High School

What is the day?  

Main Lesson is a period of intensive intellectual exploration that begins the day.  It’s a deep dive - nearly two hours each morning - into a specific subject like botany, calculus, or poetics. Next are classes on a more traditional track that continue all year: mathematics, world languages, and humanities. The afternoon is dedicated to the arts, movement, physical education, study hall, and more academic exploration.

What is the difference? 

Visit a classroom and you’ll see students strive for more than just the right answer - who create beautiful, impeccable work and try their hands at everything. Here everyone practices the arts, plays music, and experiences the natural world through field studies and outdoor exploration. You'll also meet our extraordinary teachers, experts in their fields who are dedicated to knowing each student.

Explore by grade

Grade 9

Ninth graders are ready for abstract analytic thinking and often see the world in black-and-white. Courses engage this polarity of thinking and help students develop depth and complexity; the curriculum includes subjects such as Thermodynamics, Comedy and Tragedy, and Permutations and Combinations.

High school begins with an orientation week that includes study skills and time together with new classmates in the urban natural world. School life includes clubs, athletic teams, performances, and lectures. The class works collectively on community service projects – food banks, shelters, children’s services, hospice, restoration projects – with the goal of integrating service not only into a student’s high school experience, but throughout their lives. Lunch time is on-campus, together with classmates and teachers, until mid-year when a day of off-campus lunch is available each week. Faculty advisors stay with the class through high school; each student also has an individual advisor.

  • Biology: Anatomy and Physiology*
  • Chemistry: Organic Chemistry*
  • Physics: Thermodynamics*
  • Earth Science: Geology*
  • Mathematics: Algebra I or Honors Geometry; Permutations and Combinations*
  • Humanities: Grammar and Writing Workshop; Comedy and Tragedy*
  • World Languages: Spanish or Mandarin
  • Cultural Studies: Pacific Rim*
  • Aesthetics: Art History*
  • Visual Arts: Basketry; Black and White Drawing; Copper; Sculpture
  • Theater: Theater Arts
  • Music: Concert Choir, Orchestra, Jazz Band,  Exploring Music, Drumming, World Music, Guitar (Beginning or Advanced)
  • Movement: Eurythmy 
  • Outdoor Education: Sierra Nevada Field Study (overnight trip); Habitat Restoration; Urban Gardening
  • Physical Education

*Main Lesson Blocks

Grade 10

Tenth grade students are able to look more deeply at the world and how it continues to evolve. They seek to understand process, growth, and transformation, as they experience it in themselves. Courses include Ancient Civilizations and the dynamic operation of law in society. Students weave cloth from thread and explore the development of human life in Embryology.

The year begins with an immersive project week that includes forging metal on campus. Students select music courses – drumming, orchestra, jazz band, world music, and more. School life includes clubs, service projects, athletic teams, dances, speakers, along with expanding off-campus lunch opportunities. Bay Area Field Study is the focus for the wilderness trip, building on the Meteorology Main Lesson; the class camps at the beautiful China Camp State Park and takes a two-night sea kayak expedition to Angel Island. College Counseling commences for parents with an overview of the process ahead.

  • Biology: Embryology and Heredity*
  • Chemistry: Inorganic Chemistry*
  • Physics: Mechanics*
  • Earth Science: Meteorology*
  • Mathematics: Honors Algebra II or Geometry; Computer Science*
  • Humanities: Exploration of Early Literature
  • World Languages: Spanish or Mandarin 
  • Cultural Studies: Africa Studies*
  • Social Studies/History: US Government; Classical World
  • Aesthetics: Poetics*
  • Visual Arts: Techniques of Drawing; Glass; Weaving 
  • Theater: Theater Arts
  • Music: Concert Choir, Orchestra, Jazz Band, Drumming, World Music, Guitar (Beginning or Advanced)
  • Movement: Eurythmy 
  • Outdoor Education:  Bay Area Field Study (overnight trip); Habitat Restoration; Urban Gardening
  • Physical Education

*Main Lesson Blocks

Grade 11

School begins and juniors head to Mount Lassen for an extraordinary week studying Astronomy. Around this age students have a growing capacity for self reflection and begin to examine questions of identity: How am I shaped by my experiences and my learning? What is uniquely my own? They read Hamlet and Parzival, classics about finding one’s destiny, and study great artists and leaders in Music History and US History. They choose from more than a dozen eclectic art electives, such as film making, sculpture, and metal arts. 

Juniors meet with the College Counselor to explore ideas for undergraduate studies and discuss the application process ahead. Growing into their leadership roles on campus, they captain sports teams, lead Model UN, or serve in important peer mentor roles. 

  • Biology: Botany and Cell Biology*
  • Chemistry: Periodic Table*
  • Physics: Electricity and Magnetism*
  • Earth Science: Astronomy*
  • Mathematics: Honors Precalculus or Algebra II; Projective Geometry*
  • Humanities: Shakespeare;  Medieval Studies*
  • World Languages: Spanish or Mandarin
  • Cultural Studies: Latin America; Arab World/Middle East*
  • Social Studies/History: US History and Debate
  • Aesthetics: History of Music
  • Visual Arts: Bookbinding; Acrylic and Watercolor Veil Painting. Electives: Black and White Photography; Digital Photography; Printmaking; Sewing and Design; Advanced Metal Arts; Art of Video; Oil Painting; Sculpture
  • Theater: Theater Arts elective 
  • Music: Concert Choir, Orchestra, Jazz Band, Drumming, World Music, Guitar (Beginning or Advanced) 
  • Movement: Eurythmy 
  • Outdoor Education: Mount Lassen Field Study (overnight trip)
  • Physical Education

*Main Lesson Blocks

Grade 12

Seniors are able to think analytically and imaginatively. They synthesize knowledge and experience, and begin to see their emerging place in the world. Students explore critical questions: What guides peoples’ action? How can I make a difference in the world? Why might I choose this path? They read Thoreau and learn about American Transcendentalists, explore the interrelationships of ecosystems in Environmental Science, and create a capstone senior project or play. Seniors also choose academic electives: AP Calculus, Honors Biology, Honors Modern Physics, Literature and Film, or World Affairs.

Seniors are leaders, mentoring younger students in extracurricular activities, academics, and as peer counselors. They test themselves on Senior Quest – a profound three-night wilderness solo expedition. College Counseling and faculty mentors guide seniors as they set a course for themselves into the world.

  • Biology: Zoology and Evolution*; Honors Biology
  • Chemistry: Inorganic Chemistry*
  • Physics: Optics*; Honors Modern Physics
  • Earth Science:  Environmental Science*
  • Mathematics: AP Calculus or Precalculus; Calculus and Chaos Theory* 
  • Humanities: Senior Essay; Modern World Literature; Faust*; American Transcendentalism; Literature and Film Elective
  • World Languages: Spanish or Mandarin
  • Social Studies/History: Economics*; Modern World Literature *
  • Aesthetics: History of Architecture
  • Visual Arts: Sculpture. Electives: Black and White Photography; Digital Photography; Printmaking; Sewing and Design; Advanced Metal Arts; Art of Video; Oil Painting; Sculpture
  • Theater: Theater Arts elective 
  • Music: Concert Choir, Orchestra, Jazz Band, Drumming, World Music, Guitar (Beginning or Advanced)
  • Movement: Eurythmy 
  • Outdoor Education: Senior Quest; Final Adventure (overnight trips)
  • Physical Education

*Main Lesson Blocks

Explore Senior Projects

Voices of our community

Two students walk together during the processional at high school graduation

 “Teachers hear from graduating seniors about their education and their plans, as well as ways for making our school stronger. Our students are always incredibly articulate, honest, and thoughtful in the wisdom they share. The education inspires thinking, feeling, and independent young adults.” 

Portrait of student Sophie Harriman

"We read The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. The class was small and we were able to study the book together really carefully, which was so meaningful to all of us.”

Teacher John Hanlon talks to students during Main Lesson.

“I am fueled by the way teenagers become fascinated by ideas—and by the philosophical implications and real-world consequences of those ideas. Of course, they continue to be intrigued by great stories, but now they have the capacity to consider the broader contexts of those stories. These are the sorts of questions that have engaged me throughout my academic career, and I get a thrill out of helping my students grapple with them, often for the first time, in sophisticated ways."

Hands of students building a circuit board during computer science class.

"The class started with the basic fundamentals of all computers then we learned about number systems. Slowly we got more into the circuits and coding. I found it interesting to learn how many things in daily life involve computing.”  - Ayden

Portrait of student Logan Flynn

“Nature has always been a big part of my life. The school has taught me everything from what we can do to save the planet to how to safely adventure in the great outdoors, and for that I am so grateful.”  

Student in South Korea during the Eurythmy Troupe trip.

“Sometimes I stop and I think and I wonder: How lucky am I to be able to travel, and not simply just travel, but be able to immerse myself in a culture, meet young people like me, and bring people the gift of eurythmy.” 

Illustrated self-portrait by student Moonoka Begay

"I was in a place of exploration / so open and undiscovered that / 
It made me feel limitless.

Moonoka

Dr. Carini demonstrates for a student, both in protective goggles.

"The process of teaching science in Waldorf schools is much closer to the process of doing research than to the way science had been taught to me in high school. When one faces new territory in science it is important to keep an open mind to what nature is trying to tell you. New concepts are created out of a process of observation of phenomena in order to discover and formulate the so-called physical laws."