In High School, students meet expert teachers in humanities, mathematics, sciences and the arts.
While working through the ardors of adolescence, students find a love for truth as well as for the community of students both of their age and in earlier developmental stages. They become sought-after college students, award-winning musicians, budding scientists, outdoorsmen caring for the environment, and human beings who care deeply for the community of families that have supported their blossoming. High school days still begin with Main Lesson, but their teachers now vary by subject, and their daily subject classes now include humanities, math, fine and applied arts, foreign language, music, physical education, and eurythmy. As part of the PWHS curriculum, students also participate in dramatic productions, music concerts, outdoor education weeks, community service opportunities, class-related field trips, and “Project Week” intensive topic studies ranging from songwriting to sustainable nutrition.
As they enter 9th grade, students tend to assert themselves in a definite way, seeing things as black or white, reveling in the concrete and physical. What is this new world of high school? 9th grade curriculum meets them with a focus on polarities in form and content: comedy and tragedy in literature, revolutions in history, the tangibles of blood and the skeleton in science. In art, a focus on black and white (including block printing) leads students into a discovery of the values of the shadings of gray in between. 9th Grade outdoor education focuses on building basic naturalist skills, exploring ecosystems, and strengthening community dynamic and individual skills with a balance of group activities and solo work.
Having worked through black and white thinking, 10th graders become curious about process and transformation. The “how” interests them. How did things get to be like this? In Meteorology, they learn how weather is produced; in Physiology, a study of the endocrine system is a study of bodily processes. In Humanities, students study the development of the English language, and in a study of ancient Greece, the development of consciousness about the act of thinking itself. 10th Grade outdoor week centers on tracking and nature awareness, as students participate in activities designed to enhance their awareness of their surroundings, and develop basic primitive skills.
As students mature in their junior year, they ask “why” in a new way, wanting to know the intentions behind acts and institutions in order to define their relationship to the world around them. 11th grade curriculum prepares students to answer these questions by honing their research skills and sharpening their critical thinking. A series of US History main lesson blocks lead to inquiries about American institutions and identity. Atomic Chemistry and Astronomy address the micro and macro “why” of the universe around us, and in Botany, students look at why plants differentiate as they do. Outdoor week finds 11th graders backpacking in the wilderness, planning for food and shelter needs, using a compass and map to navigate, taking turns in leadership roles to develop those skills.
As students prepare to graduate and move consciously into the wider world, their curiosity deepens about how the world operates and what their place in it will be. World consciousness becomes the theme of the senior year. Students study Human Development, and reflect on their own lives. They take classes in Global Economy and the history of the twentieth century. Science includes Ecology and the atomic structure of nuclear power. In math, students apply the tools of calculus and statistics to their world. 12th grade outdoor week, and the culmination of the PWHS Outdoor Program, is the Senior Solo Sit: 48 hours spent alone in nature, building a relationship with a particular piece of land and spending time in reflection. Students come together before and after their sit, practicing rituals of farewell and greeting, and simultaneously holding an experience of community and individuality. Each student also completes a Senior Project, a faculty-approved study that includes a research paper, a physical project, and an oral presentation to the community.