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Upper School Academics & Curriculum

Upper School
Academics & Curriculum

The Upper School at Saint George’s offers a rigorous preparation for college that is guided and shaped by the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program. The Upper School is an energetic setting where outstanding teachers encourage and challenge students, preparing them to succeed in higher education and in their career pursuits beyond university. Our graduates are courted by schools around the region and the country. Since 2012, Saint George’s graduates have been offered an average of over $100,000 in merit scholarships, rewarding them for their academic achievements.

Upper School students are challenged and supported in their classes. Teachers know their subjects and their students. SGS alumni frequently return to tell us that their teachers at Saint George’s were integral to their success. Teachers communicate regularly with parents and students, providing individual comments, support, and feedback. The personal connections with students set Saint George’s apart from other schools

Upper School Values

Critical Thinking. Being an independent school, our teachers have the freedom to meet their students where they are and lead them where they want to go. Part of that means providing students with 21st Century thinking skills, instead of simply “teaching to a test.” It’s about asking questions and thinking through the implications as well as the answers.

Learning by Doing. All Saint George’s science classes are designed around experiments and observations, either in our well-supplied laboratories or in the streams and woods of our beautiful campus. Our students also build robots, lead club discussions, cook ethnic recipes, rappel down a 40-foot cliff, and paddle the river that runs through campus – and the list of experiential learning opportunities goes on and on!

Communication & Reflection. In their writing, speaking, and presentations, SGS students understand and share their ideas and information confidently and creatively — and in more than one language. They also evaluate their own strengths and limitations through the IB’s Creativity, Activity, and Service experiences.

Building Confidence. “Inspiring the confidence to serve and lead” is more than a tagline at Saint George’s. It’s the result of the special people at this school. Our teachers know their students in the classroom and beyond. Many coach sports or serve as club advisors, and all lead outdoor adventure programs intended to foster trust and self-confidence.

Social/Emotional Learning. Our caring teachers know each student and help them grow into their best self. Students are paired with a faculty advisor who monitors their academic and social progress. Advisors and our school counselor help students assume responsibility for their own learning and develop the independence that leads to social maturity.

Diversity. Our student body may be the most diverse in the area. Our students come from all over the greater Spokane area. Our international and exchange programs include students from Asia and Europe. Financial aid ensures that all students who want to attend Saint George’s have the opportunity to do so. A unifying factor in all our students is that they seek opportunities to reach their full potential.

This is a place of learning, of competition, and contemplation, but it is most aptly described as a place of nurturing, where kids can cultivate their passions and interests, and develop their authentic selves.

Nathan Lill, Head of Upper School

Upper School Traditions

The design of the Upper School’s physical space invites community. Classrooms center around a courtyard, providing a focal point for meetings and activities. Two aspects that visitors notice immediately are the lack of class bells and the open lockers. Students move between classes on their own, without the regiment of bells. It is a tangible manifestation of the ownership our students take of their own educations. The open lockers evidence the trust embedded in our community.

School opens with the Dragon Dance, an age-old tradition to celebrate the return of our students. Newer events include the crazy spirit contests of Homecoming Week, and the Holiday Feast in December. Older and more established traditions include student favorites – canoeing down the Little Spokane River, performing Broadway musicals, and relentless cheering at basketball games in the school’s Errol Schmidt Athletic Center.

May Term is a series of in-depth, team-taught, interdisciplinary courses stressing experiential learning. They are offered after final exams and culminate in an exhibition day at the end of the school year. May Term allows for longer labs and projects where both students and faculty can unleash their creative potential. From restoring a stream and exploring other cultures through their cuisine to making short films and recording podcasts, no two May Term classes are the same.
Seniors mark their graduations with the longest-standing tradition at the school. For nearly 60 years, graduates have crossed the Graduation Bridge onto Graduation Lawn where the Head of School reads a summary of their personal highlights from that past four years and wishes them well as they transition from Saint George’s to college.

Upper School Clubs. Saint George’s encourages all students to get involved in a club. Most student clubs meet regularly during the school year, either during lunch periods or after school. Club members participate in after school events or competitions at different times during the year. See below for a list of all Upper School clubs.

Associated Student Body (ASB), Book Club, Chinese Club, Community Service Club, Culture Club, Debate, Diversity Club, GLOW Club, Knowledge Bowl, Math Club, Outdoor Club, Recycling Club, Robotics, & The Roundtable Student Newspaper.

To Upper School Parents

   Letters from Nathan Lill, Head of Upper School