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Advanced Studies Courses

Themes in Literature (I is offered in Semester 1 and II is offered in Semester 2)


Themes in Literature is modeled after college-level Freshman Seminars, offering students opportunities for collaborative interaction and discussion with intellectual peers.  The course centers around a central “theme” each semester.  Utilizing Inquiry Based Learning, students brainstorm questions, categorize them according to career pathways, and work in interest groups to find answers.


The underlying lessons each semester offer higher-level thinking and learning skills for students to practice and apply within the confines of the class, with the intent to transfer those learning skills to other learning environments to transfer student learning from short-term to long-term memory, increase student achievement. 


108325 Themes in Literature I (Weight – 1.2)                                                                      0.5 credits


Topic: Disney - Creativity in the 21st Century


From censorship of content to economic and marketing strategies, what role does this mega-conglomerate company play in American and international society?  Does Disney target “tweens” inappropriately?  Do the stories told by Disney help or hurt society as a whole?  Is Disney more pro-family or pro-profit? Students will examine the topic through their own areas of interests, while analyzing and applying metacognitive and creativity principles.  This course includes independent time for Talent Development, known as TDO, and will be structured to encourage independent thought, Socratic Discussion and Autonomous Learning.

We’ll explore the original intent of Walt Disney and the rise of the company today.  Students will work individually and collaboratively to draw connections between creativity, collaboration, design, and corporate success.


108425 Themes in Literature II (Weight – 1.2)                                                                     0.5 credits


Topic: Espionage - A Study in Personal Observation and Human Behavior


Espionage is of particular fascination to abstract-thinkers, as the skills necessary align with those possessed by students with superior intelligence. Initial research will focus on famous spies throughout history and strategies employed by the KGB, FBI, and CIA. Focused studies include disguises, clandestine observation behaviors, code-breaking, and dead drop locations.  Students will develop skills in qualitative observation, ethnography, observation, analysis, strategic listening, perspective, and investigation. The class concludes with a multi-day simulation activity where students apply their knowledge of codes, hidden phrases, qualitative observation, dead drops, and other espionage skills.


158121 National History Day (Weight – 1.2) (Grades 9, 10, 11, and 12) 1.0 credit


National History Day is an elective course that challenges students to choose historical topics related to a theme and conduct extensive primary and secondary research, related to an annual announced theme.  After analyzing and interpreting sources and drawing conclusions about their topics’ significance in history, students present their work in original papers, websites, exhibits, performances or documentaries, working individually or in groups. These products are entered into a regional competition in March. Students who place in the top three in each category advance to state competition in May, and students who place in the top two in state competition advance to the Kenneth E. Behring National Contest in June at the University of Maryland at College Park. The dates and locations for the regional, state, and national competitions are announced during the school year.    

Students interested in this course should be strong learners who work well independently, enjoy conducting extensive research, and are self-motivated and inquisitive, with an interest in history or social studies.



108531 AP Seminar (Weight – 1.3) (Grades 10 and 11)                1.0 credit

(This course will be scheduled to meet every other day for the full year)


AP Seminar is a foundational course that engages students in cross-curricular conversations that explore the complexities of academic and real-world topics and issues by analyzing divergent perspectives. Using an inquiry framework, students practice reading and analyzing articles, research studies, and foundational literary and philosophical texts; listening to and viewing speeches, broadcasts, and personal accounts; and experiencing artistic works and performances. Students learn to synthesize information from multiple sources, develop their own perspectives in research based written essays, and design and deliver oral and visual presentations, both individually and as part of a team. Ultimately, the course aims to equip students with the power to analyze and evaluate information with accuracy and precision in order to craft and communicate evidence-based arguments. A short written application is required to be considered for enrollment in the course.  The course enrollment is limited to 20 students.

108631 AP Research (Weight – 1.3) (Grades 10 and 11)               1.0 credit

(This course will be scheduled to meet every other day for the full year)


AP Research allows students to deeply explore an academic topic, problem, or issue of individual interest. Through this exploration, students design, plan, and conduct a year-long research based investigation to address a research question. In the AP Research course, students further their skills acquired in the AP Seminar course by understanding research methodology; employing ethical research practices; and accessing, analyzing, and synthesizing information as they address a research question. Students explore their skill development, document their processes, and curate the artifacts of the development of their scholarly work in a portfolio. The course culminates in an academic paper of 4000–5000 words (accompanied by a performance or exhibition of product where applicable) and a presentation with an oral defense. Students must meet the prerequisite requirement OR be approved by the instructor.  The course enrollment is limited to 15 students.


Prerequisite: Successful Completion of AP Seminar and a score of 3 or higher in the AP Seminar.

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