Graduation Requirements by Department

List of 10 items.

  • English

    The Lawrenceville English Department believes in the slow, careful reading of great literature. We see no substitute for the patient efforts of teacher and student sitting at the Harkness table and in regular consultation, learning together. To read and write about literature with clarity and intellectual honesty takes time and hard work; every term, our pedagogy and curriculum return to the practice of fundamentals. Our passion for the practice of close reading is matched by a respect for the demands of the writing process. This process of creating ideas, discovering evidence, revising essays, assessing and talking about student writing is the time-intensive center and ultimate priority of English education at Lawrenceville. We do this together: common texts and tiered expectations help us to establish and maintain high standards for fair assessment at each grade level.

    While the department understands that at each level the differences in maturity and development of our students require the curriculum to be right for each age, students from forms two through five nevertheless practice many of the same skills and habits of mind, albeit at different levels of sophistication. Our curriculum is like a spiraled staircase: the journey requires significant time and repetition so that the student may achieve competence, let alone mastery. We believe students must return often to the same basic questions and problems so they can begin to acquire good habits of mind. Just as the student’s ongoing relationship with primary text is the core of this English education, it is also important that daily writing and frequent teacher feedback not be sacrificed to other competing educational objectives.

    Our values remain traditional college preparatory ones; wide reading that fosters a love of literature and language; rigorous demands in essay composition and English grammar; and active seminar participation and constructive leadership in a round-table classroom. We want each graduate to write coherent sentences; indeed, we prepare all our students to construct meaningful interpretations, to recognize good evidence, and to write and speak persuasively. In this age of readily available information, we want to shape literate, articulate citizens, and we also wish to inspire and develop young men and women of letters. Like all our peer independent schools, we believe four years of high school English is the requisite preparation for an active intellectual, moral and civic life within and beyond the universities.

    Four Year Curriculum Summary

    Our core program extends for the better part of the first three years, with grammar instruction, vocabulary acquisition and writing practice sequenced to complement a literature study that happens in a roughly historical sequence. Second form Humanities students stay with the same teacher throughout the year to read works by modern authors in conversation with foundational texts from past centuries, China and India, Homer, Shakespeare, and various mythologies. Third form students have a yearlong introduction to the major literary genres, with fiction in the fall, poetry in the winter, and drama in the spring, all anchored by shared, foundational texts: The Great Gatsby, Othello, and Oedipus Rex among them. Students in English IV build on English III by studying long-form fiction in the fall, reading novels by a range of American authors from the 19th and 20th centuries, and developing arguments through discussion and literary-critical essays. Work in the winter term focuses on poetry and includes intensive study of Hamlet. In the spring they undertake an intensive writing course devoted to enhancing their skills in writing non-fiction personal and persuasive essays.
     
    After this three year sequence, the department believes students will have acquired the requisite skills, core knowledge and independence of mind to explore their passions in their fifth form year, an elective program that gives students the opportunity to do intensive work in a particular area of interest with a teacher who has expertise in that area. All senior English electives are devoted to helping students perfect skills in critical reading and writing and discover their own style. Electives in each semester represent not only a range of historical periods and genres, ancient to modern, but also of seminal writers and representative works from the major periods and movements in English and American letters. All course descriptions may be viewed in the on-line course guide.

    Basic Requirements by Entering Form

    • New in Form II: 12 terms - includes Humanities English (3 terms)
    • New in Form III: 9 terms
    • New in Form IV: 6 terms
    • New in Form V: 2 terms required - 3 terms recommended
    • New in PG: 2 terms required - 3 terms recommended
    The English department views it as desirable for students to take an English course in every term they are here, as required in most secondary schools.
     
    Selection of an elective course does not guarantee placement in that course, so students should list second and third choices for electives each term. All selection of literature electives is done by lottery and is further affected by the constraints of a student’s schedule of other scheduled classes.
     
    No specially designated Advanced Placement course is offered by the department; however, many students take one or both Advanced Placement exams in English at the end of the Fourth or Fifth Form year. Students who plan to take one or both exams are advised to talk with Mrs. Christoffersen, the Department Chair, before registering for one of the exams.

    How to Meet the Requirements

    Example 1: In Form II take HU 201-203 HUMANITIES-ENGLISH (required), In Form III take EN 301-303 ENGLISH III (required), In Form IV take EN 401-402 ENGLISH IV (required) and an elective (EN 403, EN 404 or EN 405), In Form V take 3 electives (EN 501 - EN 581)
  • History

    The History Department believes that students should garner an understanding of the broad historical forces that have shaped the modern world. An important goal is to demonstrate how people perceived events in their own time as well as how historians have viewed them from a later vantage point. Through this study students are able to better examine and address contemporary problems with increased awareness of their role as both an individual and a citizen of the world. Each course is designed with overarching questions that help to guide students through their studies as they encounter a wide variety of sources and learn to think, speak and write critically within the discipline of history.

    Courses examine the global forces and interactions that have shaped the modern world, as well as the evolution of institutions and ideas within United States history. In the second form, students are introduced to China and India through an investigation of each culture and an examination of the reasons why and how societies evolve and change over time. Later in their high school tenure students can choose from a variety of history electives, while at each level, students are introduced to research methods that culminate with an independent research project.The department also offers the opportunity for independent study to students with a strong interest in particular historical topics that may not be included in the curriculum.

    Basic Requirements by Entering Form

    • New in Form II: 6 terms: 3 terms of Forces that Shaped the Modern World and 3 terms of United States (IV or V Form)
    • New in Form III: 6 terms: 3 terms of Forces that Shaped the Modern World and 3 terms of United States (IV or V Form)
    • New in Form IV: 3 terms US History or 3 terms of History if US History was taken previously
    • New in Form V: 2 terms
    • New in PG: 2 terms
    The required Forces that Shaped the Modern World units must be completed before students begin their work in American history.

    The general admission requirements for Honors courses are: a strong interest in history and the ability to approach history analytically, an ability to handle abstract concepts, developed writing skills, a willingness to enthusiastically enter into class discussions, an ability to deal with special learning opportunities and some extra demands. Admission is based on past performance in Humanities, English and history classes at Lawrenceville as well as comments and recommendations from past instructors.
  • Interdisciplinary Studies Program

    The Interdisciplinary Studies Program at Lawrenceville is not a separate department, but a series of courses that emerge from our core disciplines of History, Science, English, Foreign Language, Art, and Religion and Philosophy. Beginning in the Second Form, students become familiar with the insights, methods, and approaches of these core disciplines. Interdisciplinary courses then attempt to build on these disciplinary groundings in the Fourth and Fifth Form by encouraging students to integrate two or more disciplines. Increasingly, the most complex intellectual and practical problems in the world lie beyond the boundaries of a single discipline. As such, the goal of the Interdisciplinary courses is to answer a question, solve a problem, or achieve an understanding impossible through a single discipline alone. At Lawrenceville, we specifically define Interdisciplinary Studies as “Inquiries which critically draw up two or more disciplines leading to an integration of disciplinary insights.”
    1. “Inquiries”: Interdisciplinary Courses should focus on a question or a problem that requires analysis from multiple disciplinary perspectives.
    2. “Which Critically Draw Upon Two or More Disciplines”: Interdisciplinary Courses should emerge from our core Departments and the disciplinary groundings students have acquired during their first two to three years at Lawrenceville. The purpose of Interdisciplinary Courses is to leverage the insights of two or more disciplines while also encouraging students to reflect critically on the limitations of each discipline.
    3. “Leading to an Integration of Disciplinary Insights”: Once a course's essential question is examined from the perspective of the contributing disciplines -- and each discipline reaches the limits of its explanatory or problem-solving power – Interdisciplinary courses should then become a search for a "third way" -- a strategy that builds on the insights and approaches of the contributing disciplines, but then "integrates" them in the service of answering a question, solving a problem, or achieving an understanding impossible through a single discipline alone.

    Basic Requirements by Entering Form

    • New in Form II: 2 terms
    • New in Form III: 2 terms
    • New in Form IV: 2 terms
    • New in Form V: 1 term
    • New in PG: 1 term

    Representative Interdisciplinary Courses

    • BioEthics
    • Race
    • Middle East Myth & History
    • Immigration
    • Religion and Ecology
    • Design for Social Change
    • Universe Story
  • Language

    The mission of the Foreign Language Department at The Lawrenceville School is to support students as they become citizens of the global community. Our curriculum is designed to develop the capacity to understand other cultures and people through the beauty and power of their languages. It is the capacity for language, for complex symbolic communication that is, arguably, what makes us human. Thus, to learn a foreign language is not only useful, allowing us to accomplish tasks, to coordinate work and play, but it is also deeply personal, giving us the means to share our hidden interior lives with other human beings.

    Finally, to learn a foreign language means to see and understand the world in a new way, to adopt, even temporarily, a new perspective. It is only when we encounter and interact with another culture that we can truly understand our own. For many students, learning a foreign language is the first time that they realize what makes their language, their culture, and even themselves, unique.

    Lawrenceville offers multi-year study in four languages:  French, Latin, Mandarin Chinese, and Spanish.  It also offers supplementary courses in Russian, Arabic, and Ancient Greek for students who have completed their language requirement. 

    Basic Requirements by Entering Form

    • New in Form II: Through Level 3 in one language (Foundation level is Level 2)**
    • New in Form III: Through Level 3 in one language (Foundation level is Level 2)**
    • New in Form IV: None if completed 2 years of successful high school study in a second language
    • New in Form V: None if completed 2 years of successful high school study in a second language
    • New in PG: None if completed 2 years of successful high school study in a second language
    **Students may petition the department chair and the Dean of Academics for permission to complete their coursework after they've completed the foundational level if they have a compelling academic reason for doing so.

    Lawrenceville recommends that students take more than the three required years in order to strengthen their preparation time for the SAT II Subject Test, which some colleges require.
  • Mathematics

    Mathematics is the language of reason. Though often referred to as a single discipline, mathematics comprises many distinct fields, including algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus, number theory, probability, and statistics. Each field has developed its own ways of thinking, its own methods for solving problems and establishing truth. Closer examination reveals the underlying logic that binds them all together. In addition to its inherent structure and beauty, mathematics helps us model the world around us. Whether we’re monitoring climate change, managing money, designing new buildings and bridges, buying insurance, testing the effectiveness of a new drug, or solving crime, math provides the tools we need to make decisions in the face of complexity, risk, and uncertainty.

    Every Lawrenceville graduate should be able to interpret quantitative information, develop and apply mathematical models, formulate clear and convincing arguments, and use appropriate technology to solve problems and describe relationships. In each course, we seek to develop students’ mathematical reasoning and their ability to use the language of mathematics to communicate their ideas and observations. We encourage students to ask good questions, use multiple approaches, explore ideas, and notice connections. Our Harkness-style classrooms promote intellectual engagement: independent thinking and exploration, as well as effective collaboration. The Mathematics Department sees learning mathematics as a ‘gateway to reason’ and strives to help our students gain a greater appreciation for and command of the discipline, both for its value as a way of thinking and for its usefulness in other disciplines.

    Basic Requirements by Entering Form

    • New in Form II: Completion of a yearlong course at the 400 or 500 level (Foundational Level is Math 3)
    • New in Form III: Completion of a yearlong course at the 400 or 500 level (Foundational Level is Math 3)
    • New in Form IV: Completion of a yearlong course at the 400 or 500 level (Foundational Level is Math 3)
    • New in Form V: 1 term required
    • New in PG: 1 term required
    Entering students are placed in the appropriate mathematics course based on their background and performance on appropriate placement tests.

    **Students may petition the department chair and the Dean of Academics for permission to complete their coursework after they've completed the foundational level if they have a compelling academic reason for doing so.

    Student’s electing to take an advanced class will have their records in mathematics individually reviewed by the department for any clear errors in placement. Borderline cases will necessitate a discussion between the department chairman and the student’s most recent teachers as to the student’s ability to handle the material in the particular advanced placement course. They will make a decision of whether or not the student will be allowed into the particular course.

    The Mathematics Level 2 SAT subject test should be taken as far along in the math curriculum as possible and after taking MA407 Precalculus or MA404 Math 4. Students who will not complete Precalculus or Math 4 by their fourth-form year should take the Mathematics Level 1 SAT subject test after Math 3.

    How to Meet the Requirements

    Example 1: Mathematics 1 through 4:
    MA201 MATH 1
    MA204 MATH 2
    MA301 MATH 3
    MA404 MATH 4


    Example 2: Math 1 through 3, followed by Precalculus:
    MA201 MATH 1
    MA204 MATH 2
    MA301 MATH 3
    MA404 PRECALCULUS


    Example 3: Mathematics 1 through 4, Precalculus:
    MA201 MATH 1
    MA204 MATH 2
    MA301 MATH 3
    MA404 MATH 4
    MA407 PRECALCULUS
  • Performing Arts - Music

    Studies in neurobiology have confirmed what musicians have long intuited; that music plays a special role in the development of the human brain and helps keep it running smoothly as we grow. The benefits of musical activity are especially valuable to teens, who spend much of their school day with logical reasoning skills, and who respond immediately to the stimulus that music brings to their developing social and emotional systems. Nothing is more vital to music than collaboration – it is virtually a “mode of being” to musicians, and many students are often at their best when led to productive partnerships. The opportunity to work closely with individual teachers in the Private Instruction Program is available for study in all instruments as well as voice. Lawrenceville's instrumental and vocal ensembles offer a vigorous co-curricular experience in performance for students at many levels.

    Course offerings in Music are rich, ranging from explorations of the fundamental “language” of music, to its place in history and culture, and extending to hands-on experience in composition and production work as well as Chamber Music (which embraces classical, jazz, and pop). We embrace a broad view of “making” music, and our hope is that every student will find a place to “exercise” the musical brain, and spirit, during their time at Lawrenceville.

    Basic Requirements by Entering Form*

    • New in Form II: 3 terms (at least 2 terms in the II Form)
    • New in Form III: 2 terms
    • New in Form IV: 1 term
    • New in Form V: 1 term
    • New in PG: 1 term

    *These requirements can be completed in any of the three arts disciplines—music, theater and dance, or visual arts.
  • Performing Arts - Theatre and Dance

    The Theatre and Dance Department believes that the actual process and making art is our unique educational gift to the School. To that end, we explore education through doing by offering courses that challenge students to apply the theory they learn in the classroom, to the practice of art in performance. This requires them to find creative solutions to real-life problems, to develop sophisticated communicative skills in order to convey their ideas effectively, and to work among themselves in close collaboration.
    Like the athletic and academic programs at Lawrenceville, we utilize a three-tiered approach to meet the needs and abilities of our students. If someone wishes to achieve at the most rigorous “varsity” or “advanced placement” level, we provide faculty-directed main stage performance venues as well as an Independent Project in Theatre course, which culminates in a major display of a student’s work in a fully-produced black box production. If someone wishes to pursue their interest in a less time-consuming, though still highly spirited environment, we provide advanced curricular courses, faculty-directed black box productions and student-initiated projects for the annual Periwig Theatre Festival.

    We also offer a Mask Troupe Ensemble, an Improvisation Troupe and a Dance Cabaret, for those students who wish an artistic experience along the more relaxed lines of a “House” sport. The Foundations of Theatre course is the gateway to all subsequent curricular offerings. The class touches on all aspects of the Theatre, from improvisation to mask characterization, set and lighting design to direction, and playwriting to acting. If a student decides, after taking Foundations, that they wish to continue their study in any one of these specific areas, they will find an advanced course to meet their interest.

    Basic Requirements by Entering Form*

    • New in Form II: 3 terms (at least 2 terms in the II Form)
    • New in Form III: 2 terms
    • New in Form IV: 1 term
    • New in Form V: 1 term
    • New in PG: 1 term
    *These requirements can be completed in any of the three arts disciplines—music, theater and dance, or visual arts.
  • Religion and Philosophy

    Is there a deeper meaning to our lives? Who are we and where might we be going? What are the world views and practices that have helped humankind to achieve fuller purpose and morally order society? As old as the talent for symbolic thought, the human urge to find higher principles and celebrate sacred reality has helped people confront fears, respond to deep questions and seek the wisdom of religion and philosophy. In a world that is more clearly interconnected than for any other generation, it is vital for students to look inward and outward with care to become global citizens.

    Starting with an introduction to the academic study of religion, our Third Form students encounter an array of religious traditions through an application of five key academic skills in religious studies (reading, writing, critiquing, researching, and comparing). The curriculum then opens to depth studies of religious themes and specific traditions, as well as inquiries into the fields of ethics and philosophy topics. Beyond the minimum two course requirement, one finds a demanding and vibrant array of interdisciplinary classes for Fourth and Fifth Form students.

    The religion and philosophy journey is distinct at the School for the way our concerns are at once field-specific and highly germane to other subjects, not to mention the art of living. By learning to see through the three vital lenses of world view, complex idea and thick description, our students gain skills that travel well with them and enhance their capacity for empathetic and critical inquiry. Through combining an academic and existential approach to all the “big questions,” the study of religion and philosophy is one in which rigorous thinking and a sense for life’s journey advance together.

    Basic Requirements by Entering Form

    • New in Form II: 2 terms (at least one term in the III Form)
    • New in Form III: 2 terms (at least 1 term in the III Form)
    • New in Form IV: 1 term
    • New in Form V: 1 term
    • New in PG: 1 term
    In the interest of having a curriculum that offers a meaningful sequence of study for our students, the Religion Department has a two-course requirement. It is strongly recommended that one credit be fulfilled in a student's third form year through a foundational experience, while for the second course, the student selects a special area of interest, providing a move toward proficiency, through an in-depth encounter which builds on earlier foundations. Our second level curriculum is divided in to two fields: those courses that cover single religions holistically, and those that focus on ethics, philosophy or textual studies. A student may choose a course in either of these fields for their second credit, with the understanding that they are welcome and encouraged to explore further.
  • Science

    The Science Department will cultivate in students the understanding that scientific knowledge is characterized by empirical criteria, logical argument, and skeptical review. It will prepare all students to use an understanding of scientific concepts and processes for personal decision making, effective participation in civic affairs, and preparation for those who choose advanced study in science beyond Lawrenceville. In order to accomplish the above, students will develop an understanding of:
    • Important Concepts in Science: Students should understand fundamental theories and unifying concepts in the physical, life, and earth sciences which provide an explanation and view of the natural world around us.
    • Nature of Scientific Knowledge: Students should understandthat all scientific knowledge is provisional, subject to change and therefore often involves some degree of uncertainty. However, most core ideas in science have much experimental and observational confirmation.
    • Nature of Scientific Inquiry: Students should understand the procedures, techniques, and methods scientists use to pose questions, plan investigations, gather data, evaluate uncertainty, develop conclusions, and communicate results.
    • Argument in Science: Students should be able to analyze, evaluate and construct arguments based on scientific reasoning using criteria for what constitutes valid, sufficient, and relevant evidence in science.
    • Quantitative Reasoning in Science: Students should understand the mathematical and statistical methods scientists use to analyze, interpret, and evaluate data and draw conclusions

    Basic Requirements by Entering Form

    • New in Form II: 9 terms (Foundation Level - 6 terms)**
    • New in Form III: 6 terms
    • New in Form IV: 3 terms
    • New in Form V: None
    • New in PG: None
    **Students may petition the department chair and the Dean of Academics for permission to complete their coursework after they've completed the foundational level if they have a compelling academic reason for doing so.

    How to Meet the Requirements

    Example 1: 
    II Form: Inquiries in Biological and Environmental Sciences
    III Form: Inquiries in Chemical and Physical Sciences
    IV Form: Honors Chemistry

    Example 2: 
    II Form: Inquiries in Biological and Environmental Sciences
    III Form: Inquiries in Chemical and Physical Sciences
    V Form: One-term electives Observational Astronomy, Evolution of Reproduction, and Human Disease
  • Visual Arts

    In the Visual Art Department our goal is to impart in our students visual awareness and acuity. We look, we make, and we discuss all in the pursuit of understanding the fundamental questions of life: who am I? Why am I here? Where do I come from? What is my purpose? Why do things look the way they do? What if they looked different? We place a high value on craftsmanship through revision, analysis, and a lot of hard work. Sometimes this trilogy gets short shrift in today’s fast-paced world of instant gratification, where we lose our ability for extended focus through multi-tasking. Thus, all of our classes involve some historical analysis and they all require creation in some form or another.

    Even though we are not in the business of making artists, almost all of the work students do is meant for public consumption. Their work is seen, critiqued, and evaluated; people respond to their work and in return students evaluate the responses. This public discourse is challenging, but it results in growth and stretching which is especially important in the development of mind, body and soul. Moving through our curriculum in a logical progression from foundational courses that set the stage, then building upon that foundation in advanced electives, allows students to develop at an appropriate level.

    To lift a line from Gladiator- “what we do in life echoes in eternity;” we are invested in the process of looking at those echoes and we are trying to make a few of our own. Ars Longus, Vita Brevis (art is long, life is short) - Lawrenceville is honored to maintain this long lasting and important tradition.

    Basic Requirements by Entering Form*

    • New in Form II: 3 terms (at least 2 terms in the II Form)
    • New in Form III: 2 terms
    • New in Form IV: 1 term
    • New in Form V: 1 term
    • New in PG: 1 term
    The visual art department expects students to move through their art courses in a logical sequence. Please pay close attention to the prerequisites for our electives; they are in place for your own protection. Please seek the counsel of members of the department as you plan your schedule in order to select the most logical sequence for your interests.

    Students wishing to take IN564 HONORS ART HISTORY must demonstrate strength in writing (English grades will be examined and a writing sample may be requested). It is preferable that the student has had some exposure to European history; however, consideration will be given to those who have not.

    *These requirements can be completed in any of the three arts disciplines—music, theater and dance, or visual arts.
Through House and Harkness, Lawrenceville challenges a diverse community of promising young people to lead lives of learning, integrity, and high purpose.  Our mission is to inspire the best in each to seek the best for all.