The Upper School fosters intellectual curiosity and genuine academic engagement through a rigorous and varied college-preparatory curriculum, abundant opportunities for research across the curriculum and a wealth of specialized elective courses for students to explore and further their unique interests. Honors courses, advanced placement (AP) courses and electives such as Advanced Math Seminar, Computer-aided Design (Cad), Creative Writing, Animal Science, Portfolio Development, Robotic Engineering, Spanish Culture and Conversation, Stagecraft and Urban Sociology speak to the depth and breadth of the course offerings.
 
Students are encouraged to challenge themselves and to strive for excellence while maintaining balance in their lives and discovering their own unique passions. as a result, GSB students are known for their enthusiastic approach to academic exploration and their pursuit of authentic understanding. They are students who love learning and who aspire to make meaningful contributions to the larger world. Our graduates are confident, independent and thoughtful individuals, well prepared for the challenges of college and beyond.

Curricular Highlights

List of 10 items.

  • English

    English classes go beyond the analysis of literature. Students read novels, plays, short stories, and poems that provoke thoughtful conversations about the larger world. Whether reading The Odyssey or 1984, students are challenged to consider the connections between the world and what they read. Our teachers continually evaluate new texts and incorporate fresh writers and themes into the program. Throughout the program, students grow as writers through assignments in poetry, short stories, reflection papers, analytical essays, formal research papers, and presentations.
  • Fine Arts

    Fine arts courses are studio-based and allow students to learn basic and advanced techniques in specific subject areas, such as painting, drawing, photography and woodworking. Students can progress from beginner to AP level during their Upper School years. Arts teachers introduce students to art history and contemporary artists through field trips as well as library and online research. Students have the opportunity to show their work to the school and community during two art exhibitions each year, as well as the chance to enter their artwork in juried and non-juried shows outside of school.
  • History

    Students learn to understand the world through lessons from the past. Classes are designed to provide the skills and knowledge necessary to appreciate and interpret the world. Courses delve into the disciplines of history and the social sciences, focusing not only on the facts and figures of history, but also the concepts, controversies, perceptions and philosophies of the past. In doing so, we hope that our Upper School students will become more knowledgeable, ethical and responsible citizens.
  • Mathematics

    Courses in mathematics help broaden students' mathematical knowledge and skills, preparing them for higher-level mathematics courses. Upper School mathematics courses are also designed to provide the critical skills necessary for college-placement testing. With a broad range of course offerings from algebra and geometry to AP Calculus, students are taught to master the foundations of mathematics and challenge their problem-solving abilities with increasingly complex material. Our math teachers also engage students in novel ways, such as asking them to present on famous mathematicians or create posters using a geometric concept. 
  • Performing Arts

    The performing arts department offers courses during the school day along with opportunities that rehearse and perform after classroom hours. Acting, Directing, Stagecraft, and History of Musical Theater classes are offered during the academic day, and the students in the Directing class have the chance to showcase their directing abilities in a One-Act Festival each year.

    Our after-school theater opportunities are exciting and award winning. Students have the opportunity to audition for a full-length play and a musical each year. Choir is also offered as a class; the choir performs two concerts a year as well as at special events, such as Convocation and Commencement. Students in the jazz band, The Wild Knights, also perform at least two concerts per year.

    As a way to showcase more student talent, the performing arts department offers the students the chance to take part in a coffee house-type of performance, The Joe Show, each spring. Students choose what they would like to perform; in the past few years, students have acted out scenes from a play, performed original songs, danced and played instruments from guitar to flute to piano.
  • Research and Presentation

    Research and presentation skills are paramount in Upper School, preparing students for the increasingly challenging course work that is expected in college. Students are challenged more each year to as they delve into information, evaluate its validity and effectively reference it in class discussions and debates. 
  • Science

    Upper School science, which includes honors and AP level courses, is centered on hands-on learning and linking the topics in the classroom to the everyday lives of students. The sequence of physics in ninth grade, chemistry in tenth grade, and biology in eleventh grade allows students to develop and build on a foundation in laboratory and mathematical skills. All classes incorporate the resources of Gill’s beautiful 208-acre campus. Whether taking water samples for a stream study or putting out different foods to see which are most tasty to ants, our students spend less time in lectures and more time problem-solving, engaging in laboratory experiences and collaborating on group projects.
  • Technology

    The technology department offers a range of coursework from introductory to AP level in computer science, computer-aided design, desk-top publishing, filmmaking and web design. In addition to coursework, the Upper School offers a Robotics Team that competes in the FIRST Robotics Competition, a "Girls Who Code" Club, and independent study opportunities for advanced students interested in completing a specific project. A number of students and recent graduates have developed apps for use on phones and tablets. 
  • The Unit

    In late May, all students spend two weeks engaged in the unit, a program that combines in-depth experiential learning, service and travel. For more than four decades, the unit has helped Upper School students explore new interests, evaluate potential careers and discover their passions. Students choose from over 25 offerings each spring. Some are close to home, such as offerings in sports broadcasting, filmmaking and glassblowing. Others involve domestic travel, including a marine conservation unit in the Florida Keys and a study of volcanoes in Hawaii. Finally, some units take students far afield. Recently a group traveled to Poland to visit sites that played a pivotal role in World War Il; another group visited South Africa to study its history and culture. A Unit in Guatemala focused on building a home for a family in the town, and a visit to Iceland centered on alternative energy. Wherever a unit takes you, the experience is collaborative, exciting and deeply rewarding. Every unit is cross-disciplinary, project-based and culminates with a presentation or project.
  • World Languages

    Learning a new language provides students with an understanding and appreciation of a culture other than their own. Upper School courses in Spanish, French and Latin develop all the basic skills—listening, speaking, reading, writing and punctuation. Courses are taught strictly using the language being studied so that students quickly acquire a working knowledge of essential grammatical structures and learn to speak and understand the target language. In addition, accurate and effective writing of the language is an important goal of the program. All students are required to study three years of a World Language in Upper School, but most continue their studies for four. 
Gill St. Bernard’s is a private, coeducational day school for students age three through grade 12, located in suburban New Jersey. Each of the three school divisions provides a vigorous, meaningful and age-appropriate curriculum, and all students benefit from the environmental learning opportunities that exist on our 208-acre campus.