1 year/1 credit
Grade 11 (as a substitute for the required United States History)
(Prerequisite: teacher recommendation)

Advanced Placement History is a challenging course for the motivated student who wishes to complete a college-level introduction to the subject and to prepare for the AP qualifying exam in May. The course is designed to provide students with the knowledge and analytical skills necessary to deal critically with issues and materials in American history. A broader and equally important goal is to develop informed, perceptive individuals who will participate responsibly in the adult world. A major research paper is required. All students enrolled in the course will sit for the Advanced Placement Examination in May. This course has been audited and approved by the College Board.

ECON - Economics
1 semester/0.5 credit
Grade 12

The purpose of this course is to give students a thorough understanding of the principles of economics that apply to an economic system as a whole as well as to individuals and firms. This college-preparatory course is designed to encourage critical analysis and economic literacy in an effort to foster better citizenship through a deeper understanding of how economics shape our lives and enables us to become more informed participants in our governmental system. This course places particular emphasis on the study of national income and price determination, and also develops students’ familiarity with economic performance measures, economic growth, fiscal and monetary policy as well as international economics.

APECON – AP Macroeconomics
1 semester/0.5 credit
Grade 12 (as a substitute for the required Economics)
(Prerequisite: teacher recommendation)

The purpose of this course is to give students a thorough understanding of the principles of economics that apply to an economic system as a whole as well as to individuals and firms. This college-preparatory course is designed to encourage critical analysis and economic literacy in an effort to foster better citizenship through a deeper understanding of how economics shapes our lives and enables us to become more informed participants in our governmental system. This course places particular emphasis on the study of national income and price determination, and also develops students’ familiarity with economic performance measures, economic growth, fiscal and monetary policy as well as international economics. The course is taught with a variety of strategies and activities that appeal to all learning styles. The end result of the course is for the student to be successful on AP exam in May. This course has been audited and approved by the College Board.

AMGOV - American Government
1 semester/0.5 credit
Grade 12

This course provides an opportunity to study in depth the foundation of the United States political system; to analyze the political institutions, processes, and values of the system, to trace the development of the United States governmental system; and to analyze the structure and functions of government on local, state, and federal levels. The course is taught with a variety of strategies and activities that appeal to all learning styles.

APUSGOV- AP US Government and Politics
1 semester/0.5 credit
Grade 12 (as a substitute for the required American Government)
(Prerequisite: teacher recommendation)

This course provides an opportunity to study in depth the foundation of the United States political system; to analyze the political institutions, processes, and values of the system, to trace the development of the United States governmental system; and to analyze the structure and functions of government on local, state, and federal levels. The course is taught with a variety of strategies and activities that appeal to all learning styles. The end result of the course is for the student to be successful on the AP exam in May. This course has been audited and approved by the College Board.

APCOMGO – AP Comparative Government and Politics
1 semester/0.5 credit
Grade 12
(Prerequisite: teacher recommendation)

The AP Comparative Government and Politics course introduces students to fundamental concepts used by political scientists to study the processes and outcomes of politics in various countries. The course aims to illustrate the diversity in international political life, to show available institutional alternatives, to explain differences in processes and policy outcomes, and to communicate to students the importance of global political and economic changes. Comparison assists in identifying problems, analyzing types and effectiveness of policymaking, and in explaining differences among countries, which allows students of U.S. Government to look at the politics of their own country differently, inspiring them to reflect and interpret with greater depth and understanding. Additionally, the course covers specific countries and their governments. Six countries form the core of the AP Comparative Government and Politics course: China, Great Britain, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, and Russia. Study of these countries allows students to move beyond concepts of abstract definition to concrete example. This course has been audited and approved by the College Board.

BIGHIST – Big History
1 semester/0.5 credit
Grades 11-12
(Prerequisites: Biology I, Chemistry I, World Geography and Cultures, World History, and current enrollment in Physics I)

Who are we? Where did we come from? Where are we headed? What causes change? In this course, we will explore these four fundamental questions that originate from the dawn of time and extend to the unknown future. Students will examine the overall picture and make sense of the pieces as we explore the history of the universe from the Big Bang to modernity, seeking out common themes and patterns that can help us better understand people, civilizations, and the world we live in. Along the way students will have the opportunity to rigorously engage with and evaluate claims they encounter. Big History requires students to examine big questions: How has the Universe and life within it grown more complex over the past 13.8 billion years? How do we know what we know about the past? How can we judge claims about the past? Why does what we “know” change over time? How do the events of the early days of the universe, the solar system, and the earth shape what we are experiencing today?

Theology Department

The department of Religious Studies offers courses for freshmen, sophomores and juniors that reflect the USCCB Catechetical Framework for High School Students. These courses have a Christological axis which forms a focus for the study of God’s revelation, the life of Christ, the Church and the Sacraments, and the moral life. Seniors are offered a variety of electives which give them the opportunity to deepen their understanding of such topics as Bioethics, Peacemaking, World Religions and Prayer and Worship. Together with the academic content, the courses encourage the development of each student’s personal spirituality and prayer life as well as her engagement in social awareness.

THEOI – Theology I
1 year/1 credit
Required for Grade 9

In Theology I, students begin their Upper School journey with the Sacred Scriptures. In the fall semester, the focus is on the Old Testament, with the spring semester being devoted to the Gospels and the early Christian communities. As the year wraps up, teams of freshmen head off in every direction to shoot their own movie based on a Gospel story. The Houston bayous become the hills of Galilee and swimming pools become the River Jordan and students bring the Gospel to life in a culminating project.

THEOII – Theology II
1 year/1 credit
Required for Grade 10

The first part of this course examines God’s promise of redemption to humanity and its fulfillment in the Paschal Mystery: the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Students read and analyze scripture as well as selections from Catholic tradition. The students will also reflect on how we participate in the Paschal Mystery through the Liturgy of the Church and in our everyday lives. The second part of this course examines the history of the Catholic Church and reflects on the nature of the Church as the Sacrament of Christ and People of God which participates in Christ’s redemptive ministry. Students will read and analyze texts from the Bible and Church tradition in order to grow in their understanding of the nature and mission of the Church as well as its relationship with other traditions and faiths. Students will also reflect on the importance of community in their own lives.

THEOIII – Theology III
1 year/1 credit
Required for Grade 11

The Sacrament semester of Theology III examines the nature of Liturgy and Sacrament, and how we continue to encounter Christ within the community, especially in the celebration of the Sacraments. Through examining the Scriptures and other writings, each Sacrament is studied with regard to its symbolism, its connection to the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, and to the way we continue to live the Sacraments throughout our lives. Students will also reflect on the meaning of the call to serve in their own lives through a variety of vocations. The Morality and Justice semester of Theology III focuses on the nature and dignity of the human person as created to participate in just relationships and particularly seeks to develop and expand the students’ understanding of personal morality to include its social dimension, especially our responsibility to pursue justice in the world. The social teaching of the Church as seen in Scripture and in other writings is emphasized.

BIOETHI – Bioethics
1 semester/0.5 credit
Grade 12

Bioethics examines the ethical dimensions of beginning of life issues raised by contemporary advances in the fields of medicine, biotechnology, and genetics. Some of the issues discussed in this course include genetic engineering, stem cell research, assisted reproductive technologies such as in-vitro fertilization, surrogacy, adoption, and abortion. These issues are examined in terms of facts, conflicts, moral guidelines, Church teachings, and implications for our world. Students will have an opportunity to attend an annual Genetics Conference at the University of St. Thomas.

WLDRELE – World Religions Eastern Traditions
Grade 12
1 semester/0.5 credit

World Religions seeks to educate students for a multi-cultural nation and world. Students have the opportunity to explore basic concepts in religion and in approaches to the study of religion, as well as the basic philosophical differences between Western and Eastern religious traditions. Traditions examined in this course are selected from: Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. We will discuss some primary texts, as well as participate in creative projects intended to engage the students’ imagination.

WLDRELW World Religions Western Traditions
Grade 12
1 semester/0.5 credit

World Religions seeks to educate students for a multi-cultural nation and world. Students have the opportunity to explore basic concepts in religion and in approaches to the study of religion, as well as the basic commonalities among the traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. We will discuss some primary texts and traditions, as well as participate in creative projects such as a Passover Seder experience in class, which are intended to engage the students’ imagination.

PEACE – Peacemaking
1 semester/0.5 credit
Grade 12

This course examines the aspect of peace from a global perspective. Students learn to analyze the roots of conflict and the potential of conflict to bring positive transformation in society. The course introduces peace building strategies such as non-violent communication and dialogue, as well as negotiation skills. Finally, students reflect on the importance of nurturing their own interior peace to be able to share it with others.

PRWOR – Prayer and Worship
1 semester/0.5 credit
Grade 12

In this course students will study the nature and theology of prayer. They will look at prayer traditions that have evolved over the centuries and will practice praying and appreciating different prayer forms. They will survey the writings of many people seeking God throughout the ages to learn what these seekers can teach us about our search for God and about prayer.

SOCAW – Social Awareness
Required for Grades 9-12

Goal III of a Sacred Heart education calls forth “a social awareness which impels to action.” The Social Awareness program at Duchesne Academy enables students to perform community service within a context of preparation and reflection. Freshmen and sophomores are required to complete four service projects each year. They may join local church and civic projects, initiate a project, which addresses a need, or participate in projects organized by the school. In addition, orientation sessions introduce sophomores to a range of service opportunities. With this preparation, juniors and seniors leave campus several hours each school week to help at various agencies in the Houston community. Through journaling and discussion, students are provided a framework in which to share, reflect on, and grow in their experiences serving others.

Foreign Language Department

All Duchesne students are required to study a modern foreign language through the third level. Students are expected to be able to communicate (write/speak) in their language of choice when they complete the third level. Classes are conducted primarily or exclusively in the target language.

The French Program

The Upper School French department offers Levels I through V. Courses provide students with a good overall knowledge of all aspects of French language and culture. There is a great emphasis on speaking French and understanding the spoken word. Reading comprehension is systematically developed and written assignments become steadily more demanding as the student progresses. Various aspects of French life and culture play an important role at each level. Advanced levels require a teacher recommendation.

FREI - French I
1 year/1 credit
Grade 9

French I is an introductory course emphasizing a balance of four skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening. The course establishes a strong foundation of pronunciation, syntax, and grammar (including present and past tenses), as well as an exploration into vocabulary related to school life, family, travel, shopping and eating. In order to reinforce their study of the language, the students enter the National French Contest in March.

FREII - French II
ADVFRII - Advanced French II
1 year/1 credit
Grades 9-10
(Prerequisite: teacher recommendation)

French II and Advanced II continue the study of grammar and French culture with an intensified focus on reading and writing. During class, French is spoken almost exclusively. Students develop more sophisticated listening and speaking skills and learn advanced constructions of the present, preterit, imperfect, future, conditional and command forms. They also expand their knowledge of topics related to the home, food, maladies, technology, directions, careers, environment and performance arts. In order to reinforce their study of the language, the students enter the National French Contest in March.

FREIII - French III
AFREIII - Advanced French III
1 year/1 credit
Grades 10-11

French III and Advanced III begin the final phase of grammatical studies, including all verb tenses. During class, French is spoken exclusively. Students become more acquainted with classical French literature and are required to read Histoire d’une revanche, an adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo. The study of French and francophone history, culture, and geography is also an important component of the course, and students are expected to research and report on a variety of topics. In order to reinforce their study of the language, the students enter the National French Contest in March.

FREIV - French IV
1 year/1 credit
Grades 11-12
(Prerequisite: teacher recommendation)

French IV is designed as a survey course that places primary focus on French and francophone culture and literature while continuing to build upon important grammar fundamentals. Students read excerpts from French classics such as Le Petit Prince and Oscar et la Dame Rose. A variety of resources (television, music, interactive websites and online textbook) are used to engage students in a number of project-based activities (presentations and games) to strengthen conversational and presentational skills. In order to reinforce their study of the language, the students enter the National French Contest in March.

ADFREIV – Pre-AP French IV
1 year/1 credit
Grades 11-12
(Prerequisite: teacher recommendation)

Pre-AP French IV students begin a far more detailed study of French culture, society and history through classical and contemporary literature, newspaper articles, film and radio podcasts from the French-speaking world. Students read Antoine de Saint Exupery’s classic novel Le Petit Prince during the summer prior to enrolling in the course while the rest of the year is dedicated to an intensive preparation for the Advanced Placement Exam that they will take at the end of their AP French Language class. Classes are conducted exclusively in French, and students are expected to present their oral and written work in French. In order to reinforce their study of the language, the students enter the National French Contest in March.

FREV- French V
1 year/1 credit
Grade 12
(Prerequisite: teacher recommendation)

French V follows the outline established in French IV, varying topics of discussion and study. In order to reinforce their study of the language, the students enter the National French Contest in March.

APFRELG – AP French Language
1 year/1 credit
Grade 12
(Prerequisite: teacher recommendation)

This course continues the preparation for the AP French Language exam. Topics relevant to France and to the modern world are studied in depth to enhance the student’s ability to read, discuss and write about contemporary subjects. Students continue to improve their auditory and oral skills with listening comprehension exercises and class discussions. Students are expected to write correctly and idiomatically on the topics discussed in class. Students sit for the AP examination in May, as well as for the National French Contest in March. This course has been audited and approved by the College Board.

Spanish Program

The Spanish department has designed courses for Levels I through VI to assure that students attain their full potential in the Spanish language. All courses are planned to develop the four necessary skills of a foreign language: reading, writing, speaking and listening. Advanced levels require a teacher recommendation.

SPAI - Spanish I
1 year/1 credit
Grade 9

This is an introductory course where students learn to describe their surroundings; school life, family, travel, shopping, eating and a variety of topics using present, present progressive and preterit verb tenses. Students are exposed to authentic situations and are given opportunities to discuss general cultural information of the Spanish-speaking world.

SPANII - Spanish II
ADSPII - Advanced Spanish II
1 year/1 credit
Grades 9-10

Spanish II and Advanced II review all of the concepts learned in level one and add phrases and sentence diagramming to increase comprehension and fluency. Students participate in conversations to solidify their ability to understand and be understood. Advanced constructions of the present, preterit, imperfect, command forms and an introduction to the subjunctive mood are presented and used in authentic situations, while culture is inserted in anecdotes.

SPAIII - Spanish III
ASPAIII - Advanced Spanish III
1 year/1 credit
Grades 10-11

Spanish III and Advanced Spanish III students improve conversation skills and are able to communicate in typical daily-life situations by acquiring broader vocabulary and improved command of grammatical structures. Students read short stories of Spanish and Latin American authors.

SPANIV - Spanish IV
1 year/1 credit
Grades 11-12
(Prerequisite: teacher recommendation)

In this course students review and strengthen verbal and written Spanish skills. It introduces them to literary works by both Spanish and Spanish-American writers and to the rich and diverse contributions of Hispanic artists to the fine arts.

ADSPAIV – Advanced Spanish IV
1 year/1 credit
Grades 11-12
(Prerequisite: teacher recommendation)

In this course students deepen and expand their vocabulary and knowledge in grammar and learn to communicate in both writing and speaking efficiently. Students use the language in meaningful, creative, and engaging contexts. Students read magazine and newspaper articles and create two-minute oral presentations; discuss and analyze literary works as well as short lectures. This course prepares students to enter the Advanced Placement Spanish Language and Culture.

SPANV - Spanish V
1 year/1 credit
Grade 12
(Prerequisite: teacher recommendation)

Students continue to strengthen oral and writing skills. Students read contemporary Spanish and Latin American Literature and study the arts in Spanish Speaking countries.

SPANLIT - Spanish Literature for Spanish Speakers
1 year/1 credit
Grade 12
(Prerequisite: interview and Spanish Department Chair recommendation)

This course is designed for students who are fluent in Spanish and have not had a formal Spanish language education. They learn about different periods of Spanish literature from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. Students read, analyze, discuss, and learn to write essays in Spanish.

APSPALG - AP Spanish Language and Culture
1 year/1 credit
Grade 12
(Prerequisite: successful completion of Advanced Spanish IV and teacher recommendation)

In this course, students develop skills in the three modes of communication (Interpersonal, Interpretative, and Presentational) defined in the Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century. This course is a second-third semester college level and students study, discuss, and analyze texts based on the six core themes determined by the College Board. Students write essays as well as perform oral presentations on a weekly basis. Students take the AP Spanish Language and Culture Exam in May. This course has been audited and approved by the College Board.

APSPALT- AP Spanish Literature and Culture
1 year/1 credit
Grade 12
(Prerequisite: successful completion of AP Spanish Language and Culture and/or Native speaker)

In this course, students study original texts from Spain, Latin America and U.S. Hispanic Literature on the required College Board list. These texts include works from the Medieval and Golden Age to the 19th and 20th centuries. The course prepares students to demonstrate proficiency in the three modes of communication and the five goals: communication, cultures, connections, comparisons, and communities (5 C’s) determined by the Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century. Students take the AP Spanish Language and Culture Exam in May. This course has been audited and approved by the College Board.

Physical Education Department

The Physical Education program is designed so that each student can participate in and enjoy the activity/sport being taught. Instruction increases individual and team skills, personal fitness levels, a basic knowledge of exercise physiology, as well as a positive attitude towards lifelong personal health and fitness. All students participate in a spectrum of team sports, individual sports, dance, and fitness activities. Students develop an appreciation for a physically active life-style beneficial now and throughout adult life.

PE/H - Physical Education
1 year/0.5 credit
Grades 9-12

If a student chooses to participate in Duchesne Athletics, she is excused from PE class for the duration of that athletic season. Once the season ends, students will resume regular PE attendance until the next season commences.

Computer Studies Department

The Computer Studies program provides students with a broad range of skills and experiences to prepare them for our increasingly global and technological society, and to promote interest in our girls for a career in Technology. Keeping an emphasis on computational thinking in all aspects of our program, students are exposed to a variety of technologies from the networked environment in which they work, to the specific software applications learned in the courses offered below. Our program encompasses technologies used across the fields of Computer Science, Informational Technology and Digital Arts.

Computer Science Strand

COMPRO – Computer Programming I
1 year/.5 Credit
Grades 9-12

Learn the basics of programming using Python, one of the easiest and most popular languages out there. Students cover software development practices and an introduction to computer science. Additionally, learn programming basics including variables, conditionals, loops, strings, and lists. We will also use Python’s built in function, Turtle, to learn the basics in vector graphical programming. The course culminates with a comprehensive final project applying Python functions: a text based game or fun quiz.

APCSCIA – AP Computer Science A
1 year/.5 Credit
Grades 11-12
(Prerequisite: Algebra I)

AP Computer Science I is an introductory, college level course that looks into the world of Computer Science. This course is intended for both students who are curious about computer science and those who are seriously considering a career in the field. By taking this class, students will learn to learn the concepts of object-oriented programming and be able to implement them in Java, the industry standard language. In addition, students will also learn how to design, implement, debug, and document computer programs. Students learn how to use and create their own programming algorithms and well as methodologies on how to approach programming related problems. Also covered are the ethical and social implications of computer science. This course will be a mixture of lecture and hands on lab experiences and students will be able to take the AP Computer Science I exam at the end of the year.

APCSCIP – AP Computer Science Principles
1 year/.5 Credit
Grades 10-12

AP Computer Science Principles is equivalent to a first-semester introductory college computing course, will highlight the relevance of computer science by emphasizing the impact it has on people and society by focusing on seven big ideas that are central to computer science. In this course, students will develop computational thinking skills vital for success across all disciplines, such as using computational tools to analyze and study data and work with large data sets to analyze, visualize, and draw conclusions from trends. In addition to the AP Exam, the course requires that students complete two assessments: one focusing on the implications of computing innovations and the other focusing on applying the ideas from the course in an individual creating project. This course will focus more on concepts and practical applications of computer science as opposed to programming and machinery.

MATA – Mobile and Technology Application (formerly Gaming Applications and Design)
1 year/.5 Credit
Grades 9-12

This course will foster students’ creativity and innovation by presenting opportunities to design, implement and deliver meaningful projects using mobile computing devices through problem solving and collaboration. Students will gain an understanding of the principles of mobile application as they work through three units. The first unit will be a focus on mobile applications and design. Students will learn to design and program an app for a mobile device of their choice. In the second unit, students will work with Arduinos where they will combine hardware with programming as they design and program their own circuit-based microcontroller. The final unit will be a class project akin to the popular TV show "Shark Tank" where students will apply concepts learned to design and prototype an invention that they will pitch to a panel of judges. Students will learn digital citizenship by researching current laws and regulations concerning their developments and by practicing integrity and respect.

Digital Media Strand

DIGGRA – Digital Graphics
1 year/.5 credit
Grades 9-12

Digital Graphics students will explore the elements of graphic design and layout of both print and digital design projects using professional tools. The principles of graphic communication, typography, page design and the supporting vocabulary are covered through a variety of projects styled to reflect professional graphic design works. Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe Illustrator are learned as well as scanners, digital cameras, and digital stylus to produce graphic design projects. The significance of both print and digital mediums as a form of communication, marketing, information and digital citizenship is discussed and studied.

FIDM – Foundations in Digital Media (formerly Digital Video and Design)
1 year/.5 Credit
Grades 9-12

Foundations in Digital Media is a project-driven course that allows students to gain foundational knowledge and skills in several multimedia fields: digital photo editing and drawing, video production, desktop publishing, as well as project management skills and experience working with clients under specifications. Upon completion of this course, each student is encouraged to further develop her studies through application to a Digital Media Internship courses. Students will create projects using the following applications in the Adobe Creative Suite: Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, Audition, After Effects, and InDesign. Students will work in both Mac and PC platforms.

COMDINT – Communication and Design Internship
1 year/.5 Credit
Grades 10-12
(Prerequisite: Foundations of Digital Media)

Students in the Communication and Design Internship learn and apply design principles and best practices in professional communication to desktop publishing and graphic design. Students further develop their skills in Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator throughout the course. They are paired with clients to design and create publications and graphics for print and web use. This course is an independent study and requires self-discipline and initiative.

VPROINT – Video Production Internship
1 year/.5 Credit
Grades 10-12
(Prerequisite: Foundations of Digital Media)

Students in the video production internship learn and apply best practices in professional communication and design to video production. Students further develop their skills in Adobe Premiere Pro, Audition, and After Effects throughout the course. Students are paired with clients to plan, design, and create films for public use. This course is an independent study and requires self-discipline and initiative.

DIGCOM – Digital Communications in the 21st Century
1 year/.5 credit
Grades 9-12

Students in this course will explore careers within the audio/video technology and communications industry as they produce videos for television and online audiences by designing, producing, performing, writing and publishing multimedia content. Students will learn to design and present an effective product based on well-researched issues, develop new ideas and processes for addressing them, and convey those ideas to an audience through a digital product. This project-based course focuses on the pre-production, production and post-production process to create useful digital content to convey their voices. Students will learn to use innovative thinking to make informed decisions using digital tools and appropriate applications including Tablet PC, iPad, mobile phone, video cameras, microphones, Adobe Premiere and iMovie to produce their weekly feature stories. Projects will require some after school weekends to ensure a timely completion.

YRBK – Yearbook
1 year/0.5 credit
Grades 9-12
(Prerequisite: approval of teacher and Head of Upper School)

The students enrolled in this course produce the Duchesne yearbook, L’Esprit. During the school year, students learn the basics of desktop publishing and photocomposition. Students plan page production for specific deadlines, coordinate distribution of books, and organize staff coverage of all school events. They use Adobe InDesign and Photoshop applications to produce the book. Participation on the yearbook staff requires a commitment of time after school for photography and interviews, as well as organizational skills, a strong sense of personal responsibility, and the ability to work both independently and as a team. The course fulfills a computer credit and may be taken multiple times, it NO LONGER fulfills a Fine Arts credit.

Evolving Technologies Strand

3DMAA – 3D Modeling and Animation
1 year/.5 Credit
Grades 9-12

3D Modeling and Animation is an opportunity for students to explore the wonderful world of 3D Design! In this course, students will learn about the variety of applications for 3D modeling, how to design 3D objects, and the proper techniques to print the 3D objects they design. In addition, students will also learn how to utilize their 3D designs to turn their creations into 3D animations to bring their characters to life, using lighting, settings, and camera angles. Using a workflow process students’ will take pre-rigged models and animate them in an original short sequence that tells a story.

EVEMTEC – Evolving and Emerging Technologies
3 Week Summer/.5 Credit
Grades 9-12

Evolving and Emerging Technologies is an opportunity to expose students to the newest technology in a manner that allows them to not only learn how the technology works but also gives them hands on experience. This course will focus on one of the biggest advancements in technology today: Drones. Students will learn how and why drones work, from the physics of how they fly to understanding the engineering behind their design and construction. Students will apply their knowledge to build their own drone and learn how to fly it.

Information Technology Internship Strand

CAVEI – Information Technology Internship I
1 year/0.5 credit
CAVEII – Information Technology Internship II
1 year/1 credit
CAVEIII – Information Technology Internship III
1 year/1 credit
(Prerequisite: approval of Computer Department)

Students in these courses learn the care and repair of desktop and laptop computers, including hardware components and software troubleshooting. They will be responsible on a daily basis for staffing the computer help desk (CAVE) and perform regular maintenance and service of computers and classroom audio/visual equipment. They will evaluate and diagnose computer problems, perform hardware and software repairs, and support classroom technology. They will also pursue a specialization in an area of interest within information technology. Participation in this course requires strong organizational skills, a strong sense of personal responsibility, and the ability to work both independently and with a group, and a strong desire to learn the technical aspects of the computer. IT Interns must demonstrate respect and patience, as they will be working with both faculty and students. Interns will be required to attend a week-long training workshop in August and a day long workshop over the summer. Full credit students work five periods a week in the help desk, maintain the CAVE outreach resource page, pursue a specialization, and take on special projects throughout the year. Level III interns pursue a certification as part of their specialization.

Fine Arts Department

The Fine Arts Department provides students with the opportunity to experience, create, and critique a variety of arts. The department recognizes that expressing oneself through the arts enables the student to develop emotionally as well as intellectually, thereby enriching the whole person. Some level two and above courses may be considered for Independent Study on and individual basis. Opportunities are presented, and students are encouraged, to enter competitions, festivals, shows and performances over and above course requirements. Not every course is offered every year.

CHOIR – Choir
1 year/0.5 credit
Grades 9-12

This course is designed to develop basic choral techniques through the study of vocal development, basic music theory, and sight reading skills. The Treble Choir repertoire ranges from Renaissance to Broadway. All students perform on the Christmas concert and the Pop Show, which is a collaboration with the St. Thomas High School Men’s Choir. Students are given an opportunity to participate in local and state contests including All State Choir.

ADVCHOIR – Advanced Choir
1 year/0.5 credit
Grades 10-12
(Prerequisite: enrolled in choir course and audition)

Advanced Choir is an auditioned performing group of 16 singers that meets an additional period each week. The Advanced Choir is exposed to more demanding three part (SSA) music. Students are required to submit auditions for the All State Choir. Students will also prepare a vocal solo for the Solo and Ensemble competition. Students are offered opportunities to cantor at school liturgies.

VOCDEV – Vocal Development
1 year/0.5 credit
Grades 11-12
(Prerequisite: audition)

Students receive instruction in advanced vocal technique, posture, breathing, diction, foreign language, and basic music theory. Performance and audition techniques and opportunities are explored. A variety of genres will be presented. A solo recital will be given at the conclusion of the spring semester.

GUITAR I – Guitar
1 year/0.5 credit
Grades 9-12

This course introduces the student to basic guitar skills. All aspects of producing sound on the acoustic guitar along with music reading, music theory, and selected historical, cultural, and technical contributions will be explored. Students will be taught basic strumming patterns and chords.

HANDBELL - Handbells
1 year/0.5 credit
Grades 9-12

This course is designed for students who wish to develop basic handbell playing skills, or expand their existing skills. Emphasis will be placed on learning proper ringing methods as well as key musical elements. The hand bell choir will perform at various liturgies and concerts throughout the year.

MUSTHEORY – Music Theory
1 year/0.5 credit
Grades 9-12
(Prerequisite: prior participation in Choir, Orchestra, or Band; or teacher recommendation)

This course introduces the fundamentals of Music Theory. Students acquire skills in ear training, musical notation, interval recognition, chord structure, harmonic progression and form. Included will be analysis from music literature to show how music theory functions in all styles of music.

BAND – Band
1 year/0.5 credit
Grades 9-12

Independent arrangements can be made for student to rehearse and perform with the St. Thomas High School Band. Course credit is accepted from STH.

SHAKESP – Shakespeare at Play
1 year/0.5 credit
Grades 10-12

This ½ credit, fine arts elective explores a range of Shakespeare's works (not usually found in high school curriculum) with a focus on performance and language for enjoyment. Aside from Shakespeare’s magnificent use of words, the course is designed towards an appreciation for his understanding of human nature. We will look at all kinds of performances and align them with the music, art, and fashion of the times. We will play theater games, build maps and other crafts, and learn how to improv Shakespeare! This is an excellent course for building vocabulary, oral delivery skills, critical thinking, spontaneity; a good course for students who like to participate in or watch theater, and enjoy conversation and open discussions. Plays under consideration: Romeo & Juliet; Twelfth Night; Richard III; Henry V; As You Like It; King Lear; and/or A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

MUSTH - Musical Theater
1 year/0.5 credit
Grades 9-12

This course is recommended for students with some previous stage/performing experience. Co-taught by Music and Theater faculty, the class offers acting and singing training, as well as opportunities to build individual repertory/audition pieces. Semester showcases allow students the opportunity to perform and demonstrate growing mastery over their studies. Training will focus on vocal and body awareness for stage, acting craft specific to the musical theater genre, singing training (including placement, pitch and sight reading), building theater and music vocabulary, as well as adding to the student’s knowledge of musical theater and its history. Students are encouraged, but not required, to audition for the all-school musical, presented in alternate years.

ACTING – Introduction to Acting
1 year/0.5 credit
Grades 9-12

The focus of this beginner’s class is to build self-confidence and skill for communication through an introductory knowledge of acting, theater history and literature. The class will work on vocal production, body awareness, overcoming stage fright, an introduction to the rules and performance of improvisation, and concentration and observation skills. Using scene work, in-class performances, and arts-related activities and projects in a cross-curriculum approach, students will have opportunities in a supportive environment to practice their skills as they develop characters, analyze scenes, and explore their individual creativity in the performing arts arena.

THEAI – Theater I
1 year/0.5 credit
Grades 9-12

This course is open to students who have a strong interest in or have had some exposure to theater training. Performance which is rehearsed, perfected and presented in front of an audience is part of the curriculum and is a central tool for exploring and building effective theater and communication skills. One practicum ("lab") is explored in a technical area of the student's choosing: play development, costuming, stage management, lighting design, backstage crew, sound design, box office, or house management. Students will increase their skill set in team-building, improvisation, staging, character development, play analysis, audition techniques, voice and body awareness in public settings and ensemble playing, along with a cross-curriculum introduction and appreciation for theatrical literature.

THEAII – Theater II
1 year/0.5 credit
Grades 10-12
(Prerequisite: Theater I and/or audition)

Participation in a theater performance, specifically designed around the talents and skill set of the students, forms the basis of the curriculum, along with a strong focus on the craft of acting, theater genres, and the rehearsal process. The course is designed with a professional approach to theater performance, and includes collaboration with working theater professionals and guest artists, and may include networking with outside theater organizations. Students are encouraged to represent their school at Duchesne-related theater events and activities.

THEAIII – Theater III
1 year/0.5 credit
Grades 11-12
(Prerequisite: Theater 1 and Theater II and/or audition)

This is an advanced theater course for individual students who desire training and development towards a professional or college career in theater arts. This course builds upon skills and practical knowledge learned in Theater II. Students will build reparatory pieces of University and semiprofessional opportunities in the performing arts. They may be networked with local theaters for production work, or may work with instructor on Duchesne related productions and projects.

ADVTHRPR - Advanced Theater Production
1 year/0.5 credit
Grades 10-12
(Prerequisite: audition; previous theater study or stage experience recommended)

This course is a based on the development of a piece of classical or modern theater for production. This course is open to those students by audition; however, the completion of one theater course or stage experience is recommended. Students will build to interpret, perfect and present a full theater stage production in addition to studying advanced acting and performing techniques. Afternoon and evening rehearsals will be required in place of the weekly class periods during the weeks prior to the show opening. An additional production fee may be required.

THRTECH - Theater Technology and Design
1 year/0.5 credit
Grades 9-12
(Prerequisite: interview and teacher recommendation)

This class is a practical survey of lighting and sound technology and design for the theatre, with the primary emphasis on lighting, which includes both theoretical instruction and hands-on experience providing support for events in the Harry S. and Isabel C. Cameron Theatre. The course will consist of both guided and independent study.

SPEECH - Speech
1 year/0.5 credit
Grades 9-12

This course is designed to develop the student’s confidence and knowledge of effective speech communication. Students explore oral delivery and writing for public speaking through a variety of opportunities, including: an understanding of the process of communication; its function in democratic group processes; speech analysis; writing and preparation of different types of speeches; an introduction to persuasive speaking; parliamentary procedure; and presentation. Theater activities, including improvisation, acting, and oral interpretation, provides a supportive environment for students to build confidence, improve vocal production, body awareness, and utilize “stage fright” management techniques.

FILM – Film Studies
1 year/0.5 credit
Grades 10-12

Film Studies introduces students to the classics of cinema. Although the major emphasis will be on American films, the course will also sample the best of world cinema. After watching film classics (both at school and at home) and reading film criticism, students will be able to use critical thinking and literary analyses to review films. Among the films studied are Citizen Kane, The Bicycle Thief, and the works of Capra, Hitchcock, Kurosawa, Bergman, and others.

STARTSS – Studio Art Summer School
1 year/0.5 credit
Grades 9-12

This course will introduce the skills needed to produce two-dimensional and three-dimensional works of art. No previous knowledge or experience is required. A wide variety of mediums and projects are explored. Students will receive an introduction to drawing, painting, and 3D design. Students are required to participate in a student art show at the end of the course.

DRAWI – Drawing I
1 year/0.5 credit
Grades 9-12

This studio course introduces the student to basic drawing skills in black and white. Techniques in realistic drawing from life are practiced and explored. Students will complete projects in still life, figure and portrait drawing, and perspective using a variety of mediums. Students are required to participate in a student art show at the end of the course.

DRAWII – Drawing II
1 year/0.5 credit
Grades 10-12
(Prerequisite: Drawing I)

Students are introduced to color drawing mediums as well as advanced drawing technique and subjects. Students will work with shading reflective objects, working on dark papers, colored pencil techniques, and mixed media drawing. Students are required to participate in a student art show at the end of the course.

DRAWIII – Drawing III
1 year/0.5 credit
Grades 11-12
(Prerequisite: Drawing II)

Advanced drawing techniques and a variety of mediums are explored as students create a portfolio of work. Individual style, themed work, composition, personal voice, and creativity are emphasized. Students are required to participate in a student art show at the end of the course.

CERI – Ceramics I
1 year/0.5 credit
Grades 9-12

Ceramics students explore a variety of construction and finishing techniques for building three-dimensional art work. Functional and sculptural forms will be explored. Some art history of sculpture and clay is included. Students will learn to analyze their work by incorporating the elements and principles of design as a guide. Students are required to participate in a student art show at the end of the course.

CERII – Ceramics II
1 year/0.5 credit
Grades 10-12
(Prerequisite: Ceramics I)

Ceramics students will spend part of the semester exploring technical skills needed to create functional forms using the potter’s wheel. Students will also advance their constructions skills for hand-building. A variety of glaze techniques will be used to create different finished effects. Students are required to participate in a student art show at the end of the course.

CERIII – Ceramics III
1 year/0.5 credit
Grades 11-12
(Prerequisite: teacher recommendation)

This course is designed to explore advanced techniques of working with ceramic clay. Students will create a collection of works in order to build a portfolio of functional or sculptural ceramic vessels. Students may choose to use both hand building and wheel throwing methods or concentrate on mastering one particular technique. Design, originality and creativity are emphasized. Advanced glazing, firing, and finishing methods and tools will be explored. Students are required to participate in a student art show at the end of the course.

PAINTI – Painting I
1 year/0.5 credit
Grades 9-12

Painting I introduces students to the skills necessary for creating two-dimensional, painted works from direct observation of nature. No previous drawing or painting knowledge is required. Self-expression through good craftsmanship and skill is emphasized. Students learn to critique their own work and the works of others using the elements and principles of design and color theory. Students are required to participate in a student art show at the end of the course.

PAINTII – Painting II
1 year/0.5 credit
Grades 10-12
(Prerequisite: Painting I)

This course will continue a study of color theory, painting technique and application using a wider range of media and advanced applications. Emphasis will be on developing the student’s individual style and theme. Students are required to participate in a student art show at the end of the course.

PAINTIII – Painting III
1 year/0.5 credit
Grades 11-12
(Prerequisite: Painting II)

Painting III will focus on developing an individual student portfolio or works using a variety of painting mediums while working through complex compositional challenges and advanced painting techniques. The history of painting is explored and projects will focus on methods used throughout the ages. Students are required to participate in a student art show at the end of the course.

PHOTOI – Photography I
1 year/0.5 credit
Grades 10-12

This basic course in 35mm black and white photography includes a thorough use of the camera and related equipment, chemical lab procedures, and visualization. Students prepare a portfolio from a variety of assignments designed to master components of the 35mm camera, and enhance visualization. Lab work stresses proper film development and print making, familiarity with lab chemicals, and use of filters. Digital cameras may be used for some competitive events. Students provide their own 35mm cameras, film and paper. Students are required to participate in a student art show at the end of the course.

PHOTOII – Photography II
1 year/0.5 credit
Grade 11-12
(Prerequisite: Photography I)

Photography students continue to develop an eye for design and the skills of using aperture, shutter speed and light as they compile individual portfolios in either the chemical lab or the digital lab or both. Students are required to hang works in all Duchesne shows, and submit photos for selected competitions. Seniors must complete a competitive portfolio. Students are required to participate in a student art show at the end of the course.

PHOTOIII – Photography III
1 year/0.5 credit
Grade 11-12
(Prerequisite: Photography II)

Photography students continue to develop artistically using a variety of photography methods and tools. Design, individuality, creativity, and advanced techniques are explored including studio lighting, studio portraits and still life. Free shooting using composition techniques previously learned is required for themed competitions. Students may work in the chemical lab or the digital lab or both. Students are required to show work through the Duchesne Jones Gallery and other outside opportunities as well as submit photos for selected competitions. Seniors must complete a competitive portfolio. Students are required to participate in a student art show at the end of the course.

ADSTART – Advanced Studio Art
1 year/0.5 credit
Grades 10-12
(Prerequisite: Level I and II of any visual arts course and/or portfolio review)

This course is designed for students with a high level of mastery in technique, and focuses on creativity, experimentation, creative voice, originality, individual style and theme. Students will continue the exploration of a variety of media to complete two and/or three dimensional works. Students are required to participate in a student art show at the end of the course.

APART2D - AP Studio Art - 2D Design
1 year/1 credit
Grades 11-12
(Prerequisite: one or more visual arts courses and/or portfolio review)

This course is designed to explore the principles of 2D design in order to create a collection of works that will meet the requirement for Advanced Placement Portfolio Submission with the College Board. Students will explore a variety of mediums that may include drawing, painting, collage, photography, graphic design, computer generated design and other traditional and technology-based mediums. Individual voice, creativity, experimentation, communication and formal design elements will be emphasized. One completed drawing, painting, digital graphics, or photography class at the upper school level is a prerequisite. This course has been audited and approved by the College Board.

APART3D - AP Studio Art - 3D Design
1 year/1 credit
Grades 11-12
(Prerequisite: one or more visual arts courses and/or portfolio review)

This course is designed to explore the principles of 3D design in order to create a collection of works in various media that will meet the requirement for AP portfolio submission. Students may choose to work in a variety of mediums or concentrate on mastering a single medium. Both functional and sculptural works will be explored. A special emphasis will be placed on individual style and technique, experimentation, and design elements. One completed ceramics or studio art class at the upper school level is a prerequisite. This course has been audited and approved by the College Board.

APDRAW – AP Studio Art – Drawing
1 year/ 1 credit
Grades 11-12
(Prerequisite: one or more visual arts courses and/or portfolio review)

This course is designed to explore the principles of drawing in order to create a collection of works in various media that will meet the requirement for Advanced Placement Portfolio Submission with the College Board. Attention to the techniques and principles of formal drawing will be emphasized and practiced at an advanced level. A special emphasis will be placed on individual style, originality, creativity, technique and experimentation. This course has been audited and approved by the College Board.

APARTH – AP Art History
1 year/1 credit
Grades 11-12
(Prerequisite: teacher recommendation)

Advanced Placement Art History is designed as a college level introductory Art History course that covers major works of western art spanning the ancient world to the present taking a chronological approach. In addition, an overview of Asian, Oceanic, and Native American work is explored, researched and discussed. This course will prepare students to take the College Board Advanced Placement Art History Exam in May. This course has been audited and approved by the College Board.

Upper School Office

Donald Cramp, Ed.D.
Head of Upper School

Jill Hess
Upper School Dean of Students

Sheila Baisden
College Advising Director

Robbie Miller
Assistant to Head of Upper School

Duchesne is instilling me with an academic discipline that helps me focus on the tasks I need to accomplish. Also, the academic rigor is preparing me for how I should study for higher-level courses.

10th GRADER