Course Catalogue and Descriptions
The science curriculum emphasizes a direct encounter with observable phenomena. “Describe what happened.” Students then evaluate what they have observed: “What are the conditions under which the phenomena appear? How does this relate to what you already know?” Finally, students must think through the experiment to discover the lawfulness that stands behind and within the phenomena.
Plant Chemistry (Morning Lesson)
This block is about the chemical transformations that occur inside plants, the relationship between photosynthesis and respiration, and what substances can be derived from plants. Questions that are explored include: What is the scientific method? Where does the mass of a plant come from? How did scientists figure that out? What does a plant produce? What do humans breathe in and breathe out? What does a plant breathe in and breathe out? Historical study includes learning about the life of Joseph Priestley and van Helmont’s experiments with a willow tree in a pot. Laboratory work includes lab safety, use of a Bunsen burner, glass bending, observation of combustion: candle flames and Bunsen burner flames, observation of pyrolysis (anaerobic charring) of wood in a test tube, observation of the action of yeast and raisins, testing for carbon dioxide production with lime water, observation of alcohol being heated and ignited, and collecting the essential oil produced by the distillation of fresh mint leaves from the garden.
Human Anatomy and Physiology (Morning Lesson)
This block covers the detailed anatomy and physiology of both the integumentary system (skin) and the cardiovascular system (heart, lungs and blood vessels.) An overview of the internal organs, and descriptions of the senses of smell, taste, and hearing are also included. Detailed drawings are made of the skin’s three layers as a whole, the epidermis, the internal organs, the heart’s anatomy and the heart’s spiral muscular pattern. Essays are written on sensory exercises for the senses of touch and taste. Activities include recording and analyzing fingerprint patterns, observing and drawing skin with jeweler’s loupes, emptying a vein in the arm or hand and watching it refill, recording heart rate at rest and after exercise, listening to our heart beats with a stethoscope, and doing a form drawing related to the pattern of blood circulation.
Thermal Physics and Material Properties (Morning Lesson)
Students study the behavior and properties of materials subjected to various thermal conditions so as to develop concepts for temperature, heating, and cooling that relate to phase changes, energy conservation, and gas laws. The phenomena we observe lead us to develop simple mathematical relationships or laws to further an understanding of thermal properties.
Geography (Morning Lesson)
This block focuses on local and global physical geography. Local landforms are identified on a field trip. World geography is studied in terms of plate tectonics and what happens at plate boundaries. Students make their own globes from paper mache and paint on the oceans and continents in proper proportion.
Chemistry: Acids, Bases and Salts (Morning Lesson)
In this block, we learn about the nomenclature for and behavior of acids, bases, and salts. Laboratory experiments include comparing and contrasting four different reactions: dissolution, precipitation, neutralization, and the reaction of Mentos and diet soda; using cabbage juice indicator to identify unknown acids or bases; measuring the pH with pH paper at different locations around Wonderland Lake; dissolving pennies in acid; performing a titration to determine the concentration of an acid; and observing a supersaturated salt solution.
Embryology (Morning Lesson)
This block focuses on human cytology and embryology. For comparison with the human reproductive cycle, chicken reproduction is also studied. Chicken eggs are observed as they incubate and finally hatch. Sea urchin egg and sperm are united in a petri dish and observed. The study of mitosis and meiosis leads to the study of human reproduction from fertilized egg through each of the trimesters of pregnancy to birth.
Physics: Mechanics and Motion (Morning Lesson)
The student is introduced to the fundamental principles of kinematics and dynamics. The course is taught through biography (Galileo, Newton, and Kepler), history, and through duplicating some of their original experiments in labs and demonstrations.
Physics: Electricity and Magnetism (Morning Lesson)
The mysteries of matter are explored by working through the phenomena associated with electricity and magnetism. After working with static electricity and current electrical effects, we develop the concept of the “field.” This is explored further in magnetic effects and the relationship between electricity and magnetism is observed.
Botany and Cytology (Morning Lesson)
We study cell structure and function, then plant biology and taxonomy through field, lab, and classroom activities. Students observe and draw plants in the field, noting how overall form relates to environment, how leaf shapes metamorphose, and what inflorescence styles and other features are used in plant taxonomy. Students examine the anatomy, organs, tissue types, leaf structure, and seed structure of a higher (flowering) plant. The findings of Mendel and the basic principles of Mendelian genetics are discussed. A survey is made of the plant kingdoms and classification system.
Chemistry: Atomic Theory (Morning Lesson)
In this block we develop the history of the structure of the atom and the periodic table by reading selected chapters fromCrucibles: The Story of Chemistry by Bernard Jaffe. We will come to know key elements, such as hydrogen, oxygen, magnesium, sulfur and sodium, through observation of their behavior in the lab. We will study scientists from early Greek philosophers and the alchemists to modern-day researchers, including Trevisan, Dalton, Berzelius and Mendeleev, whose experiments gave contributed to our ever-evolving view of the atom and the development and organization of the periodic table.
Physics: Optics (Morning Lesson)
Students cover the history of light from ancient times to the electromagnetic spectrum and relativity. Laws of reflection, refraction and other optical properties are discovered through laboratory demonstrations and experiments.
Zoology (Morning Lesson)
During the four week zoology block seniors study animals and their relationships to each other, to their environment, and to humans. We begin with an introduction to the phylogenetic tree of animals—identifying the major animal phyla and the characteristics of each. We study the ideas about how animals evolved on Earth, including those of Agassiz, Haeckel, Lamarck, and Darwin. We read the introduction to The Origin of Species as well as a biographical summary of his life, and discuss how natural selection has resulted in the amazing diversity of life on Earth. Students study protozoa from pond water using the microscope, estimate their size, relate form to function, and identify them by phyla. General characteristics of each phylum are compared and contrasted, and detailed laboratory studies are conducted with oysters (Mollusca), earthworms (Annelida), and insects (Arthropoda). Vocabulary words are arranged as polarities when possible. A brief study of keratin (protein) as a reflection of an animal’s activity concludes the block.
GRADES 11 and 12 Combined
Science Skills 1: Chemistry (Semester track class)
This course is designed for students interested in pursuing science, engineering and/or math in college. Students will learn laboratory techniques while conducting scientific research and experimentation, culminating in a formal laboratory report. Students will build skills in chemical nomenclature, balancing equations, stoichiometry, precipitation reactions, gas laws, and using the periodic table. The emphasis this year is chemistry with some physics. Biology will be covered next year.
Science Skills 2: Biology (Semester track class)
The emphasis this year is biology. This upper level course is designed for students interested in pursuing science, engineering and/or math in college. Students will learn laboratory techniques while conducting scientific research and experimentation, culminating in a formal laboratory report. Students will read from a variety of sources, including science texts, journal and magazine articles and essays.
Science and Society 1 (Semester track class)
This upper level course is for juniors and seniors who are not taking Science Skills. The focus will be on “Science for the voter”, that is, science relevant to our collective decision-making as a society on energy issues. We will explore the science behind solar power, nuclear power, wind power and global warming.
Science and Society 2 (Semester track class)
This semester long course provides an introduction to current events in science and technology and their relationship with humanity. Topics include environmental quality, space exploration, energy, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), stem cell research, climate change, disease, and the human genome project. We will explore the myth that science operates independently from society. The results of science – knowledge and technology – affect our social, cultural, economic, and political lives, and the practice of science is shaped by its social, cultural, economic, and political context. The course will be run primarily as a discussion seminar with high expectations of student involvement. Regular reading assignments will include articles and book excerpts. Students will present a video, photographic, or artistic project, or a practical demonstration that focuses on a topic of study from the course.
The study of mathematics in our school develops the students’ confidence in their thinking as they learn the necessary math skills that are needed beyond high school. But our math curriculum goes much deeper than the mastery of skills. Our many geometry morning lessons help to develop imaginative and creative thinking. By integrating the historical and philosophical aspects into our lessons, the students appreciate that mathematics is a fascinating and creative human endeavor. We recognize that we live in a world where critical thinking and the ability to find creative solutions to complex problems are increasingly important. We want our students to be able to think for themselves, and we hope that their thinking is heart-felt and imbued with imagination.
Descriptive Geometry (Morning Lesson)
Renaissance artists and mathematicians brought the incredible realism of perspective to painting and drawing. They perfected techniques for portraying precisely, on the flat media of the canvas or the page, an image of the world as seen from a particular location in space. The visual truth they achieved, despite its power and beauty, is a profoundly subjective one, fixed to a single point of view, creating the illusion of depth through distortion of size and angle. Descriptive geometry aims for a more objective truth. Through the use of multiple orthographic projections, objects are accurately and completely described in space. Following a set of drafting techniques, the view may be arbitrarily rotated to render any length or angle measurable.
Our study of descriptive geometry lives in the interplay of eye and hand. Critical observation informs our drawing. Careful drawing, relying upon both theoretical understanding and refined mechanical skill, improves our ability to see. With the aid of triangle, compass, and ruler, we loosen the fetters of individual perspective, and strengthen our powers of imagination.
Possibility & Probability (Morning Lesson)
This course (which includes permutations and combinations) concentrates on answering questions such as: How many ways are there for 20 students to get in line? How many different committees of three can be formed from a group of 10 people? What is the probability of flipping five coins and getting all heads? These questions often yield surprising results. It is through careful thinking that we can make sense of these difficult problems. We recognize patterns and similarities with previously encountered problems, and learn to solve the problems in a systematic way. The students work both independently and in groups to solve these challenging problems, and in the process, confidence is developed in their thinking.
Algebra I (two semesters)
Algebra is essentially the foundation upon which further studies in high school math rest. We begin with a thorough review of middle school math, which includes solving basic (linear) equations. We then move into the core of Algebra I, with units on Exponents and Polynomials (including simplifying polynomial expressions, and laws of exponents). In the second semester the topics are: factoring (including solving quadratic equations); systems of equations, word problems, and the quadratic formula. By the end of the year the successful student has developed a strong foundation in the basics of algebra.
Algebra I Advanced (two semesters)
Algebra is essentially the foundation upon which further studies in high school math rest. We begin with a thorough review of middle school math, which includes solving basic (linear) equations. We then quickly move into the core of Algebra I, with units on Exponents and Polynomials (including simplifying polynomial expressions, and laws of exponents),Factoring (including solving quadratic equations), and Word Problems.
In the second semester the topics of study are: factoring and solving polynomial equations (continued from the first semester), simplifying radicals, rational expressions and equations, systems of equations, word problems, the quadratic formula, and logarithms. By the end of the year the successful student has developed a strong foundation in the basics of algebra.
Greek Geometry & Deductive Proofs (Morning Lesson)
This course traces the evolution of Greek thought in mathematics, from the school of Pythagoras up until the works of Euclid, and the brilliant mind of Archimedes. To a large degree, this entails a history of mathematical proofs, which aids the students as they learn the art of deductive reasoning. The students are exposed to a variety of different styles of proofs, including visual proofs, indirect proofs, and Euclidean two-column proofs. Much attention is then given to Euclid’s 13-volume work, The Elements, and its impact on the world of mathematics. We thoroughly study Book I from this work, which consists of 48 theorems and culminates in Euclid’s proof of the Pythagorean Theorem.
Geometry (two semesters)
The tenth grade year of math is dedicated to the subject of geometry. The year begins by preparing for the Greek Geometry morning lesson block, which includes angle theorems, triangle similarity theorems, and triangle congruence theorems. This is followed by a unit on circle geometry and triangles. At the end of the first semester we begin the largest and most difficult unit of the year: proofs, where the students developed their skills in writing their own proofs, mostly in a Euclidean two-column style.
The second semester begins where the first semester left off: more work on proofs. The next unit is an in-depth study of mensuration (areas and volumes), which is then followed by a unit on the introduction to trigonometry (up through theLaw of Sines). The year ends with a very thorough review of algebra.
Geometry & Algebra II Advanced (two semesters)
The first semester of tenth grade math is dedicated to the subject of geometry. We begin by preparing for the Greek Geometry morning lesson block, which includes angle theorems, triangle similarity theorems, and triangle congruence theorems. This is followed by a unit on circle geometry and triangles. The last and largest unit of the semester is spent on proofs, where the students develop their skills in writing their own proofs, mostly in a Euclidean two-column style. The highlight of the semester is when the students prepare a lesson on a particularly difficult topic and then teach it to the class.
For the advanced track class, Algebra II is a course that runs for a full year, starting with the second semester of tenth grade and ending with the conclusion of the first semester of eleventh grade. Algebra II begins with a unit on mensuration – a study of ratios and formulas within the context of volumes and areas. This is then followed by a unit on the introduction to trigonometry (up through the Law of Sines). The semester ends with a very thorough review of algebra as the tenth grade year draws to a close.
Projective Geometry (Morning Lesson)
In many ways projective geometry – a subject which is unique to the Waldorf math curriculum – is the climax of the students’ multi-year study of geometry. The thinking involved is both demanding and creative. It blows apart much of what their previous experience and notion of geometry had been. We start, however, with a philosophical debate. Under some circumstances, it appears that two parallel lines meet. For example, artists during the Renaissance noticed that two lines, which are known to be parallel, actually meet in the drawing. Historically, it took a couple hundred more years before people dared to question Euclid’s fifth postulate, which essentially states that two parallel lines never meet. We then decide to work – perhaps somewhat skeptically at first – with the assumption that two parallel lines meet at infinity. What happens then? This leads us to investigate many different theorems in projective geometry, including theorems from Pappus, Desargues, Pascal and Brianchon. The topics get more sophisticated during the second half of the course as we study the principle of duality, line-wise conics, and conclude with an in-depth study of polarity.
Algebra II (two semesters)
Algebra II begins with the basics of Cartesian geometry, largely concentrating on graphing lines. This is followed by a unit on trigonometry, and then by a unit on complex and imaginary numbers. These three important topics are revisited and deepened throughout the course of the year. Other topics during the year may include: problem solving, permutations, combinations, probability, logarithms, and preparing for the math SAT test.
Algebra II & Pre-Calculus (two semesters)
The second semester of Advanced Algebra II (which is at the start of the eleventh grade year) begins with the basics of Cartesian geometry, largely concentrating on graphing lines. The next units are trigonometry and complex numbers. This is followed by our second unit on Cartesian geometry which focuses on graphing conic sections. Additionally, there are significant periods of time when we focus on problem solving skills, at times spending several classes on just one complicated problem.
For the advanced track class, Precalculus is a course that runs for three-quarters of the year. It starts with the second semester of eleventh grade and ends in the first quarter of twelfth grade. Overall, this course focuses on more advanced mathematical topics, and works on developing the students’ problem solving and mathematical thinking capacities. The topics include: Permutations, Combinations & Probability; Exponents & Logarithms Review; advanced Trigonometry; advanced Cartesian Geometry.
Introduction to Calculus (Morning Lesson)
Calculus is the one of the great achievements of the human mind. In our school all students (not just the advanced math students) get to experience this important subject in a wonderful morning lesson. This course focuses on both differential calculus and integral calculus. With differential calculus, we start with average speed, but soon encounter the perplexing question of instantaneous speed. Over the period of a few days, this leads to the definition of the derivative. Shortly thereafter, integral calculus is introduced with the idea of finding the area under a curve. The central question is: how can we find a method to add together infinitely many, infinitely thin rectangles? The course culminates with the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, which connects the derivative and integral.
Pre-Calculus (one quarter)
The first quarter of twelfth grade math concludes our study of precalculus. We begin with a thorough review of last year – essentially a final exam of all the material from eleventh grade, which includes Cartesian geometry, trigonometry, complex numbers and probability. Our next unit is our fourth unit of trigonometry, focusing on trigonometric identities, trigonometric equations, and graphing trigonometric functions. Our final unit of the quarter is a unit on advanced Cartesian graphing, which includes graphing polynomial functions, logarithmic and exponential functions, rational functions, and polar equations. All of this paves the way for studying calculus in the second quarter.
Calculus (one quarter)
For the advanced math track class, the second quarter of twelfth grade is the study of calculus. This course begins by reviewing topics covered in the calculus main lesson, including finding derivatives and anti-derivatives, determining the slope at a given point of a curve, finding areas under a curve through integration, and the basic rules of differentiation. We then quickly proceed into new territory by learning how to take derivatives and integrals of trigonometric functions, and focusing on the differential techniques of the chain rule and implicit differentiation. The emphasis of the last few weeks, and the climax of our study of calculus, is related rates and max-min problems. This course gives the student a taste of the key topics studied in any college-level first semester calculus course.
Topics in Mathematics (one semester)
For the regular math track class, twelfth grade is the crowning achievement of the students’ mathematical studies. While part of the purpose of this course is preparation for college level mathematics, there is now the opportunity to study certain topics in more depth, which both challenges the students, and enlivens their sense of wonder for the world of mathematics. The choice of topics may vary depending upon the teacher and the students’ abilities and interests. These topics may include: chaos & fractals, permutations, combinations, probability, logarithms, trigonometry, complex numbers, Cartesian geometry, statistics, business math, personal finance, and problem solving exercises.
Philosophy of Mathematics (one quarter)
The third quarter of twelfth grade math is, in many ways, the culmination and synthesis of many years of studying mathematics, along with its history and philosophy. This gives the students a proper context to appreciate where mathematics finds itself today. The central topic of study is the “foundational crisis” – the quest for a new foundation for mathematics – an epic search for truth and certainty. All of this forms the backdrop for one of the greatest stories ever told, but with characters – at times struggling against each other – who are some of the greatest minds ever assembled. This quest, our story, and our course, all end with Kurt Gödel’s famous proof. The course is structured like a college seminar. The class discussions center around the essays on the philosophy of math written by the main characters in our story, such as Bertrand Russell, Henri Poincaré, and David Hilbert.
The emphasis in the history curriculum is on developing an understanding of the political ideologies and cultural undercurrents which dominate historical periods and changes.
Revolutions and Reform (Morning Lesson)
After quickly reviewing the Industrial Revolution in the United States and French Revolution, we look at the Progressive Era through the lives of Eugene L. Debs, Jane Addams and Theodore Roosevelt. Discussions about Socialism and Marxism lead us towards the Russian Revolution. Later in the block we examine the lives of Ghandi and Nelson Mandela.
Modern World History and Geography (Morning Lesson)
What has made the world “modern?” The Modern World History block will focus on several particular events, inventions, publications, and developments that have moved the world toward modernity. Through readings, presentations, research, and discussion, we will uncover pivotal periods since the 1500’s that have influenced the lives of individuals, as well as the relationships between nations. The course will include elements of geography, culture, science, economics, literature, and politics.
History of Art (Morning Lesson)
This survey of art from prehistoric times through modern times covers the development of art with relationship to the cultural and political climate of the artists.
Ancient History (Morning Lesson)
We explore ancient India, where we witness the development of Hinduism through the Vedas, the Upanishads, and the Bhagavad Gita, Mesopotamian cultures of Sumeria and Babylon, the vigorous Persian Empire, and ancient Egypt.
The Greeks (Track Class)
Students examine the roots of Greek civilization in the Minoan and Mycenaean cultures as well as the Dorian and Ionian invasions. The course encompasses the scope of Greek history and culture from the rise of the polis or city states to the conquests of Alexander the Great. Students perform an abridged version of a Greek drama such as Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex or Antigone as a way of delving into the psyche and dramatic art of the Greeks. Students experience Greek calisthenics and the events of the ancient pentathlon (running, jumping, wrestling, discus and javelin).
Civil War and Civil Rights (Track Class)
This class covers the period of U.S. history leading to the Civil War, the war itself, and the period of Reconstruction after the War. We study in detail the three factors most directly contributing to the onset of the War: sectionalism, secession, and slavery. We also cover the rise of segregation laws after the War, the booming US economy with the advent of railroads, and the general state of the country in the late 19th century. We look at how the Civil War relates to the Civil Rights Movement 100 years later.
Rome (Morning Lesson)
This class covers Western history from the Roman Empire and 5th century barbarian invasions to the 14th century waning of the Middle Ages. Within that context students study the development, the decline, and the rise of Islam, the feudal system, monarchies in Europe, and aspects of medieval music, art, literature and philosophy.
Renaissance (Morning Lesson)
This course covers the reawakening of Europe in northern Italy, when the European view of religion, the world, and the solar system drastically changed. Through the lives of Lorenzo de Medici, Michelangelo, Leo X, and others, we see the cultural explosion of Renaissance Italy. We discuss Machiavelli’s pragmatic political views at length, Luther’s confrontation with the Church, the Reformation, expansion of the “known” world by Vasco da Gama and Columbus, and Copernicus’ new alignment of the solar system.
History of Music (Morning Lesson)
This class explores the history of music from ancient to modern times in relation to the socio-religious background of each era and as a reflection of the personal and the artistic ideals of the composer influenced by the social and religious climate in which he lived. Students are introduced to biographical sketches and sample compositions of each composer. Recordings of the actual composer performing his/her own composition are used whenever possible.
Civics (one semester)
We study the entire U.S. Constitution, including all Amendments, and portions of the Colorado Criminal Code, the U.S. and Colorado legislative process, criminal and civil procedures, and politics in general. Students are introduced to many aspects of citizenship, including voting, volunteering, and basic finance and investments. Students apply their studies to current events as well.
20th and 21st Century History (Morning Lesson)
This historical survey begins with a study of England, Germany, Austria-Hungary, France, Russia, United States, Italy, and Turkey at the turn of the century and through World War I and a reading of All Quiet on the Western Front. We discuss World War II, the Holocaust, and Hiroshima at length. This leads to the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement, JFK, the Vietnam War, the anti-war movement, the women’s liberation movement, LBJ, RFK, Martin Luther King, Jr., Richard Nixon, Watergate, Nelson Mandela, the oil embargo, Camp David Accords, Ronald Reagan, The Gulf War, and Bill Clinton. Throughout this block we explore major political and economic theories and systems.
History of Architecture (Morning Lesson)
The class surveys western architecture beginning with the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt through modern architecture in the 20th and 21st centuries, noting how each style develops from the preceding one and reflects the culture of the time. Students design and build a model of a retreat appropriate for a chosen type of work.
Comparative Religion (Morning Lesson)
The course explores the basic tenets of four major religions: Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. In addition to reading, students take field trips, which include meditation instruction at the Shambhala Center, a talk at a Denver synagogue, Shabbat dinner or a Passover Seder, attendance at any Christian service, and introduction to Muslim worship at a Denver mosque.
English courses include a skill building component and a literature component. Developmentally appropriate themes determine the choices of readings and the topics, so that the subject matter resonates with the students’ level of maturity and capacities. The goals are skill in written and oral self expression, development of critical thinking and sound judgment, and superior reading comprehension.
Comedy and Tragedy (Morning Lesson)
This course traces the heights and depths of comedy and tragedy from their beginnings in pre-historical ritual drama through their continuation in Greece, Rome, the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Restoration, and into the modern era. The class studies the evolution of American drama and the entertainment industry, including radio, television, cinema, computer and mass media advertisements. Students read a Greek tragedy by either Aeschylus, Sophocles or Euripides, a selected comedy by William Shakespeare, and a modern dramatic selection, such as Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun.
English (two semesters)
Literature (To Kill a Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men, Lord of the Flies, and other novels), grammar, descriptive writing, and vocabulary are the basis of the course. Students study parts of speech, basic sentence structure, syntax, and phrases and clauses, to bring a new sophistication to their writing. The composition work is centered on descriptive paragraphs, including the five-paragraph essay. Second semester focuses on A Separate Peace, Fahrenheit 451, and other novels. We continue descriptive writing, concentrating on the senses, and work on the topic sentence and ways of developing a topic. Work on grammar and vocabulary continues.
Poetics (Morning Lesson)
The Main Lesson traces different forms of poetry through the ages and looks at how poetry developed and changed over time. Students study great poets and their works, learning the important elements of poetry (tone, meter, imagery, metaphor, etc) and learn to craft their own poems through poetry writing exercises on a daily basis.
Odyssey (one quarter)
The class focuses on Homer’s great classic of initiation and maturation, The Odyssey, and the adventures of Odysseus. Students render themes in a variety of artistic and literary forms, including poems, plays, sculptures, models, essays, and drawings.
Writing a Research Paper (one semester)
Students learn how to research a topic of their choice, using a variety of resources, including books, reference books, computer information, periodicals, and an interview with a person involved in the field of research selected, and produce an 8-12 page typed research paper.
Students study the classic stories of the Old and New Testaments, looking for its relevance in the modern world both in the eternal human questions presented and through the evidence of the Bible’s enduring influence in our world today. Readings, writing exercises, vocabulary, and grammar review are interwoven with the literature.
Parzival (Morning Lesson)
This class focuses on the most famous and best developed medieval story concerning the quest for the Grail: Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival. The course seeks to understand this quest on many different levels, but most importantly as the timeless pursuit for meaning and fulfillment that we all experience throughout our lives. Students survey the historical and mythological images of the Grail, as well as the panorama of archetypal characters that surround this powerful image and analyze the book’s content and themes.
Transcendentalists (Morning Lesson)
We look at the literary, spiritual, political, and cultural movement called Transcendentalism which occurred in the 19th century. Students read and discuss the ideas of these great thinkers which have since been considered quintessentially “American,” in particular the writings of Whitman, Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Alcott, Fuller and Dickinson.
Faust (one quarter)
Through discussion, essays and art work, students explore the themes and characters of this classic story by Wolfgang von Goethe. The English translation is compared to the original German.
Senior Essay (one quarter)
The class reviews and strengthens essay writing and editing skills through biographical study and exercises, honing these skills to prepare students for college application essay writing. Advanced vocabulary building is another aspect of the course. This course forms one of the beginning chapters in the looking back and forward studies which are essentially “senior” at Shining Mountain.
WORLD LANGUAGE AND EXCHANGE
Compassion and respect for other cultures grow as students immerse themselves in the study of a world language and a world culture for four years. The opportunity to study abroad enhances the work in the classroom, and the presence of students from Waldorf schools around the world enlivens the entire High School as well as the Spanish or German classes.
High School courses are designed to accommodate students who have studied German or Spanish for eight years as well as beginning students with no prior exposure to a World Language. Freshman level courses accomplish this by progressing at an advanced pace with the elementary material. Beginning in Grade 10 students are placed in ability levels II, III, or IV.
The communicative use of all four-language skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing) is practiced throughout the course. Up-to-date, practical insights into the cultural diversity of the Spanish-speaking world are presented in order to promote cultural awareness. Grammar focuses on the tenses (the present, preterite, future and conditional) gender, interrogative and negative sentences, forms, position and agreement of adjectives, comparison of adjectives and adverbs, direct and indirect object pronouns, demonstrative adjectives, and possessive and demonstrative pronouns. The reading focus is on Spanish and Mexican culture.
Students work orally with the recitation of poetry, simple conversations, questions and answers, and conversational dialogues of everyday situations. The primary grammatical focus is on regular and irregular verbs in the present tense and basic sentence structure. Students read simple stories and poems. They write poems and mini-essays about their life. They help to produce an online radio show, and make German videos. They learn about German culture and customs, including German cuisine.
Studies include thematic vocabulary expansion, guided discussions, acting out dialogues, reciting poetry, and reading from Spanish and Latin American culture readers. Grammar focuses on comparative and superlatives, affirmative and negative expressions, informal commands, passive voice and the seven simple tenses. Students are given cooking demonstrations of Spanish regional food. Reading focus is on Spanish and Mexican history.
After a brief review of the present tense of regular and irregular verbs, students are introduced to the simple past, the present perfect, as well as the future tense, and an expanded study of sentence structure. Students recite poetry, read humorous stories, historical anecdotes, and well-known German legends. A variety of written and oral activities continue to develop skills in comprehension, speaking, reading and writing. Conversational dialogues in a variety of practical situations develop high frequency expressions and cultural awareness.
Students may exchange with a Spanish- or German-speaking Waldorf student for a semester.
Students broaden language skills through communication, oral presentations, and expansion of the more complex grammatical structures. The seven compound and the subjunctive tenses are the focus of grammar. Students read poetry, biographies, and short stories by well-known Spanish Renaissance writers. Students are given demonstrations of the cooking from different Latin American countries. The students read the biographies of Spanish Renaissance painters.
Students enhance language skills through a systematic review and expansion of the fundamental grammatical structures of the German language. Students work to expand oral expressions, reading and writing skills by emphasizing the acquisition of high frequency vocabulary and more complex grammatical structures. The primary emphasis is on developing reading and writing skills. Students write narrative and justification essays. They are expected to debate topics in German. Students read poetry and short novellas by German-speaking authors. They help to produce an online radio show, and make German videos.
Students may exchange with a Spanish- or German-speaking Waldorf student for a semester.
Students read a survey of literature and poetry, which are the basis for grammar acquisition, and study current events in the Spanish-speaking world. A major emphasis is fine-tuning communicative skills and building cultural knowledge of the Spanish-speaking world. Students enjoy demonstrations of Latin American food.
Students progress to a more sophisticated knowledge and use of the language while continuing to develop all the language skills. Sentence structure and refined oral and written personal expression become the focus. Students read literary texts of well known German speaking authors to foster an appreciation for the literature of the German speaking world.
Positive musical experiences and developing musical competence are goals of the music curriculum. All courses involve several performances during the year. Cooperating, listening carefully to one another, and practicing patience, concentration, and flexibility are all benefits of students co-creating in the musical realm.
This ensemble explores a variety of musical styles, including African songs, Spirituals, Renaissance through modern compositions, and religious music from different cultures.
Students work on improving their own instrumental and musical skills as they prepare music of different styles and eras for performance. Orchestra members review basic elements of music, working on tone quality, intonation, rhythmic accuracy, etc., and using these skills in the larger purpose of musical expression.
A Cappella Ensemble
A Cappella is an ensemble that performs popular songs from the 50’s to the present day that are arranged by our group or someone else for performance without instruments.
All High School Musical
Every other year the entire High School undertakes a full length musical. Students build sets, do costuming, help with publicity, stage direct, and cover all roles in the musical. Recent musicals include West Side Story, Guys and Dolls, and Damn Yankees.
Wearing the costume of a time period and taking on the personality of a character in a play provide students with an opportunity to step out of their skin and experience the emotions and psyche of another human being. Drama allows students to deepen their self knowledge, understand life, and touch their own souls.
In ninth grade we teach the history of theater in “Comedy and Tragedy” and focus on foundational theater exercises as part of that class.
In tenth grade we produce a full production based on archetypal work in one of the following areas: The Greeks, Commedia dell’Arte, French Farce, or Shakespeare. This production serves to bring out the “wise fool” qualities of the sophomore and simultaneously bring the class closer by helping the students to see each other outside of the “roles” they play in their daily life.
In eleventh grade the students study Shakespeare as literature and create a cabaret performance highlighting the unique talents of each class. This can include music, dance, martial arts, theater, eurythmy, poetry – virtually anything that the class wishes to share with the community.
In twelfth grade we produce a final, culminating production that is chosen to suit the individual class. This play may be chosen from any period or style at the discretion of the director.
The entire school performs in a musical production every other year, allowing each student to perform in a musical twice throughout his/her high school experience.
The ninth grade currently has eurythmy for a quarter of the year. It is a time to make the movements more consciously out of themselves. Through poetry and music, they explore major and minor as modes of expressing feeling.
The tenth grade has eurythmy incorporated into one of the morning lesson blocks, usually their poetics block. They learn about meter and how to move it and about the different aspects of a poem, meter, alliteration, content, and how to bring these elements into motion.
The eleventh grade has eurythmy as part of the Parzival block. They learn about the relationship of the vowels to the mythical and physical planets, relating this ancient wisdom to the story and to the different characters in the book. Ritual, the nobility of knighthood, and the orderliness of the chivalric world are explored through eurythmy forms in space as a deepening of the experience of Parzival’s journey.
Eurythmy is an important element in the twelfth grade Trancendentalists block. As expressed by writers like Emerson, Thoreau, Dickinson, and Whitman, students look through the lens of the earthly and the cosmic, through their own biographies and the realm of the zodiac, exploring the ideas of the Trancendentalist writers in movement. As a culmination of their eurythmy studies, seniors create their own eurythmy forms from original interpretations of the works of these great American writers.
FINE AND PRACTICAL ART
The fine and practical arts curriculum serves students as both a medium for self-exploration and a vehicle for bringing a creative impulse to fruition. Courses are designed to amplify certain themes relevant to each grade and complement academic studies. Manual dexterity furthers cognitive development.
Light and Dark
Light & Dark is an introduction into the study of light and dark in art. The class emphasizes basic drawing skills. With these skills the students will produce realistic images that they design into black and white patterns. The class will look at how light and dark influence a piece of art in the emotional as well as the technical aspects. Value will be studied to understand how light defines form and how to render 3 dimensional form onto a 2 dimensional surface. A variety of media such as pencil, charcoal, marker, chalk, and scratchboard may be used in the exploration of creating light and dark. The students may work from their imagination, still life objects, photographs, and master images.
This class is designed to challenge the students to perform at a higher level in their creative thing. The students work on projects based of their own image. The students work from photographs. Three different techniques studied are, linoleum block printing, Adobe Photoshop and scratch art. There is an emphasis on creating powerful pieces of art with strong emotional content.
In this class each student will learn to model clay with their hands. Clay Modeling is taught to 9th graders acknowledging the polarities which are present at this stage of human development. Opposing concepts such as concave and convex, inner and outer gestures, happy and sad emotions, and young and old faces are addressed through the various sculpting projects. The students learn to create forms by pushing clay in and pulling clay out, once again exploring the concept of opposing forces and finding the balance through sculpting. Working with clay also awakens one’s senses, inspires the will forces and enhances the student’s ability to observe. The students are given instructions as well as given the time to refine their skills. Each student will complete a series of sculpting exercises
Blacksmithing and Welding
This course consists of learning the art of blacksmithing. The students will learn the three steps to create a tapered tip. First the students will square the tapered tip, then create an octagon, and finally round it to its finished state. The students will learn to bend the steel bar, split the bar, flatten an end and texture the steel. A forged hook and a fork will be the two main projects. The students will also learn to create a spatula with a copper shovel. Joining two pieces of metal together will be achieved by hammering copper rivets as fasteners. Working with hot furnaces and hammering metal requires conscious movements, an intellectual concentration and an understanding of the material. This is a wonderful 9th grade activity because it engages both the will and the intellect.
Color class is devoted to color theory and its application to painting. The students work with a specific and limited palette. The colors in their palette are mixed in order to produce tints and tones for their first painting. The complement is utilized for mixing tones instead of black. A monochromatic painting is then done from one of the student’s photographs. Students complete a still life paintings using only an analogous complement color pattern. The students learn to decode paintings in order to map out the color schemes. They then paint from a master painting recreating the same color, value and intensity. The students also work from life to develop the skills of mixing paint and matching the color, value and temperature desired.
The course consists of making a 10” x 10” forty piece stained glass panel. Each student will learn to cut squares, triangles and convex and concave curves. They will also learn to grind glass so each piece fits nicely together. Then they will foil, solder and frame their design. Each student will choose a theme for their stained glass panel and this theme will guide them through the project. The theme will affect the choice of glass color, glass placement, glass texture and transparency. This course allows the 10th grader to explore color and the effects of light on color in this transparent art form.
This course is an extension of the Ancient History and Greek classes which are courses of study in the 10th grade. The students will learn to make vessels and/or reliefs in both clay and copper. The students will make pottery similar to those created by the indigenous tribes of North America. They will also create Greek vases or reliefs. In addition the students will learn copper bashing and create copper bowls or vases.
Figure Drawing is designed to teach the students the basics of figure drawing. The students work from master images, the skeleton, plaster cast and life. Pencils, markers, and charcoal are the media most often used. The basic underlaying shapes of the human form are studied and render. The elements of drawing, decoding the 3 dimensional visual world on to a 2 dimensional surface, are studied. They utilized both contour line and tonal value. There is an emphasis on seeing the figure and rendering it as such eliminating the strong desire to draw the knowledge and symbols one has of the human body.
Bookbinding and Calligraphy
This course is an extension of the Roman/ Medieval and Renaissance History Blocks taught in 11th grade. We look at various lettering, the uncial developed during the Roman times, Illumination during the Middle Ages and humanistic miniscule of the Renaissance. Bookbinding is an introduction into the arts related to book making. Bookbinding requires precision and logic. The sequencing of the various steps requires careful planning and patience. Along with finger dexterity the ability to plan one’s work is a skill which is developed through this craft. The students learn to make folios, signatures, and sew book blocks. They then cut boards cover them with leather paper and create a hard bound book. In addition they will write in calligraphy, lay out book pages and create illuminated letters by applying paint, gold leaf and copper. They each will complete a 7 1/2”w x 10 h” book bound in leather which includes their illumination and a verse written in calligraphy.
In this Clay Sculpting class the students will create a hollow human head from clay using their mirror image as a reference. This course is an introduction to three dimensional head sculpting which will help prepare the students for the stone carving class taught in the senior year. The students will spend time observing their face and seeing their particular features. They also will observe the proportions and relationships of the facial features. They will sculpt a head by pushing out clay from within and adding clay. Through the project, they begin to see how their facial features make them unique. It is an exercise in bringing the “I” into consciousness.
Working with a 30-pound piece of soapstone or alabaster, students transform it into a human head using hand tools. Students practice both imprinting their will on the material as well as allowing themselves to be guided by the medium itself.
Modern Art -20th Century Art is the focus of this class. The students investigate this time period through book study, movies, internet research and lecture. They pick an artist from the 20th century and create an art piece based on this artist. The students prepare a presentation on their artist which they share with the class. A trip to the Denver Art Museum is often arranged to see firsthand and discuss the modern art collection.
This class changes from year to year from an advanced drawing class to a graphic art class. The courses are designed to provide the students an opportunity to further their study in the arts. They are given a wide variety of stimulating assignments that challenges their creative resources and helps them find their artistic voice in a variety of media and designs.
Students have the opportunity to choose two electives each school year. Elective offerings may include: Pottery: Wheel Throwing; Photography; Fermentation; Yoga; Guitar; Creative Writing; Yearbook; Metal Jewelry Making.
PHYSICAL EDUCATION, SPORTS, and HEALTH
Movement and physical education are vital to the development of well balanced, healthy students. All students are encouraged to play competitive sports for the team building as well as the skill building aspects. PE courses are often coordinated with each year’s curriculum and are an extension of key topics.
Competitive Boys and Girls Basketball
Varsity and Junior Varsity, open to all students.
Competitive Girls Volleyball
Varsity and Junior Varsity, open to all students.
Varsity and Junior Varsity, open to all students.
Recreational fall and spring sport.
Baseball, soccer, football, swimming, lacrosse are available through local schools
Transitions (two semesters)
Transitions is a social and emotional skills development class for ninth graders. It serves as a bridge from the elementary school years into the high school. The introduction focuses on keeping an assignment book, study skills and test taking. Then the emphasis is on sharing experiences and developing emotional literacy involving stress management, decision making, group building, etc., in a relaxed format.
Health (one quarter)
The emphasis is on the prevention of tobacco, alcohol, and drug use. Sexual harassment is also discussed.
Social Dances of the 20s and 30s
Balanced vigorous workout exercises for conditioning develop strength, flexibility and endurance. Students run the 100-yard dash, the mile and 3 miles for time. Rod fencing covers a four-week block.
Health (one quarter)
The students receive CPR/First Aid training.
Social Dance: Swing and Jitterbug
Health (one quarter)
Many health related issues are covered, with the major one being teenage sexuality. Decision making, abstinence, birth control, and sexually transmitted diseases are all discussed. Local experts in this field come in to direct classes on these sensitive topics.
Latin dance: Salsa, Merengue
During the first quarter we practice archery and visit the Zen Archery Dojo. In the second quarter we go to the recreation center for lap swimming and weight training.
Social Dance: Viennese Waltz, Tango
Students experience a meditative discipline to release stress, Tai Chi.
College and post-high school planning begins as early as ninth grade with an introduction to parents of the college process and timeline. Students take the PSAT and PLAN test in tenth and eleventh grades before undertaking the SAT and ACT tests in eleventh and twelfth. Guest speakers, including college admissions personnel, visit during eleventh grade. Assistance is provided for all students in completing college applications, reviewing essays, and finding the right match for college or the best options for other post high school choices.
SAT, ACT Tests
SAT, ACT Tests
COMMUNITY SERVICE and SPECIAL PROJECTS
Community service engages students with the world around them and offers the opportunity to both learn personally from the experience and to give back to the larger community. By the end of twelfth grade, students will have completed more than 100 hours of community service.
Cresset Organic Farm work in Ft. Collins, CO
Taos Pueblo Service Trip in Taos, NM
Environmental Stewardship trip in Granby, CO
Students participate in a rite of passage in the desert of Wyoming, involving a 48-hour solo/fast and ceremonies.
PeaceJam (grades 9 – 12)
This international education program brings interested students into contact with Nobel Peace Laureates who pass on to them the spirit, skills, and wisdom they possess.
River Watch (grades 9 – 12)
The Colorado Division of Wildlife accepts students as volunteers to analyze and protect the quality of Colorado rivers.
Seniors choose a project in an area about which they feel passionate, find a mentor, and immerse themselves in this endeavor over the senior year. The results are presented to the community in the spring.
Senior Community Service Placements
During the last quarter of their senior year, students spend three weeks in placements around the country doing community service. Examples of placements are Camphill villages, Incarcerated Mothers Program in New York City, biodynamic farms, and inner city Waldorf kindergartens.