High School Courses
The adolescent’s personal struggles for freedom and individuality frequently find reflection in the spiritual struggles portrayed by great authors. The high school English curriculum is designed to be rich, rewarding, and rigorous. Activities are crafted around the intellectual and emotional development of the young adult throughout the high school years. The purpose is to help students gain confidence in their own skills and ideas by providing the right activity at the right time. The curriculum provides the student with strong writing skills, stirs in the student a life-long love for literature, and develops the student’s critical thinking through discussions and writing. Students study diverse genres and core classics from the ancient and medieval worlds as well as modern novelties. Discussions build skills in observing, listening, and analyzing. Vibrant and perceptive writing skills depend on strong grammar skills; good editing skills; and facility with different types of writing. By learning to write in a variety of styles— such as the formal essay or research paper, the short story—high school students are able to hone their critical thinking skills.
The English curriculum is designed to complement other subjects taught during the year. Some classes are run in tandem with art classes so that main lesson books reflect the setting and culture of a time.
Mathematics demonstrates the mind's ability to discern truth in the intangible. The challenge of a truly creative mathematical education is to make the conceptual world concrete, practical, and artistic. In addition to the study of traditional concepts and computational skills, students learn how to construct three-dimensional models of complex concepts. High school mathematics is divided broadly into algebra I and II, geometry, trigonometry, and topics such as calculus. Lessons are spread across block classes in each grade, as well as in year-long skills classes that meet four times weekly. Block lessons are designed to introduce and illuminate the great mathematical ideas; the impact of those ideas; and the life and times of the great mathematicians. Skills classes focus on building strong foundations, capacity, confidence, facility, and understanding in the language of mathematics. The skills foster active and creative thinking in a classroom environment that is warm and safe, yet challenging.
The deepest learning derives from personal observation and discovery. The study of the sciences educates students to observe carefully and think clearly about the world before them. Laboratory work is an intrinsic part of our science curriculum. By starting with a physical or chemical phenomenon and the questions it raises, students work toward, rather than from, theoretical explanations. Instead of presenting answers, the teacher poses questions that enable students to gain insight and knowledge that is grounded in experience. In this way, students gain confidence in the power and accuracy of their own thinking.
The study of the sciences is divided into four broad categories: physics, chemistry, life science, and earth science. Each category is divided into topic areas, which are taught as blocks in each grade. This organization allows for a continual deepening of each subject through the years, and a year-long track class in the eleventh or twelfth grade fosters the integration among topic areas and across categories. The sciences are presented in a way that promotes active, creative thinking in the context of a warm and enthusiastic learning environment. We offer phenomenological demonstrations; process-oriented representations; responses to as many questions as possible; abundant contextual in-class work; engaging, thought-provoking practical, hands-on activities; and a review of the historical development of the subject. The school has a well-equipped lab, and lab sessions are an integral part of the student’s work in all the sciences.
For adolescents, pivotal events of history can reflect the students’ personal struggles for freedom and individuality. By engaging in thoughtful and deeply felt discussions with teachers and peers, high school students develop an understanding of not just the events and personalities of the past, but the universality of human experience.
Through the four years of high school, main lessons and track classes expose the students to worldwide history from 300 AD to the present, as well as providing in-depth studies of ancient civilizations. In the ninth grade, main lessons cover modern history from 1500 to the present. In the tenth grade, students ponder the sharply contrasting world views of ancient civilizations. The complex interactions among Christianity, Judaism, and Islam create the framework for studying the medieval era in eleventh grade. Seniors explore the challenges facing individuals and societies in the emerging 21st century. In year-long courses, regional studies highlight modern Asia, Latin America, the Islamic world, Africa, and the United States.
Students take four years of Spanish and a year of Mandarin Chinese unless special educational circumstances require otherwise.
The Spanish classes build on learning that began in the lower and middle schools. The goal of our Spanish language program is to go beyond basic reading and conversational skills to develop a living connection to the language and to Spanish-speaking cultures. The students learn not only the grammar of the language, but also the culture, cuisine, geography, basic history, and literary highlights of Spanish-speaking countries, as well as its peoples’ struggles and their impact in other parts of the world. At the highest level, the students are introduced to the works of Latin American and Spanish authors such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Juan Ramon Jimenez, and Mario Vargas Llosa.
This introductory level language class gives students the experience of learning a non-alphabetical, non-European, tonal language. Students study approximately 150 to 200 Chinese characters. They develop skills in speaking the four tones, reading and writing traditional characters, and listening comprehension. The curriculum is further enriched with cultural studies, including traditional Chinese poetry and calligraphy, cinema, and regional cuisines.
High school students have the opportunity to pursue any of a range of types of music. The school offers group musical experience through the following.
We examine the importance and vitality of aesthetic endeavors throughout history in the arenas of art, poetics, music, and architecture.
Outdoor and Physical Education
All students participate in a physical education program. Cooperation, fair play, and the pure joy of playing are fundamental values of our physical education program. The program is designed to foster in the student a lifelong enjoyment of playing individual and team sports and a positive attitude about being active and physically fit. In addition to team and individual sports, the curriculum offers group games and activities that enhance the students’ capabilities in teamwork, cooperation, determination, and focus on achieving goals and meeting challenges. The school also provides opportunities for extracurricular, interscholastic, competitive team sports.
Unlike in the middle school, high school classes emphasize how to play a game correctly. An increased focus on skills, rules, and strategies supplements the more relaxed and playful atmosphere of middle school. The class format includes a warm-up run of different distances, stretches, and exercises to improve flexibility and strength, then skill work and the playing of a game. The following games are offered during the year: archery, volleyball, softball, baseball, track and field, tennis, basketball, ultimate Frisbee, cross country, flag football, soccer, rugby, swing dancing, yoga, tennis, cricket, gymnastics, and circus arts.
In addition, an innovative outdoor and experiential curriculum fosters an ethics of conservation and the restoration of natural resources. Farm trips offer direct experience with growing, harvesting, and preparing nutritious foods. Rigorous week-long wilderness trips build physical fitness, teamwork, and self-confidence while nourishing a personal connection with the natural world. Teachers and guides teach techniques for leaving no trace while offering the students opportunities to deepen personal reflection and leadership. A senior solo experience in the wilderness fosters self-reflection, life goals, courage, and self-confidence.
After School Athletics
Our athletics program is vibrant and exciting under the leadership of Daniel Wendland, Athletic Director. We are a full member of the New Mexico Activities Association (NMAA). Our teams are in 4 different districts for various sports: District 2A-AAA for Varsity Soccer, District 1B for Volleyball and Basketball, District 2A for Track and Field and Small Teams division for Tennis. The variety of sports our high school offers are led by a fantastic coaching staff. Our coaching staff includes: Rodney Loy, head coach of Boys Varsity Basketball and Middle School Volleyball; Anthony Gonzales, head coach Girls Varsity Basketball; Matt Freitas head coach Varsity Soccer; David Burling head coach, Tennis; Daniel Wendland head coach Varsity Volleyball, Middle School Girls Basketball and Boys/Girls Track and Field. Some of the many highlights are being district champs in Boys Basketball in 2010, Girls Track and Field in 2009, and State runner-up in small teams Tennis in 2010.
The Practical and Studio Arts
The arts provide more than a vehicle for self-expression; they balance the students’ intellectual growth, physical development, and social maturity. In conjunction with the aesthetic sensibility that guides all studies, courses in the performing, fine, and practical arts are integral to a Waldorf education. The studio arts give objectification and form to the student’s inner life. The practical arts draw the student into the outer world through the creation of objects that are both useful and beautiful. Through the drama program students produce theater pieces every year, experiencing acting, stage managing, set building, lighting, and filming. Because the arts help young people to develop powers of reasoning and imagination, as well as exercising their capacity to manifest their images and ideas concepts in the outside world, they enhance and reinforce the other subjects in the curriculum. Block classes include drawing, water and oil painting, mask-making and sculpting; theater and improvisation, eurythmy (a performing art), woodworking and furniture making; blacksmithing and casting; and boxmaking and bookbinding.
Each year, two or more classes mount a theater production. Acting, stage managing, set building, lighting, and filming of productions offers a variety of meaningful experiences. Some productions involve a single class; others are full high school extravaganzas. Shakespeare, Broadway musicals, one-acts, and monologues (including some riveting student-written dramas) have all had their day on the Waldorf High School stage.
Eurythmy is a performance art in which music or speech is expressed in bodily movement, color, and form. Eurythmy has been part of Waldorf education since its founding in 1919. The rhythms and exercises of eurythmy help students strengthen and harmonize their bodies and their life forces. Eurythmy also helps to develop concentration, self-discipline, and sensitivity to others, as well as a sense of individual mastery. In the high school, eurythmy is taught in daily blocks for three consecutive weeks. This intense approach creates a solid basis on which to develop, generating greater clarity and interest from the students.
The computer science program begins in the 10th grade with the use and management of the personal computer for schoolwork. In the 11th grade the program proceeds to a study of the properties of logic and its application in performing calculations. Truth tables and circuit diagrams are used to develop logic gates using integrated circuits to perform simple binary operations. From this a half adder is constructed, and then an adder. The program culminates in the senior year with an examination of the properties of the codified languages employed to program a computer at the level of the operating system and in the writing and compiling of applications. A computer programming language will be studied and applied to the development of one or more applications; students will learn to use debugging techniques.
Community Service and Work Experience
Individualized workplace internships during the spring of junior year offer opportunities to experience a local workplace of interest. Students have selected among: state and national government offices; restaurants; greenhouses; a local foundry; glassblowing studio; blacksmith forge; inventor studio; photography studio; etc.