The Twelfth Grade is a year of culmination, synthesis, reflecting on the past, and striding forth into the school of life. With college ahead for seniors, a considerable amount of energy must be devoted to the SAT’s, college guidance, portfolio preparation, the Senior Projects, the senior trip, and the senior play. The independence and initiative of the students are challenged in entirely new ways to prepare them for the lifelong journey of self-education.
Capacities of cognition have grown strong through earlier stages of observation, critical thinking, comparative and process thinking, and analytical thinking, to come to the gateway of the next stage – the power to comprehend broad perspectives and to creatively envision their synthesis. As this quality of mobile, living thought engages with material of genuine substance, the student begins intuitively to see how a multiplicity of factors fits together, and how diverse phenomena – whether natural, historical, or geographical – are illuminated when seen as expressions of the wider context.
The effort to see things whole and to enter fully into contemporary life may be exemplified by the Economics Main Lesson. Competing views of capital, labor, the role of government, environmental issues, entrepreneurship, free enterprise, trade issues, etc. are thoughtfully surveyed and balanced against one another. Similarly, the “Symptomatology” History Main Lesson illustrates through key thinkers the transformation of ideas of Nature and Self, Science and Belief, posing questions about the limits and possibilities of knowledge.
The many-faceted Waldorf curriculum has provided the students with opportunities and helped them build capacities, which seniors awaken to just as they prepare to leave. In this crowning year, there often comes a key moment when the individual acknowledges with deep gratitude the contribution of the class community to her or his personal growth. The students also come to realize the breadth, depth, and liveliness of the education they have received and meet their teachers in a new way, as collaborators and fellow researchers, as well as dedicated mentors. The panorama of the senior exhibit, portfolio work, and projects testifies to the integrated balance of thinking, feeling, and willing that the students have achieved.
Transcendentalism Main Lesson
Students study the writings of R.W. Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson among others, in the context of the nineteenth century Transcendentalist movement in New England, writing reflections and poems inspired by the works of these writers.
This class begins with a study of the summer reading; which is often Anne Moody’s Coming of Age in Mississippi. This is followed by the development of several significant senior writing projects: a research paper related to each student’s individual senior project, a personal essay and the supplemental college application essays. Assignments include research development, thesis construction, and the creation of an outline and a first draft. Literature studies follow with texts selected by the teacher. In some instances they may relate to the area where the class will go for their senior service trip. In the winter they are introduced to Russian literature.
FAUST Main Lesson
Goethe’s Faust deals with the themes of evil and knowledge. This block offers an introduction not only to this monumental tragedy, but also to the life and work of one of the most prolific thinkers of the post Renaissance era. A thorough understanding of Faust gives students the tools to understand current events with greater awareness. In studying Faust, the class concentrates on Goethe’s unique treatment of the theme of evil, which runs throughout the play. A large part of the lessons is devoted to relating the contents of Faust with contemporary issues.
Students are divided by current ability into two sections. The material covered includes: limits, derivatives, introduction to product and quotient rules, and a unit on the derivatives of trigonometric functions. The class covers calculus.
The topics covered are budgets, checking accounts/debit cards, credit cards, investments, lease/buy options and insurance. This is a seminar class that meets twice per week for six weeks. The goal of the class is to help prepare the students to be financially responsible.
Economics – Main Lesson
The Senior Economics block explores the foundations and main features of economics, the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services. In addition to traditional economic theories and systems, this includes an investigation into new and creative economic ideas and models that could promote a healthier, more balanced society. As a framework for understandings, the class develops a picture of the three spheres of society – economy, government, and culture, and explored the possibilities for healthy boundaries and relationships between these spheres. The class focuses on aspects of the modern economy including land, labor, and capital; forms of ownership; globalization; and more. Students also take a historical and contemporary look at money and finance. The block is supplemented by readings and small group discussions, video clips, field trips, independent research, and guest speakers.
Zoology Main Lesson
This course gives an overview of the animal kingdom, beginning with how human beings have arranged species into categories, as a way to better understand them. The class studies single-celled organisms, then move on to more complex groups, such as sponges and cnidarians (coelenterates). The second week of the course is the trip to Hermit Island, Maine, where the class meets with senior classes and teachers from seven other Waldorf schools to study marine zoology and associated subjects “in the field.” The last week, the class takes up the characterization and classification of the vertebrates, from fishes to amphibians and reptiles, to birds, and finally mammals. Also considered is Charles Darwin’s role in the development of evolutionary theory, and the human being’s relationship to the rest of the world of living organisms.
Twelfth grade chemistry begins with a macro view of matter in observing Brownian motion. The focus then shifts to the atomic level and the class explored various aspects of the structure of the atom. The nature of electrons and their configuration around the nucleus is discussed in the context of the periodic table. The topic of nuclear chemistry is explored at the conclusion of the block including radioactive decay, the half-life concept and nuclear fission. The basic design of a nuclear power plant is also covered.
Optics – Main Lesson
The interaction of light and our sense of sight provide us with important input to help us navigate the world we live in. In this main lesson we investigated how these two fascinating aspects of our environment work together. We studied the anatomy of the eye, the sense of perception, and how these two aspects of sight work together to illuminate our world. We then studied the laws of refraction and reflection and how light travels. The students were responsible for keeping a graphic journal. This document included the class notes, descriptions and illustrations of class demonstrations and exercises, and the students’ reflections on each class.
World History – Main Lesson
This block examines 20th century World History with an emphasis on American political and social involvement in a changing global world. Students explore the World Wars, the Reform Movements, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the media, and contemporary issues around Israel, Palestine, and Africa. The class utilizes primary source material, biography, and classroom discussions.
This block explores historical phenomenon occurring in a post WWII world with a focus on human rights. The study is thematic and topics included: the Cold War, Korea, Vietnam, civil rights, genocide, terrorism, and globalization. Participation in class activities and discussions is crucial. In addition, students are responsible for three major written assignments of their choice, including a student-conducted interview with an individual able to share significant memories of a historical event or era.
Latin American History
A comprehensive introduction to Latin America and the Caribbean, this course provides a foundation for understanding the cultures and societies of the region. The course covers such diverse topics as themes in Latin American literature and art; the contributions of Native peoples and Europeans to contemporary Latin American cultures; Latin American colonial and recent histories; interactions between Latin America and the rest of the world.
History through Architecture
This course is an overview of the development of architecture from pre-historic building methods to modern trends. Each student is responsible for putting together a cohesive main lesson book that briefly characterizes this evolution verbally and pictorially.
Architecture – Main Lesson
This course is an overview of architecture and human development from prehistoric to modern times. Students are given two writing assignments on the course material, a final review test, and a project to individually research a specific building and/or architect. This culminates in presentations of their artistically designed and informative posters.
Fine and Practical Arts
The 12th grade performs a full length play. Throughout the rehearsal process, the class researched the art of ensemble building, character development, story-telling, and performance. Additional aspects included set building, costumes and promotion.
All high school students sing in our mixed chorus. Singing technique, breathing, diction, musical awareness and a refined sense of listening are the main goals. The students take pride in fine performances. Our big events are the Messiah concert in the winter and the closing events each year where a capella and accompanied choral music is featured. We also perform at all-school assemblies. In addition to the difficult Messiah choruses, the students sing classic choral music, jazz, and popular selections and music from around the world.
This class explores movement techniques from a variety of genres through physical movement and classroom work.
In this course students develop portrait-drawing skill, through working from life and from photos. The culminating project is the self-portrait, for which each student has a choice of mediums, ranging from pencil to ink to pastel to oils.
Speech and Music eurythmy is taught in the mid-day classes for grades 9-12, and the seniors also have an additional block of artistic eurythmy.
World Languages Level IV
The students continue with their chosen language. The goal of the language program is to go beyond basic reading and conversational skills to develop a living connection to the language and cultures. The students learn not only the grammar of the language, but also the culture, cuisine, geography, basic history, and literary highlights of countries, as well as its peoples’ struggles and their impact in other parts of the world. Emphasis is also placed on the development of foundational Spanish language skills so that students are prepared to deepen and expand their Spanish from an exchange or other immersion experience.
During the Fall, the 11th and 12th grades are combined for PE. Activities range from outdoor competitive games, such as Capture the Football and soccer, to indoor dodgeball, folkdance or going for a walk in the woods, depending in part on the weather.
Please note: these are samples of classes that may be offered.
In the Ukulele Elective students meet three times a week for six weeks to learn and study this wonderful instrument. The students are expected to play in class and practice at home. The students are asked to choose a song and learn to play it independently and present that song to the class at the end of the elective.
This class explores a selection of topics in physics, including conservation of momentum, centripetal acceleration, ohms law and resistance and induced current. The class includes demonstrations, lecture and problem sets. Each student is required to keep a notebook throughout the course.
The students are introduced to some of the major poets of the twentieth century, with particular emphasis on the various styles and techniques they used. The class reads (and listens to) selected poems of the respective poets, discussing their merits, qualities and innovations. Students endeavor to analyze them within the diverse cultural and sociopolitical contexts of our modern age. Most importantly, the class explores writing in the styles of the different poets; or letting themselves be creatively stimulated by the specific themes that are addressed.
In this block students work with oil paints. The class begins with an abstraction from nature, much like Georgia O’Keefe’s work. Students also work with the classical palette, compositional exercises, color meditations and variations of techniques. The class looks at a lot of work that was created over the last hundred years of abstraction. Much of what the students create would fit into the description of abstract expressionism and anthroposophical painting.
Modern Art History
This elective class explores modern art history beginning with Impressionism and continuing through subsequent art movements including Cubism, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism. Class work includes discussion and hands on exploration of techniques employed by the artists studied.
Seniors work independently throughout the year to plan, organize, execute and document a senior project of their own choosing. Students work with an individual mentor who is an expert in the chosen field. The bulk of the work and the experience ideally take place outside of school hours. Projects range from artistic, academic and hands on experiences. Once complete, seniors make a formal project presentation to the school community. Successful projects fulfill individual student goals and exhibit their ability to work independently. Documentation is also shown at the presentations and includes: a related research paper in MLA format; a project description; journal entries documenting the project’s progress; and any additional photo, video or audio documentation, as well as artifacts related to the project.