Upper School

The Upper School is distinguished by its emphasis on writing, critical reading and thinking, interdisciplinary approaches to learning, and experiential education. Students learn by doing - in the classroom or laboratory, on the athletic field, on the stage or in the studio, on campus or off. Known for the quality of its college preparatory curriculum, the Upper School encourages intellectual rigor, independence of thought, and openness to differing ideas and perspectives.

In a culture that fosters participation, collaboration, exploration of ideas, and discourse, Upper School students develop intellectual maturity and form the kind of leadership skills that empower them to have an impact on the larger world. All students are encouraged to take an active role in the community and seize opportunities to clarify and act on their own convictions.

Openness to student input – coupled with strong faculty support both inside and outside the classroom – ensures Key students’ investment in their work. Students flourish as they take risks, ask questions, and go beyond their own comfort levels, beyond that which comes easily.

Key’s interdisciplinary English and history courses, taught in grades nine through eleven, are designed to strengthen each student’s ability to make informed, sensitive, and confident critical judgements, to develop sophisticated writing skills, and to engender a knowledge of Western tradition in its historical, literary, aesthetic, and philosophical dimensions. Students learn about the development of the West from the earliest civilizations in the eastern Mediterranean to contemporary Europe, and explore the American experience and the shaping of the national character. Twelfth grade students study world literature, examining philosophical, artistic and ethical issues across genres, periods and cultures. Elective courses, such as Shakespeare’s Legacy, Economics, African-American Literature and Philosophy allow students to follow and develop their interests in various areas of history and the social sciences.

Key offers students Arabic (I-II), French (II-VI), Latin (I-IV), and Spanish (I-V), and supplements these courses with local field trips. During school breaks, there are also international service learning trips and other travel. The study of Latin complements the students’ study of the ancient world and also strengthens their knowledge of English grammar and vocabulary in powerful ways.

Mathematics, addressed as both a skill and a language, takes students from Algebra I through the AP Calculus curriculum. Students at Key do a great deal of writing in class, and learn to understand mathematical principles and processes through written explanation and discovery projects.

Key’s science program strengthens the problem-solving and critical thinking skills that enable students to make wise decisions about public issues and to function intelligently in an increasingly technological world. Students take Conceptual Physics in the ninth grade, Chemistry in the tenth, and Biology in the eleventh. Twelfth graders can chose from courses such as advanced Physics, Chemistry and Biology, as well as Ecology of the Chesapeake Bay, and Human Physiology. All courses are laboratory-based and use the scientific method of inquiry, including inductive and deductive reasoning and the formation of working hypotheses. Biology students conduct extensive fieldwork in a variety of environments in and around the Chesapeake Bay.

Key offers its students a rich co-curricular program, with a variety of activities from which to choose. Through these activities, the School stresses the value of participation and leadership along with the importance of learning new skills, gaining new perspectives, and contributing to the community. Four days a week students use a period for activities such as yearbook, newspaper, literary magazine, Model Congress, Students Against Destructive Decisions, Amnesty International, community service, and math team. The fifth day is dedicated to Town Meetings, class meetings, performances, and guest speakers.

An academic advisory system exists to encourage and enhance academic performance by ensuring that each student has a designated adult to provide informed academic oversight. Together, advisor and advisee scrutinize the student’s academic performance, noting academic successes and assessing strategies for future growth.

Key chooses to foster and recognize excellence in all its students through adult-to-student communications, both written and oral, rather than through use of such devices as academic awards and honor rolls.

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The Admission Office welcomes inquiries throughout the year, and campus tours are available by individual appointment. Click here for additional information.


  • Key School Swimming: A New Program with a Bright Future

    When the decision was made last year to add a varsity swimming program in 2016-2017, the positive reaction was overwhelming.

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  • Congratulations Cast and Crew of Twelfth Night

    Key Theater Director Nick Olson and the entire cast and crew of Twelfth Night wowed audiences with a phenomenal performance in December. Congratulations to all on a superb production. Click to view photos.

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  • Upper School Writing Center Opens

    Peer Tutors Jack Cheston, Saige Saunders, Gwyn Evans, and Isabelle Hill along with Center Director Mary Hill.

    The Upper School Writing Center, dedicated to the teaching of writing across all departments and curricula, held its grand opening in the Farmhouse. It is envisioned as a place where students and faculty alike may visit and discuss all aspects of reading and writing. Whether students are looking for an approach to taking text notes, clarifying a rule of grammar, crafting an initial approach to an essay, planning a rewrite, or simply feeling “stuck,” the staff at the Writing Center is ready to support them as they work through the process of creating their best possible work. In addition, planned workshops will focus on elements of writing across the spectrum of classes comprising math, science, humanities, and performing arts.

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  • Princeton Model Congress Success

    Key School's twenty-one student delegates were among the 1,000 participants from Connecticut to California who attended the 35th annual session of Princeton Model Congress in Washington, DC. Key's delegates succeeded in passing bills associated with human rights, carbon emissions, the Electoral College, congressional districts, military weaponry, diplomatic relations with Cuba, and the protection of wildlife.

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  • Upper School Optional Winter Ski Trip

    We are pleased to announce an optional ski trip for Upper School students February 20-25, 2017, during Mid-Winter Break at Winter Park, CO. There will be an information meeting about this trip the evening of Tuesday, November 29 from 7:00-8:00 p.m. in the Barn Commons.

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Upcoming Events

Tue Feb 21

Mid-Winter Break - Administrative Offices Open

Thru: Thursday, February 23, 20178:30 AM - 3:30 PM
Fri Feb 24

Mid-Winter Break - Administrative Offices Open

8:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Mon Feb 27

School Resumes

Upper School Spring Sports Begin

Wed Mar 01

Annapolis Book Festival Planning Meeting

8:30 AM - 9:30 AM
Fri Mar 03

Upper School Interim 3 Ends

NAIS - Professional Development Day - NO SCHOOL

Mon Mar 06

Upper School Interim 4 Begins

Wed Mar 08

Upper School Art Trip

Fri Mar 10

Annapolis Book Festival Used Book Collection

Location: PODS
8:00 AM - 8:45 PM