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Advanced Mathematics/Pre-Calculus

The integration of geometry, algebra, and trigonometry is the goal of pre-calculus.  Detailed study of polynomial functions, exponential and logarithmic functions, trigonometric functions, analytic geometry, systems of equations, sequences, and probability constitute the core of the class. Students can be expected to model natural and man-made phenomena using material in the course.  Limits of functions and a basic introduction to derivatives are the threads that tie pre-calculus to the full study of calculus.

Algebra I

Algebra is the study of numerical patterns and their abstract representations.  Students represent and analyze these patterns using functions, operations, tables, and graphs.  Equations in one variable, equations in two variables, simultaneous equations, polynomials, factoring, quadratic equations, and number sequences are some of the topics.

Algebra II

This course is intended to build upon the concepts developed in geometry and Algebra I.  The course covers advanced topics in algebra such as polynomials and their graphs, division of polynomials, composite functions, zeros of polynomial functions, exponential and logarithmic functions, systems of equations, imaginary and complex numbers, and trigonometric functions.  The properties of matrices and determinants will be covered also.

Students are encouraged to perform calculations by hand and electronic methods.  Topics in this course are important for the SAT and other college entrance exams.

American History I

American History I introduces students to key events in the history of the western hemisphere with emphasis on the development of the United States.  Students begin to develop formal academic research and writing skills as they study original documents and secondary sources and create their own analyses.

American History II

American History II expands on the foundation laid in American History I.  Students delve deeper into research and analysis as they study key events in the history of the Western Hemisphere.  They learn to evaluate other historians research, peruse original documents, and prepare to draw and defend their own conclusions about American History and the American Experience.

Sample Third Trimester American History Essay Test  –  Sample Research Assignment   

Sample student papers:  Hiroshima and Nagasaki   –  The Watergate Scandal  –  The Manhattan Project

Biology

Biology builds on knowledge and experience gained in our Life Sciences course.  Students are introduced to microbiology and delve deeper into their studies of science, evolution, genetics and heredity, cellular processes, ecology,  as well as human systems.  

Sample Beginning of Year Test   –   Sample STEAM Project Assignment (Biology Emphasis)

Chemistry

Chemistry is focused on the study of the structure and composition of matter, and the changes that occur to matter during various chemical and physical interactions. The course provides many hands-on experiments and investigations involving laboratory equipment, basic elements, compounds, and mixtures. Students explore atomic structure, the periodic table, chemical equations, stoichiometry, gas laws, acids and bases, phase changes, and oxidation-reduction reactions. The nature of the course necessitates a comfortable understanding of algebra and a willingness to develop an understanding of the scientific method.

Sample Midyear Test

Drama

All students participate in drama lessons which include improvisation, drama games, and exercises.  Students produce and act in a Broadway quality musical one year and a student written production in alternating years.  Past productions include:  Footloose, Skitastrophy Extravaganza, The Addam’s Family, and Oklahoma. (Picture album/video clips linked to each?)

Drawing, Painting, and Sculpture

Using traditional techniques and emerging technologies, this class emphasizes exploration, analysis, and investigation of the creative process. Students develop technical skills that empower them to communicate ideas visually, developing an understanding of and appreciation for the visual arts. Students explore various two-dimensional and three-dimensional art mediums, using different expressive and technical approaches. Students study the factors that distinguish artistic styles and that clarify the role of art in culture.

Earth Science

Students will study the structure of the earth, minerals and their properties, rock formation, methods for geologic dating, earth processes, plate tectonics, weathering, the hydrosphere, the atmosphere, climate, and the solar system.  Students learn material and share knowledge through outdoor lab application, indoor lab work, textual exploration, projects, and classroom discussion.

Electives

Homesteading, Culinary Arts, Yearbook, Japanese, Gardening, Riding, Robotics, Multimedia Production

Equestrian/Riding

Our equestrian program offers a wide range of activities that serve beginner, intermediate, and advanced riders. Lessons take place 3-5 times a week and involve a variety of activities: basic skills and techniques, horsemanship, ring work, trail rides, jumping, lunge training, equine therapy, and introductory fox hunting with local clubs. Additionally, the equestrian program runs a riding club that plans events and activities outside of school hours and organizes annual activities (such as trail rides) for club fundraisers.

Farm Chores

Our daily chores sustain our farm, our school and our community. We all take part in this work twice a day: in the morning and again in the afternoon. General farm chores, gardening, keeping our building clean, kitchen duty, and harvesting from the farm and garden are among the activities at these times. In the process of doing this work, we learn about the needs of animals, about health and nutrition, how to care for trees and vegetable plants, how to maintain a household, and many other skills that we will rely on throughout our lives whatever our living situation. Students should come prepared to work outside every day in all weather conditions. A hat, good work gloves and boots are essential items that are kept at school.

Geometry

Geometry is the study of the properties and relations of points, lines, surfaces, and solids.  Deductive reasoning will be used to understand lines, angles, congruence, quadrilaterals, area, circles, polygons, and other geometric solids.  Geometry is a basis for more advanced studies in algebra and pre-calculus.  An understanding of geometry is important for the SAT as well as for a host of practical hands-on crafts.

Government and Economics I

Students learn the foundations and principles of government by studying the works of contemporary and historic political authors.  The study the constitution and other founding documents as they create, revise, and maintain their own functional government and economy.  Students also experiment with and apply personal and general finance, economics, and business principles as they create and run businesses, make purchases, pay taxes, and finance the government. 

MS: Sample Midyear Government Written Discussion  –  Mini Economy and Government Project

 

Government and Economics II

Students learn the foundations and principles of government by studying the works of contemporary and historic political authors.  The study the constitution and other founding documents as they create, revise, and maintain their own functional government and economy.  Students also experiment with and apply personal and general finance, economics, and business principles as they create and run businesses, make purchases, pay taxes, and finance the government. Government and Economics II students take larger roles in the student government and economy, and engage in historical and contemporary research as well as creating real world policy evaluations and proposals.

HS: Sample Beginning of Year Government Test  –  Mini Economy and Government Project

High School English/Language Arts/Humanities

English/Language Arts courses parallel the History/Government/Geography/Business & Economics courses each year for both middle and high school. Students see connections between what they learn in one class with what they do in another. English/Language Arts classes focus primarily on reading and writing, literature, and research. In addition, students have a separate Humanities class that includes public speaking, speeches, debate, mock trial, journaling, creative writing, resume writing, journalism, writing contests, SAT preparation and practice, independent projects, and cross-subject or cross-curricular assignments. We follow the Virginia Department of Education recommendation and guidelines for English/Language Arts.

In high school, students read and write more challenging, lengthier works while delving deeper into the study of literary analysis. Instruction focuses on learning and understanding various literary devices, writing techniques, and critical lenses. Students continue to develop the ability to comprehend, recall, analyze, and enjoy a diverse range of works through the study of prose, drama, and poetry. Likewise, composition assignments are more formal as the focus shifts from basic writing mechanics to organization, style, usage, audience, and voice. Students often compose written reflections on assignments, discussions, experiences, and topics of interest. In-depth research and literary analysis is a key aspect of high school English/Language Arts courses. Student study, discuss, read, and write about various styles and genres of literature, cultures, beliefs, and critical lenses. For more advanced students and classes, long-term independent projects are also assigned.

Topics of study: US & American Literature, World Literature, British Literature, European Literature, Eastern Cultures & Literature, Ancient & Classic Literature, Latin American Literature, Humanities

Belle Meade School Summer English Assignments

Integrated Science

Students study the fundamentals of physics, chemistry, earth, and space sciences.  This course introduces students to the scientific method and allows for exploration while challenging students to master the underlying math and to apply scientific concepts to solve complex problems.

Latin I

First year Latin takes two years.  It emphasizes building vocabulary and grammar which applies to English, Spanish, and other language studies. Students study the social and political history of the Romans.  They learn to analyze the structure of words and sentences as they translate passages and comprehend meaning. Students learn present, imperfect, and perfect verb tenses and nominative, dative, and accusative cases.

Latin II

Second year Latin also takes two years.  It continues building vocabulary and adds more complicated grammar.  Students translate stories about the culture and history that  expands to include Britain and Alexandria as parts of the Roman Empire.  Students learn all five cases for nouns and study infinitives, pluperfect, and imperative verbs.

Life Science

Life Sciences explores living systems through experience and experimentation, as well expository instruction and reading. This course challenges students to expand their understanding of evolution, basic life processes, cellular organization, heredity, ecology, and human biology

Middle School English/Language Arts/Humanities

English/Language Arts courses parallel the History/Government/Geography/Business & Economics courses each year for both middle and high school. Students see connections between what they learn in one class with what they do in another. English/Language Arts classes focus primarily on reading and writing, literature, and research. In addition, students have a separate Humanities class that includes public speaking, speeches, debate, mock trial, journaling, creative writing, resume writing, journalism, writing contests, SAT preparation and practice, independent projects, and cross-subject or cross-curricular assignments. We follow the Virginia Department of Education recommendation and guidelines for English/Language Arts.

In middle school, students develop and strengthen their reading ability, comprehension, composition skills, language usage, memory, critical and analytical thinking, and cultural awareness. As they begin to study literature, students engage in understanding and analyzing novels, short stories, plays, and poetry through guided discussion and writing activities. Students complete independent reading assignments, using both classic and contemporary texts. Writing instruction emphasizes student achievement in basic composition, organization, usage, style, and thought through frequent informal and formal exercises that focus on basic writing skills and mechanics while crafting sentences, paragraphs, essays, speeches, articles, letters, stories, poems, plays, and songs. Students revise certain written assignments to further develop these skills. English grammar, mechanics, and vocabulary are taught as tools for clear communication of meaning, both spoken and written.

Topics: US & American Literature, World Literature, British Literature, European Literature, Eastern Cultures & Literature, Ancient & Classic Literature, Latin American Literature, Humanities

Belle Meade School Summer English Assignments

Middle School Math

Middle School Mathematics emphasizes problem solving and assists the student in finding mathematical solutions. This course reviews and enhances the student’s understanding, recall, and application of basic mathematical concepts. Students explore the order of operations, decimals, measurement, basic geometry, data analysis, factors, proportions, ratio, integers, and algebraic equations.

Music

Our music program offers instrumental and vocal students an arena in which to develop rudiment skills and public performance.  Fundamentals of reading music and ear training are equally emphasized throughout the school year.  Students also have the opportunity to participate in a variety of public performances during the year, including plays, skits, trimester dinners, group or solo videos, and open mic events at regional venues.

Physical Education

The physical education curriculum includes traditional sports, as well as hiking, swimming, canoeing, and skiing during the winter. Students can also choose to participate in horseback riding lessons during physical education.

Physics

Physics is the study of the properties of matter and energy.  The course will cover the topics of classical mechanics, thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism, and modern physics.  Laboratory work provides realistic experience in data collection, analysis, and the demonstration of important physics principles. It is suggested that students have a good mastery of Algebra II in order to succeed in the course.

Pre-Algebra

Students learn the basics of algebraic thinking while honing fundamental math skills.  Students learn algebraic language and concepts.  During the course they expand their ability to independently apply algebraic reasoning using real numbers, exponents, variables, ratios, proportions, equations, and inequalities.

Spanish I

The first year of Spanish is an introduction to Spanish that focuses on teaching conversational Spanish and includes grammar, vocabulary and written Spanish. This class also introduces the student to Spanish and Latin-American culture. In Spanish I students begin to develop communicative competence in speaking, writing, comprehending and reading Spanish and expand their understanding of the culture of Spanish speaking countries. Our main goal in the class is to provide a context for everything we study. We give attention to grammar and vocabulary in a context of real-life situations, Latino cultures, and the language as a whole. The idea is to acquire a feel for the language, an appreciation of its beauty, and a degree of comfort and confidence in speaking it. Along the way, we learn a lot about the English language as well as Spanish.

Spanish II

The second year of Spanish focuses on the study of reading, writing, speaking, and listening continues as more complex grammatical structures are introduced.  With more communicative competence come deeper discussions in Spanish about Latino culture and students’ own experiences.  Immersion in the language continues as students learn circumlocution in order to hold conversations entirely in Spanish.

Spanish III

The third year of Spanish continues development of listening, reading, writing, speaking, interpersonal communication and cultural awareness. Complexity and comprehension increase as students learn more vocabulary and grammar. Discussion in Spanish of Latino literature, culture, history and contemporary events is emphasized.

World Geography

In World Geography students become familiar with the physical and political geographic properties of the world. Students will study history for understanding of how geological factors affect civilizations, cultures including the areas of economic, political, and social development.

World History I

World History I course covers human history up to 1500 CE. Students will research and learn about human development and ancient cultures from around the globe, broadening their understanding of contemporary culture as they compare and contrast with earlier ones.

World History II

In World History II students will engage in a study of the political, cultural, social, and economic conditions from 1500 to present. Students hone their research skills and discuss how the past shapes the world we live in today.  

Sample Midyear World II History Essay Test with Student Answers