As a Friends school, we believe each individual has innate goodness and that greater truth can be found when we seek deeper awareness in a reflective community. We believe that the search for truth is a process of deepening awareness demanding multiple perspectives, reflection and ongoing inquiry. Our “student-centered” school supports students becoming more active questioners who are increasingly responsible for their learning and their world. The Quaker adage, “Let your Life Speak,” spurs graduates to lead purposeful lives of integrity, equality and service.
Upper School students are expected to carry a minimum of five major academic courses. A student may take four or six courses in rare circumstances with specific approval of the department heads and principal. A minimum of four academic credits is required each year.
We expect students to complete all course work successfully. For ninth, tenth, and eleventh grade students, failure to do so may lead to required summer work or dismissal from Friends Academy. After completing all course work successfully in May, seniors pursue an independent service learning project as their final diploma requirement.
Minimum requirements for a diploma: completion of sixteen full-credits plus designated/required courses in Quakerism, health, technology, physical education, community service, outdoor education, and the arts. All students must complete the following requirements to graduate:
- English (four years): English 9; English 10; American Literature in grade 11; and two semesters of English in grade 12.
- History and Social Studies (three years): Foundations of History in grade 9; Global Interactions in grade 10; U.S. History or AP U.S. History in grade 11. Electives are offered to seniors. Four years are recommended.
- Mathematics (three years): Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2 or Algebra 2/Trigonometry are required. For seniors not taking another math course, Topics in PreCalculus is recommended. Four years are recommended.
- Science (three years): Three years of sciences are required. It is expected that students complete Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. Four years of science are recommended.
- World Languages and Cultures (two years): The completion of level three of one world language is required. We suggest students try to take four years of language.
- Arts: One full credit of courses in the arts is required. Two or more years are recommended
- Quaker Practice and Community Engagement (three semesters): Quakerism in grade 9, Community Service in grade 10, and Senior Reflections in grade 12 are required courses.
- Technology: All students are required to take either one Computer Science course OR one Digital Arts course.
- Physical Education (four years): All students are required to take the Physical Education classes unless they are playing on an interscholastic team. All dance classes count toward Physical Education credit.
- Health (two semesters): Health courses in grades 9 and 11 are required.
- Outdoor Education: All ninth grade students are expected to participate in this three day program.
The following Service and Community commitments are also required of all students:
- YSOP: As part of the culminating experience for the grade 10 course, tenth graders take part in an overnight service learning immersion in Manhattan.
- Work Program: Every student is expected to take part in the daily work program on campus, cleaning classrooms and common areas. Weekly Quaker Meeting for Worship: “The most important appointment of the week,” all students are expected to attend Meeting for Worship on Thursday.
- Community Service/Service Learning: At all grade levels, students are expected to do volunteer work of their own choosing or design at local agencies and within school.
- Independent Service Project (ISP): This service project is a graduation requirement for all seniors.
The PSAT is a practice test for the SAT and students need not share their scores with colleges. The test is offered at Friends in October and is optional for 10th and required for 11th grade students. The PSAT can be used to estimate the SAT score by adding 50 points each to the math and verbal and writing PSAT score. The PSAT scores for juniors will be used to select National Merit Semi-Finalists and National Merit Commended Students (who are in the top 1% and 5%, respectively, of juniors across the nation who take the test), and these students can become eligible for merit scholarships at some colleges.
Advanced Placement (AP) courses enable students who are eligible to take college-level courses while still in upper school. The courses which delve into greater depth than standard courses, teach skills that can prepare students for the rigors of college. They help students to develop solid writing skills, problem solving techniques, and good study habits. These courses push the students intellectually and help students to learn to develop and support their own arguments and perspectives.
Virtually all departments offer AP level courses at Friends. Not all students are ready for the rigors of an AP course; students who are interested in taking AP level courses must meet the departmentally determined prerequisite requirements as outlined in the course of studies. Students enrolled in an AP course are expected to prepare for and take the AP exam in May. Many colleges and universities grant student credit, placement, or both for qualifying AP exam grades (not for the course grades). More information about AP exams can be found on the web at www.collegeboard.com.