Upper School General Studies Course Descriptions

Our educational roots are strong, deep and nourishing -- giving our students stability, support, and strengthening their ties to our tradition. While here, our teens test and develop their wings in a safe, creative and encouraging environment -- allowing them to lift themselves off to a flight of their own.


Curriculum Features

Advanced Placement courses are offered in English Literature and Composition, English Language and Composition, Calculus AB, Statistics, American History, European History, Government, World History, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, and Studio Art. At most, nine AP courses are offered each year. Due to AJA’s dual curriculum, AP students tend to take one AP course in 10th grade, up to two in the 11th grade, and up to three in 12th grade.

Honors courses are offered in American Literature, British Literature, Modern Literature, Creative Writing and Current Events, Geometry, Algebra II, Pre-Calculus, Statistics, International History of the U.S. through Novels and Film, World History, American History, Military History, Macro Economics, World Area Studies—Israel, Biology, Chemistry, Anatomy and Physiology, Advanced Physics, Environmental Science, and Hebrew.


  • EnglishOpen or Close

    Literature and Composition

    Literature and Composition is a course of study that emphasizes grammar and usage, vocabulary enrichment, various forms of composition and multiple genres of literature. This course is designed for a class of various learning abilities and levels of accomplishment, all of whom are working either at or above grade level. The study of traditional grammar and vocabulary enrichment enhances effective writing skills, and the study of various literary genres expands the student’s interpretive and analytical skills.

    American Literature: CP, Advanced and Honors

    The primary goals of this course are to examine classics from major periods in American Literature, to think critically and analytically about these works, and to write a variety of organized, and persuasive essays. Students write extensively in both expository and creative writing, including a major research paper. Vocabulary and advanced grammar study are also core components of this class.

    Creative Writing and Current Events

    This class explores composition and literature through studying various literary genres and a variety of current events. Most assessments are projects, papers and presentations. Provides opportunities to improve writing proficiency with emphasis on fluency, control, and style; emphasizes writing as a process with instruction in grammar, mechanics usage, and imaginative expression. Offers opportunities for independent writing assignments to examine a wide range of texts and styles,

    British Literature and Composition: CP and Honors

    British Literature and Composition is a course of study with emphasis on three components: a survey of British Literature, composition development, and vocabulary building. The literature begins with the Anglo-Saxon Period and traces the development of British Literature throughout the Medieval Period, the Renaissance, the Romantic Period, the Victorian Period, and the Modern/Post-Modern Periods. The curriculum incorporates literature analysis, historical context and vocabulary study into the development of writing skills. a means of not only avoiding errors but also of developing style. The course emphasizes in-depth interpretation and analysis of literature, critical thinking, and literary composition essay writing. The course stresses composition as a means of logically organizing and developing ideas in paragraphs and complete, concise essays.

    Modern Literature: CP, Advanced and Honors

    Modern Literature is a course designed to prepare students to think, converse, read, and write at the university level. In order to prepare students for the wide array of texts they will encounter in college, this class will 
    explore a range of literary genres, including novels, plays, short stories, poems, and nonfiction. The course will primarily consist of discussions, projects, presentations, and student-led lessons. This approach will encourage student motivation, teamwork, and critical thinking skills. 

    English Literature: Advanced Placement

    This is an advanced level course designed as a year’s study in literature representing various genres, periods, cultures, and themes. Since it is a college-level class with college-level requirements, students will have an opportunity to earn college credit by taking the AP examination. Due to the rigorous amount of reading and writing, the course is designed for students who are self-disciplined and self-motivated and who have demonstrated accelerated competence in writing and literary analysis.


    English Language and Compositions: Advanced Placement

    This course emphasizes critical thinking, reading, and writing through the study and discussion of expository, analytical, and argumentative essays. The course stresses the connection between reading and writing mature prose.

  • MathematicsOpen or Close

    Algebra I

    Algebra I is the basis of all subsequent high school mathematics (and many science) classes. Students primarily learn to work with variables and solve equations. Concepts covered include: linear equations and inequalities, polynomial, radical, and rational functions, and simple probability and statistics.

    Geometry: Informal and Euclidean

    This course provides a visual approach to conceptualizing Geometry. Uses informal reasoning processes including deductive and inductive reasoning, synthetic, coordinate, and transformational approaches to study congruence, similarity, parallelism, symmetry, and perpendicularity. The integration of algebraic skills and concepts to solve geometric problems is stressed.

    TI-83/84 required.

    Algebra II: CP and Honors

    Algebra II is a key element of mathematics. Fundamental concepts in and solutions methods for the following are taught: Systems of Equations and Inequalities; Matrices; Polynomials; Irrational and Complex Numbers; Quadratic Equations; Quadratic Relations and Functions; Conics, Polynomial Functions; Rational Polynomial Expressions; Exponential and Logarithmic Functions; Sequences and Series; Probability; and Trigonometric Functions. TI-83/84 required.

    Algebra III

    This is a course designed for the student that has completed Algebra II but feels that he or she would benefit from further instruction. It is an in-depth review of linear, quadratic, higher degree polynomial, rational, power, root, greatest integer, exponential, log, and piece-wise functions. Other topics covered are sequences and series, probability, trigonometry, analytic geometry, and matrices. Students are introduced to higher level problems not covered in Algebra II. A TI-83, 83+, 84, or 84+ is required .

    Pre-Calculus: Analysis

    Analysis is the essential link between Algebra and Calculus. It consolidates and enhances topics that students have encountered before, and takes them to the next level so that they will succeed in Calculus. Subject areas covered include: Function and Graphs; Trigonometry; Analytic Trigonometry; Additional Topics in trigonometry; Linear Models and Systems of Equations; Polynomial Functions: Graphs and Zeroes; Rational Functions and Conic Sections; Exponential and Logarithmic Functions; and Sequences, Inductions, and Probability. TI-83/84 required.

    Pre-Calculus: Analysis, Honors

    Analysis Honors is a deeper, more rigorous version of Analysis. Analysis is the essential link between Algebra and Calculus. It consolidates and enhances topics that the students have encountered before, and takes them to the next level so that they will succeed in Calculus. Subject areas covered include: Function and Graphs; Trigonometry; Analytic Trigonometry; Additional Topics in trigonometry; Linear Models and Systems of Equations; Polynomial Functions: Graphs and Zeroes; Rational Functions and Conic Sections; Exponential and Logarithmic Functions; Sequences, Inductions, and Probability; and Parametric Equations and Polar Coordinates. TI-83/84 required.

    Calculus AB: Advanced Placement

    The syllabus for this course is dictated by the AP Calculus AB Examination and includes differentiation and integration of polynomial, exponential, logarithmic, and trigonometric functions, as well as applications. Calculus is the culmination of all high school mathematics, and many diverse areas are tied together. Since, due to time constraints, much of the work must be done outside the classroom, the student needs self-discipline as well as mathematical expertise, especially in the mechanics of Algebra. There is significant drill throughout the year in preparation for the AP Examination. TI-83/84 required.

    Statistics:CP and Honors

    This course enables students to apply statistical methods in problem solving using data collected through experimentations, computer simulations, and other sources. Students have the opportunity to model statistical methods, derive probabilities, and make inferences.

    Statistics: Advanced Placement

    A student may take AP Statistics after successfully completing Algebra II Honors. This AP course is designed to be the equivalent of a college introductory course. Students with an A average in Algebra II College Prep will also be considered for this course. There are four basic parts of the course: exploring data, sampling and experimentation, anticipating patterns, statistical reference. TI-83/84 required.


  • Social StudiesOpen or Close


    World History: CP and Honors

    The purpose of this course is to present an overview of Western Civilization from the dawn of human history to the French Revolution of 1789. Topics to be discussed include the beginnings of human history, the rise of Egypt, the civilizations of the Fertile Crescent, the civilizations and contributions of the Greeks and Romans, the rise of Christianity and the role of the Church in European history, the Middle Ages and Feudalism, the growth of the modern nation-state, and the Age of Revolutions. The course will consist of lecture notes, map exercises, text reading and text exercises, a term project, and appropriate film viewing. Honors students will be given more in-depth notes and assignments as well as media center assignments.

    World History, Advanced Placement

    Advanced Placement World History is an intensive college-level course that examines key historical themes, including human-interaction with the environment, cultures, state-building, economic systems, and social structures from approximately 8000 B.C.E. to the present. Rather than just read about what happened in the past, students will learn how to be historians. A.P. World History students will read and analyze historical works written at the college level, craft their own interpretations of what happened in the past from historical evidence, compare and contrast cultures, significant individuals, and historical periods, and trace continuities and change over time.

    World Area Studies, Israel: CP and Honors

    This course examines the land and state of Israel, focusing on an investigation of the geographic, historic, cultural, economic and political development of the region.

    American History: CP and Honors

    The purpose of this course is to present an overview of American History from the Age of Exploration to the new millennium. Topics to be covered include: Early Discovery and Settlement; America and the British Empire; Eighteenth Century American Society; the Road to Revolution; the American Revolution; the Constitution; the Early Republic; the Age of Jefferson; Early Industrialization and Economic Growth; the Age of Jackson; Reform Movements; Westward Expansion and Manifest Destiny; American Society before the Civil War; the Antebellum South; the Growing National Crisis of the 1850s; the Civil war; Reconstruction; Post-Civil War Westward Expansion; Populism; the Rise of Big Business and the Labor Movement; Immigration and Urban Society; the Gilded Age; the Imperial Republic from 1865-1914; Progressivism; World War I; the Roaring Twenties; the New Deal; Diplomacy in the inter-war Years; World War II; Truman and the beginning of the Cold War; Eisenhower and the New Republicanism; Society in the 1950s; Kennedy’s New Frontier; Johnson’s Great Society; the Turbulent 1960s; Nixon and the Imperial Presidency; the Ford and Carter Years; Reagan and the New Conservatism; George Bush and the New World Order; and the Clinton Years.

    AP Government / Politics - US

    Conforms to College Board topics for the Advanced Placement United States Government and Politics Examination. Covers federalism, separation of powers, influences on the formulation and adoption of the Constitution, political beliefs, political parties and elections, interest groups, institutions and policy processes and civil liberties and civil rights.

    American History, Advanced Placement

    This is a challenging course designed to be the equivalent of a freshman or sophomore college course in United States History. The course is specifically designed to provide students with an in-depth study of United States History from 1607 through the modern day. Students should possess strong reading and writing skills and be willing to devote substantial time to study and the completion of class assignments. Emphasis is placed on analytical reading, essay writing skills, use of primary resources, and class discussion. Students successfully mastering the course material may earn college credit by passing the annually administered AP United States History Exam.


    This course covers the principles of economics. The topics included relate to Fundamental Economic, Microeconomics, and Macroeconomics Concepts, International economics, and Personal Finance Economics.


  • ScienceOpen or Close


    Biology: CP and Honors

    This course is designed as a first course in high school Biology stressing unity and diversity among living organisms; anatomy and physiology of plants and animals; principles of genetics and evolution; interactions between organisms and their environment; and proficiency in biological laboratory skills.

    Course No: 26.0140 A.P Biology

    This course is designed to be the equivalent of a two semester college introductory biology course usually taken by biology majors during their first year. The AP Biology course is designed to be taken by students after the successful completion of a first course in high school biology and on in high school chemistry. It aims to provide students with the conceptual framework, factual knowledge, and analytical skills necessary to deal critically with the rapidly changing science of biology. The topics covered on the course are molecules and cells, heredity and evolution, and organisms and populations

    Anatomy and Physiology: CP and Honors

    This course stresses the complement of structure and function in human anatomy and physiology. The integrating principle of homeostasis is used as a major theme to help students understand the complex and dynamic quality of life. All organ systems are studied with emphasis on diseases that affect each organ system. Laboratory work is an essential component of this course and includes the dissection of various organs in representative vertebrate organisms.

    Chemistry: CP and Honors

    Chemistry is the study of matter, the materials which encompass the world in which we work and live. This course focuses on the composition, structure, and property of matter, both physical and chemical, as well as their relationship to our environment and daily activities.

    Chemistry: Advanced Placement

    The AP Chemistry course is designed to be the equivalent of a college introductory Chemistry course. Topics are more wide-ranging and in-depth than those usually covered in high school chemistry and include chemistry basics, stoichiometry, organic and biological molecules, gas laws, acid,/base equilibrium, redox reactions, thermochemistry, chemical kinetics, transition metals and coordination chemistry.

    Environmental Science: CP and Honors

    The Environmental Science curriculum integrates the study of our environment, including the human impact on our planet. Instructional focus is on student data collection and analysis. Chemistry, physics, mathematical, and technological concepts are integrated throughout the course. Careers related to environmental science will be emphasized.

    Course No: 26.00620 A.P Environmental Science

    AP Environmental Science is designed to provide students with the scientific principles, concepts, and methodologies required to understand the interrelationships of the natural world, to identify and analyze environmental problems both natural and human-made, to evaluate the relative risks associated with these problems, and to examine alternative solutions for resolving and/or preventing them. The following themes provide a foundation for the structure of the AP Environmental Science course: (1) Science is a process, (2) Energy conversions underlie all ecological processes, (3) The Earth itself is one interconnected system, (4) Humans alter natural systems, (5) Environmental problems have a cultural and social context, and (6) Human survival depends on developing practices that will achieve sustainable systems.

    Introduction to Physics

    The Introduction to Physics curriculum provides an introduction to chemistry and physics. The curriculum includes the more abstract concepts such as the conceptualization of the structure of atoms, motion and forces, and the conservation of energy and matter, the action/reaction principle, and wave behavior. Students investigate physical science concepts through experience in laboratories and field work using the processes of inquiry.

    Advanced Physics

    Advanced Physics includes advanced abstract concepts such as interactions of matter and energy, velocity, acceleration, force, energy, momentum, and charge. Students acquire a deeper understanding of circular and angular motion, thermodynamics, electric and magnetic fields, particle physics, nuclear physics, and special relativity. The students investigate phenomena using the process of inquiry.


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    Hebrew Level I

    This course provides students with the foundations of Modern Hebrew language. Students will learn the Aleph-Bet, build vocabulary and will be introduced to the basics of modern Hebraic grammar. Spoken proficiency, including pronunciation, will be developed throughout the course.

    Hebrew Level II

    In the level II Hebrew course, students will improve their reading and listening comprehension, as well as spoken proficiency. In addition to expanding vocabulary, students will advance their grammatical skills, focusing primarily on the past, present and basic future tenses, as well as the imperative. At this level, students are required to write passages weekly.

    Hebrew Level III

    This is an Intermediate course where limited English will be spoken during class time. Students will improve written proficiency and learn the Hebrew basic verb construct in all tenses, which are necessary to become fluent in the language. This course will help students develop a more sophisticated vocabulary and deepen their knowledge of the semantics of Modern Hebrew.

    Hebrew Level IV

    This is an Intermediate course where no English will be spoken during class time. Students will improve written proficiency and master the Hebrew basic verb construct and will work to progress with two other constructs – Piel & Niffal, which are necessary to become fluent in the language. In this course students will develop more sophisticated vocabulary and deepen their knowledge of the semantics of Modern Hebrew. Students will read a novel in Hebrew (Gesher version) and will participate in class discussions based on the reading. Israeli newspapers, music and films are among the devices used to teach about Israeli culture.

    Hebrew Level V

    This is an Intermediate-Advance level. Students will read authentic short texts and poetry. Students will also read Hebrew novels (Gesher version), and will strengthen their Hebrew grammar and syntax. Students will read Israeli news articles, learn modern Israeli songs and watch Israeli films. This course emphasizes reading comprehension, oral expression and written proficiency; students will be introduced to creative writing following class discussions. The SAT II Hebrew Subject Test administrated by The College Board will be offered to students in this class. Understanding Israeli culture and history is a crucial aspect of the curriculum.

    Hebrew Level VI

    This is an Advanced Hebrew level. The Students in this class are Heritage Learners (HL) and Native Speakers (NS). Students will read authentic texts and poetry, along with Hebrew novels and Israeli news articles. Israeli music and films are an integral part of the class. This course will prepare students to take the SAT II Hebrew Subject Test administrated by The College Board. This course focuses on Hebrew grammar, syntax and reading comprehension. Oral expression and written proficiency will add to the depth of the class. Understanding Israeli culture and history is a crucial aspect of the curriculum.



  • Physical EducationOpen or Close

    Physical Education

    This elective provides instruction in methods to attain a healthy level of physical fitness. Students will develop a lifetime fitness program based on a personal fitness assessment and stresses strength, muscular endurance,flexibility, body composition and cardiovascular endurance. Includes fitness principles, nutrition, stress management, adherence strategies and consumer information; promotes self-awareness and responsibility for fitness.

    Intermediate Team Sports

    This elective is part of the physical education curriculum which develops skills and strategies in team sports such as basketball, volleyball, soccer, softball, baseball.

    Weight Training

    This course teaches strength development and proper lifting techniques.

    Yoga Exercise for Girls

    Girls will learn physical postures, and controlled breathing, and methods to help them relax. The class includes poise, balance and strength exercises.
  • ArtOpen or Close

    AP Studio Art

  • ElectivesOpen or Close




    Theatre Yoga fitness





    Photography Technology Improv


    Math Money Management (Financial Planning and Analysis)


    Peer Leadership

    Speech and Drama


    Computer Programming


    Jewish Philosophy

    Creative Writing


    Jewish Medical Ethics


    U.S. History, Multimedia

    SAT Prep
    Process of Jewish Law Music




    Ultimate Frisbee


    Mock Trial