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Sidwell Friends School's Student Newspaper Since 1974


Sidwell Friends School's Student Newspaper Since 1974


Sidwell Introduces New Classes for 2023-2024 School Year

Students work on ink printing with Upper School Studio Art teacher Katherine Dunn. Photo: Sidwell Friends.

In the 2023-2024 school year, Sidwell offers a variety of new classes to students in grades 10 through 12 in the hope of strengthening the learning environment for students. 

According to Academic Dean Min Kim, the changes to each department are the result of thorough research and deliberation among teachers. Kim added that the science department had spent five to seven years researching how to optimize students’ learning experience.

In the upcoming school year, the science department plans to offer a Cell and Molecular Biology course to all juniors and seniors. Topics of the class include cell evolution, protein structure and gene expression. Students will analyze data, read literature, investigate, research and use computational modeling. 

Another new advanced course available to juniors and seniors is Introduction to Organic and Bioorganic Chemistry, an elective chemistry course focused on the organic chemistry behind carbon-based molecules. This class primarily consists of labs exploring the structure between molecules and their reactions.

Academic Dean Robert Gross attributed these changes to a desire to move away from Advanced Placement (AP) courses, claiming that Sidwell Friends’ administration and teachers “can design a scope and sequence of courses that is richer.” The new elective courses have replaced previous AP-designated science courses such as Chemistry II, which followed a similar curriculum to the AP Chemistry course, to create new and innovative course selections that are not constrained by the rigidity of an AP designation.

In addition to the two new science electives, the English curriculum has undergone a few changes. Page to Stage is a new English class available to seniors that revolves around reading plays and studying their presentation on stage. Students will analyze and discuss the differences between a show’s script and its on-stage performance and take three excursions to live productions. At each one of these trips, the class will attend talks with directors, actors and production designers.

Another new 12th grade English elective is LatinX Literature. The course focuses on literature by Latin American authors living in the U.S. The class will include 20th- and 21st-century texts to focus on more recent texts published in a time of cultural negotiation and the current terminology of LatinX. The genres of these works will vary, but all pieces will highlight the authors’ “Latinidad,” or their shared belonging to political, racial and linguistic past and present.

In the art department, Advanced Ceramics is now open to all sophomores, juniors and seniors who have taken at least two semesters in ceramics. Unlike other ceramics courses, Advanced Ceramics is a year-long course that studies more advanced techniques and concepts in making ware and sculptures. It also teaches the history of ceramics in the world and Washington and the science behind the ceramic materials and skills used in the studio.

Advanced Photography, similar to Advanced Ceramics, is now open to sophomores, juniors and seniors with Intro and Intermediate Photography as its prerequisites. A year-long course focused on alternative and historical processes of photography, 3D and 2D techniques, the class will primarily be conducted through lessons, class discussions, readings and a field trip. The photography studio has also been equipped with new lighting, film and cameras for Advanced Photography students.  

The six new classes offered during the upcoming school year for Upper School students are part of Sidwell’s ongoing mission to keep the curriculum relevant and engaging for students. The administration hopes the new additions will allow Sidwell students to dive deeper into topics they connect with and spark curiosity.

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