Thomas Jefferson - The Upper School Program
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The Upper School Program

The Upper School program expressly prepares students for college. The curriculum emphasizes traditional liberal arts offerings featuring diverse subject areas and texts. The required program of study entails a three-year sequence of Biology, Chemistry, and Physics (AP or Applied), followed by a fourth year of an Advanced Placement Biology or Chemistry; four years of English, including two AP courses; a minimum of three years of a foreign language; a math sequence through precalculus, plus a fourth year of a quantitative course (AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, AP Music Theory, or AP Statistics) as the minimum requirement for graduation; and a history sequence beginning with ancient history in the eighth grade, progressing through medieval and modern European history in ninth and tenth grades, AP US History in eleventh grade and an interdisciplinary Humanities course along with Economics and US Government and Politics in the senior year. The overall program includes 17 AP offerings. Interim Courses (January only) include Music Appreciation, Art History, Composition, the Bible as Literature, Speech, Research Methods, and the Senior Mentorship Program.

TJ is a member of MSHSAA and the Ozark Seven Conference and fields high school teams in volleyball, cross country, swimming, basketball, tennis, soccer, golf, cheerleading, and track and field.


English I — Grade Nine 
Students begin the Upper School English program with an introduction to literary and rhetorical schemes and tropes.  Reading works that correspond to the time period and culture that they are studying in history class, students will explore the ways in which literature can reflect and respond to world events.  Students review critical reading skills as they practice the art of argumentation through a study of traditional forms and patterns.  In addition, students begin to formally engage outside sources in their writing, as research skills are introduced.  Grammar fundamentals are reviewed, with an eye toward writing clearly.

English II – Grade Ten
Students trace the development of English literature throughout the year as they encounter texts from a variety of genres and cultures.  Students are introduced to literary theory as it relates to political and social history of the English diaspora.  The study of poetry is highlighted as students review the basics of meter and form as they relate to meaning.  Student writing continues to build on the skills learned in English I, as secondary source materials become commonplace, and students begin to enter into existing literary arguments.  Grammar is reviewed, and its importance in transmitting clear meaning is emphasized.

AP Language and Composition – Grade Eleven
Students will trace the development of American literature from the colonial period through today via a study of short stories, plays, novels, poetry, and essays.  Grammatical structures will be reviewed as students seek to synthesize their composition and literary analysis skills in preparation for the AP exam.  Student write several argumentative essays on American literature and society, culminating in a research-based term paper on an aspect of American culture.

AP Literature and Composition – Grade Twelve
Reflecting a typical two-semester college English course, the class takes a chronological approach to the English literary canon from Beowulf through post-modern poetry.  Students write several inter-disciplinary essays, several of which focus on the explication of poems and plays.  Grammatical concepts and literary terms will be reviewed as students prepare for the AP exam.


Geometry – Grade Nine
The first half of this course concentrates heavily on the deductive proof, focusing on proving lines parallel, triangles congruent, and polygons similar. The second half of the course emphasizes right triangles, circles and tangents, areas of plane figures, and areas and volumes of solids.

Algebra II – Grade Nine and Ten
This course begins with a review of Algebra I in greater depth and degree of difficulty. Students solve systems of equations using matrices and determinants; higher order systems and systems of inequalities are introduced. Complex solutions, irrational functions, synthetic and long division of polynomials also receive attention. The course also places great emphasis on exponential and logarithmic functions and equations.

Precalculus – Grade Ten and Eleven
This course covers conic sections, sequences, series, and probability, among its many topics. As a precursor to calculus, trigonometry receives substantial emphasis. The fourth quarter is devoted largely to the study of limits and basic derivatives.

Advanced Placement Calculus AB and BC (1st and 2nd Year) – Grades Eleven and Twelve
These college courses prepare the student for the Advanced Placement exams and further coursework in higher mathematics. The courses focus on limits, derivatives, and integrals. The first year students study tangent line problem; rates of change including position; velocity, acceleration, change, and area under a curve.

Advanced Placement Statistics – Grade Eleven and Twelve
The AP Statistics course emphasizes data collection, summary, and analysis.  The course addresses the underlying concepts of modern statistics.  Units of study will include probability and the four major topics given by The College Board:  exploring data, planning a study, anticipating patterns, and statistical inference.


Biology – Grade Nine
This course develops concepts introduced in the seventh grade Life Science course: molecular and cellular processes and principles of heredity. The course also focuses on human anatomy and physiology as well as surveying the plant and animal kingdoms.

Chemistry – Grade Ten
This course introduces students to the study of matter and energy, including its composition, structure, and changes it undergoes. Among its many topics, the course covers the structure of the atom, electron configuration, chemical bonding, the proper naming of compounds, and the mathematics of chemistry.

Applied Physics – Grade Eleven
The first half of the course will give students a foundation in classical mechanics – the study of motion, forces and energy.   During the second semester, the focus will shift to oscillatory motion, waves, electricity and magnetism.  Laboratory work and analytical skills are important throughout the course.

Advanced Placement Physics I – Grade Eleven
This university level, algebra-based course instructs students in solving problems in the fields of classical mechanics, energy, electricity, waves and sound. Laboratory work is designed to develop expert problem-solving skills and reinforce the application of mathematical skills, including the analysis of experimental data using graphs.

Advanced Placement Biology – Grade Twelve
This course aims to prepare students for successful further study within the field of biology at the university level. This course strives to develop analytic skills by investigating such topics as molecules and cells, evolution, and organisms and populations.

Advanced Placement Chemistry – Grade Twelve
The AP Chemistry course is designed to be the equivalent of the General Chemistry course taken in the first year of college.  Major areas of study include the structure of matter, bonding and intermolecular forces, chemical reactions, kinetics, thermodynamics and chemical equilibrium.  Guided-inquiry laboratory work is intended to be a significant component of this course, with an emphasis on accurate record-keeping and a mindful approach to laboratory work and data analysis.

World Languages

Chinese II – Grade Nine
This course is designed to expand upon the knowledge gained in the sixth grade and eighth grade course.  Students will continue to study both the oral and written language, in addition to studying Chinese culture.  Students will engage in written assignments as well as the creation of oral presentations in the Chinese language.

Chinese III – Grade Ten
Each week, the class is asked to memorize basic Chinese characters for the basic level of vocabulary and dialogue. Students are able to describe body parts, physical and emotional feelings, and common medical symptoms and treatments, and vacation plans. Chinese culture and idioms are covered while students can read and comprehend a basic level of a story in Chinese characters. Students also begin to type assignments in Chinese characters.

Chinese IV – Grade Eleven
Memorizing and being able to recognize Chinese characters is crucial for success on the AP exam, therefore, this course is designed to prepare students to recognize and write in Chinese. While learning an advanced level of vocabulary and sentence structure, students begin to be exposed to AP practice questions. The class should be able to comprehend a given set of pictures and type a complete story in Chinese characters. The students should also be able to read email requests and respond and make recommendations in Chinese characters.
AP Chinese Language and Culture
The Chinese AP exam consists of sections of listening, reading comprehension, speaking, and writing. For most sections of the exam, the test is written in Chinese characters. Thus, memorizing and being able to recognize Chinese characters is crucial for success on the AP exam. The class covers topics on customs, daily life, education, economics, geography, family, and entertainment. All four sections appearing on the AP exam are covered during each topic. Chinese culture, history, and idioms are also discussed on a daily basis.

Latin II – Grade Nine
This course, a direct continuation of the work undertaken in the seventh and eighth grades, begins a process that will culminate in Advanced Placement studies in the senior year.  Students encounter increasingly complex grammatical constructions, including various uses of the subjunctive mood.  Readings encompass Roman Britain and life in Imperial Rome.

Latin III – Grade Ten
This course marks the end of the Cambridge Latin Series and concludes the sequential study of grammar begun in Latin I.  Students begin to read original Latin literature by Martial, Catullus, Cicero, Ovid, Vergil, and Pliny the Younger.

Latin IV – Grade Eleven
This course is a preparation for Advanced Placement studies.  Students read selections from Latin prose authors, Caesar,
Livy and Cicero.  

AP Latin  –  Grade Twelve
Students study from the Latin Literature AP syllabus.  The emphasis is on literal translation, knowledge of metrics and figures of speech, and literary interpretation.  Students refine their command of advanced Latin grammar.

Spanish II – Grade Nine
In ninth grade, students move from the word level to the sentence level of communication.  Students are expected to be able to produce and understand the language in speech, listening, reading and writing, with special focus on speaking and listening.  New vocabulary focuses on preparation for the National Spanish Exam, with topics including the world, leisure time, family and home, school and education, travel and transportation, meeting personal needs and the world of work.  Through oral presentations, journal writing, online activities, class discussions and practice material, students refine and improve in their use of Spanish, with special emphasis on present, past, perfect and future tenses.  Students move from reading short stories to age appropriate short novels.  Students are expected to communicate only in Spanish during class time.

Spanish III – Grade Ten
Spanish III continues to pursue the objectives of Spanish I and II by emphasizing fluency and correctness of oral and written expression.  In grade ten, students begin to enter the paragraph level of communication.  Vocabulary centers around the National Spanish Exam in addition to specific terms acquired through literature or conversation.  Cultural appreciation and communication skills are developed through careful reading of authentic passages from Hispanic literature, short novels and short video clips and programs from the Spanish speaking world.  Students write weekly on diverse topics to improve their writing and reading abilities.  Students review grammatical concepts from previous years in order to eliminate errors in writing and speech.  In addition, special focus is given to the more complex tenses, including the subjunctive.  Students are expected to participate freely in all discussions and to communicate only in Spanish.

Spanish IV – Grade Eleven
This course refines the students' understanding of Spanish grammar and continues to insist upon fluency and correctness of expression, while honing students' writing, reading, listening and speaking skills.  Students read several short stories, short novels and excerpts from longer novels, keep a personal journal, write formal and informal essays, and they prepare oral presentations and written reports on assigned topics.  Preparation materials for the Advanced Placement test are used frequently.

AP Spanish Language and Culture – Grade Twelve
This course provides an opportunity for advanced students to pursue further studies through exploring Hispanic literature and culture.  Reading selections come from the required reading list for the AP Exam and students expand their abilities to communicate in speaking, listening, reading and writing.  The end goal of this course is to prepare students to take and pass the Advanced Placement Spanish Language and Culture exam.


Medieval History – Grade Nine
This course is the second of a three year series of courses that provide an in depth look at Western Civilization.  This course traces the development of the Mediterranean World and Europe from about 500 CE to 1700 CE.  The course covers early church history, Byzantium, Islam, the Franks, feudalism and manoralism, the Crusades, the Protestant Reformation, the Renaissance, Exploration and Discovery, and the development of nation-states.  Students will also continue to hone historical research and writing skills as part of this course.

Modern European History – Grade Ten
This course is the third of a three-part series of courses covering the origins and growth of Western Civilization.  The course covers the Enlightenment, the French Revolution and Napoleon, the Congress of Vienna, the development of nationalism, industrialism and imperialism, the unification of Germany and Italy, World War I, World War II, and European division and unity in the postwar era.  The students will also learn historical research methods and writing skills.

AP United States History – Grade Eleven
This course provides students with the opportunity to use analytical skills and factual knowledge to deal systematically with problems in United States history. The course makes demands upon the student equivalent to those of a full year introductory college course. It emphasizes the assessment of historical materials in terms of relevance, reliability, and importance.

Humanities  – Grade Twelve
An interdisciplinary course integrating history, literature, philosophy, political discourse, and the fine arts, the Humanities class is required of all seniors. The class simulates a college class in a variety of ways: it invites students to synthesize broad swaths of information and ideas; it schedules discussions of texts rather than discussing them in increments, requiring students to organize their study time as they will in college; and it integrates several disciplines – art, history, literature, philosophy, and political analysis. The course resembles  college in that students meet less frequently and are assessed on a few major exams and a capstone research project.

AP US Government and Politics – Grade Twelve
The government course is designed to provide students with an analytical perspective on the political system of the United States.  The course makes demands upon the student equivalent to those of a college level introductory political science course.  The course covers the following topics:  the U.S. Constitution, the National Government (Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches), civil rights and civil liberties, political beliefs and behaviors, political parties, interest groups, media, and public policy.

Economics – Grade Twelve
The one semester course in economics, based on the principle of the study of choice under scarcity, provides students with basic principles of economics, and how the economy works through an appreciation of the history of economic thought. The course covers economists Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, John Maynard Keynes and others as students consider whether the masters elucidated universal truths that anticipated the present international economy.

Special Classes – Upper School

Art – Grades Nine through Twelve
The art activity period offers upper school students a broad array of studio experiences across a range of media, similar to what they would encounter in the first year or two of a college art degree program.  Students confront two- and three-dimensional problems in diverse media, from carving and casting plaster, to observational drawing and painting, to photography and digital imaging.  It is a firm expectation that students be individually creative and personally expressive in their selection of imagery, not reliant on pre-existing models.  Emphasis is placed on developing skills that merit recognition in a competitive area, beyond the rewards of simple personal satisfaction.  Over the course of a multi-year involvement in the course, students are granted, by displaying special prowess, the leeway to pursue a focused development of their powers in those media and genres that suit them best.

Historical Research Methods–Grades Nine Through Twelve
Historical Research Methods provides students with an in depth look at the academic research process in a nurturing environment.  Students are asked to navigate their way through a rigorous research process including topic selection, completing an in-depth annotated bibliography, and outlining their project.  During the course of the research, they familiarize themselves with academic journal search engines and sophisticated source analysis.  The course culminates in an interdisciplinary History Day project that engages a number of critical primary and secondary sources.

Physical Education – Grades Nine and Ten
The physical education program required of freshmen and sophomores offers each student opportunities to improve personal fitness levels and to develop lifetime habits of physical fitness and recreation.  The course provides assessments, instruction, guidance, and activities to address weaknesses and enable students to lead more productive lives throughout school and afterward.

Publications – Grades Nine through Twelve
This class publishes the Cavalcade, the school’s yearbook, each year in May, as well as a literary and art magazine.  Both publications are student led and produced. Students learn how to use a digital camera as well as how to use Adobe InDesign and associated software.  

Robotics – Grades Nine through Twelve
In Robotics students learn valuable skills including problem-solving and teamwork.  Throughout the year students familiarize themselves with building materials, mechanical design, electronic controls, and programming.  The course culminates in competitive team challenge competitions at Pittsburg State University. Students complete projects that include a self-driving car with obstacle avoidance, a synthesizer, various electronic controls, and remote control robots.

Speech and Debate – Grades Nine Through Twelve
After completing this course, students will have a set of portable argumentation and advocacy skills that they can use in a variety of venues. Students will initially learn about and practice structured extemporaneous speeches with emphasis on verbal and nonverbal delivery skills (organization, projection, inflection, eye-contact, hand gestures, and more). Students will then build a foundation for effective argumentation and advocacy by participating in debate competitions throughout the year.  Special emphasis will be placed on critical thinking and listening skills as well as argument resolution.

Upper School Orchestra – Grade Nine through Twelve
The Upper School Orchestra works to perform band literature of all styles for concert and contests.  Students will strive to improve their instrumental skills through daily practice of tone exercises, technique exercises, and the preparation of literature.  
In addition to personal development, the course will emphasize musicality and ensemble.  Students will study theory and history concepts as they pertain to the literature.

Upper School Vocal Ensemble – Grade Nine through Twelve
As the premier vocal ensemble at the school, the Upper School Vocal Ensemble works to perform choral literature of all styles for concert and contests.  Students will strive to improve their singing skills through daily practice of vocalizing, sight singing, ear training and the preparation of literature.  In addition to personal development, the course will emphasize musicality and ensemble.  Students will study theory and history concepts as they pertain to the literature.
AP Music Theory – Grade Twelve
AP Music Theory introduces students to musicianship, theory, musical materials, and compositional procedures.  The course will cover aspects of melody, harmony, texture, rhythm, form, musical analysis, composition, history and style, and integrate these concepts with musicianship skills such as sight-singing and ear-training.  It is through this integration that students will strive to recognize, understand, and describe music, and prepare for the AP Music Theory exam in the spring.

AP Studio Art: 2-D Design – Grade Twelve
From graphic design and photography, to painting and drawing with pastels, students will learn a variety of mediums and techniques for each art project. Students are required to investigate all three aspects of the portfolio which include: Quality, Concentration, and Breadth. They will critique their work effectively by description, analyze, interpretation and judgement. AP Studio Art: 2-D Design covers the Elements of Art and the Principles of Design and how important concept, composition, and execution is in applying these methods. This course is equivalent to a first-year college art class and all students are expected to challenge themselves to develop mastery in their ideas, skills, and abilities in 2-D design.

Interim Courses – Upper School

Interim alters the content and rhythm of the year during the month of January.  The month-long program replaces English and History courses with interdisciplinary classes that supplement the traditional program.

Bible as Literature – Grade Nine
This course brings techniques of literary interpretation to bear on a small selection of Biblical texts, including parts of Genesis, Exodus, and the Gospel According to Matthew.  Beginning with the assumption that those texts hold meaning beyond their literal content, the course proposes to uncover those meanings.

Music Appreciation – Grade Nine
This course in Music Appreciation for ninth grade includes a survey of music history from the Renaissance to the present, with emphasis on composers, important works, styles, and influences and connections among the arts.

Art History – Grade Ten
This brisk survey of art history establishes background and context for appreciating twentieth century art.  Students learn the main artistic conventions and modes of major artistic eras.  That background leads to a clearer sense of the role of major works of twentieth century art in their culture.

Composition – Grade Ten
The course instructs sophomores in the practical mechanics of composing coherent paragraphs.  Instruction emphasizes skills rather than content.  It presupposes that writing is a craft rather than a formula.  Students write daily and receive feedback daily.

Speech – Grade Eleven
This course focuses on both speech writing as well as public speaking.  Students will write and edit personal speeches for a variety of situations in which public speaking is necessary.  Students will learn and develop techniques required for successful and articulate oral presentations and interviews.

Research Skills  –  Grade Eleven
Students will learn library research skills that are necessary as they prepare to enter higher education.  Students will learn to search for, locate, review, and cite resources for a variety of topics and media.  Research ties into an interdisciplinary American Studies project.

Senior Mentorship – Grade Twelve
Students in twelfth grade participate in an off-campus job shadowing program during interim. Students choose a professional in the area who works within a field that is of interest to them.  Students become immersed in the day to day professional life of that individual and experience his or her career first hand.

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