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Upper School Philosophy and Programs

The Upper School is housed in a separate two-story building on the existing campus with updated classrooms, a large common area, science lab, offices, and equipped with state-of-the-art technology. The Upper School expansion is representative of the Cambridge School mission statement and our steadfast determination to continue to serve students with dyslexia, ADD/ADHD, executive function challenges, and other language-based learning differences through high school.

Like our Lower and Middle Schools, the Upper School maintains small classroom sizes where teaching, learning, and personal relationships are paramount. The rigorous curriculum is specially designed to help students develop advanced academic skills, build a foundation of knowledge on those skills, and stimulate intellectual curiosity.

Cambridge Upper School takes a unique and dynamic approach to teaching the standard high school coursework. It provides a comprehensive experience that includes instruction in performing and visual arts, athletics, and technology. There is a significant emphasis placed on cross-curricular and experiential learning to help students:

  • Gain a deeper understanding of the material
  • Make stronger connections
  • Enhance academic achievement

This approach allows students opportunities to investigate their interests, acquire confidence in their abilities, believe in their own intrinsic worth, and develop the skills necessary to achieve success during the high school years and beyond.


Curriculum Highlights

  • Provides a High School Diploma from an accredited school.
  • Provides One-on-One Advisory where students can meet daily with their advisor for 30 minutes.
  • Provides a yearly Investigations Course where students learn about metacognition (How does the brain work? How do we learn?), explore careers, learn about applying to college, and develop strategies for success beyond high school.
  • Provides Excursion Education where students travel off campus to fully immerse themselves in strategic learning experiences to strengthen their knowledge and understanding of curriculum.
  • Provides assistance with ACT  accommodations and testing.
  • Provides Social Gatherings, including Fun Friday, where one Friday a month after school students get together  for a fun social activity such as playing laser tag, going to see the latest blockbuster, or hitting the coasters at Six Flags.
  • Provides a Physical Education Credit to motivate students to initiate and maintain a physically active lifestyle. Individuals are encouraged to pursue physical activities of personal interest. In order to meet the requirements for physical education, students may elect to participate in school-affiliated sports, physical activities offered outside the school environment (team sports, gym membership, fitness classes, dance, yoga, rock climbing, personal fitness monitored by a electronic fitness tracker, etc.), or any combination thereof.

FRESHMEN LITERATURE: Freshman Literature is cross-curricular in nature, incorporating a variety of works closely related to the student’s history curriculum whenever possible. Students read a span of literature including plays, novels, short-stories, and poetry. The  duality of the course allows students to analyze historical events and figures from a variety of viewpoints. Examining literary works from a variety of vantage points enables students to gain a deeper understanding of the topic. Finally, students strive to comprehend, with scaffolding, literature on a different level by exploring nonliteral elements found within literature.  

SOPHOMORE LITERATURE: Sophomore Literature includes a variety of literature from short stories, plays, poetry, and novels. Whenever possible, the selections of literature are closely tied to the history curriculum allowing students to make stronger and more meaningful connections between the two disciplines. Students strive to develop critical thinking skills beyond the literal meaning of the text to draw inferences, understand character motivation, recognize symbolism and literary devices, and make connections in order to gain a deeper and richer understanding when reading.

JUNIOR LITERATURE: Junior  literature allows students to enhance their learning by critically examining works drawn from their history curriculum.  When students study the historical content, they truly gain a deeper understanding of literary works. Students study a variety of works including poems, plays, novels, short stories, and first person accounts. In this course, students strive to go beyond the basic comprehension of literary works and analyze the works through a historical and critical lense.

SENIOR LITERATURE: Senior literature invites students to build upon their understanding of important events in history by critically examining literary works from the time.  Students will strive to objectively analyze text, taking into consideration the author’s point-of-view. Students will dive into a broad spectrum of literature including poems, plays, novels, short stories, and first person accounts. In this course, student will work towards independence in the ability to go beyond the basic comprehension of literary works and analyze the works through a historical and critical lens.

FRESHMAN COMPOSITION: Freshman Composition strives to improve communication skills through grammar, writing and vocabulary development. Instruction is tailored to the needs of the individual students. The Winston Grammar Program is a systematic and sequential program, used to provide direct instruction in grammar. Writing is developed through considerable practice with expository, narrative, informative, research, persuasive, compare and contrast and literary analysis using the Hochman format. Students are encouraged to think beyond the basic concepts of a topic and move toward asking questions, inferring meaning and developing logical judgments and arguments to support their ideas.

SOPHOMORE COMPOSITION: Sophomore composition strives to build upon the student skills acquired in Freshman Composition. The focus will be on a variety of writing styles, including: informative, explanatory, personal narrative, persuasive and compare and contrast utilizing the Hochman Writing Program. Students are encouraged to carefully examine their ideas and convey them in a concise and sequential manner, while still painting a mental picture for the reader using varied vocabulary, specific details, and appropriate transitions. In addition, a particular emphasis is placed on writing  research papers. Students gather information from print sources as well as the internet and the digital library database; then, they demonstrate a solid understanding of the material through written text with appropriate citations.

JUNIOR COMPOSITION: Junior composition focuses on formulating well developed arguments from various perspectives to support claims in an analysis of cross curricular topics and texts.  Students will take a stance on a topic and establish its significance based on logical and sequential reasoning. Students will then strive to establish the relevancy of their position, in light of alternative or opposing claims. Finally, students will work to present claims and counterclaims while analyzing the strengths and limitations in each.

SENIOR COMPOSITION: Senior composition provides students with an increased opportunity for self-expression through writing. Students will focus on developing real and creative narratives. They will begin by introducing narrator(s), providing one (or multiple) points of view, establishing setting and developing a sequential series of events through the use of effective word choice and well-constructed prose.


The Cambridge Upper School provides appropriate and challenging math instruction for each  student based on their individual need and unique learning profile. All math courses are taught using a mix of direct-explicit instruction and multisensory activities to help students create a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts. Linking mathematical knowledge to life is another focus of each course as students explore the practical application of what they have been taught in the classroom. Course offerings include:


WORLD HISTORY: This course explores major developments in world history, by era and thematic content.  It  includes analysis of the interaction of major world societies and the effects of technology, geography and demography on human history. This course has a global focus with emphasis on various regions of the world and examines the social, political, cultural and intellectual developments of world history. Further attention is designated to learning the elements of digital storytelling as well as translating written work into a visual medium. Students have the opportunity to write and produce either documentary or dramatic interpretations of major world historic events.

UNITED STATES HISTORY I & II: Equality, rights, liberty, opportunity and democracy: these were the five core ideals of our founding fathers when they drafted the Declaration of Independence.  In this survey course of American history, students will analyze how these five, seemingly basic principles have shaped American history from the establishment of the Constitution to the Civil War. During this course, students will debate, discuss, and apply literacy skills to research primary and secondary sources, with an emphasis on developing critical thinking skills. Students will also learn elements of storytelling to translate historical content into various mediums. The course includes a long-term culminating project, which explores how one of the five principles has shaped a particular event from American history.

HUMAN GEOGRAPHY: This course explores the systematic study of patterns and processes that have shaped human understanding, use, and alteration of the Earth’s surface. Students learn to employ spatial concepts and landscape analysis to examine human socioeconomic organization and its environmental consequences, including the methods and tools geographers use in their research and applications. This course explores geography from both a thematic and regional approach, using case studies from around the world with an emphasis on understanding the world in which we live today. Historical information serves to enrich analysis of the impacts of phenomena such as globalization, colonialism, and human–environment relationships on places, regions, cultural landscapes, and patterns of interaction.


BIOLOGY: Biology encompasses the study of living organisms and in this biology course students examine the processes of life across a broad spectrum from the biochemical inner workings of the cell, through the interactions within ecosystems. Understanding biology helps students to make sense of a diverse, complex, yet interconnected world and to better understand the relevancy of biology to their lives. Throughout the year this course provides an opportunity for students to develop scientific process skills and laboratory techniques, as well as to apply critical thinking and reasoning skills.  Students address real world problems through active inquiry that is based in content knowledge and concepts including: cell biology, genetics, evolution, ecology, and biodiversity. Through the use of current events, readings, discussions, multimedia, assignments, investigations, and other interactive experiences students have multiple opportunities to develop their scientific literacy and to work collaboratively with their peers. Students learn to use evidence-based reasoning and have the opportunity to apply tools and resources to strengthen their organizational, technological, reading, writing, and math skills in this class.

FORENSIC SCIENCE: The Forensic Science course is created around the basis that learning is most meaningful when students are able to interrelate subject areas and to create connections to their lives. This class blends different areas of science and incorporates the core subject areas, such as math and writing. Students are asked to read, research, hypothesize, compute, and use deductive reasoning to approach various cases from and techniques used in forensic science. This class draws from events that are occurring in students’ communities, their nation, and across the world. Additionally, students integrate technology as they work to use the analysis of evidence to connect the victim, suspect, and crime scene. As students improve their deductive reasoning and critical thinking skills, they develop skills for lifelong learning. In order to meet the needs and interests of students, this course maintains flexibility in its coverage of various topics.

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE: Environmental science seeks to provide students with the opportunity to develop the scientific concepts and processes necessary to understand the relationships found within nature. Students also enhance their ability to identify natural and man-made environmental  problems, to analyze the associated risks, and to develop alternative solution. Current events are utilized to support the concepts discussed in environmental science. The discussion of current events also provides the backdrop for students to investigate and develop strategies to address some of the concerns of both the local and global environments. Laboratory and field studies are an essential component of this course.

EARTH AND PHYSICAL SCIENCE: In this course, students learn the fundamental concepts of geology, meteorology, and oceanography. Students learn to evaluate geological, meteorological, and a variety processes in accordance with the scientific method. From there, students utilize laboratory tools and resources to collect data and then draw conclusions. Another continual focus of the course is the importance of physical science in everyday life. Therefore, Earth’s conceptual spheres and how they are related are taught to help improve the students’ ability to evaluate real-world events and experiences and how they relate to basic earth science principles. 

PHYSICS: In this course based on conceptual physics, students explore the everyday world and the interactions within it, with a focus on concepts before computation. Students investigate the foundational concepts that govern our world, and then apply mathematical models and relationships to support these concepts. This course is designed for those students who have not yet begun study of, nor completed a math class equivalent to Pre-Calculus, but this course implements concepts covered in Algebra. Students participate in a variety of demonstrations, laboratory activities, and hands-on projects as well as test, quizzes, and homework assignments. Conducting laboratory experiments is an essential component of this course as it provides a foundation for real world exploration, practical application of math, communication about the precision and accuracy of their premises, and development of critical thinking skills.  This course covers topics in mechanics, properties of matter, temperature and heat, sound and light, electricity and magnetism, and atomic and nuclear physics. Students also have the opportunity to delve into contemporary areas of interest in response to the application of physics in our quickly changing, technologically reliant society.

ANATOMY & PHYSIOLOGY: The anatomy course will describe the human body from the microscopic to macroscopic levels moving from cells to systems. The most important aspects of the organ systems will be covered first, along with the pathophysiology (disease and disorder state) of each system. Clinical aspects of each system will also be covered, such as: why some skin sites are good for injection, why fungus grows well in certain body areas, and how cholesterol impacts arteries. The body will be viewed as a dynamic and continually changing organism, changing throughout the life cycle from infancy to adulthood. A major focus will be on applying learned knowledge towards personal and societal health and well-being.

Foreign Language


These courses serve as an introduction to American Sign Language, as well as the deaf culture and history. Students explore the structure and intricacies of ASL through multi sensory lessons that engage students and open them up to a new world of culture and communication.


Freshman Year – Metacognition: Freshman receive explicit instruction in metacognitive strategies used in the learning process.  These strategies are then integrated across the curriculum to improve each student’s effective and creative problem solving skills as it pertains to the process of learning. As part of this process, each student has one-on-one advising time during a separate period to address individual needs.  In addition to tenets from the Habits of Mind curriculum, the Mindset work of Carol Dweck at Stanford University is incorporated into this class.  Her growth mindset concept is a belief that the ability to learn is not a fixed element, but rather one that can change and grow with effort and persistence.  Further, when students are educated in how the brain works in response to difficult situations, they are more likely to persevere and succeed.

Sophomore Year – Careers: Building on the understanding of “self” that was fostered in the freshman metacognition course, sophomores students start to investigate possible career choices. This course provides students with relevant hands-on experiences to help them explore their interests in an effort to assist them with matching their strengths and passions with future educational and career goals. Guest speakers, along with research and hands-on projects, help students to match their interests with possible future careers.  In addition, students may participate in an intern experience at one or more field locations.

Junior Year- Explorations: As juniors, the students learn about the post-secondary options that best match their career goals. Students explore various options, including but not limited to college. Computer software is also utilized to help guide students towards the best post-secondary option that meets their individual needs. While students explore higher education, they consider entrance requirements and gain an understanding of the admission process. Students learn how to research schools and how to get additional information once they have identified appropriate institutions. This includes off site visits to local institutions with tours so students can become familiar with the process of asking questions and seeking out information. In addition, students explore the ACT test, including test taking strategies and accommodations. A key component of the search includes matching their career goals and learning needs with an appropriate pool of post secondary placements.

Senior Year – Capstone: As seniors, the year is devoted to planning, organizing, and executing the post-secondary application process. Students solidify their choices and create a timeline to meet various deadlines, participate in mock interviews and write essays. In the second half of the year, they explore life after high school and their chosen new communities. Students also investigate the skills needed to live independently away from home.  In addition, they complete a capstone project on their chosen placement that examines the campus, learning supports, academic resources, and even where to get a good slice of local pizza. The students present their capstone projects to the upper school community and parents.  


Elective at the Cambridge Upper School are constantly evolving to reflect student interests.

Below is a list of some of the electives that have been offered.














WORLD WAR II: Origins, Nature and Impact




  • Highly qualified and trained teachers
  • Speech-Language Pathology Department
  • Occupational Therapy Department
  • College Counseling Services
  • Adjunct Faculty including McCarter Theater, Westminster Choir College, and local artists

For more information, contact our Admissions Office at (609)-730-9553.