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In each class, students share the responsibility of creating a positive, inclusive, collaborative class culture and managing behavior. SWS teachers and students seek a personal, engaging, and rigorous academic atmosphere in the classroom. Students are encouraged to participate actively in our discussion-based classes.  In all courses, students have some control over offerings and are encouraged to be involved in making decisions about the curriculum. While many of the courses cover traditional material such as Biology or World History, instruction is more individualized. Students and staff also join each other in Town Meeting, SWS committees, college counseling and SWS activities. SWS teachers and students have many opportunities to get to know each other both inside and outside the classroom.



The English curriculum is one of the most unique hallmarks of SWS. Each spring, the three SWS English teachers propose a total of 18 possible semester long courses for the upcoming year. Classe are created based on a teachers interest, student request, or an identified need in the community. These courses offerings are then presented in Town Meeting and voted on by the student body. Each course is offered for honors credit and students play an active role in the development (or revision) of the class.  

In SWS, we don't give tests or quizzes. Instead, accountability is based on written assessments, projects, and a students contributions to the class community throughout the semester. As seminar style classes, students are expected to be active and engaged participants in the classroom discourse. 

One of the most longstanding aspects of an SWS English class is the "paper reading." After a major assessment, students are asked to share their work with others and receive positive feedback and constructive criticism. It's our belief that, by sharing our written work with each other, everyone is able to benefit. 

A few recent SWS English offerings include: 

  • Constructions of Self  (check out a sample syllabus here!) 

  • Protest Literature

  • Writers of Color

  • Native Literature

  • LGBTQIA Literature

  • Hamlet: A Study in Gender, Identity, and Madness

  • The Philosophy and Myth of the American Road

  • Coming of Age

  • Feminism in Literature

  • Literature of Love

  • Dark Literature

  • Semiotics: Philosophy of Language

  • The Good Life

  • Writing the Short Story

  • Writing for the Screen

  • Creative Nonfiction

  • Postermodern Literature

  • Literature and the Environment

  • Poetry Writing 


History courses are offered in SWS at the 10th, 11th, and 12th-grade level and students may take Advanced Placement courses outside of SWS if they desire. SWS history classes provide a wonderful opportunity to create grade-level communities within SWS.  The 10th and 11th-grade curriculum include much of the same content as their mainstream counterparts, however, democratic principles are applied to the way the classes are run.  History classes are project-based and student-driven. This results in slightly different content year-to-year because it allows students to choose a variety of topics within a larger theme. For example, if the 10th-grade curriculum includes a unit on Imperialism, the SWS class might be given the opportunities to vote on which case studies they would like to use.  In addition, classes discuss and vote on what kinds of assessments they wish to have and how much those assessments are worth.  

10th Grade: Modern World History Honors 

11th Grade: U.S. History Honors

12th Grade: Contemporary World History Honor (A.K.A Current Events)


SWS Chemistry is, since 1989, an honors-level chemistry course with enrollment prioritized for SWS students. This allows for plenty of student-to-student learning and fertile discourse given that most of the students know each other from shared classes within SWS. The curriculum is identical to a main school honors-level chemistry course and students are encouraged to take the Chemistry SAT II at the end of the course. Following successful completion of SWS Chemistry, students are adequately prepared to take AP Chemistry. 

Much like our Chemistry program, the Biology curriculum is very similar to the main school honors-level Biology course.  SWS Juniors populate the course, making it easier to draw on bonds formed outside of class.  Following successful completion of SWS Biology, students are adequately prepared to take AP Biology. 

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