Nurturing Living Connections, Early Childhood through Grade 12

Grade 12

The Twelfth Grade is a year of culmination, synthesis, reflecting on the past, and striding forth into the school of life. With college looming for seniors, a considerable amount of energy must be devoted to the SAT’s, college guidance, portfolio preparation, the Senior Projects, the senior trip, and the senior play. The independence and initiative of the students are challenged in entirely new ways to prepare them for setting out on what has become the lifelong journey of self-education.

Capacities of cognition have grown strong through earlier stages of observation, critical thinking, comparative and process thinking, analytical thinking, to come to the gateway of the next stage – the power to comprehend broad perspectives and creatively to envision their synthesis. As this quality of mobile, living thought engages with material of genuine substance, the student begins intuitively to see how a multiplicity of factors fits together as one whole, and how diverse phenomena – whether natural, historical, or geographical – are illuminated when seen as expressions of the wider context.

The effort to see things whole and to enter fully into contemporary life may be exemplified by the Economics Main Lesson. Competing views of capital, labor, the role of government, environmental issues, entrepreneurship, free enterprise, trade issues, etc. are thoughtfully surveyed and balanced against one another. Similarly, the “Symptomatology” History Main Lesson illustrates through key thinkers the transformation of ideas of Nature and Self, Science and belief, posing questions about the limits and possibilities of knowledge.

Zoology heightens awareness for the interrelationship of organism and environment. The complexity of contemporary issues in the interface between freedom/rights-government-international relations again is a field for winning new powers of discernment. In Literature, the focus on the role of evil in Faust becomes the springboard for deep conversations about the moral structure or arbitrary nature of the universe, intensified by the study of the Transcendentalists and, for example, The Grand Inquisitor of Russian Literature.

The many-faceted Waldorf curriculum has provided the students with opportunities and helped them build capacities, which seniors awaken to just as they prepare to leave. In this crowning year, there often comes a key moment when the individual acknowledges with deep gratitude the contribution of the class community to her or his personal growth. The students also come to realize the breadth, depth, and liveliness of the education they have received and meet their teachers in a new way, as collaborators and fellow researchers, as well as dedicated mentors. The panorama of the senior exhibit, portfolio work, and projects testifies to the integrated balance of thinking, feeling, and willing that the students have achieved. The students intuit that each individual has been recognized, appreciated, and guided to develop qualities of character, creativity, courage, and insight from the full spectrum of human potential. The continuing discovery of the Self and one’s place in the world has just begun.

Main Lesson Subjects Art, Handwork & Special Projects
  • Zoology
  • Drama
  • Botany
  • World History
  • Economics
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Transcendentalists
  • Literature: Faust
  • History through Architecture
  • Painting
  • Sculpture
  • Stone Carving
  • Bookbinding

Curriculum Described


Transcendentalists Main Lesson

In this course, students study the writings of R.W. Emerson (Journal and essay on “Self-Reliance”), Henry David Thoreau (Walden and “Civil Disobedience”), Walt Whitman (“Leaves of Grass”) and Emily Dickinson in the context of the nineteenth century Transcendentalist movement in New England, writing reflections and poems inspired by the works of these writers. During the week of study of Thoreau, Conrad Vispo works with the students on nature observations for part of each period, in connection with which a “nature journal.” In addition, each student must give an oral report on a literary or historical figure or movement relating to The Transcendentalists. The class takes a field trip to Amherst, MA, to take a tour of the Emily Dickinson homestead.

Civil Rights

This class begins with a study of the American Civil Rights movement, based on the summer reading assignment of Anne Moody’s Coming of Age in Mississippi, followed by the development of several significant senior writing projects: a research paper related to each student’s individual senior project, a personal essay and the supplemental college application essays. Assignments include research development, thesis construction, and the creation of an outline and a first draft.

Russian Literature

In this class, students read Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, all 550 pages. The only writing required is written reactions to the daily readings in each class. Credit is given to those who participates in discussions and write thoughtful reactions.

Faust Faust deals foremost with the themes of evil and knowledge. This block offers an introduction not only to this monumental tragedy, but also to the life and work of one of the most prolific thinkers of the post Renaissance era. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe spent nearly his entire adult life working on Faust (parts one and two). Though it is set in Medieval Europe, the themes are becoming ever more pertinent. A thorough understanding of Faust gives students the tools to understand current events with greater awareness. In studying Faust, the class concentrates on Goethe’s unique treatment of the theme of evil, which runs throughout the play. A large part of the lessons is devoted to relating the contents of Faust with contemporary issues.

Top of Page



This first unit of calculus covers limits. Initially considered pictorially and graphically, the unit covers both infinite limits and limits at infinity.

Honors Calculus

This session’s work continues with derivatives and introduced product and quotient rules. There was a derivatives exam. The session included a unit on the derivatives of trigonometric functions.

Honors Calculus 2

This final session introduces a number of topics. These include the chain rule for derivatives, maximum and minimum word problems involving costs, areas and volumes, some work with sums of series, anti-derivatives, areas and definite integrals. The final assignment is to compare a classic solution of Archimedes’ with a modern calculus solution to an area problem.

Practical Math

This math class starts the year with review work aimed at the upcoming SAT exams. The review consists of Algebra one and algebra two, geometry, trigonometry, and statistics. Then the class embarks on a new mathematical frontier – Functions.

Practical Math Session II

This session the students decide on topics that they would like to review as they finish their high school math curriculum. The topics are presented in a seminar format. Fractions, percents, logic, and probability are presented in the context of exponential functions. Students use interest rates and the world population growth to explore these math concepts.

Practical Finance

Practical finance is taught this year to grades 11 and 12 together. The topics covered are budgets, checking accounts/debit cards, credit cards, investments, lease/buy options and insurance. This is a seminar class that meets twice per week for six weeks. The goal of the class is to help prepare the students to be financially responsible.

Economics – Main Lesson

The Senior Economics block explores the foundations and main features of economics, the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services. In addition to traditional economic theories and systems, this includes an investigation into new and creative economic ideas and models that could promote a healthier, more balanced society. As a framework for understandings, the class develops a picture of the three spheres of society – economy, government, and culture, and explored the possibilities for healthy boundaries and relationships between these spheres. To begin, the class approaches economics through an historical and broad societal outlook, which includes explorations into the theories, biographies, and written works of Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and Rudolf Steiner. The class focuses on aspects of the modern economy including land, labor, and capital; forms of ownership; globalization; and more. Students also take a historical and contemporary look at money and finance. The block is supplemented by readings and small group discussions, video clips, field trips, independent research, and guest speakers.

Top of Page


Zoology Main Lesson

This course gives an overview of the animal kingdom, beginning with how human beings have arranged species into categories, as a way to better understand them. The class studies single-celled organisms, then move on to more complex groups, such as sponges and cnidarians (coelenterates). The second week of the course is the trip to Hermit Island, Maine, where the class meets with senior classes and teachers from seven other Waldorf schools to study marine zoology and associated subjects “in the field.” The last week, the class takes up the characterization and classification of the vertebrates, from fishes to amphibians and reptiles, to birds, and finally mammals. Also considered is Charles Darwin’s role in the development of evolutionary theory, and the human being’s relationship to the rest of the world of living organisms.


Twelfth grade chemistry begins with a macro view of matter in observing Brownian motion. The focus then shifts to the atomic level and the class explored various aspects of the structure of the atom. The nature of electrons and their configuration around the nucleus is discussed in the context of the periodic table. The topic of nuclear chemistry is explored at the conclusion of the block including radioactive decay, the half-life concept and nuclear fission. The basic design of a nuclear power plant is also covered.

Physics Twelfth grade physics is the study of optics. Studies include work on reflection from plane and curved surfaces, refraction, lenses, and Snell’s Law. Students also study Newtonian and Goethean color theory and the history of the study of light. The block includes biographical work on Sir Isaac Newton. The required book consists of seventeen plates, twelve optical illusions, and a series of color studies. The students are expected to complete two essays on Newton and a biography of Newton or Goethe. In addition, they each complete an artistic or research project.

Optics – Main Lesson

The interaction of light and our sense of sight provide us with important input to help us navigate the world we live in. In this main lesson we investigated how these two fascinating aspects of our environment work together. We studied the anatomy of the eye, the sense of perception, and how these two aspects of sight work together to illuminate our world. We then studied the laws of refraction and reflection and how light travels. The students were responsible for keeping a graphic journal. This document included the class notes, descriptions and illustrations of class demonstrations and exercises, and the students’ reflections on each class.

Top of Page

Social Studies


In this course, the class looks at the subject of economics from a variety of perspectives which includes both macro and microeconomic views. Students study and discuss the contributing factors to a free-market, capitalistic economy. In addition to gaining a grasp of basic economic terms and models, the class explores other factors. What is the human portion of the economic equation? How do we relate to each other through an economic realm? What role does a government play? How does that relationship change when other forms of government are considered? Readings include Wealth of Nations, Communist Manifesto, and articles and excerpts from other sources.

World History – Main Lesson

This block examines 20th century World History with an emphasis on American political and social involvement in a changing global world. Students explore the World Wars, the Reform Movements, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the media, and contemporary issues around Israel, Palestine, and Africa. The class utilizes primary source material, biography, and classroom discussions.

This block explores historical phenomenon occurring in a post WWII world with a focus on human rights. The study is thematic and topics included: the Cold War, Korea, Vietnam, civil rights, genocide, terrorism, and globalization. Participation in class activities and discussions is crucial. In addition, students are responsible for three major written assignments of their choice, including a student-conducted interview with an individual able to share significant memories of a historical event or era.

Latin American History

A comprehensive introduction to Latin America and the Caribbean, this course provides a foundation for understanding the cultures and societies of the region. The course covers such diverse topics as themes in Latin American literature and art; the contributions of Native peoples and Europeans to contemporary Latin American cultures; Latin American colonial and recent histories; interactions between Latin America and the rest of the world.

History through Architecture

This course is an overview of the development of architecture from pre-historic building methods to modern trends. Each student is responsible for putting together a cohesive main lesson book that briefly characterizes this evolution verbally and pictorially. They draw sketches from board drawings, view slides, and take a one-day, walking architectural tour of mid-town Manhattan.

Architecture – Main Lesson

This course is an overview of architecture and human development from prehistoric to modern times. Students are given two writing assignments on the course material, a final review test, and a project to individually research a specific building and/or architect. This culminates in presentations of their artistically designed and informative posters.

Top of Page

Fine & Practical Arts


The 12th grade performs a full length play. Throughout the rehearsal process, the class researched the art of ensemble building, character development, story-telling, and performance. Additional aspects included set building, costumes and promotion. Last year the class performed The Arabian Nights by Mary Zimmerman.


The High School Chorus consists of all the High School students who meet twice each week under my direction and accompanied by Cindy Gutter. Early in the semester we concentrated on easy pieces: Freedom Round, Black is the Colour of My True Love’s Hair, and Yenamanoa. We performed Black is the Color beautifully at the Thanksgiving assembly. In November we turned our attention to movements from Handel’s Messiah. These are challenging pieces and we had a rousing success in our winter concert.

Chorus – Session II & III

The High School chorus consists of all the High School students who met twice each week under the direction of Larry Glatt, accompanied by Cindy Gutter. The students performed Dodi Li, Yenamanoa, and Halle — the latter at the Spring Assembly. These works showed the chorus at its best, performing with energy, beauty and precision.  At the Rose Assembly students performed Ashokan Farewell by Jay Ungar, and at graduation we performed well in three movements from Mozart’s Requiem. Last year at graduation the chorus sang I’m Going Away more beautifully than we have ever done before.

Stone Sculpture

In this course, students work on a piece of alabaster of their choice. The class uses traditional carving tools, rasps, files, sandpaper and finally polish in order to create an either abstract or representational piece. Students first dress the stone and try to feel their way into the specific character of the stone to get inspired towards a shape or theme that would work well for their particular pieces. They then carve the stone into its desired shape, working from drawings they first create, pictures, or freely following their inspiration. After the pieces get polished they get mounted onto a wooden base if necessary.

Book Bindinggrade 11 book binding 1

This arts block focuses on the craft of traditional bookbinding. Students create examples from the history of bookmaking including simple single signature folios, fold books, and Ethiopian Coptic books. The final project consists of a traditional hardcover case-bound book, which the students may use as a sketchbook during their senior trip to Italy. Successful projects require careful planning, precision and good design skills.



In this course students develop portrait-drawing skill, through working from life and from photos. The culminating project is the self-portrait, for which each student has a choice of mediums, ranging from pencil to ink to pastel to oils.


Ensemble Eurythmy: The rehearsal and performance of music and speech eurythmy.

Top of Page

Foreign Language


The goal of the Spanish language program is to go beyond basic reading and conversational skills to develop a living connection to the language and to Spanish-speaking cultures. The students learn not only the grammar of the language, but also the culture, cuisine, geography, basic history, and literary highlights of Spanish-speaking countries, as well as its peoples’ struggles and their impact in other parts of the world. Emphasis is also placed on the development of foundational Spanish language skills so that students are prepared to deepen and expand their Spanish from an exchange or other immersion experience.


Using only German, the students discuss topics the class studies, such as politics, education, science, biographies, topical current events, German culture today, music, and literature. Each student is asked to keep a journal, engage in a foreign exchange correspondence and bring relevant questions to class. At the beginning of each lesson, students are required to report on a given subject. The class reviews the main elements of syntax and grammar, the tenses, relative clauses, the cases and conjugations while building up vocabulary through grammar books, stories, dialogue, poetry and songs. Students also present aspects of grammar to the rest of the class using a given text. Students work with short powerful texts, German scenes, newspaper extracts, and stimulating, relevant discussions on topics that the students can form an opinion about. The format of lessons include conversations among groups of students speaking German to each other and also through contacts with German speakers. Writing freely is encouraged. The class focuses on the beauty of the language by studying great poets. Reading and writing in German, quizzes, weekly homework assignments, taking initiative for their own learning, and active participation in class all contributes toward the student’s grade.

German Session III

In High School German the class focuses on a thorough review of grammar, conversation, expanding vocabulary, and literature. Each lesson contains recitation and dialogue. Immersing the students in the German language is a priority throughout the year. The students are given many opportunities to improve on writing skills and techniques, and gain an understanding of German literary styles. The class practices grammar by creatively preparing aspects of the lessons. Vocabulary study is a regular, weekly feature of classes. Students review the parts of speech, the verb subject agreement, consistent use of tenses, and direct and indirect object as applied in the four cases of the German language. The class is given ample practice writing in German and the year concludes with the opportunity to write a fairy tale to share with a younger grade. In this context, the plot, tension, and climax, as well as resolution and character description are discussed. The students’ assessment is based on their overall attitude in class, their ability to comprehend and speak German, their participation, completion of assignments, homework, performance during regular quizzes and during a cumulative review test.

Top of Page

Physical Education

During the Fall, the 11th and 12th grades are combined for PE. Activities range from outdoor competitive games, such as Capture the Football and soccer, to indoor dodgeball, folkdance or going for a walk in the woods, depending in part on the weather.

Session II

During the Winter, the 11th and 12th grade classes are combined for PE. There is a 6-week Social Dance block, taught by Cathy Curry-Gardinier, which includes Swing, Tango, Salsa and some modern line dances. Students also participate in classes led by guest teachers on a variety of activities, including kickball, double-Dutch jumprope, and Spatial Dynamics exercises.

Session III

In the winter following the dance block, the class practices Spacial Dynamics exercises, relay races to develop strength and agility, jumping rope, kickball, and soccer.

Top of Page



In the Ukulele Elective students meet three times a week for six weeks to learn and study this wonderful instrument.  The students are expected to play in class and practice at home. The students are asked to choose a song and learn to play it independently and present that song to the class at the end of the elective.


This class explores a selection of topics in physics, including conservation of momentum, centripetal acceleration, ohms law and resistance and induced current. The class includes demonstrations, lecture and problem sets. Each student is required to keep a notebook throughout the course.

Modern Poetry

The students are introduced to some of the major poets of the twentieth century, with particular emphasis on the various styles and techniques they used. The class reads (and listens to) selected poems of the respective poets, discussing their merits, qualities and innovations. Students endeavor to analyze them within the diverse cultural and sociopolitical contexts of our modern age. Most importantly, the class explores writing in the styles of the different poets; or letting themselves be creatively stimulated by the specific themes that are addressed.

Half the Sky

In this class students read Half the Sky, by Nicholas Kristof and Cheryl Wu Dunn, a book which focuses on human rights issues affecting women in the developing world. Assignments include reading, journal writing and school wide campaign to bring awareness to these issues.

Abstract Painting

In this block students work with oil paints. The class begins with an abstraction from nature, much like Georgia O’Keefe’s work. Students also work with the classical palette, compositional exercises, color meditations and variations of techniques. The class looks at a lot of work that was created over the last hundred years of abstraction. Much of what the students create would fit into the description of abstract expressionism and anthroposophical painting.

Modern Art History

This elective class explores modern art history beginning with Impressionism and continuing through subsequent art movements including Cubism, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism. Class work includes discussion and hands on exploration of techniques employed by the artists studied.

Top of Page

Senior Projects

Seniors work independently throughout the year to plan, organize, execute and document a senior project of their own choosing. Students work with an individual mentor who is an expert in the chosen field. The bulk of the work and the experience ideally take place outside of school hours. Projects range between artistic, academic and hands on experiences. Once complete, seniors make a formal project presentation to the school community. Successful projects fulfill individual student goals and exhibit their ability to work independently. Documentation is also shown at the presentations and includes: a related research paper in MLA format, a project description, journal entries documenting the project’s progress and any additional photo, video or audio documentation, as well as artifacts related to the project.

Top of Page

Translate »