Program of Studies

Graduation Requirements

The Pembroke Hill curriculum is comprehensive in scope, encompassing a full complement of courses in Computer Science, English, the Fine Arts, Language, Mathematics, Physical Education, Science, and Social Studies. It has been carefully planned so as to foster full and sequential skill development. We believe that this curriculum will ensure that our academic program provides excellent preparation for college, while remaining flexible enough to meet the individual needs of our students.

Pembroke Hill students are required to complete successfully 20 units of academic courses and 1.5 units of Physical Education. Please note that a “unit” in this instance means a full year, or two semesters. In particular, students will be required to complete:

4 units of English, must be enrolled in English each semester.
3 units of Mathematics, must enroll in a year-long Mathematics course each year through the junior year with a minimum completion of Algebra II.
3 units of Social Studies, must complete The World to 1500, The World Since 1500, and American Civilization (History).
3 units of Science, Biology is required in 9th grade and Chemistry is required in 10th grade.
3 units of Language, must complete two consecutive years of the same language. The third unit may be completed by starting a new language.
2 units of Fine Arts, must complete two 1/2-unit courses: Visual Arts and either Theatre Arts, Debate I or Exploration in Music. The remaining 1 unit may be completed in either Performing or Visual arts offerings.
2 units of electives
1.5 units of Physical Education
, must earn 1.5 units through our athletic program and/or our Physical Education program.
Community Service, all upper school students must complete a minimum of 60 hours of community service by the last day of senior exams in the upper school in order to be eligible for a diploma.

Program Options

The Program of Studies has been prepared to assist students and their parents in planning an academic program for the upper school. Selections should be made after considering the goals of each student and after consulting with academic advisors and administrators at the school.

Graduation requirements are intended to serve as a minimum standard for a student. All students are required to take five courses each semester, but no sophomore, junior or senior may take more than six classes without advisor and administrative approval. Physical Education does not count toward the five-course requirement. Assuming a normal load, students will graduate with the minimum of 20 units of academic credit. However, most students will complete several more units of credit. Students who wish to carry a different academic load may petition the principal for approval.

Personal and career interests should be considered when deciding how many advanced courses to take in each department. We would expect our most capable students, who are interested in applying to highly selective colleges, to take a broad distribution of subjects at the Advanced Placement level. Four-year planning should be done with advisors, taking into consideration academic and extracurricular goals.


Schedule Change Policy

We have found it nearly impossible to schedule students in their courses and at the same time attempt to honor student and family requests for a particular teacher. Therefore, we will not accept requests for a specific teacher unless there is a compelling reason. During the advising and course planning process, an advisor, teacher, or parent can make a request in writing for special consideration. This request should include the compelling reason for special review and be signed by the parents and the advisor.

If scheduling has already occurred, requests for change will be divided into categories: (1) Mandatory: scheduling error, graduation requirement. These will be changed as soon as possible. (2) Desirable: administrative or teacher change to maintain class balance, gender balance, etc. (3) Discretionary. [Note: A request to move from a smaller class to a larger class will not be honored.]

If a problem occurs after the first day of classes, a request for change can be made if parents, advisor, college advisor (if a senior), and the appropriate department chair agree that there is a compelling reason. Changes will be considered only during the first days of each semester for semester-long courses, and during the first days of the school year for year-long courses.

No student may enroll in any course after the first mid-quarter of the semester, nor may any student withdraw from a course after the completion of one quarter.

Advanced Placement

Each department has established criteria for student enrollment in Advanced Placement sections. Students enrolled in A.P. sections are expected to take the A.P. examination unless exempt upon appeal to the teacher, the department chair, and the principal.* Juniors enrolled in A.P. courses are expected to have a second semester final evaluation. Seniors will follow the senior exam policy.

Students are assigned to sections in English, language, and mathematics courses by the faculty and department chair. Students should consult with their language and mathematics teachers to determine the appropriate section in which to enroll.

*A.P. exams cost approximately $90 per exam. Parents will be billed through the business office.

Community Service

The goal of the upper school Community Service program is to “foster a sense of community responsibility.” Through volunteer service, students will gain a greater understanding of social and moral issues. It is our belief that service to the community is one of the major characteristics of leadership. Those who serve also lead. Those who lead also serve. This concept is reinforced by requiring completion of a minimum of 60 hours of community service to charitable causes. Summer community service programs, January Interim Week service projects, and organized weekend service projects are examples of the ways to meet the requirement. Twenty of the 60 hours may be completed within the Pembroke Hill School community, although it is not mandatory.

To encourage the habit of serving the community, each student must perform a minimum of 5 hours of service each year of upper school enrollment, (June 1 to May 31) regardless of the total accumulation. Final year-end grades will be withheld until the yearly community service requirement is met. Each time community service is performed, the student must fill out a form, complete with signature from an adult at the agency where work was performed, and return it to the director of community service.

For students who are not enrolled in the upper school for four years, 15 community service hours per year are required.

Independent Study For Credit

Independent study is an option available to students, not as a substitute for courses offered, but as an opportunity to pursue an interest in-depth or to study an aspect of a discipline not available through the existing curriculum. Students interested in independent study must obtain the cooperation of the teacher or teachers with whom they wish to work and submit a written proposal to the Academic Dean. The proposal must include:

a) a clear statement of goals;
b) a detailed explanation of ways to meet those goals;
c) the signatures of the college counselor, the department chair and the teacher or teachers supervising the project;
d) the time to be allocated to the project and;
e) the credit desired, if any.


The Upper School Academic Dean, the chair of the appropriate department and the cooperating teacher(s) will constitute an ad hoc committee that must approve the proposal. Final approval for independent study credit must be granted by the principal.

Independent Study, Non-Credit

Many students undertake a non-credit independent study project at some point during their upper school years.

Non-credit independent study projects can be short or long term (from one week to a year) and take a variety of forms: A student may pursue a special interest in-depth, focus on a special aspect of a course, work in the community, shadow a professional, teach a mini-course, or pursue any number of other possible projects. Student independent work is evaluated by a faculty committee and shared with their peers.

Students must be sponsored by a faculty member and must submit their project proposal to the head of the Independent Study Committee for approval.

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