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Upper School

In Upper School students and faculty focus on the school mission of being a college preparatory school that graduates accomplished, creative, intellectually curious young adults prepared to contribute responsibly to the world. A safe and inclusive classroom environment allows students to develop self-knowledge, master the depth and breadth of a wide range of topics, and enhance the management of their own learning. 

mark gsellman spencer and karsten
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Recognizing that life in an increasingly interconnected world requires critical-thinking skills and a sense of international-mindedness, West Sound Academy has adopted an International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, offering IB Diploma Programme coursework.  Students have the option of pursuing the full or partial IB Diploma Programme when conducting their course selections during the spring or summer before their Junior year. West Sound Academy graduated its first IB Diploma Programme students in 2013. The holistic, integrated programme has gained wide-spread recognition and respect from the world’s leading universities.

IB Diploma Programme curriculum ensures a breadth of experience in languages, social studies, the experimental sciences, mathematics and the arts. In addition the programme has three core requirements that are included to broaden the educational experience and challenge students to apply their knowledge and understanding:

  • The Extended Essay - Students engage in independent research through an in-depth study of a self-chosen question relating to a specific International Baccalaureate (IB) subject, and complete a 3,000 to 4,000 word paper. The Extended Essay Coordinator guides the Candidate through the entire Extended Essay process, and assigns each candidate a supervisor from the WSA faculty who provides individual support and guidance.
  • Theory of Knowledge is a course designed to encourage each student to reflect on the nature of knowledge by critically examining different ways of knowing (perception, emotion, language and reason) and different kinds of knowledge (scientific, artistic, mathematical and historical).
  • Creativity, Action, Service (CAS) - Students actively learn from the experience of doing real tasks beyond the classroom. These tasks have real consequences from which students can achieve genuine accomplishments and success or failure; each consequence provides a powerful means of learning.  Students in all grades participate in CAS activities at varying levels with the intention of developing measurable learning outcomes after each activity.

Pre-International Baccalaureate Courses offered in the 9th and 10th Grades

Students in Grades 9-10 have a selection of challenging college preparatory courses in the six academic areas of the Diploma Programme.

The curriculum stresses critical and disciplined thinking, effective communication and scientific analysis, and creative problem solving. Skills introduced and reinforced in the classroom, including critical reading, critical writing, and document analysis and evaluation, will prepare students for the rigors of the Diploma Programme and for success in college after their years at West Sound.

     Ninth Grade Physics class builds siege engines
History – US History 1840 – 1940; US History post-1940; US History for the ELL Student
English – American Literature; World Literature
Language Acquisition – Spanish, French or English
Experimental Sciences – Physics and Chemistry
Mathematics – Algebra, Geometry, Algebra II, and Pre-Calculus
Art – Visual Art and Art History
mark gsellman upper school music

Other Electives

  • Drama and Technical Theater Skills
  • STEM and Computer Science
  • Physical Education
  • Dance
  • Journalism and Literary Magazine
  • Documentary Film
  • Sculpture and Ceramics
  • Music Ensemble

WSA Diploma & International Baccalaureate Diploma Program Courses
      offered in the 11th and 12th grades

Students have the option of completing the full diploma as a Diploma Candidate or participating in the Diploma requirements in some of the courses as Diploma Course Students. Students may also choose not to participate in any of the external assessments of the IB program.

mark gsellman olivia art class

Group 1 — English Literature or Self-Study in the student’s Native Tongue
Group 2 — Second Language
Group 3 — Individuals and Societies:  History
Group 4 — Experimental Sciences: Biology or Chemistry
Group 5 — Mathematics offered at three levels
Group 6 — Visual Arts
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Additional classes