Courses in the Upper School are designed to engage and challenge our students, from basic level classes to a broad array of offerings that continues to expand as they move through the curriculum.
We encourage them to explore the full spectrum of opportunities available not only in academic disciplines, where we offer electives and advanced courses in humanities, science, math, and modern languages, but also in arts and service learning classes including public speaking, dance, creative writing, building techniques, music performance, 3-D design and fabrication, painting, acting, Quaker advocacy, woodworking, and film – to name just a few.
In addition to the subject specific and interdisciplinary courses developed by our staff, older students wishing to explore an area of special interest outside the curriculum may create independent study projects under the supervision of a staff member.
Each year, leaders within the Upper School student community have the opportunity to organize clubs around areas of interest. Near the beginning of the school year, an Activities Fair gives students the opportunity to explore these opportunities and find places of community and shared passions.
The End of Year (EOY) experience is designed to give students and teachers an experiential learning environment. Whether it’s in remote Peru or right here in Durham, these experiences share elements of service, leadership, perspective, and adventure. The EOY program is one of the most meaningful parts of the Carolina Friends School Upper School curriculum. From trips to internships to on campus experiences, EOYs often impact the lives of those involved in potentially life changing ways. Throughout the days or weeks of an EOY experience, a group of people is brought together to share laughter, create friendship, gain knowledge, see the world, change outlooks, help others, search for beauty, build confidence, find the inner self, and make unforgettable memories. With staff and student input, the program is constantly changing and improving in order to provide the best experience possible.
Since 2005, our freshmen have been traveling to Newton Grove, North Carolina to work with the Episcopal Farmworker Ministry (EFM). For over two decades, the EFM has provided vital services to the many migrant farmworkers who surround them in the Sampson County area of eastern North Carolina. During this 10-day experience, the freshmen work at two Head Start centers with the children of the migrant workers, at one or more domestic violence shelters, and directly at the EFM (helping create a community garden project, for example). The most meaningful parts of this experience often come in the evenings, when the migrants return from the fields. Students travel to camps to distribute clothes and wind up involved in intense games of soccer and volleyball.
All sophomores, juniors, and seniors are given the option to participate in an EOY trip or to create an internship for themselves. Past trips have included the Adirondacks, the American South (with a civil rights focus), the American West, Appalachia, El Salvador, France, the Galapagos Islands, Lithuania, Nicaragua, Peru, and Puerto Rico. Students can generally join two off-campus programs during these three years. Students rank their choices, and the staff work very hard to keep the program as fair and equitable as possible. The EOYs begin after final exams and are typically two weeks in length.
Like so many experiences at Carolina Friends, Senior Seminar is about open inquiry. We're not expecting any one answer to the questions we ask, but we are expecting an insightful answer, closely reasoned and well defended. Jamie Hysjulien, Upper School teacher
From Aristotle to House of Cards
Our seniors enjoy a unique opportunity: college-level humanities seminars built around a revolving set of themes. The work for these two-term elective courses begins in the summer, with students reading canonical philosophical texts as well as a variety of modern sources, including film and television. The students together critically evaluate the texts and build toward a thesis paper and oral defense.