The Upper School curriculum is tough, and it pushes students to study harder, reach higher, and learn for the sake of truly understanding the world.

All Upper School students at the Academy are college-bound, and they and their families have high aspirations for the future. Consequently, college placement and counseling are high priorities and significant effort goes into ensuring that all students are fully prepared academically, socially and emotionally to meet the admissions standards of America’s most highly selective institutions of higher learning. The entire Upper School program is designed to accomplish this goal.


The English Department cultivates passionate readers, writers and thinkers. Literature provides opportunities for reflection on the human experience, and the study of literary works enriches our lives. In all Upper School grades, literature, vocabulary, diverse writing assignments, poetry, and grammar are interwoven daily in the classroom. The English Department’s course offerings produce a collaborative environment. Students engage in exciting discussions, analyze challenging works of literature, and articulate their ideas with confidence. Classroom discussions are central to developing students’ understanding, application, and creative thinking. All classes promote and incorporate the integration of technology. A comprehensive selection of electives gives students access to a wide range of subjects and the opportunity to experience interrelations among the disciplines.

  • Grade 9, English 9 or English 9 Honors (A Study of Heroes and Journeys)
  • Grade 10, English 10 or English 10 Honors (American Literature); Public Speaking (graduation requirement); The New York City Experience (required)
  • Grade 11, One English elective (required)
  • Grade 12, One English elective (required)
  • Recently Offered Electives: AP English Literature and Composition; AP English Language and Composition; The Modern Family in Literature; The Epic Adventure in Literature; PREP: Literature Goes to School; Voices Unheard; Murder, Mistrust, and Madness; The Breakfast Club: Identity Theme in Literature; Fantasy and Realism in Literature; Ethics and Literature; Betrayal Theme in Literature; Triumphs and Tragedies in Literature









The Mathematics curriculum, materials and methodologies allow students to discover, understand and predict arithmetic patterns, creating models of inquiry so that results may be analyzed and generalized. Students are expected to challenge hypotheses and discover concepts and formulas by truly owning them. Multi-sensory teaching strategies support various learning styles. Students study three or four years of mathematics giving every student the opportunity to study calculus by their senior year.

  • Grade 9: Algebra I  or  Geometry
  • Grade 10: Geometry or Algebra II or Algebra II & Trigonometry or Algebra II & PreCalculus
  • Grade 11: Algebra II or Algebra II & Trigonometry or Algebra II & PreCalculus or PreCalculus or Calculus or Advanced Calculus I and/or Statistics / Discrete Mathematics
  • Grade 12: PreCalculus or Calculus or Advanced Calculus I o Advanced Calculus II and/or Statistics or Discrete Mathematics


The science program prepares students with the skills and knowledge necessary to understand and appreciate scientific theories, concepts, and laws governing and pertaining to the living and physical worlds. A rich variety of course offerings integrate historical knowledge into the present context to encourage students to examine, organize, test and communicate information coherently. Physics, chemistry, and biology are required, and individual research projects are encouraged and supported.

  • Grade 9, Physics
  • Grade 10, Chemistry or Chemistry Honors
  • Grade 11,Biology or AP Biology
  • Grade 12,Optional Science Elective(s)
  • Recently Offered Electives (Grades 11/12): Anatomy, Psychology, AP Psychology, AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Environmental Science, AP Physics, Astronomy and Oceanography


The History program inspires a respect for the past and an appreciation for cultural diversity through the examination of evidence, the fostering of debate and the articulation of conclusions. A rich variety of offerings provides a curriculum that promotes community and global awareness, stimulates independent and creative thought, and instills ethical leadership and good citizenship in students who live in a rapidly changing and complex world. Three years of history are required.

  • Grade 9, Ancient History
  • Grade 10, US History (Political/Economic/Social)
  • Grade 11 or 12, One History elective (required)
  • Recently Offered Electives (Grades 11/12): AP US History; AP World History; AP European History; Race Relations; Constitutional Dilemmas






World Languages

This curriculum enables students to acquire a working language in which to understand and express themselves within the range of their experiences and needs. In that process, students also gain a better understanding of language in general. Students are placed according to their level of proficiency in the language, not necessarily by grade. They are required to study three consecutive years of a foreign or classical language, as well as to understand the way of life of people of another culture (contemporary or from the past) and its history. Students may take more than one language at a time. Teaching of the modern languages is done in the target language.

  • Mandarin I, Spanish I or Latin I
  • Mandarin II, Spanish II or Latin II
  • Mandarin III, Spanish III or Latin III
  • Mandarin IV, Spanish IV or Latin IV
    AP Spanish, AP Latin, or one World Languages elective
  • Recently Offered Electives: Latin American History, Spanish Golden Age Literature Seminar, Latin Authors, Etymology

The Arts

The Department of the Arts fosters self-confidence and artistic expression in all students while developing their unique talents. Building on a strong foundation of skills, students learn to think creatively and understand that risk-taking is a natural part of the artistic process. Through exposure and experience, students develop a life-long love and respect for the arts.

In the Upper School, two years of formal arts classes are required, one being in Grade 9 and the other to be fulfilled during any other year of the Upper School. In Grades 10-12, students may elect to take classes in the department as they wish. Students with a strong desire to pursue arts study and arts-related careers after school make that evident in the college admissions process, and the College Guidance team in tandem with the Arts faculty work with students to find the college program that fits best.

  • Grade 9, Foundation of Art, Foundation of Theater: Shakespeare
  • Grades 10-12, Students are required to take one year of Arts courses in either Grade 10, 11, or 12
  • Recently Offered Electives: Wind Ensemble, String Ensemble, Orchestra, Concert Choir, World Drumming, Theater History, Guitar Workshop, American Popular Music, Stagecraft, Introduction to Theater, Art History, 2D/Advanced 2D Studio Art, 3D/Advanced 3D Studio Art

Computer Science

The Computer Science Department uses current and emerging technology to foster 21st century learning skills. Our offerings, as well as the tools and resources we provide, help students develop skills in critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration and creativity. Grade 9 students take a year long Computer Science Principles course. Students in Grades 11-12 may take Advanced Placement Computer Science A and Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles with departmental approval. The integrated use of technology in all disciplines is supported by the Computer Science Department.

  • Grade 9, Computer Science Principles (Grade 9 requirement)
  • Grades 11-12, Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles or Computer Science A (departmental approval required)

Computer Science Principles Topics: Graphic Design, Multimedia Authoring, Web Page Development, Introductory Programming, Android App Development, Robotics and Introductory Electronics using the Open-source Arduino Platform

Health and PE

The mission of the Physical Education and Health Department is to promote a healthy lifestyle. Exposure to and proficiency in all aspects of the curriculum ensure that students leave Staten Island Academy prepared to lead healthy lives in mind, body and spirit. Physical education is required every year.

  • Grade 9, Healthful Living and Physical Education
  • Grade 10, Physical Education
  • Grade 11, Physical Education
  • Grade 12, Physical Education (students on athletic teams are exempt from PE)