Core Curriculum

Student Experience > Academics > Core Curriculum


Our college-preparatory academic curriculum exceeds state standards and provides a high degree of flexibility and rigor, allowing our students to pursue admission to a wide variety of colleges and universities.


Humanities classes look at works of literature in the context of the cultures and societies from which they have emerged. Students practice critical thinking, close reading, analytical writing, research, and discussion as they delve into the central questions of what it means to be human through both literature and history.


Science at Oliverian is a process, not simply a series of facts to be learned.  Students are taught to question and think critically, approaching new information with the skepticism and thirst for evidence that characterizes the scientific mind. In every level of their science education, Oliverian students engage in the scientific process, continually building skills and understanding.  In their first year, students may focus on formulating scientific questions and developing basic skills and abilities necessary for scientific inquiry. By their third and fourth year, they are designing and conducting scientific investigations, as well as formulating and revising scientific explanations based on logic and evidence.


At the core of the Oliverian mathematics curriculum is the concept that students develop their mathematical thinking by applying abstract concepts in real and meaningful ways. Oliverian offers a mathematics program comprised of the traditional sequence of high school mathematics classes — Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2/Trigonometry, Precalculus, and Calculus, with electives such as Linear Algebra and Statistics offered on a rotating basis. Our small class sizes, coaching-heavy approach, and the inclusion of projects and real-world application makes math approachable even for those students who have struggled with the subject in the past.


Oliverian’s foreign language program explores communication, cultures, connections, comparisons, and communities. In their study of the Spanish language, students are taught to speak, read, and write with increasing proficiency. Students also learn to problem-solve, as they are encouraged to negotiate meaning and develop the skills of circumlocution in order to communicate with a limited vocabulary. Students who have already made substantial progress in their study of a language other than Spanish, and who wish to continue that progress, may be able to engage in an independent study.


Art & Music

Oliverian’s diverse studio art courses offer students of all ability and experience levels the opportunity to express themselves creatively while developing their skills and craftsmanship. Among our traditional art offerings are drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, and photography. We offer pottery courses at varying levels, including both wheel-throwing and handbuilding. Students also enjoy a range of exciting, nontraditional courses, such as Beyond Crafts, Exploring Synesthesia, and Totally Outrageous Abstract Drawing.

Oliverian’s music program is driven in large part by the interests of our many aspiring musicians. Many of our courses — Rock Band, Playing the Blues, Singer-Songwriter Coffeehouse — provide opportunities for small groups of students to work together to develop their individual skills with their instrument(s) of choice while also developing the ability to play as part of a group. Incorporated into many of these classes is the chance for students to record their own original music. This work becomes the basis for our Recording Technology class.

Adventure & Athletics

We believe that an outdoor adventure education experience affords a powerful way to learn and grow academically, physically, and emotionally. Through our integrated outdoor education program, Oliverian students develop a better awareness of self, a deeper understanding of the world around them, and a capacity for reflective learning. Our expansive campus provides a natural classroom that allows our students to explore, exercise, and challenge themselves in the natural world.

Our adventure program includes challenging and exciting offerings such as skiing and snowboarding, kayaking, hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing. Along with the opportunity to achieve proficiency in various adventure endeavors, participation in our outdoor education program also builds confidence and enables our students to develop leadership and interpersonal skills that will benefit them in all areas of life.

More traditional athletes find their place on our co-ed soccer and basketball teams, which have taken on a growing role in the life of the school. Competing against a variety of local schools and recreation leagues in the area, our players have thrived getting fit, exploring new leadership roles, and building strong camaraderie and sportsmanship.


Oliverian students achieve success through stewardship by caring for our campus and by engaging in service-learning projects on a local, regional, national, and international level. Campus stewardship activities may include managing the trails and woodlands, helping to maintain the dormitories. Oliverian students reach out to the local community through stewardship activities such as chopping, stacking, delivering, and donating cords of wood to local families in need of heat assistance for the winter. Nationally and internationally, Oliverian students support their global community through Electives Week service-learning trips to places such as the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, and St. Croix.

Stewardship at Oliverian encourages self-exploration, spirituality, character formation, and integrity by allowing students to explore their interdependent relationships with others and with the natural world. Our students eat food harvested from gardens that they’ve planted and maintained and derive a sense of accomplishment as they maintain the natural habitat of indigenous wildlife. Students also learn to cook in our professional kitchen in our Culinary Arts classes. These classes are a form of stewardship, as they are instrumental in the preparation of lunch for our community.

These experiences empower our students to balance their individual needs with those of the community.

Elective Weeks & Travel Classes

The Oliverian School holds three Electives Weeks per year, which allow students to explore new interests while gaining academic credit. As a part of Oliverian’s unique approach to learning, Electives Weeks are placed strategically within the school year to break up monotony, provide educational diversity, and revitalize student interest in academics. During Electives Week, students choose from a variety of fun and innovative classes that appeal to their curiosity and interests.

Here are a few examples of recent electives week classes:

Bikes, a Book, and Breakfast

We read, hop on our bikes in the morning, and pedal to a local breakfast spot to discuss the reading with an eye towards how we move about in the world. Each day’s ride is in the neighborhood of 20 miles so be prepared to spend some time in the saddle.

Introduction to Acting

In this class, students awaken their emotion, imagination, and intellect by uncovering the motivations behind a character, discovering the “who, why, where, when, and how” to best serve the vision of a play. This is an experience-based course that helps students gain a critical understanding of the art of acting, developing the techniques of characterization, role analysis, stage movement, voice, and body control. We explore acting through theater games, structured improvisations, and a theatrical performance at the end of the week.


In this course, students explore the sport of climbing and practice various skills: proper belay technique, knot tying, footwork, fluid movement, pacing, and risk assessment and management. Students also develop good climbing etiquette.

Senior Projects

The Senior Project is a program that provides each Oliverian senior with the opportunity to design and carry out a personally meaningful educational program, one that demonstrates a senior’s ability to: select and identify a challenge of personal interest, problem solve, manage time, organize, research, document learning, communicate, and reflect.

Why require a Senior Project?

The end of high school marks a transition from the confines of a compulsory education system, in which every individual is expected to follow the same general curriculum, to the freedom and flexibility of higher education. After high school, individuals have the option to choose their path, seeking the specific education or training required for them to achieve their goals. In choosing a college, a trade, or a specialized training program, individuals choose their own, personally meaningful educational program. In recognition of and preparation for this transition and the motivation, self-discipline, and vision it involves, Oliverian School requires every student to complete a Senior Project in order to graduate.

What should I do for my Senior Project?

The foundation of a good Senior Project is the student’s own interest, excitement, enthusiasm, and/or passion for the topic. Past Senior Projects have involved art, music, community service, fashion, construction, web design, health education, outdoor leadership, public performance, personal challenge, and engineering. Past students have: recorded an album of original music; painted a portrait; constructed a musical instrument; taught an electives week class; constructed and donated a Little Free Library; built a sweat lodge and conducted a sweat lodge ceremony; built a woodshed for our stewardship program; organized and led an off-campus volunteer group; and much more. The Project is an opportunity to both express yourself and challenge yourself.