Upper School students are encouraged to discover and develop their own interests as they expand and deepen their studies in the traditional disciplines. As students progress from freshman to senior year, they enjoy greater flexibility in personalizing their studies by choosing from a broad range of electives and independent study opportunities. Students can also take advantage of an Advanced Placement program of college-level courses through which they may earn credit toward a college degree.
The administrative structure of the Upper School is designed to best serve the academic, social, emotional, and developmental needs of its students, and to maintain open communication with parents. The Upper School Director oversees the daily school experience of Upper Schoolers by arranging schedules, working to resolve conflicts and problems, maintaining a visible presence in all areas of the School, arranging grade-based activities and special projects, handling minor disciplinary issues, and supporting the Advisory program to "keep a finger on the pulse” of student life.
Students and faculty constantly initiate innovative ways like the ones listed below to bring learning alive at Tandem Friends.
The following sections provide a brief description of Upper School curriculum philosophy and offerings. A detailed curriculum guide is available upon request.
Art, drama, filmmaking, and music provide the opportunity for students to develop skills needed for alternative channels of self-expression. All students are encouraged to develop and explore their unique potential in the creative arts. As Seonaid Robertson so aptly puts it, “The purpose of art education is to nurture that side of us that is non-material, non-physical, a spiritual activity embodied and embedded in the human self, separate from but contained within it.”
Learning to communicate and read in another language gives students an understanding and appreciation of other cultures, and prepares them to live more meaningfully in a global society. Recognizing that the study of other languages helps students become more aware of their own heritage and of the function of their own language, the school offers courses in Latin, French and Spanish.
Within the history and social studies curriculum, history is presented as a cultural experience and not simply as a sequence of political events. People, places and events are presented as part of broad topics such as social development, the rise of nations and political institutions, urbanization, and conflict.
As writing is the core feature of English, analysis is the focus of our mathematics curriculum. While computational proficiency and algebraic manipulation are important aspects of our college preparatory program, the math department’s primary focus is on the thought process. Instructors encourage and expect conjecture, experimentation, discussion, extension and writing in the study of mathematics. Problem-solving (that is, answering questions for which the method of solution is not immediately obvious) is an integral part of the program. Throughout the curriculum, students use graphing calculators and computers as tools for investigation and exploration; the necessary educational support in using these tools is ongoing. An important facet of the math curriculum is that all students are placed at their appropriate level regardless of grade.
The science program shares a vision with the principles for learning science developed by the National Research Council in cooperation with the National Academy of Sciences. The program is inquiry based, with content and curricula adapted and designed to meet individual student needs, abilities, and interests. We strive to work with colleagues within the department and across the curriculum to develop activities that integrate science with math, art, writing and social sciences.
The Senior Project is a five-month, independent study project in which each senior explores, in detail, a self-chosen subject area. This process is exciting and serious. The project process, along with the final product, is a graduation requirement and includes a research paper component, an extensive journal, a formal individual presentation to the Senior Project Committee and a class presentation to the community.