Upper School Curriculum

List of 8 items.

  • History

    ** A Sampling

    History of the Middle East
    The Middle East is one of the most volatile areas of the world. Students examine the region historically, with topics for study including the rise of Islam, colonialism, the development of the modern state of Israel, and the emergence of Arab nationalism.  The course culminates with the study of current events.

    History of Russia
    Russia developed at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. This course examines the forces, native and foreign, that shaped its emergence. From the rise of Kiev in the 10th century to the leadership of Vladimir Putin, students will look at the groups and people that most affected the course of Russian history as it transitioned from a traditional society to a modern nation. Philosophy, geography, economics, history, politics, and religion will be considered. 

    History of the 60s and the Vietnam War
    This course considers one of the most tumultuous decades in American history (1955 through 1973).  We will explore major cultural and political movements including civil rights, student radicalism, and the Vietnam War. 

    Introduction to Economics
    This course introduces students to the fundamentals of economics. Both micro (opportunity cost, supply and demand, and how firms make decisions) and macroeconomics (Gross Domestic Product, the Federal Reserve System) are examined.

    Modern China and Japan
    East Asia represents the most dynamic area of the world in the early twenty-first century. This course examines the unique histories of China and Japan, and their potential role in the new world order. 

    Modern Latin America
    Although not always recognized, the Caribbean region and Central and South America have played a dynamic role in modern world history. Beginning with the interactions between Native Americans and European explorers, this course examines that role. Special emphasis is placed on contemporary issues.  
    In this course students explore the modern historical and political phenomenon of nationalism. What is it? How/why does it begin? Is it always associated with violence and conflict? This course uses a case study model to explore the concepts of nationalism, starting with its development during the French Revolution. Subsequent manifestations are studied in Ireland, the Balkans, and India, before students complete a research project on a nationalist movement of their choosing. 

    Philosophy and Social Justice
    This course will begin with the first of two essential questions — what makes actions morally right or wrong? In tackling this question, students will engage in a study of various moral theories, including utilitarianism, Kantianism, social contract theory, and virtue ethics, along the way being exposed to the work of philosophers such as Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, and John Rawls.  Students will then be asked to use their understanding of moral theory to analyze a range of social issues, in the hope of answering the the second essential question — how is a just society structured?   

    Revolutionary America and the Constitution
    As John Adams stated, "The Revolution was in the Minds of the people...before a drop of blood was drawn at Lexington." This course will examine the Revolutionary Era and trace how British subjects created a new nation and political ideal.  Particular attention will be paid to the ideas of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.   
    The Sixties
    This course considers one of the most tumultuous decades in American history. The movements for civil rights, student radicalism, and the Vietnam War are examined.
  • English

    The English Department offers all Tatnall students the opportunity to experience some of the most compelling works of American, British, and world literature.  In a world in which communication skills and intellectual flexibility are increasingly valuable prerequisites, our literature-based program also provides a strong foundation for success at the college level in such areas as critical and inferential thinking, reading, and writing. Ninth and tenth graders study a core curriculum of genres and classical literature, while juniors and seniors choose from a selection of electives. 

    ** A Sampling

    English 10: Bible, Myth and Epic
    This course is designed to help students establish solid cultural and literary backgrounds. Students will read a variety of foundational texts including western and nonwestern mythologies and epics and selections from Hebrew and Christian scriptures. Instruction will focus on developing students’ reading fluency and comprehension along with thinking, speaking, and writing skills. 

    African-American Literature
    This course begins by tracing the African-American experience in American history from slavery to the civil rights struggle to the present day. We examine how this heritage influenced and influences this group’s literature, from W.E.B. DuBois to Toni Morrison. Other representative authors include Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright, and Langston Hughes. 

    American Literature
    This course is a survey of selected American writers from our founding through the 1840s. Parallels will be drawn between our early literature and the rich narrative of our country’s first two centuries. Although the emphasis will be on the writing of our emerging nation, attention will be paid to our history as well as to the emerging “American character.” Such major authors as Edwards, Franklin, Paine, Jefferson, Poe and Hawthorne will be considered. 

    American Literature on the Edge
    Since America’s beginning, we have always defined ourselves as pathfinders, explorers, and adventurers. This course takes a look at modern outsiders, misfits, and rebels living at the edge of accepted boundaries. All of the readings and the screenings in this class will deal with alienated and marginalized people trying to cope with hostile and violent environments. 

    American Short Novels
    This course introduces short novels by Steinbeck, Melville, James and Hemingway. Students will identify themes and moral issues arising from the texts. Discussions will revolve around character development and plot analysis.

    Ancient Greek World: Drama and Prose
    This course introduces students to major figures in Greek literature and culture from the heroic age to the Age of Pericles and slightly thereafter. Centering ideas in this study are the origins and development of drama and the heroic ideal. Representative authors are Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Sappho, Plato, Aristotle. 

    Beat Literature
    This course studies the lives and literature of prominent writers of the Beat Generation: Allen Ginsberg, Diane diPrima, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Anne Waldman, and others.  Students  will complete creative writing assignments modeled on the authors read and publish a final creative portfolio. 

    British Literature
    This course surveys the development of the literature of England. Authors covered are Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Milton, along with selected Elizabethan, Cavalier, and Metaphysical poets.

    Classic Essays of World Literature
    In this course, we look at the essay and all of its rhetorical possibilities. By reading and writing essays in the personal, comparison, editorial, and expository modes, we polish the skills students already possess.  We will study the work of authors such as E.B. White, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nancy Mairs, and many others. 

    Building upon the framework established in earlier English courses, this class helps students correct weaknesses and develop their styles. The course stresses the process of writing and is based upon the “6 + 1 Traits of Writing”: Ideas, Organization, Voice, Word Choice, Sentence Fluency, Conventions, Presentation.  Within this framework of the “6 +1 Traits,” students will work on descriptive, narrative, and analytical essays. 

    Grail Quest
    In this class we study the Quest for the Holy Grail as it changes from the classic legends of Geoffrey de Chretien to the modern works of Bobbie Ann Mason. The quest adapts itself to the needs and philosophies of each political era, and our reading of authors such as Tennyson, Tolkien, and others will analyze that change as we discuss the novels. 

    Literature of Philosophy
    In this course, we will read several novels in which the characters question and challenge their own belief systems. We will investigate these beliefs in terms of both private reflection and public practice. The texts will draw from a variety of cultures and time periods.  

    Literature of the South
    In this class we study some of the major authors of the 20th century through the lens of their Southern heritage. While reading both fiction and non-fiction, the class focuses on the consistent themes and struggles that O'Connor, Walker, Faulkner, and Williams present in their works. 

    Myth & Fairy Tale
    This course will survey the works of Ovid, Grimm, and Anderson as we study human transformation and escape in literature. We will also consider modern interpretations of these ancient tales. 

    Science Fiction Literature
     This course will give an overview of science fiction in both American and British literature.  Students will read novels and short stories by writers such as Ray Bradbury, George Orwell, Isaac Asimov, Orson Scott Card, Frank Herbert, Arthur C. Clarke, Philip K. Dick, and Margaret Atwood. Students will study the development of the science fiction genre as it relates to 20th century history and will survey its main subgenres.

    Women's Literature
    This course explores the writing of women writers of the 19th and 20th centuries. While not specifically a class on feminist writing, the class does focus on the issues that women find compelling enough to investigate through their writing. Authors may include Chopin, Cather, Atwood, and a variety of short story authors.
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  • Science

    The faculty of the science department believes that the study of science is essential for every Tatnall Upper School student. As the impact of scientific innovations, applications and information increasingly permeates our daily lives, it is imperative that our students have a solid base of understanding and the skills to be critical thinkers in order to function as knowledgeable citizens, consumers, and decision makers in our technology-dependent world.

    ** A Sampling

    Biology provides the student with the solid foundation necessary to comprehend the expanding role of biology in society. Major topics include cells, cell processes, inheritance, evolution, and overviews of plants, animals, fungi, and bacteria. 

    Chemistry is a one-year laboratory course that explores the principles of matter and how it changes. The course aids students in forming a big-picture understanding of general topics such as atoms and their structures, chemical reactions and interactions between energy and matter. The concepts of chemistry are essential to understanding all of the sciences. Through problem solving and concept-based questions, students are challenged to develop the analytical and critical thinking skills necessary for the mastery of chemistry and other subjects. 

    Earth Science
    In this lab-based course, students will learn about our ever-changing earth. Topics covered will include plate tectonics, basic geology, earthquakes and volcanoes, alternative energy sources, freshwater, oceans, the atmosphere, weather, rocks, minerals, and the earth’s evolutionary history.

    Ecology is a year-long course that explores the relationships between organisms and ecosystems with emphasis on field research and understanding issues in environmental conservation.  The class is divided into three terms whose topics can include field ecology, vertebrate ecology and marine biology. 

    Environmental Science
    Environmental Science is a year-long course that explores ecology, living systems and environmental problems. The class is divided into three terms: natural resource conservation, conservation biology and wildlife conservation and ecology. The class is a combination of lectures and lab activities that include fieldwork on the Tatnall campus as well as bench labs and computer simulations. 

    Biomechanics is the science that examines the internal and external forces acting on the human body and the effects of those forces. The result of applied force is motion. This course examines the principles of human motion and uses computers and high-speed video cameras to measure the motion of students as they walk, run, throw, and perform other activities. Topics covered: human bone and muscle anatomy, movement terminology, sports projectiles, computerized measurement of human motion, basic mathematical applications to sports and every day movement patterns. 

    The Chemistry of Food and Taste
    This course is an opportunity for students to learn about practical applications of chemistry using the context of food and molecular gastronomy. Molecular gastronomy is the branch of food science that explores the physical and chemical changes that food ingredients undergo while being cooked.  Students will conduct edible experiments and look at the science behind various processes used in cooking and baking. Students will also research, extend, and apply chemistry and biochemistry principles to adapt and develop novel recipes and food presentations.

    In this elective course, students study the electrical characteristics of batteries, resistors, diodes, LEDs, capacitors, and other devices, and examine their application in DC circuits. There is also hands-on experience in electrical safety, measurement, assembly, and soldering, and students complete an independent electronics project. 

    Forensics: Advanced Evidence and Crime Scene Analysis
    This course focuses on the analysis of biological and chemical forensic evidence. Students will explore forensic anthropology, glass and tool mark evidence, as well as the collection, preservation, and analysis of DNA evidence. Students will analyze realistic crime scenarios, conduct laboratory and online analysis of evidence, and research and present case studies.

    This course provides the opportunity to study microscopic organisms including bacteria, viruses and parasites. Many facets of the diversity, structure, and physiology of these organisms are investigated in lectures and lab exercises. In addition, students study the effects of microbes on other organisms, culturing and staining techniques, and genetic engineering theory and application. 

    Molecular Biology
    This course is a survey of the theory and techniques used in biotechnology and genetic engineering. Lecture and lab exercises will cover restriction enzymes, electrophoresis, PCR, vectors, RFLP, blotting, cloning, and DNA sequencing. Students also will gain an understanding of current issues concerning use of genetically engineered products in society.  
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  • Foreign Language

    The ability to choose between modern and classical languages provides Tatnall students with an opportunity to study their world at close hand both as it was and as it is today. We believe it is essential for students to be exposed to the cultures, languages and aspirations of other peoples in the world if they are to understand their own. Our fundamental purpose, therefore, is to provide students with a challenging and creative program that helps them appreciate the diversity of our world. 

    Modern languages instruction follows a progression from understanding to speaking, reading and writing. Technology supports attaining these goals. We seek out balanced textbooks that do not neglect the more formal aspects of grammatical study but which at the same time have modern reading selections that will interest and motivate students and provide activities to develop speaking skills.

    Language offerings: Spanish, French and Latin
  • Mathematics

    Mathematics in the Upper School involves a blend of skills and computation with a development of reasoning and problem solving.  This combination allows students to explore the elegance of pure mathematics as well as the many applications of mathematics in the modern world.  

    **A Sampling 

    This course provides the basics of real number properties, solving equations and inequalities (linear and quadratic) in one and two variables, systems of equations, exponents, polynomials, proportions, rational equations, functions, and radical expressions. 

    This course emphasizes an understanding and appreciation of basic geometric structure.  It combines an integrated approach (with algebra) and an investigative approach (with hands-on and computer activities), develops logical reasoning and connects with meaningful applications to the real world.  Specific areas of study include angles, triangle congruence, similarity, right triangles, circles, and areas and volumes.

    Precalculus and Trigonometry
    This course includes a review and extension of advanced algebraic concepts. New concepts covered include conic sections, unit circle trigonometry and extending its applications to polar coordinates and vectors. A core theme of the course is the study of functions, both algebraic and transcendental, including trigonometric, as a preparation for calculus.

    Functions, Statistics and Trigonometry
    Emphasis is placed on a graphic approach to modeling data with linear, quadratic, and exponential functions.  The field of statistics is explored, with a focus on the measures of center and spread.  Additionally, the topics of probability, and sequences and series are introduced.

    Concepts of Advanced Mathematics
    Designed as an alternative capstone to Calculus, this course will cover topics in the mathematics of social choice first term. The second term will cover financial topics including long term savings and loans.  The third term will be an introduction to the basic statistical concepts of data collection, description, and analysis.

    This course introduces concepts of calculus with an emphasis on graphic, numeric, analytic and verbal approaches.  Limits, differentiation, integration techniques, and applications of calculus are presented.  The focus includes both theory and modeling of real world applications. 

    Introduction to Discrete Mathematics
    This course is taught concurrently with the Concepts of Advanced Mathematics course.  The basic concepts in the field of discrete mathematics beyond permutations and combinations, which have been covered in previous courses, will be explored. Topics to be covered include the mathematics of social choice including voting and weighted voting systems, fair division and apportionment. Euler and Hamilton circuits will be covered if time permits. 

    Introduction to Calculus
    This course is designed for the senior student who elected to take AP Statistics and has no experience in a Calculus course. The concepts of limits, derivatives and integrals will be introduced using elementary functions. Emphasis will be placed on the derivative as a rate of change and the integral as an accumulation function. 

    Introduction to Statistics
    This course entails an introduction to fundamentals of one-variable statistics, including data collection, visual display, numeric description, and the foundations of inference. In addition to text-based study, students will develop a statistical question, design a data collection strategy, and use the tools of the course to analyze the results.

    Math of Finance
    This course will explore a variety of topics relevant to personal finances. Students will use Excel spreadsheets extensively to explore such topics as inflation, long-term savings, personal loans, and mortgages. Each student will research a variety of important components of financial decision making, including interest rates, stocks, bonds, bankruptcy, and retirement accounts.  Students will end the term with a summative project. 
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  • Physical Education

    The Physical Education program is an integral part of the total education of the student. Through required participation in the Athletics program, Tatnall graduates understand teamwork, proper conditioning, and their own physical strengths and abilities. Students choose from a wide range of interscholastic sports, including both traditional team-centered athletics and individually focused lifelong sports.

    **A Sampling

    Anatomy and Kinesiology
    This course is designed to study the anatomical makeup of the human body and how muscles propel the body during movement. Basic anatomy will be taught with all muscle origins, insertions, and actions being studied. We will then study how these muscles are used in the actual physical movement of the body during exercise. 

    Health and Nutrition
    This course will emphasize current health and nutrition theories and findings as they relate to athletics and exercise. A general overview of anatomy and the basic systems of the body will be covered, along with such pertinent topics as the effects of alcohol, smoking, drugs, supplements and diet on the human body and specifically on the performance of the athlete. 

    Injury Assessment and First Aid
    The major portion of the course will consist of learning how to administer basic first aid and emergency care for a wide variety of injuries. We will also cover advanced CPR/AED training and identifying risk factors for heart attack and stroke. Students will learn how to communicate with health care providers and lay rescuers regarding emergency care. Through the use of an interactive CD ROM skeleton system program, we will be able to view the areas of the body that are affected by the different types of injuries.

    Lifetime Fitness
    The purpose of this class is to give students the necessary tools needed to make educated decisions regarding their fitness, diet, medical needs and overall wellness in their future years.  Half of the class time will be in the classroom while the other half will be conducted in our fitness center.

    Student Trainers' Workshop
    This course includes the general knowledge and understanding needed for the prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation of athletic injuries. Special attention will be given in educating students in sport nutrition and in learning how foods can help or hinder health and athletic performances. An opportunity to enroll in Advanced Student Trainer is available as an independent study to students who have completed this workshop and have the instructor’s permission.

    Introduction to Health
    Freshman Seminar will give the students a preview of the four physical education classes that will be available to them as electives in the future.  The class will cover current topics in health and nutrition, exercise, diet, heart disease, drugs, anatomy, first aid, as well as recognizing, treating and rehabilitation of athletic injuries.  
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  • Computer Science

    The Computer Science program recognizes that technology permeates the lives of all our students. It is essential for students to appropriately integrate technology to support their learning. Critical thinking, problem solving, and collaboration are strengthened and enhanced through the courses in our program. 

    A Tatnall student understands fundamental computer literacy issues through a seminar designed specifically for freshman as a foundation for their academic career in the Upper School. Students acquire skills to access information, manipulate data, synthesize concepts, and communicate concepts and ideas. They are also taught to be responsible and considerate users of technology. 

    ** A Sampling

    Computer Applications
    This course is designed to introduce freshman to the Upper School computing policies and ethics, hardware, software, servers, and internet.  In addition, this course teaches students how to word process, use spreadsheets, and design presentations using the MicroSoft Office Suite. 

    Virtual Reality Modeling Language
    This course teaches students how to create dynamic virtual worlds and sensory-rich virtual environments on the internet. It allows students to grasp complex three-dimensional topics such as global and local 3-Dimensional coordinate systems, object translations and rotations, as well as graphics manipulations in these virtual worlds on the computer. Students explore their creativity while learning VRML language programming skills.

    Database Programming
    Every business, school, or corporation uses a database to catalog and manipulate important information. This course teaches students about basic database concepts such as records, fields scripts, calculations, display appearance, and flow. Students will create many databases during this course and will learn how to publish databases over a network. Software used is FileMaker Pro. 

    Digital Video and Audio
    This course was designed to introduce students to the fascinating world of digital image and sound editing and production. Industry leading software will be used to collect and process digital data from digital video cameras, digital still cameras, and a host of other sound generating devices.   

    Programming with Python
    Students will learn to plan, organize and execute computer programs using the Python programming language. A powerful, yet accessible language, Python is a perfect entry to computer programming. Students will learn logical structures, loops, data structures and other elements of programming.
    Web Design
    This course introduces student into the ever-changing world of designing web pages and web sites. The Adobe Creative Suite 3 software is used in this course to manipulate digital images for web-ready publication, and to design web animations. The basics of Dreamweaver, Flash, and Photoshop software are taught in the course. 
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  • The Arts

    ** A Sampling

    AP Studio Art: Drawing
    AP Studio Art provides an opportunity for serious and committed fine art students to earn college credit for their fine art portfolios. Over the course of the senior year, students create solutions for all three components of the AP Studio Art portfolio (Breadth, Quality & Concentration) and submit a total of 24* works of art to the College Board in May. Rigorous pacing, class critiques and exploration of a wide range of media and representational approaches successfully incorporating the elements and principles of art and design characterize the AP Studio Art experience.

    In addition to working from direct observation, students will explore non-traditional approaches in drawing and will develop an understanding of drawing as mode of visual thinking. Media and techniques introduced include charcoal, pastel, ink, mixed media, and the incorporation of the vast capabilities of Adobe Photoshop for further visual and conceptual development. 

    Students will be introduced to a range of techniques and media including acrylic, watercolor, and prepared surfaces and will experience a broad exposure to painting media. To supplement the studio experience, the course also incorporates key art movements and the ideas underpinning their representational styles.

    Introduction to Portraiture
    Students will explore a variety of representational approaches to the portrait, including representational, metaphoric and symbolic. Materials and technical approaches include painting, pastel, mixed media and digital art.

    Digital/Analog Art Methods
    This course focuses on the creative possibilities arising from the intersection of digital and analog art processes and techniques. Students will create a body of work that transitions from one creative realm to the next, resulting in a hybridized art making experience that exploits the limitless potential of this exciting creative interface.

    Printmaking Involves both art and science, blending elegance and precision with history and innovation. Students will create prints while experimenting to refine personal techniques and processes through the manipulation of printmaking media and equipment. Through various techniques that include etching, additive and subtractive relief printing, and silk-screening, students learn how to create images and objects using the information technology of the present integrated with traditional methods of previous centuries.

    Advanced Drawing and Illustration
    This course provides students with a focused study in advanced elements of drawing, both observational and fantasy, and the skills to convincingly express their personal ideas into visual narratives. Students begin by observing and recording the visual properties of realistic forms and the spaces they occupy, encompassing training of the hand, eye, and mind. Later more illustrative work will be assigned to foster students into becoming creative problem solvers, visual narrators, exploring ideas from personal research through sketches to finished art, which may be drawn, painted, or created in less traditional media.

    Mixed Media - Sculpture
    This course will concentrate on the study of three-dimensional materials and concepts. Students will develop a perception of space and design by exploring how sculpture interacts with the surrounding environment. Projects will emphasize three-dimensional skill development and personal expression. 

    Digital Narratives: Stop-Motion Animation
    Includes the conceptual development of a storyboard narrative that provides the basis for a three-dimensional sculptural representation. The term will start with character set development and concludes with a stop-motion animation short based on original storyboard idea. This class will focus on drawing, sculptural and computer skills.

    Architectural Design
    Students will experience a broad based overview of key architectural ideas and formal approaches and begin to understand architecture as cultural and social expression. Students will complete a series of introductory design and model making assignments before proceeding into the conceptual development and plans for an original site-specific design. 

    Ceramics and Mixed Media Sculpture
    This course provides students interested in an advanced ceramics and sculpture elective to further develop and hone their skills in a multitude art mediums.  Over the course of the term, students will create a series of at least four thematically linked pieces incorporating a variety of building and sculpting techniques and working with materials such as: clay, printmaking, glass, wood, metal and plaster.

    Digital Media
    This course emphasizes the inherent potential of the human-computer interface as a site for creative production and possibilities. Students will be introduced to the sophisticated capabilities of the Adobe Photoshop CS6 to create original digital files for press. Also, students will experiment with creating and manipulating visual content using text and image through graphic design-based projects.

    Drawing and Painting
    This course emphasizes the importance of honing observational skills and mastering a variety of drawing and painting techniques in order to create successful representational images. Students will work observationally from still life, landscape and the figure. Students will also learn strategies for mixing colors and creating color harmonies.

    This course will provide an introduction to hand building and wheel-thrown ceramic methods. Students will learn in clay in order to create both functional and sculptural ceramic pieces. The course will emphasize both the structured design process as well as experimental and investigative approaches to working with clay.

    This course is an introduction to understanding the basic operations and functions of digital photography: how a camera works, the use of settings, and how to take interesting photographs. Students will learn about the photographic elements of art and principles of design, composition, and lighting. This course familiarize the student with the history of photography, imagery techniques, lighting, photographic equipment, and software. 

    Honors Art
    Tatnall’s Honors Art curriculum is designed to provide serious and committed Upper School fine art students an opportunity to develop a college-level fine art portfolio. Students are expected to maintain a sketchbook to function as a resource for artistic development. Honors Art students are expected to demonstrate an advanced understanding of the elements and principles of art and to use studio time in a disciplined and mature manner.

    Junior Art Portfolio
    This course provides committed juniors with an opportunity to develop skills and ideas from previous fine art coursework and to create an advanced body of work. Students will strengthen their portfolios in areas of drawing, design and conceptual basis.

    Surrealism and Abstraction
    In this course, students will be introduced to glazing and color mixing using acrylic paint through a series of introductory assignments. Later in the term, students will explore key modern art movements and the ideas and concepts underpinning their representational style. 


    Men's Chorus
    Men’s Chorus performs in a broad range of musical styles to foster a love and appreciation for music.  This ensemble is designed to help students develop a concept of good vocal tone and build the basics of good vocal technique. Students increase music reading skills and work toward understanding the choral score.  The group sings in three-part harmony in male only music and often combines with the Women’s Chorus to perform mixed chorus music in four or more parts.

    Women's Chorus
    Women’s Chorus studies and performs many different musical styles.  The group works to develop a concept of good tone and incorporate exercises in good vocal technique.  In addition, students study music reading skills that increase their understanding of the choral score.  The Women’s Chorus sings in three and four part harmony and often combines with the Men’s Chorus to perform mixed chorus music in four or more parts.

    Concert Choir
    The group performs especially challenging music and often performs with other area choirs.  All styles of music are performed from the Renaissance madrigal to major choral works, sometimes with orchestra.  The group has traveled to Europe to participate in choral festivals.

    Tatnall Singers
    Up to 20 students may be selected each year from the Concert Choir membership to perform as the Tatnall Singers. This select group challenges those highly motivated students who have special vocal talents. The group performs a range of music from Renaissance madrigals to contemporary Broadway musicals. 

    Symphonic Band
    Students can develop the ultimate ability to appreciate all types of music through active participation in the Symphonic Band. Prior instrumental experience is not necessary in order to participate in the symphonic band. The aesthetic beauty of an outstanding performance and the camaraderie that comes from a team effort provide a rewarding experience, which will remain with the student throughout life. 

    Jazz Band
    Students with prior ensemble experience learn to play big band jazz music. A high level of musicianship is to be maintained. 

    String Ensemble
    The Tatnall Upper School String Ensemble provides experienced violin, viola, cello and upright bass players the opportunity to perform chamber music of various styles and genres.  Through performance experience students gain an in-depth understanding of musical form, melody, harmony, rhythm and history.

    Students will study techniques and concepts for playing the nylon-string acoustic guitar.  As part of the process, students will read music notation, study basic music theory, and consider selected historical, cultural and technical aspects of the guitar. 

    Broadway and Opera
    This one-term course will study the similarities and differences between both genres.  Principal focus will be on La Traviata (Verde), Tosca (Puccini), West Side Story (Bernstein) and Rent (Larson). 

    Introduction to Music Technology
    This course provides an introduction of concepts and hands-on experience in the field of music technology.  Students will use commercially available music-related computer hardware and software, and classes will be devoted to gaining a practical understanding of computer systems and electronic instruments and their applications in the areas of music composition, orchestration, recording, performance, instruction, and the Internet.  Special attention is given to hardware and software that supports the Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) including keyboards, tone modules, sequencers, notation packages, interactive composition software, and educational programs.

    Encounters with Music
    This course challenges the students to learn and to listen to music in new and unique ways. While some music theory will be inherent in the materials, this class will cover the Five Periods of Western Art Music (Renaissance to Modern) by taking one piece from each period and studying it in depth.

    Music Theory
    Students will learn about melody, harmony, and rhythm through transcribing, listening, and composing. This course is appropriate for all levels: music theory fundamentals for beginners as well as opportunities for advanced instruction for experienced students.

    In this class, students will complete many creative writing and composition assignments to create their own songs. They will study lyric writing, music theory, and a variety of song forms: classical art songs, folk songs from around the world, and 20th century American songwriters such as Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, George Gershwin, and Michael Jackson.
    Journey into Jazz
    This one-term course will span the origins of Jazz to the complexities of its contemporary expression. Utilizing both the Ken Burns Jazz Series as shown on PBS as well as the text: “The History of Jazz” of Ted Gioia, this class will engage students into the depths of the original American art form. 


    Intro to Theater
    This is a credit-bearing course on the essentials of stagecraft, lighting design, sound design, scenic design, and production management.  Taught by the technical director of the PAC, the class will contain both group and individual instruction in the Marvin Theater of the Laird Performing Arts Center.  

    Advanced Theater: Design & Prodcution (Showcase)
    Showcase is the major dramatic production of the year.  The director selects the ensemble during an open casting-call (interviews/auditions) the preceding spring. Each company member is expected to be engaged in several theatrical skills like acting, set design and construction, costumes, props, technical matters, and publicity.

    Technical Theater
    A comprehensive class covering three major areas of technical theater:  scenery design and construction, lighting design and implementation, and audio design and implementation.  In the scenery portion, students will learn proper tool and shop safety, basic construction techniques, theatrical painting techniques, and set placement. 
    American Cinema/American Culture
    How does a film create meaning? How does a camera "tell" a story? How does editing make it move? How do lighting, sound, and composition create a narrative? This survey of masterpieces of the American cinema will focus on the relationship of our movies to their wider cultural/historical contexts. At the same time, students will be introduced to various film genres and will develop a vocabulary appropriate to film criticism through screenings, lectures, reading, and substantial critical writing (critiques, reviews, essays, and research).
    Film Study
    This course is an introduction to the critical study of and appreciation for film as a major art form. Through the analysis of approximately 12 classics of the cinema, we shall consider the relationships between thematic content and basic film techniques, between word and cinematic image. Reactions to such films as The Graduate, Bonnie and Clyde, and Dead Man Walking will be sought in discussions as well as in writing. 

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Academic Expectations

Tatnall’s school year has three terms of roughly 54 days each. Final exams are given at the end of the second and third terms. Many math and foreign language classes are 45 minutes in length and meet every day. Many English, science, and history courses are 90 minutes and meet every other day. Students are expected to take at least five academic courses per term, plus a sixth elective. Students are required to complete 17 courses for graduation, including:

  • 4 years of English
  • 4 years of mathematics
  • 3 years of history
  • 3 years of science (2 years of laboratory science)
  • 3 years of foreign language
  • Classes in art and physical education

Honors and Advanced Placement Courses

Advanced Placement (AP) courses follow the curriculum established by The College Board Advanced Placement (AP) Program. The AP Program allows approved students the opportunity to take a challenging college level course that reflects the AP standards while still in high school, and the possibility of earning credit or advanced placement or both at the college they attend. 

Honors courses differ from regular courses in that they are taught with a college-like approach.  Material is covered in greater depth and expectations are higher than in regular courses.

Honors Art (12)
AP Studio Art - Drawing
AP Studio Art 2D Design
AP 3D Design

Honors English 10 (10)
AP English Language (11,12)
AP English Literature (11,12)

Foreign Language
Honors French 4 (11,12)
Honors Spanish 4 (11,12)
Honors Latin 4 (11, 12)
Honors Advanced
Latin Literature (11, 12)
AP French Language (12)
AP Spanish Language (12)
AP Latin (11,12)

AP European History (12)
AP U.S. Government & Politics (12)
AP U.S. History (11)

Honors Algebra 2 (9,10)
Honors Precalc and Trig (10,11)
AP AB Calculus (11,12)
AP BC & Multivariable Calculus (12)
AP Statistics (11,12)

Honors Biology (9,10,11)
Honors Chemistry (10,11)
Honors Advanced Chemistry 2 (11,12)
Honors Physics (11,12)
AP Biology (12)
AP Environmental Science (10,11,12)
AP Physics: Mechanics (12)
AP Psychology (12)