Upper School Academics

  • Maclay Upper School: Your Future Begins Here

    Upper School students gain a unique combination of academic preparation, school and community involvement, and physical and social growth, which equips them for the demands of college life.

    Maclay Upper School = Actionable Learning

    Our data-driven, intentionally designed core curriculum is enhanced by personalized learning paths — courses of study and concentrations that help our students explore future career options or college majors while still in high school.

    Preparation, Support & Empowerment

    Students study Computer Science, History, Mathematics, English, Science, the Arts and World Languages under the guidance of our highly educated and dedicated faculty.

    Students can also choose to take enrichment courses that allow them to explore their unique interests outside of the traditional academic curriculum, or enroll in a concentration program in the areas of Computer Science, Robotics, and Engineering, Core Science and Biomed.

    Qualified Upper School students can earn both high school and college credits simultaneously through our partnership with Thomas University.

    This rigorous curriculum meets or exceeds the recommended course of studies for most selective colleges and universities, and our students’ hard work is rewarded -- almost all of our Upper School students attend their first- or second-choice college after graduation.

    Learn more about the Maclay Upper School experience:


    Interested in Maclay Upper School? Schedule your visit.

  • English

    Dept. Chair, Lee Norment

    The English Department at Maclay School seeks to develop active thinkers and writers. We believe that a solid foundation in reading and writing promotes this active learning; thus, the department attempts to provide students with language skills, and we inspire them to develop an appreciation of literature which will help them become life-long, active learners. As Rita Felski writes, we hope to encourage students to view the study of English as a process of "curating, conveying, criticizing, and composing." Furthermore, as a department, we use the National Council of Teachers of English standards as a guiding philosophy (Click here to view the standards).

    Throughout the curriculum, special emphasis is placed on writing in a variety of modes and genres and on grammar instruction. While we provide students with numerous opportunities to write creatively, the department places special emphasis on formal academic writing. Students write. A lot. Our curriculum has been carefully designed so that students can develop, build, and link skills during all four years of high school. All US English teachers use a uniform marking codes guide and a continually evolving scope and sequence document. Here, we list grammatical concepts, modes of expression, and literary concepts to be introduced, reinforced, or mastered at the different grade levels.

    • Because active thinkers and writers must find inspiration, we encourage our students to read widely and deeply, both during the school year and during the summer. Our curriculum seeks to expose students to a wide-range of voices from a variety of cultures and perspectives.

    • Over the last several years, the department has also implemented numerous technological advancements: the extensive use of mobile laptop carts for writing and research assignments, the use of Turnitin.com, and the use of other online technologies. Throughout all levels, teachers use a wide range of instructional methods that – where appropriate and advantageous – often engage with current technologies

    • To be sure, English classes at Maclay are not easy, and there will be moments of struggle. The course of study in our college preparatory curriculum is rigorous and difficult – no matter the grade level or designation. Students will not easily or readily meet with success on every essay, test, or other assessment. But these attempts and struggles will help students develop as readers, writers, and thinkers, for as Paulo Freire says, “Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other.” And, these pursuits – within each class and throughout all English classes – will be worthwhile. Cultivating knowledge – true knowledge that transcends “information” or “facts” – requires such difficult efforts, and teaching students to write well requires patience, time, and supreme effort from all parties and stakeholders.
    • General Policies

      The English Department designates certain language arts skills to be mastered at each grade level, Kindergarten through 11th grade. These skills will be taught throughout the year and tested at the end of 9th, 10th, and 11th grades. Students who do not achieve mastery of skills designated at their grade levels will be required to complete IXL grammar review work during the summer and be recommended to attend summer school (if available).

      Admission to upper-level courses will be based on teacher recommendations, standardized test scores, and placement tests. Please see the individual course requirements for more details.

      Students in all Upper School English courses will be required to submit their papers to Turnitin.com. Failure to submit papers to Turnitin.com by the due date of each assignment will result in grade penalties.

    English Courses

    English 1 (H)
    English 1 (Pre-AP)
    English 2 (H)
    English 2 (Pre-AP)
    English 3 (H)
    AP English Language and Composition
    Holocaust Literature and Film
    AP English Literature and Composition
    English 4 / Contemporary Literature (H)
    English 4 / Digital Writing (H)
    English 4 / Modern and Postmodern Drama (H)
    English 4 / Southern Literature (H)
    English 4 / World of Short Story (H)

  • World Language

    Dept. Chair, Kathy Moody

    The goal of the World Language Department is for your child to be successful academically and to be able to take advantages of the opportunities offered in today’s growing global community.

    Spanish, French, and Latin are offered at Maclay. Two consecutive years of a foreign language are required for graduation. It is strongly recommended that students take additional levels, and many continue through AP.  In addition, students may take more than one language.

    Spanish is offered from Pre-K 3 through AP. French and Latin are offered from 6th grade through AP. In the sixth grade, students take one-quarter of French, Spanish, and Latin. Beginning in 7th grade they select their language of choice to continue in the Upper School.

    Beginning the 2018 school year, Chinese is being offered as an enrichment class (elective credit and counts toward GPA) for Upper School FLEX as well as continuing to be offered to Lower and Middle School students as an after-school enrichment course. 

    The World Language department feels that all students should be exposed to all facets of the languages and culture. 

    Students should be prepared for further study in college and/or in their chosen professions. They should be comfortable using their second language while traveling, working, or communicating with people in their community.

    In view of the globalism of our current world and the international job opportunities available, the acquisition of another language is a critical asset for today’s youth. This skill should afford a competitive edge for those vying for a position in any job market.

    The study of any foreign language must include much more than a limited lexicon and a body of rules; it must include attitudes, ideas, behaviors according to culture patterns, and in short, all that comprises a “people."

    World Language Courses

    French 2 (H)
    French 3 (Pre-AP)
    French 4 (Pre-AP)
    AP French Language
    Latin 1
    Latin 2 (H)
    Latin 3 (Pre-AP)
    Latin 4 (Pre-AP)
    AP Latin
    Spanish 1
    Spanish 2
    Spanish 2 (H)
    Spanish 3 (H)
    Spanish 3 (Pre-AP)
    Spanish 4 (Pre-AP)
    AP Spanish
    Spanish Conversation

  • Computer Science

    Dept. Chair, Joe Kupiszewski

    The Computer Science and Engineering Department works to engage students at all levels of ability and interest in order to enhance their knowledge, computational thinking skills and critical thinking skills for success in and out of the classroom.  All classes have a strong focus on giving students hands-on experience in a collaborative environment.  Using this hands-on collaborative approach allows students to share their strengths and bolster their self-confidence.  The societal impacts of engineering and computer science are an underlying theme throughout the department's curriculum.  Project-based learning, cooperative learning, and pair programming are employed to enhance students understanding of engineering and computer science.  The Computer Science and Engineering Department is committed to providing a broad and rigorous selection of courses to ready students for the 21st century.

    Computer Science Courses

    Intro to Programming 
    Engineering 1 Design and Analysis 
    AP Mobile Computer Science Principles 
    AP Computer Science A 

  • History

    Dept. Chair, Paul Berk

    The History Department at Maclay School seeks to develop active thinkers and writers.  Students become active learners when they engage the material in a way that goes beyond simply completing assignments for credit.  Courses in the History Department include an emphasis on the development of reading and writing skills, but also seek to foster an appreciation for the study of history and the greater understanding of society that it provides.

    Throughout the curriculum, special emphasis is placed on writing that reflects historical thinking.  While the foundation of history is narrative, any true study of history must go beyond simply knowing facts.  History requires interpretation, analysis, and synthesis, and in all Maclay history classes, students are exposed to the fundamental elements of historical thinking and writing.  Throughout their Upper School careers, students are expected to write in ways that require them to compare and contrast, examine cause and effect, and analyze the impact of change over time.  Students also learn to construct thesis statements and support them with evidence.  As a part of the latter, students frequently work with primary sources to help them develop important analytical and critical thinking skills. Additionally, students are expected to write in ways that communicate their ideas effectively.
    The History Department offers a wide variety of electives—many at the AP level—across the social sciences.  We believe that students should be exposed to a wide range of social science courses that provide opportunities for students to apply to other topics the skills and approaches developed in history courses.
    Courses in the History Department make significant use of available educational technology.  The department emphasizes digital literacy to help prepare students for success inside and outside the classroom.  The integration of classroom technologies into the History Department curriculum is designed to ensure that diverse student learning styles are addressed.
    Students will find that history classes at Maclay—whatever the grade level or designation—will present challenges.  Courses in the department are designed to challenge students, and while they might find success on each and every assignment, they will find opportunities to improve their performance as they develop reading, writing, and critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.  By working to meet the challenges presented to them in their classes, students will become learners in every sense of the word, and carry that distinction with them beyond Maclay.
    History Courses
    Honors World Civilization 
    Pre-AP Advanced History Methods 
    Honors Modern World History 
    AP European History 
    Honors United States History 
    AP United States History 
    AP World History 
    Honors Modern U.S. History
    Honors Economics with Financial Literacy 
    AP Microeconomics 
    AP Macroeconomics 
    Introduction to Psychology 
    Abnormal Psychology 
    AP Psychology 
    The 1980's 
    World War II 
    Civil War 
    World Religions 
    AP Government and Politics: US 
    Risk and Rewards / Run a Business

  • Science

    Dept. Chair, Matt Schnippert

    The Maclay Upper School Science Department is dedicated to providing each student with a solid foundation in understanding the structure and function of the universe around them, the organisms with which they share the world, and the atoms which make it all up.


    The Maclay Upper School Science Department provides a well-rounded science education by ensuring that each student graduates with at least a foundation in the three main areas of science – biology, chemistry, and physics. Our student-centered approach seeks to ensure each student is able to develop to the fullest extent.

    Our purpose is:

    • To ensure students receive a sufficient challenge to grow while giving them the support needed to ensure they succeed.
    • To provide students with not only the facts and data are currently known to scientists, but also the skills needed to evaluate future claims.
    • To push students out of their comfort zone by exposing them to new ideas and new concepts.
    • To challenge students’ preexisting ideas and misconceptions and teach them how to evaluate their knowledge.
    • To use the experience and wisdom of our faculty to help students to discover their own passions.
    • To produce scientifically-literate life-long learners with the curiosity to continue expanding their knowledge long after they have left our classrooms.

    Science Courses

    Honors World Civilization 
    Pre-AP Advanced History Methods 
    Honors Modern World History 
    AP European History 
    Honors United States History 
    AP United States History 
    AP World History 
    Honors Modern U.S. History
    Honors Economics with Financial Literacy 
    AP Microeconomics 
    AP Macroeconomics 
    Introduction to Psychology 
    Abnormal Psychology 
    AP Psychology 
    The 1980's 
    World War II 
    Civil War 
    World Religions 
    AP Government and Politics: US 
    Risk and Rewards / Run a Business

  • Math

    Dept. Chair, Katy Gimbel

    The Maclay School Mathematics Department seeks to provide students with the knowledge, understanding, and critical thinking skills to be successful in the future, both in the classroom and in life.  Teaching methods account for different learning styles of students and stress analyzing, organizing, and exploring various methods of problem solving with the goal of strengthening all students’ problem solving skills.  Exploratory learning, cooperative learning, and activity based learning are employed to aid in the transfer of mathematical concepts, as well as drill and practice to reinforce mathematical foundations.  Students of all levels are encouraged to share and work cooperatively which serves to bolster self- confidence in their abilities. The Maclay School Mathematics Department strives to hone mathematical literacy and to prepare students for the 21st century.

    Math Courses

    Algebra 1 
    Algebra 1 (H) 
    Geometry (H) 
    Algebra 2 
    Algebra 2 (H) 
    Algebra 2 (Pre-AP) 
    Pre-College Algebra
    College Algebra 
    Precalculus / Trigonometry (Pre-AP) 
    Probability, Statistics and Data Analysis 
    AP Statistics 
    AP Calculus AB 
    AP Calculus BC 

  • The Arts

    Dept. Chairs, Cindy Thomas and Kim Daniel

    Maclay believes that arts education is a critical part of the development of the whole child, so we offer a variety of visual and performing arts opportunities for all students, both through the required curriculum and elective courses. Disciplines include drama, instrumental music, vocal music, visual arts, and dance. The Fine Arts Department promotes the development of student talent, both individually and collectively while striving to provide an education that promotes creative learning and a joyous passion for the arts.

    Our vision is that each student that graduates from Maclay School will have been exposed to high quality, engaging art opportunities, where they can learn about the creation of and appreciation for the visual and performing arts and to understand the value of the arts in their everyday lives and in our society as a whole.