English 10: American Literature

What does it mean to be American? From the perspectives of indigenous people to the revolution that defined our independence to slavery and its legacy to the very cases contended today in the Supreme Court, we address the range of Americanism, the beautiful and the sordid. Students read, debate, create, reflect, act, film, write, craft, and present as ways of asking big questions, answering the questions with specific evidence, and acknowledging the complexities of those answers. Readings include fiction, non-fiction, memoir, poetry, and drama, incorporating texts that we read as a full class and texts that students choose to read in small groups.

American Morality
In this course, we turn to great American writers whose work has defined generations of American citizens, and we use these writings to ask the question: What does it really mean to be American? What choices did people make and why? How do we wrestle with our past as we consider the ways our characters face their futures?

American Identity
There are myriad tangible and intangible ways that we define ourselves — from large scale identifiers like nation and religion, to the little things, like choosing what shoes to wear in the morning. In this term, we look at identity through varied American lenses: through journey, through challenges, through place, and through choices. All of these perspectives ultimately help inform our own perspectives of who we are and why we believe the things we do.


Geometry A & B

This course takes a discovery-based approach to the analysis of points, lines, planes, triangles, quadrilaterals, circles, parallelism, congruence, similarity, area, general polygons, and volume of solids. Students develop pattern-recognition, logic skills, and visual problem-solving skills through investigation, conjecture, argument, and proof. Additional topics may include statistics and coding.

Prerequisites: Algebra I, Algebra II. Offered at the Honors and Standard levels. Honors level requires departmental permission.


US and World History

From Power to Superpower (Required)

From Spanish American War to the beginning of the Cold War, this course will explore the evolution of the U.S. as a global superpower, its territorial expansion, its foreign policy and involvement in different wars and conflicts. You will examine how governments garner popular support for military and humanitarian interventions abroad and how the outcomes of these actions have affected and been affected by political decision-making and geopolitical interests.

For the second term of Global History II student choose one of the following courses:

A Time for Change

From the advent of modern steel-making and new forms of communication like the telegraph to the election of the first African American president, you will explore change and evolution in politics (role of government, gender, race), culture (music and art), and technology and examine how the U.S. developed as the nation it is today. This course is a bird’s eye view of major political, cultural, social, scientific, and technological changes that have affected the nation and the world at large.

Economic Powerhouse

With its national debt rising relative to its increasing productivity, the United States has recently been supplanted by China as the world’s largest economy. What has been the impact of the U.S. economy and its deficit on American society in terms of both growing prosperity and economic inequality? What is its role in a globalized world? How have economic interests and institutions shaped and influenced American political decision-making? You will examine the structures of the U.S. economy, their domestic and global effects, and how the U.S. became an economic powerhouse.


Chemistry Foundations - Atoms and Reactions

Chemistry Foundations covers essential core content, while providing hands-on opportunities for students to learn how to think like a chemist. Students learn to use the language of chemistry to describe physical and chemical changes of matter. They explore atomic structure and theory, ionic and covalent bonding, and the structure and organization of the Periodic Table in order to understand how atoms function both individually and when bonded together. In addition, students will explore the nature of chemical reactions in theory and in practice. Students begin to develop skills around formalizing scientific research and writing.

Prerequisites: Conceptual Physics A & B or departmental permission. Honors section with departmental permission.

Biology Foundations - The Structure & Function of Life

From the development of antibiotics to solar panels, the living world has provided countless solutions to the most challenging problems we have faced as a human race. This course will give students the opportunity to learn about the fundamentals of life, from the whole organism down to the molecular level. In this course, we will focus on a deeper understanding of the biological concepts of biochemistry, cellular biology, genetics, evolution, and comparative anatomy and physiology. This lab based science course will further develop scientific writing skills and help incorporate strategies to process and understand complex biological concepts.

Prerequisites: Chemistry Foundations. Honors section with departmental permission.

Engineering Design Foundations - Tools and Processes

Engineering Design Foundations is designed as an introductory class that does not depend on any prior knowledge. This course provides a general introductory experience with engineering design, focusing on the creative design process and providing a strong foundation in project work. The topics studied during this term can be tailored to student interest, but will focus on core techniques and tools used in most engineering fields. Topics include the engineering design process, project management, workshop skills, electronics, and coding. This course will have several small projects designed to develop and assess the various engineering skills.

Open to 10th, 11th, and 12th graders.
Prerequisites: None

Physics and Engineering Applications

In this course, students will explore the phenomena of the mechanical world and develop the toolkit and mindset of an engineer. Learners will use their engineering skills and apply their understanding of physics to analyze situations and design new solutions.

This elective explores a selection of physics concepts (based on student interests and experience, ranging from mechanics to E&M to waves), develops foundational engineering and design approaches (ranging from research and documentation to modeling and prototyping to iteration and troubleshooting), and exposes students to a variety of tools (power tools, 3D modeling and printing, laser cutting, coding and arduinos, etc.).

This course is designed for students who (a) would like to explore physics but did not take Conceptual Physics in ninth grade, (b) would like a follow-up course to freshman physics without the mathematical rigor of Advanced Physics, (c) would like an introduction to the tools and techniques of engineering.

Open to 10th, 11th, and 12th graders.

Prerequisites: Algebra II or equivalent.

Modern Languages
Students are not placed in a specific level based on year, but rather by proficiency, meaning students from several different grades may be in the same class. Click here to see all our Modern Language offerings.

Students are not placed in a specific level based on year, but rather by interest, meaning students from several different grades may be in the same class. Students can choose to take classes in either or both of the Performing Arts and Visual Arts departments.
Click here to see the Performing Arts offerings.
Click here to see the Visual Arts offerings.


From Local to Global Challenges: Take Action!

What connection do rising water levels on the Charles River have to do with the canals in Venice?  How can cities of the future address the challenges presented by urbanization? From local to global, what are the issues currently facing the world community? What are the political, economic, social, cultural, and environmental impacts presented by these challenges? How do we bring about change through action? In this course, students will choose to investigate issues most prevalent in the 21st Century. Using a studio-based approach, students will incorporate design thinking and project-based learning frameworks as they work collaboratively to examine, explore, evaluate, design, and create solutions to challenges facing our global humanity.

Open to 10, 11th and 12th graders
Prerequisites: None

Game Design

What makes a great game? The right balance of strategy and luck? A compelling story and an immersive experience? Unique rules and mechanics? In this course, after analyzing successful board games, card games, and video games, students will generate their own ideas and create virtual and/or physical prototypes. Storytelling, coding, graphic design, artificial intelligence, and systems thinking will all be incorporated within this course.

Open to 10th, 11th and 12th graders – Prerequisites: None

Intro to Psychology

Do you know why you think, feel and believe your thoughts, feelings and beliefs? This course will aim to give you a deeper understanding of human behavior by studying both theories and research findings in psychology. We’ll look at key ideas that are fundamental to the field and also explore recent advances and unanswered questions. Topics may include cognitive bias, the “nature versus nurture” debate, false memories, group dynamics and personality disorders.

Open to 10th, 11th and 12th graders – Prerequisites: None

Project Lab

Got ideas? Awesome! This is the class for you. This BVR-X course will focus on your ideas, what you want to discuss, research, design, and create. Come build your program and explore what you want to learn. No limits.

Open to 10th, 11th and 12th graders – Prerequisites: None

Social Entrepreneurship

Can entrepreneurship be the response to local and global challenges? Can it serve a purpose beyond being just a money-making endeavor? In this class, you will learn about how businesses are created and why some thrive and others fail. You will also design ideas to start your own business with empathy and a purpose in mind; business ideas that can have a meaningful, positive impact on others. This social entrepreneurship course will look at the change-making potential of people to pursue ideas, solutions, philanthropy, advocacy and investing opportunities, such as micro-financing. You will hear from experts; brainstorm start-up ideas; and put them into action. This class will allow you to present your ideas to investors and organizations that look for purposeful social entrepreneurs to make a difference.

Open to 10th, 11th and 12th graders
Prerequisites: None

Sustainable Design

Engineers, architects and designers are finding new ways to reduce consumption, minimize waste, use renewable resources and even create solutions that have a net positive impact on the environment. In this course, we’ll identify situations where sustainable design can be most effective. You’ll learn about successful examples such as cook stoves that dramatically reduce fuel consumption and green buildings that generate more energy than they use.

Open to 10th, 11th and 12th graders – Prerequisites: None

The Art of Code (CS)

Have you ever thought about designing your own app? Have you ever wondered how self-driving cars work? Whether you’re an experienced coder or a complete beginner, this is a chance for you to learn more. In this self-paced course, students will complete a variety of projects that deepen their understanding of the various ways in which computers can efficiently solve problems. The course has three goals: 1) create an atmosphere in which all students feel empowered to take risks, 2) help students see how computer science can be applied in other disciplines, and 3) provide students with a solid foundation for college courses in computer science.

Open to 10th, 11th and 12th graders
Prerequisites: None

Student-Directed Project (SDPs)

Student Directed Project - SDP

A Student-Directed Project empowers students to do an in-depth exploration of a topic of interest throughout the term.

The student designs, plans, and leads their research project in collaboration and with the guidance and support of a coach (faculty advisor). It allows students to delve deeper into their passion and to be the designer of their own learning. There is a wide range of Student-Directed Projects; they are multi-disciplinary, non-linear, and most importantly, student-created and led.

That’s what makes them so interesting.

Here are some examples of past projects:

  • Creating an architectural model using 3D architectural software
  • Through their eyes: Photo and interview series of veterans
  • Robosub electromagnetic linear accelerator
  • Acoustic pinger for Robosub
  • Virtual Reality game for visually-impaired persons
  • Creating a concept album
  • Dispute: Landlord-tenant board game
  • Multimedia journalism: Producing a podcast series
  • Perplex: English and Theater Study
  • Sensors and fiber optics: Building a fiber optic dress
  • Haptic technologies: Force-Feedback Virtual Reality
  • Applications of integrals to analytical continuation of functions