English 11: The View Within

Carlos Fuentes once commented that writing is a “struggle against silence,” while Anais Nin believed people write “to taste life twice.” There is no question that writing is a fundamental human act, but why do people write? What are the various motives that compel people to put pen to paper? How does a writer’s purpose influence the content and style of their writing? These are some of the questions that guide students’ reading and writing  of creative non-fiction, including complex non-linear story structures. In the true spirit of the essay, which in the original French means ‘to attempt,’ students are encouraged to experiment with language, probe their beliefs, and incorporate rhetorical devices, in the hopes that they find a voice that resonates with them authentically. 

English Electives

Banned Books

How do books and specifically banned books shape public discourse? How can a conversation about banning books underscore the importance of protecting freedom of expression? Through the examination of banned books, students will gain insight into how censorship and suppression of ideas can affect the development of cultural and political ideologies.

By analyzing why certain books are banned, students will understand how censorship can impact the way society views certain topics and can even shape public opinion. Furthermore, the study of banned books will provide an appreciation for the role of dissenting voices and alternative perspectives in shaping social and political discourse. The examination of these banned works will provide a unique lens into the ways in which people have used literature to challenge dominant cultural narratives and resist oppressive systems of power.

Contemporary Issues in Science Fiction

The work of science  fiction is imagining what is possible. A necessary part of this undertaking includes deciding how race, gender, and class  function in a new world. In this course, we will explore the works of authors such as Octavia Butler, Nnedi Okorafor, N.K. Jemison and Tananarive Due in order to examine how race and gender constructs shift and intersect in new and different ways when characters are forced into radically different situations. We will examine images, film, fiction, and nonfiction. We will read one common text as a class, and students will read additional texts in small reading groups and independently. We will complete reading reflections and write creatively as well as analytically.

Crime Literature

What are the stories we tell ourselves about law and order? Starting with the birth of detective fiction, one of the most popular literary genres, and moving to other types of crime stories including pulps and creative nonfiction, we will consider the appeal of stories about grisly murders and trace an arc from a more comfortable belief in the nature of justice to suspicion about police powers. Coinciding with this increased suspicion is a movement away from white detectives and white victims, to crimes targeting people of color, who were legally barred from giving testimony (and thus seeking legal redress) for much of the country’s history. Do stories give us cathartic release when a bad guy is punished? Is there some sort of poetic justice in exposing the inequities of the past even if the murderers have gone free? And what does crime fiction’s popularity suggest about our relationship to our criminal justice system, about our perception of its workings, and about the larger American tenet of equality before the law?

Great Books

When was the last time you were responsible for picking your reading for a course? At the beginning of this class, you will generate a list of books you want to read, and then you will campaign for your favorite; after the campaign season ends, you’ll vote, and several books will win. We’ll spend the term reading them, examining them for character, theme, structure, style, and message. How does choosing the text intersect with investment in the reading? Is the text a great book? Ultimately, you decide whether the books deserve spots on the shelf and how you go about choosing your next read. You will respond to the reading in various forms of writing, class discussions, projects, and presentations.

Previous winners: 1984, Room, Lolita, Brave New World, Catch 22, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Lord of the Flies, Scarlet Letter, On the Road, The Kite Runner, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Gone Girl, Fight Club.

Literature and Film

Did you like the movie or the book better? Is this a sensible question, or are we being asked to compare unlike genres? In this course we will investigate these two art forms, comparing the narrative possibilities — and limitations — of each. How do these modes of storytelling differ in terms of their effects? What can film achieve that a novel or play cannot, and vice versa? What is lost in the translation of literature into film, and what makes a “good” adaptation? We will read novels and plays, and we will study a film based on each. You will think and write critically about how these stories are told on the printed page and on the screen, analyzing the cultural impact of each medium.

Literature of Food

For millennia, humans have had a unique and ever-shifting relationship with their food. From growing vegetables in the soiled ground to buying a Big Mac at the drive-through, we all relate to and connect with food and tastes in varied ways. Additionally, from Marcel Proust to Helen Rosner to Mark Bittman, chefs and authors have explored what we eat, how we eat, and how our relationship with food matters. In this class, we will read, write, cook, and eat. We will examine the politics of food, food insecurity, and how our relationship to what we eat and how we eat informs, nourishes, and shapes our lives. 

Money, Money, Money (BVR-X)

What is money’s place in society? What is the correlation between money and power? What do money and power reveal about inequity in society? Everything from politics to education to professional sports to technology to the economy to media sends, reinforces, and challenges messages about money and power, and in this class students will examine these intersections and consider their own roles in the systems around them. Students will read fiction and non-fiction, write, watch, and listen; and question, research, collaborate, and present.

Road Trip

As Ursula Le Guin said, “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” Why is that? What makes a journey an adventure, and why do journeys seem to yield so much challenge and disaster and surprise and beauty? Whose road trips are allowed and whose aren’t? Together, through novels, film, history, politics, and art, we’ll explore everything from the archetypes to the dangers to the history of ‘hitting the road’ to the road itself. These are indelible stories, and we hope you join us for the ride.

Screenwriting (BVR-X)

How do the stories that we write change when we know that they will be interpreted visually and audibly? In this course, students will craft compelling narratives written in the form of scripts. At least once a week, this class will meet in collaboration with Video Production. Together, we will view and critique film and brainstorm and workshop ideas, and students in Video Production will work with students in Screenwriting to adapt their screenplays to film. With an emphasis on dialogue and indirect characterization, students will learn how to use screenwriting programs to develop short films or television episodes. Over the course of the term, students will storyboard, pitch, workshop, iterate, and see their ideas be reinterpreted through the production and acting of fellow collaborators. Think you have the next great idea for a (short) screenplay? Now is your chance to give it life.

Short Stories

How does something so small pack such a big punch? Such is the nature of a short story. You’ll hone in on story elements by investigating a variety of stories and writers.  Everyone has a story to tell. You’ll experiment with turning your own stories into short fiction, and you will continue to develop analytical essay writing skills.


Each of us has an inner world of images, memories, and dreams. This internal landscape holds unlimited possibilities for storytelling. This course will help you explore your personal mythology, discover your own voices, and polish your writing skills. Through a variety of exercises, you will shape memory and imagination into elements of the short story: character, setting, dramatic structure, point of view, and theme. You will workshop your work both in class and by making use of Buzzword, a web-based program that offers a comprehensive editing platform.

Possible texts: stories and essays by Angelou, Boyle, Burnham, Cheever, Cunningham, Fondation, Forché, Miller, Minot, Oppenheimer, Painter, Salinger, Shae, Tolstoy, Updike, and Wolff.


Integrated Math 3: Algebra, Geometry, and Data Science

Integrated Math 3 students continue to expand their algebraic reasoning and understanding of mathematical models including complex numbers, exponential equations, and polynomials. Students also explore sampling and build upon their knowledge of solid geometry and circle theorems while building connections between all topics covered. 

Prerequisites: Integrated Math 2. Offered at the Honors and Standard levels. Honors level requires departmental recommendation.

Precalculus - Functions

In this course, students will take a deeper look at various families of functions: rational, radical, exponential, logarithmic, and polynomial. Students will learn about the ways in which domain, range, continuity, inverses, composition and transformation apply to those functions. Students will also have opportunities to analyze real-world data and generate predictive models. Topics from data science are often included in this course, as well.

Prerequisites: Integrated Math 2 and Integrated Math 3. Offered at the Honors and Standard levels. Honors level requires departmental recommendation.

Precalculus - Trigonometry

Students in this course will learn about angle measurement, periodic behavior, and a range of applications related to both right triangle and circular trigonometry. Analytic geometry and polar coordinates are often included in this course, as well. Prerequisites: Algebra II and Geometry. Honors level requires departmental permission.

Prerequisites: Integrated Math 2 and Integrated Math 3. Offered at the Honors and Standard levels. Honors level requires departmental recommendation.

Mathematics Electives

Discrete Mathematics & Advanced Topics

In this course, students will have the chance to learn a range of discrete math topics and grapple with a range of different problems that fall outside the spectrum of traditional high school mathematics. Topics covered may include finite sets and partitions, enumeration, probability, expectation, random variables, and elementary number theory, with an emphasis on applications of discrete mathematics, and fair division, voting systems, graph theory, chaos theory and non-Euclidean geometry. Students will be able to answer questions like: “how many Beaver students are involved in a theater production and in an athletic sport throughout the school year?”, “what is the probability of picking at least three red marbles out of a bag of seven white marbles and five red marbles?”, “find the value of 7 mod 4”, “if there is a car accident, what is the probability the person is between the ages of 16-21?” and “what states have both a pro basketball team and a pro hockey team?” Students will also be asked to think creatively and apply their knowledge to complex real-world problems. Students can opt to take this class at the Honors level. 

Open to Grade Levels: 11, 12, or by departmental approval.

Statistics/Data Science (BVR-X)

This course includes the gathering of data and a variety of sampling techniques, hypothesis testing, frequency distribution, normal distribution, correlation, linear regression, theoretical distributions, and inferential statistics. This course asks students to consider questions such as these: How is data summarized so that it is intelligible? How should statistical data be interpreted? How can we measure the inherent uncertainty built into statistical data? Students will be asked to collect, analyze and interpret real data to answer real questions in their areas of interest. 

Students can opt to take this class at the Honors level. 
Open to Grade Levels: 11, 12, or by departmental approval.


Global History III: World History

Empires, Colonization, Resistance and Independence (Required)
When you think of empires, which ones do you think of and why? Are empires only nation-states? Students will explore the characteristics that make up an empire and how they are sustained with or without war. How are people affected by the rise and fall of empires?  What are the political, economic, social, and environmental impacts of their rise and fall? In this course, students will examine the different shapes of imperialism, the legacy of empires, decolonization efforts, resistance movements, and the paths towards independence.

Juniors are encouraged to take a second term of history and can choose from any of the available History electives.

History Electives

Advanced History: Independent Research (Honors)

An intensive, inquiry-based course that will require students to pursue an advanced independent course of research on a topic of their choice. Students in this small section will be expected to work through a number of multi-step research assignments that will include producing research based papers, research based presentations, and participate in a number of research challenges and research projects.  This course is designed to hone the research skills of critical thinking, problem-solving, analysis, and dissemination and is designed for the student who is interested in possibly pursuing advanced humanities research in college.
Limit per class: 14 students.

Artists’ and Social Change

Throughout history, artists have responded to social change through various modes of expression. The impact of the artist’s voice in interpreting society has often played a critical role in documenting historical events and shaping the future. This course will examine different socio-political changes through the lens of artists and artistic movements. Students will discuss the power of these artists’ work, their messages, and the movements they’ve sparked. Art’s role as a political tool will also be explored.

Black Joy: 1877-1940s (BVR-X)

This course examines the period between the end of Reconstruction to the 1940s, the “nadir of race relations” in America, where racism was open, more pronounced, and sown into the American fabric. During this era, despite the realities of racial terror and violence faced by African Americans, the emergence of Black-owned businesses, the Harlem Renaissance, African-American Political Thought, sports leagues, and women like Madame C.J. Walker created a culture of Black joy and excellence during times of uncertainty. Students will explore the history, politics, economics, and culture of Black Americans whose narratives of success, power, and innovation play a role in the voice and history of shaping the United States.   

Governments From Around the World

How do governments of the world work together in dealing with geopolitical issues? This course will explore the various governmental systems of the world in existence today. It will also examine why democracy thrives in some areas of the world and what factors hinder it in others. Over the course of a term, students will be exposed to governmental systems from all corners of the globe. Ultimately, through those explorations, students will critically engage with global contemporary issues and the challenges associated with the various governments in existence.

Religions and Beliefs

Ever wonder why, despite ideals of religious freedom and acceptance, different religious groups and religions of the world unite or lead into conflict? In this course, students will explore a wide range of religious and spiritual ideologies including their origins, beliefs/practices, and adaptations over time. Investigations into how belief systems shape contemporary politics, government, and conflict will also be explored.

The Media and Its Influences

From the printing press to widespread use of social media, the creation of news content has been defined and redefined by the technology of its historical time. Using today’s media landscape, students will examine what qualifies as news, what ethical questions are presented in journalism, and how we are impacted today by those that craft, manipulate, and distribute the message. Students will use different media tools and platforms to question, challenge, and deconstruct media messages and their biases. Students will become better equipped to read the world and understand the news.

Theories of Justice (BVR-X)

Is economic inequality unjust? Is the government justified in restricting your freedom if it does so to improve your life? Using philosophical ideas by which one might understand justice, students will engage in conversations with experts and take part in a series of project-based learning activities as they examine complex problems and develop solutions to issues that challenge some of their perspectives on fairness and the meaning of societal justice. In this course, students will explore a range of topics related to affirmative action, artificial intelligence, distribution of resources, euthanasia,, drug policy, corporate social responsibility, and environmental justice.

Open to 11th and 12th graders 


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.

Biology Applications - DNA and Genetics

DNA is often referred to as the “code of life”. This course seeks to explore what we know about how our bodies interpret and utilize our genetic code and how our understanding has changed in recent years. Included in this course will be discussions of DNA structure, function, and replication. In addition, students will be introduced to laboratory techniques that have driven our understanding of these topics, including DNA extraction, gel electrophoresis, PCR, and bacterial transformation. Emphasis on effective communication of experimental design and findings through primary source research, formal reports and presentations will also be an integral part of this course.

Prerequisites: Chemistry Foundations and Biology Foundations.

Biology Applications - Marine Ecology

Ecology is all about relationships and interconnections. In this course, students will focus on the interdependence of living marine organisms (biotic factors) and their ocean environment (abiotic factors) and how energy flows through Earth’s systems and connects us to all living things. Topics interwoven throughout the course include: biodiversity, interdependence, chemical cycles, population biology, trophic structure, predation, competition, symbiosis, climate change and human impacts.  We will use collaborative modeling, experimental design, current research, and field experiences to deepen our understanding of marine science. Field trip experiences to places such as New England Aquarium and/or Northeastern University’s Marine Biological Laboratory will help support our learning by exposing students to real world marine research.

Prerequisites: Chemistry Foundations and Biology Foundations.

Biology Applications - Neuroscience

The most basic function of the brain is to keep  you alive. Your 100 billion neurons regulate breathing, heart rate, hunger and sleep cycle. But perhaps what fascinates us the most about the human brain is how it goes beyond these basic functions and generates emotions, perceptions, and thoughts that guide behavior. In this course, we will take a deep dive into brain science, exploring everything from the biochemistry of a neuron, to the latest research on psychological disorders such as depression and addiction. Topics in this course include anatomy and physiology, synaptic transmission, neuroscience, perception and learning, behavior and cognition, and psychology.

Prerequisites: Chemistry Foundations and Biology Foundations.

Chemistry Applications - Biochemistry

Biochemistry is all about the interplay between life’s chemical underpinnings and it’s biological dynamics. The relationships between these two topics offers us explanations for all of the phenomena that we observe in the natural world.  In this lab based course, students will explore the structure and function of proteins, molecules with critical biological functions in nutrition and metabolism.  Other themes will include natural product extraction, exploration of bioactive molecules, and food chemistry.  Students will gain exposure to advanced lab based methodologies such as gel electrophoresis, column chromatography, western blotting and distillation.

Prerequisites: Chemistry Foundations and Biology Foundations.

Chemistry Applications - Physical Chemistry

This interdisciplinary course will explore the physical and chemical properties of matter using two main themes: electron structure and thermodynamics.   Students will cover in this course the challenging fields of thermodynamics, thermal and chemical equilibrium, and quantum mechanics.  A thorough understanding of how chemical systems behave will be gained through hands-on laboratory experiences, and students observe how these systems will respond to external stress.    Students will spend the last part of the course discussing advanced electron structures using the principles of quantum mechanics.  Throughout the course, lab skills and writing will be emphasized in order to practice effective scientific communication and inquiry-based design challenges.

Prerequisites: Chemistry Foundations and Biology Foundations.

Chemistry Applications - Quantitative Analysis

In Quantitative Analysis, students build on the basic chemical concepts and skills learned in the foundations course. The concept of a mole is explored and students learn to predict the products of chemical reactions.  In this lab-based course, students will conduct a variety of experiments and use stoichiometry to quantitatively analyze their findings and the efficiency of their experimentation.  Finally, students explore solution chemistry, including acids and bases, through both conceptual and quantitative lenses.

Prerequisites: Chemistry Foundations and Biology Foundations.

Physics Applications & Engineering

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 design tools.
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 as a foundation for more advanced engineering courses.

Open to 10th, 11th, and 12th graders.
Prerequisites: Algebra II or equivalent.

Advanced Biology - Anatomy and Physiology (Honors)

In this lab-based course, we will explore the integrated systems that make up the incredible human body and learn about how the structures of the body perform the functions necessary to maintain the balance of life (homeostasis). Students will continue to investigate the relationship between structure and function through dissections, projects, and discussions. We will look into the pathophysiology of diseases and disorders that compromise the functioning of our body systems and visit Harvard Medical School MedScience program once a week to apply this content to hands-on medical simulations and skill labs. 

Prerequisites:  any Chemistry or Biology Applications course at the Honors level and with departmental permission.  Offered at the Honors level only. ***Open ONLY to students who have NOT attended the Harvard HMS Summer simulation program.

Advanced Biology - Molecular Research Techniques (Honors)

This course will provide students an opportunity to learn advanced techniques in molecular biology and their applications in biotechnology.  Students will delve deeply into advanced topics such as genetic engineering and synthetic biology and the ways in which they can be used to solve real-world problems in medicine, agriculture, and more.  Students will travel to the BioBuilder learning lab at Ginkgo Bioworks once a week for a 6-week immersive experience in which students learn the skills and tools of molecular research through an ongoing research project.  

Offered at the Honors level only
Prerequisites:  any Chemistry or Biology Applications course at the Honors level and with departmental permission.  Offered at the Honors level only. 

Advanced Chemistry – Organic Chemistry (Honors)

Organic molecules are the building blocks of all life on Earth, and the carbon atom is central to the formation of this class of molecules. The importance of chemistry in biological systems will be the focus of the course.  Students will investigate the chemistry of key functional groups including alcohols, carboxylic acids, amines and ethers and their role in the behavior of three primary macromolecules: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. There will be a strong emphasis on laboratory work and students will engage in experiments such as the synthesis and purification of aspirin, organic extraction of caffeine from tea, and the hydrogenation of unsaturated fatty acids.

Prerequisites: Any Chemistry or Biology Applications course at the Honors level. Departmental permission required. Offered at the Honors level only.

Advanced Engineering Design - Project Studio (Honors)

This course is intended to give students a more challenging and demanding environment to apply the skills they learned in either Engineering Design Foundations or at NuVu and allow them to continue to wrestle and build on solutions to real problems. This course is largely project-based, and students will be expected to use the time to research and design solutions to engineering design challenges. All projects will be teacher guided but studentled with the goal of learning and using the tools and approaches of the engineering mindset.

Open to 11th and 12th graders.
Prerequisites: Engineering Design Foundations: Tools and Process or NuVu. Departmental permission required. Offered at the Honors level only.

Advanced Physics – Electricity & Magnetism (Honors)

Advanced Electricity and Magnetism is an extension of the skills and concepts learned in Conceptual Physics. These concepts will be more rigorously explored and use more sophisticated mathematical tools than were used in conceptual physics (geometry, trigonometry, functions, pre-calculus, and some calculus). The goal is to develop tools and intuition capable of describing the physical world at a very general level. The topics studied during this term include electricity, electrostatics and electric fields, magnetic fields, and the interplay between electric and magnetic fields. This course is extensively laboratory based while developing the theoretical ideas of an introductory college physics course. Students will be required to draw conclusions based on evidence gathered with such devices as batteries, bulbs, capacitors, wires, hand generators, and motors. If time allows, the course may also include electromagnetic radiation (light, x-rays, microwaves, etc.) as an extension.

Prerequisites: Conceptual Physics A and B or equivalent and departmental permission. Offered at the Honors level only.

Advanced Physics – Mechanics (Honors)

Advanced Mechanics is an extension of the skills and concepts learned in Conceptual Physics. These concepts will be more rigorously explored and use much more sophisticated mathematical tools than were used freshman year (geometry, trigonometry, functions, pre-calculus, and some calculus). The goal is to develop tools and intuition capable of describing the physical world at a very general level. The topics studied during this term can be tailored to student interest but will likely draw from a list of topics including accelerated motion, vectors and projectile motion, Newton’s Laws, 2-D statics and dynamics, rotational motion, torque, and special relativity. This course includes at least one large research project in which students are required to explore a topic of interest and use their mechanics knowledge to analyze and make calculation-supported predictions for a physical situation.

Prerequisites: Conceptual Physics A and B or equivalent and departmental permission. Offered at the Honors level only.

Astronomy (BVR-X)

In this class, you will explore the Universe from where we are today back to the beginning. As a part of our work, we will grow our knowledge of astronomy done throughout history and from multiple civilizations, use mathematics to calculate the expansion of the universe and the search for extrasolar planets, learn about the biology needed for life on other worlds, and grapple with societal issues from funding to privatization of space exploration.  We will start by looking at and exploring the heavens the people have done for thousands of years. This will help us discover why we think things like, “The Earth is spinning at 1000 mph” or “The Earth goes around the Sun” are true. Afterward, we will examine each planetary system in our solar system extensively, including its composition, its moons, and its relationship with the rest of the solar system. Finally, we will discuss and explore outside the Solar System: our star the Sun, other stars, galaxies, black holes, the Big Bang, and the fate of our Universe. 

Open to 11th and 12th graders

Forensic Science - CSI BCDS (BVR-X)

Forensics is the application of science to solve crimes using evidence that will be admissible in a court of law. A multidisciplinary approach that encourages analytical thinking and problem solving in biology, chemistry, and physics will be used. Students may cover the following topics: deductive reasoning, fingerprinting, qualitative analysis of substances such as fingerprints, blood, DNA, document analysis, and ballistics. Along with lab work, students may do research projects, look at the legal aspects of forensic science, take field trips, and solve mock crimes.

Open to 11th and 12th graders
Prerequisites: Biology Foundations

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.


Creative Coding

You can create beautiful things by writing code! In this project-based course, you will learn coding fundamentals, and how to apply them to create visual art. This course treats coding as a tool, rather than a goal in and of itself – similar to an art studio that focuses on a specific medium such as charcoal or oil paint. You will learn how to write code, and the focus will be on exploring creative ideas, and the processes involved in creating both code and art. No prior coding experience is needed – coding fundamentals will be covered, and the creative, open-ended projects will provide a challenge for all experience levels.

Open to Grade Levels: 10, 11, 12

Data Analysis - Data is beautiful

Data can tell us fascinating, compelling, and sometimes surprising stories. Athletes and coaches use data to inform their training, politicians and lobbyists use data to sway public opinion, activists use data to recruit for their causes. In this class, we will explore some of the different stories that data can tell us, and create some stories of our own. We’ll learn how to find high quality datasets related to our topics, analysis methods which help us explore essential questions, and visual presentation techniques to help tell the stories we discover. The class will focus on data through the lens of a different real-world topic, guided by student interest.

Open to Grade Levels: 10, 11, 12

Entrepreneurship with a Purpose

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 and advocacy. You will hear from experts; analyze how businesses operate; explore Boston’s thriving entrepreneurship ecosystem; and brainstorm your own startup idea. 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 Grade Levels: 10, 11, 12

Graphic Design/Illustrator

How does design impact how we think, learn and interact? In this course we will investigate these questions as we explore how graphic communication is woven into our daily lives. Students will gain insight into a range of graphic design applications such as branding and advertising, illustration, typography, information design, and editorial publication. Working primarily with Adobe Illustrator, students will develop their digital drawing and design skills while establishing a workflow between Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop.

Open to Grade Levels: 10, 11, 12

Intro to Investing

Should you invest in the common stock of Apple Inc. or Exxon Mobil? How do you decide whether to get a car loan or a lease? How do you determine how much a small business is worth? In this course, we will learn about (a) the fundamentals of the stock market, investment vehicles, and basic principles of investing, (b) key aspects of personal finance, including budgeting, credit cards, and investing for retirement, and (c) the time value of money and risk as it applies to analyzing these personal finance questions. Students will learn to create and maintain a diversified portfolio through a virtual stock exchange, and there will be opportunities for research and other projects based on student interest.

Open to Grade Levels: 11, 12 

Philosophy: Looking for the Meaning of Life

Have you ever wondered about the meaning of life, your place in the world, social justice,  or even what it would mean to have a superpower? Have you ever played the game, “Would you rather…?” Then you have done philosophy! Yes, philosophy means the love of wisdom. It also gives you skills to use logical reasoning and think critically to assess the world around you. You want to learn why people think, debate, love, hate, have emotions, and make (sometimes bizarre) decisions; or why people follow religions, search for truth, vote conservative or liberal; or you just want to learn about how we should live our lives. Then this is your class. Philosophy offers the tools to understand and navigate the world, problem-solve real-life challenges, and make wise decisions. Take a class to not only think about what is but also what might be!

This class counts for  English credits. Students can opt to take this class at the Honors level. 

Open to Grade Levels: 11, 12

Social Psychology: To be is to be perceived!

How is our behavior influenced by our social environment? How does our perception of others affect what we do and our sense of identity? Whether we want it or not, people (others) influence how we act or behave (how we dress, what we say or don’t say, what we feel). In this social psychology course, we will aim to get a deep understanding of human behavior, especially interpersonal relationships. We will look at theories and findings in psychology and social psychology, will learn about key ideas, and explore some recent research and unanswered questions. This course will be driven by student interests, and will also include topics such as biases, attitudes, obedience, mental health, social identity, and prejudice, among others. We will try to understand how others affect who we are and how we behave, and if indeed “hell is other people.” 

Students can opt to take this class at the Honors level. 

Open to Grade Levels: 10, 11, 12

Socio-Economics of Sports

Sports are everywhere! We love and support our teams. But what role do sports play in society and how do they influence it? Sports teams generate billions of dollars every year, and sports events gather huge crowds in celebration akin to religious rituals. This BVR-X course will look into the workings of different sports; their teams; their business models; their impact on society and how sports have reacted to societal changes and political movements. Part of this class will include meeting with sports experts, athletes, and investors to get an authentic understanding of their perspectives. To connect the theory to its reality, this course will also involve organizing and participating in different sports tournaments, and attending and/or watching some sports games throughout the term to learn more about sports rules and practices.

Students can opt to take this class at the Honors level. 

Open to Grade Levels: 10, 11, 12

The Art of Navigating Life: The Skills you will Need

You may feel confident writing a paper, 3-D printing and laser cutting, or making an oral presentation. How about managing finances, changing a flat tire, cooking and baking, writing a resume, or doing self-care? From housekeeping to repairing and from survival skills to money management, this class will help you build a “how-to guide to everyday life.” We will also analyze how some of those important skills have been historically gender- and class-assigned. We will look at cooking, managing finances, basic first aid, negotiation skills, among many others. Students will also participate in brainstorming skills they want to learn and add to this course. This class will be co-taught by different faculty/staff members and will involve collaborating with experts in these areas.

Open to Grade Levels: 10, 11, 12

Urbanism + the Built Environment

Using Boston’s landscape, students in this course will investigate the role of cities in shaping ecological and cultural systems that will influence the built environment in future design. Students will research and examine the history and legacy of social, cultural, and economic inequalities as they consider how today’s built environment addresses contemporary issues by reinventing, reimagining, and planning design spaces that will impact the relationship between people and their environment. Students will meet with experts and connect with peers in other schools to discuss, question, and critically analyze issues facing metropolitan areas in the near future. Travel may be an opportunity that exists as part of taking this class. Students will engage in the design process by constructing their ideas and solutions for conceptualizing future cities using physical materials and digital technologies to create 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional models to showcase their work. 

This class counts for History credits. 
Open to Grade Levels: 11, 12

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