Upper School | Gr. 9-12

Upper School Curriculum Guide

Envision Yourself as a Scholar

Every part of Severn’s curriculum challenges our students to pursue excellence in and outside the classroom. We educate the whole person as we prepare our students to take on academic and personal endeavors beyond Severn School. By taking a full array of unique and rigorous classes, you’ll be ready to seize every opportunity and face any challenge with the confidence to succeed.

2022-2023 Curriculum Guide


A Note from the Upper School Head

Welcome to this year’s online Upper School Curriculum Guide. Read the course descriptions carefully and consider your interests and goals for your time at Severn School. Consider printing the Planning Template to use as a tool to chart your courses and track your progress through senior year.

Our required core courses, which are also offered at the honors level, are designed to provide a comprehensive college preparatory education. These core courses are complemented by interesting and relevant elective courses, including AP courses in every subject area, MSON (Malone Online School Network) options, and the opportunity for independent study if a student has gone beyond our offerings.

I hope you will take advantage of the opportunity to stretch yourself intellectually, try new classes and pursuits, and extend your areas of study beyond your comfort zone. As you go through your high school years, such an approach will not just help you uncover new talents and areas of interest; it will also make you a deeper and more nimble thinker.

Each student’s path is unique, and so you will ultimately discuss your course choices with your advisor, grade dean, and college counselor. I encourage you to start those conversations early as you consider your interests and goals. Be sure to take advantage of the many resources you have available to you!

Steve Soden
Upper School Head

Additional Information

List of 4 items.

  • Graduation Requirements (21 credits)

    • 4 Credits English 
    • 3 credits History (World Civilizations, Global Studies, U.S. History) 
    • 3 credits Math earned in Upper School (including Algebra II); 4 credits is the norm
    • 3 credits lab Science (Physics, Chemistry, Biology) 
    • 3 credits of the same Foreign Language 
    • 1 credit Visual & Performing Arts 
    • 4 additional elective credits 
    • Athletics – each student must participate in one season per year
    • Health – every 9th grader will automatically be enrolled in Health (1 class period every cycle); this will be assigned in the fall
  • Additional Notes

    • A student earns one-half academic credit upon the successful completion of one semester of work, and a full credit upon completion of each full-year course. 
    • Students should carry six courses (five academic) each semester. Students with two AP courses or one AP and two honors courses have the option of taking only five academic courses. Students should make this decision keeping in mind the 21 credit graduation requirement. 
    • Students who wish to take an independent study course – including the Fellows program – should know that he or she must take five other academic courses and that the independent course must be the student’s sixth course. In other words, a student cannot take only four other classes along with an independent offering. 
    • A student must earn a grade of C- or better in a full-year sequential course (Language, Math) in order to move on to the next course in the sequence (Spanish II to Spanish III, for example). A grade of D- or better is considered a passing grade if the student will not be taking any more courses in the sequence or if the course is not part of a sequence. In all cases, the student must earn an acceptable grade for the second semester as well as an acceptable grade when both semester grades are averaged together. Please consult the US Handbook (pages 5 -7) for further details. 
    • Seniors must have passing grades for all courses in the second semester in order to graduate; for full-year courses, the senior must have a passing grade for the year when the two semesters are averaged together. 
    • All course approvals are contingent on sustained performance in the course until the end of the year, including the Final Exam.
  • AP Program Notes

    • Students taking AP courses should choose courses based on their interests and strengths. 
    • Students taking more than one AP course need to look closely at their overall load as well all the requirements of each AP course in order to determine what workload they can handle. Students need to keep in mind that AP courses are college level and are rigorous, fast-paced, and require students to master content and skills thoroughly and independently-which is also why these courses are weighed more heavily than honors courses. Most AP courses also require summer work. 
    • In addition, the time-demands of AP courses often stretch students and result in trade-offs on other fronts, including grades in other courses and time available for other commitments and interests. Students and parents need to weigh these factors carefully in assessing the overall course load. 
    • AP courses are not appropriate for students who have a history of absences, challenges with time management, and issues with academic motivation. 
    • Students in AP classes are pre-registered for the exams (no action is needed) and families are billed the AP exam fee ($96/exam for 2022) by Severn’s business office.
  • Malone Schools Online Network (MSON)

    Malone Schools Online Network (MSON) is a consortium of schools that have received funding from the Malone Family Foundation in recognition of their interest in and success with educating gifted and talented students. MSON provides upper level students (generally juniors and seniors) at participating Malone Schools with a variety of superior online courses that enhance each member school’s existing curriculum. These courses are taught by experts in their fields. MSON teachers have experience with independent school education and share a commitment to excellence, small class sizes, and personal relationships. Course offerings target the most talented high school students at member schools. MSON students demonstrate sufficient independence and commitment to succeed in a virtual discussion seminar setting. Each MSON course takes a blended approach, combining synchronous instruction—real-time video conferencing seminars — with asynchronous instruction — recorded lectures and exercises students complete outside of the class. Each course has a minimum of 6 students and a maximum of 16 students. The result is a virtual discussion seminar that is delivered in high definition classroom setups. Most MSON courses carry an Honors weight in our GPA calculation; a select few carry an AP weight. There is an application process for enrollment in these courses. Registration for MSON courses takes place three weeks before regular course registration, and final approval is communicated by the Director of Studies. Currently there are no additional fees associated with these courses.

Lower School

Preschool-Grade 5
Chesapeake Campus
1185 Baltimore Annapolis Blvd
Arnold, MD 21012

Middle/Upper School

Grade 6-12
Teel Campus
Severna Park, MD 21146