Doug Bergman and David Renton talk about Virtual Reality in our CS Curriculum
Upper School represents a defining period in our students’ lives. Having successfully navigated the academic and time management challenges of the Middle School, students intensify their studies and co-curricular activities in preparation for finding the best fit for college.
A rigorous academic program is delivered by passionate, professional educators, who incorporate critical-thinking, analytical, and problem-solving skills into daily lessons and discussions. College admission orientation begins in ninth grade, and by their junior year, students meet individually with college counselors and advisors to build the best fit for the next phase of their journey. As graduation approaches, students mature into confident, capable young adults with lifelong friendships, impressive academic footings, and solid foundations of social, emotional, spiritual and intellectual health. Our students leave aware of their gifts and talents and are passionate about sharing them with the world.
Our students’ experience from the Middle School to the Upper School are aligned, very much, in terms of their reading and writing. Beginning in the fifth grade, every student submits at least eight formal essays per year with drafts, so we pride ourselves on forging excellent writers through diligence, repetition, and effort for their entire careers. We believe that the “classics” will never go out of style in helping to forge our students’ identities as thoughtful, soulful human beings. We believe that “great” literature will always provide our students with equipment for living, to paraphrase the great modernist poet Wallace Stevens. And so our all of our sixth graders read A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the same reason that all of our seniors read Hamlet: because in Shakespeare we find ourselves.
- Poetry Recitations: Middle & Upper School
- Life of Pi boat projects: Middle School
- Daze Between: Middle School literary magazine
- Watch Magazine: Upper School literary magazine
- Canterbury Tales Recitation: Upper School
- Writing Contest: Upper School
- Visiting Writer: Upper School
- Valedictory Addresses: Upper School
The advisory program is designed to ensure that each Porter-Gaud student has the necessary support to take advantage of the many opportunities for growth and development here at Porter-Gaud. A student’s faculty advisor can become a guide, friend, and advocate throughout his or her Upper School career. Advisors are often called upon to help the student with academic counseling, personal adjustment, and behavior concerns that the student may have.
Throughout the year, faculty and staff meet with freshman during rotating study hall blocks to provide year-long support to students as they transition to life in the Upper School. Topics cover everything from effective study habits, multicultural awareness and best practices for technology to community service and mental and emotional wellbeing. College counseling begins here, with guided strengths assessments and goal setting practices to encourage our students to think about the big picture and make the most of their time at Porter-Gaud
Over the course of four years in the Upper School, PG Engage connects our students’ classroom experiences with the Charleston community to help them become well-rounded community members by attending various events in Charleston and reflecting on them over the course of their Upper School career. Students will earn three credits per year across three specific categories unique to each grade level.
Each Upper School 9th grader will participate in cultural activities anchored in the Charleston community that introduces them to the varied Cultural, Speaker, and Citizenship opportunities in the Lowcountry.
Our 10th graders earn three credits by choosing one approved event in each of the three categories: Perspective and Communication, Nature and Environment, as well as Health and Mindfulness, or by choosing an activity from an approved activity matrix that corresponds to each category.
By the 11th grade, students complete three credits by choosing and following one issue theme of their interest that has local, national, and global implications. Themes include working toward sustainability, innovation and entrepreneurship, eliminating poverty, ethics in athletics, and many others. Our students then engage with that theme as a local issue by attending a related event in Charleston or investigating a community group doing work on that theme. Students then look at that theme within a national context and connect them globally to see what larger impact Charleston has on these issues around the world and what impact the world has on Charleston. At the end of the year, our students synthesize what they have investigated across the local, national, and global areas and share it with their Advisory members.
In their senior year, the students create an advocacy campaign to raise awareness of their issue and present possible solutions for it to the wider school community.
COLLABORATIVELY SOLVING PROBLEMS
We strive to lead students in their development of a solid foundation in the mathematical concepts and critical thinking skills that will make them 21st century problem-solvers and innovators. Our students are not only building the foundation related to content but they are also building the skills needed for students to be successful independent learners of math. Teachers of all grade levels strive to put students in situations where they have the opportunity to hone their problem solving and critical thinking skills. These opportunities are scaffolded by grade level and course. The guiding principles of every lesson are driven by the mission of the school and vision of the Porter-Gaud graduate.
Featured math programs and experiences:
- Individual and Collaborative Learning
- Math Counts
- ASMA Junior and ASMA Senior
- AMC 8/10/12
- SCISA Math Meets
- CofC Math meet
Fostering an understanding and appreciation
for the natural world
One of the most important things in life is to never stop questioning. Understanding how the world works, from the smallest subatomic particles to the largest features of space, leads our students to a deeper appreciation for our place in the universe. The faculty and science curriculum at Porter-Gaud strive to develop learners who will leave our classrooms continuing to question and learn about the world around them.
- Honors Biology SCORE oyster reef research and restoration project,
- AP Environmental Science Change of Life project and Human Biology Egg Babies and Human Body System projects,
- AP Chemistry magic show,
- AP Physics and Physics egg drop challenge, Applied Physics boat challenge,
- Oceanography students teach O’Quinn students about the ocean,
- Chemistry Olympiad,
- Sea Turtle hospital trips for Biology/Environmental/Oceanography/Wildlife Zoology.
- Multiple field experiences in wildlife zoology and partnerships with CCPRC, SCDNR, Cornell eBird data collection for real world research.
- Wildlife Zoology research projects - animal behavior, March Mammal Madness, insect collections.
Last spring, PG students attended the Perry Outreach Program at MUSC which is a program that focuses on inspiring women to consider orthopedic and engineering careers. Students spent the day alternating between participating in mock orthopedic surgeries and listening to presentations by experienced female engineers, orthopedic surgeons, and teachers.
Context for our Modern WOrld
The History Department places a greater emphasis on thematic history and the interrelationship of events over “memorization of facts,” challenging students to focus more on the “how” and “why,” rather than the “names” and “dates.” The department also emphasizes the instructional goal of empowering students to personalize history while appreciating the achievements and sacrifices of those who came before them. History, ultimately, is a complicated story that requires critical analysis to comprehend, and our goal is to guide students through this complex narrative in order to be more prepared to make educated decisions in a diverse and shifting world that has been forged by decisions and developments of the past. Our students will become leaders in this world, and they will have the tools necessary to manage and understand their role within it through their coursework here at Porter-Gaud.
innovate to create
Our four-year Computer Science (CS) program in the Upper School is the only one of its kind in the state. It is designed to attract, recruit, and engage students in the world of computer science. The 360° approach empowers students to explore and learn not only the programming behind a technology or topic, but also study the job market, ethics, current events, related technologies, and real-world application. Computer science is a required course for ninth grade. The accelerated program is selective for 10th-12th grades.
- Build games related to social, culture, political, and world issues and problem in Python.
- Program autonomous vehicles through robotics and code to access sensors.
- Develop for a mobile device by creating an app.
- Work to develop a 2D educational game in the first semester, and a 3D interactive environment in Unity.
- Build Virtual Reality(VR) apps.
- Learn to code in C# within the object-oriented Unity environment.
- Explore the digital art components of game and app development with 2D animation and 3D modeling in Maya.
- Create a 3D programming project using the Kinect camera.
- Learn Swift programming to design a capstone project that uses the interface and functionality for an app on iOS that addresses a real-world social, economic, or health problem.
- Explore cybersecurity techniques of attack and defense in preparation for a Capture the Flag (CTF) competition.
- Program drones to compete in numerous obstacle course challenges autonomously as well as with controllers.
- Design Virtual Reality (VR) and/or Artificial Intelligence (A.I) programs that address a real-world issue.
The Fine Arts Department offers students a variety of courses throughout the year to prepare them for a career in the arts, an appreciation of the arts or even an opportunity to explore something out of their comfort zone.
Students are able to create a path for themselves through music, drama, dance or visual art that will enable them to cultivate a better understanding of their aspirations.
They will gain their voice in 10th grade Public Speaking class, embark upon a musical journey in choir, jazz band or music theory and explore their artistic creativity with different mediums in the art studio. There are more opportunities for students interested in drama, music and dance to further their interest in performance, technical theatre or stage crew. Please see the Fine Arts page for a photo and video gallery of last years performances.
ON THE PATH TO PROFICIENCY
Becoming proficient in another language and learning about other cultures is vital in today’s global community and the Porter-Gaud World Language program. Our curriculum provides students with the opportunity to participate in a multilingual and multicultural environment and to learn to connect and communicate with speakers of other languages. In addition to working toward acquiring the languages, students will be introduced to the practices and perspectives of these global cultures.
- Focus on proficiency
- Opportunities for international travel
- Honors Society inductions for top students in each language that go above the graduation requirement
- South Carolina Seal of Biliteracy
- Clubs (food, board games, celebrations of special Holidays)
- Connections with their local community (restaurants, dance studios, native speakers, volunteer opportunities, and theatrical performances)
- Cultural connections (more than just language)
examining virtues and ethics
As an Episcopal school, the Department of Religion engages students in the story of Israel in the Hebrew Scriptures and the person of Jesus in the Gospels, examining their virtues, morals, and ethics, and in the tenets of other world religions through respectful, inclusive, and age-appropriate ways so that graduates understand and appreciate the global diversity of world views.
The Middle School program is foundational for the Upper School program in both curriculum and pedagogy. The concentration on virtues in the Lewis materials in the 5th and 6th grades, and the 8th grade Old Testament/Hebrew Bible survey course, prepares students for the 11th grade New Testament/Ethics class. Likewise, the close reading and discussion of the texts is the same approach pursued in the Upper School program.
Featured programs or student experiences include:
- In-class projects that illustrate the New Testament in art, film, and advertising as well as field trips to Mother Emanuel AME Church (ethics of retaliation vs. forgiveness) and the International African American Museum (biblical interpretation and slavery) demonstrate the ongoing relevance and contribution of the New Testament to contemporary Western culture.