Course Descriptions

Computer Science

AP Computer Science A
The goal of this course is to prepare students for the AP Computer Science A AP Exam. In doing so, students will become proficient with the Java programming language. Students will use Integrated Development Environments to have a better understanding for what it is to code professionally. This will prepare each student for further studies in the computer sciences along with preparing them for any real-world coding applications.

AP Computer Science Principles
The objective of this course is to teach a wide array of computing concepts to students on an introductory level. Students will learn about computational thinking and how computers change the world. Students will develop their problem solving skills of computational thinking by using everyday practices found throughout many other studies. This approach to the instruction of computational thinking helps students of all backgrounds learn and appreciate the studies of the computer sciences. This course will use scenarios of everyday life across multiple professions to help emphasis the impact that computers and computing have on society. Students will learn the implications of technology and have the opportunity to theorize and examine the futures of computing.

Topics in Computer Languages
Topics in Computer Languages is a year long course that includes subject matter across multiple computer science disciplines. This course emphasis's coding as the primary discipline taught and will use the Python programming language. Outside the scope of coding students will also learn about three dimensional modeling for uses in 3D printing, architecture modeling, virtual reality and introductory game development. The final section for this course is exploration in which students discuss the future of computers, debate computing ethics, understand digital footprints, learn networking, build computers and work in digital electronics such as Arduinos and lower level analog circuitry. Instruction will be through problem solving, discussion and current events whenever applicable. Upon completion of this course students will have a solid understanding of a variety of computer science disciplines and be prepared for both the advanced placement(AP) principles and Java"

COSC Introduction to the World of Computing
Students will learn how to code using a web based programming environment from Learning to code students will use this environment to train a dog, named Karel. Karel starts off much like a puppy with little knowledge of the world and uses the commands given to it by the students to perform simple actions such as fetching a ball, turning around or jumping over objects. As the students become more confident with these instructions so does Karel and this allows for more advanced programming. The evolving complexity of Karel commands throughout the course help define what it is to program and how this same process can be used to learn other computer coding languages.


English 9 Freshman English focuses on the development of the essential language skills of reading, writing, speaking, and listening. In addition to the study of grammar, vocabulary, and rhetorical modes, students are engaged in the reading and analysis of poetry, drama, and the short story. Instruction in the research process and the writing of a research paper constitute an additional element of the course.

The Ninth Grade Honors Project The Ninth Grade Honors Project is open to students who maintain an 88% average during the first semester of their freshman year. Those who qualify are offered the opportunity to participate in the course, which requires reading and writing in addition to the regular requirements of English. Students are asked to sign an honors contract to affirm their commitment, and they engage in a series of working lunches to discuss their reading, which is designed to offer a different perspective on familiar themes. For example, after a unit on mythology and the Odyssey in regular English, the Honors Project read Stateside, Jehanne Dubrow's book of poetry influenced by the plight of Penelope as a military wife. Students also had the opportunity to meet Professor Dubrow at Washington College in the well known Rose O'Neill Literary House.

English 10/Honors English 10 In this course, students engage actively in the study of literature. Reading selections focus on major works of world literature such as Huckleberry Finn and Hamlet. Students will continue to hone critical reading, write analytical essays, and expand knowledge of vocabulary and grammar. The research component will involve choosing and researching a British poet of the student's choice and analyzing the poet's work.

English 11/Honors English 11 This course focuses on major American writing with a primary emphasis on the twentieth century. The study of literature provides students with the opportunity to develop critical thinking, reading, and writing skills while analyzing such works as The Grapes of Wrath, The Sound and the Fury, short stories by, among others, Hawthorne, Fitzgerald, and Hemingway, and plays by Miller, Albee, and Williams. In addition to the regular work load, students choose one author and read five of his or her novels, as well as critical essays and biography, and then they write an in-depth paper about the major themes in his or her work.

Junior Symposium This intensive writing project provides students experience in meaningful reading, and critical analysis of literature. At the beginning of the junior year, students confer with their English teacher and select an author of focus for the year. The students spend the balance of the school year reading five of the author’s works and researching the author's life. From their reading, they devise an original thesis statement reflecting their synthesis of the author’s works. Following approval of their thesis statement, the students craft their paper, which must clearly and logically defend their thesis and be no less than fifteen pages in length. The project enhances student skills in reading, writing, critical thinking, and research while at the same time providing them a valuable independent learning opportunity. In keeping with the Gunston family traditions, the completion of this milestone is celebrated by the entire school community.

English Language Acquisition ELA provides the international student with a broad based understanding of the English language. Instruction targets the skill areas of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The student develops comprehension, learns form of language structure including idioms, and demonstrates an understanding of grammatical structure and usage in both written and oral activities. Vocabulary acquisition and the development of critical thinking skills are emphasized. The goal of the EWL course is to transition the international student into the standard English program as reasonably quickly as possible.

English Literature The English Literature class reads great short stories, essays, poems, plays and excerpts from novels. Students learn to recognize literary devices utilized by masters of the English language.Students are responsible for creating an ongoing collection of vocabulary words, and to practice grammar daily, with at least one of several possible online tools. In-class lectures teach students reading techniques and the nuts and bolts of essay writing. Personalized instruction, attention and support is given to each student in a weekly session in the Writing Center. Every Friday, class is devoted to TOEFL and SAT-type test practice. In this class, students gain skills to handle challenges they meet across the academic spectrum.

Senior Semester Electives: Seniors who meet the department qualifications may choose AP English, which is a year-long class. Those not enrolled in AP English, select a fall and a spring course from a group of college level elective courses. New course offerings are created annually to both reflect themes in the school’s sustainability curriculum and to appeal to student interest. Samples of recent courses are below.

AP Literature and Composition An AP English Literature and Composition course engages students in the careful reading and critical analysis of imaginative literature. Through the close reading of selected texts, students deepen their understanding of the ways writers use language to provide both meaning and pleasure for their readers. As they read, students consider a work’s structure, style and themes, as well as such smaller-scale elements as the use of gurative language, imagery, symbolism and tone. (The College Board)

Honors British Novel This course will examine the major authors from nineteenth century England, including Austen, Dickens, and Bronte. Students will be required to research the time period and give presentations in order to gain a fuller understanding of Victorian England. Weekly response papers will be assigned.

American Feminist Rhetoric Primarily designed to offer students the opportunity to study the literary, historical, and political legacies of women in America, students will also explore and renegotiate the origins of gendered prejudices that have long been embedded in American literature, media, and politics. Through critical reading, research, presentations, discussion, and writing, students will not only engage with how the voices we choose to listen to continue to articulate and determine the social role and cultural significance of women in America, but students will also develop a personalized understanding of the environmental and ethical underpinnings of language, gender, and identity.

Ecodystopian Literature Dystopian and end-of-the-world literature are nothing new, but what are some of the ways in which contemporary writers are exploring the end of the world in their fiction? How do characters survive in the face of global catastrophe such as climate change, plague, and war? In this course we will examine how characters, in the words of fiction writer Stacey D\'Erasmo, \"wrest life from the teeth of annihilation.\" What, if any, are the available human responses other than just \"wandering through a blasted landscape\" or fighting their way through it? Is it possible to hope? We'll consider all this as well as the moral implications and whether or not art matters in such a scenario. Although the focus of our reading will primarily be on contemporary writers such as Laura van den Berg, Emily St. John Mandel, Kazuo Ishiguro, Jose Saramago, Cormac McCarthy, Margaret Atwood and Taylor Antrim--to name a possible few--we will discuss the roots and long tradition of dystopian fiction.

Postmodern Literature This course explores postmodern literature and its rebellious, yet playful relationship with modernism, pop-culture, mass media, technology, and philosophy. Primarily designed to offer students an opportunity to experience a broad sampling of postmodern American and international literature, students will also engage with and develop a personal understanding of fundamental postmodern questions about reality, sincerity, language, power, and globalization through critical analysis, research, discussion, essay writing, and presentations.

The Social Justice Narrative Throughout history, powerful stories about justice and injustice have changed the way individuals and societies have understood the world, and in many cases, such narratives have changed the course of human history. Using historical and contemporary non-fiction narratives, and incorporating both text and film, this course will explore the structure and impact of the social justice narrative, as well as examine contemporary issues of social justice related to equality, gender, race, sexuality, and other issues. Through reading, writing, and a class project, students will have opportunities to explore their personal interests related to social justice.

Writers’ Seminar/Honors Writers’ Seminar The focus of this discussion-centered and writing-intensive course will be the development of each student’s personal “voice” through the exploration of contemporary intellectual and cultural trends. Students will read widely across the various outlets of contemporary culture (novels, magazines, newspapers, websites, blogs, etc.) and pursue a series of independent, self-directed writing projects with the aim of understanding, participating in, and publishing within the evolving contemporary cultural conversation. Each student will develop an individual portfolio that chronicles their intellectual journey and the development of their personal voice and style.

Short Story This course will focus primarily on the American short story, covering an array of different writers, the themes connected with these authors and the corresponding time periods. It will include short stories written by women, minorities, and contemporary authors. A portion of the course will look closely at the construction of a short story and an introduction to creative writing. Students will also be required to write weekly response papers.

Senior Paradigm Project
The goal of this project is for seniors to complete a summative narrative of how their years at Gunston shaped their own ‘language of values.’ In effect, we are asking students to create their own value model by examining key moments of insight in the following areas:

  1. Experiences—Students should identify three significant experiences at Gunston and explain how those experiences transformed or impacted them:
  2. Knowledge—Students should discuss how three pieces of acquired knowledge influenced them (perhaps an author they read, an historical event they studied, etc.);
  3. People—Students should identify three people who helped to shape their view of the world and explain how these people influenced them.

Although this is a writing project, it is interdisciplinary in scope in that it requires students to synthesize the knowledge, skills, habits, and thought processes that they acquired in their courses, athletics, and in special programs like Bay Studies.

Fine Arts

Fundamentals of Art - This course is designed to familiarize students with basic concepts, processes, and vocabulary used in the major field of art. Classroom experiences will provide students with a basic understanding of drawing materials and techniques, aesthetics, historical and cultural influences, and critical evaluation of art.

Drawing and Painting - This course is designed as a study of the techniques of drawing and painting. Classroom experiences will also include instruction in the areas of aesthetics, historical and cultural influences, and critical evaluation of works of art. A wide variety of drawing and painting media will be utilized.

Pottery - A variety of pottery techniques are covered in both hand-built and wheel-thrown pottery. Students are expected to work for skills to produce a number of pottery pieces.

Wood Sculpture - This course is designed to teach the fundamentals of wood sculpture including low relief, 3-D carving, waterfowl, and other wildlife sculpture. Basic concepts such as aesthetic value, historical and cultural influences, critique methods, as well as the use of tools and sharpening, are included.

Studio Techniques - This course is designed with studio emphasis. Offerings include acrylics and/or watercolor painting, modeling sculpture, drawing and graphics. Instruction will provide students with background in aesthetics, historical and cultural influences, and critical evaluation of artwork. All areas include instruction in more than one technique, i.e., graphics include wood and linoleum printing, etching, mono-printing, etc. Students enrolled in this program will arrange individual contracts with the instructor for their chosen area of study.

AP Art - This demanding studio course has as its culminating goal the creation of a portfolio to be submitted to the AP Board for evaluation. This course directs students to advance their skills in both the investigation and the creation of visual art. The course requires a high level of independence as students must work well beyond the classroom instructional hours to meet the requirements of the portfolio.

Art History

Photo I (Beginners Photography) This is an introduction to Photography. Students will learn basic photography principles, the history of film, and how to use a manual, film cameras. Students will learn the black and white darkroom process to develop film and prints. Student

Photo II (Intermediate Photography) Students will take their knowledge from film cameras and apply it to the digital age. They will also learn about photographic movements. Students start by applying their darkroom process knowledge to experiment with exposure and development before moving to the digital process. In this course, students will refine their skill by learning editing techniques through Photoshop and Lightroom. Students will also start project critiques.

Photo III (Advanced Photography Series) While continuing to improve both digital and traditional techniques, students will focus on image content. The class is structured around a series of short conceptual assignments, group critiques, and class discussions. The class will develop a daily photographic journal. Advanced Photography: Series will also focus on each student's photographic style to create a personal series that represents their artistic and creative expression.

Photo IV (Advanced Photography Portfolio) Students will take their knowledge of photography to the next level by perfecting their technique and working on a Photography portfolio. Students may decide whether it be a physical or online portfolio. Students will take previous photos and/or a photo series, and combine them into a portfolio ready to be submitted to colleges and reviewed by college admission counselors.

Video I This course is an introduction to the basic practices of digital video and the art of moving images including time-lapse, stop motion, short non-narrative montage and documentary/multimedia. Capture for the final video pieces will be from both still (digital) and video cameras. Basic audio and video editing will be covered.

Video II


Ancient and Medieval History Designed as a course to introduce ninth graders to the study of history, Ancient and Medieval Worlds covers pre-history up to the Renaissance and encompasses the impact of politics, society, economics, and culture on man's development. Focus will also be on the role of climate, geography, trade, and religion. Students will develop the skills of researching, critical thinking, and essay writing. Readings will include the major text, atlases, and primary sources.

History of Ideas History of Ideas is a course for all sophomores and is the study of the major ideas that changed human history. Using Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything as a starting point, the course then wends its way through religion, philosophy, and eventually history. Charles Van Doren’s A History of Knowledge, The Human Record, Volumes I and II, Indian Givers, and articles from The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, and other periodicals are all part of the study to explore the interconnection and interaction of humans and the influence of geography, trade, exploration, and revolution.

AP U.S. Government and Politics The AP U.S. Government and Politics course is designed to provide students with a learning experience equivalent to that of an introductory college course in United States government and politics.  It offers an analytical perspective on government and politics in the United States, including the study of general concepts used to interpret U.S. politics and the analysis of specific examples. During the year, students develop expertise regarding the various institutions, groups, beliefs, and ideas that constitute the American political system.

AP Comparative Government and Politics AP Comparative Government and Politics introduces students to the rich diversity of political life outside the United States. The course uses a comparative approach to examine the political structures; policies; and political, economic, and social challenges of six selected countries: China, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, and the United Kingdom. Students compare the effectiveness of approaches to many global issues by examining how different governments solve similar problems. They will also engage in disciplinary practices that require them to read and interpret data, make comparisons and applications, and develop evidence-based arguments.

United States History The U.S. History course at Gunston is a general survey course for eleventh grade students. The course follows the narrative of U. S. history in a roughly chronological fashion from the European discovery of America to the post World War II era. It is designed to develop critical thinking, historical argumentation, and an understanding of causal relationships in the American historical narrative. Students must also learn to discern the relative importance of historical facts and develop clear, concise essay writing abilities.

AP United States History This course is a general survey of American history, offered to 11th grade students in preparation for the Advanced Placement Exam in U. S. History. The course follows the U. S. historical narrative from the European discovery of America to the end of the Vietnam War. It is designed to develop critical thought, historical argumentation, and a detailed understanding of the political and social development of the United States. It differs from the regular U. S. history course primarily in its quicker pace, broader scope, and more detailed examination of U. S. history.

EWL United States History EWL United States History is a full-year, full-credit course designed specifically for international students. The course meets all of the curricular requirements of the regular United States History course and provides the international student with an understanding of the settlement and development of the United States from colonial days through modern times. English language skills are enhanced, as the international student develops an overview of this nation's history through the completion of reading and writing assignments, and class projects.

AP European History This course is designed for seniors in preparation for the A.P. exam in European history. It covers the time period from 1450 to present. Themes include issues in intellectual and cultural history as well as politics, diplomacy, social organization, and economics. Students will be asked to understand the events underlying these themes and to analyze and interpret these events.

Art History This course will consist of a year-long investigation into the historic and aesthetic significance of the history of western art. Substantial reading and writing will be required in order to fully cover the text, History of Art for Young People, by H.W. Janson. Field trips to museums in the area will be an essential part of this course.

Psychology The psychology course is an extensive compilation of vocabulary, insightful and critical thinking skills. The following enduring issues are emphasized throughout the course: person-situation, heredity-environment, stability-change, diversity-universality, and mind-body. Texts and books used in the course include Psychopathology, A Case Book, by Sptizer, Skodol, Gibbon, Williams, and The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, and An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison.

Ethics (One Semester) This course introduces students to the foundational theories of ethics and encourages the application of these theories to the global, national, communal, and personal ethical issues and dilemmas that confront the human community. The course begins from a theoretical basis, but moves quickly to the realm of practical or applied ethics using a field-based approach.

Economics (One Semester) Students learn basic economic concepts and models, and they will apply interdisciplinary knowledge of history, math, and personal experience to better grasp these concepts. Discussion topics will be drawn from current as well as historical events.

20th Century History Students will be introduced to the history of the 20th century through film. Course format: two days of introduction to a time period, creating a context for the film. After watching the film, the students will discuss issues and questions brought up by the film, then write an essay. There will be various readings accompanying each unit that will help students understand the context and impact of the film. Students will also complete a final project in which they watch at least three films on their own from a specific area or country and write a paper on how these films reflect the history of that area or country.

Lab Sciences

Anatomy & Physiology is an advanced science course that will focus on the intricate relationship between structure and function of the human body. This course will provide students with an introduction to the structure of body parts, how they are organized, and names of various components of the body (anatomy). In addition, it will provide students with a better understanding of the major systems of the body and how these systems relate to one another in terms of organization, adaptation, homeostasis, and function (physiology). Students will use inquiry and lab-based activities to reinforce concepts and dissections as an interactive hands-on approach to identify, learn, and understand the necessary components of the body and its inner workings. To ensure that course topics are constantly applied to the latest research on the human body and its function, students will analyze a current newspaper, magazine, journal, or Internet article and lead a class discussion on the implications and new questions it may bring to the field. This is a project-based course and each student will research, propose a hypothesis and design an experiment to investigate the impact of a single factor such as a specific disease, extreme environment, acute exercise, exercise training, high altitude training, etc. on specific body systems and overall body function. If this course is taken in conjunction with AP Biology, it will serve as a supplement that provides students with additional knowledge and skills to improve their performance on the AP Biology Exam and/or in future science courses in college. The knowledge gained in this course can be applied in a variety of professions in the medical field, research field, and health and fitness careers.

Biology (A Laboratory Course) This course covers essential concepts in cell biology and chemistry, genetics, evolution, and physiology. Topics are constantly applied to the latest discoveries in disease control, genetic engineering and the human condition including discussions of the ethics of some of these new discoveries. A two period lab meets once a week. Students follow and learn the scientific approach to problem solving and develop study skills for this course and future courses in science.

Honors Biology (A Laboratory Course) This course covers essential concepts in cell biology and chemistry, genetics, evolution, and physiology. Topics are constantly applied to the latest discoveries in disease control, genetic engineering and the human condition including discussions of the ethics of some of these new discoveries. A two period lab meets once a week. Students follow and learn the scientific approach to problem solving and develop study skills for this course and future courses in science. The student will be prepared to take the SAT II in biology.

Chemistry (A Laboratory Course; Prerequisite: Biology, Algebra 1) The purpose of this course is to cultivate scientific literacy in everyday life and to provide a diversity of content relevant to the environmental and medical sciences. This course teaches to the strengths of students who excel in science classes which strike a balance between qualitative and quantitative approaches. The textbook, laboratory experiments, discussions and projects incorporate topics in general, organic, and biological chemistry. A student who successfully completes the course will have strengthened his or her research, analytical and critical thinking, and communication skills.

Honors Chemistry (A Laboratory Course; Prerequisite: Biology, Algebra 1, and Permission from the department) This course is a rigorous and highly quantitative course with a dual purpose: to foster enthusiasm and appreciation for science, and to prepare the student for further study in chemistry. Critical and analytical thinking, problem solving, oral and written expression, and the development of laboratory skills are emphasized. Sample topics include atomic and electronic structure, the periodic table, stoichiometry, the mole, solutions, thermochemistry, bonding, gases, and kinetic-molecular theory. Descriptive chemistry and material science are also integrated into the course of study.

AP Chemistry This advanced placement course conforms to the standards of the College Board and covers the overarching topics of the structure of matter, the kinetic theory of gases, chemical equilibria, chemical kinetics, thermodynamics and organic chemistry. The scientific method and the use of inquiry are emphasized in the learning process.

Physics (A Laboratory Course; Prerequisite: Algebra 1) This course provides an overview of Newtonian mechanics, electricity, and magnetism and provides a starting point from which to view nature more perceptively. Students learn basic problem solving skills, how to approach word problems, and how to apply these techniques to real life situations. Lab experimentation is stressed and students develop an understanding of the concepts by observing physical phenomena in the lab through instruments, as simulations on the computer, or as demonstrations in the classroom.

Honors Physics (A Laboratory Course; Prerequisite: Geometry, Algebra 2, and Trigonometry. Precalculus preferred.) This course covers Newtonian mechanics, electricity, magnetism, simple harmonic motion, waves, light, thermodynamics, and topics in modern physics including quantum mechanics and nuclear reactions. The course content is aligned with the SAT II Physics Test. Students learn advanced problem solving skills, how to approach word problems, and how to apply these techniques to real life situations. Investigative learning through lab experimentation is stressed including designing experiments to answer real life questions.

AP Physics C Mechanics (A Laboratory Course; Prerequisite: Calculus (may be taken concurrently), Honors Physics recommended.) This 2-semester course is equivalent to the first semester of a typical university introductory physics course for scientists and engineers. It is a calculus-based course using differential and integral calculus. The course is designed to prepare students for the AP Physics C: Mechanics test. Topics covered include Newton’s laws, conservation of energy and momentum, rotational motion, gravitation, oscillations, and special relativity. Students learn advanced problem solving skills and how to apply these techniques to real life situations. Investigative learning through lab experimentation is stressed including designing experiments to answer real life questions.

AP Physics C Electricity & Magnetism This is a calculus-based, college-level physics course, especially appropriate for students planning to specialize or major in physical science or engineering.The course explores topics such as electrostatics; conductors, capacitors, and dielectrics; electric circuits; magnetic elds; and electromagnetism. Introductory differential and integral calculus is used throughout the course. (The College Board)

AP Environmental Science (A Laboratory Course, Prerequisite: Biology, Permission from the department) This course will allow students to scientifically explore our surrounding world, with particular focus on the environment. As such, students can expect to further develop their five senses, all the while adhering to the rigor of scientific methods. Designed for two semesters, this course is equivalent to a one-semester introductory college level course in environmental science--it will conform to the standards of the College Board’s Advanced Placement (AP) program and cover the topics provided by the AP Environmental Science course description: The Principles of Sustainability (and the role of humans within these), Energy & Ecosystem Dynamics on Earth, Biodiversity, Species Interactions & Population Control, Natural Resource Management, Sustaining Environmental Quality & Climate Change. All along, students will also be exposed to the ethics, politics & economics of environmental science. Students will be prepared to take the AP Environmental Science Exam.

Marine Biology (A Laboratory Course: One Semester) Examine the World ocean's and the chemical, geological, and physical processes that control the patterns and processes. We will explore human interactions with the marine environment. Discovery the world beneath the oceans through the lens of a conservation biologist. Topics include, history and tools of Marine Biology, marine organisms anatomy and adaptations, marine habitats, marine trophic structures, and organism identification. Students must have completed biology and chemistry.

Food Chemistry (A Laboratory Course: One Semester) Have you ever wondered why bread just doesn’t taste as good without gluten, what is it about chili peppers that makes them so appealing to some and appalling to others, or why you hold your nose to help get down that serving of broccoli at dinner? This course explains how we use chemistry to make our food and how chemistry allows us to enjoy the tastes and flavors that food has to offer.

Wellness (One Quarter in Grade 9) This course covers topics in nutrition, personal hygiene, substance abuse, human sexuality, first aid, and functions of various human systems such as the heart and kidneys. In addition, articles in the journal Current Health are read and discussed. Outside lectures and films are also used.

Robotic Engineering (One or Two Semesters; Prerequisite: Algebra 1) This course will cover introductory robotic engineering including design, construction, and programming. Students will work in teams to build robots to solve specific challenges. They will learn problem-solving techniques in a group setting while drawing on topics in science, technology, engineering, and math to complete their projects.

Ornithology (A Laboratory Course; One Semester) Students will be introduced to ornithology, the study of the biology of birds. Aside from being a fascinating part of the natural world birds can provide an insight into the quality of our natural environment. Areas of investigation will be bird behavior, anatomy, flight, habitat use, nesting and migration. Students will be exposed to local birding. They will learn how to identify birds by sight, sound and habitat. There will be a citizen scientist approach to the class as students become field scientists collaborating with professional scientists contributing to the data that Cornell University's Ornithology Lab is collecting. Students will be introduced to technology such as Google Earth and GPS, Ebird, and Dendroica. Binoculars, GPS equipment, field guides, and scopes will all be provided.

Ecology of the Chesapeake Bay (A Laboratory Course; One Semester) Students will learn about the biggest estuary in the United States and the problems that it faces. The biological and physical features of this watershed and how this can be preserved will be explored. In order to appreciate the sheer beauty of what is on their very own doorstep , students will take a closer look at the Chesapeake Bay starting off with what it was like when Captain John Smith entered its waters in the 1600’s. Students will be able to understand an ecosystem that was and what it is today. With this understanding students will learn about the problems that the Bay is faced with today and how humans impact its health. Students will do a problem analysis of the Gunston School property and design solutions that will have long term effects on the Bay. There will also be opportunities for the students to be field and citizen scientists participating and collaborating with larger research teams.

Sustainability and the Bay (A laboratory Course; One Semester) This is a project-based, lab science course focused on exploring, defining, and understanding sustainability through hands-on inquiry on Gunston’s campus and the surrounding region. By the end of this course, students will be able to think critically about the environmental, societal, and economic impacts of human activities and systems. Students will participate in several ongoing research and restoration projects on Gunston’s campus and help to drive forward campus sustainability efforts. Students will be familiar with emissions quantification methods and sustainability reporting tools, including certification programs for individuals and businesses. Students will also learn various strategies for organizations to decrease their environmental footprint and to market those activities to meet the demands of an emerging consumer base.


Algebra I/Honors Algebra I Modern elementary algebra provides an introduction to the basic structure of algebra. Equations, polynomials, inequalities, and problem solving are an integral part of the curriculum. The textbook provides themes that illustrate real life applications, interdisciplinary connections, and multicultural connections.

Geometry/Honors Geometry (Pre-requisite: Algebra I/Honors Algebra I) This course incorporates the use of spatial visualization, deductive reasoning and algebraic skills with work in the field of coordinate geometry. Postulates and theorems are studied to understand the deductive process of devising proofs. While this course emphasizes formal geometry topics, it also shows the student connections between geometry and the real world by developing multi-step thinking and logical reasoning.

Algebra II/Honors Algebra II (Pre-requisites: Algebra I and Geomtry/Honors Algebra I and Honors Geometry)This second-year course in algebra reviews elementary algebra and continues with a study of linear and quadratic functions, irrational and complex numbers, and trigonometry. Real life applications, interdisciplinary connections, multicultural connections, and connections within mathematics using technology are featured in the course.

Trigonometry (Pre-requisite: Algebra II/Honors Algebra II) This one-semester course involves the study of: trigonometric and circular functions; right and oblique triangle trigonometry; graphs of the trigonometric functions; trigonometric identities and formulas; inverse trigonometric functions; and solving trigonometric equations. Graphing calculators will be used throughout the course.

Advanced Algebra (Pre-requisite: Algebra II/ Honors Algebra II)This one-semester course extends the student's knowledge to topics not generally covered in a traditional Algebra 2 course. The course includes the study of: variations and proportions; conic sections; systems of linear and quadratic equations; sequences and series; counting principles with probability and statistics; matrices and determinants; and exponential and logarithmic functions with applications. Graphing calculators will be used throughout this course.

Precalculus (Pre-requisite: Honors Algebra II) This course builds a solid foundation of pre-calculus skills and concepts. The students develop techniques to represent real world problems as mathematical models. The topics include trigonometry, functions, polynomials, exponential functions, logarithmic functions, and conic sections. Connections within mathematics using technology are featured in the course.

Calculus I (Pre-requisite: Precalculus)This course is an introduction to concepts of calculus such as limits, derivatives, integrals, approximation, continuity, asymptotes and methodology of analysis of functions. The emphasis is put on the development of skills in mathematical modeling with applications in business, physical, social, and life sciences.

AP Calculus AB (Pre-requisite: Precalculus)This is the first course of calculus which begins with a basic review of graphing and trigonometry, and then moves on to the fundamentals of calculus. The topics include limits, derivatives, integrals, exponential and logarithmic functions, and areas under curve. The student will be prepared to take the AP exam.

AP Calculus BC (Pre-requisite: AP Calculus AB) As set forth by the College Board: Calculus BC is an extension of Calculus AB and is primarily concerned with developing the students' understanding of the concepts of calculus and providing experience with its methods and applications. Topics include derivatives, integrals, limits, approximation, and applications and modeling.

AP Statistics The purpose of the AP course in statistics is to introduce students to the major concepts and tools for collecting, analyzing and drawing conclusions from data . Students are exposed to four broad conceptual themes:

1 . Exploring Data: Describing patterns and departures from patterns

2 . Sampling and Experimentation: Planning and conducting a study

3 . Anticipating Patterns: Exploring random phenomena using probability and simulation

4 . Statistical Inference: Estimating population parameters and testing hypotheses

Performing Arts

Introduction to Music This course is designed to familiarize students with the basic concepts, historical eras, and vocabulary in the major field of music. Instruction will focus on fundamental elements of music and notation, critical listening, and historical/cultural influences. Students will have opportunities to explore the piano, the guitar, and music composition.

Freshman Chorus The ninth grade class will develop basic vocal skills and musicianship, experiencing first-hand the challenges and merits of working in a unified musical ensemble. Students will perform choral music of several historical periods, cultures, and genres in the winter and spring concerts.

The Gunston Chorale In this elective course, ensemble members will sing challenging choral music requiring greater musical independence than freshman year. Students will develop a deeper understanding of the musical elements and the meaning behind each piece. In addition to a mid-year choral festival and special events, the Chorale performs in the winter and spring concerts.

Guitar I Beginning guitar students will focus on reading music and the basics of guitar technique and theory. Instruction will include the use of first position for the left hand to play basic chords and melodies, with both classical fingering and modern picking styles. All student guitarists will participate in music department recitals.

Guitar II Intermediate guitar students will continue to develop musicianship through appropriate repertoire and skill exercises. Instruction will include the use of second position for the left hand, playing bar chords, and varying right-hand technique. All student guitarists will participate in music department recitals. (Advanced guitarists should study independently with a private guitar instructor).

Piano I Beginning piano students will focus on reading music and the basics of keyboard technique and theory. Instruction will include five-finger position, understanding dynamics and accidentals, and playing scales and block chords. All student pianists will participate in music department recitals.

Piano II Intermediate piano students will continue to develop musicianship through appropriate repertoire and skill exercises. Instruction will include the use of extended position, pedaling and expression, and playing more complex chord structures. All student pianists will participate in music department recitals. (Advanced pianists should study independently with a private piano instructor.)

World Language

Spanish I This course is designed for students beginning the study of the Spanish language and culture. As much as possible, the course will be taught in Spanish and will immerse the students in the Spanish language. The course will emphasize reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Students will master the basic vocabulary and grammatical structures that will allow them to continue the study of Spanish at the next level.

Spanish II This course is designed for students who have successfully completed the objectives of the first year of study. The course will be conducted primarily in Spanish. Students will review and expand their vocabulary and grammatical knowledge with increased emphasis on speaking.

Honors Spanish II This accelerated course is designed for highly motivated and talented students who have successfully completed the objectives of the first year of study and plan to take AP Spanish their senior year. The course will be conducted exclusively in Spanish and the use of the language in class is mandatory. Students will review and expand their vocabulary and grammatical knowledge with increased emphasis on speaking, writing, listening, and reading comprehension.

Spanish III This course is designed for students who have successfully completed the objectives of the second year of study. The course will be conducted mostly in Spanish. Students will review and expand their vocabulary and grammatical knowledge with emphasis on speaking, writing, listening, and reading comprehension.

Honors Spanish III This accelerated course is designed for highly motivated and talented students who have successfully completed the objectives of the second year of study and plan to take AP Spanish their senior year. The course will be conducted exclusively in Spanish and the use of language in class is mandatory. Students will review and expand their vocabulary and grammatical knowledge with increased emphasis on speaking, writing, listening, and reading comprehension. The text is Realidades Level II. Students will be studying the first half of the book.

Spanish IV This course is designed for advanced students of the Spanish language. The primary means of furthering students' language skills will be through the reading and study of Latin American and Spanish literature from the 19th and 20th centuries. Genres include short stories, drama, poetry, and may also include excerpts from novels. Students will be required to research and present biographical information on each author they read. An emphasis will also be placed on major historical and political events, which may influence the various authors and literary pieces they will read throughout the year. While listening and speaking skills are emphasized, reading and writing skills take on a greater importance. The class is conducted almost exclusively in Spanish.

Honors Spanish IV This accelerated course is designed for highly motivated and talented students who have successfully completed the objectives of the third year of study and plan to take AP Spanish their senior year. The course will be conducted exclusively in Spanish and the use of the language in class is mandatory. Students will review and expand their vocabulary and grammatical knowledge with increased emphasis on speaking, writing, listening, and reading comprehension. The text is Realidades Level II. Students will be studying the second half of the book.

AP Spanish The AP Spanish course is the most rigorous in the Spanish department. This course is conducted exclusively in Spanish and the use of the language in class is mandatory. The main purpose is to prepare students to take the AP exam. The exam requires a wide range of knowledge and vocabulary and a high level of fluency in writing and oral abilities. The course is designed to help the student demonstrate his/her skills in the following areas of communication: interpersonal (interactive communication:, interpretive (receptive communication), and oral presentation (productive communication). The text is Una vez mas. Students must understand that this is a college level course. Thus, it requires more time, commitment, and energy than any other course. In addition, the student must be prepared to spend a minimum of one extra hour every day of the week to do work outside of the classroom. The student has the responsibility of meeting deadlines on all projects, homework, and to seek extra help if necessary.