19 AP Courses
26 Arts Electives
Student/Teacher ratio: 7:1
Average Class Size: 14-16
The Upper School curriculum provides the foundational skills and understanding that students will need in college and beyond, while leaving room for them to develop and pursue their individual interests. We meet with students individually to help them design an academic program that will present reasonable challenges to instill confidence and foster a passion for learning.
Become a creator in the digital world by exploring the field of Computer Science from bits to apps. Projects and courses teach students about big ideas in computing related to coding, robotics, history, ethics, privacy, big data, security, and the Internet.
Upper school students can explore myriad voices in literature, spanning centuries and representing several literary genres. Their journey explores the written word, from politics to poetry to prose, from history's great works of literature, to mastering creative writing.
GFA’s World Perspectives Program links the curriculum of the school’s divisions and academic departments around the broad topic of global studies. The academic program exposes students to broad and diverse ideas from the field, and provides them the intellectual skills to critique, synthesize, and communicate effectively.
From the origins of man to the development of agriculture and the first civilizations, from ancient to contemporary cultures in the U.S. and around the world, these courses lay the historical foundation for global societies, still very much at the heart of the world today.
The math curriculum focuses on the content itself as much as on problem-solving and collaborative strategies, and the tenacity and persistence students need to solve different problems. These are the skills that our students can use anywhere, not just the classroom.
Through a variety of inquiry-based labs, hands-on activities and project work, students will investigate the major themes that connect all living things. Courses include Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Environmental Science, Oceanography, Marine Bio, Research and Engineering, among many others.
Offering French, Mandarin, and Spanish, the language programs not only explore communication, but culture and collaboration. World Languages span the curriculum to incorporate literature, history, art/film, and current events.
GLOBAL ONLINE ACADEMY
Students may also take online courses offered by Global Online Academy, a consortium of more than 65 independent schools from around the world. GOA replicates — in online classrooms — the rigorous programs and excellent teaching that are hallmarks of its member schools.
This spring, Upper School students will be immersed in a new academic experience: May Terms. These seven-day courses are taught at the end of the second semester and are designed to enrich the student experience beyond the core GFA curriculum. Designed by our faculty, these non-traditional courses allow students to engage deeply in dynamic topics while exploring personal interests, connecting with different teachers, and collaborating with peers across the division.
Service Learning in the Upper School means working with a group of peers, partnering with a local organization, and making connections through service to others. Each advisory group plans and executes a project alongside one of our community partners, many of which of which have longstanding relationships with GFA.
In the Upper School, a variety of clubs and activities provide opportunities for students to develop and pursue passions, and more importantly, to step into leadership roles. Opportunities range from serious to silly, and vary somewhat from year to year based on student interest. For a list of Upper School clubs, click here.
School Participatory Action Research Collaborative (SPARC, formerly The Center for the Study of Boys and Girls Lives) is a consortium of independent schools based at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, which gives students the opportunity to study and improve their school’s culture through Youth Participatory Action Research. To learn about this year's work in the Upper School Qualitative Research Class, click here.