12th Grade - Developing Powers of Synthesis


Developmental Picture of the Student

In the twelfth grade there is synthesis; things come together. Seniors review their education and return to the place where they began as first graders, to the image of the whole, but now with a deeper understanding. Seniors wrestle with questions of identity and purpose as they envision their place in the world. The central question of the year is, “Who…?” (Who am I? Who do I want to become?”) The new experiences of the senior year—travels, senior projects, and  internships—encourage the students to answer that inquiry with action.

How the Curriculum Meets the 12th Grader

The year begins with a week-long trip to the coast of Maine to study marine biology with several other Waldorf schools. Students take daily trips to the tide pools and mud flats to investigate sea plants and animals and enjoy evening campfire discussions about the world and their future. In Russian literature, students encounter an unfamiliar culture that mirrors and complements their own. In their study of the Transcendentalists, Emerson’s suggestion that “man is a stream whose source is hidden,” calls on students to explore the complexity of their own humanity.

For modern physics and biochemistry, students take field trips to Fermilab and the Northwestern University Bio-nanotechnology lab, where they observe field research in state of the art facilities and converse with scientists working on the leading edge of their fields. In art, seniors draw and paint each other’s portraits with a subtlety and skill far beyond what they were capable of when they sketched one another in ninth grade.

Seniors are independently motivated and concerned with issues of destiny, judgement and discretion.

Senior Projects are a high point of the year.  At the end of the junior year, students choose a topic for independent study or practical work. By the first week of March, they have prepared a comprehensive research paper and artistic project, which they offer in a public presentation to the school. The seniors stand on stage individually, present their topic in a lecture format, and take questions from parents, teachers and fellow students. This is a festive occasion for the whole community as well as an often-poignant rite of passage when the students surpass their teachers; in effect, they become teachers for the whole community as they share a topic about which they are passionate and of which they have expert knowledge.

Following the senior projects  the twelfth grade disperses for individual three-week internships in the working world. They return to complete their final two morning lesson blocks and work on their senior play, a farewell gift to the community. The senior year ends with farewell gifts of roses from the first grade at the year’s closing assembly. Finally, graduation day is an opportunity for the whole community to celebrate the seniors and wish them well on their future journeys.


12th graders study specialized topics including electives as they prepare research for their Senior Presentations




- Marine Biology
- Biochemistry
- Free Market Systems
- MathTrack Options: Pre-Calculus and
  Trigonometry, Calculus, Calculus: Extended
  Topics or Practical Mathematics

- Russian Literature
- Transcendentalists
- The Existentialists
- The Human Being
- History Through Architecture
- Senior Project Writing Block
- English Track: Existentialism, Modern Novels
  and Short Stories, The College Essay

- Metalwork
- Design Studio
- Sculpture
- Portrait Painting
- Drama: Senior Play
- All High School Chorus
- Music Elective Options: Chamber Ensemble,
  Jazz Band, Vocal Ensemble, African
  Drumming, Guitar I or Guitar II

- German & Spanish, levels 1 – 5

- Physical activities and team-based sports
  promote health, movement, coordination,
  team dynamics and collaboration as well
  as social development


- This study of artistic movement culminates in
  the 12th grade Eurythmy perfomance, an
  annual tradition where seniors present
  accomplished eurythmy to the entire school
  and then road trip to perform for another
  Waldorf school within the Midwest region.

- World Issues
- Independent Science Seminar
- Journalism
- Creative Writing
- Senior Art Portfolio

All High School Camping Trip: Three
 days at the Indiana Dunes, building community
  and solidarity among students and faculty

- Marine Biology Trip: One week at Hermit
  Island, Maine with seniors and faculty from
  many regional Waldorf schools

- Modern Physics & Biochemistry Trips:
  visits include, typically, Fermilab and the NWU
  Bio-nanotechnology lab, where students
  meet with scientists working in the leading
  edge of their fields

- Community Service: Four days throughout
  the year working for a variety of local
  service and non-profit organizations

- Eurythmy Trip: Optional, usually two or
  three days. Students present their eurythmy
  program at another Waldorf School

- Service Learning: Trips vary; location and
  service projects chosen each year by the
  students and class advisors