Inspired, Original Inquiry-Based Projects
26 Arts Electives
Student/Teacher ratio: 8:1
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 challenges to instill confidence and foster a passion for learning.
The Upper School academic/intellectual/ethical experience includes (but is in no way limited to):
- The GFA Symposium, a conference featuring a renowned keynote speaker and presentation sessions in which students share original research.
- Inquiry and Advanced Inquiry work in fields such as Constitutional Law, Applied Mathematics, Global Thesis, Visual Arts, and Science Research.
- Travel courses to Spain, China, Peru, Rwanda, and more, most of which involve research and service (studying spider predation at a field station on the Amazon River; working with teachers in Kigali to explore new classroom practices.)
- A broad range of courses in both the Visual and Performing arts including coursework in digital design, photography, and fine arts.
- Membership in Global Online Academy allowing students to take innovative online courses with peers from around the world.
- Access to adventurous off-campus programs like the School for Ethics and Global Leadership in Washington, D.C., the High Mountain Institute, and School Year Abroad.
In and out of class, on and off campus, our students go into every experience with their hearts and minds open and their hands ready for work.
The Upper School social/emotional/physical experience includes (but is in no way limited to):
- Class retreats at the beginning of every school year — a chance to bond in a fabulously unfamiliar setting.
- An always-evolving list of student-supported clubs.
- Performances and gatherings sponsored by student groups, including coffee houses, a cappella throw-downs, and Harmony for the Homeless, a musical talent show benefiting local shelters.
- An accomplished athletics program that in one recent fall season recorded four Fairchester Athletic Association postseason appearances, including one boys' soccer championship appearance, and a girls' soccer FAA Championship. There were also three New England tournament berths, and a New England boys' soccer championship.
This is an experience — and a community — where everything is connected, where every part belongs to a greater whole, each for all.
Moving Beyond the AP
This is an extraordinary opportunity to put our students’ exceptional talents and ambitions in the driver’s seat; it will allow our world-class faculty to mentor them as they chart their own paths of inquiry, produce original work, and prepare for lives of purpose in college and beyond.
At GFA, our curriculum has grown and changed over the years, but our commitment to partnership with students, excellence in academics, and the centrality of purpose has never wavered. As part of our ongoing commitment to excellence and innovation, we intensively examined the role of APs to consider whether they engender the highest level of excellence for our students. Based on this research, GFA phased out AP courses to make room for a curriculum that challenges students at the top end of their abilities in accordance with our mission and core values. To learn more, please explore some of the resources below. Learn more.
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.
GFA math classrooms are active and dynamic learning spaces built on a foundation of trust, facilitated discovery, and supported risk-taking. In partnership with their teachers and peers, students take ownership of their strategies; value both process and product; continuously share, defend, and question their methods; and see themselves and their peers as valuable sources of mathematical knowledge, confidence, and validation, all while discovering and appreciating the beauty of mathematics and its application in the world.
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, and Marine Science, among many others. Students also further their understanding of science through a range of inquiries in both Human Ecology & Sustainability and Research.
Offering French, Mandarin, and Spanish, the language programs use a proficiency-based approach to immerse students in the language and provide meaningful context to acquire communicative skills. World Languages span the curriculum to explore cultural products, practices, and perspectives in 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 136 independent schools from around the world. GOA replicates — in online classrooms — the rigorous programs and excellent teaching that are hallmarks of its member schools.