High School - From Observation to Synthesis

The teenage years are a time of questions. Students ask: 
What can I learn from the world around me?
Why does injustice exist? Who do I need to become to make a difference in the world?

The Chicago Waldorf High School helps our students address these questions with a curriculum that cultivates analytical and creative thinking, promotes community engagement and learning from others in service opportunities, encourages eloquence in expression, and inspires the transformation of idealism into initiative.

Each day the High School students have a 100-minute morning lesson that engages them in concentrated academic course work. The year-long curriculum is divided into nine morning lesson blocks (each about a month long) covering core subjects in the sciences, humanities and mathematics. Lesson books created by the students display an increasing degree of independent thinking, sophistication of analysis and beauty in execution as students progress through the high school curriculum. As they gather their work­—essays, drawings, maps, charts, lab reports, lecture notes—into a content rich block book, they make the subject uniquely their own.

Academic morning lesson blocks are complemented by a vigorous arts curriculum that includes fine and practical arts, drama and music. In both artistic and academic subjects, students are challenged to think both rigorously and imaginatively to research and solve problems in new ways.

Additionally, students take year-long skill-building classes in mathematics, English, world languages, chorus, instrumental music, eurythmy, and physical education. Upper grade students who have completed their two-year world language requirements may continue to advance their language study through level five or choose from a variety of electives. Current elective offerings include independent science seminar, creative writing, journalism, world issues, and art portfolio development. 

The high school curriculum presents a developmental arc of discovery tailored to the students’ questions and developing capacities as they mature.

9TH GRADE:          Harmonizing Opposites                   •   Observation:    Asking “what?”

10TH GRADE:        Studying Processes                         •   Comparison:    Asking “how?”

11TH GRADE:         Looking Within                                  •   Analysis:           Asking “why?”

12TH GRADE:        Making Sense of the Journey        •   Synthesis:         Asking “who?”

Students also have the opportunity to participate in our World Language Exchange program, spending up to three months attending classes at one of the many Waldorf high schools around the world. We have formed exchange partnerships with schools in Columbia, Argentina, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and we enjoy a steady stream of visiting international students from these schools in our classrooms.

Student Initiative Groups (which meet during the school day) include Student Ambassadors, Yearbook, Model UN, Diversity Club, Pep Club, Literary Magazine and PACT. After-school activities include team sports (volleyball, basketball, soccer), Math Club, Drama Club, Circus Club, Beekeeping Club, and Spanish Club.

Community Service and Service Learning are important aspects of our program. Students are divided into small teacher-led groups and offer their services to a variety of local organizations – Friends of the River, Alzheimers Family Care, North Park Nature Center, Working Bikes and many more. In the spring each class takes a two-week service learning trip. Ninth graders work on an organic farm in Osceola, Wisconsin; tenth graders help build houses for displaced families in New Orleans; eleventh graders work with developmentally disabled adults. Senior classes have worked on social and environmental service projects in Cuba, Mexico and Costa Rica.

Our highly individualized college counseling and academic advising program has guided students to a variety of the most selective colleges and universities as well as to schools with innovative, experimental and experiential programs. 

90% of our graduates go immediately on to a college or university, while others choose deferment to pursue volunteer, work or travel opportunities that arise from the school's internships, service learning and community service programs. Our students graduate from high school confident and self-directed in their pursuits with demonstrated initiative for their next stage of life.