The Arts

Notre Dame offers four units of study in the Arts Department: Visual Arts, Choral Music, Drama, and Art History. Ninth graders take Introduction to Art and Choral Music, courses that introduce the subjects of visual arts and the performing arts. Introduction to Art teaches students the elements of art and the principles of design through the creation of original works of art, class critiques and discussions, and by studying examples from the artistic traditions of a variety of cultures throughout history. Choral Music explores group singing and the art of choral music. Students will learn repertoire from varying cultures, time periods, and genres through study and performance. The core curriculum emphasizes the basics of vocal techniques, sight reading, music theory, and music history. The course culminates with performances at the end of each semester.

Sophomores choose between Intermediate Art and Choral Music II, elective courses that reinforce and build upon their previous art courses taken at Notre Dame School. In Intermediate Art, students are provided with a space and instruction to further develop their artistic voice, participate in class critiques and discussion, and study art history from the The Ashcan School to Andy Warhol.

Juniors are offered the elective course Advanced Placement Art History, a college-level art history course devoted to developing an understanding of the history of art from prehistory to present day in cultures from around the world. This course provides students with the opportunity to examine artworks, artists, artistic movements and styles, etc. from the European tradition and from a variety of artistic traditions beyond the European tradition.

Seniors are offered Advanced Placement Studio Art, which is designed to help students develop a well-rounded portfolio of artworks. AP Studio Art provides instruction in drawing, painting, printmaking, and new media. The course also encourages students to pursue their own artistic endeavors and to develop an original body of work.

Back to Top

Computer Science

Computer courses are held in the school’s Technology Center, consisting of one lab with twelve laptops running Windows 10 and eighteen iMacs running Mohave. The collaborative art and design space adjacent to the lab has thirty-five MacBook Airs running the latest Mac OS (Mohave). All PCs and Macs have Microsoft Office, including Excel, Word, and PowerPoint, as well as Adobe Creative Cloud, which includes PhotoShop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere, Dreamweaver, and Lightroom. Our lab also has a 3D printer and a color photo printer.

Computer applications are woven into many courses at Notre Dame and we offer several technology courses, including AP Computer Science A, which teaches students the Java object-oriented programming language. We also offer an introduction to programming in Python, a 3D Design Printing course, and Technology Literacy.

Back to Top


Notre Dame School requires four years of study in literature and composition. Ninth graders take Traditions in Literature, a course that hones reading and writing skills as students study a variety of genres: short stories, novels, plays, poetry, and essays. Students are encouraged to read widely and often, to become book lovers through periodic opportunities to read books of their own choosing and to borrow books from the class and school library. Ninth graders are taught to write the critical literary essay, a touchstone for all their years of English at Notre Dame.

Sophomores study British Literature in order to develop an understanding of and an appreciation for English classics, along with some modern and contemporary works. Highlights include The Canterbury Tales, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeThe Picture of Dorian Grey, Macbeth, and Pride and Prejudice. Poetry studies include Carpe Diem, metaphysical, Romantic, and modern verses. Sophomores are also able to memorize Shakespeare’s monologues as part of The English Speaking Union’s Shakespeare Contest.

Juniors continue to develop their appreciation for classic and contemporary literature with much of the course highlighting American Literature. The reading list includes The Scarlet Letter, Huckleberry FinnThe Great Gatsby, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Their Eyes Were Watching God. They are also prepared to take the PSAT and the English Common Core Exam. Throughout the first half of the year, they are taught MLA and Turabian styles of documentation, they conduct independent research using library and online resources, and they write a Turabian-footnoted 7-10 page paper, which is co-taught with the History Department. During Writing Workshop classes, students compile a portfolio of their writing throughout the year, which consists of poetry, short stories, and essays. All students learn the benefits of drafting their work, including the revising, editing and reflecting processes, so that they become a community of inspired and confident writers.

Advanced Placement Language and Composition is offered to juniors who have advanced reading and writing skills. It is a college-level course that focuses on the rhetoric of fictional and non-fictional texts. Such texts include In Cold Blood, The Things They Carried, and Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Students learn more advanced writing techniques and compile a portfolio of various writing pieces, including expository, analytical, and argumentative works. Independent research, essay writing, reading comprehension practice for the AP Exam in May, and the study of images as texts are reinforced throughout the year.

Seniors may apply to take Advanced Placement Literature and Composition, which is a college-level course of in-depth, critical reading and analytical writing. The other option for seniors is the literature course Global Inequalities. All courses feature a revolving list of classic and contemporary masterpieces. Seniors spend some portion of their first-semester class writing and workshopping their college application essays. All seniors also write literary research papers. Finally, all seniors benefit from Notre Dame’s affiliation with The Pearl Theatre and its Classics in the Classroom program. Seniors attend all four Pearl plays at no cost. Visiting artists from The Pearl conduct pre- and post-performance workshops in senior classes.

All English classes at Notre Dame help students develop their writing skills and become more critical readers. In addition, PSAT and SAT Critical Reading and Writing preparation is a regular part of the English curriculum. Oral presentations and creative writing opportunities are also important aspects of all English classes at Notre Dame.

Back to Top

Modern and Classical Languages

The goals of the Language Department are for students to achieve functional speaking proficiency in the target language (French or Spanish), to develop greater understanding and appreciation of cultures in other countries as well as their own country and community, and to master communication through the use of critical thinking and reasoning skills. Students acquire language proficiency through an integrated program, focusing on vocabulary development, conversation practice, and the mastery of basic structures.

French and Spanish students are required to take 3 years of French or Spanish. Honors French and Spanish are offered as electives in senior year. These honors courses are designed to be a bridge to intermediate-level university language study. French 4 and Spanish 4 require that the student has demonstrated mastery and interest in the subject and the ability to work independently. These courses are based on classroom discussion and written assignments of poetry, drama, short stories, and novels and are intended to increase proficiency in conversation and written expression.

Latin students may take up to 3 years of Latin in the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades. The primary goals of these courses are for students to acquire comprehension of the Latin language, primarily through reading; to develop, through their reading, an understanding of Roman culture, particularly of the first century CE; and to recognize through vocabulary study the Latin roots of English and the Romance languages. Latin 3 is a senior Honors elective. Latin 3 requires that the student has demonstrated mastery and interest in the subject. The work of Latin 1 and 2 continues, but in greater depth with more complex work, culminating with an introduction to Latin authors.

Back to Top


The Notre Dame School Mathematics Curriculum provides students with a foundation in algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus. Members of the Math Department aim to teach students to use critical thinking, reasoning, and problem-solving effectively. Real-world applications are integrated throughout the curriculum, whereby students develop the skills required to be critical thinkers and tomorrow’s leaders.

Algebra I is the first mathematics course at Notre Dame. The Algebra I course set forth here is not the algebra of 30 years ago; the focal point of this course is the algebra content strand. Algebra provides tools and ways of thinking that are necessary for solving problems in a wide variety of disciplines, such as science, business, social sciences, fine arts, and technology. This course will assist students in developing skills and processes to be applied using a variety of techniques to successfully solve problems in a variety of settings.

Geometry is the second course in mathematics for high school students. Within this course students act as true mathematicians and have the opportunity to make conjectures about geometric situations and prove in a variety of ways — both formal and informal — that their conclusion follows logically from their hypothesis. This course is meant to employ an integrated approach to the study of geometric relationships. Integrating synthetic, transformational, and coordinate approaches to geometry, students will justify geometric relationships and properties of geometric figures. Geometry is meant to lead students to an understanding that reasoning and proof are fundamental aspects of mathematics and something that sets it apart from the other sciences.

Algebra II is the third course for mathematics at Notre Dame and is an extension of the two courses that preceded it. While developing the students’ algebraic techniques, this course is also intended to continue developing alternative solution strategies, problem-solving, and algorithms. Within this course, the number system will be extended to include imaginary and complex numbers. Students will also be exposed to the study of quadratics, graphs, polynomial and rational functions, exponential and logarithmic functions, sequences, probability/statistics and trigonometry. Overall, this course will allow students to learn to approach problems algebraically, graphically, and analytically through logical thinking and reasoning.

Pre-Calculus is designed for students who have shown an aptitude and ability to handle algebraic, geometric, and trigonometric concepts. The course begins with an extensive review of trigonometry in order to best prepare the students for calculus. Topics covered include linear functions, nonlinear functions, graphing and solving trigonometric functions, evaluating limits- both graphically and algebraically, continuity and differentiation. Overall, this is an integrated course, which will show students how to apply the process of logical thinking and reasoning to both mathematical and non-mathematical situations.

AP Calculus AB is taught over a full high school academic year. It is possible to spend some time on elementary functions and still cover the Calculus AB curriculum within a year. This course is designed for students who have shown an aptitude and ability to handle algebraic, geometric, and trigonometric concepts. The course begins with a review of algebraic and trigonometric topics, covered in previous courses, to prepare the student for calculus. Subsequently, topics covered include evaluating limits (graphically and algebraically), continuity, differentiation, applications of the derivative, graphs of the derivative, integration, applications of integration, and various other subsets within these topics. If students are to be adequately prepared for the Calculus AB examination, most of the year must be devoted to topics in differential and integral calculus. Differentiation and integration is explored with a variety of functions. Overall, this is an integrated course that shows students how to approach all concepts, problems, results, and applications numerically, graphically, analytically, and verbally. Students are required to take the AP Calculus AB Examination in May.

PSAT preparation is incorporated into each year’s program of study. The Math Department provides PSAT preparation for all freshmen, sophomores, and juniors taking the PSAT exam in October. Preparatory activities continue throughout the year. By the time students sit for the SAT in the spring of their junior year of high school, they will have received nearly three academic years worth of study and exposure to the exam. Additionally, our partnership with Fordham University enables students to track their performance progress over time, as well as develop both study and test-taking strategies that will bolster their performance on these exams. SAT preparation is incorporated into the senior curriculum as well, and is done in the week leading up to a College Board scheduled exam.

A few words from the Math Department:

Keeping up with the work is very important. We, teachers and parents, are here for help and support, but success lies mainly in the hands of the student. This may seem like an awesome responsibility, but the simple truth is: we cannot do the work for them. So, to realize success, each student is urged to: participate actively in class, question for clarification, make up work missed due to an absence, take advantage of the practice that doing homework assignments affords, and lastly keep an open mind and stay positive when work becomes especially challenging.

Back to Top

Physical Education

The Physical Education Department offers a 9th & 10th grade curriculum which allows the students to be participants in programs leading to a healthy lifestyle through sports and exercise. Group and individual activities are included in the program. Students will receive physical fitness training plus instruction in a wide range of activities, including flag football, volleyball, basketball, aerobics, floor hockey, dance, softball, and soccer. Juniors and seniors are guided to develop a lifestyle that includes overall development of a healthy attitude towards involvement in exercise and lifetime sports. Upon completion of this program, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an improved level of basic physical fitness.
  2. Assess personal fitness and design a personal fitness program that relates to total wellness.
  3. Acquire basic sport skills in flag football, volleyball and basketball, soccer, softball and dance.
  4. Learn social skills of cooperation, honesty, self-control and responsibility.
  5. Familiarize themselves with safety rules in various exercises and activities.

Back to Top


Based on Anne de Xainctonge’s strong pedagogical values curriculum, Notre Dame’s students are trained extensively in Ignatian Spirituality and Principles throughout their four years of required Theology courses. Catholic spirituality is instilled, alongside an understanding and respect for other faith traditions practiced throughout the world.

9th Grade – Christian Spirituality I & II: Theory & Practice

  • Introduction to Anne de Xainctonge & St Ignatius Loyola; their values, history & beliefs

10th Grade – Scripture I: Hebrew Bible

  • Discussion of Ignatian contemplation and use of imagination with Scripture

11th Grade – Scripture II: New Testament

  • Ignatian “discernment of spirits” & a deep dive into Ignatian Spirituality through an active engagement with New Testament passages

12th Grade – World Religions, Church in the Modern World & Discernment

  • World Religions explores the faith traditions of Islam, Hinduism & Buddhism
  • Church in the Modern World & Discernment dives into the History of the Catholic Faith with an emphasis on how to live as a Catholic in an increasingly complex and globalized world

Back to Top


The Science Department strives to engage students in the activities of scientific exploration, while challenging them to consider careers in science-related fields. While following the curriculum established by the New York State Education Department, Notre Dame’s state-of-the-art laboratory facilities offer our students hands-on opportunities reaching beyond those that are required.

The Science Department offers courses in Molecular Biology and Women’s Health and Well Being for 9th graders, Chemistry for 10th graders, Physics for 11th graders, and electives in AP Psychology, Science Research & Design, and Applied Physics in the 12th grade.

AP Psychology will explore and examine several major psychological concepts and principles. The knowledge gained from this course will allow students to critically evaluate research and identify key theories in the field of psychology and have a more in-depth understanding of human thought and behavior.

Notre Dame’s newly equipped physical science and biological science laboratories offer students many opportunities for the hands-on experience demanded in science education. The science faculty is committed to a vision of science education that will make science literacy a reality for all our students and emphasize an approach that is discovery based.

Back to Top

Social Studies

The Notre Dame Social Studies Department is committed to helping students develop an awareness and understanding of global and national history, politics, and economics. Knowledge of Social Studies fosters an appreciation for varied historical, economic, political, social, and religious points of view, as well as a commitment to active citizenship.

Notre Dame School is fortunate to be a Gilder Lehrman Institute Flagship School. The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History works to foster a knowledge and love of American history by supporting outstanding education of U.S. history and government. Notre Dame’s affiliation with GLI affords students opportunities to participate in nationwide essay contests, attend lectures, visit local historical sites, and participate in special events for young historians throughout the New York area.

Global History and Geography 9 & 10 – In an interconnected world community, it becomes imperative to learn about the world through the lens of different global perspectives. To that end, Notre Dame School offers a comprehensive global history course sequence. In grade 9, students learn about world history and geography from the time of ancient civilizations through the French Revolutions. In grade 10, students learn about modern world history through the present day. In both years, students complete challenging research projects that involve use of primary sources, historical novels, and/or representative works of art. Students may opt to take AP World History.

American Studies 9 & 10 – Notre Dame’s affiliation with the Gilder Lehrman Institute allows the school to offer students courses in U.S. history and society in their first and second years of high school. In ninth grade, students will take AMS: African American History. This course will tell the story of African Americans in the United States from the Early Modern period of their forced enslavement to the election of the first African American President of the United States. We will follow the individual stories of figures like Harriett Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth and Martin Luther King through the eras of slavery, Civil War, Jim Crow laws, segregation and Civil Rights. Using primary source materials like Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and secondary sources like the New York Times 1619 Project, students will complete assignments that allow them to discover and interpret the legacy and history of African Americans in America. In tenth grade, students will study Native American history as an inextricable part of American history. Students will utilize readings from primary and secondary sources, educational DVDs and feature films, music, dance, the visual arts, and trips to area museums and historic sites to make American history “come alive.” In place of midterms and exams, American Studies students complete creative projects or research papers. Students participate in the National History Day competition. Students may elect to take AP Art History.

United States History 11 – All Notre Dame students take U.S. history in their third year and prepare for the New York State Regents Exam. Students may elect to take Advanced Placement U.S. History, based on their academic performance in social studies in their first two years and subject to department approval. All students become conversant with the development of the American nation and culture, with an emphasis on politics, the U.S. Constitution, and social history. Students examine primary documents, hone their writing skills, defend complex historical positions, and often participate in the national Civil War and Age of Revolutions essay competition sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute. Students may opt to take AP U.S. History.

Economics 12 – In this one-semester course, students examine a number of vital topics in national and international economics. As budding economists, students work to study, analyze, and predict how and why individuals, institutions, and societies make the choices they do. Students become comfortable with basic micro- and macroeconomic principles, including: opportunity cost and scarcity, supply and demand, globalization, and fiscal and monetary policy. Students also engage in a unit on personal finance, becoming comfortable with personal budgeting, balancing a checkbook, buying and selling stocks and other investments, and planning for retirement. Economics certainly concerns students, particularly students preparing to participate fully in U.S. society as voters and adult consumers.

Government 12 – In this one-semester course, students question concepts of liberty, power, freedom, and authority. They examine how our Constitution addresses these hotly contested concepts. Students explore their own political ideology, and learn how ideology, partisanship, and citizen action (and inaction) influence the policy-making process. With department approval, students may opt to take Advanced Placement United States Government and Politics. An understanding of current local, national, and global events is a critical component of the course. Notre Dame students graduate ready to enter American society as active, educated citizens, committed to a life of active citizenship and involvement in their local, national, and global political communities.

Back to Top