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

This course, taken by all incoming freshmen, aims to examine early world history through a humanities lens, delving into the largely cultural history of the world to 1500. Over four quarters, it aims to examine four concurrent historical themes, and how each of these themes impact the world’s earliest civilizations.

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? How do governments use surveys and polls to determine public policy that affects people in different social classes? Explore the social side of yourself as a member of various social groups as you engage in a new way of viewing the world around you. Open to juniors and seniors.

This course 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. 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.

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 a 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.

In this course, students will survey world history from the Renaissance through the 20th century, designed to challenge the high level student with more in depth coverage of topics. Greater emphasis is placed on writing analytical essays, critical thinking including relating history to current world events and interpreting primary sources in history.

The Honors World History Class will study the same basic curriculum as the regular World History II class except that material will be presented more in depth and at a faster pace.  Part II of this survey course will provide an analytical study of major events and the changes produced in economic, political and social realms from the Renaissance through the 20th century.

Student will also gain experience interpreting primary sources, analyzing art and honing research and writing skills with an annotated bibliography.  Geography skills are reinforced throughout the course.  Supplemental readings will be presented for the purpose of additional analysis and synthesis of information.  Evaluation will reflect this focus.