Upper School

The well-rounded college preparatory program of the Upper School allows students to realize the academic rigor that will be experienced in an undergraduate program while still learning in a supportive environment that promotes creativity and celebrates each individual.

Small classes create dynamic interactions between students and dedicated and experienced faculty. Building upon the confidence and self-awareness that Middle School students develop, Upper School students play a role in designing their own course schedule which includes choices such as a multi-year science course in research and design plus AP, honors and college-level classes in a variety of subject areas.

By the end of upper school, a Bay Ridge Prep student graduates as a positive and articulate young person who holds a firm command of the knowledge and skills valued by colleges, graduate schools, employers and society.

English & History

Ninth Grade: 
Ancient World History & Literature

The Ninth Grade history curriculum is comprised of Geography and the study of Ancient World History, which spans the eras from early humanity to the Roman Empire. As our modern world becomes increasingly interdependent, it has become essential for today's students to acquire a strong background in global studies. The freshman year begins with a thorough investigation of ten regions of the world, such as Latin America, Southeast Asia, the Commonwealth of Independent States, and Western Europe. Considerable time is spent discussing the topographical, economic, and cultural aspects of each region. Specifically, students are exposed to mapping skills, the use of atlases and demographic information, the study of agriculture and industry, the forms of government, the religious and linguistics aspects of early civilizations, as well as the historical figures and texts associated with each region.

Students are also given the opportunity to become culturally immersed in a region as much as possible within the classroom setting. When exploring the people of Southeast Asia, for example, the class will visit a local Vietnamese restaurant, view scenes from the film "The Killing Fields," and read the news articles on the destructive tsunami of 2004. Students from previous years have expressed how this portion of the course opened their eyes to the diverse cultures around the globe and how their community is politically and economically intertwined with foreign communities. The course also allows individuals to share personal information on their traveling experiences as well as their family heritages.

The second phase of the curriculum focuses on Ancient World History, which includes study of the Earth's first people, early river valley civilizations of Mesopotamia, China, Egypt, and the Indus River Valley. The progress of human evolution and the development of civilization are also studied explored. Common patterns of life, the development of language and writing systems, art, agriculture, social structure and the role of the environment in the growth of civilizations are integrated and discussed.

Throughout the period from 1000 BCE to 300 CE, six of the world's major faiths and ethical systems emerged and set forth their fundamental teachings. The ninth grade surveys literary texts related to Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Judaism and Taoism. Excerpts from the Analects, the Bhagavad-Gita, the New and Old Testament, and Tao-te Ching are analyzed and discussed, as they illustrate the basic tenets of each faith. Later in the year, considerable time is spent on the emergence of Greek culture. Greek city-states (Athens, Sparta, Corinth) are compared with Sumerian city-states (Ur, Kish, Uruk) and with empires of Minoans, Egyptians, and Assyrians. Literary works, such as Plato's Republic, Aristotle's Poetics, Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, and Aesop's Fables, are fully integrated with the course and greatly enhance the students understanding of each time period.

The Ninth Grade English Program is comprised of several parts, notably an extensive literature and writing component, along with vocabulary and grammar enrichment program. The freshman English course is fully integrated with the Ancient World History curriculum, which it parallels both chronologically and thematically. Aside from the various texts previously mentioned, students will absorb the complete texts of "Gilgamesh," "Inherit the Wind," "Genesis," and Fitzgerald's version of "The Odyssey."

Students are given the opportunity to present their work to their classmates. This often encourages lively discussion in class while each student learns the value of writing with an audience in mind. To bolster their writing skills and comprehension, an enriched vocabulary program is interwoven in the course, whereby they learn etymology, synonyms, antonyms, analogies, parts of speech, and sentence completion through regimented drills and exercises.


Tenth Grade: 
Medieval to Modern Global History & Literature

The Tenth Grade Medieval to Modern Global History curriculum is multifaceted. At the onset of the course, methods of the social sciences are explored in depth. These initial and universal themes include: Methods of Investigation, Geography, Economics, Political Science, Culture and Civilization.

Different types of historical evidence (e.g. Documentary, Epigraphical, Artifactal, etc.) and investigation are discussed as they relate to the exploration of history. Time Frames, Periodization and critical-thinking skills are integral to the overall curriculum. In terms of economics, associated vocabulary, various economic systems and global economic interdependence are discussed. Next, the governing of nations and peoples are explored. The purposes of government, natural rights, the rule of law, various forms of government (e.g. democracy, totalitarianism, etc.) and issues associated with citizenship are explored and applied to current events. The final component of the introduction to Global History is culture and civilization. Issues related to cultural diffusion, literacy, technology, and language are discussed as they apply to ancient and modern civilization.

With this broad foundation, the next focus is Mediterranean Civilizations, The Roman Republic and Empire, Medieval Civilization, the Renaissance and numerous, subsequent time-eras. Utilizing and integrating the most current articles (from Archaeology, Archaeology Odyssey, History Today, The New York Times, etc.) and videos (Nova, PBS, The History Channel, The Discovery Channel), the progress of ancient civilization and the development of government are discussed. Common patterns of life, the development of language and writing systems, art, agriculture, social structure and the role of the environment in the growth of civilizations are discussed across multiple cultures.

Other components discussed include architecture, science and technology, demographic patterns of civilizations, beginning philosophy and the role of various world religions. As the class discusses various civilizations, literature relevant to the culture is discussed. For example, when discussing the ancient Roman Civilization, the class read and discussed William Shakepeare's "Julius Caesar" and other short, literary excerpts from a variety of sources such as Livy's "The History of Rome from its Foundation," Tacitus' " Germania," Cicero's "On the Laws," Horace's "Odes," "Meditations" by Marcus Aurelius and numerous others. This anecdotal connection to the history gives students more personal insights into the past. Many students have attested to improved retention of detail when the medium was literary and anecdotal.

While the class integrates these multiple topics, the integral relations between historical and mythological concepts and current events are discussed in class and composed by students in essay form. Pragmatic applications of universal concepts to classical literature and current events aid students in comprehension and retention. Other literary works examined include: "Beowulf," "The Legends of Charlemagne," "The Legends of King Arthur," Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales," Dante's "Inferno," and numerous other medieval and renaissance "chansons de guest" and "romances."

English classes focus on advancing grammar skills, writing and editing skills, expanding the breadth and depth of each student's vocabulary and developing literary analysis skills. Additional class time is dedicated to preparation for the Verbal section of the SAT and the New York State Regents Examinations, taken later in upper school.

Using the basic ability level of each student as a guide, various reading and writing assignments are included in the course of study. Several assignments, including journal entries, short stories, and other expository writing tasks allow students to practice the grammar skills that are taught. The use and necessity of punctuation, capitalization, sentence structure and thematic unity are emphasized along with the inclusion of topic sentences, supportive evidence, and a summary sentence. This is done in the context of beginning a research paper, and using these composition skills to that effect.

Throughout the year, the students are required to do research projects such as The Medieval Craft Project and Cathedral Architectural Design and Analysis Project which involve composing reports and presenting their findings to the class in an interesting and creative manner. This "hands on" approach not only trains students in the art of public speaking, but it also provides a medium for achievement through creativity, art and drama. The emphasis on an integrative education and its relation to various other disciplines is continually reinforced throughout the year.

Preparation for the New York State Global History Regents Exam is integrated into the curriculum in both examinations and writing skills. Cross-references across time, cultures and current events are a continual component of the classes.

Eleventh Grade: 
American History & Literature

The English & History program for the Eleventh Grade explores the origins of American culture from the speculative beginnings of 40,000 years ago, through the ecologically dramatic close of the ice age, to the arrival of the Europeans in the 15th century. The approach is integrative, with classes covering the spoken and written word as they trace the development of our nation along an historical time line. Students are always fascinated by the contrast between the Europeans' aesthetic sensibility, reflected in their beautiful written journals, and their often-shocking brutality toward the indigenous peoples of the Americas. The parameters of the curriculum steadily expand, especially for the more studious of our young historians, as they are afforded the opportunities to evaluate historical issues and literary influences from a variety of perspectives. These opportunities include a more detailed perusal of the cultures of our South and Central American neighbors, third world views of our historical development, a look at the economics of the western world, and a critical look at the influence of and the effect on European history and literature by American customs and literature.

Various aspects of American History are covered.  Exploration, colonization, subjugation of the indigenous peoples, mercantilism, revolution, self-government, industrialization, economics of slavery, civil war, imperialism, world war, global dissonance, saving South Korea, the Space Race, Vietnam, assassinations, Watergate, leaving Cambodia, the making of the Middle East, genocides, globalization, electronic communication, billionairism, catechism and the moral majority, Red States and Blue States, terrorism, and the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are all studied.  Each subject's impact on the United States as a nation, and its effects on New Yorkers are explored.

Literature parallels the historical timeline with discussions of early hieroglyphics, art, and oral tradition. With the arrival of the Spanish and Portuguese, the chronicles of colonization are reviewed like that of de las Casas on the settlement of Espaniola by Columbus and his conquistadors. The arrival of other Europeans, like the English later in the end of the 16th century, brings more literature in the form of beautiful descriptive writing of the coastline and initial encounters with the North American peoples, like that of Arthur Barlowe, a ship captain who wrote a marvelous account of his first sighting of the mystical shores of the New World. The course moves through the 17th and 18th century Puritan writers and native authors of oral tradition, recorded by European interpreters, to the burgeoning American renaissance of the transcendentalist movement of the 1800's. This proceeds with in an in-depth analysis of authors like James Fennimore Cooper, Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark Twain, Herman Melville, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, and Henry David Thoreau. Social reform is marked by the writings of activists like Harriet Beecher Stowe, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony. The 20th century provides a rich landscape of inspiring literature, from political and social commentators to novelists and playwrights like Tennessee Williams and Eugene O'Neill. A diverse selection is reviewed, including the wisdom and insight of Theodore Roosevelt, Upton Sinclair, Woodrow Wilson, Franz Koffka, Albert Einstein, John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Virginia Woolf, Maia Angelou, Martin Luther King Jr., Edmund Morris, John Jakes, John R. Knaggs, James Alexander Thom, Thomas Friedman. The course is supplemented by field trips, personal interviews with renowned authors, and seminars with visiting lecturers. Students produce impressive comprehensive term projects of college level quality. Each semester the curriculum is updated for contemporary relevance.

12th Grade:
Modern History & Literature

In the late 15th and early 16th centuries, world commerce exploded with the creation of safer and faster ships, as well as overland railways and roads. Senior history students learn about the rapid acceleration of change that characterized this period. Classroom discussions focus on topics such as the emergence of capitalism as the dominant economic system, innovations in science and technology, increased economic and cultural exchanges, and new views of nature and the cosmos. Classes investigate the lives of people such as Henry the Navigator, Cortes, Martin Luther, Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Cromwell, Louis XIV, Peter the Great, Descartes, Diderot, and the Enlightenment thinkers. Also examined is Europe's dramatic rise in power and influence in the world, and how colonization and the spread of European laws, religion, government, and culture affected other people. By learning how the world economy arose, Seniors begin to grasp the complexities of global interdependence today and gain keen insights into the resulting social and political inequalities.

The middle phase of the curriculum examines the Age of Revolution, a period covering 1750 to 1914. With the inventions of the railway locomotive, the steamship, and later on, the telegraph and telephone, there began a surge in global communication, migrations, and trade. Considerable time is spent exploring the American and French Revolutions - the cast of characters, the underlying causes and global impact. These events brought into the world new notions of popular sovereignty, inalienable rights, democracy, and nationalism - ideals that mobilized people around the world to believe in a better future for all. With the rise of industrialization, the production and distribution of goods increased on a massive scale and placed new demands on the world market. Students will learn the "isms" that have absorbed contemporary society - liberalism, socialism, communism, imperialism, capitalism, nationalism, colonialism, and industrialism. By investigating these concepts, Seniors will understand the role of the United States on the global scene.

The modern phase of the history curriculum explores the 20th century and beginning of the 21st century. Economic and territorial rivalries, as well as how science propelled the production of more lethal weaponry, are discussed. Ideologies of fascism and communism are analyzed and texts such as, the Communist Manifesto, the Wilson's "Fourteen Points," Mao Zedong's "Little Red Book," Freud's "Civilization and its Discontents," and Elie Wiesel's "Night" are studied.

Seniors gain a personal perspective on the events unfolding in their lifetime. They acquire a mental framework for the whole flow of world developments, and learn that history is always in the making. With deeper insights, they may even take responsibility for addressing the critical issues facing their future lives, as well as the generations beyond.


Ninth Grade

The Ninth Grade math curriculum typically begins with Integrated Algebra. Students learn how to manipulate algebraic expressions and solve equations and inequalities of varying difficulty, as well as graph and analyze basic functions. Geometric figures, right triangle trigonometry, probability and statistics are also studied. Additionally, ninth grade students are introduced to the graphing calculator.

Tenth Grade

Sophomores continue the study of Geometry begun in ninth grade. It includes transformational and coordinate geometry as well as logical reasoning and formal proofs. Algebraic techniques are also employed to study geometric relationships.

Eleventh Grade

Eleventh graders study Algebra 2 and Trigonometry. Students manipulate and solve rational expressions and study polynomial, exponential and logarithmic functions in depth. Advanced probability and statistical methods are also applied to real world situations. Junior math students become adept at unit circle trigonometry and are able to efficiently and effectively use their graphing calculators as tools for extending their knowledge base in math.

Twelfth Grade & Elective Courses

Upper school students are also offered Pre-Calculus and Advanced Calculus courses as electives. The Pre-Calculus class intensively analyzes many types of functions and begins to learn some of the terminology and techniques that are frequently used in Calculus. The Calculus curriculum includes Differential and Integral Calculus and encompasses the material normally covered in a college level Calculus I class. Students have the option of taking the Advanced Placement Calculus AB exam at the end of the course.

Other elective courses in mathematics are also offered on a year-to-year basis, as available. Electives have included a diverse variety of courses, such as Fractal Geometry and Applied Mathematics.


Upper School Science

Upper School students are exposed to a variety of physical and life sciences. One of the primary focuses of the science program is to enhance and improve the analytical and critical thinking skills of all students. At the same time, students also learn to appreciate the intricate and enigmatic dynamics that occur at all extremes in the universe - from the mercurial states of electrons, to the sophisticated processes that occur within a cell, to the awe-inspiring beauty of a supernova, and the ever-unfolding mysteries of the brain. After four years of study, students should leave the Bay Ridge Prep science department being able to be informed and interested participants in the scientific world around them.

In the course of four years, students take courses in Biology, Earth Science, Chemistry, Physics, Neuroscience, several Psychology courses as well as numerous AP science electives. Biology, Earth Science, Chemistry, and Physics are taught within the standards established by the New York State Education Department. Additionally many students are studying more than one science simultaneously. Students enrolled in these courses also perform hands-on laboratory activities each week. In addition, students in the Science Research program are able to research and conduct original projects during their time at Bay Ridge Prep. Students participate in the New York State Regents Exams, and also have the option to take SAT II exams, when applicable.

Ninth Grade Science Courses

  • Biology

Tenth Grade Science Courses

  • Earth Science
  • AP Biology
    (Students in AP Biology have the opportunity to take the Advanced Placement exam for college credit.)
  • Science Research and Design

Eleventh Grade Science Courses

  • Chemistry (both Honors and Regents options)
  • Psychology
  • AP Physics 1 
    (Students in AP Physics have the opportunity to take the Advanced Placement exam for college credit.)
  • Science Research and Design

Twelfth Grade Science Courses & Electives

  • Animal Behavior
  • Physics
  • Current Topics in Science
  • Neuroscience
  • Psychology
  • Science Research and Design
  • AP Physics 2 
    (Students in AP Physics have the opportunity to take the Advanced Placement exam for college credit.)
  • AP Environmental Science
    (Students in AP Environmental Science have the opportunity to take the Advanced Placement exam for college credit.)

Course Notes:

Senior level Neuroscience, and Psychology courses are taught at college level, often using an advanced seminar format.

Science Research and Design is a three-year science elective course sequence where students are expected to conduct original and independent research projects, culminating in a Science Symposium where students present their research.

World Languages

French, Italian and Spanish are offered as by the World Languages Department.  The curriculum is designed to help students acquire an ease of written and oral expression, a knowledge of cultures and nations outisde of the United States and an understanding of French, Italian and Spanish literature.