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Middle School Overview


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Middle School Overview


Middle School Overview

The Middle School academic calendar is divided into trimesters, which are named after feasts in the liturgical calendar:

  1. Michaelmas Trimester
  2. Epiphany Trimester
  3. Easter Trimester

ESLA follows a five-day block schedule. Each student’s schedule includes nine course slots: five full-time courses, which meet 200 minutes per week, and four half-time courses, which meet 100 minutes per week. Classes tend to have 15 students enrolled.

Students in the Middle School are always enrolled in five full-time courses in the following subjects:

  1. English
  2. History
  3. Mathematics
  4. Science
  5. Language

For their four half-time course slots, students are always enrolled in physical education as well as a study skills class and/or study hall period. They rotate on a trimester basis through the following three subjects:

  • Visual arts
  • Music
  • Religion, ethics, and philosophy (REP)

The following represents a standard course of study for a student in the Middle School:


SIXTH GRADE

Yearlong, full-time classes:

  • English: Rules and Civilizations
  • History: Ancient Civilizations
  • Mathematics: Foundations for Algebraic Thinking
  • Science: Observing the World
  • Language: Middle School Spanish

Yearlong, half-time classes:

  • Composition: Grammar and Composition
  • Physical education: Intro to Physical Fitness
  • Study skills: Skills for Middle School Success

Trimester, half-time classes:

  • Michaelmas – REP: Hebrew Scriptures
  • Epiphany – Visual arts: Ways of Seeing
  • Easter – Music: Ways of Listening



SEVENTH GRADE

Yearlong, full-time classes:

  • English: Forming Identity
  • History: The Medieval World and Beyond
  • Mathematics: Preparation for Algebra and Geometry
  • Science: From Microscope to Telescope
  • Language: Middle School Spanish

Yearlong, half-time classes:

  • Physical education: Fitness, Health, and Nutrition
  • Study skills: Developing Learning Styles

Trimester, half-time classes:

  • Michaelmas – Visual arts: Art Through Different Lenses
  • Epiphany – Music: Songwriting and Recording
  • Easter – REP: Ethics and the Moral Imagination



EIGHTH GRADE

Yearlong, full-time classes:

  • English: Coming of Age
  • History: The United States through Industrialism
  • Mathematics: Algebra and Introductory Geometry
  • Science: Complex Systems and Society
  • Language: Intermediate Middle School Spanish

Yearlong, half-time classes:

  • Physical education: Fitness, Health, and Nutrition
  • Study skills: Preparing for Upper School

Trimester, half-time classes:

  • Michaelmas – Music: Songwriting and Recording
  • Epiphany – REP: Rule of Life
  • Easter – Visual arts: 2D Design
Upper School Overview.jpg

Upper School Overview


Upper School Overview


Upper School Overview

The Upper School academic calendar is divided into semesters, which are named after feasts in the liturgical calendar:

  1. Michaelmas Semester
  2. Easter Semester

ESLA follows a five-day block schedule. Each student’s schedule includes nine course slots: five full-time courses, which meet 200 minutes per week, and four half-time courses, which meet 100 minutes per week. Students typically leave at least one of the half-time course slots open each semester, which then functions as a study hall period. Classes tend to have anywhere between five and twenty students enrolled.

Students in the Upper School share essential, formative experiences with their peers through much of the core curriculum, but also have substantial flexibility regarding how they fulfill both the departmental and general elective graduation requirements.


The following list outlines both the broad range of options available to Upper School students in all disciplines, as well as the requirements for graduation and the most common course of study students follow through their four years at ESLA.

Full-time courses are listed in red.
Half-time courses are listed in blue.

Courses are designated as:

  • Yearlong (y)
  • Michaelmas Semester (m)
  • Easter Semester (e)

In addition to the requirements listed by department, students will earn at least six elective credits, including two outside of arts and athletics. Certain advanced and elective courses are offered according to student interest and faculty availability.


English

Four credits required.

Core Classes:

  • English 9: Archetypes in Literature (y)
  • English 10: War, Love, and Memory in British Literature (y)
  • English 11: This is How You Are a Citizen (y)
  • English 12: Emergence of the Postmodern (y)

Electives:

  • Irish Literature (m)

History

Three and a half credits required. One semester must be taken during senior year.

Core Classes:

  • History 9: California History (y)
  • History 10: World History (y)
  • History 11: AP United States History (y)

Electives:

  • Introduction to East Asia (m)
  • Epic Literature in Ancient and Medieval History (e)
  • African American History through the Civil War (m)
  • African American History, Reconstruction to the Present (e)
  • Modernism (m)
  • Political Concepts (e)
  • The Art of Protest in Modern America (m, e)

Mathematics

Three credits required, four recommended.

Core Classes:

  • Math Modeling 1 (y)
  • Math Modeling 2 (y)
  • Math Modeling 3 (y)
  • Statistics and Probability (y)
  • AP Calculus AB (y)

Science

Three credits of computer or lab science required, to include at least one credit in life science (biology) and one credit in physical science (physics or chemistry).

Core Classes:

  • Science 9: Physics (y)
  • Science 10: Chemistry (y)
  • Science 11: Biology (y)
  • AP Biology (y)

Electives:

  • Behavioral Ecology (m, e)
  • AP Physics I (y)

Languages

Three credits required, or a single AP Language or Literature course.

Core Classes:

  • Spanish 1: Beginning Spanish (y)
  • Spanish 2: Intermediate Spanish (y)
  • Spanish 3: Spanish Conversation (y)
  • Spanish 3: Spanish Composition (y)
  • Spanish 4 and 5: Advanced Topics in Spanish (y)
  • AP Spanish Language and Culture (y)

Religion, Ethics, and Philosophy (REP)

One credit required.

Core Classes:

  • REP 9: Introduction to the New Testament (m)
  • REP 10: Social Justice (e)

Skills Classes

One half credit required.

Core Classes:

  • Freshman Seminar: Methods of Reading, Writing, and Thinking (m)

Music

Electives:

  • Introductory Music (m, e)
  • Advanced Music (m, e)
  • Music Theory (m, e)

Theater

Electives:

  • Advanced Playwriting (m)
  • Theatre of the Absurd (m)
  • Stage Design and Craft (m)
  • Playwriting (e)

Visual Arts

Electives:

  • Intro to Visual Arts (m, e)
  • Printmaking (m)
  • Drawing (e)
  • Advanced Painting (m)
  • Sculpture (m, e)
  • Advanced Arts (m, e)

Senior Elective:

  • AP Studio Art (y)

Physical Education

Electives:

  • Intro to Fitness (m, e)
  • Intermediate Fitness (m, e)
  • Advanced Fitness (m, e)
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English Curriculum


English Curriculum


English Curriculum

 

Core Classes

 

How do rules come about? When do we follow rules and when do we break them? Why do we create imagined worlds to better understand our own?

English 6: Rules and Civilizations
Yearlong, full-time course

Jenn Quinly

The most important objective of English 6 is to ensure that students are confident and passionate readers who can see beyond what is written on the page. The characters in the novels and poems we read are navigating the new rules and expectations of the changing “civilizations” around them. Students are asked to think critically about the following questions: How do rules come about? When do we follow rules and when do we break them? Why do we create imagined worlds to better understand our own?

We ask the same thing of the writers behind the curtains of these books. When do they follow certain rules of their genre? What “civilization” are they writing in or about? Do novelists always follow the same rules? What about poets? What might breaking those rules tell us about that author’s story or argument? Students have a chance to play around with these forms too, and develop analytical and creative written voices through class work and long-term writing projects.


Composition 6: Grammar and Composition
Yearlong, half-time course

Ilyana Contreras

The sixth-grade English course is complimented by this second full section dedicated to grammar and composition, allowing for a more deliberate integration into the ESLA philosophy of reading and writing. This intentional study of the mechanics of the language gives students a better foundation so that they can more accurately and specifically communicate through the English language. Sixth grade students identify, analyze, and break down English into its smallest pieces to better express large and complex ideas and themes. At the same time, students study the elements of genre by focusing on both form and function as they read mentor texts. Students apply what they learn from the study of genre in their own drafting, revising, and editing over the course of the year.


The assigned texts each present a perspective on the experience of the disempowered. Each author or narrator speaks from a different historical or geographical circumstance, but all raise a similar set of questions about how identity is formed and transformed by social circumstance.

English 7: Forming Identity
Yearlong, full-time course

Nicole Stanton

In English 7 students encounter literature in a variety of forms, ranging from poetry and drama to novel and memoir. They explore the particular strengths of each medium and learn to search for and identify explicit and implicit arguments across different types of texts.

The assigned texts each present a perspective on the experience of the disempowered. Each author or narrator speaks from a different historical or geographical circumstance, but all raise a similar set of questions about how identity is formed and transformed by social circumstance. ESLA seventh graders will reflect on their own identities in their immediate, local, and global communities through immersion in two essential questions: 1) What makes you who you are? and 2) Can you change your identity?

Students will engage with literature and composition through daily readings, class discussions, frequent creative and analytical written assignments, collaborative projects, grammar practice, and vocabulary building exercises. The process of reflection on and interrogation of the expression of identity will culminate in a personal memoir project at the end of the school year.


English 8: Coming of Age
Yearlong, full-time course

Laura Spencer

You may find that, as a young person coming out of childhood and approaching a time with increasing freedom and responsibility, the world has a lot of advice for you. Exploring what it means to grow up through writing, literature study, and group discussion allows for self-reflection at a time when the transition out of childhood can present challenges for young adolescents. Throughout the year, we explore themes relating to the loss of innocence, taking a stand, and searching for love and dealing with grief in literature such as The Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, Their Eyes Were Watching God, and Romeo and Juliet. Film-to-text comparisons, a documentary project, and publishing a class anthology of stories are complements to the more traditional elements of the course, including crafting five paragraphs essays and strengthening grammar skills and writing mechanics. In our study of novels, poems, plays, and speeches, we learn about each author’s historical context, the pressures and ideas that drove their writing, and we begin to understand more about an author’s craft and how they go about making an argument. The combination of literature analysis and grammar instruction provide a solid foundation for students to confidently move into higher-level work as they look toward Upper School.


English 9: Archetypes in Literature
Yearlong, full-time course

Jamie Neilson

English 9 is designed to build students’ analytical and critical thinking skills using specific tools to enable them to understand literature. The focus of the course is on the ways that frameworks and practices such as formal features, genre, archetypes, and close reading can provide the basis for claims about meaning in reading and writing. Students read a combination of contemporary authors and genres, and foundational literary works such as The Odyssey and Hamlet.

The course covers also grammar and vocabulary, in the context of the works under consideration and in conjunction with the training offered in the Freshman Skills Seminar. By the end of the year, students have ready strategies for performing analysis on literary works and a common vocabulary for discussing those works in ESLA classrooms and beyond.


English 10: War, Love, and Memory in British Literature
Yearlong, full-time course

Amanda Foushee

This course offers a rich and rigorous overview of British Literature while developing students’ knowledge of rhetorical reading strategies, connective thinking across time and place, and the aesthetic and historical concerns of four main movements and moments: Romanticism, Victorian-Era literature, Modernism, and Postmodernism. Students depart from the course with the ability to read difficult texts closely and efficiently, to identify and write compellingly about an author’s historical and cultural context, to understand history through literature, to read like writers, and to ask big questions about how and why writers make certain creative and thematic choices in response to social change and conflict. They encounter texts such as Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Ian McEwan’s Atonement, Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, and the work of canonical British poets such as William Blake, John Keats, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and TS Eliot.

Students engage with the literature through daily readings, class lectures and discussions, student-led discussions, formal presentations, timed assessments, and the composition of an analytical Writing Portfolio that demonstrates the year’s big ideas and the student’s growth. Students will focus on making connections between a work’s mechanics and its meaning. The development of a unique and authoritative analytical voice is the central pursuit of both daily and long-term assignments.


What does it mean to participate in that America? What does it mean to deny or be denied citizenship? What are some uniquely American ideas about the individual and what the individual can, or perhaps should, accomplish? Does everyone have access to those ideas?

English 11: This Is How You Are a Citizen
Yearlong, full-time course

Ilyana Contreras

This American Literature course introduces students to a college-level experience of reading and writing. After a year of intense study of British literature, the English 11 course asks students to engage the complex themes that bind and fracture the diverse landscape of American literature. We read texts by a variety of American voices, including Citizen by Claudia Rankine, The Rain God by Arturo Islas, Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers. 

We borrow our course title—“This is How You Are a Citizen”—from Claudia Rankine. Her particular assertions about her own citizenship, and the complicated citizenship of other Americans, are ideas we will be puzzling over. What does “America” become when symbolized or depicted in literature? What does it mean to participate in that America? What does it mean to deny or be denied citizenship? What are some uniquely American ideas about the individual and what the individual can, or perhaps should, accomplish? Does everyone have access to those ideas? And perhaps most importantly, how do each author’s rhetorical and creative choices help build an argument about or make meaning of their citizenship?

In our efforts to answer these questions we depend on close reading—a full engagement with the text’s structure and the manner in which that structure produces meaning—as the single most important skill students refine in this course. It is a deceptively simple goal, and one we continue to question through rigorous class discussion, projects, timed writing, response papers, and extended writing assignments.


English 12: Emergence of the Postmodern

The English 12 course caps off the curriculum by directly connecting the ninth- through eleventh-grade study of literary classics and movements to the emergence of Postmodern and contemporary literature. The aim of the course is to think connectively across a student’s academic English career, continue to hone their understanding of literature as responsive rhetoric to a time and place, practice the integration of historical texts into literary research and argument, and think critically about the emerging literary world. Students depart from English 12 with a more complete portrait of how literary history connects to our contemporary world, the ability to read and digest literary theory closely and efficiently, an in-depth understanding of foundational literary terms they will continue to encounter in college seminars, the ability to draft multi-step papers independently, and the capacity to write compellingly using interdisciplinary sources. All of these skills are explicitly taught as crucial to the college-bound student.

English 12 Topics:

Recently Released: Reading and Reviewing Contemporary Fiction
Semester, full-time course

Amanda Foushee

In this course, students learn how to be expert contemporary readers and prepare for the increased workload of college-level literature courses. We read a novel approximately every two weeks. Readings are synced to publication dates as often as possible so students have the opportunity to access brand new fiction as it emerges. This also means that each time the class is offered, its contents change. Students read for patterns, preferences, and aesthetic changes, as well as for the pleasure and art of each individual novel. They also develop cultural literacy—learning how to track the impact of a recently published book by regularly engaging sources such as the New Yorker, the New York Times Book Review, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and LitHub.

We maintain a website called the ESLA Review of Books to share our thoughts and recommendations with our community and model rigorous engagement with a text. Students learn how to transition traditional, academic writing skills to more evaluative and persuasive critique writing. The driving impulse behind the course is to demonstrate how reading and writing can initiate students into broader cultural conversations as well as position them as leaders in creating an intellectual community among parents, students, and faculty.

Reading and Writing Poetry
Semester, full-time course

Nicole Stanton

In this course, students learn how to engage with the often impenetrable genre of poetry. We read poems across histories and geographies, in English and in translation. Readings will guide our inquiry of what is poetry? Approaching this question requires a vocabulary of poetic craft and form. Students learn to read poetry precisely, word-by-word and line-by-line, considering the possibilities of poetry’s concision. Students develop a literacy in poetic forms, learning how a poet’s choice to abide or break a form contains cultural and historical meaning.

We approach our daily engagement with poetry through student-led discussion and independent reflection. Through this practice, students learn how to connect emotional, creative reactions to academic, critical analyses. The driving intention of this course is for students to develop a reading practice and poetic sensibility that results in their being confident readers of poetry.

 

 

 

Upper School Electives

 

Irish Literature
Semester, half-time course

William Pearson
Grades 11–12

Tracking Ireland’s history from Yeats’ mythical, romantic visions of faerie and verdure through The Troubles and Ireland’s search for enduring identity, this course investigates the parallels between politics and literature in a turbulent country. This survey examines issues of national identity, independence, colonialism, language, and loss through poetry, short stories, and theater.

“A subject people knows this.
The first loss is through history.
The final one is through language.”
—Eavan Boland

Irish literature collects the voices of a marginalized people facing Britain’s imperialism, and attempts to identify and curate what is essentially Irish in the face of annihilation—be it at the hands of the British, famine, religious sectarianism, or mass-emigration. What emerges from this strife and turmoil, however, is one of the most enduring and memorable literary traditions in the world.

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History Curriculum


History Curriculum


History Curriculum

ESLA’s History Department contributes to ESLA’s greater mission by fostering metacognition, self-understanding, historical empathy, and interpretive sophistication in its students. Emphasizing discussion and debate, writing and reflection, and independent research, the department’s curriculum encourages students to explore, critique, and contribute to standard narratives about histories both foreign and familiar. The department’s core courses and more specialized electives increase students’ subject knowledge, but do so within the context of broader questions about the relations between self and society, mind and matter, agency and power, and morality and sovereignty.

Upon graduating from ESLA, the history student will possess research and writing skills; facility with contemporary historical narratives and the ability to think beyond them; deeper understanding of the origins of difference, inequality, and injustice; a greater capacity for examining one’s assumptions and assessing the implications of one’s actions; and the ability to educate oneself, to complete self-directed projects, and to distinguish between the reasonable and unreasonable claims of others.

 

 

 

Core Classes

 

History 6: Ancient Civilizations
Yearlong, full-time course

Jenn Quinly

This course examines the origins of human history by looking at some of its earliest civilizations around the globe. In the first trimester, students focus on Africa and the Middle East; in the second trimester, they consider the ancient cultures of Asia; and in the final trimester, they study European civilizations such as ancient Greece and Rome. Throughout the year, we pay special attention to the materials left behind by different cultures, considering what they originally meant and what they mean today.


How do hierarchies form and how are they justified? How did some societies go from ones that valued order to ones that largely supported rebellion when it was necessary?

History 7: The Medieval World and Beyond
Yearlong, full-time course

Nathan Kendler

Picking up where the sixth grade’s study of ancient civilizations left off, seventh-grade history explores world history from roughly the fall of the Roman Empire to the “Revolutionary Age” of the late 1700s. The course examines both the civilizations of and interactions between Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and the Americas during this time. To help make sense of this vast amount of human history, students consistently return to a few essential questions: What causes civilizational rise, transformation, or decline? How do hierarchies form and how are they justified? What is religion, what religions were prominent, and what effect did religious belief have on this period of world history? Finally, we discuss leadership and rebellion. How did some societies go from ones that valued order and hierarchy to ones that largely supported rebellion when it was necessary?


History 8: The United States through Industrialism
Yearlong, full-time course

Janie Hannon

This class explores United States history from early colonial encounters through the early twentieth century. Students approach the major themes, events, and trends of these periods with a special dedication to examining the narratives of marginalized groups in American history. During the first trimester, students study Native Americans, colonists, and their encounters from Columbus’s landfall through the Constitutional Period. In the following two trimesters, students consider the nineteenth century with a particular focus on the realities of slavery, the Civil War, and westward expansion.


To whom, if anyone, does California belong? What do you owe California, and what does California owe you?

History 9: California History
Yearlong, full-time course

Jess McIntosh

This course introduces students to key periods, events, figures, and questions in California’s history, with a particular focus on the Southern California region. At the heart of the course is a chronological study, from the pre-Columbian period to the early twenty-first century, which provides students with an understanding of the historical changes and continuities that made California the state and Los Angeles the urban center that they are today. In addition to studying California’s various political and cultural shifts—from indigenous homeland, to Spanish missionary outpost, to Mexican pueblo, to a part of the United States—the course also introduces students to basic concepts, questions, and vocabulary in the study of regions and cities. Students are asked to use the evidence of California’s history to think critically about the state’s present, responding to questions such as: To whom, if anyone, does California belong? What do you owe California, and what does California owe you?

Over the remainder of the course, emphasis shifts to a study of Los Angeles, and in particular the ways in which LA’s present—including its demographics, geographies, cultures and inequalities—has been produced by its past. Through experiential learning, personalized research projects, and discussion and debate, students use the historical record to answer the core question of the class: is Los Angeles, has it ever been, or could it ever be a just city?


History 10: World History
Yearlong, full-time course

Nathan Kendler

This course focuses on the world history of the past five centuries in an effort to understand the development of individual countries, regions, and global systems during this period. We study cultural, political, economic, technological, and ideological aspects of different regions and eras, and we examine their effects on peoples’ lives and the course of history. In tackling the enormous task of studying “world history,” we return to key concepts—authority, belief, and power—and key themes, such as the causes and consequences of cultural exchange, the development and impact of ideas of sovereignty and citizenship, the role of technological innovation in history, and the social, cultural, and intellectual effects of industrialization. 


Students explore narratives both canonical and marginal, dominant and subversive.

History 11: AP United States History
Yearlong, full-time course

Gabe Milner

This course is a college-level examination of the history of the United States. The course proceeds chronologically from the pre-colonial period to the present, while also introducing students to key historiographical and methodological debates within the discipline of American history. Through primary and secondary sources, through discussion and debate, and through research and writing, students explore narratives both canonical and marginal, dominant and subversive. At the end of this course, students will be prepared to sit for the AP United States History exam.

 

 

 

Upper School Electives

 

Introduction to East Asia
Semester, half-time course

Nathan Kendler
Grades 9–12

Intro to East Asia is an introduction to the histories of China, Korea, and Japan as they undergo the transition from feudal kingdoms to the modern nation-states we know today. This means the course covers roughly 300 years of history, three times. This comparative analysis allows students to form a thoughtful picture of the region’s history and foster understanding of the region’s complex contemporary politics and relationships. This course examines various cultural artifacts as source material, including visual art, fiction, and manga, using these materials not only to develop a deeper understanding of the histories of East Asia, but also to become acquainted with the basic methods of cultural history. 


Epic Literature in Ancient and Medieval History
Semester, half-time course

Nathan Kendler      
Grades 10–12

This course exposes students to some of the canonical texts and stories to emerge from the “medieval” period. Focusing on—but not limited to—European literature, the course is an interdisciplinary examination of both text and context, as students will be required not only to decipher and discuss the stories examined, but also to place them in the historical and cultural contexts of the period. BeowulfThe Decameron, the legends of King Arthur and his coterie, The Canterbury Tales, and One Thousand and One Nights are among the texts students discuss.


This course aims to decenter our basic narratives of national events; to expand our focus of American peoples in order to explore larger global migrations and networks; and to challenge the historical development of the American nation’s most fundamental values.

African American History through the Civil War
Semester, half-time course

African American History, Reconstruction to the Present
Semester, half-time course

Gabe Milner
Grades 10–12

These two semester-long courses trace the diverse historical experiences of African Americans. The first semester focusses on their cultural roots in the West African interior to their involvement in shaping the meaning of the Civil War, and the second on their experiences from Reconstruction to the present. Through cultural artifacts including memoirs, medical treatises, songs, and speeches; scholarly sources; and contemporary art and literature, the class explores the unique contours of African American History, as well as pivotal moments in United States history as seen through the lens of African Americans in a variety of social and geographic contexts. This course aims to decenter our basic narratives of national events; to expand our focus of American peoples in order to explore larger global migrations and networks; and to challenge the historical development of the American nation’s most fundamental values. Throughout the year, readings and conversations open the door for students to wrestle with the overarching themes of freedom, democracy, citizenship, capitalism, and Christianity that structure core national narratives.


Political Concepts
Semester, half-time course

Jess McIntosh
Grades 10–12

When you say you have a right to something, what does that mean? When you bemoan “neoliberalism,” what are you bemoaning? What kind of argument are you making when you say a law is immoral, anti-democratic, or restricts freedom? In this course, students encounter questions such as these, while being introduced to key concepts and debates in modern political thought. By focusing on a cluster of related concepts—among them citizenship, dignity, borders, liberalism and rights, duty and obligation, legitimacy, allegiance, and disobedience—the course helps students grapple with defining, analyzing, and applying terms often used, but more often misused, in everyday discussion and debate. The course acquaints students with canonical arguments and texts in modern political thought, as well as an appreciation of the imperative to understand and use terms in precise, informed ways and to demand that others do the same. Finally, students apply this precision and rigor to analyzing and debating some of the more contentious political problems of the present day.


Students learn not only of a type of history that is not necessarily bound to a nation-state, but also of the complexities that come with attempting to study such histories.

Modernism
Semester, half-time course

Jess McIntosh
Grades 10–12

This class explores two questions: What was modernism, and what is modernism? The first involves an introduction to the historical study of the major forces, events, and ideas that are typically cited in discussions of modernism, often dating from the scientific and industrial revolutions of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to the decolonization efforts of the mid-twentieth century. The latter question involves a look at more recent literature that attempts to offer definitions of the modern, modernity, and modernism. By examining what is meant by the term “modernism,” students learn not only of a type of history that is not necessarily bound to a nation-state, but also of the complexities that come with attempting to study such histories.


In a rapidly changing country, dedicated reformers locate a problem in their communities and use the materials available to them to change both the law and the hearts and minds of the American people.

The Art of Protest in Modern America
Semester, half-time course

Gabe Milner
Grades 10–12

In the modern United States, the pursuit of social equality and respect and improved living and working conditions has often been approached from the bottom up: In a rapidly changing country, dedicated reformers locate a problem in their communities and use the materials available to them to change both the law and the hearts and minds of the American people. In this course, students examine moments when activists protested unjust conditions and suggested avenues for improvement in the century ranging from post-Civil War urban industrialization to the rights movements of the 1960s and 1970s, with points in between including Greenwich Village feminists, hobo folksingers, working-class muralists, and beat poets. Through a careful examination of primary sources including novels, songs, photographs, poetry, and the visual arts, students consider the historical contexts and the strategies these groups deployed. This seminar-style course will be reading- and discussion-intensive and is therefore recommended for students already familiar with major events and developments in United States history. 

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Mathematics Curriculum


Mathematics Curriculum


Mathematics Curriculum

The Mathematics department at ESLA wants its students to develop generosity, integrity, curiosity, and courage as they explore college-prep mathematics. Furthermore, all students at ESLA are entitled to work in a safe, inviting, engaging, supportive environment. To achieve these goals, we strive to create mathematics classrooms where students are motivated to pursue questions that spark their interest (curiosity), engage in helpful and productive mathematical discourse with their classmates and teacher (generosity), take intellectual risks (courage), and demonstrate honesty in their thinking, their efforts, and their communication with others (integrity).  

Our curriculum is guided by three research-based principles. First, students should engage in problem-based lessons structured around a core idea. Second, students, guided by a knowledgeable teacher, should interact with each other to foster mathematical discourse. Third, students should practice concepts and procedures over time so that they develop long-term retention and mastery.

In grades six and seven, students learn the foundational mathematics necessary for success in algebra, geometry, data analysis, and probability. In grades eight through eleven, students master the concepts and skills in algebra, geometry, function analysis, data analysis, and probability. All of the core topics and mathematical habits of mind outlined in the Common Core Standards are learned and strengthened in these grades. In grade twelve, students have the opportunity to explore either Advanced Placement Calculus or Statistics.

A note about honors-level classes: In grades seven through twelve, students in honors-level courses will work with the same topics encountered in the course descriptions, but may also explore extensions of those topics. Students in honors-level courses will frequently devote class time to work through deeper and more complex investigations. Honors-level students will be expected to demonstrate their mastery and understanding of these more complex concepts in their daily work and assessments.   

 

 

 

CORE CLASSES

 

Mathematics 6: Foundations for Algebraic Thinking
Year-long, full-time course

Elizabeth Boden

In this course, students develop the foundational skills, understandings, and habits of mind to work fluently with integers, rational numbers, and proportions. Students discover and master different ways to represent and perform operations with integers, fractions, decimals, and percentages. Students explore proportional reasoning by studying equivalent expressions, percentages, scale factors, and geometric similarity. Students explore algebraic reasoning by using variables, creating variable expressions, simplifying algebraic expressions, and solving simple algebraic equations. Throughout the course, relevant probability and data analysis topics are introduced, including ways to organize and represent data, measures of center, exploring the behavior of random outcomes, and probability.


Mathematics 7: Preparation for Algebra and Geometry
Year-long, full-time course

Elizabeth Boden, Arielle Gereboff  

Students develop skills to create and understand the properties of algebraic expressions. Students also study mathematically-grounded strategies to solve simple algebraic equations and inequalities. Students deepen their understanding of the real number system by exploring properties of exponents, square roots, and irrational numbers. Students develop a strong understanding of algebraic, numerical, and graphical representations of linear patterns and simple multiplicative patterns. Students are introduced to properties of angles, triangles, quadrilaterals, circles, rigid transformations, and scale changes in preparation for more rigorous exploration in future math courses. Students also learn about modeling with mathematics by solving word problems (distance-rate-time problems and problems involving the Pythagorean Theorem, for example). Students also begin making conjectures and inferences from random samples of data and comparing distributions of data.


Mathematics 8: Algebra and Introductory Geometry
Year-long, full-time course

Arielle Gereboff

This is the first course in a four-year sequence of college-preparatory mathematics courses that continues through Mathematical Modeling III: Trigonometry and Precalculus in grade eleven. This course aims to deepen and extend student understanding by helping students develop greater fluency with solving linear equations, inequalities, and systems. These skills are extended to using function notation, solving simple exponential equations, and exploring linear, quadratic, and exponential functions represented with graphs, numbers, algebraic notation, and sequences. Students develop their skills in coordinate representations, rigid transformations, and compass and straight-edge constructions to create and prove simple theorems in geometry. Students investigate how scatter plots, correlation, and linear regression models can be used to better describe linear and non-linear relationships between two variables, and differentiate between association and causation between variables.


Mathematics 9: Math Modeling I: Geometry, Probability, and Intermediate Algebra
Year-long, full-time course

Bill Thill, Jason Brooks

This course  aims to formalize and extend the geometry that students have learned in previous courses. It does this by establishing triangle congruence criteria using rigid motions, formal constructions, and building a formal understanding of similarity based on dilations and proportional reasoning. Students also develop an understanding of formal proof, explore the properties of two- and three-dimensional objects, work within the rectangular coordinate system to verify geometric relationships, and prove basic theorems about circles. Students develop deeper mastery and fluency with algebra by deeply exploring quadratic functions, modeling scenarios with quadratic, exponential, and polynomial functions, and learning ways to solve equations and re-express algebraic quantities (factoring, distributing, zero product property, completing the square, quadratic formula). Students investigate a variety of mathematical functions including square root, cube root, absolute value, piecewise-defined, step, and simple inverse functions. Students also develop a more thorough understanding of probability and incorporate set notation into their work.


Mathematics 10: Math Modeling II: Advanced Algebra and Analysis of Functions
Year-long, full-time course

Amy Stout

In this course, students learn how to analyze the following families of functions: linear, quadratic, exponential, absolute value, square root, piecewise-defined, polynomial, and logarithmic. Students develop their fluency in graphing and algebraically representing these functions and their transformations. Students also learn how to mathematically model geometric and contextual situations with appropriately chosen functions. Students develop conceptual and algebraic fluency by investigating complex numbers, rational functions, inverse functions, and logarithms to increase their equation-solving capacity. Students are introduced to arithmetic and geometric sequences and series (finite and infinite). Students further develop their understanding of statistical variability by exploring the normal model and probability simulations. Students also begin their investigation of unit-circle trigonometry and trigonometric functions in preparation for precalculus.


Mathematics 11: Mathematical Modeling III: Trigonometry and Precalculus
Year-long, full-time course

Amy Stout

In this course, students develop a deeper mastery of the functions studied previously, with a particular emphasis on unit-circle trigonometry, applications of trigonometry (including the law of sines and law of cosines), polynomial and rational functions (including polynomial division), inverse and composite functions, exponential and logarithmic functions, and the complex number system. Students also develop an understanding of new topics, which may include conic sections, arithmetic and geometric sequences and series, the binomial theorem, vectors, matrices, parametric functions, and polar representations of functions. Students may also begin their exploration of the foundational concepts in calculus: limits, slope functions, derivatives, and areas under a curve.


Mathematics 12: Statistics and Probability
Yearlong, full-time course

Bill Thill

This course provides an in-depth study of data, variability, and the four fundamental components of the statistical process: how to read and summarize data (univariate and bivariate exploratory data analysis), how to produce valuable data (design of samples and experiments), the mathematical behavior of randomness (probability, simulations, the normal model, sampling distributions), and making conclusions from data (statistical inference using simulations, hypothesis tests, and confidence intervals). Students develop their technical reading and writing skills as they analyze case studies and data collected from in-class studies and experiments. Students use statistical software and technology to facilitate computational work so that they can develop their skills in communicating substantive, correct conclusions with precision, accuracy, and proper context.


Mathematics 12: Advanced Placement Calculus AB
Yearlong, full-time course

Bill Thill

In this course, students develop fluency with the following big ideas of calculus: optimization, limits, differential equations, exponential functions, the relationship between distance and velocity, piecewise functions, volumes of revolution, volumes by slicing, and the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus. Students are introduced to these big ideas early in the course, and then spend time applying their mastery of functions and algebra in their previous work to deeply understand limits, slope functions, derivatives, curve sketching, indefinite and definite integrals, optimization, related rates, slope fields, differential equations, the Mean Value Theorem, The Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, and volumes of revolution. Students also develop experience using computers and graphing calculators for problems that require computational or numerical solution methods. Students in this course are prepared to succeed on the Advanced Placement Calculus AB exam.

 

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Science Curriculum


Science Curriculum


Science Curriculum

Encouraging curiosity is a pillar of ESLA, and no place is that more evident than in the school’s science program. From the start of Middle School to graduation, students learn science through hands-on activities such as examining animal skulls, creating explosions of foam, and caring for colonies of insects. Students in the Middle School are given the freedom to be inquisitive, to discover the fundamentals of the scientific method through hands-on group work and inquiry-based learning. Students in the Upper School are given numerous opportunities to design and run their own experiments and learn what it looks like to conduct research professionally. Beyond the classroom, the school further encourages student interest in science by bringing in speakers from the scientific community, taking field trips to science museums and conferences, and helping students apply for summer science and pre-health profession internships and programs. When students graduate from ESLA, they are knowledgeable about the sciences and hungry to learn more.

 

 

 

Core Classes

 

Science 6: Observing the World
Yearlong, full-time course

Frances Cameron

In this course, students explore complicated and relevant questions in order to internalize how the curriculum relates to themselves, their communities, and the world at large. The course focuses primarily on generating a deep understanding of the numerous systems in life and on Earth. Students identify patterns in the systems and subsystems, explain how the systems interact, and analyze what happens when the balance of a system is disrupted. Students use their knowledge to collaborate on final projects that address both local and global issues.


Science 7: From Microscope to Telescope
Yearlong, full-time course

Brian Collins

In this course, students explore scientific themes while connecting those concepts to the world around them. The course is driven by STEM concepts in an integrated format that covers life science, physical science, and earth and space science. Throughout this course, students are asked to examine, interpret, and analyze what they see in the world. Hands-on activities such as labs, engineering and design challenges, as well as numerous other team-based activities drive the class's inquiry-based model. Ultimately, students learn to think like scientists, using data to inform their analyses and interpretations of the concepts covered in class.


Science 8: Complex Systems and Society
Yearlong, full-time course

Frances Cameron

In this integrated science course, students engage with real-world phenomena. The course focuses on an exploration of nature’s laws and biological diversity. Students investigate Newton’s Three Laws and analyze how each law plays out on Earth and in space. The second half of the curriculum examines life’s unity and diversity through the lens of evolution. The course ends by asking students to determine how humans can help sustain the rich biodiversity of our world. Students use their knowledge to collaborate on final projects that address both local and global issues. Ultimately, all course content is designed to achieve the following goals: to foster a deep love of nature and its mysteries, and to become active stewards of our planet.


Science 9: Physics
Yearlong, full-time course

   

In Physics, students use both algebra and descriptive writing to understand and express ideas related to how and why objects behave the way they do. The course emphasizes the ability to explain physical phenomena using concise but complete mathematical and linguistic descriptions. Students review and interpret the concepts and principles that scientists have used define and explain natural processes over the course of human history. Students also learn to produce and analyze a valid scientific experiment, leading to an evaluation of the results based on the data collected. The course emphasizes learning through hands-on activities and laboratory experiments.


Science 10: Chemistry
Yearlong, full-time course

Clayton Houck

Chemistry investigates cycles of solution, dissolution, bonds forming and breaking, electrons changing energy levels, the formation of new compounds, and their inevitable decay. It demonstrates the beautiful interactions among the atoms that makes up our world. In this course, students learn the foundations of chemistry, which includes the fundamental laws, interactions of gases, and types of bonding. Students also have ample opportunity to develop scientific practices and advanced reasoning skills during many lab experiments.


Science 11: Biology
Yearlong, full-time course

Brian Collins  

The theme for Biology is to make connections. Students investigate overarching concepts in many different units and are asked to draw parallels between the major ideas covered. Students use a variety of methods to achieve this, including use of appropriate technologies, traditional scientific methods, engineering practices, and human interactions with the environment. Topics covered in the course include cells, cellular energy, cellular reproduction, genetics, inheritance and heredity, molecular genetics, the history of biological diversity, plants and animals, and human anatomy. By the end of the course, students will be prepared to take on more advanced courses in the life and physical science disciplines.


Advanced Placement Biology
Yearlong, full-time course

Clayton Houck
Grades 11–12

AP Biology encourages students to critically think about major concepts in biology. These major concepts include the process of evolution driving diversity, the ability of living organisms to utilize free energy, the storing and retrieving of information necessary for life processes, and the interactions between organisms and their environment. Students in AP Biology are actively engaged in science through class assignments, discussions, and hands-on labs. Labs emphasize developing and testing hypotheses, collecting and analyzing data, and presenting results. The course is equivalent to an introductory college-level biology course and is designed to prepare students for the AP Biology Exam.

 

 

 

Upper School Electives

 

Behavioral Ecology
Semester, half-time course

Clayton Houck
Grades 11–12

This course examines the evolutionary and ecological basis of behavior. We explore the proximate causes and ultimate functions of animal behavior utilizing case studies for illustration. The course covers theories from evolutionary biology, ecology, and game theory that make predictions about animal behavior. We also consider the role of behavior in shaping evolutionary and ecological processes. Finally, we consider how behavioral ecology helps us understand human behaviors.


Advanced Placement Physics
Yearlong, full-time course

Grades 11–12

AP Physics covers classical mechanics, waves and sound, and an introduction to electric circuits. This course is equivalent to a one-semester terminal physics course at the college level. Mathematics, including trigonometry, geometry, and algebra will be used extensively in this course to solve problems and develop relationships between physical quantities. Specific topics of study include: kinematics; Newton’s Laws of Motion; torque; rotational motion and angular momentum; gravitational and circular motion; work, power, and energy; linear momentum; oscillations, mechanical waves, and sound; and DC circuits. Throughout the year students can expect to employ critical thinking and reasoning skills as they investigate these topics of study. Observations obtained from these inquiry-based experimentations will be supported by physical models.

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Languages Curriculum


Languages Curriculum


Languages Curriculum

 

Core Classes

 

Spanish 6 and 7: Middle School Spanish
Yearlong, full-time courses

Miguel Alférez

Middle School Spanish is a highly interactive and engaging introductory course designed for students in grades six and seven and structured around the four key language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Extensive use of primary materials along with opportunities to apply language in common situations helps motivate students and build their learning confidence. Through a diverse range of multimedia activities and exercises, students are introduced to vocabulary themes, grammar concepts, and sentence structure. They participate in simple conversations and respond to basic conversational prompts. Students are actively engaged in their own learning throughout the course, and are introduced to culture, history, literature, and music to heighten cultural awareness and appreciation of the Hispanic world.


Spanish 8: Intermediate Middle School Spanish
Yearlong, full-time course

Miguel Alférez

During this course, students gain intermediate communicative skills in Spanish. They learn more vocabulary that provides them a wider range of topics of conversation as well as more complex grammatical structures and Spanish tenses. Students work toward writing extended compositions, are exposed to aural stimuli as well as written and collaborative exercises, and work on more elaborated cultural presentations. The course continues to explore culture, history, literature, and music to heighten cultural awareness and appreciation of the Hispanic world. Intermediate Middle School Spanish utilizes guided learning and explicit instruction as an effective way to acquire language proficiency.


Spanish I
Yearlong, full-time course

Amanda Valenzuela
Grades 9–11

This course is designed as an introduction to Spanish language, culture, and traditions for students without any background in Spanish or with limited experience with Spanish. Communicative units focus on basic greetings and introductions, school, family, pastimes, travel, shopping, daily routines, food, and celebrations, while engaging all three modes of communication: interpersonal, presentational, and interpretive. Through a project-based language learning framework, students discover basic grammar, develop conversational vocabulary, and learn to communicate and ask questions in the present and regular past tense through conversations with native speakers. Students create products and presentations for native audiences on subjects of interest, including healthy living, fashion, sports and recreation, tourism, commerce, and Hispanic traditions.


Spanish II
Yearlong, full-time course

Ryan Villaverde
Grades 9–12

This second-year Spanish class follows a project-based language learning curriculum and is designed to engage students directly with the cultural products, practices, perspectives, and people of Latin America, Spain, and the Spanish-speaking community of Los Angeles. Through the study of resources such as music, film, news media, interviews, and literature, students discover culture through a sequence of key themes, including self-portraiture, health and wellbeing, technology and tools, domestic life and roles, nature, Hispanic cityscapes, healthy living and recreation, travel and commerce, and the art of Spain and Latin America.


Spanish III
Yearlong, full-time course

Jason Brooks, Ryan Villaverde
Grades 9–12

This course is designed for non-native students in their third year of Spanish language and culture studies, and is also suitable for heritage speakers at the intermediate level. Students develop strong linguistic skills while increasing their understanding of the cultural products, practices, and perspectives of Spanish-speaking peoples. They become comfortable speaking in several tenses and using colloquial expressions at a conversational speed. Students also use their knowledge of vocabulary and grammar to analyze authentic texts, engage in conversation, and write in idiomatic style. This course aligns with the themes and tasks of AP Spanish Language and Culture through units titled: The Social Network, Beauty and Aesthetics, Personal and Private Identities, Science and Technology, Global Challenges, and Contemporary Life.


Advanced Topics in Spanish
Yearlong, full-time course

Amanda Valenzuela
Grades 10–12

Topics in Advanced Spanish immerses advanced Spanish students in the study of Latin American and Peninsular Spanish-language film and literature in order to enhance their communication skills in all three modes: interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational. Targeted at both native and non-native students in their fourth year of study and above, the course not only seeks to build on thematic knowledge, but also critical thinking, cultural competency/comparison, textual analysis, and collaborative skills. Through weekly, self-selected digital readings, short films, and documentaries of their choosing, students explore and reflect on current events and cultural trends. This course is conducted entirely in Spanish, and all course materials are in Spanish. 


Advanced Placement Spanish Language and Culture
Yearlong, full-time course

Amanda Valenzuela
Grades 11–12

The AP Spanish Language and Culture course emphasizes communication—understanding and being understood by others—by applying the interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational modes of communication in real-life situations. This includes vocabulary usage, language control, communication strategies, and cultural awareness. The course strives not to overemphasize grammatical accuracy at the expense of communication. To best facilitate the study of language and culture, the course is taught almost exclusively in Spanish, and engages students in an exploration of culture in both contemporary and historical contexts. The course develops students’ awareness and appreciation of cultural products (e.g., tools, books, music, laws, conventions, institutions); practices (patterns of social interactions within a culture); and perspectives (values, attitudes, and assumptions).

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Religion, Ethics, and Philosophy Curriculum


Religion, Ethics, and Philosophy Curriculum


Religion, Ethics, and Philosophy (REP) Curriculum

 

Core Classes

 

REP 6: Hebrew Bible
Trimester, half-time course

Megan Hollaway

This course introduces students to major stories and themes of the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament), emphasizing the ways these writings have been understood in Jewish and Christian communities of faith. Students learn to identify historical settings and literary genres, employ specific methods of reading and interpretation to analyze texts, and identify scriptural references in art and literature.


With our imaginations, we can envision a world that is better than the one we are living in. Using the case study method, students examine issues ranging from Middle School relationships to systemic racism and global environmental problems.

REP 7: Ethics and the Moral Imagination
Trimester, half-time course

Walter Thorne

What does it mean to live a “good” life? This class proposes that doing good and being good require reason, virtue, and imagination. By reason, we make sense of facts, understand other people, and sort out the difficulties involved with making good decisions. By cultivating the virtues, we develop habits that make doing “the right thing” easier or more natural. With our imaginations, we can envision a world that is better than the one we are living in. Using the case study method, students examine issues ranging from Middle School relationships to systemic racism and global environmental problems.


REP 8: Rule of Life
Trimester, half-time course

Megan Hollaway

What matters most to you? How can you maintain your connection to that thing? How do your beliefs and practices intersect? This course draws on material from science, the social sciences, philosophy, religious traditions, and the student’s own experience in the pursuit of a life worth living and worth remembering. Using these resources, students construct their own “rule of life”—a set of practices that enable them to express their core beliefs. At the end of the course, students write a chapel talk and deliver it to the community during chapel.


REP 9: Introduction to the New Testament
Semester, full-time course

Walter Thorne

This course introduces students to the New Testament using the tools of historical criticism. Marcus Borg notes that it is useful to refer to the image we create of Jesus as a sketch rather than a picture or portrait because a sketch “suggests broad strokes—a clear outline without much precision.” Students will construct an historical sketch of Jesus of Nazareth and examine claims about Jesus as a teacher, Christ, spirit person, savior, prophet, political leader, and Son of God/Man. The class pays special attention to Jesus’ Jewish context and the different voices of early Jesus-following communities in exploring an historical understanding of Jesus. As students develop their own sketch of Jesus, they examine the ways that historical criticism limits what we can say definitively about Jesus as an historical person and how sketches of Jesus and his teachings about the “Kingdom” inspire and support the work of both religious communities and social activists today. During this course students use and cite biblical and secondary sources, read scripture through the lens of historical criticism, and practice close reading and analytical writing.


Students read selections from Karl Marx, Malcolm X, and Saul Alinsky. Guest speakers discuss how current social, political, and economic realities impinge on particular issues such as environmental degradation, immigration policy, and ableism in healthcare.

REP 10: Introduction to Social Justice
Semester, half-time course

This course introduces students to theories of systemic oppression in contemporary US society by utilizing texts that focus on three levels of social theory: identity-based systemic oppression (the sociological), responses to societal ills (the political), and structures which lead to wealth inequality (the economic). Students read selections from Karl Marx, Malcolm X, and Saul Alinsky alongside the manifestos and ethnographies of contemporary and historical movements such as the KKK, Black Lives Matter, Moral Mondays, and the Tea Party. Guest speakers discuss how current social, political, and economic realities impinge on particular issues such as environmental degradation, immigration policy, and ableism in healthcare.

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Visual and Performing Arts Curriculum


Visual and Performing Arts Curriculum


Visual and Performing Arts Curriculum

Every ESLA student is an artist. Whether their art is visual or performative, tangible or intangible, a career path or a passionate hobby, the Visual and Performing Arts Department is committed to serving every student in grades six through twelve. We teach the universality of art. Each course is designed to illuminate the process of art marking, inspire vulnerability and risk-taking, and guide the formation of each students’ voice. Art is everywhere. It does not operate in isolation. It is a reflection and reinterpretation of the current world and the human hands that mold it. At ESLA we teach the creative skills necessary for success in every field: collaboration, problem solving, and communication. We ask our students to be confident. We ask our students to change the dialogue. Art always has been and will continue to be defined by the generations that come after it. The Visual and Performing Arts Department is preparing the students of ESLA to be that future.

 

 

 

Visual Arts

 

Core Classes

 

Art 6: Ways of Seeing
Trimester, half-time course

Erin Bagley

In Ways of Seeing students are introduced to art making as a means of describing and interpreting the world. Students train their hands to document the world as they see it from observation, memory, and their imaginations. Students experience the discipline of keeping a daily sketchbook and learn how to hold constructive critiques of their work. 


Art 7: Art Through Different Lenses
Trimester, half-time course

Erin Bagley

Students learn and discuss the many different ways of knowing and understanding the world through an interdisciplinary approach to art. Art Through Different Lenses integrates math, science, history, English, and technology into the traditional media of drawing, painting, collage, and sculpture. Students continue to build upon their observational and technical skills from Ways of Seeing and continue the discipline of using a sketchbook. 


Art 8: 2D Design
Trimester, half-time course

Karla Aguíñiga

2D Design creates a mature foundation for all artistic studies. Confined to two dimensions, students explore composition using drawing techniques, collage, painting, and printmaking. By studying the work of modern and contemporary artists, students learn to master the elements of design and form a deeper understanding of color theory. Students compliment their visual work with biweekly class critiques and artist statements. At the conclusion of the term, students present a written report on a modern artist who has influenced their work.

 

 

 

Upper School Electives

 

Introduction to Visual Arts
Semester, half-time course

Karla Aguíñiga
Grades 9–12

Students learn how to create a composition using drawing and painting techniques, developing a wide range of visual languages that allow them to express their unique creative voice on a two dimensional surface. This course examines the history of image-making from the beginning of humanity to the present, looking closely at western and non-western art. Students analyze and discuss the work of artists such as Mark Bradford, Ed Ruscha, Chana Horwitz, ASCO, Sister Corita Kent, Andy Warhol, Sol Lewitt, Paul Klee, Kehinde Wiley, Lucian Freud, Kara Walker, Laura Owens, and Gala Porras-Kim.


Drawing
Semester, half-time course

Jane McCarron
Grades 9–12

Drawing teaches the fundamentals of hand-eye coordination and focuses on drawing from observation. Students use a variety of media to render still lives, portraits, and landscapes. Working mostly in black and white, students develop compositional and value studies to develop an understanding of how our eye perceives light and defines objects. Students compliment their visual work with class critiques and artist statements.


Sculpture
Semester, half-time course
Erin Bagley
Grades 9–12

In Sculpture, students are introduced to a variety of materials, methods, and concepts of expressing ideas three-dimensionally. Students explore the history of sculpture from early artifacts and tools to modern and contemporary examples. Students explore the human body as represented in sculpture, in relation to sculpture, and as a tool to make and activate sculpture. Students will be assessed on their ability to create original work and write an artist statement and participate in class discussions and verbal critiques. Students demonstrate skill in basic sculptural techniques using paper, wood, wire, textiles, clay, plaster, and found objects to create relief work, sculpture in the round, and costumes. Weekly assignments begin by experimenting with traditional and non-traditional materials, embracing improvisational ways of working. Students develop not only fundamental art-making skills, but problem-solving skills as young designers and builders. Students are expected to present their own findings from experimenting with a variety of materials, processes, and techniques to enhance, expand, and encourage new sculptural ideas. Students study the work of artists such as Pablo Picasso, Nick Cave, Kara Walker, Sheila Hicks, Ken Price, and Gego.


Printmaking
Semester, half-time course

Jane McCarron
Grades 10–12

In Printmaking, students learn techniques for creating relief prints out of linoleum and wood. Studying printmaking from over the past 500 years, students investigate the different processes and styles of the art form. Students also analyze and discuss the impact of printmaking in different cultural and historical contexts. Students are assessed on their ability to create, critique, write about, and present their own original work, as well as the work of artists such as Albercht Durer, Katsushika Hokusai, Andy Warhol, Grace Albee, Melanie Yazzie, and Bryan Nash Gill.


Advanced Painting
Semester, half-time course

Karla Aguíñiga
Grades 10–12

Advanced Painting is designed for those students seeking to develop an in-depth painting practice and elaborate on techniques learned in previous courses. Students also expand their knowledge of the history of painting by visiting multiple museums throughout the semester, such as LACMA and the Norton Simon Museum. Students develop a series of paintings with a single concentration, allowing the artist to demonstrates sustained interest and create a cohesive body of work that will be presented in a solo exhibition at the end of the term. 


Advanced Arts
Semester, half-time course
  
Karla Aguíñiga
Grades 11–12

Advanced Arts is an independent seminar designated for students who have a proficient understanding of art. The student has completed at least three art courses and would like to further their technique in visual arts. This may function as a preliminary course for those seeking to pursue AP Studio Art in their senior year. In this course, students develop their creative voice through in-depth exercises and develop an artist book or portfolio. 


Advanced Placement Studio Art
Yearlong, full-time course
   
Erin Bagley
Grade 12

The AP Studio Art Program consists of three portfolio exams—2-D Design, 3-D Design, and Drawing—corresponding to the college foundation courses. Portfolios allow flexibility of coursework while guiding students to produce college-level quality, artistic investigation, and breadth of work. The 2-D Design portfolio addresses two-dimensional design issues and involves decision making about how to use the elements and principles of art in an integrative way. 3-D Design portfolio involves decision making about how to use the elements and principles of art as they relate to the integration of depth, space, volume, and surface, either actual or virtual. Students' portfolios demonstrate skills and ideas developed, refined, and applied throughout the course to produce visual compositions. Students may choose to submit any or all of the portfolios. Portfolios are evaluated based on standardized scoring descriptors aligned with skills and understanding developed in college foundation courses.

 

 

 

Music

 

Upper School Electives

 

The Music of Muscle Shoals
Semester, half-time course
 
Hunter Perrin
Grades 9–12

This course explores the origins, evolution, and influence of the music of Muscle Shoals, asking students to not only learn and play in this style, but also to absorb and analyze soul music through a variety of perspectives (historical, artistic, sociological, and psychological) as a way to make claims about the form as an expression of a distinctly American identity. Students are immersed in the musical language and palate of soul in order to create original compositions and improvisations. Course work also exposes students to a deep study of contemporary musical theory that dates back to early modal music.  


The Music of the 2010s
Semester, half-time course
 
Hunter Perrin
Grades 9–12

This course explores the origins, evolution, and influence of music of the 2010s, asking students to not only learn and play in the styles of this decade, but also to absorb and analyze this music through a variety of perspectives (historical, artistic, sociological, and psychological) as a way to make claims about the form. Students are immersed in the musical language and palate of the decade in order to create original compositions and improvisations. Course work will also expose students to a deep study of contemporary musical theory that dates back to early modal music. Students further develop their instrumental skills and techniques.


Music Theory
Semester, half-time course
Jay Johnson
Grades 9–12

Music Theory is a suitable course for those who have never studied music academically. This course introduces students to the theory of Western Music, providing the skills needed to read and write musical notation, as well as understand, analyze, synthesize, and listen informedly. This course provides the basis for the further study of music both from a theoretical and practical point of view: sight reading, composition, analysis, performance, and aural skills. This course also asks the more advanced musician to understand the principles and theory around what governs music.

 

 

 

Theater

 

Upper School Electives

 

Ensemble
Semester, half-time course
 
Jane McCarron
Grades 9–12

Ensemble is a collaborative course designed to fully immerse students into one genre of performing arts. Students will read, analyze, and produce a showcase of monologues and scenes from either Ancient Greek Theatre, Shakespeare, Theatre of the Absurd, American Realism, or Theatre for Social Change. Students will explore the many facets of acting, directing, and producing work from this genre, as well as studying the cultural and historical foundation. All students will be required to perform in the final showcase.


Stage Design and Craft
Semester, half-time course
Jane McCarron
Grades 10–12

Stage Design and Craft teaches students the skills of producing and running a theatrical production. Although the course focuses on design and set construction, students also learn how to manipulate light and sound to add production value, play the roles of stage managers and dramaturgs, and run tech for the fall mainstage production. In this course, students learn the fundamentals of stage design and craft, first though the study of theatre history, and then through hands-on work with building materials. Students design, paint, build, light, and stage the ESLA Black Box for opening night at the end of the semester.


Playwriting
Semester, half-time course   
 
Jane McCarron
Grades 9–12

In Playwriting, students explore a range of dramatic styles for writing monologues, scenes, and short plays. Studying modern and contemporary playwriting, students read and analyze the work of Arthur Miller, Anna Deavere Smith, Samuel Beckett, Lorraine Hansberry, Sophie Treadwell, Dario Fo, Tennessee Williams, and August Wilson. Students discuss the impact of playwriting in different cultural and historical contexts, as well as discuss various plays’ production value in 2017. Crucial to the study of playwriting, students are encouraged to develop their unique voice and style in a workshop environment with consistent feedback from their peers. Students are assessed on their ability to write, workshop, revise, and produce their own original work in a writing portfolio and a ten-minute play festival at the culmination of the course.


Advanced Playwriting
Semester, half-time course

Jane McCarron
Grades 10–12

In Advanced Playwriting, students continue to build upon the skills and voice they developed in Playwriting. Students explore a range of dramatic styles and techniques for writing monologues, scenes, and short plays. Studying modern and contemporary playwriting, students read and analyze the work of Edward Albee, Caryl Churchill, Oscar Wilde, Sarah Ruhl, Eugene O'Neil, Suzane-Lori Parks, and Steve Martin. Crucial to the study of playwriting, students are encouraged to develop their unique voice and style in a workshop environment with consistent feedback from their peers. Students are assessed on their ability to write, workshop, revise, and produce their own original work in a writing portfolio and a one-act play festival at the culmination of the course.