History and Social Studies


Each course in the history and social studies department reinforces moral and ethical responsibility to others in our local and world communities, and to the environment of our planet. 

We strive to teach leadership through oral presentations and public speaking opportunities.

Students are actively engaged in research by thinking critically about sources and asking questions to develop search terms that will lead them to a topic of personal interest.  The curriculum incorporates inquiry-based research practice and exercises in grades nine and ten, culminating in a full-length research paper in grade eleven, and analytical writing exercises throughout. Each course emphasizes development of critical thinking skills by employing approaches that actively engage students to seek information and to assess credibility of sources on their own.  Whenever possible, students will determine what methods maximize their own learning, after being guided to explore a variety of approaches.

All courses are taught at the college preparatory level, using higher-level texts and offering multiple perspectives; an honors level course will be offered in World History II.  Advanced placement options are offered in U.S. History and U.S. Government.  

All students are members of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and regular visits there provide the opportunity to practice interpreting and analyzing artworks to understand different eras in history.  Juniors are members of the Virginia Historical Society and class convenes there several times a year.

History Courses

As freshmen, students will expand their knowledge of the wider world. This course divides the world into ten regions, and students will spend 2-3 weeks examining the geography, history, culture, and modern-day situations in each one. The course prepares students for the rest of their high school careers, because it focuses on reading and writing, synthesizing and analysis, as well as increasing tolerance and open-mindedness for all the world’s people.

An honors level course is also available and features a faster pace and increased rigor, including additional reading and writing in and out of the classroom.

As freshmen, students will expand their knowledge of the wider world. This course divides the world into ten regions, and students will spend 2-3 weeks examining the geography, history, culture, and modern-day situations in each one. The course prepares students for the rest of their high school careers, because it focuses on reading and writing, synthesizing and analysis, as well as increasing tolerance and open-mindedness for all the world’s people. The honors level features a faster pace and increased rigor, including additional reading and writing in and out of the classroom.

As sophomores, students will take Contemporary World History as a semester-long course, where they will trace the events and movements that have shaped the world politically, socially, and economically over the past one hundred years. Through this course, students will be well equipped to communicate intelligently about the current state of the world, arming themselves with knowledge and sensitivity about global issues.

As sophomores, students will take Contemporary World History as a semester-long course, where they will trace the events and movements that have shaped the world politically, socially, and economically over the past one hundred years. Through this course, students will be well equipped to communicate intelligently about the current state of the world, arming themselves with knowledge and sensitivity about global issues. The honors level features a faster pace and increased rigor, including additional reading and writing in and out of the classroom.

Taken by all juniors, US History is a survey course in which students will analyze the political, economic and social issues that have shaped the United States. Awareness of current United States and World events will assist students as they interpret primary sources, identify bias and research topics. A research paper and other assignments will be coordinated with the English 11 class.

Designed to challenge the superior student, the AP class is a college level course taught at a higher level and at a fast pace. The number of students selected for the program is limited to students who are recommended by their previous history teachers and who can already write at the honors level. Skills used by historians will be honed, including historical interpretation, analysis of primary sources, and writing for the field of history. At the conclusion of the course, a high score on the AP exam could earn the student college credit.

This course, taken by all seniors, is a survey of the American governmental system, how it is organized, the ways in which it functions, and how it is controlled by the people. The emphasis is on our American government’s relationship to contemporary life.

This is a college level course designed for the superior student. The number of students selected is limited. This reading and writing intensive class focuses on the various institutions within our own government which vie for power. At the conclusion of the course, an AP Exam could determine the possibility of waiving college requirements in American government.

This semester-long elective course, which is available to sophomores, juniors and seniors, poses the questions: How do individuals become socialized to learn acceptable social behavior? Why do cultural values differ so markedly around the globe? What external factors and group pressures influence the decisions you make? What hidden biases do you hold, despite seeing yourself as an accepting person? It allows students to explore the social side of themselves as a member of various social groups, engaging in a new way of viewing the world around them.

This semester-long elective course is available to sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

Faculty