Ninth through Twelfth Grades Overview
All Trinity School students follow the same curriculum. The curriculum is carefully constructed as an integrated and coherent whole. Each element of the curriculum is purposefully related to the learning environment and to the rest of the curriculum. Each course builds on those that precede it.
Borrowing from the elements in the classical notion of a liberal education, we stratify the curriculum according to the categories of grammar, logic and rhetoric. The seventh and eighth grades are considered grammar courses; they communicate the basic elements of things. The ninth- and tenth-grade courses are logic courses, which begin to articulate the implications and relationships that exist among the ideas already learned. The eleventh- and twelfth-grade courses are rhetoric courses, wherein the students begin to synthesize and interrelate ideas and concepts that they have already learned.
Geometry – a study of the geometry of objects, including lines, triangles and circles. Students are taught to extract mathematical information from visual images of geometrical objects, to understand the mathematical relationships between geometrical objects, and the structure and role of proofs in geometry.
Precalculus – a study of the general concepts behind functions and the particular classes of functions: polynomial, rational, root, logarithmic, logistic and exponential. Functions are represented graphically, symbolically and numerically. The semester ends with a study of asymptotes and infinity.
Biology – begins with a short introduction to the unifying themes of biology: cell theory, genetics and the theory of evolution. An inductive approach to the study of kingdoms follows, covering bacteria, protozoa, fungi, sponges, worms, mollusks, arthropods, insects, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. Students dissect earthworms, starfish, squid, grasshoppers, sharks, frogs and fetal pigs. This is followed by a more substantial discussion of cell theory and genetics, followed by a unit on anatomy and physiology. The course concludes with a unit and project on ecology.
Humane Letters Seminar – introduces the basic chronology of events in American history from colonial times to the early 20th century. Students read original texts, with special attention given to the foundational texts of American democracy. The meanings of events are discovered in their historical contexts so that students can understand that contemporary events are deeply rooted in the past. The literature texts are by American authors. Although they reflect certain historical issues, they stand on their own as literary works. A significant amount of time is spent training students in the fundamental skills necessary to participate effectively in the seminar. Students are taught to write a basic, five-paragraph essay. Reading list: The Federalist Papers (selections); Lincoln-Douglas Debates (selections); Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage; Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird; Henry David Thoreau, Walden, Civil Disobedience; Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn; Willa Cather, My Antonia; Frederick Douglass, A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave ; Upton Sinclair, The Jungle; Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea; Thornton Wilder, Our Town; American short stories and poetry.
Roman Catholic Doctrine – (for Catholic students) focuses on Roman Catholic beliefs and doctrines as expressed by the Nicene Creed, Roman Catholic practices (especially the sacraments) and Roman Catholic ethics as expressed in the Ten Commandments. The history of the Catholic Church in modern world is also studied.
Protestant Doctrine – (for Protestant students) a survey of the pivotal events and influential figures in church history. The students follow the concerns of the early church through the turbulent 16th century and the consequent rise of denominationalism and ecumenism. They study the four main branches of Protestantism: Lutheran, Calvinist (or Reformed), Anabaptist and Anglican. The course includes an independent study during which the students are guided through an investigation of the foundations, doctrines and practices of their own faith traditions.
Latin III – begins with an intensive eight-week review of the grammar learned in the seventh and eighth grades. Complex sentence constructions, including the use of subjunctive clauses, gerunds and gerundives are introduced. Students are prepared to translate Caesar, Cicero and Virgil in the tenth grade.
Music III – applies the musical skills developed in the seventh and eighth grades to the study of choral music. The focus is on developing a healthy vocal technique, choral score reading and ensemble performance. The study of music theory and composition continues with an emphasis on four-part harmony, culminating in a four-part vocal piece composed in the second semester.
Precalculus – studies definitions and applications of trigonometric functions and vectors and introduces matrices. Linear transformations and their connection to matrices are explored. Probability and the study of conic sections conclude the year.
Chemistry – studies the structures, properties and reactions of substances at the atomic and molecular levels. Small-scale labs and demonstrations provide the physical experience of chemistry. Topics in the first semester include the periodic table, bonding, stoichiometry, reaction rates and equilibrium, states of matter and redox and acid-base reactions. The second semester is devoted to organic chemistry and biochemistry, with an emphasis on understanding the structures of proteins and DNA.
Humane Letters Seminar – studies the history, literature and political philosophy of England and Europe from 1066 through the early 20th century. Students continue to work on writing coherent analytical essays and on developing more sophisticated organizational and stylistic techniques. Reading list: Alan Paton, Cry, the Beloved Country; Robert Bolt, A Man for All Seasons; Hobbes, Leviathan (selections); Locke, Of Civil Government (selections); Rousseau, Essay on the Origin of Inequality; Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities; Burke, Reflections on the French Revolution (selections); Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice; Engels, Socialism: Utopian and Scientific (Part III); Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto; Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment; George Orwell, Animal Farm; British poetry.
Scripture (Old Testament) – introduces students to the vocabulary, grammar, imagery, literary forms and other devices used by Old Testament authors so that they can understand what these authors were saying to their contemporaries. A particular emphasis is placed on understanding the story of creation, the fall, the formation of Israel and God’s work of restoring creation and establishing his kingdom. The students read selections from Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, the Psalms, Job, Ecclesiastes, Sirach, 1-2 Maccabees, Daniel and the Wisdom of Solomon. They also study portions of Enuma Elish, The Gilgamesh Epic and The Jewish War by Josephus.
Latin IV – begins with a short review of grammar. Students translate Caesar’s De Bello Gallico (The Gallic War), Cicero’s Oratio Prima in Catalinam Habita (First Oration Against Cataline) and Virgil’s Aeneid. The goal is for students to translate fluently (with the aid of vocabulary lists, grammar notes and historical commentary) and to grow in appreciation for the subtleties, beauty, complexity and precision of language.
Music IV – focuses on composition and theory through a study of 16th-century counterpoint techniques, culminating in the composition of an original work. Several of these works are chosen to be performed in the Spring Fine Arts Concert. Students also continue to study and perform choral music.
Calculus – a study of limits and their application to slopes, derivatives of functions and the area under curves of functions (that is, to integrals). Real-world applications are emphasized. Both semesters include a weeklong project involving several calculus-related story problems. Differential equations are introduced, as time permits.
Physics – a study of mechanics (motion, energy, momentum), waves and thermodynamics. Students develop conceptual understanding and problem-solving competency through laboratory work, traditional problem-solving and the writing of computer code to simulate physical situations. Students are given laptop computers and are taught computer coding in the Matlab program.
Humane Letters Seminar – focuses on the close reading and discussion of texts drawn from the classical Greek and early Christian corpus. Students continue to work on writing analytical essays. They write at least six essays per semester. Reading list: Homer, Iliad and Odyssey; Aeschylus, Oresteia; Sophocles, Theban plays; Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War; Plato, Meno, Euthyphro, Gorgias, Apology, Crito, Phaedo, Republic; Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics; Augustine, Confessions; Athanasius, On the Incarnation.
Drama I – introduces students to the elements of acting, performance and play production. It begins with technical instruction, group activities and creative workshops designed to build acting skills – especially those of voice, movement, stage presence and collaboration. Students produce and perform a full-length play from Shakespeare’s corpus.
Art III – focuses on learning how to look at and create representational and nonrepresentational abstractions.
Art History I – covers sculpture, architecture, painting and other forms of art from the prehistoric era through the 12th century A.D. Students learn how to employ artistic vocabulary, formally analyze a work of art and appreciate art in its historical context.
Modern Language I – Students select French, German or Spanish. The focus of each course is mainly the study of grammar and vocabulary, enabling the student to read and translate basic literature in the target language. The student will also have some experience with oral language, both speaking and listening. Cultural exposure is accessed through the other aspects of the course.
Scripture (New Testament) – focuses on Jesus as the fulfillment of Old Testament expectations. The goal is twofold: 1) to learn to read the New Testament by being attentive to Old Testament allusions, the historical context and different literary styles at work in the New Testament; and 2) to learn about the understanding of reality posited in Sacred Scripture. The course focuses on Luke’s Gospel and his Acts of the Apostles, Paul’s letters to the Corinthians and the Ephesians, John’s Gospel and the Book of Revelation. Portions of other Gospels and letters are used where appropriate.
Mathematics - begins with the study of multivariable calculus in two dimensions. Linear algebra is studied next, organized around the solution of the matrix linear equations Ax=b and around the eigenvalue/eigenvector problem. The last third of the year is an introduction to mathematical modeling. Differential equations and linear algebra, especially eigenvalues, are the primary mathematical tools. Applications studied are in the area of biology, physics and economics. MATLAB is used extensively for its graphing capabilities and as a tool in calculus, differential equations and linear algebra.
Physics – a continuation of the previous physics course using calculus in problem-solving. Some topics in mechanics are revisited using the calculus, culminating in the solution of the Kepler problem. Other topics include special relativity, electricity and magnetism, quantum mechanics and particle physics. Students create problem-solving programs in Matlab.
Humane Letters Seminar – focuses on a close reading and discussion of texts in medieval and modern literature, philosophy, theology and poetry. Students write approximately six essays per semester and are expected to write with increasing depth, grace and sophistication. Reading list: Augustine, The Spirit and the Letter; Luther, Commentary on Galatians (selections) ; Flannery O’Connor, Parker’s Back; Thomas Aquinas, Treatise on Law; Shakespeare, Macbeth, Hamlet; Locke, Second Treatise on Civil Government; Rousseau, On the Social Contract; John Stuart Mill, On Liberty; Dante, Inferno; James Agee, A Death in the Family; Raymond Carver, A Small, Good Thing; Montaigne, In Defense of Raymond Sebond; Descartes, Meditations; Wallace Stevens, "The Idea of Order at Key West” and “Sunday Morning”; Ethan Canin, The Palace Thief; Hegel, Reason in History; Marx, Alienated Labor and Private Property and Communism; Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov.
World Issues – offers an opportunity for students to apply the critical thinking skills they’ve learned in other courses to current issues encountered by humanity in different regions in the world. Students first research specific problems individually, then methodically propose and evaluate possible solutions in groups. Through the study of human suffering, poverty and disease, they come to understand the depth and complexity of the issues facing humanity and experience the challenges of bringing about change.
Drama II – begins with a review of the basics of acting and ends in the production of a play from the modern repertoire.
Art IV – continues to develop techniques learned in previous years. Students design and execute a major original work.
Art History II – examines art from the twelfth century to the present. Students expand their ability to employ artistic vocabulary, formally analyze a work of art and appreciate art in its historical context.
Modern Language II – a continuation of Modern Language I.