Curriculum & Course Catalog

At Thacher, learning doesn’t stop when you leave the classroom.

Thacher's Visiting Scholars Program attracts a wide array of erudite and artistic disciplines as guests to campus throughout the academic year. Celebrated authors, scientists, activists, and intellectuals have accepted invitations to speak to our campus community. Whether it’s a Head’s Invitation after community dinner, a special engagement in the Milligan Center, or even a hands-on experience in GATES, Thacher’s Visiting Scholars Program is a reflection of the active engagement and outside-of-the classroom curriculum at which Thacher excels.

List of 1 frequently asked questions.

  • ∨ English

    English I
    English I is organized around the theme of The Examined Life. Broadly speaking, it is an exercise in metacognition: a chance for students, in some cases for the first time, to consider their own ideas and the factors that encourage them to think the way they do. As such, many of the key texts are in the bildungsroman tradition and serve as models for the examination of the self and of society. As we prepare students to engage in this sort of self-examination in their own writing, we will begin the year with an extended unit devoted to the personal essay. Here, we will establish a writing process that includes idea generation, writing to learn, drafting, and collaboration. Students will employ this writing process, and the vocabulary used to describe it, throughout their time at Thacher. Finally, in order to demonstrate the breadth of possible approaches to this sort of inquiry, we will consider a wide variety of genres, including essay, novel, memoir, drama, poetry, graphic novel, and short story. With an introduction to these essential ideas and skills, students establish a strong foundation that will allow them to exercise greater autonomy and engage in more sophisticated critical thinking in English II and beyond.
    English II
    Thacher’s mission statement begins with the claim that our school “trains young people in the art of living for their own greatest good and for the greatest good of their fellow citizens in a diverse and changing world.” In English II, we will explore the concept of “the greatest good” as it relates to our personal, local, and global lives. Course readings will highlight the cultural tradition of literature throughout our “diverse and changing world” and prompt students to interpret, analyze, synthesize and develop their points of view. Students will engage in genuine dialogue, challenge the status quo, ask the “un-asked” questions, and begin to see themselves as agents of change. As writers, students will express themselves coherently in a variety of modes and genres as they examine texts and their own experiences through a clear and critical lens. Students will develop critical thinking and media literacy skills, as well as academic discipline, group cooperation, and collaboration skills.
    English III Honors
    English III Honors is a study of voices. In conjunction with your history class, we examine the voices that form America and American identity. More specifically, we consider the echoing of these voices—how different figures use different genres to respond to and make anew that which came before. To this end, we engage with a variety of forms of literature—poetry, novels, literary criticism, essays, speeches, and plays—published anywhere between 1630 and 2014. Perhaps most importantly, English III Honors pushes students to find, understand, and use their own voices to join the rich and varied conversations. By the end of the year students have a strong understanding of various American experiences, an ability to critically read about these experiences, and the confidence to enter the conversations they invite.

    English IV Honors
    Seniors choose from a series of elective offerings to meet their English requirements. Seniors choose two courses: one for the fall/winter term, one for the spring term. The spring term offerings will be published later in the year for seniors to review and select from. Fall/Winter selections are listed below. Past English IVH offerings have included courses such as Technotopia; Immigrant & Diasporic Voices in American and English Literature; Essential Works of Toni Morrison; Shakespeare; Los Angeles Literary Culture; No One but Me: Writing our Identities; Theory and Practice of Adaptation.
    Glitch: Using the Humanities to understand our Tech-centric World 
    "Things aren't great, Internet. Actually, scratch that: they're awful." As the Wired magazine staff wrote in their 2016 open letter to the World Wide Web, things are pretty messy in our digital and increasingly technocentric world. While some tech pioneers have claimed that the internet set up "a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth", it feels like an understatement to say that it has failed spectacularly to live up to that promise. While we live in a world where anyone can express whatever they want to more people than ever before, we also live in the duality of the physical and digital worlds—where apathy, marginalization, alienation, and disillusionment about what constitutes fact and fiction dominate our social milieu. This senior elective seminar will explore the impact of the internet and digital technology on the human experience. From the assumed neutrality of a Google search algorithm to the endless scroll of catered content you supposedly “want” to the promise of solving all of our problems through a newer piece of tech, this class will be the starting point for numerous ethical and humanistic inquiries about the modern human condition and how we got here. More broadly, we will work to improve our abilities to effectively communicate sophisticated ideas to a target audience(s).  We will ask critical questions about race, gender and sexual identity, class, the environment, institutions, and systems (economic, bureaucratic, etc.) in an effort to heighten our awareness of technology’s impact on our world.

    Magic in Service of Truth 
    In this course we will explore the narrative mode of magical realism through selected short stories and two novels. We will investigate the origin of the term “magical realism” describing post-expressionist art, its transfer to the blossoming literary world of Latin America in the middle part of the 20th century, and its ultimate growth into an internationally utilized literary technique. 

    Perspectives on Nature 
    In Perspectives on Nature we will investigate the widely varied human relationship with the natural world. Looking first into origin stories of various cultures- from hunter-gatherer tribal ritual and myth, to the myths of proto-agriculturalists and the first civilized societies- we will seek the cosmologic fundamentals that informed early natural-societal interactions. We'll study myriad religious perspectives: Judeo-Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Taoist beliefs, as well as delving into the ecstatic nature poetry of the T’ang Dynasty in China. Our pursuit will then lead us to Renaissance and Enlightenment thinkers such as Francis Bacon and Renee Descartes, and on into the Protestant, scientific, industrial, and democratic revolutions and their effects on the European and, ultimately, American idea of wilderness. 
    The Empire Strikes Back: Immigrant & Diasporic Voices in American and English Literature 
    This course will explore works of literature that have emerged from colonial and post-colonial territories during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.  We will read works from representative English and American immigrant authors who work within the post-imperial framework, even as they assume the daunting challenge of cultural decolonization. Building on themes explored sophomore and junior year, we will consider questions such as: What effects did/does colonization have on individual identity and collective culture? How are those effects revealed in the works studied? What role does language play in the culture of imperialism? Is it significant that these authors write in the language of the colonial power? Authors and books for our possible consideration include: Junot Díaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao; Chimamanda Adichie, Americanah; Jhumpa Lahiri, Unaccustomed Earth; Tommy Orange, There There; Edwige Danticat, The Farming of Bones; Celeste Ng, Everything I Never Told You; and Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony; Ocean Vuong, On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous.
    What Moves at the Margin: Essential works of Toni Morrison 
    “I stood at the border; I stood at the edge and claimed it as central. I claimed it as central, and let the rest of the world move over to where I was.”  Toni Morrison
    Toni Morrison (born Chloe Anthony Wofford, in 1931 in Lorain,Ohio), the second of four children in a black working-class family, was a precocious child who displayed an early interest in literature and the power of words. Winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in literature, she started her literary career as a critic and editor for Random House, specializing in African-American literature. She made her debut as a novelist in 1970, and soon gained the attention of both critics and a wider audience for her "epic power, unerring ear for dialogue, and her poetically-charged and richly-expressive depictions of Black America." Morrison famously said many times that whatever we need to know about her and what she cared about can be found in her fiction. In this course we will read a range of works from both Morrison's fiction and non-fiction to consider what Carolyn C. Denard suggests might be important in our efforts to understand fully Morrison's "unrelenting passion to leave, it seems, no stone unturned in her interpretation of the large and small of Black life-– the defeats and the triumphs, the remembered and the forgotten, the myths and the music." In her introduction to the collection of Morrison's essays from which this course takes its name, Denard also writes: "What, we might ask, drives Morrison to use fiction in this kind of culturally and historically expansive way? What influences have shaped the world view she brings to her understanding of African American life and to the role the novel plays in its interpretation? What matters to her outside the novels even as it influences what goes on inside them? What, as the children ask the old woman in the story Morrison told in her Nobel Lecture 'moves at the margin' of her fiction that informs, orders, and gives intellectual energy to her life commitments and to her role as writer?"

List of 1 frequently asked questions.

  • ∨ Fine and Performing Arts

    Introduction to the Arts
    Introduction to the Arts is a year long course for all 9th grade students. The course rotates each trimester with an introduction to studio arts, performance studies and music. The students learn various aspects of drawing, drama and playing musical instruments through various techniques and self expression. This class gives the students an introduction to all the art electives offered in 10th grade and will help them choose a course based on their interests.
    Actors Studio
    Actors Studio is a course that builds upon the basic principles of acting through improvisation, devised work, ensemble building, character analysis, textual interpretation, voice, movement, and collaboration. Special emphasis is placed on the creation and production of monologues, open scenes, and scenes pulled from full length plays. 
    The Actors Studio runs in conjunction with Advanced Acting, and is open to students who’ve completed Advanced Acting. These students will continue to build upon the fundamental skills learned in Advanced Acting, and dive deeper into text and character analysis by taking on new challenges with heightened language and higher stakes. These students will have many opportunities to lead in class throughout the year, as outlined below:

    - Help facilitate vocal and physical workshops
    - Lead presentation on prose v. verseParticipate in material selection and assist in the direction of the two hander scenes 
    - Run casting workshop 

    - Direct 10-minute scenes

    Advanced Acting
    This course is designed for those who are interested in continuing their studies of acting and performing, those who want to build more confidence speaking in public settings, and those who want to help develop Thacher’s theater program in significant ways. The students in this class will participate in extensive scene study, approaches to acting techniques, and collaborative performance projects. The actors will delve more intensely into the building and function of the ensemble, the creative self, character study, sensory awareness, releasing the natural voice, and improvisation. This course is built around a cross-cultural curriculum designed to promote transparency and equity. The performance of monologues, dialogues, and group scene work will further the experience and growth of each performer. In addition to understanding acting and performance techniques, we will focus on the process of devising and sharing new work. 
    Open to 10th, 11th and 12th grades

    This year-long course is an exploration of the methods and materials of the art of ceramics. Students will learn a variety of hand-forming techniques including pinch, slab, and coil construction. Wheel throwing instruction is central to this course as we will focus on throwing and trimming techniques throughout the year. By the end of the year, students will be able to throw and trim cups, mugs, bowls, plates, vases, and lidded jars. Various methods of surface decoration will be explored as opportunities for greater self-expression. Glazing methods and techniques will be learned along with kiln loading. 
    Open to 10th, 11th, and 12th grades 

     Advanced Ceramics
    This year-long course builds upon the work done in Ceramics I with an emphasis on creating and trimming more challenging and complex forms on the wheel.  We will take a closer look at some of utilitarian ceramics' more important details and will discuss a variety of issues that potters encounter when creating utilitarian pieces. By the end of the year, students will be able to create larger wheel-thrown work including platters, large bowls, teapots, and sectional pieces. Students will learn to craft handles, lids, and spouts, and will have the opportunity to begin working with porcelain. While honing our craftsmanship will remain central, we will continue to explore new methods of surface decoration and glazing as opportunities to develop a personal voice in the medium. This class is intended for students who have at least one year of previous wheel experience and wish to further express their creativity through clay.
    Prerequisite: Ceramics I or Instructor Approval. Open to 10th (instructor approval required), 11th, and 12th grade students.

    Advanced Ceramics Studio Practice
    This year-long course is for ambitious students who wish to continue their exploration of stoneware and porcelain clay after taking Advanced Ceramics. Advanced Ceramics Studio Practice is an intensive exploration of the functional and expressive aspects of clay. This course is geared towards expanding advanced technical skills and bringing narrative and personal voice to both thrown and sculptural projects. Students will apply the technique and design skills developed throughout their study in the previous ceramics courses to create more meaningful and complex pieces. Students will hone their skills through a variety of projects in the fall and will later pursue independent projects, where they will apply their knowledge of materials, tools, and techniques for a deep dive into a particular theme of their choice. This course requires a greater time investment outside of class time than the other ceramics courses. Studio maintenance (i.e. mixing glazes, loading kilns), time management, and self/group critique are essential to this course. 
    Prerequisite: Advanced Ceramics and Instructor Approval. Open to 11th, and 12th grades 

    Chamber String Ensemble
    This is a course of study in repertoire for string ensemble, and is open to students who have played violin, viola, cello, or concert bass for at least two years. We will perform a wide-range of musical styles from the Baroque era through 20th Century music, including film, Broadway, and even pop music. This ensemble will periodically collaborate with the Jazz Ensemble to perform larger works in the jazz style. On and off-campus performances will be available throughout the school year. Private lessons are recommended for musicians enrolled in this class.
    The honors designation is given to string musicians who have already performed for at least one year in the Chamber Strings ensemble.
    Open to 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grades
    Electronic Music and Composition
    This course is a current approach to teaching students the necessary tools and techniques to create contemporary electronic music in a variety of styles, including drum and bass, trance, house, trap, and more.  For each style, there will also be a research and analysis component, in which students learn to listen critically to selected pieces.  Students are then responsible for creating a complete piece of music for that style.  You will learn the history of electronic music with listening examples that highlight the important people, technology, and techniques associated with the style.  Students will learn the basics of synthesis through the study of analogue models. They will study synthesizer programming and the creation of new sounds, along with a discussion of MIDI and contemporary software applications, including sequencing and plug-in programs such as Reason, Cubase, Ableton Live, and others.
    This class is limited to 7 students. 
    Open to 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grades
    Honors Chamber Singers
    The Chamber Singers is open by audition only and is a year-long course. The Chamber Singers study a wide range of music from the Renaissance to the present day and in several different languages. For the past several years they have received gold medal (superior) ratings in festivals and have toured around the world. The group has many performance opportunities throughout the year. Students wishing to take this course must schedule an audition.  
    Open to 10th, 11th and 12th grades

    Intermediate Studio Art
    This course builds upon the work done in Introduction to the Arts with emphasis on the development of drawing and painting skills. Students will work from observation and from their imaginations. The effective use of the measuring systems will be practiced along with linear and tonal studies in pencil, charcoal and paint. Students will be encouraged to be imaginative and express their originality, as well as creating works emphasizing careful observational rendering.
    Open to 10th, 11th and 12th grades

    Introduction to Photography
    This year-long course in photography will introduce students to the art of photography. Students will learn how to use features such as the aperture, shutter speed and ISO, and how to use a light meter. The class will research methods to obtain proper exposures and creative control and composition to improve image quality. Students will be introduced to basic editing skills using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. Students will also spend one trimester being introduced to the art of film photography. They will work on traditional 35MM black and white film photography. Introducing them to using the darkroom, learning how to properly expose and develop their own film, use enlargers, make their own prints, and finish them on matted board. This portion teaches them to be mindful of what is in the frame, to consider the lighting and exposure, and to put more thought into each photograph. Class time will be divided between working periods, lectures, and critique. Critiquing and learning to discuss composition and intent are an important part of this class. A majority of the work is done during class time, but some projects will require work outside of class. Students will need a DSLR camera. The School has a limited number, so if students have their own DSLR camera, they are encouraged to bring them. Students will also need to have an external hard drive to store all their work.
    Open to 10th, 11th and 12th grade students.

    Advanced Photography
    Advanced Photography will continue the knowledge gained in the introductory photography class. This advanced course will build upon students’ skills in Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom and introduce Premier and filmmaking. This will be a project-intense course that will ask students to apply concepts such as lighting, design, composition, and color to the fields of portraiture, still life, photojournalism, landscape, and more. The course will also include an advanced study of print photography, and students will use the darkroom to create composite with film and hone their film printing skills. Students will use their advanced photography skills to focus more on building projects for the public, including creating larger canvas prints for art gallery displays in the Gates. Finally, the course will include a section on documentary and/or creative film making, giving students the opportunity to produce, create and edit a short film. Students are required to have an external hard drive to store their projects. It is strongly suggested that students have their own DSLR camera, although the school has a limited supply on hand if students don’t have their own. 
    Prerequisite: Introduction to Photography or Instructor Approval
    Open to 10th (with instructor approval), 11th and 12th grades
    Jazz Ensemble
    This is a performance class open to all players of woodwinds and brass, as well as rhythm section musicians (guitar, bass, piano, drums). Students meet after dinner for a double period twice per week and rehearse music ranging from big band jazz and modern jazz classics to pop-rock and film music. There are several performances scheduled throughout the year. Private lessons are recommended for musicians enrolled in this class. String instrumentalists must be concurrently enrolled in the Chamber String Ensemble.
    Open to 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grades

    Advanced Jazz Combo
    This audition-based small ensemble will rehearse and perform jazz standards and modern tunes, and perhaps some originals. Musicians will be expected to do the work needed to perform, and improvise on, medium and advanced level jazz repertoire, and keep up with the rapid rehearsal pace. The class will be challenging, but a lot of fun! Private lessons are recommended for musicians enrolled in this class. Auditions will take place during the Spring trimester. Winds and rhythm section musicians must be concurrently enrolled in the Jazz Ensemble. String instrumentalists must be concurrently enrolled in the Chamber String Ensemble. Students in this course receive honors credit.
    Open to 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grades
    Jazz Workshop
    This course is for guitarists, pianists, bassists and drummers interested in improving their abilities in various styles of music including jazz, rock, and pop music. Guitarists and pianists will develop chord voicings, bassists will learn how to “walk” bass lines, and drummers will improve their ability to play challenging drum patterns. We will focus on the group dynamic, learning to support each other and create a cohesive balance and feel. We will also spend time developing skills in improvisation. There will be performance opportunities throughout the year. Private lessons are recommended for musicians enrolled in this class. Winds and rhythm section musicians must be concurrently enrolled in the Jazz Ensemble. String instrumentalists must be concurrently enrolled in the Chamber String Ensemble.
    Open to 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grades 

    Wood Design
    With the advantage of a fully-loaded professional facility, this course takes students well beyond the traditional “wood shop” class. In this full-year art elective, you will study design theory and history, hand and computer-aided drafting, as well as traditional woodworking techniques to design and construct a unique piece of fine furniture built to the standards of a family heirloom. 
    We begin the course with elements of design that include the use of line, space, scale, proportion, and grain orientation. Through sketching, drafting, making scale models, and sharing creative discussion, you will explore the design of your piece. As you begin construction, you will learn how to use hand and power tools safely and accurately, dimension and mill lumber, and construct accurate joints. The year culminates with a campus gallery show of your unique, handcrafted furniture. 

    While completing a piece of fine furniture requires plenty of individual work, we foster a creative, collegial atmosphere in the class, a space where students feel welcome, supported, encouraged, and inspired. If you’d like to find out more, contact any of this year’s woodworkers or email Mr. Bueti or Mr. Manson. We will happily answer your questions!
    Open to 10th, 11th and 12th grades

    Honors Art History
    This course is designed to provide the foundation for the study of Art History and to prepare students for advanced study in any of the specific topics and art historical eras covered. It will offer an in-depth introduction to prehistoric, ancient, and European art as well as critical introductions to Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Pre-Columbian American, and African art. Emphasis is placed on developing appropriate art historical vocabulary, on understanding the intersection of cultural context and individual artistic expression, and on the formal compositional considerations that painters, sculptors, photographers, and architects use in constructing their work. It is also essential that students understand the historical, social, political, economic, and aesthetic background of a given piece, in order to understand, in the fullest possible context, what they are examining.
    The course will involve a series of approaches to ensure student learning. Students will develop skills of visual analysis, listen to introductory lectures, and read general background information from their texts. Armed with this information, they will engage, under the direction of the instructor and the library staff, in rigorous research that will result in oral presentations made either individually or collaboratively, in responding to timed tests that will assess their recall, and in analytical essays that will examine individual pieces of art. There is a possibility of at least one trip to a major museum in the Los Angeles area to enhance our studies. 
    Open to 11th and 12th grades

    Advanced Studio Art
    Advanced Studio Art is for students who wish to continue with drawing and painting after Intermediate Studio Art and who are considering Advanced Studio Practices their senior year. Advanced Studio Art will be geared towards developing painting and drawing skills and a personal voice. Students will work in a variety of media and develop their skills in drawing and painting through a variety of projects.
    Prerequisite: Intermediate Studio Art and/or intensive summer study at an art school.
    Advanced Music Theory
    How does music work? I’ve been playing, singing, or writing music for some time, but I don’t really understand what I am doing. What makes something sound good? What is harmony? How do chords work together? How can I better understand music in order to interpret and perform, or write my own? How do the works of composers and songwriters in the past inform music making today? Students will engage in a study of harmony and counterpoint, sight singing, ear training, score study, active listening and dictations. Application is made to classical, jazz, and contemporary popular music styles. This is intended for instrumentalists, singers and composers who want a solid foundation in their musical understanding. Don’t just play—understand the music you’re learning. 
    Prerequisites: Previous study of an instrument, voice, or previous theory study and consent of instructor.  Open to 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grades
    Honors Music Theory, History, and Practice 
    Let’s dig deeper! This year-long course picks up where the Advanced Music Theory course left off in its theory study. We will continue to analyze music from the 19th and 20th centuries. In addition, we will explore the structure of contemporary idioms such as jazz, popular music, minimalism, and serialism. Students will study the history of these developments with an emphasis on specific composers and their works and will compose a number of pieces of their own. If you plan to continue your study of music in college, this course is highly recommended. 
    Prerequisite: Advanced Music Theory, Open to 10th, 11th and 12th grades

    Honors Studio Practice
    Honors Studio Practice is a class that will allow students to work independently on a series based on a theme of their choosing. They will develop a body of artwork that codifies a thesis. Through critique, development of the theme and technical revision, students will have created a body of art by year’s end that they will exhibit. Students will have the ability to create and develop a studio practice and a body of work in the medium/mediums of their choice. Students will be graded on the involvement, sophistication, development, and presentation of their work. Prerequisite: Intermediate Studio Art and Advanced Studio Art or teacher permission

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  • ∨ History

    World History
    This class is required for all ninth graders and represents the first course in the history sequence at Thacher. In a scaffolded process, students will learn to think like historians through critical reading of the textbook, scholarship, and primary documents, dynamic student-centered class discussions, and a diverse range of written assignments, debates, presentations, and multimedia exhibitions on world history and current events. This course also supports Thacher's wider efforts to onboard our students from a diverse array of backgrounds and set them up for success throughout their Thacher career and beyond as historically informed citizens of the world. Historical topics like religious difference, technological innovation, a belief in individual freedom and democracy, the growth of representative government, and industrialization have been, and continue to be, major forces throughout the world. We will also explore the emergence and spread of these forces over the last five hundred years from multiple perspectives in world history.
    In the fall, we introduce students to ethnography and autoethnography, as a process of learning and telling our stories to support a more inclusive, safe, and fun learning environment, inspire our initial inquiries into world history and current events, and introduce necessary organizational and analytical skill-building for more advanced research, analytical writing, presentations, and multimedia exhibitions. In the winter, we introduce the story of place and place-based learning to literally ground our studies of world history in where Thacher is located in the Ojai Valley and southern California and how the stories of place reflect world history in interesting ways in terms of ancient and early modern Indigenous, European, African, Jewish, Hindu, Arabic, Islamic, and Asian history and what we study in other disciplines at Thacher - for examples, subjects like Renaissance painting techniques, Arabic numbers, Algebra, and Algorithms! 1492 also figures prominently as a key moment in the history of globalization that we examine through the Columbian Exchange thesis and more recent scholarship to help our students understand the complexities of world history in terms of politics, economics, society, religion, ideas, the arts, science, the environment, and many others areas of student interest and inquiry. In the spring, we look at the Age of Revolutions and emancipatory internationalism that the American, French, Haitian, and Latin American revolutions inspired globally, how revolutionary change works, and how different peoples around the world responded to the rise of Europe, multiple waves of colonialism, empire-building, national unification projects, constitutionalism, intensifying, increasingly global wars, rapid industrialization, and other changes that continue to shape the modern world. Additionally, the course examines the First World War, its origins and legacies, the Age of Extremes, including the rise of Communism and Fascism, the Second World War and the Holocaust, the Cold War, Decolonization, and how some nations like Germany are dealing with a national past of war, colonialism, genocide, and questions of reparations. In addition, we will seek to understand how these forces are present in our twenty-first-century world by investigating a wide range of current topics, such as conflict in the Middle East, the emergence of Nationalism in Europe, the war in Ukraine, the pandemic, climate change and science. While much of our focus will be on how the West has spread liberalism, capitalism, and industrialization, we will pay special attention to how other parts of the world have responded to these changes and how people in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Oceania are historically informed in ways that also give shape to the modern world.

    Non-western History
    All 10th graders take a series of trimester-long non-western history courses. 11th and 12th graders are welcome to register for these classes as well, and will be given a spot dependent on enrollment. The offerings for this year might include the following, though are subject to change.
    “Af-Pak”: A History of Afghanistan and Pakistan
    This course closely examines the region comprising modern-day Afghanistan and Pakistan. You will study the role the British Empire had in shaping the state of Afghanistan and tipping the balance toward the creation of the modern state of Pakistan. You will also learn how the two countries have functioned as autonomous entities and players on the world stage. Additionally, themes such as governance, education, religion, economics, geography, gender equality, and U.S. foreign policy with both countries will receive significant attention. Importantly, the course puts a strong focus on contemporary happenings through daily current events and research presentations highlighting the challenges facing the region of South Asia today.

    History of Modern China
    This course begins with a look at 'traditional' China in terms of culture, religion/philosophy and political structures. The bulk of the class is then spent looking at the degree to which China is able to deal with the challenges posed by its involuntary interactions with the West and the subsequent “Century of Humiliation.” This thread is followed from the Opium wars, through the fall of the Qing dynasty and into the foundation of the People's Republic. The latter portion of the class looks at the rise of the Chinese Communist Party, its successes and failures, and the challenges it faces as it seeks to achieve the “Chinese Dream” under the current leadership of Xi Jinping. Students will continue to develop their analytical writing skills as well as engage in a lengthy research paper and formal presentation.

    Modern Middle East I, 1453–1918
    This two-part course will offer students an overview of the major social, political, religious and economic developments in the Middle East during the modern period, focusing on the events, intellectual trends and popular movements that have shaped the region over the past five centuries. Part I of the course will begin with the rapid growth and spread of Islam across the Middle East and North Africa, examining the scientific and cultural achievements of the Islamic world during the pre-modern period. The course will then turn to the rise of the Ottoman Empire in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and investigate the forces of imperialism and nationalism in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that led to its decline and ultimate collapse, giving birth to the modern Middle Eastern nation-state in the early twentieth century. Particular emphasis will be given to the history of relations between the Islamic world and the West and to the themes of modernity, globalization, nationalism, Orientalism and colonialism. The goal of the course is for students to develop the skills necessary to achieve mastery in expository writing, primary source analysis, and historical research to prepare them for advanced history courses. Students will submit regular written assignments and engage in frequent discussions and debates on Middle Eastern politics and history.

    Modern Middle East II, 1918–present
    Part II of the course will begin with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the redrawing of borders after World War I, and then consider the emergence of the modern Middle Eastern nation-state in the early twentieth century before examining more recent events in the region. Students will investigate topics such as the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Iranian Revolution, OPEC and the energy crisis, the First and Second Gulf Wars, and the Arab Spring with the goal of situating contemporary geopolitical issues in the Middle East in historical context. Particular emphasis will be given to tensions between Islam and modernity and to understanding US foreign policy in the Middle East over the course of the past century. The goal of the course is for students to develop the skills necessary to achieve mastery in expository writing, primary source analysis, and historical research to prepare them for advanced history courses. Students will submit regular written assignments and engage in frequent discussions and debates on Middle Eastern politics and history. Part II of the course will give students an opportunity to engage with a topic of their choosing and develop skills in the methods of writing history as part of a major research paper.
    The Pacific Rim Since WWII
    This course will examine the recent history of Japan, Korea, and China, with a specific focus on contemporary foreign policy issues, including the relationship between North and South Korea, China's economic development, and the Biden Administration’s efforts to reassert the U.S.’s role in the Pacific Rim after the damaging years of the prior administration.

    Latin America
    This course will examine the history of the twenty countries that make up Latin America from the Encounter to the present. One challenge we will face is trying to make sense of so broad a region in such a short time. The region hosts a broad range of cultures, geographies, political structures, and languages. By necessity, we will focus most of our energies on the larger and/or more historically revealing countries of the region, especially Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and Cuba. However, we will try to draw other countries into our discussions as well so that we can try to arrive at one story that works for the region as a whole. We will rely on our textbook as well as several primary source documents. 

    Honors U.S. History
    What is America? This course begins with the proposition that an answer to this question is best approached through a joint study of American literature and language and history. Therefore, we will seek to coordinate the disciplines of English and history so that students can gain a deeper understanding of not only American culture, history, politics, art, and literature, but also their relationship to the idea of America. In addition to using traditional textbooks, we’ll investigate a myriad of sources including fiction, non-fiction (speeches, essays, memoirs, and editorials), art, advertisements, film, music, and artifacts of popular culture in our quest to contemplate the American past and present in innovative and creative ways. While you will still have distinct history and English class periods, the courses’ syllabi will be coordinated, and assignments will sometimes overlap.

    Advanced Study in Economic Theory
    This course is an intensive introduction to economic theory. During the first half of the year, the course will focus on macroeconomics, exploring patterns and forces within the global economy. During the second half of the year, the course will turn to microeconomics, examining how markets determine—and are shaped by—the behavior of individuals and firms. Topics will include supply and demand, market failures, national income accounting, unemployment, inflation, the business cycle, fiscal and monetary policy, banks and the financial system, and consumer and producer theory. This course is not a “traditional” survey of economics. The goal of the course is to help students apply their knowledge of economic theory to the real world and broaden their understanding of the major issues individuals and policymakers face in the global economy today. Particular emphasis will be given to the themes of globalization, inequality, environmental justice, racial disparities in wealth and economic opportunity, and the ethics of capitalism. Some concepts in the course will require students to use advanced arithmetic and basic algebra. Students should have a strong background in mathematics.
    Open to 12th grade.

    Global Crises and Solutions 
    This class will provide students with an opportunity to deepen their understanding of  international relations, the history and culture of key global regions and the role of policy in shaping social, political, cultural and economic change. Each trimester will focus on a different region, including the Middle East, Africa, South American and the Pacific Rim. Following a study of the historical context of each region students will choose a topic, either domestic or international, and examine it from the perspective of an analyst, writing a policy memo and presenting findings to the class. The course will focus on research, writing and problem solving, inviting students to immerse themselves in the fields of international relations and policy and to apply a historical lens to real world issues.
    (Open to 11th and 12th grades, though 12th graders have priority.)

List of 1 frequently asked questions.

  • ∨ Mathematics

    The foundational mathematics courses (Math II – Math IV) are offered at both honors and regular levels. The honors level courses move through topics at a fast pace with considerable depth. Students are expected to apply their skills and knowledge in creative ways and to produce mathematical insights beyond those covered explicitly by the teacher, textbook and class discussion. All mathematics courses are year-long.

    Math II
    This course focuses on extending students’ skills in working with mathematics analytically, graphically and numerically and asks students to apply their algebraic reasoning to complex problems. Math II does not isolate algebra and geometry as separate branches of study, but instead teaches them in a way that shows their interconnectedness. Additionally, there is a conscious focus on integrating multiple STEM disciplines to showcase the deep relationships between topics and across fields. Embedding programming with Python into the mathematics content additionally enhances the algebra topics being studied and allows students to explore the topics more fully while gaining experience and confidence in coding. This along with using data to model real world events combine to make a comprehensive jumping off point for whatever path lies ahead. 

    Math III
    This course continues the study of algebraic elementary functions such as quadratics and high order polynomials. It then dives deep into the family of exponential and logarithmic functions furthering student's study of mathematical relations. Students will also investigate conic sections, series and sequences and further topics in geometry. There will be many opportunities for students to explore, discover and prove their understanding of the topics through applications and real-world modeling. 
    Prerequisite: Math II or equivalent

    Math IV
    Math IV is a culminating course in the foundations of mathematics that will prepare students for further study in courses such as statistics or calculus. Math IV has a large focus on the study of trigonometry and analytic trigonometry, but other pre-calculus topics are present as well such as vectors, polar coordinates, parametric equations, sequence & series and/or matrices. The honors sections spend the last third of the year beginning Calculus with a study of limits and derivatives.
    Prerequisite: Math III

    This course is designed for students that have successfully completed Math IV and elect to continue to an applications-based course in mathematics. Students will study exploratory data analysis, experimental design, the concept of distributions of data, probability, graphical displays and numerical summaries of data, relationships of association and correlation, confidence and inference. Student projects will involve designing data collection, gathering and analyzing different types of data, displaying their research and analysis and presenting their work to their classmates and/or to wider audiences. Throughout, students will be expected to use technology to help organize and analyze their work and create mathematical models as a part of their study. Students’ agency will be manifested in their selection of project goals, their initiative in collecting and analyzing data and in formulating the means of presentation to their audience. 
    Prerequisite: Math IV

    Honors Statistics
    This course is designed for students that have successfully completed Math IV and elect to continue to an applications-based honors course in mathematics. Students will study exploratory data analysis, experimental design, the concept of distributions of data, probability, graphical displays and numerical summaries of data, relationships of association and correlation, confidence and inference. Student projects will involve designing data collection, gathering and analyzing different types of data, displaying their research and analysis and presenting their work to their classmates and/or to wider audiences. Throughout, students will be expected to use technology, including statistical analysis using the coding language R, to help organize and analyze their work and create mathematical models as a part of their study. Students will ultimately conduct extensive analysis and inference in the spring, and their projects will build on the concepts covered throughout the entirety of the academic year.
    Prerequisite: Math IVH

    Calculus I
    This course explores the fundamental topics in calculus; limits, derivatives, integrals, and their applications. These topics are learned and explored in a less rigorous fashion than the honors level course, but students will still walk away with a deep conceptual understanding of these concepts that form the basis of all of calculus. 
    Prerequisite: Math IV

    Calculus I Honors
    This course is designed for students who have successfully completed Math IVH and elect to continue in Thacher’s mathematics program at a high level. It provides an in-depth study of limits, differential and integral calculus. Students are engaged in problem solving, reasoning, argument and communication. Emphasis is placed on exploring concepts from a numerical, graphical, and algebraic perspective.
    Prerequisite: Math IVH

    Calculus I-II Honors
    The objective of Calculus I-II is to expand students’ knowledge, understanding, and
    appreciation of mathematics by studying the mathematics of change and the infinitely
    small. The concepts studied in this course will be explored from a graphical, numerical, analytical, and verbal standpoint. Students will be taught to understand and answer questions using each of these approaches. This course supports a class atmosphere conducive to exploration, discovery, questioning, and collaboration. Students will be expected to present and defend their work. In addition to an in-depth study of limits, and differential and integral calculus, this course includes the calculus of parametric and polar functions, and infinite series.
    Prerequisite: Math IVH with teacher recommendation 

    Honors Multivariable Calculus
    This course covers introductory material related to the mathematics of vectors and the behavior of functions in three and more dimensions. Coordinatizations covered include rectangular, polar, spherical and cylindrical. Vector-valued functions form the basis of early discussions, including derivatives, integrals, surface area, arc length and curvature. Limits and continuity support a treatment of directional derivatives, differentials and gradients, leading to coverage of extreme value problems and Lagrange multipliers. Iterated integrals and multiple integration are treated with an emphasis on center of mass, moments of inertia, surface area and volume. Finally, line and surface integrals are introduced in the context of conservative vector fields to support an understanding of Green’s Theorem and, later, Stokes Theorem.
    Prerequisite:  Calculus I-IIH

    Advanced Computer Science
    In this class students will learn how to read and write well-structured computer code using a variety of control flow techniques (functions, conditionals, loops, recursion), simple data structures (1D arrays, classes, multidimensional arrays), and different forms of input/output (text, graphics, animations). Along the way a variety of interesting STEM applications will be explored. Whether you are a complete beginner or already have some programming experience, this class will help you develop a good coding style and learn how to use your computer as a tool to explore almost any subject.
    Prerequisite: None
    Corequisite: Math IIIH or IV recommended

    Robotics & Electrical Engineering
    Using a project-based model, this course introduces students to the subjects of robotics, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering. Students will be engaged daily in the practice of collaborative problem solving, and will learn how to approach unknown problems using an iterative design process of design-build-test-tweak. Most of the fall and winter term will be devoted to work on robotics. We will occasionally need to meet or travel on the weekend. Spring term will be devoted to engineering projects.
    Open to 11th, 12th

    Advanced Topics in Data Structures & Algorithms
    This course covers the data structures and algorithms foundational to the college-level study of computer science. Topics covered include array lists, linked lists, search & sort algorithms, efficiency analysis, stacks & queues, binary trees, and graphs. Optimization and AI algorithms are also presented, including recursive backtracking, simulated annealing, bacterial chemotaxis, and neural nets.
    Prerequisite: Advanced Computer Science with teacher recommendation or equivalent experience (approved by the instructor).

List of 1 frequently asked questions.

  • ∨ World Languages

    The world language program offers year-long courses in four languages: French, Latin, Mandarin and Spanish. Latin is only available for students who are already enrolled in the program; no new enrollments are permissible in this language.
    Mandarin I
    This course introduces students to Mandarin Chinese (the official modern language of mainland China and Taiwan, known in those places respectively as putonghua and guoyu). The class begins with pronunciation, tones, Chinese character writing, and simple vocabulary study. All fundamentals of listening, speaking, reading, and writing are constantly practiced and learned. Students learn to greet, introduce family, discuss hobbies, talk about daily school life, and how to make appointments. Basic aspects of Chinese culture are also taught as they come up in context. While this course begins with some sections in Mandarin only, many parts, including talking about pinyin and how to write characters, are started in English. As the students' vocabulary increases, Mandarin will be increasingly used as the teaching language in the classroom. The focus of this beginning Mandarin course is on listening and speaking.

    Mandarin II
    With an accelerated introduction of vocabulary, grammar, and sentence patterns, this course enables students to converse, read and write in Mandarin about various real-life situations. In addition to course content, students will work on their presentation skills. The presentations will allow students to practice grammar and vocabulary while delving more deeply into Chinese culture. At this level, Mandarin is used almost exclusively in the classroom.

    Mandarin III
    This course is a continuation of Mandarin II and emphasizes the development of skills in listening comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing Mandarin while enhancing cultural awareness. At this level, Mandarin is used exclusively in the classroom. By year-end, students will have covered the major grammar rules and structures of Mandarin and should be able to read and write approximately 1000 characters.

    Advanced Mandarin A
    This course is designed to enable advanced Chinese-learning students to further develop their overall language proficiency through intensive and extensive study of selected texts representing various aspects of Chinese culture, society, history as well as literary genres. We use the college-level text,  A New China. The class emphasizes the development of students’ reading and writing skills. Oral presentations and written homework are assigned regularly. Students will be trained and encouraged to solve linguistic as well as cultural problems encountered in the course material. 

    Advanced Mandarin B
    This course will push advanced students of Mandarin to further their ability with the language by looking at contemporary Chinese society and culture. Using the college-level textbook All Things Considered as a base for the course content, the class will delve into a variety of advanced topics, from societal issues such as the current socioeconomic divide and changing ideas about sex and marriage to the conflicts between environmental protection and economic development. Students will work to improve all areas of their language skills (speaking, reading, listening, and writing) and be exposed to more formal language, particularly with reading and writing. In addition to the textbook, students will watch a number of films and read a few short stories related to the topics covered. 
    This class depends on enrollment and might not be offered every year.
    French I
    An introductory-level course, French I uses the "direct" or "immersion method" (i.e. we use only French in the classroom from day one) to introduce students to the French language and francophone cultures with a view to building both oral and written proficiency in the target language. The course covers fundamental vocabulary and grammatical structures essential for rudimentary communication in the target language. At the end of the course, students will be able to communicate comfortably in French in hypothetical everyday situations, asking questions and responding in declarative sentences (both orally and in writing), accurately using both the present and past tenses.

    French II
    French II resumes where French I leaves off, building on the foundations laid in the lessons covered in the first year. In addition to the present and past tenses, students study the future, present and past conditional, and present and past subjunctive tenses. In the second semester, students read selected works by Francophone authors. In order to enter the second year, students must have a firm grasp of both the formation and usage of le passé composé and l’imparfait.
    French III
    In French III, students continue to develop the oral and grammatical skills emphasized in French I and II and begin to focus more carefully on improving their proficiency in reading and writing. Students in French III complete an intensive grammar review throughout the fall trimester, which provides them with the tools to take on increasingly challenging reading and writing assignments as the year progresses. The reading list is varied and extensive, ranging from magazine and newspaper articles to poetry and full-length novels. Students regularly engage in pair work to stimulate their spontaneous use of the language. Additionally, they prepare essays on a variety of topics, including social issues, literature, and personal experiences, to help them to refine their writing skills and aid them in developing the analytical and interpretive skills needed to form sound opinions about literature, culture and society. Required oral presentations enable students to gain confidence in their ability to express themselves clearly and correctly in French.

    French IV
    Building on the fundamentals introduced in the earlier French courses, this year-long course reinforces the four basic language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Students are encouraged to apply their critical thinking skills to the use of their second language. Students will deepen their understanding of French-speaking cultures and societies using authentic media  that illustrate multiculturalism in society.  Literary texts, classroom discussion, and other written and visual sources will complement the class.  Both oral and written assignments require students to express themselves formally in the target language and provide the opportunity for students to perfect their skills.

    Advanced French A
    This year-long course is intended for students who combine significant oral and written proficiency in French with a keen desire to master the subtler details of grammar, diction and idiom to develop both oral and written fluency. Students will explore the themes of reflection Francophone societies hold dear. They will get acquainted with the linguistic tools and cultural codes to access various types of authentic material; the humanistic philosophers who shaped contemporary values, literature, newspaper articles, essays and any artistic form of expression. Audio and video recordings, as well as francophone films will be studied to discuss sociopolitical issues and to provide a range of cultural material for analysis. Students should expect frequent writing assignments in response to required readings as well as frequent oral presentations. Both oral and written assignments require students to express themselves formally in the target language. This class depends on enrollment and might not be offered every year.
    Advanced French B
    This year-long course is intended for students who combine significant oral and written proficiency in French with a keen desire to master the subtler details of the language to perfect both oral and written fluency. Students will need to draw on their critical thinking skills as well as their linguistic competency. Students will explore the themes of reflection Francophone societies hold dear. They will get acquainted with the linguistic tools and cultural codes necessary to access various types of authentic material: the humanistic philosophers who shaped contemporary values, literature, newspaper articles, essays and many forms of artistic expression. Audio and video recordings, as well as francophone films will be studied to promote discussion. Advanced French B continues to heighten the students’ understanding, listening, speaking and writing proficiency. Students should expect project-based learning assignments as well as frequent oral presentations. Both oral and written assignments require students to express themselves formally in the target language. This class depends on enrollment and might not be offered every year.

    Advanced Latin 
    This course guides students through the process of reading large portions of the original Latin texts of Vergil’s Aeneid and Caesar’s Commentarii de Bello Gallico. The major focus of the course is on fluency, precision, and elegance of translation, with emphasis on style and literary technique. Students also continue the quest to expand their vocabularies with frequent word lists. Students complement their translation and vocabulary work with a broader study of both Caesar’s effective propaganda and Vergil’s masterful poetry, reading each complete text in English and studying their larger themes in order to inform the close reading of individual Latin passages. Latin is only available to students currently enrolled in the Latin sequence. It will be taught online in partnership with One Schoolhouse.

    Spanish I
    The first-year program emphasizes the development of a strong foundation in Spanish in a language immersion classroom and the mastery of the study skills required for language learning. Students are introduced to pronunciation as well as basic grammatical structures, vocabulary, culture, and language-study techniques. This course develops introductory communicative oral and written skills in order to enable students to interact in simple situations, incorporating themes of identity, current events, environmental concerns, and other cultural competencies. To progress beyond the first level, new students need to demonstrate a solid mastery of fundamental language skills across three modes of communication: interpretive (reading and listening comprehension), presentational (speaking and writing for an audience), and interpersonal (informal conversation and written communication).

    Spanish II
    Building upon the base established in Spanish I, this course focuses on the improvement of the students' skills within the three modes of communication: interpretive (reading and listening comprehension), presentational (speaking and writing for an audience), and interpersonal (informal conversation and written communication). While continuing the same skills-oriented approach as the first-year program, teachers place increasing emphasis on vocabulary-building, mastery of complex points of grammar, and on free conversation, discussion, writing, and reading. The students will continue to build upon the themes they began to study in first-year Spanish: identity, current events, environmental concerns, and other cultural competencies. By the year's end, students will be able to express ideas using the past and the present tenses.

    Spanish III
    Building upon the work completed in Spanish II, this course focuses on the improvement of the students' skills within the three modes of communication: interpretive (reading and listening comprehension), presentational (speaking and writing for an audience), and interpersonal (informal conversation and written communication). While continuing the same skills-oriented approach, teachers place increasing emphasis on vocabulary-building, mastery of complex points of grammar, and on free conversation, discussion, writing, and reading. The students will continue to build upon the themes they have studied since first-year Spanish: identity, current events, environmental concerns, and other cultural competencies. By the year's end, students will be able to express opinions, give recommendations, and navigate everyday situations appropriately.

    Spanish IV
    This class is designed for those students who wish to continue their study of Latin American and Hispanic culture but are not ready to go on to the Advanced Spanish course. Spanish IV is a transitional course that provides a platform for the students to dig deeper into current events and topics relevant to the Spanish-speaking world. Unlike the foundational courses (Spanish I, II, and III), this course focuses on discussing social, cultural, and environmental themes in Spanish-speaking countries. Students will engage with authentic material that allows them to reflect upon their role in the world. There is an emphasis on informal discussion, and projects (written and oral) are assigned each trimester. The students study films that address the sociopolitical issues of Spanish-speaking countries and read short stories and articles to stimulate class discussions. 
    Advanced Spanish A 
    Spanish A is a project-based class that uses practical skills to develop language acquisition. Students will be asked to draw on their critical thinking skills and linguistic competency. They will access all sorts of authentic material; plays, short stories, newspaper articles, essays or literature excerpts, and any artistic form of expression. They will get acquainted with the linguistic tools and cultural codes to interpret them. This class fosters conversation practice, vocabulary acquisition, grammar exercises, and advanced-level reading and writing.  Both oral and written assignments require students to express themselves formally in the target language and perfect their skills.  This class is based on modules and oral participation is paramount. This course is taught entirely in Spanish, with all work in Spanish outside of class (reading and writing). All three modes of communication (interpretive, interpersonal, and presentational) will be assessed, formally and informally, for each unit in this class. Enrollment is open to those who have completed Spanish IV or with permission from the department.  This class depends on enrollment and might not be offered every year.

    Advanced Spanish B: Spanish and Latin American Literature
    This year-long course is designed to provide advanced-level students with the chance to study works of literature from across various genres and time periods. The curriculum includes works from both the literary canon and the margins, covering poetry, short stories, plays and non-fiction about contemporary social issues. Additionally, the course sometimes incorporates films to offer unique perspectives on the texts studied. Throughout the course, students are expected to read, write papers, conduct research, complete projects, and make presentations entirely in Spanish.
    Enrollment open to those who have completed Advanced A or with permission from the department. This class depends on enrollment and might not be offered every year.

List of 1 frequently asked questions.

  • ∨ Science

    The objectives of the Science Department are to provide students with a solid foundation in the fundamental laboratory sciences and an appreciation for the scientific process, to develop their ability to understand their physical surroundings and to make informed and wise decisions regarding the natural world, and to provide opportunities for students to explore a particular branch of science or interdisciplinary sciences in greater detail. Science involves laboratory work that encourages a sense of discovery and enables students to employ the basic elements of scientific inquiry and critical observation, precise measurement, and deductive and inductive reasoning.
    Core/Required Sciences
    Integrated Science I
    As the first science class students take at Thacher, this course introduces students to scientific exploration of the physical phenomena that shape their world and their daily experiences and the fundamental building blocks of matter and the chemical reactions that occur between them. This course will also develop their skills in logic, formal analytical thought, quantitative measurement, data analysis, and experimental design. The first two trimesters will focus on physics concepts beginning with a discussion of data collection, data reduction and error analysis, and continuing with the study of kinematics, Newton’s laws, momentum, energy, gravity, vibrations and waves. In the spring trimester, we will shift our focus to an examination of chemistry topics such as atomic structure, nuclear chemistry, electron configurations, the periodic table, chemical bonding, molecular shape and polarity, and chemical reactions and equations. Student performance is assessed through daily class participation, frequent quizzes, exploratory laboratory work that utilizes computerized data collection, group and individual projects, and several unit tests.
    Prerequisite: None
    Integrated Science II
    This second year of fundamental science utilizes and further develops the measurement and quantitative skills introduced and practiced in the Integrated Science I course. The first trimester will focus on chemistry concepts including: reaction stoichiometry, gas laws, condensed states of matter, phase diagrams, changes of state, solutions, and solubility-precipitation concepts. Chemical principles are discussed in the context of industrial applications along with environmental and social issues. In the final two trimesters of the foundational coursework, we will shift our focus to an examination of the biological world, which will include topics such as biological molecules, cell structure, DNA, protein synthesis, photosynthesis, cellular respiration, cell division, genetics, and evolution. Student performance is assessed through daily class participation, frequent quizzes, exploratory laboratory work that utilizes computerized data collection, group and individual projects, and several unit tests. Completion of the Integrated Science I and Integrated Science II courses will provide students the foundational knowledge and skills upon which further understanding, and more in-depth exploration can be built in advanced courses in the sciences.
    Prerequisite: Integrated Science I for returning 10th graders

    Year-long Science Electives 

    Advanced Biology
    This course is designed for students who have successfully completed the introductory science sequence and elect to continue at the most accelerated pace in Thacher’s science program, with a concentration in the biological sciences. The course will take advantage of the access we have to a variety of natural systems, connecting the unique location of the Thacher campus to the core topics in biology. The specific topics and projects will adjust to what is available each year. In the past, students have participated in citizen science projects including the LiMPETS program and the California Bumble Bee Atlas. Students will be engaged in individual, group, and class-wide understanding of the topics before engaging in independent research that will help to solidify their understanding of the topics. Emphasis will be placed on scientific research, experimental design, project completion, data analysis, and the general format of scientific papers/research. Students will be given tremendous latitude to design their experiments and research projects as they apply them to particular topics. Results of these research projects will be designed to share with not only their peers in the class but also the greater school community and beyond.

    Advanced Chemistry: Applications in Art & Archaeology
    This year-long course provides students who have completed their introductory study of physics, chemistry, and biology in the Integrated Science 1 and Integrated Science 2 year-long courses at Thacher with additional exposure to more advanced principles and topics in chemistry (including radiometric dating, stoichiometry, solutions, solubility & precipitation, oxidation-reduction reactions, kinetics, acids & bases, chemical equilibrium, thermodynamics and molecular structure & spectroscopy) as they apply to the production, analysis, historical understanding, restoration, conservation, and authentication of works of art and cultural heritage. Seven broad and overlapping units will be covered:
    1)    Painting: Pigments, Binders, Surfaces, & Analysis
    2)    Pottery & Ceramics
    3)    Metallic Artifacts
    4)    Glasses
    5)    Methods of Scientific Analysis
    6)    Principles of Art Restoration & Conservation
    7)    Scientific Verification of Provenance and Forgery Detection

    Laboratory work will have students conduct hands-on, quantitative chemistry experiments as they create their own artistic materials and projects. Students will be introduced to primary source scientific publications by reading and critically evaluating work in the fields of archaeometry, art restoration, and conservation science using a 'case-studies' approach. Multiple forms of assessment will be utilized to gauge each student's synthesis and understanding of the material, including: quizzes, tests, laboratory reports, oral presentations, scientific posters, infographics, student-generated videos, student-generated works of art, formal papers, and 'real-world' document-based queries.
    Prerequisites: Integrated Science I, Integrated Science II, Math III are required, Intro to Arts is strongly recommended.
    Advanced Environmental Science
    Advanced Environmental Science is an interdisciplinary course that uses the principles of biology, ecology, ocean and atmospheric science, chemistry, geology, physics, geography, economics, political science, and ethics to understand and propose solutions for complex environmental issues. After introductory units on sustainability, geology, matter, energy, geochemical cycling and ecology, students will pursue a brief survey of the major topics that can be explored and then students will choose the specific topics the class will study. Bringing these topics together and making connections between them can be challenging, but also makes the course especially meaningful and relevant. The goals of the course are to (1) provide students with the scientific principles, concepts, and methodologies required to understand the interrelationships in the natural world, (2) identify and analyze environmental problems or challenges, (3) to evaluate the relative risks associated with these problems, (4) to examine alternative solutions for resolving and/or preventing these problems, and (5) develop the habits and skills which support student agency with respect to independent learning, resilience, and accountability.
    Prerequisites: Integrated Science I and II
    Advanced Physics
    This course is a rigorous, year-long, upper-level physical science course designed to deepen one’s appreciation for, and understanding of physics through the broad lens of astronomy and astrophysics. Traditional physics topics such as rotational kinematics and dynamics, angular momentum, energy, gravitation, and oscillations will be integrated with topics of radiation, optics, physical chemistry, and thermodynamics to address the diverse phenomena in the cosmos. Quantitative reasoning skills, such as order of magnitude estimation, will be solidified through meaningful applications, and modern statistical techniques and scientific computing will be introduced and used throughout the year. Students will learn how to use the Thacher Observatory, gain experience working collaboratively, deepen their capacity to give and receive constructive feedback, develop scientific communication skills in both written and oral form, and build fluency employing the foundational elements of scientific inquiry. 
    Prerequisites: Integrated Science I and II, Math IVH or permission from the science department.

    Advanced Psychology
    Psychology is the study of behavior and mental other words, the study of what we do and why we do it. Rooted in brain science, this course provides students with a broad sweep of psychology using studies/experiments, interesting phenomena, and both historical and current events as a framework for better understanding. Considering human behavior from a variety of perspectives, students will learn about growth and development, learning, memory, sensation and perception, motivation and emotion, sleep, stress, personality, sexuality, identity, social psychology, and psychological disorders. They will analyze real-world situations through a psychological lens, and they will apply concepts to their own identity through a variety of reflective exercises and writing opportunities. The emphasis of the course will be on understanding psychology from the point of view of personal growth and increased empathy for/awareness of others within the context of a socially and culturally complex world. 
    (Open to 11th and 12th grades, though 12th graders have priority.)

    Astronomy Research
    This year-long class provides students with a unique opportunity to engage in meaningful astronomical research and to interact with the professional community through international collaborations and conferences. Our studies leverage Thacher’s research-grade observatory and its fully automated capabilities to produce timely images and measurements that help to advance the world community’s understanding of the cosmos in which we live. There is a research legacy in several distinct areas: the detection and characterization of eclipsing binary stars and transiting exoplanets, the nightly monitoring of interesting targets such as Boyajian’s Star and active galactic nuclei, searches for nearby supernovae and other transient astronomical events, and the development of customized software for our observatory. However, there is always the possibility of creating new research paths for the school. This is a demanding course that operates less like a typical high school class and more like a typical research group at the university level and requires a high level of independent study and self-motivation.
    Prerequisites: Advanced Physics: Astronomy 
    Building Sustainable Communities
    This interdisciplinary course will use principles of sustainability and systems thinking as a framework to envision and help design communities that are more sustainable, resilient, and socially and environmentally equitable. The course will begin with an intensive focus on systems thinking and the intersections between sustainability and a host of other disciplines, including environmental studies, public policy, economics and more. Students will then turn their attention to the local Ventura County area and partner with community organizations to help co-design sustainable solutions for issues the organization or its constituents are facing.The students will work closely with local organizations to put into practice what they learn in the classroom and gain real-world experience in fields such as urban planning, circular economy, wildlife and land conservation, regenerative agriculture, sustainable business, environmental health, and social and environmental justice. The course aims to immerse students in the work of building a more just, sustainable world. Reading, writing, field work, and design are highlighted throughout the year to provide a well-rounded understanding of what it means to live sustainably.
    Open to 11th and 12th grades

    Field Biology and Conservation
    Field Biology and Conservation will cover the topics of field biology and conservation through our unique location in the Ojai Valley. This course will explore multiple areas of science: we will practice and gain experience in observation and hypothesis formulation, hypothesis testing, research design, data collection, statistical analysis, graphing, presentation, and writing. Throughout the term, students put all this training to service in answering questions and solving challenges of their own conceiving. We will spend our time in two distinct but amazing locations, the Los Padres National Forest and the Turtle Conservancy. Students will learn many field techniques such as GPS tracking, drone mapping, camera traps, ethograms, habitat assessments, and water testing. We understand that global issues can be studied through local systems and will leverage this throughout our course. Students will also study and work on conservation efforts for the Southern Pacific Pond Turtle, our vulnerable and only native turtle. Students will set up a field station in the Sespe to begin gathering longitudinal data in cooperation with the USGS. Students should expect to spend a considerable amount of time outside the classroom for this project-based and team-oriented class.
    Prerequisites: Integrated Science I and II

    Advanced Field Biology and Conservation
    Advanced Field Biology and Conservation will build on the topics of field biology and conservation through our unique location in the Ojai Valley. Students will help demonstrate and mentor those in Field Biology and Conservation in field techniques, turtle and tortoise husbandry, and conservation efforts. Students will take a leadership role in the Southwestern Pond Turtle conservation group: helping organize citizen science efforts, leading survey teams in the Sespe, and building awareness with other local organizations. Students will be given the opportunity to build a new conservation project or continue to build on the work they started in Field Biology and Conservation. Students should expect to spend a considerable amount of time outside the classroom for this project-based and team-oriented class.
    Prerequisites: Field Biology and Conservation

Teaching and Learning at Thacher

A Sampling of Senior Exhibition Topics 2023

Notice of nondiscriminatory policy as to students: The Thacher School admits students of any race, color, national, and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the School. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national, and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admission policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other School-administered programs.