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Freshman Year

It is important to recognize the benefits the freshman year provides, including rigorous coursework, small classes, leadership opportunities, and outstanding educational travel. The freshmen begin the year with an orientation trip to the high peaks region of the Adirondacks, and later in the year, they conclude their coursework on Chinese history with a trip to China to observe, experience, and delve deeper into the culture they have been studying. Based on our experience, the academic, social/emotional, and leadership confidence gained as a result of the freshman year pay dividends in high school and beyond. Listed below are key points shared from alumni, parents, and faculty alike:

  • The quality of the academic program for the freshman year is a vigorous course of high school study, comparable to ninth grade programs at the most competitive secondary schools.
  • Social restructuring as a result of matriculating eighth graders provides a tremendous opportunity for growth as our Freshmen break their traditional social roles and forge new relationships with old peers.
  • Small class sizes in the freshman year offer unparalleled student-to-teacher ratios, individualized attention, and a safe environment to take intellectual risks.
  • Participants in the freshman year often cite their close relationships with faculty and confidence with adults as instrumental in their future self-advocacy and success.
  • Tuxedo Park School Freshman Year participants enter the sophomore year at their respective schools with a level of confidence and self-assurance gained from small class sizes, close relationships with faculty, and unique, specialized opportunities.
  • Students entering public school have seen positive results on NY State Regents and proficiency exams, often allowing for placement into honors and Advanced Placement courses.
  • Students who participate in the freshman year see marked improvement in SSAT scores in comparison to their eighth grade year, as well as an increased rate of acceptance to their first choice schools.


The English curriculum provides freshmen with the skills necessary to become independent thinkers, readers, and writers. Students read a variety of literature and explore many themes through class discussions, writing assignments, oral presentations, and class debates. Much of the work students do in English class has interdisciplinary ties to other content areas—especially foreign language, biology, and art.

The literature of Freshman English centers on the nature of humanity. From The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian to plays by Shakespeare, students explore the many facets of human existence—emotion, intelligence, morality, action, and purpose. Literary, political, philosophical, and artistic movements emerge in class, such as creationism, evolutionism, colonialism, communism, and existentialism. In preparation for the annual Freshman trip to China, students read works from Chinese-American and Chinese authors; upon their return, they engage in personal narrative and/or reflective writing. Throughout the school year, students sharpen their critical reading skills, especially in extracting explicit and implicit information, drawing inferences from the text, and making connections among texts from different cultures and eras. Class notes consist of the application of literary terms and literary analysis via class discussion, as well as the direct instruction of grammar, writing, and vocabulary. Students also engage in active reading by underlining or highlighting important passages in the text, taking notes in the margins of their books, and writing notes (on paper, online, via iPad apps), including paraphrasing and summarizing. In addition to classroom literature, each student reads six independent reading books (IRBs) per year. Many times, the diverse selection of class literature will spark a student’s interest to read different genres or more works by the same author. 

Students write a great deal throughout the year. After having mastered essay structure in seventh grade and having practiced using textual citations in eighth grade, the Freshmen focus on developing style. Audience and purpose are essential to excellent writing, and students learn how to write appropriately given a particular situation. Literature analysis essays are the core of the writing program, but students also explore other modes of expression, such as persuasion, letters, journals, poetry, personal narrative, and public speaking. In every assignment, each student is encouraged to discover and express his or her own “voice” as a writer and to experiment with style and tone as the school year progresses. Students write frequently and explore topics that range from current events to the literature covered in class. While some students choose to handwrite their in-class essays, most choose to type on a laptop and save their work to Google Docs. Many homework assignments are also online, either via Google Docs or Edmodo. In addition to writing, students also sharpen their public speaking skills.  

Grammar and vocabulary make up a large part of the curriculum as well; students often engage in cross-over lessons with foreign language classes and take more conventional tests, quizzes, and worksheets throughout the year. During the final stages of the writing process, students apply their knowledge of grammar and syntax to their writing. Students often peer edit each other’s work, and they become more adept at finding errors within their own writing.

Texts and Literature:

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

The Bible's Greatest Stories, edited by Paul Roche

Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence & Robert E. Lee

The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff

Selections from A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, Yiyun Li

The Tempest or Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

English Grammar for Students of Latin, Norma W. Goldman

180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day, edited by Billy Collins

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

World Languages

TPS offers students the unique opportunity to master one modern language (French or Spanish) or study its ancestor, Latin. The department helps students to make intra- and inter-connections among these languages and the rest of their curriculum, particularly between English and history, and also between math and science. On graduation from ninth grade, students are prepared for either the third or fourth year high school level course. While at TPS, students learn vocabulary and grammar in order to read original texts and to communicate with fluency. In modern language, students develop their conversational and written skills and an appreciation for the cultures of those who speak the language through regular practice, role-plays, telling and reading stories, songs, videos, literature, and studying authentic materials.


In ninth grade, students pursue an advanced study of French, its vocabulary, grammar, syntax, and pronunciation. Throughout the course, students master all verb conjugations and tenses, engage in daily conversations, and refine their composition skills. Interdisciplinary connections, critical thinking, and thoughtful personal expression are emphasized throughout the year so that students enjoy meaningful interactions with readings, films, newspaper articles, stories, songs, and each other. The study of the traditions, literature, lifestyles, history, and current events related to the French speaking world encourage these skills and, in addition, encourage students to appreciate and respect diversity. Additionally, students expand their explicit understanding of grammar, linguistics, ways of studying language, and how language is acquired. Using these skills, students build a foundation for lifelong learning of languages.

Students begin the year reading simple short stories from their textbook and an accompanying novel for Level III students. Students review grammar from previous years, including adjective-noun agreement; the past, present, and future tenses; reflexive verbs; direct and indirect object pronouns; and common prepositions and their changes. Additionally, students master previously learned vocabulary and expand their use of upper-level vocabulary in both writing and speech, focusing on transitional phrases, expressing cause and effect, and using interesting details when describing an event or story. In the first trimester, students aim to feel confident about using their French in spontaneous conversation, to write fluently, and to use sophisticated vocabulary to express their thoughts and ideas.

Students learn the literary passé simple tense and common subjunctive clauses. Regular classroom discussions are conducted entirely in French and focus on philosophical themes such as human relations, personality, love, journey, growth, and imagination. Students begin to analyze texts and learn to write basic literary analyses in French. The fun of storytelling is not lost as students work together and with their teacher to create their own children’s book filled with funny characters, imaginative illustrations, and meaningful events.

The completion of this course, depending on individual achievement and fluency, prepares most students for entry into fourth level French at secondary schools. Students have a deeper appreciation for and knowledge of French literature and civilization on both the European continent and in other French-speaking countries. Students achieve fluency both in speech and writing and are encouraged to make connections between their study of French and their studies in the humanities.

Texts and materials
Bon Voyage Level 3 Textbook & Workbook, McGraw Hill
Selected poetry by Jacques Prévert
La Parure by Guy de Maupassant
Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


Upon the completion of Second Year Latin, students are nearing the end of an arduous yet enriching journey of Latin grammar. The year starts with a brief grammatical review of Second Year Latin before delving into new material. After revisiting previously learned grammar concepts, Third Year Latin picks up precisely where Second Year Latin ended in Unit 3. At this point, Unit 3 takes the students through various towns and military camps of Roman-occupied Britain while enabling them to digest increasingly complex usages of the subjunctive mood, the passive voice, and the future tense. Unit 3 then takes the students to Italy, where they learn about the origins and wonders of Ancient Rome itself.

As the students complete each story, they are exposed to increasingly difficult Latin with nuances and complexities that effectively guide them naturally into original Latin literature. To ensure that the students are keeping up with the material, there are weekly assessments of vocabulary, grammar, and translation, as well as a test every two or three stages. In addition to competence in the Latin language, students learn much about the ways of the ancient Romans, who they were, and how they shaped who we are today.

In Unit 4, there is a wide selection of literature from which to choose, and depending on the students’ liking, they may read the beautifully constructed arguments of Cicero, the playful and sometimes racy poems of Catullus, or the epic poetry of Virgil. The aim of Third Year Latin is to whet the appetite of young Latin readers, so that they may continue on with Latin literature as they wish.

The Cambridge Latin Course is well-known for its atypical, gradual approach to acquiring the Latin language. Students are exposed to small, easily digestible amounts of material, instead of being forced to memorize entire charts of forms. After three years of Latin at TPS, the students enjoy a natural transition into original Latin literature. They gain an appreciation of the ancient Roman culture while reading and understanding Latin at the same time. 

Cambridge Latin Course Unit 3 and Unit 4, North American Fourth Edition


The Freshman year offers students the opportunity to consolidate their language skills in a level 3 Spanish course. This course expands students' knowledge of the Spanish language through communication, cultures, connections, comparisons, and experiences. Students develop communicative abilities in three modes: interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational, integrating the skills of listening, speaking, reading, writing, viewing, and showing. The goal at this level is to enable students to communicate fluently and express ideas with accuracy, clarity, and eloquence. Students also use the language to acquire new information and knowledge in other subject areas through interdisciplinary activities called Conexiones. Finally, students go beyond classroom and school to explore how to use Spanish for personal enjoyment and career possibilities.

Students master skills such as talking about:

  • activities at school and at home; 
  • special events and celebrations;
  • giving opinions;
  • giving advice;
  • expressing feelings;
  • jobs and professions;

solving problems.

Culture is also an important part of the curriculum. Recent Spanish 3 students have learned about: 

  • Maya and Aztec civilizations;
  • sports in the Spanish-speaking countries; 
  • important artists of the Spanish-speaking world;
  • cultural perspectives about health, physical fitness, and nutrition; 
  • friends and family;
  • myths and legends from the Spanish-speaking world.

Students review previously learned grammar concepts and study new ones, such as: 

  • present and past participles; 
  • differences between por and para; 
  • past perfect; 
  • subjunctive mood (present perfect, imperfect, and past perfect);
  • future tenses (simple and future perfect); 
  • differences between pero and sin; 
  • relative pronouns; 
  • passive voice; conditional tense and if-then clauses.

Ninth grade readings include a novel from the Lola Lago detective series titled “Una Nota Falsa”. The Lola Lago novels tell the stories of the cases of a young, sharp detective working in modern-day Madrid. The story conveys an up-to-date portrait of life in contemporary Spain and includes a rich vocabulary of many words used throughout the Spanish-speaking world, as well as particular phrases and conjugations native to Spain itself.  

Other materials used to develop fluency in the ninth grade program include videos, music and song lyrics, grammar exercises, and presentation of dramatic scenes. Students gain immersion experience by watching Spanish video series through Education Discovery and the BBC, which offer subtitles in Spanish and the ability to slow the audio down to aid students’ understanding of new expressions.  

Successful completion of the ninth grade course prepares most students for entrance into an advanced Level III or Level IV Spanish course at the high school level.

Texts and Materials: 
Realidades III, Prentice Hall 
Una Nota Falsa, Lola Lago series
Selected readings from the news media from Latin America and Spain.
Education Discovery Spanish videos and shows from BBC


In the upper school, students learn and practice each mathematical idea through its application to practical problems, providing many opportunities for the development of skills and an understanding of the importance of mathematics in everyday life. The emphasis on everyday mathematics applications extends to the use of technology. Students use graphing calculators, computer programs, and scientific probes to facilitate their understanding.

Upper school students are encouraged to develop independent habits of reflection. The mathematics program develops skill in knowing how and when to use various algorithms, properties, and mathematical relationships. Students are encouraged to be self-reliant and collaborative in their learning. Cross-grade collaborations deepen the experiences of our students. Homework and daily quizzes provide opportunities for practice and self-analysis.

There are several mathematics courses available to upper school students. These multiple options allow students to participate in a mathematics program that meets their needs as individual learners. Read the articles below for a description of our mathematics courses.

Algebra 1B

This course is the second year of a two-year Algebra I course. It provides students with an opportunity to hone their algebraic skills while applying them in a geometric context. Number operations, solving linear and quadratic equations, solving inequalities, simple rational expressions, and graphing are integrated in this course. Students make connections and appreciate the usefulness of these skills in their everyday lives. Teachers present algebraic concepts and skills visually and concretely using coordinate geometry. This integrated approach, placing an emphasis on coordinate geometry, prepares students for success in geometry by giving them the content prerequisites they need.


Algebra, Holt McDougal

Advanced Algebra

This is an advanced algebra course that includes a thorough examination of linear functions, inequalities, quadratic equations, and rational expressions. This course highlights the application of this material, as well as other concepts covered in a traditional Algebra I course. In addition, this course introduces students to more advanced concepts and applications, including systems of equations over three variables, matrices, linear programing, and exponential and logarithmic functions. Students become comfortable using graphing calculators to explore problems and apply the concepts that they study.


Algebra and Algebra II, Holt McDougal

Algebra II

This course emphasizes facility with algebraic expressions and forms, especially linear and quadratic forms, powers and roots, and functions based on these concepts. Students learn about logarithmic, trigonometric, polynomial and other special functions as tools for modeling real-world situations. The course applies geometric ideas learned in previous years, including transformations and measurement formulas. The use of graphing calculators allows students to explore complex concepts. Work with polynomials and rational expressions is integrated with an emphasis on applications.


Algebra II, Holt McDougal


This course covers a wide range of fundamental topics in plane Euclidean geometry in addition to select concepts in solid geometry. Students apply the skills they studied in algebra to solve problems in a geometric context while focusing on the logic of their statements. This course provides students with the opportunity to benefit from further study of algebra and functions by incorporating coordinate and transformational approaches to connect geometry with algebra. Teachers introduce formal proofs gradually, beginning with brief arguments and deductive reasoning. Applications are integrated with the content of this course, which includes parallel lines, congruent figures, polygons, similarity, and right triangle trigonometry. Students often use Geometer’s Sketchpad and a variety of other tools and activities to investigate new concepts and geometric relationships.


Larson Geometry, Holt McDougal


The course of study is in two parts. The autumn and winter terms are devoted to a survey of Chinese history and culture, leading up to the freshman class trip to China in late March and early April; the spring term is devoted to a survey of some of the world’s great religions.

Beginning with a brief look at the deep past and the prehistory of China, the political focus is on the periods of union and disunion. The Zhang give way to the Zhou, the Zhou dissolve in the spring and autumn period, and all but disappear in the Era of Warring States. The winners of the contest for power, the Qin, flash across the landscape only to give way to the Han and then the Three Kingdoms. And so it goes. Wisdom and virtue is followed by decadence and decay for the next two thousand years.

Like an unwavering current in the stream of history, the legendary founders of Chinese culture and the sage kings, along with their stories, are models of government. More powerful are Confucius and the Confucians who followed him, providing a philosophical core that arguably influences modern China. The Book of Odes and the Book of Documents are but the first examples of the power of poetry and of histories in the cultural life of China. Add to this the bronzes of the Shang, the Han and Ming walls, sericulture, the Dao, porcelain, and a staggeringly long list of inventions.

The nine units into which the course is divided have central themes and a definite chronology, but the elements that can be emphasized year by year are various and varied. There is discussion, a set of text-based questions, a short paper, and a test for each unit. All writing assignments stress rhetorical excellence, accuracy, and, analysis. The course culminates in an examination in March covering China’s ancient past to its hyper-modern present.

The seven week Spring Term is split approximately equally between a survey of the fundamental beliefs of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and those of Hinduism, and Buddhism. This academic year the focus shall be on Islam and Hinduism. Taoism, Confucianism, and Chinese Buddhism are integral to the History of China.

China in World History, Paul Ropp
Cambridge Illustrated History Of China, Patricia Ebrey
Chinese Civilization: A Sourcebook, Patricia Ebrey, Ed.
World Religions, John Bowker
The World's Great Religions, Huston Smith


This high school level biology course builds upon concepts and skills studied in previous years and is designed to:

  • help students define and understand the properties of all life;
  • see the commonalities among diverse living things; 
  • recognize different designs and behaviors for meeting the challenges of existence;
  • understand form and function at macroscopic and microscopic levels;
  • and appreciate the interconnectedness of all living things.

In addition, it emphasizes relationships of organisms to their environments, cell design, mechanics and function, and the structure and role of DNA and inheritance. Teacher-led discussion, small group and independent study, manipulations, modeling, in-depth reading, and lab exercises serve as the platform for learning and synthesizing course material. Students engage in writing complete, well-organized notes and clear, detailed oral presentations that reflect good management and understanding of this information. 

Laboratory work is essential to this course. Hands-on experiences significantly aid student understanding of concepts and applications. These experiences address science as a discovery process, constantly evolving, provoking new questions, new experimental design, and better, more refined, accurate, and up-to-date response. Lab techniques employing analysis and technical skills enable students to appreciate and prepare for advanced work in science.

Collecting, organizing, controlling, graphing, and evaluating data, and inferring, predicting, and drawing accurate conclusions about ongoing experiments are key experiences in this course. The course emphasizes use of the microscope, including slide preparation, instruments and measurement, dissection of select plant and animal specimens, and regular demonstration of safety skills. This course prepares students for advanced biology and all other science study. Students have the opportunity to prepare for either the NYS Biology Regents exam or the SAT II Biology exam. The course covers major concepts assessed on these standardized tests. Students may need to supplement coursework with preparation materials and exercises for the specific test they choose to take. Guidance in additional preparation for these exams is offered throughout the course.

Biology, Levine and Miller (New York State)