Upper School Curriculum
- General Academic Requirements for Graduation
- History & Social Studies
- Physical Education
- Performing Arts
The school year is divided into two semesters. A student normally earns one credit for a Yearlong course and one half credit for a semester course. The minimum course load is five half credits per semester, in addition to whatever physical education Requirements are due. A total of 24 upper school credits are required for graduation, distributed as follows:
- English: four credits; one credit is met by English 9 in ninth grade, one credit is met by English 10 in tenth grade, and one credit is met by English 11. Students must take an English class each semester.
- Languages: three credits; a three-year sequence of a single language is required in the upper school (French, Latin, Chinese, or Spanish).
- History and Social Studies: three credits; one credit is met by Global Cities and the remaining credits must include at least one year of U.S. History.
- Mathematics: three credits, two of which must be Algebra 2 and Geometry.
- Science: three credits; these credits must include a year each of Physics, Chemistry and Biology.
- Fine Arts: two credits; in addition to Global Cities: Visual Arts, one-and-one-half credits are required in Visual Arts; at least one-half credit must be in the Performing Arts.
- Physical Education: two credits; freshmen are enrolled all year in the "wellness program" and will receive one credit; sophomores, juniors and seniors must earn the remaining one credit (four quarters in total). During sophomore, junior and senior years students may earn credit by participating in Latin athletics/club teams and/or PE classes.
- Service Learning: All Latin School ninth and tenth graders are required to participate in the Service Learning Program.
- Project Week: Successful completion of a project is required in each of the four upper school years
The English program is designed to encourage students’ love for the language, develop their command of reading and writing, and increase their confidence and pleasure in expressing themselves. The faculty seeks to refine students’ literary, critical and argumentative analysis while fostering an appreciation of the art of poetry, fiction and nonfiction. The curriculum is designed to help students articulate their responses to literature and their perceptions of themselves and their world.
English 9 introduces literary genres. Students read stories, novels, poems, plays and essays by writers from diverse backgrounds. The course hones critical reading, writing and speaking skills through essays, creative assignments and lively discussions.
English 10 is a global literature course, which emphasizes close reading as well as analytical, personal and creative writing. Each student selects a literature elective on a region, such as Africa, Asia, Eastern and Central Europe, Latin America, or the Middle East.
English 11 explores American culture and literature. Each student chooses an American literature elective, but every class covers the same core skills.
Electives: American Civilization, American Seeker, Modern American Literature, The New Americans, Silenced America
English 12 Electives: A Novel’s Place (or Novel Places), Creative Writing Seminar, Disenchantment and Fantasy Literature, Great Novellas, Black Voices, LGBTQ+ Literature, The Literature of Existentialism, Mexican American Literature, Modern and Contemporary Poetry, Poetry and Flash Fiction Writing, Punching the Clock, Shakespeare, Writer’s Workshop, Wonder When You'll Miss Me
The history and social studies program helps students become active and informed citizens. Upon completion of the program, students will be prepared to: (1) understand how the connection of personal, local, national and global phenomena produce patterns of change; (2) articulate informed opinions; (3) recognize how aspects of culture and identity combine and conflict to produce unique civilizations over time. Students become critical thinkers and hone their research, writing and communication skills.
Global Studies: Networks, Hierarchy, and Culture: Students analyze the sources of historical change, including the interaction of heirarchies and networks. They examine the formation of agricultural and urban communities, the explosion of Axial Age civilizations, and -- in the modern world -- the expansion of colonialism and global spread of revolution. Skills development is focused around the reading and writing process, self-assessments and faculty feedback, and documenting their growth in an e-portfolio.
Global studies courses are designed to help students understand the contemporary world, its critical issues, and some of the factors and events that molded it.
Semester Electives: World Religions, Nazi Mind, Global Art, Classical Civlizations (year long), Russian Revolutions, Latin American Revolutions, Global Race and Racism, Middle East, Modern China, Human Rights and International Law
(Seniors may choose to take these courses with departmental permission.)
Grades 11 & 12
Junior and Senior Electives: United States Social History, Honors United States History and Historiography, Honors American Civilization, Honors European History, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Honors American Politics, Honors Comparative and Global Politics, AP Psychology, Chicago: City on the Make, Chicago Justice and Social Action, Genocide and Human Rights (GOA*), International Macroeconomics (GOA), Intro to Psychology (GOA), 9/11 in a Global Context (GOA), Abnormal Psychology (GOA), Comparative Religions (GOA), Gender Studies (GOA). *Global Online Academy
Students enter the upper school mathematics program with different levels of preparedness. To best meet the needs of these differing learning styles and abilities, regular, honors and AP levels of certain math courses are offered. Upper school students must complete three credits, including Algebra 2 and Geometry
Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Honors Algebra 2, Geometry, Honors Geometry, Precalculus, Honors Precalculus, Accelerated Honors Precalculus and Honors Differential Calculus, AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, Honors Multivariable Calculus, AP Statistics
Electives: Grades 10-12
Advanced Geometry, Probability, Statistics: Graphical Display of Data, Statistics: Hypothesis Testing, Finance & Math 1, Finance & Math 2, Chicago Social Justice in Action, Advanced Topics
The upper school science program focuses the attention of the students on the key concepts of science and stresses the processes of science. Through hands-on lab work, traditional and multimedia lectures and group discussion, students develop problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. Students must successfully complete three years of science study, including one year each of: Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Electives are generally open to juniors and seniors only
Physics, Honors Physics
Chemistry, Honors Chemistry
Grades 11 & 12
Biology, Honors Biology, Honors Advanced Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Environmental Science, Physics 2, AP Physics C, Human Anatomy & Physiology 1 & 2, Medicinal Chemistry 1 & 2, Neuropsychology, Organic Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Stellar Astronomy, Cosmology
The upper school language program offers Chinese, French, Latin and Spanish. Students must successfully complete a minimum of three consecutive years of a language. All four language skills: speaking, listening comprehension, reading comprehension and writing are addressed. Students practice these skills by means of a variety of real-life situations, the study of culture and an exposure to print media, literature and the arts. The primary goal is for students to be able to function confidently in a Chinese-, French-, or Spanish-speaking country. Through the Latin curriculum students develop reading proficiency so that they can engage with authentic Latin authors. All languages offer opportunities to study in native speaking countries (students taking Latin may study in Rome).
Novice, Intermediate (Mid and High), Advanced (Low, Mid, and High), Superior
Novice, Novice High; Intermediate (Low, Mid and High); Conversation; French Language and Culture; French Literature
Novice, Novice High, Intermediate (Low, Mid and High)
Novice, Novice High; Intermediate (Low, Mid and High); Conversation; Literature, Language and Culture
The mission of the physical education program is to help students achieve active and healthy lives and benefit from positive outcomes associated with good health. Freshmen are enrolled in 9th PE during the first or second semester as part of their Wellness block; sophomores, juniors and seniors must earn the remaining 4 quarters of credit (three-sport athletes in grades 10-12 are exempt from the PE requirement and seasonal athletes are required to only take PE during the off-season if they need).
PE: Lifetime Fitness and Nutrition, Hatha Yoga, Dance, Lifetime Sport and Activity
PE Electives: Yoga/Pilates, Fitness Training, Lifetime Sport and Fitness, Dance, Lifeguarding
Athletics: Students will earn .25 PE credit per season
ISP: Students may qualify for an Independent Study if applicable and approved by the department.
The performing arts program promotes success in a nurturing environment that helps students develop self-esteem, gives them freedom to learn from artistic risks and encourages them to take pride in their accomplishments. Students have many opportunities to share their art with others through public concerts, plays and presentations.
Acting Company, Chorus, Improv Company, Speech, Stagecraft, Wind Ensemble, Chicago Dance, Dance Technique, Dance Company, Dance Mentorship
Intermediate Acting Company, Intermediate Improv, Advanced Improv, Playwriting/Directing, Intro to Music Technology, Music Theory
Advanced Acting Company, Independent Study
- Visual Arts
- Global Initiatives
- Computer Science
- Service Learning
- College Counseling
- Learning Resources
- Experiential Learning
The visual arts department believes that the best way to learn artistic values is to create art. The study of aesthetics, technique and history plays a vital part in learning to work analytically to solve problems, to respect others’ forms of expression and to interact in group efforts. Learning about the art of others builds art appreciation. Creating their own work gives students the opportunity to both appreciate the process of art making and personalize their own expressive voice, choice and individual interests. Students share their art with others through exhibits, publications and presentations.
Global Studies Visual Arts: Computer Aided Design (CAD), Computer Graphic Design, Digital Image Making, Filmmaking, Drawing 1 & 2, Fashion Design, Photography, Advanced Photography: Digital, Printmaking
Modern Art History, AP Art History, Observational Painting, Painting Studio, Painting 2, Sculpture 1 & 2, Universal Themes in Art, Independent Study
AP Art History, Art History: Prehistoric to Gothic, Art History: Renaissance to Modern, AP Art Studio
Our multi-faceted global education program enables Latin students to become globally aware and understand the interconnection of cultures; embrace differences and show empathy that reaches beyond national boundaries.
Nurtured in the classroom and through a rich variety of co-curriculars, students’ global competencies are enhanced by Project Week and a Global Experience Program that focuses on exchange opportunities, language immersion programs, and international partnerships.
The computer science program recognizes the growing impact of computation on nearly every aspect of modern life and aims to prepare students to integrate computer science into their future pursuits, whether academic, professional, or personal. The Computer Science Principles sequence explores the foundational principles of computer science, focusing on how computers and programming are used as a tool for problem-solving, creation, and innovation. Later coursework introduces students to theoretical and practical applications of these concepts, preparing them to analyze and solve complex computing problems, better understand and manipulate data, and design interactive web applications.
Computer Science Principles I, Computer Science Principles II, Honors Advanced Programming, Web Application Development, Modern Computing: NAND to Tetris, Algorithms and Data Structures
Service Learning is critical in teaching students an awareness of the world outside themselves and the needs of others. Our JK - 12 program is based on the tenets of empathy, awareness and action. In the upper school, service learning is a graduation requirement. Freshmen must complete 10 hours and sophomores must complete 20 hours of service during the school year. Latin students regularly volunteer with up to 70 different organizations in Chicago. A significant number of those are relationships the school has developed through its Uptown Community Partnership. Last year, upper school students completed about 8,000 hours of community service, more than half of them in Uptown.
The upper school library program is focused on building students’ information literacy skills. Students have opportunities to practice information access, evaluation, appreciation, and creation through programming and integrated instruction. The library is available for students as a collaborative study space and its multi-format resources are used by community members for both formal and informal learning.
College Counseling is an integrated and personal process for all students at Latin. Counselors meet with students individually, lead junior and senior college classes and conduct grade-level meetings and conferences with families. All Latin students learn to collect reliable information, plan for standardized testing, organize applications, present themselves to college representatives and write personal and essays for applications. College counselors also work with faculty and advisers to insure that students and faculty are receiving accurate and timely information about college planning.
Grade-level meetings with students and parents to answer questions about what to expect for the college process.
Parents are introduced to the college process at Latin in detail and the sophomore class meets with the college counselors at least once per semester. All Latin sophomores take the PSAT.
Mandatory classes offered by the College Counseling Office help students understand the current college landscape; research skills and learning to articulate their own personal interests and choices are large themes. Individual and family college meetings are mandatory. All Latin juniors take the PSAT.
Individual counseling with students and families continues as well as scheduled college classes. Counselors assist with essays, applications, and presentation skills. Latin hosts over 130 college representatives and the counselors also help students investigate financial support, gap years and choose colleges in the spring.
The Upper School Learning Resources program provides tiered support for students as they become increasingly independent and self-aware of their needs as a learner. Learning Resources is available to all students but works most closely with students who have diagnosed learning differences. Beyond the typical daily responsibilities, Learning Resources facilitates student/family/teacher staffing, offers individualized meetings to discuss college support services and accommodations, requests standardized testing accommodations, interviews potential students, participates on the admission selection committee, and provides multiple professional development opportunities to faculty throughout the year.
Counselors offer assistance to students who may be experiencing psychological stress, social difficulties and acute crisis, or are participating in high-risk behaviors. Any student or family member may request to be referred to one of the counselors, who will work collaboratively with families to develop the best plan to address that student's needs. Latin’s counselors offer an open and accepting environment in which each student is treated with care while promoting respect for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Counselors teach in the affective ed program as well as provide programs around social and emotional wellness for students and families throughout the year.
Mickey & The Masters: As the culmination of their study of the History of Western Painting, ninth graders recreate master paintings with the added challenge of substituting Mickey Mouse as the main character.
Understanding Evil: In the Nazi Mind elective sophomores examine the Nazi era and its broader context by studying primary sources. The final project for the nationally recognized course is a Nuremberg Trials simulation.
A Class of Your Own: Senior students have the opportunity to work with a faculty member to create a year-long interdisciplinary project that links research to Chicago community resources.
Capstone Studies Program: Seniors can apply to participate in a year-long Capstone Studies Program, which allows them to create an interdisciplinary project that links their research to Chicago community resources, or present a senior project that is not strictly academically focused.
Project Week: Upper school students spend one week each March exploring the world outside of the classroom during Project Week. Students can choose to learn about literature, art, technology, or the Civil Rights movement, participate in community service or outdoor education, travel the world or get to know their city in a new way.
Exploring Ethics: Latin's Initiative for Ethics (LIFE) provides a framework for the ongoing study of contemporary ethics issues. The program has tackled numerous topics including ethics in journalism, politics, globalization and the law.
Through LIFE, Latin has welcomed such nationally prominent speakers as Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria, Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Paul Rusesabagina, whose story of saving more than 1,000 people during the Rwandan genocide was depicted in the movie Hotel Rwanda, and two-time Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker and activist Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy.
Cedar House Exchange(Cape Town, South Africa)
Founded in 1997, Cedar House is a progressive, co-educational independent school located in Cape Town, South Africa. Latin students have an opportunity to participate in home stays with Cedar House students while touring Cape Town and becoming acquainted with history and culture of South Africa. Latin families host Cedar House students when they come to Chicago.
Georg Herwegh Oberschule Exchange
Georg Herwegh Oberschule (GHO) is a progressive school serving students in grades 7 - 12. Latin's partnership with GHO allows students to expand their understanding of German history and culture while living with families in and around Berlin. Latin students host GHO students when they come to Chicago for their English language immersion experience.
École Alsacienne Exchange
The exchange with École Alsacienne, Latin’s oldest international partner school, dates to 1988 and is designed as a language immersion opportunity, which occurs every other year. Students from École Alsacienne come to Chicago during the intervening years.
Woodstock School Semester Exchange
Founded in 1854 to serve the children of missionary families in India, Woodstock is located in the foothills of the Himalayas, approximately 180 miles north of Delhi. Latin’s formal connection with Woodstock began during Project Week. The program gives Latin students an opportunity to study at Woodstock for a semester, while living in the school dorms. In turn, Woodstock students have the opportunity to study at Latin for a semester while living with a Latin family.
WE-ACTx (Women’s Equity to Access Care and Treatment) is an international community-based HIV/AIDS initiative that offers comprehensive programs, including medical and psycho-social services, for approximately 2,20 patients, 660 of them children, living with HIV. Latin students began their support of WE-ACTx in 2005 after a LIFE (Latin Initiative for Ethics)-sponsored program with WE-ACTx Co-Founder and Medical Director, Dr. Mardge Cohen. Since 2010, Latin students have traveled to Rwanda to work with Rwandan youth leaders to set up summer programs for youngsters 11-13. Latin students help organize and lead group activities and plan and participate in service projects. In addition, participating Latin students raise the funds to support the summer programs for the children served by WE-ACTx each year.
Latin in Rwanda Partnership with WE-ACTx
Latin is among a distinguished group of independent schools that are part of Global Online Academy (GOA). This organization is a not-for-profit educational partnership serving member-school students in grades 9-12. It allows teachers and students from the best independent schools to collaborate through online learning.
Courses offered through GOA enhance Latin's already rich curriculum by exposing students to a different type of learning environment in a unique and innovative way. All GOA courses are designed and taught by teachers from member schools and are a semester in length. The format of courses is asynchronous, meaning, the classes do not “meet” on a regular schedule, rather all communication and collaboration takes place online.