Upper School


  • Course offerings provide a range of challenges, including accelerated and honors-level courses as well as Independent Studies and Senior Seminars. 
  • Upper-level choices in English include African American Literature, Censored! Banned Books in the United States, Writing Politics, Science Fiction, The Coming of Age Novel, Global Perspectives and The Power of Humor in Comic Literature. 
  • Upper School STEM offerings include introductions to computer-aided design and chemical and mechanical engineering, environmental science, and multivariable calculus.
  • World-language choices include French, Spanish, Chinese, and Latin. 
  • Arts courses provide rich offerings in music, dance, drama, and the visual arts, with opportunities to be part of art shows, concerts, theatrical productions, and singing groups. 
  • Elective offerings include Anatomy and Physiology, Honors Art History, and Social Psychology. 
  • Our coordinate program with St. Albans School includes academic offerings, performing arts, clubs, and athletics. 

US Curriculum Guide

US Grades

List of 3 items.

  • Letter Grades

    Grades are given according to the following guidelines:

    A demonstrates thorough knowledge of course content; expresses ideas with clarity and style; exhibits critical, inquiring attitude; makes connections, draws inferences, sees relationships; thinks independently and creatively; is willing to take risks, to seek challenges; has excellent work habits; is involved very positively in learning.
    B demonstrates accurate knowledge of most course content; expresses ideas clearly with strong control of structure and mechanics; often indicates curiosity, creativity, insight, and initiative; has very good work habits; exhibits cooperation and engagement in class activities.

     suggests competent grasp of basic course content; expresses ideas in organized form with adequate control of terminology and mechanics; shows understanding of main ideas and some relationships; displays suitable effort and cooperative attitude to learning.

     suggests minimal knowledge of course content; may present ideas unclearly; may lack understanding of essential ideas and relationships; may use faulty or inadequate reasoning; may exhibit poor effort/attitude toward learning; may resist help; may fail to meet deadlines; needs more active involvement in and personal contribution to learning.

     demonstrates unacceptable level of understanding of course content; indicates inadequate skills; may imply lack of preparation, effort, and classroom involvement.
  • Pass/Fail Grades

    The following grades are used for physical education courses. Students taking certain courses in the arts may choose these grades or letter grades:

    DP Distinguished Pass; demonstrates excellence in all areas of coursework.

    Pass; demonstrates strong ability in most areas of coursework.

     Minimal Pass; demonstrates minimal effort in most areas of coursework.

     Failure; unacceptable effort and performance.
  • Class Rank

    NCS students are not ranked. NCS uses a standard, unweighted 4.0 scale to calculate grade-point average. All courses taken for academic credit and receiving a letter grade are included in the GPA and reported to colleges.

US Requirements

List of 8 items.

  • Arts: 1 Year

    Two courses or equivalent activities in either the visual or performing arts.
  • English: 4 Years

    Required full-year courses in grades 9 and 10 and four consecutive one-semester courses in grades 11 and 12. Students must take American Literary Traditions in grade 11.
  • World Languages: 3 Years

    Three sequential years in grades 9–12 of the same language.
  • Mathematics: 3 Years

    Three years of study in grades 9-12.
  • Physical Education: 10 Seasons

    Three seasons (fall, winter, spring) each year in grades 9 and 10 and at least two seasons each year in grades 11 and 12.
  • Religious Studies: 1 Year

    A semester of Living Religions of the World, plus a one-semester elective.
  • Science: 2 Years

    Two full-year courses, including a year of physics.
  • Social Sciences: 2½ Years

    One year of Modern World History, one semester of World Geography, and one year of U.S. History.

US Considerations

List of 3 items.

  • Advanced Placement Program

    Students may take no more than two AP-designated courses per year; those who wish to take more must receive special permission from the head of the Upper School. Only in rare cases are students permitted to take an AP class prior to junior year.
  • Computer Use & Requirements

    Completing academic work in the Upper School requires access to a computer, the Internet, and specific software. Information about computer and software resources and requirements is online. Course materials are frequently posted online, and e-mail contact with teachers is standard. Students are assigned a Cathedral e-mail account, with which they are expected to communicate with faculty members. This account also provides access through Office365 to online versions of Microsoft Office.
  • Course Load

    Students in grades 9-12 are expected to take five academic courses each semester, in addition to physical education and arts courses.

    The requirements on this page are the minimum study in each discipline for a well-rounded program. Students pursue further study in one or more disciplines, and many colleges recommend that students complete more than these minimum requirements. Students who aspire to participate in collegiate athletics should consider the academic requirements established by the NCAA.