Sidwell Friends School is a Quaker school that values the individual as well as the larger community. The curriculum is designed to introduce all students to basic disciplines essential to their intellectual and personal development. While all students fulfill the same requirements, individual differences and the pursuit of specific interests are incorporated into the program.
A total of 19 credits and successful completion of the physical education, work program, community service, and senior projects requirements are necessary for a Sidwell Friends diploma.
No student may be enrolled in more than six classes in any semester. If a student wishes to take more than five academic classes in a semester, the sixth class must be chosen from the arts, non-credit offerings, or be an independent study. Each student must be enrolled in at least four credit classes each semester to be considered a full-time student. Students enrolled in two or more classes from any one discipline may need approval of the department and the Academic Dean. Sidwell Friends School transcript represents work completed at or under the auspices of the School; credit is not awarded for courses taken elsewhere.
Each student is required to complete minimum proficiency levels in the following disciplines: Arts, English, Modern and Classical Languages, Mathematics, Science and History. The requirements within the disciplines represent a minimum level of work; students are strongly encouraged to pursue one or more areas in greater depth beyond the requirements. The minimum requirements for each discipline are as follows:
One year of study in the Arts.
All students are required to complete two semesters of arts by the end of sophomore year. However, students selecting basic pottery must take three semesters of that course or two semesters of pottery and one semester of another art to fulfill the requirement.
Four years of English.
MODERN AND CLASSICAL LANGUAGES
Two years of a Modern or Classical language.
Students are required to take two sequential years of the same language in the Upper School.
Three years of Mathematics.
All students must take math during the 9th, 10th and 11th grade years. A student may take
a. Algebra 1, Inductive Geometry, then Intermediate Algebra OR
b. Geometry, Algebra 2, then Advanced Math (or Functions) OR
c. Math I, Math II, then Math III
Successful completion of the physical education requirement as described below:
The program operates on a trimester system based on the fall, winter and spring athletic seasons. Ninth, tenth, and eleventh graders must pass all three seasons each year. Twelfth graders must pass two seasons. Grading will be based on attendance, attitude, and effort. A student must participate in a minimum of 80% of all classes to receive credit for the season. Any senior with more than two F’s to make up senior year will not receive a diploma until the completion of the physical education requirements the summer following graduation. A fuller explanation of physical education and athletic requirements may be obtained from the athletic department.
Two years of Science.
A Biology course in 9th grade and a Physical Science course in 10th grade.
Three years of History.
All students are required to take The West and the World in the 9th grade, Regional Studies in the 10th grade, and History of the United States or American Studies in the 11th grade.
9TH GRADE STUDIES
Once a week for the entire 9th grade year.
This year long course, required of all 9th graders, meets once a week and is a Pass/Fail class. The course offers 9th graders an in-depth orientation to the culture and values of the Upper School. It presents information and promotes discussion and consciousness raising around a wide variety of adolescent health and wellness issues, covering the following topics: transition to Upper School, stress management, study skills, prejudice reduction, drugs, alcohol, sex and sexuality, media literacy, mental health, body image, peer pressure and decision-making skills. The use of Quaker methods and the study of Quaker themes are interwoven throughout the curriculum. The classes are taught mostly by the Upper School Guidance Counselor as well as Sidwell faculty members and outside specialists.
Every Sidwell Friends Upper School student is expected to have significant exposure to community service opportunities as a requirement for graduation. To build camaraderie around service, there are group community service obligations for freshmen. All freshmen participate in three service activities in small groups for which transportation and faculty supervision are provided. Students who fail to fulfill these expectations must complete 10 hours of independent service over the summer before beginning their next school year.
In addition to the group projects, every student is expected to perform an individualized, off-campus service internship. The project should involve our student working directly with an individual or a group of people that are disabled or disadvantaged in some way.
This service may be performed during free periods of the school day, after school, on weekends, during school year vacations, or during the summer. This service must:
- be performed outside of the Sidwell Friends School community;
- be a steady involvement in one activity, or participation in more than one work camp;
- be a minimum of 60 hours completed in one calendar year (or over two consecutive summers), up to 10 hours of which can be necessary training and preparation.
- be performed during the 9th, 10th, or 11th grade year (completed before Opening Day of senior year, but not before the start of the 9th grade);
- be completed by all new students entering after 9th grade who have not met the requirement during their tenure at another school;
- offer no academic credit;
- be non-paying, volunteer work;
- be performed for an individual or a community whose culture/circumstances is/are different from the student’s;
- provide regular, direct interaction with the disadvantaged individual or population being served;
- be approved by the Director of Service Learning, and subject to review by the Community Service Advisory Committee as necessary BEFORE the project is begun;
- be evaluated by the student and the project supervisor at the conclusion of the project using the proper forms.
In addition, students must return their Community Service Contract, which outlines and describes their service project, by the end of 10th grade. Examples of volunteer work that might be quite worthwhile but do NOT meet these guidelines include: Sunday School teaching at your own church; Camp Counselor for “mainstream” children; clerical or office work; museum work; animal protection; environmental work without personal application to individual or community needs; medical or scientific research without immediate, direct application to individual or community needs; working for a political candidate or office-holder; working for groups whose programs are inconsistent with Friends’ Testimonies. Occasional exceptions are made to certain of the above guidelines when a worthwhile project requires it. Requests for exceptions are reviewed by the Director of Service Learning and the Community Service Advisory Committee.