Upper School Curriculum

The Upper School curriculum is focused on preparing students for college. In the academic sense, this means we offer coursework that is challenging and comes with high expectations for achievement by engaging students in discussions, labs or projects that require critical thinking and strong writing skills. In the social sense, this means that students learn how to collaborate effectively with peers and faculty, how to self-advocate for their own learning, and how to manage time. With these academic and social skills, our young alumni often report that they were better prepared for college than their classmates, which is a strong testament to our outstanding college preparatory curriculum.

Unique and Challenging Courses

Understanding that students come with a variety of needs and learning styles, our academic curricular offerings include a variety of unique courses, many of which are not found at other high schools. For example, Shakespeare in Performance is a literature course that includes performance workshop techniques aimed at deepening a student’s critical understanding of the Shakespearean plays. Our interdisciplinary Biomimicry and Design course, where students study and become inspired by nature’s forms, processes, or ecosystems to create new design solutions, is co-taught by our AP Biology teacher and our Director of the School of Fine Arts. Musical Theater Workshop offers aspiring actors/singers the opportunity to work on character, phrasing, articulation, and audition techniques with the instruction culminating with a musical cabaret show.

In addition, we offer 17 Advanced Placement courses and over 20 honors classes. The number of upper-level electives we offer, impressive for a school of any size, includes more fine arts course offerings than any other school in Northeast Ohio. Course requirements for graduation include 4 years of English and mathematics, and 3 years of social studies, world language, science, and fine arts. Understanding the importance of physical activity in brain development and general health, students are required to take physical education each year. Most of our students meet this requirement through athletics as 70% of our students play at least one sport.

Strong Faculty-Student Relationships

To prepare a child for college requires more than a rigorous academic curriculum filled with college-level courses. It also requires a faculty willing to work closely with students and to become advocates in their learning. Our teachers use a variety of teaching techniques and often engage our students in collaborative activities that call for both leadership and teamwork. The relationships developed in our classrooms are enduring and studies show that positive relationships between teachers and students have long-lasting implications for both students' academic and social development.

Learning to Manage Free Time

Students manage their time similar to how they will in college. Classes meet in different buildings, requiring our students to travel throughout the campus in the course of a day. When they do not have classes, students have the freedom to choose how to use their free time. At times they will decide to meet with their teachers for extra help. Typically they choose to be in the library or in the Upper School commons, but often they will hang out outside, swing on the playground swing sets, shoot baskets on the outdoor courts, or engage in a ping pong match with one of the teachers in the fitness center. While we have checks in place to make sure that students are using their free time wisely and not falling behind in their studies, our alumni tell us that this freedom of choice in our Upper School helped to prepare them for the same freedom that they encountered in college.

Course Requirements for Graduation

Course Requirement
English 4 years (including at least 2 semesters of literature during junior and senior years)
Social Studies 3 years (including U.S. History)
World Language 3 years (at least 2 years in Upper School)
Mathematics 4 years (including Algebra 2)
Science 3 years (Biology, Chemistry, and two semesters of a lab science)
Fine Arts 3 years
Physical Education 4 years (1 semester each year)
Health 1/2 year
Senior Seminar 1/2 year

Upper School Curriculum Highlights

Lake Ridge Academy offers a number of engineering courses including a certificate program, the Institute for Engineering and Innovation that is offered through the Center for Scientific Exploration and Research. Students can begin their studies by enrolling in Computer Aided Design during their freshman year. Subsequent courses in engineering design and fabrication bring students into our state of the art engineering lab and workshop, equipped with CNC equipment, laser engravers, and 3D printers; while more traditional machinery such as milling machines, lathes, band saws and grinders are incorporated with hand tools of all shapes and sizes. Introductory courses are also taught in mechanical and electrical engineering for students in eleventh and twelfth grade.

The Upper School English curriculum helps students master the essentials of written and oral communication; enables students to analyze with confidence the techniques, themes, and ambiguities of the world’s literature; fosters respect in students for the opinion of others; teaches students to be active contributors to the exchange of ideas and opinions; and helps students cultivate an appetite for lifelong learning. Full-year foundational English courses that emphasize composition and literature as well as an intensive study of grammar and vocabulary are taught in ninth and tenth grade.

In eleventh and twelfth grade, students have an opportunity to take semester long honors and non-honors literature courses and writing course electives. Students, who have met the prerequisites, may take AP English. The popular "Excursions" course takes students to Boston, Salem, and Concord over a long weekend in October where they tour and explore such places as the House of Seven Gables, the Salem Witch Trials Museum, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, and Walden Pond.

Lake Ridge Academy so firmly believes in the need for all students to engage in the fine arts that completion of fine arts courses is required for graduation. The Fine Arts program at Lake Ridge is therefore designed to encourage and develop the artistic abilities that exist in every student. We are proud that we offer more fine arts courses than any other school in Northeast Ohio including a year-long musical theater workshop, a course on choreography, several AP level courses, and an artistic design and fabrication course that brings art students into the engineering workshop. For those students who aspire to pursue fine arts beyond high school, we offer them the opportunity to audition to gain entrance into Lake Ridge Academy’s School of Fine Arts.

Lake Ridge Academy believes that the study of a world language allows one to see and experience the world in a new way while enriching and adding breadth to one’s life. The World Language curriculum offers a dynamic program of French and Spanish honors and non-honors language courses in grades 9-12. Advanced offerings include AP options in both languages.

The Mathematics curriculum offers students appropriately challenging courses that provide students with interesting and stimulating mathematical experiences to prepare them for further study in mathematics and mathematics-related fields. The courses offered and methods of teaching used in the classroom reflect current thinking in the mathematics education community that focuses on developing a student’s ability to see the mathematics in real-life situations and to use mathematical techniques to model situations and solve real-life problems. Most students enter the Upper School taking Geometry and our most advanced learners end their study taking AP courses, Multivariable Calculus and/or College Discrete Mathematics.

All students need physical exercise and that is why Lake Ridge Academy requires its students to take a physical education course or participate in a sport each year they are in the Upper School. The goals of the Physical Education curriculum are to help the student gain an understanding of the basic principles of total fitness and develop an appreciation for fitness through properly planned personalized activities. The faculty helps the student acquire skill and knowledge in using his/her body and to play a variety of sports. They also work to develop self-awareness of personal capabilities concerning skills and fitness levels to promote a positive self-image, and to develop a desire for participation in lifetime recreational activities.

Lake Ridge Academy puts an emphasis on desirable health habits. Our goal in our Health course is to help young people achieve overall well-being mentally, physically, and socially. This course covers many health topics that occur in our everyday lives and helps students to become health-literate.

The Upper School Science curriculum instills in our students an understanding and knowledge of the world, of matter, of biological systems, of the laws of the universe, and of the complex interaction between inanimate and animate concerns. It develops a student’s critical and analytical thought processes that enable students to interrelate the theoretical model and experimental observations, and to train students in basic laboratory techniques and procedures. To that end, all our science courses are lab based. Required foundational courses include Biology and Chemistry. The Upper School’s AP science courses include three lab periods in the six-day cycle. Those students interested in scientific research may apply for entrance into the school’s certificate program, the Institute for Scientific Research, which is offered through the Center for Scientific Exploration and Research.

The curriculum of the Upper School Social Studies department is grounded on the notion that the 21st century will be an increasingly globalized era where every member will need a basic understanding of the various components of a progressively cosmopolitan culture. Towards this end, the curriculum is organized on a pyramidal structure, where students at the 9th and 10th grades get a thorough understanding of world civilizations, culture, society, economics and politics from the ancient to the modern times. The content of these courses is enriched by equal emphasis on analytical thinking reflected in class discussions, writing, and research methods. Having acquired a solid foundation by the end of their sophomore year, students are equipped to take on the challenges of specializations in AP and honors level courses. Students who want to further engage in understanding our global society can enroll in the Global and International Studies Program, a certificate program offered through Lake Ridge Academy’s Center for Global Citizenship.

Lake Ridge Academy’s Technology curriculum offers a wide range of coursework from digital publishing to software engineering. Students interested in programming have the opportunity to solve problems and write code using the Java programming language in the Honors Computer Science course that also prepares students for the AP Computer Science A exam. Advanced students may take the Honors Software Engineering semester courses in which they learn the tools and processes used in the professional software development industry to manage code bases, and to enhance a software product over time.