Summit Preparatory School operates a year-round academic program organized as a modified block schedule. Academic subjects are organized into twelve-week blocks that are equivalent to a semester of traditional high school credit. Each class period is 75 minutes long, and the students enroll in three academic subjects and one study hall per semester (four semesters per year.) Students have individual therapy once each week during their study hall period.
There are one week long block breaks between each semester, and during each semester, there is also a one week long mid-semester block break. It is during these weeks that team challenge trips (3 to 6 day wilderness excursions) or off-campus/home passes occur. Therefore each twelve-week semester is made up of eleven 5-day weeks of instruction with one week off, and those semesters are also separated by one week off.
Feel free to browse through the class descriptions below.
Students are introduced to the writing process and will focus on 6+1 Trait Writing: ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, conventions, citations. Students will also become acquainted with the research writing process. Students will use literary works as a vehicle for writing assignments. Composition A focuses on the basic five-paragraph essay and introduces students to analytical writing, while Composition B develops analysis and introduces critical theory and includes a short research writing project. Composition A involves multi-cultural literature, while Composition B explores the concepts of the effects of science and society on human life through a variety of novels.
Students explore American literature from pre-Colonial times to the present day through this course. American Literature A focuses on pre-colonization until the Civil War. Students explore the philosophical, historical, and literary movements of Native Americans, Puritans, the Revolution, Romanticism, the American Gothic movement, and the Civil War. Major works include The Crucible by Arthur Miller and Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. American Literature B focuses on the post-Civil War period to the present day. Students explore the changing face of America and study the impact and effects of World War I and the Modern Age as well as World War II and the rise of postmodernism. Major works include The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and a variety of postmodern novels including Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, and The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. Students respond to the literature in both classes in a variety of formats, including formal analytical essays, creative writing of poetry and short stories, and hands-on projects and presentations.
Students explore world literature from the writings of ancient civilizations to recent history. World Literature A focuses on ancient civilizations and classical myths and traditions. Students explore the philosophical, historical, and narrative movements of cultures ranging from ancient Egypt to classical Greece. Major works include selections from Edith Hamilton’s Mythology, Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, and Oedipus the King by Sophocles. World Literature B shifts to Europe from the Middle Ages to recent history. This section focuses on the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, European Romanticism, Modernism, and the impact worldwide of World War I and II. Major works include Macbeth by William Shakespeare, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, and A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen. Students respond to the literature in both classes in a variety of formats from formal analytical essays to creative writing and hands-on projects.
Students will study memoir, formed and unformed poetry, and short fiction throughout this three-unit course. Unit one focuses on memoir in multiple genres. Students will read and respond to several examples of published memoir pieces ranging from one long memoir to personal narratives, to several poems about self. Students will also explore how various types of writing can be used to create memoir, including recipes, newspaper articles, and children’s stories. Students will create their own multi-genre memoirs by combining and illustrating many of the writings about self which they have produced. Unit two will focus specifically on ten specific forms of poetry. Students will read and respond to published samples of each form, and then create an original poem in each form. Also, students will explore various free-verse poems focused on specific themes relevant to their lives and the societies in which they live. Finally, they will embark on a short-fiction unit, in which they will read and respond to several short fiction pieces, before writing a piece of their own. The class will include one technical test after the poetry unit, and the final will take the form of a coffee house-style poetry slam.
Students explore upper level reading selections and begin preparing for collegiate level classes through higher level prompts and writing assignments. British Literature focuses on classics of English literature beginning with Old English writings and progressing through the Renaissance. Students will also explore the history of the English language and examine its development through the years. Major works include Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, legends of King Arthur and the Romantic tradition, including The Once and Future King by T.H. White, Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard. The second half of the class expands to literature of a variety of authors, nationalities, and time periods at a high reading level. Works include The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man by James Joyce, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, and Crime and Punishment by Feodor Dostoevsky. Students will turn their attention to the structure of the English language, as explored from a linguistic perspective. Students also will focus on a lengthy research paper and solidify the research process in a culminating project.
Students will learn the fundamentals of newspaper writing as they produce their own SPS news publication that will be distributed to students, parents, and faculty. During the first unit, students will learn newswriting techniques and interviewing procedures. In addition, they will discuss journalistic ethics and media bias. As the semester continues, each student will write three stories: one news, one feature, and one topic of their choice (news, feature, sports, or editorial). Before layout and design begin, students will have an opportunity to tour a local newspaper and visit with reporters.
Students will learn to express actions and emotions that others might experience, as they put themselves into roles of ficticious and real-life characters. Through a series of communication activities and theater games, students will express themselves clearly and believably in various roles. As a entire class, students will read, analyze and produce one longer dramatic work (students will choose from both classic and contemporty playwrites). In addition, students will perform a series of shorter pieces, including improvisation and one-act skits.
In this course, students will read texts by key environmental philosophers and thinkers to examine the cultural construction of terms like nature, environment, sustainability, and others. Students will also spend some time studying the cultural implications of the study of ecology. Major texts include Walden, A Sand Country Almanac, and Desert Solitaire.
Students begin with a brief review of arithmetic methods involving rational numbers, along with the basic properties of mathematical operators. They will then apply these skills to operations on variable expressions, with an emphasis on combining like terms. Students then continue this progression by exploring various techniques for simplifying and solving linear equations, and applying these skills to problem solving situations in basic statistics and probability. The semester is concluded by concentrating on graphing and solving systems of linear equations and inequalities.
Students begin the semester by with multiple-step story problems involving writing and solving a system of two equations. They then move to studying the various laws and properties of exponents, with an introduction to exponential functions and their basic applications. Next, students apply these skills with operations on a variety of polynomials. Special emphasis is made on multiplying binomials and factoring trinomials. Students then move to various methods of solving and graphing quadratic functions. The semester then ends with a unit on rational and radical functions, their graphs, and their applications in statistics, probability, and geometry.
Recommended Prerequisite: Algebra 1
Students begin with the basics of Euclidean Plane Geometry involving points, lines, planes, rays, segments, and angles, and all the various interactions, notations, and properties associated with them. From there they begin a comprehensive exploration of triangle properties and characteristics including a unit on basic constructions and an introduction to right-triangle trigonometry. The students move on to quadrilaterals where they are also introduced to various topics and vocabulary involved with polygons in general. Finally, the students work with polygons, with an emphasis on perimeter and area, and their applications to problem solving.
This course continues with a study of polygons, but in the context of analytic and transformational geometry on the coordinate plane. After a project involving translational and rotational tessellations, the students move to a comprehensive study of circles and ellipses, along with all the vocabulary and special properties associated with them. The students then work with their spatial perception skills in a unit involving two and three-dimensional drawing techniques including orthographic, isometric, and perspective drawing, and a study of two-dimensional symmetry. This then foreshadows the following unit on polyhedrons and all the associated vocabulary and properties of three-dimensional geometry. This unit concludes with a strong emphasis on creative problem solving, which acts as a springboard for the following unit which emphasizes logic and proof, with a general consolidation of all the topics studied thus far. If time permits, the remainder of the semester will be spent studying advanced geometric topics such as fractals, non-Euclidean geometries, graph theory, topology, and projective geometry, depending on student interest.
Recommended Prerequisite: Algebra 1
This course begins with a brief review of solving linear equations in the context of linear representations of data. Then, the students study the basic vocabulary and properties of functions and inverse functions while reviewing the exponent laws, including an introduction to rational exponents. Following this, the students will review solving and graphing systems of linear equations and equalities, and develop their application in problem solving, including linear programming. Next the students will complete a unit on matrices with an emphasis on cryptography. Finally, the students will explore solving and graphing quadratic, exponential, and logarithmic functions.
Students begin the semester with an introduction to solving, graphing, and factoring polynomial, rational and radical functions. After this, the focus will change to topics in discrete mathematics including counting principles, probability, series, sequences, and basic statistics, with an emphasis on practical applications. Finally, for the rest of the semester, students will study topics in trigonometry including right triangle trigonometry, higher-angle trigonometry, Law of Sines and Cosines, graphing trigonometric functions, and fundamental trigonometric identities. These trigonometric skills will be applied to various types of problems throughout.
Recommended Prerequisite: Algebra 1
This course is about learning how to collect, organize, analyze and interpret data in order to make decisions. It is divided into three basic units. The course begins with an introduction to the fundamentals of data collection/classification and experimental design. We then investigate a variety of methods of displaying and graphing data. The unit finishes with a study into the measures of central tendency, variation and position (variance and standard deviation). The second unit is a study of probability and its applications in statistics. This includes topics in counting (permutations/combinations), conditional probability, the multiplication rule, and the addition rule. This is designed to prepare students for the third unit on probability distributions. This unit includes a study of both discrete and continuous probability distributions including binomial, geometric, Poisson and normal distributions. Students will learn how to use both tables and formulas to solve problems. Technological solution methods will be an option (using graphing calculators like TI-83, TI-84) but will not be a requirement in this course.
Recommended Prerequisites: Algebra 2, Geometry and Trigonometry
The purpose of this class is two-fold: to summarize and encapsulate skills and knowledge from algebra and geometry, and to prepare the students for calculus. Graphing calculators are required for this course, and graphing methods are emphasized a great deal more than in past math classes. The course begins with a brief review of basic algebraic and graphing methods. The focus then changes to studying functions, first in general as a comparison of the ten basic functions, along with basic functional transformations. Then we begin to study functions in more detail starting with polynomial, power, and rational functions. Following these we study exponential and logarithmic functions, with an emphasis on business and growth applications. This semester then finishes with a unit studying the properties and applications of trigonometry functions, and another unit on analytic trigonometry, reviewing and developing topics previously explored in both geometry and algebra 2.
This class starts with an application of trigonometry in a unit on parametric and polar equations, as well as an introduction to basic vectors. From there, the students will review and continue the exploration of matrix mathematics and its applications that was started in algebra 2. Next, the students will study conic sections in the context of two and three-dimensional analytic geometry. The students will then explore discrete mathematics again to a higher degree than in algebra 2, including topics in basic combinatorics, probability, sequences/series, and mathematical induction. If time permits, the final portion of the course will be used to introduce students to calculus, which will include an exploration of limits and derivatives.
Recommended Prerequisite: Precalculus
The semester starts with a review of precalculus topics involving solving and graphing various types of functions algebraically, numerically, and graphically. Next students will begin to explore rates of change, limits, continuity, and tangent lines. Following this will be an introduction to the derivative of a simple function and its various applications. Students will learn to use graphing calculators as well as computing derivatives by hand. Strong emphasis will be made toward understanding the rules for differentiation assessing differentiability. Students will spend the rest of the semester differentiating various types of functions in various types of situations. At times technological solutions will be offered both as an alternative and as verification for algebraic differentiation. The semester will conclude with a study of multiple derivatives, and their relationships to first derivatives and graph appearance including inflection points, concavity and local extrema. These properties will then be applied to modeling and optimization problems associated with business and science as well as Newton’s Method.
This course begins with a study of finite sums as an introduction to the definite integral. This study continues with an understanding and application of the rules of integration, emphasizing the connection between differential and integral calculus. The students will then move to an exploration of the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus with an emphasis on graphing and evaluating integrals and finding the area under a curve. After this unit, the students will study antiderivatives, indefinite integrals, and their various properties. This will include a variety of problem solving applications, including initial value problems and slope fields. Students will then incorporate a variety of integration methods including integration by substitution, and integration by parts with an emphasis on growth and decay problems. We will finish the semester on various applications of definite integrals including integrals as net change, areas in the plane, volumes, and lengths of curves.
Global History is comprised of three sequential but separate segments. Students can take any combination of two sections to complete Global History graduation requirements, or take individual segments as electives upon completion of their other social studies requirements.
Global History A
covers the origins of man to the Feudal Age.
Global History B
covers the Roman Empire to the Renaissance and Reformation.
Global History C
covers the Reformation through Present Day.
U.S. History is comprised of three sequential but separate segments. Students can take any combination of two sections to complete the U.S. History graduation requirement or take individual segments as electives upon completion of their other social studies requirements.
U.S. History A
explores Pre-Columbian Amerindian civilization and the Age of Exploration to the Antebellum Period.
U.S. History B
explores the Civil War era to the end of World War I.
U.S. History C
explores 1918 to 2001 (The 20th Century)
The purpose of this course is to understand the structure and content of The United States Constitution and the workings of our government. This will be accomplished by:
Students explore the fundamental concepts of geology, oceanography, and meteorology. Topics covered include composition of, surface processes on, and dynamics of Earth, the atmosphere and oceans, geologic time, and the Earth’s natural resources.
We begin by studying the history of astronomy, and the roles that various people have played in advancing our understanding of the heavens. Following this, students will learn about light, matter and basic geological processes in preparation for a more in-depth investigation of the planets. After a brief look at the Solar System as a whole, we then begin our study of the planets with the Moon and the Terrestrial planets. We continue to move outward into the Solar System to study the Jovian planets, their moons and other objects in the solar system (asteroids, comets, dwarf planets). We finish the course with an in-depth study of the composition of the Sun and its function with an introduction to nuclear fusion and fission.
Students will study fundamental biological concepts which include communities and ecosystems, cells and their functions, genetics, evolution, and how life is classified on Earth. Students explore biology by participating in activities such as culturing live bacteria and dissecting frogs.
Recommended Prerequisite: Algebra 2
Students will explore the fundamental concepts of chemistry including scientific measurement, problem solving, atomic structure and the periodic table, chemical names and formulas, stoichiometry, states of matter, periodicity, bonding, solutions, and oxidation-reduction reactions.
Required Prerequisite: Algebra 2
This class begins with an introduction/review of scientific mathematical and measurement techniques, and a study of one-dimensional motion. This is followed by an in-depth study of vectors and two dimensional motion. Then we investigate force, friction and Newton’s Laws of Motion, followed by a unit on work, energy and power. This first semester of the class is concluded with a study of momentum, impulse and elastic/inelastic collisions. Throughout the entire class there will be a two-pronged emphasis on both the qualitative understanding of physical concepts, and computational skills in quantitative problem solving.
This semester starts with a study on circular and rotational motion. This incorporates many of the formulae and techniques studied during the first semeter. After this, we move away from mechanics and begin investigations in other areas of physics. The next unit is an investigation of select topics within thermodynamics and fluids including Pascals Law, Archimedes’ Principle and Bernoulli’s Principle. We then continue with a study of simple harmonic motion, waves, sound and music. We follow this with an in-depth introduction to light and ray optics. Finally we study the basics of electrostatics and electric circuits. If time permits, the class will conclude with an introduction to relativity and modern physics.
Students will learn basic Spanish vocabulary and grammar as they embark on a virtual tour of “El Mundo Hispanohablante,” or the Spanish-speaking world. As they “visit” various Spanish-speaking countries and regions, students will focus on four essential language-learning skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. This course introduces students to conversational Spanish and to situation-specific vocabulary such as schoolday and travel terminology. It also covers grammatical concepts including regular and irregular present and present-progressive verbs, possesive adjectives, reflexive and stem-changing verbs, direct object pronouns, and regular preterite verbs. Classes will be conducted primarily in Spanish.
Recommended Prerequisite: Spanish I
Like Spanish I, this course is structured around a tour of Spanish-speaking countries and regions. As students continue their world-wide culture quest, they will be introduced to more advanced vocabulary and grammar concepts, such as conditional verb phrases, regular and irregular preterite and imperfect verbs, commands, and comparisons. While listening and speaking will continue to be an everyday component of class, students will read more authentic language pieces from real-world sources and will write at a higher level using various tenses. Classes will be conducted primarily in Spanish.
This is a course for students wanting an in-depth exposure to creating and studying visual arts fundamentals. Students will be expected to demonstrate the basic elements and principles of design in art by using a variety of technical skills, materials, and images. Students will demonstrate and express these skills and images through composition in drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, crafts, and contemporary art forms. Students will also demonstrate some understanding of art history, art appreciation, and aesthetics both in written form as well as oral presentations and critiques.
Drawing is set up for students who wish to improve their drawing skills and ideas by learning more in depth technical skills and concepts. The student will be expected to demonstrate a variety of drawing skills by using the basic elements of art and principles of design. Students will demonstrate these skills through specific drawing assignments that incorporate various drawing mediums. Art history, art criticism, and aesthetics will be emphasized greatly through lecture, slide presentations, discussions, and group critiques.
Recommended Prerequisite: Drawing I
Advanced drawing is intended for students who wish to further build upon their drawing skills and ideas by learning more “in depth” technical skills and concepts of awareness through a variety of drawing materials and images. Students will be expected to demonstrate a more advanced variety of drawing skills and ideas by using the basic elements of art and advanced areas of compositional interest. Students will demonstrate these advanced skills and ideas through project assignments focusing on the exploration of various drawing mediums. Project deadlines will be strongly adhered to. Students will once again be exposed to art history, art criticism, and aesthetics.
Drawing and planning sketches will be required and students will learn to use the painting tools, brushes, water, paper, and various painting techniques to transfer their drawings into paintings. Students will be expected to demonstrate proficient painting skills by the completion of project assignments in media such as watercolor, tempera, oil, acrylic, or ink. Students will be exposed to the history and appreciation of painting.
Students will be acquainted with the basic aspects of designing, shaping, and forming three-dimensional works of art. The class will include the history and appreciation of sculpture with slide lectures, demonstrations, field trips, and sketch book assignments.
This class is for those serious students who are interested in a concentrated study in the visual arts. The class also offers students the chance to focus more in depth on specific areas of interest within the visual arts. Each student that finishes this course will walk away with a respectable portfolio of finished artwork. Students will be given specific assignments dealing with a variety of media types and mediums. Each student’s interests within the fine arts will be greatly taken into consideration as we map out the direction of the block. A collection of work will be put into a portfolio which can be used for scholarships, competitions, art showings and a possible submission into the AP College Board for college credit. Students will become used to weekly art critiques using a visual language and discussions about their own work.
Home Improvement A:
This class is an introduction to home improvement and is designed to give students the tools/skills necessary for maintaining their home. Basic tradesperson skills for fixing a number of the most common home repairs will be taught. Some examples may include: repairing a leaking faucet, patching drywall, caulking around windows and doors, basic home electrical circuitry, wiring a light fixture, interior/exterior painting, and basic landscaping. Students will also find out when it is best to hire a professional building contractor when a job is too demanding or advanced. Any student who has ever wanted to be a “Handyperson” should consider talking this class.
Home Improvement B:
This class will be a follow up to Home Improvement I but does not require the student to have the first course as a prerequisite. Home Improvement II will build upon the first class and will give students additional tools/skills necessary for maintaining their home. Basic tradesperson skills for fixing a number of the most common home repairs will be taught. Some examples may include: repairing a leaking toilet, patching drywall, caulking around a tub, basic home electrical circuitry, basic carpentry, painting a room, gardening, and basic landscaping.
Recommended Prerequisite: Spanish I
Basic Technical Drawing is an introductory drafting course. The course provides students with instruction in the fundamentals of drafting using established tools and techniques. Students combine theory and practical skills to produce working drawings and illustrations. Drawings will be produced using standard drafting and varied media types. Familiarization with fundamental techniques in Basic Technical Drawing may be the stepping stone for students who are interested in interior and environmental design, architecture, engineering, and AutoCAD.
This class will be an introduction course to interior and exterior carpentry/woodworking. Students will have the opportunity to learn all about wood and its many uses. The course will also examine the building trades industry and the many facets of being a tradesperson. Students will build a number woodworking projects as well as have a chance to build some larger and smaller structures around campus.
Through this course students will participate in activities that will allow them to develop and demonstrate a variety of physical skills which encompass individual, dual and team sports and lifetime physical activities.
Through this course, per Montana Content Standards related to 'Health,' students will learn concepts that promote comprehensive/life long health, demonstrate critical thinking and decision making skills to enhance their own health, demonstrate interpersonal communication skills and demonstrate health-enhancing behaviors.