High School Curriculum

Clark High School Curriculum


Clark's high school curriculum is constantly evolving as teachers respond to their developing knowledge of Maria Montessori's principles, the needs of students, and the dictates of national and state education standards. However, some aspects of the curriculum are fixed as the foundation upon which further innovative ideas can be supported.

Our 2018-19 High School Course Guide includes more detail about the opportunities and resources available to CPS high school students. Students and their families are encouraged to use the High School Course Guide to plan their educational pathway. The guide includes course descriptions, information about early college credit and alternative credit programs, and more. Graduation requirements, grade reporting, report cards and other policies and procedures are also included in the guide.

Honors-level Core Courses

All core courses are taught at the honors level, with 4 years of English, Math, Science, and Social Studies required. English and Social Studies have overlapping content, giving students a deeper learning experience.

Intersession Field Studies

Twice a year the regular curriculum stops for Intersession, when students participate in two-week, full-immersion studies. Each fall there is a mandatory Intersession based on grade level (see Courses Required for Graduation, below), and each spring, students choose from a list of offerings. See Spring Intersessions, below, for the current year's list of intersessions. These field studies can involve travel to other countries, other cities, or just other locations in Cincinnati; but at the very least, they include day trips or one overnight.

Learning through Service

Clark students also expand their knowledge of the world and their own self-confidence by participating in mandatory community service (see Credit Requirements for Graduation, below, under Courses Required for Graduation). They may volunteer for any non-profit organization they choose, getting as much (or more) from this experience than they give. Students learn first-hand about the problems faced by those who are less powerful in our society (becoming better
 citizens in the process); they also build life and career skills and gain a sense of their place in the community when their actions have a positive impact on others.

Community Meeting Time and Team building

Advisory meets once a week, every week, for one hour.  During this time, Advisors not only provide students with important information, they also build community among students by leading "group initiatives."  These initiatives are team-building activities that knit the students closer together, as a group, and help them appreciate each other’s talents.

Ability to Choose Courses

There are certain courses that all Clark high school students have to take, but students also have a fair amount of choice. Students choose two elective courses per semester in grades 9-10 and three elective courses per semester in grades 11-12. See Elective Courses, below, for a list of the current year's electives.  The list includes such courses as "Intro to Computer Science," "Film Tech and Analysis," "Advanced Psychology," "AP US History," "Robotics," etc.

Varied Schedule

There are seven bells a day, but we operate on a block schedule two days a week, which essentially doubles the length of each class.  The block schedule allows students to spend more time learning certain concepts or working on projects.

Arts Opportunities

Clark offers an array of performing and visual arts electives, including Jazz Band, Printmaking, Steel Drum Band, Sculpture, and Photography courses.  See Elective Courses, below, for a complete list.

Help Nights

All teachers are available after school to help students.  They have regularly scheduled "help nights" but can also arrange to meet with students on other afternoons, as well.

Post-secondary Enrollment option

Students can earn college and high school graduation credit by successfully completing college courses. This option is available to students in grades 9-12 who have at least a 3.0 GPA in the subject they want to study. One example of this option is the "College Credit Plus: General Chemistry" course, shown in our list of Elective Courses, below.

Spring Intersessions 2018

Accompanied by Clark teachers, staff members, and parents, our students are able to explore the world and build new skills by venturing away from the traditional classroom during Intersession. Several of these field-study experiences are offered year to year, but some are one-time opportunities.

  • National Treasure - On this intersession, students will travel to Washington, DC to learn about and explore the political system and government of the United States firsthand. They will also explore significant issues facing Americans today and our decision-making process by actively participating in the debate process. They will identify, research, and present their opinion on a current issue of their choice in a traditional debate forum.
  • Community Service (all service hours applied to Clark's requirement of 50 hours/year of service during HS) - Students develop an appreciation for giving back to the community through service work. They learn carpentry and first aid skills by doing an outdoor building project, and they also work at the following locations: Freestore Foodbank, Our Daily Bread, Matthew 25 Ministries, and Habitat for Humanity Resale Store, OTR Peaslee Center, and others. In addition, students create a "Shantytown" at Clark and spend one over-night there.
  • Film - Do you love movies? Ever want to know how they're made? In this intersession, we will unlock many secrets of movie-making and train you to create a film of your very own. After studying the literary, dramatic, and cinematic aspects of film, students will form teams and work through all the stages of film production—from storyboarding and screenwriting to filming, editing, and sound-engineering—to produce a polished, professional final product that will be screened during a film-festival-style screening on the last day of intersession. A student, who chooses this intersession should be energetic, interested in technology, detail oriented, and a team player!
  • Wo/Man Vs. Wild – 
  • Exploring the Dominican Republic - This intersession offers students an approach to learning about the Dominican Republic, its history, culture, government, education, and people, as well as an opportunity to participate in community service. Students will have opportunities to interact with native Spanish-speakers, practice the language, and learn more about the culture firsthand. Only Juniors and Seniors are eligible to choose this intersession
  • Who Do You Think You Are? - Students have the opportunity to explore their "roots" and discover their family history by using various research methods and studying existing documentation. Each student will research his/her family genealogy via trips to local genealogy departments and regional cemeteries and the use of online resources. Students will also complete several projects, such as grave rubbings, family trees, and family oral history books. For an additional fee, students can determine their genetic make-up and nation of family origin using ancestry.com.
  • On Your Own: An Independence Bootcamp - When your parents aren't home for dinner, do you always eat Mac 'N Cheese or ramen? Is your shirt ruined when you lose a button? Do you get confused when you have to fill out the tax forms for your new job? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then this intersession is for you! Learn all the things people wish they were taught before they moved out of their parents' house: the basics of cooking, sewing, car maintenance, house repair, and budgeting. Explore DIY projects and handy life hacks—be prepared when you go out ON YOUR OWN!
  • Underground Railroad: Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky - The Underground Railroad was a secret and illegal network of people who helped slaves escape from the South. Our intersession will focus on learning as much as we can about those runaway slaves, their stories, their routes, and the people who helped them. This is not an easy task, as it was a very secretive group of people who aided these individuals. Fortunately, Cincinnati is the best city in which to study this part of US history. We will read stories and visit real places on the Underground Railroad to give us a picture of what the Railroad was like in the 19th century. This will include 4 or 5 day trips and at least one overnight experience.
  • Advanced Space Camp – Interested in training like an Astronaut?  This is the intersession for you.  Enjoy a challenging space-life experience with scuba-based* microgravity orientation, advanced missions and engineering training in Advanced Space Academy®.  Students will spend 1 week at Clark exploring the history and advances in space exploration, then another week at Huntsville, AL (staying at the Habitat).   Students will participate in hands-on activities and learn about the mental and physical demands for astronauts, engineers and technologists. *(Note: Students with history of asthma will not be able to participate in the scuba microgravity activity.  An alternative activity will be offered.).
  • Rockets & Rollercoasters - Applying math and physics concepts (algebra, geometry, energy, velocity, acceleration, and Newton’s Laws), students will perform guided scientific inquiry and use creativity in the design and building of rockets and rollercoasters. Field experiences will include day trips to the US Air Force Museum, the Cincinnati Observatory, and COSI. Students will also create an activity or demonstration to teach younger students about the concepts learned, which will serve as a community service project and as the final project for the course
  • Cooking Love - Food can heal us...or harm us. In this intersession, we'll focus on learning how to nourish our bodies with good, healthy, and TASTY food and how to incorporate healthy cooking into our lives. Students spend two weeks learning to cook healthy and delicious recipes and exploring how what we eat affects us physically, mentally, emotionally, etc.  They also learn how to share their new-found love of healthy cooking with family and friends and about the local food movement.
  • Grecian Odyssey – This 9-day trip will take you to Greece, a country where classical mythology and ancient history still have a presence in everyday life. In the capital, Athens, you'll discover the modern section of the city, meet people, and visit the Olympic Stadium, the Acropolis, the Temple of Athena/Nike, the Acropolis museum, and enjoy an evening watching and participating in a Greek show.
  • Music Recording and Production - Students learn to work with professional sound protocols—including recording, mixing, and microphone applications—using a wide range of software applications and recording equipment. They also take a trip to a professional recording studio.
  • It's a Zoo Out There:  Organisms - Have you ever thought of becoming a vet or a zoo keeper? Does working with or learning about animals appeal to you?  In this intersession, you will explore the animal kingdom, observe animals at zoos and/or aquariums, and dissect animal specimens to learn more about the internal anatomy of animals. We will focus our studies on the diversity of animal life on this planet, studying the variety of species in the animal kingdom and taking day trips to the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens (and possibly to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium). In relation to the dissection experiences, we will discuss how the structure of the animal leads to their evolutionary success in their habitats and influences behaviors that animal’s exhibit.  We might also get the chance to hear guest speakers from organizations like Cool Critters, Hamilton County Parks and veterinarians who have practices in the greater Cincinnati area.

Please take the following into consideration before choosing this intersession:

  • If dissection does not appeal to you, then this is not the intersession for you!
  • On Cincinnati Zoo days (maximum of four days), students will be responsible for getting to the Zoo on their own (carpools are suggested, but Metro bus passes are available); and class will start at 9 am and end at 4 pm on those days, due to zoo hours.
  • If we visit the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, students will arrive back at Clark at 6 pm on that day.
  • Fitness - Be fit for life! Maria Montessori believed that students should be healthy in mind, body, and spirit. We will examine the spiritual, social, and physical aspects of personal wellness. Be prepared to participate in a wide variety of physical activities that you can do for the rest of your life! Some activities may require students to provide their own transportation to and from the activity.
  • Appalachian Trail - Students will experience the great outdoors in a wonderfully exhilarating yet physically-demanding way: backpacking a section of the Appalachian Trail in the Eastern United States. Wearing backpacks that weigh around 30 pounds, they hike between 8 and 17 miles per day in the Appalachian Mountains and camp each night. The backpack will hold clothing, food, tent, sleeping bag, pad, and cooking utensils. Students will be responsible for being fit and having a pair of hiking boots that are properly broken in. Pre-intersession assignments will include a mandatory parent meeting and one mandatory 4-6 mile hike. This is not just a hiking and camping trip: this is an extremely physically demanding trip that, once accomplished, is hugely gratifying!!
  • Art in New York- Students will visit the art center of the world -- New York to explore the history of art. Students will work in groups to create daily itineraries to explore New York’s many museums and galleries. The intersession will begin in Cincinnati with an introduction to art history and its methods, learning about art’s place within individual societies and cultures, and how to navigate New York City. Students will stay travel to New York and stay overnight for the second week of intersession. Each student will be responsible for researching an artist and a work of art, present findings to the intersession at the museum or gallery and finally present their research in a gallery walk back at Clark. Walking and navigating a big city, researching, writing, and presenting are all required.
  • Pan on the Move - Students who are members of Clark's steel drum bands share music with a variety of audiences in the spirit of community, performing both in Cincinnati and out of town. This intersession lives up to the adage, "What you put into it, you get out of it," and promises to be a rewarding experience! Note: this intersession requires a lot of physical labor, as we are constantly moving (loading, unloading, setting up, and tearing down) and only students who are in steel band at the time of this intersession experience and have NOT already been on this intersession are eligible.

Elective Courses 2017/2018

One of the hallmarks of the Montessori Method is giving students the ability to make choices about their learning. With that end in mind, Clark offers a full complement of elective courses to support students in their academic and intellectual development.

Language Arts Electives

  • Creative Writing - Sem. - 0.5 credit – This course introduces students to a variety of writing modes, including fiction, poetry, short essay, and memoir. The course will be structured in a workshop format, where students learn effective writing techniques and engage in peer editing and in revision of their own work.
  • Film Tech and Analysis - Year - 1.0 credit – Combines on-location film production, editing, and layout, with viewing, discussion, and criticism. In the field and in the classroom, students will study literary, cinematic, and dramatic aspects of film and will be provided opportunities to understand and use media for a wide variety of communication purposes. Students will also regularly view feature-length and short films, critique them based upon the aspects listed above, and write extended film analyses each quarter.
  • Speech - Sem. - 0.5 credit – Provides students with training in all types of public speaking. The basic knowledge gained in the oral communication strand of the required English course is expanded. Students also learn to do improvisations and some oral interpretations of drama.
  • Yearbook (Journalism) Production - Year - 1.0 credit – Students learn to use graphic design computer programs and digital media to create the school yearbook. Students who enroll should have a strong interest in graphic design, photography, and/or computers and be excited about working cooperatively with others. 

Social Science Electives

  • AP U.S. History - Year - 1.0 credit –  Students study American heritage in depth, from the colonial period to today. This course requires extensive work, advanced study skills to be applied to challenging readings and critical essays, document-based questions, and an understanding of how historical events can be interpreted differently. All students who enroll must take the AP exam.
  • Current Events - Sem. - 0.5 credit – Current events is the study of the world around us. We will be gathering and discussing newsworthy events and linking them to regional geography, as well as cultural, political, and economic issues. We will use different media outlets, including the internet, television news, and, of course, newspapers. Students will be expected to participate in daily classroom discussions as we analyze major topics.
  • Collaborative Gardening – Sem. – 0.5 credits – Students will learn about growing and preparing fruits and vegetables in our climate. We will also look at the way our modern food industry prepares produce for supermarket sales, as part of the in- depth study of American heritage, from the colonial period to today, done by Clark Montessori high school students.

Mathematics Electives

  • Robotics - Sem. - 0.5 credit – Using Lego Mind storms NXT, and the adventure "The King's Treasure," students will engage in robotic design and troubleshooting to help "Evan," a fictional young robotics expert, and his archeologist uncle search for the long lost treasure of an ancient Mayan king. No previous coding experience is necessary. Student will learn how to program the NXT robot to perform tasks using a variety of motors and sensors. Must be willing to read for understanding and persevere in solving problems.
  • College Prep Math – Year – 1.0 credit – Prerequisite: be an incoming junior who has completed Geometry or Algebra 2 – In this course, students will engage in extensive review and further development of the concepts presented in Algebra 1 & 2 and Geometry. Through the use of Montessori materials, carefully developed problem sets, and online individual support, students will strengthen their knowledge of core concepts in preparation for the ACT and college level mathematics. 
  • College Algebra and Trigonometry – Dual Enrollment course – Year – 1.0 credit (HS); 8 college credits through Cincinnati State – Prerequisite: must be a junior or senior with an A or B in Algebra 2, or have a teacher recommendation, or exhibit strong desire to accelerate in math by completing proscribed summer work – This is a fast-paced course covering pre-calculus concepts that will prepare students for further study in mathematics—including calculus.
  • College Intro to Statistics - Dual enrollment course – Year – 1.0 credit (HS); 6 college credits – Prerequisite: must be a junior or senior who has completed either Algebra 2 or College Algebra and Trigonometry – Students will develop an understanding of the basic concepts of probability and statistics. This course is recommended for students who are interested in pursuing careers in business, health professions, and other fields that require an understanding of data.
  • AP Calculus - Year - 1.0 credit (HS); college credit dependent on AP exam score – Prerequisite: must be a junior or senior who has completed College Algebra and Trigonometry – Explore the key concepts, methods, and applications of single-variable calculus, including functions, graphs, limits, derivatives, integrals, and The Fundamental Theorem of Calculus. Become familiar with concepts, results, and problems expressed in multiple ways, including graphically, numerically, analytically, and verbally. Use technology to help solve problems, experiment, interpret results, and support conclusions. Students enrolling in AP courses are required to take the AP exam. Instructor signature required.

Science Electives

  • Anatomy and Physiology - Year - 1.0 credit – Prerequisite: Biology – This is an advanced biological science course that includes an in-depth examination of the systems of the body with special attention given to medically related problems. There is continued development of the scientific process of measurement, data collection/interpretation/analysis, and classification. Learning activities are varied with an emphasis on safe laboratory experiences. Lab Fee: $50
  • Environmental Issues - Sem. - 0.5 credits – This is a survey course where students will be discussing and debating issues around the problems that our environment faces. We will be participating in seminars, projects, and action plans to raise environmental awareness in the Clark community and the larger Cincinnati community.
  • Zoology - Sem. - 0.5 credit – Of all the kingdoms, the animal kingdom is the most diverse in appearance. Some animals are so small that they live on or inside the bodies of other animals; others are many meters long and live in the depths of the sea. They may walk, swim, crawl, burrow, or fly! In this course, we will explore the wide variety of organisms in the animal kingdom concentrating on classification and physical characteristics. WARNING: we will be dissecting a wide variety of specimens throughout this course. Lab Fee: $15
  • College Credit Plus: General Chemistry 121, 122, 131, 132 - Year - 1.0 credit – Prerequisites: Algebra II, a B or higher in Chemistry Honors – This course is designed to be the equivalent of the general chemistry course usually taken during the first year of college. The curriculum framework involves developing advanced inquiry and reasoning skills, such as designing a plan for collecting data, analyzing data, applying mathematical routines, and connecting chemical concepts. 
  • Forensics - Sem. - 0.5 credit – In this course, students will learn about scientific techniques used in solving crimes through reading articles (and textbooks), and hands-on activities. Max of 18 students per class. Lab Fee: $30

Performing Arts Electives

  • Jazz Band (Jazz Ens.) - Year - 1.0 credit – This course focuses on the style and technical-performance aspects of the contemporary jazz band. Emphasis is placed on Big Band Jazz, with improvisational techniques incorporated within each style. The repertoire will include jazz, funk, rock, and standards of all types. This is a performance class; therefore students are expected to attend all performances. If you have played an instrument in the past, this course may be for you. See Josh to get a signature on your optioning form before signing up for this course.
  • Percussion Survey (Drumline) - Year - 1.0 credit – This is an advanced performance class. Students will study the art of drumming and learn multiple cadences. The group will perform at various school events. Past experience in Stomp or other music classes is required. See Josh to get a signature on your optioning form before signing up for this course.
  • Steel Drum Band I - Year - 1.0 credit – If you are not already in steel band and are interested in this course, please see Jeff Martin to get the guidelines for a letter of application. See Jeff to get a signature on your optioning form before signing up for this course.
  • Steel Drum Band II - Year - 1.0 credit – If you are not already in steel band and are interested in this course, please see Jeff Martin to get the guidelines for a letter of application. See Jeff to get a signature on your optioning form before signing up for this course.
  • Steel Drum Band III - Year - 1.0 credit – If you are not already in steel band and are interested in this course, please see Jeff Martin to get the guidelines for a letter of application. See Jeff to get a signature on your optioning form before signing up for this course.
  • AP Music Theory – Year – 1.0 credit – This course integrates aspects of melody, harmony, texture, rhythm, form, musical analysis, elementary composition, and some historical aspects of western music. Aural skills, sight-singing, and keyboard harmony will also be studied. The ultimate goal of this course is to develop a student's ability to recognize and understand the basic materials and processes of music that are heard or read in a score. The student's ability to read and write musical notation is fundamental to such a course. The class is open to all students in grades 10-12 who have past experience in music. Students enrolling in AP classes are required to take the AP exam.

Visual Art Electives

  • Ceramics 1 - Sem. - 0.5 credit – This course explores three-dimensional design through the creation of functional and sculptural clay forms using basic hand-building techniques, coil construction, slab construction, and pinch forming. Surface treatments will be investigated with texture, underglazes, glazes, and firing. This is a collaborative class, and mentoring is an aspect of the curriculum. Materials Fee: $45
  • Ceramics 2 - Sem. - 0.5 credits – Ceramics 1 is beneficial but not a requirement. This course offers students extended and creative applications learned previously in Ceramics 1. Students will create a self-directed learning sequence for the semester that builds on hand-building skills, along with a more thorough exploration of sculptural composition and surface treatment. While hand building will be the major focus in form construction, there will be an introduction to the potter's wheel: centering, cylinders, and bowls. Materials Fee: $45
  • Introduction to Sculpture – Sem. – 0.5 credits – This course concentrates on developing technical skills and concepts relating to aesthetics and artistic appreciation of three-dimensional artwork. Understanding the elements and principles of art will be expanded. Students will explore materials such as fibers, clay, plaster, paper mache, wire, and mixed media. Lessons will include contemporary and historical perspectives, studio work, class discussions, and critiques. Materials Fee: $45.
  • Introduction to Drawing and Painting – Sem. – 0.5 credit – This course is an introduction to two-dimensional media. Using a variety of wet and dry media— including graphite, ink, water-color pencil, and acrylic paint—students will learn to draw what they see from observation, still life, photographs, and landscapes. A sketchbook is required for artwork preparation and homework assignments. Materials Fee: $25
  • Mixed Media - Sem. - 0.5 credit – (Prerequisite: Drawing & Painting, Sculpture, Printmaking, Photography, OR Ceramics) – Work like an artist does! This course is designed for students who are self-motivated to explore designing their own art work through their own choice of materials. Students are expected to do the work of artists, directing their own learning. They will practice coming up with individual art problems to solve, work at their own pace, follow their own lines of inquiry, and develop skills as needed for a variety of media that the artist chooses. Pursue an individual passion or material, or just be open to experiment with materials to see what ideas arise. A sketchbook is required for artwork preparation and homework assignments. Materials fee: $45
  • Intro to Printmaking - Sem. - 0.5 credit – This course introduces the methods and concepts of traditional and experimental printmaking processes. Students get an overview of the tools, methods, and materials used for making printed artworks, with particular focus on how manual printing and traditional techniques relate to contemporary concepts and individual art practice. The processes studied include relief, monoprint, and screen printing. Linoleum, Styrofoam, metal, cardboard, silk, and other materials will be used to create mono prints, as well as small editions. Materials fee: $40
  • Photography - Sem. - 0.5 credits – This is an introductory-level course. Students learn how an artistic photograph differs from a snapshot, studying how to incorporate the principles and elements of art into a photograph. Students also learn about how digital cameras work, darkroom techniques, and the history of photography, editing basics, and photography career choices. Students also explore possible directions for photography with future innovations. A digital camera is required, and so is a sketchbook for artwork preparation and homework assignments. Materials fee: $50.

Physical Education Electives

  • Collaborative Fitness – Sem. - 0.25 credits (Counts towards PE credit) – Prerequisite: 1 semester of PE – This course will include students with a wide range of physical ability levels. Daily physical exercise is emphasized, and a program is taught that stresses development of strength, flexibility, and endurance through a variety of beginner-level fitness activities.
  • Walking for Fitness - Sem. - 0.25 credit (Counts towards PE credit) – Prerequisite: 1 semester of PE – This course is designed to stress the importance of cardiovascular, muscular, and mental fitness development to a maintain a healthy lifestyle. The course will help students acquire the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for physical fitness through participation in a carefully monitored walking program—rain, snow, or shine.
  • Yogalates - Sem. - 0.25 credits (Counts towards PE credit) – Prerequisite: 1 semester of PE – This course shows the connection between the body, mind, and spirit. Teaching the mind-body connection is the heart of Pilates, and Yoga postures are very effective for maintaining and even restoring one's physical health, mental harmony, and emotional balance. A variety of strengthening, flexibility, and mobility exercises are taught.

Other Electives

Study Hall - no credit – provides a quiet environment for students to read, study, or complete homework; not intended as a break or a time to socialize, so students must bring a book to read if they have no work.

Courses Required for Graduation