The Upper School curriculum is focused on active learning in an atmosphere of respect for knowledge and emphasis on guided inquiry. In all disciplines, students are encouraged to learn content in the context of big picture trends, theories and criticisms. Students and teachers work as partners in the educational process. There is considerable flexibility in the schedules of most juniors and seniors. Elective options encourage students to begin to take classes reflecting their individual interests rather than requirements.
Outstanding juniors and seniors are encouraged to take college courses for credit (and for free) at the University of the South, one of the country's top liberal arts colleges. SAS students learn to hold their own and excel in a college setting with college-aged classmates. Students learn to balance a college course workload and to communicate with college professors before getting to college. Approximately twenty percent of the senior class will graduate with college credit.
English 11/12 Options
In the junior and senior years, students choose from a variety of English course options.
Elective courses vary from year-to-year depending on student interest and faculty interest and expertise. Elective courses are listed under the departments in which they are taught.
In addition to regular courses, each grade level participates in two retreat days a year to enhance friendships, provide out of class experiences, and build class cohesion. The themes and activities are a reflection both of the students' shared course work that year and of expanding rings of self-understanding as they discover their place in the world.
8 Grade Reports or Comments each Year
45 & 90 Minute Classes
3 Class Meetings per Week
8 Work Periods per Week
Students whose grades require it must attend required work period in the Learning Resources Center during the day. Residential students have required evening study hours and may be required to attend Supervised Study Hall. Students often meet with teachers by appointment or at the teacher's request during work periods during the day, or during evenings or weekends.
Students who earn an average of 93 or above with no grade below 83 are named to the High Honors List for academic achievement. Students with average ranges between 83 and 92 and who have received no grade below 80 are named to the Honors List. Satisfactory completion of afternoon programs is required for students to be eligible for the Honor Roll. Grades are averaged to determine the Honor Roll.
The grading system at St. Andrewʼs-Sewanee consists of numeric grades ranging from 100 to 0. In addition to numeric grades, teachers write narrative comments to parents/guardians four times per year addressing student’s progress, ability, effort, and attitude.
The scale range is as follows:
97-100 = A+ = 4.33
93-96 = A = 4.00
90-92 = A- = 3.67
87-89 = B+ = 3.33
83-86 = B = 3.00
80-82 = B- = 2.67
77-79 = C+ = 2.33
73-76 = C = 2.00
70-72 = C- = 1.67
67-69 = D+ = 1.33
63-66 = D = 1.00
60-62 = D- = 0.67
59 and below = F = 0
Our Stance on Advanced Placement and Honors Courses
The SAS educational philosophy values interactive learning, depth over breadth, and cooperative work in an environment of diversity For those reasons, while we offer advanced courses in many subjects, we do not offer AP or honors courses. Students desiring additional challenge or the opportunity to earn college credit are encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity to take courses at the University of the South.
Upper School Departments
Click on the department heading for a full list of courses.
St. Andrew's-Sewanee has long enjoyed a strong reputation for its arts programs. All Upper School students must complete an arts course for graduation. Classes are demanding in scope and expectation. In addition to scheduled courses, students are able to pursue instrumental, vocal, and dance studies through private lessons. Students also may audition for the Sewanee Symphony Orchestra, the Sewanee Jazz Ensemble, and Perpetual Motion dance productions at the University of the South.
Writing and critical reading are essential elements of the English curriculum. In the junior and senior years, students choose from courses that emphasize college-level analysis and writing. Students who are not native English speakers take regular English classes along with any necessary ELL courses.
Students are required to complete History 9, History 10, and U.S. History before graduation. Classes make extensive use of original documents. Regular analytical writing assignments include document-based essays. In History 10, students learn how to draw a map of the world and participate in simulation-based learning. U.S. History students complete a major research paper in the second semester. One-semester electives available to juniors and seniors involve a significant number of analytical papers and other writing assignments and use original documents, anthologies, and film in exploring the course topics.
Innovation curriculum focus on the development of information literacy, research skills, programming, design, and computational thinking. Courses encourage exploration, problem solving, and creativity. Upper school offerings include electives in computing and programming.
Interdisciplinary Study curriculum provides students the opportunity to explore topics of interest across disciplines, broadening one's understanding of the connections between the humanities, sciences, and arts. Emphasis is placed on research methods, writing, and presentation.
Two years of study in the same language (Chinese, Latin, or Spanish) at the upper school level are required for graduation. The modern language classes, Chinese and Spanish, are conversation based and generally conducted in that language beginning with the first year classes. Latin may include an oral component but emphasis is on language acquisition through reading. Students may continue study in the same language through advanced levels, either at SAS or at the University of the South. ELL courses are available for non-native speakers who require additional course work. ELL courses are in lieu of another foreign language but are taken concurrently with other subjects. Students who test out of ELL must fulfill the two-year foreign language requirement with a language other than English.
All students must successfully complete Algebra I, Algebra II, and Geometry to meet graduation requirements. The majority of students will complete four or five years of mathematics prior to graduation. Courses beyond Algebra II include Algebra III: Functions and an Introduction to Trigonometry, Statistics and Probability, Precalculus: Trigonometry, Precalculus: Math Analysis, Advanced Statistics, and Calculus. Students with a passion for mathematics are encouraged to participate in American Math Competitions and Math League Contests.
Prior to graduating, seniors explore religion as a phenomenon common to humanity and develop tools for the study of any religious tradition. They learn language and method for theological thinking with particular emphasis on the religions birthed of the Abrahamic tradition. Through seminars, essay writing, and research projects, students reflect on the theoretical material presented. At the conclusion of the course, each student articulates a personal creedal statement in light of a full year's experience examining the phenomenon of religion.
All students must successfully complete Conceptual Physics, Chemistry, and Biology to meet graduation requirements. All science courses are laboratory based and emphasize observational and laboratory skills over rote memorization. Elective courses include Advanced Physics, Advanced Chemistry, Advanced Biology, and semester electives in Geology, and Forensics. Science classes are built around laboratory and field experiences that are easily integrated with instruction in the longer class periods.
Students are required to take Health and Fitness in the ninth grade. The class meets twice a week for 90 minutes. The first half of the class takes place in the classroom, where students discuss various health topics. During the second half of the class, the students are active in the gym, weight room, track, or on our campus trails. The goal of the class is to instill in the students lifelong healthy habits of exercise, diet and decision making.