As part of our emphasis on student-centered learning, the Cascadilla School offers a wide array of courses so that each student has the opportunity to enroll in a challenging and appealing curriculum. The Cascadilla School offers a comprehensive four-year college preparatory high school curriculum. Each of our six academic departments offers traditional courses as well as a variety of electives. Our passionate teachers often create courses in their own field or specialty which yields dynamic and exciting classes.
All courses required for a New York State Regents diploma are offered and all departments offer Advanced Placement (AP) and honors courses. Independent study and tutoring are also available. We carefully select the course levels for students based on their academic preparedness, ability and talent in each subject area, and not necessarily by age or grade levels.
The arts courses at Cascadilla are taught by practicing artists who bring their own insight to their classes. With the close individual attention common to many Cascadilla classes, students can easily explore their own artistic ideas and themes. Our students who wish to pursue the arts in college have matriculated at such institutions as the Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film & Television at the Tisch School of the Arts (New York University), the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.
The Cascadilla Seminar is Cascadilla’s advanced seminar in history & literature taught jointly by the History and English departments. In each Cascadilla Seminar, students develop the necessary skills in careful and critical reading, logical reasoning, persuasive argumentative writing, and academic research that will ensure success in college and in life. The Seminar is taught at an introductory college level and is equal to a full year’s humanities course for upper-level students. As a new theme relating to history and literature is chosen each year, students thus acquire the ability to discuss and write authoritatively about a new academic topic.
The English courses at Cascadilla truly exemplify how our small classes, taught with a lot of individual attention, regularly achieve high academic standards of excellence. Our emphasis in class is on writing and discussion. At every level of our English classes, students study poetry, prose, drama, fiction, and nonfiction and learn to read carefully, think responsibly, and then express their ideas clearly and precisely. Students study authors representing a broad range of cultural perspectives. They write personal and expository essays and participate actively in class discussions. In the upper level English courses, students learn how to move beyond the personal in their writing and instead to become more analytical and focus more on presenting their own persuasive arguments. Students are encouraged to form their own honest opinions and then express them with genuine conviction.
History and social studies courses at the Cascadilla School are designed to encourage students to develop a genuine historical sensitivity and knowledge of the past along with a respect for the cultural heritage of peoples all over the world. These courses examine significant events, ideas, and institutions; they focus on the history and behavior of individuals in society; and they explore historical change and continuity over time. In their history courses, students develop skills in critical thinking, analysis, and persuasion both in writing and in classroom discussions. History at Cascadilla challenges students to develop informed opinions and to incorporate literary, religious, ideological, and artistic perspectives.
The mathematics curriculum teaches students to think abstractly and develop problem-solving skills. In our math classes, we give students directed individual attention and train them to effectively communicate their understanding both verbally in class and in their written assignments. Since we recognize that students studying mathematics differ in ability, background, interest and rate of learning, the Cascadilla mathematics department uses teacher recommendations, transcripts, placement tests, and previous achievement to place each student in the most effective course level.
The science curriculum at Cascadilla teaches students the principles of scientific inquiry, how to investigate and solve problems with current technology and mathematics, and how to become environmentally aware. As students learn to read scientific discussions, analyze and interpret data, and communicate their conclusions effectively, they can then apply what they learn in directed research projects. By offering interdisciplinary courses through the science curriculum, Cascadilla also encourages students to make natural connections among traditionally separate academic fields. The Cascadilla science faculty regularly incorporates the invaluable science resources available nearby at Cornell University and updates their professional development through science workshops and other resources provided by professional researchers at Cornell.
Studying another language gives students a natural way to develop a multicultural outlook by providing an insider’s view of other cultures and other ways of thinking and living. It builds up English vocabulary and strengthens knowledge of both the structure of language and how it is used. The study of a second language is indispensable for the college-bound student. The Cascadilla School offers study in three languages: Spanish, French, and Latin. As each of these languages provides it own unique knowledge and challenge, students can select the language that best suits their needs.