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What to Look Forward to in Upper School

The start of high school is a big transition for any student. Whether a student has been at Calhoun since preschool or is coming in as a new ninth grader, high school is sure to be an exciting and transformative time. Here are some things to look forward to in Calhoun’s Upper School.

9th Grade Camping Trip
A strong support system

To help students with the transition into Upper School, there will be a strong support system from the very start. Ninth graders kick off the year with the annual camping trip, where they make memories that will last a lifetime with their classmates and twelfth grade Peer Leaders. The Peer Leadership program acts as an extra layer of support for ninth graders — in fact, many alums still talk about the long-lasting friendships they formed with their Peer Leaders! Plus, our amazing teachers are there to guide students through their Upper School journey every step of the way.

“The thing that strikes me the most about Calhoun is the teachers, and how every single one of them are there to help you. My fellow students are also great. It was easy to get close with so many people, form amazing bonds, and feel like you’re in a community that truly supports you.” - Basma E. ‘23

“I came in as a new ninth grader who didn’t know anyone, but the ninth grade camping trip really helped me create a lot of friendships and made me feel more welcome.” - Lauren H. ‘22

Upper School Demo Day
An innovative schedule

Calhoun's Upper School has an innovative schedule known as the mod system. With this schedule, students take fewer classes each term that meet for longer periods of time, allowing them to go in greater depth with each subject. There’s also built-in time in the school day for students to meet with teachers, participate in clubs, or work on projects. The mod system gives students more time in their core subjects throughout the year, but also creates room for students to explore their passions. 

“[With the mod schedule], we have more time to do school work, meet with teachers and work on other projects. But it also makes it so we’re more focused on a few things at a time.” - Emily B. ‘21

“There’s a lot of opportunity [with the schedule] to continue whatever you’re passionate about. I’m passionate about chemistry so I’m taking Advanced Chemistry right now. Or if you’re really passionate about history, there are so many electives to choose from.” - Margaret B. ‘20

Girls Volleyball Team
Inspiring classes

The breadth of academic opportunities available to Upper Schoolers reads more like a college catalog than a high school course list. Students take classes such as The Other in Literature, Introduction to Anthropology, Writing Math Research, or Bioethics. The Upper School program is designed to challenge students to dig deeper, think outside the box and unlock their own potential.

“In my ninth grade year I took a class called Intro to Engineering. For our final project we had to create a new version of the [Upper School] floor using geometry and different ratios. My favorite part about it is that the Head of School heard about our project and brought in an actual architect to listen to us.” - Ethan R. ‘22

“My most memorable moment was definitely a class I took on child welfare. We learned about the child welfare system and heard from guest speakers. It gave me a moment to step back and learn from other people’s perspectives.” - Lauren H. ‘22

“I loved Junior Workshop. In your junior year, you’re able to create something of your own as long as it brings new information into the world. We had a lot of academic discussions that I thought I would never have, and I got so much out of that experience.” - Anourag S. ‘20

Anthropology Field Trip
Opportunities beyond the classroom

Beside strong academics, students have access to a wide range of experiences beyond the classroom to further explore their passions and interests. 

“My friend and I run this club called Empowered Citizens that’s all about activism within our community. We held a panel on bail reform and had four Calhoun alumni come to the theater in the evening. All these members of the Calhoun community were there, and it was great to connect with people over this issue we were all really interested in.” - Margaret B. ‘20

“There are a lot of different trips offered in the Upper School. Last June I went on a Civil Rights road trip where we visited monuments and museums [in the Southern United States], met some really great people and learned a lot that is still relevant today.” - Emily B. ‘21

“I was on the volleyball team this past fall with kids from all over the high school. We created such good teamwork and went really far in our tournament, getting second in state. I’m really lucky to have these new friendships, too.” - Eva D. ‘22

Upper School Club Fair
A truly personalized experience

The array of classes and co-curricular opportunities add up to a high school experience that is unique for every single Calhoun student. From the first day of ninth grade, students are able to customize their own curriculum, try new things and pursue their passions. 

“No two Calhoun transcripts look alike. Each transcript reflects a student’s own interests, growth and passions. Students have the flexibility and opportunity to have a unique experience and thus be seen as an individual in the college process.” - Lisa Merritt, Co-Director of College Counseling

Advanced Chemistry Class
A strong foundation for the next step

In Calhoun’s Upper School, students learn to take chances and explore, develop their passions and self-advocate — preparing them for college and beyond.

“Calhoun gives you a lot of skills for becoming independent. I think I’ve also learned how to be able to speak with adults or people I don’t necessarily agree with. I’ve learned a lot about how to seek information and pursue things I want to learn about.” - Emily B. ‘21

“I feel more prepared than I would have in a standard semester or a trimester system. I really had to learn how to manage my time going through this mod system, balancing work and getting really deep into all your subjects. I feel like I'll be able to talk to [future] professors and come up to them during office hours because I was able to do it in high school with my teachers.” - Anourag S. ‘20