Academics

The Capstone Year | Grade 9

The Capstone Year | Grade 9

Ninth grade at RCS is a special time in the lives of our students. They are the seniors on campus with tremendous opportunities for leadership. As Red and Blue Team Captains, student government representatives, the leads in School productions, and sports team captains, our ninth graders relish their position as role models for the entire school community. Ninth graders at Rippowam Cisqua School participate in a trimester-long TED Talks public speaking course, develop an individual Portfolio project showcasing an area of interest or personal exploration, work one-on-one with a faculty advisor to write a 12-page research-based thesis paper, and have the option to take accelerated math and science classes. Strengthened by the advantages of small class size and individual attention, our academically rigorous ninth grade curriculum provides unique preparation for the challenges of secondary school.

List of 13 items.

  • Humanities

    What are humanity’s origins? How did civilizations and religions come to be? What does it mean to be a member of and have an impact on an ever-changing global society? Part prehistory, part ancient history, and part current events, this course examines the impact of people on the world, and the roles and effects of geography, economies, politics, and social systems on societies and cultures. Starting with the earliest human ancestors through the agricultural revolution to the development of Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, students will explore and evaluate a variety of resources when considering “who” and “what” makes history and whose stories are told.

    Reading, listening to, and learning from multiple perspectives are essential goals and outcomes of this course. Students will read, view, summarize, and analyze - both verbally and in writing - periodicals, primary source documents, images, documentaries, texts, etc. To hone their collaboration and communication skills, students will prepare and conduct debates on a variety of current events and issues. Students will develop their note-taking, organization, research, and analytical writing skills by completing and receiving feedback on a variety of informal and formal writing assignments. Completion of this class meets the expectations of a high-school World History course.
     
  • English

    Who am I? Who or what determines my identity? How does identity impact individual and collective power? What does it mean to belong to a group? How do I know when I belong? How can I use who I am to impact how and where I belong in the world?

    In ninth-grade English, students explore the concepts of identity and belonging. The notion of self--in life, language, ideas and humanity--is central to the course, particularly as it reflects the diverse lenses through which all individuals view, experience, and impact the world. Students will intentionally examine how language, literature, communication, and both historical and current events contribute to the development of an individual’s identity and sense of belonging, and the ways in which these intersect and overlap.

    Analytical and persuasive writing is integral to the course, with an emphasis on process and structure. Instruction is personalized and process-oriented, and composition is broken down into concrete steps: outlining, crafting an argument, selecting supporting evidence, incorporating text, analyzing evidence, and refining mechanics. Creative writing is also explored, and students have opportunities to submit their writing to various contests and publications throughout the school year. Students read literature, both ancient and modern, in a wide array of genres, and through the examination of an author’s use of literary devices, continue to make connections to how literature impacts both identity and a sense of belonging. Grammar and vocabulary are developed through individualized instruction and targeted all-class lessons. This course will meet the requirements for a first-year high school English course.
  • Biology

    As global citizens, it is important to remember that environmental problems respect no political boundaries; air pollution produced by USA factories can lead to acid rain in Canada. All living things are more alike than they are different, and all are interdependent. In the words of Chief Seattle: “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together.All things connect.” A goal of Biology is to understand the commonalities of all life--cellular structure/function, heredity, evolution of traits, and the energy flow within an ecosystem--but to also appreciate that each species is uniquely adapted to its particular niche. Diversity is important to the health of all habitats on Earth.

    Biology is lab intensive, providing students with experiences that help them make sense of the class discussions and text readings. In an effort to keep the course focused on the problem-solving and experiential aspects of science, each thematic topic is complemented by hands-on explorations. Whether students are observing cells using the compound light microscope, investigating heredity by breeding cybercats, or designing an experiment to figure out why fresh pineapple cannot be added to Jello, these activities create a conceptual framework for their studies. Students continue to develop their analytical writing skills through their lab reports.
  • Honors Biology

    As global citizens, it is important to remember that environmental problems respect no political boundaries; air pollution produced by USA factories can lead to acid rain in Canada. All living things are more alike than they are different, and all are interdependent. In the words of Chief Seattle: “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together.All things connect.” A goal of Biology is to understand the commonalities of all life--cellular structure/function, heredity, evolution of traits, and the energy flow within an ecosystem--but to also appreciate that each species is uniquely adapted to its particular niche. Diversity is important to the health of all habitats on Earth.

    Biology is lab intensive, providing students with experiences that help them make sense of the class discussions and text readings. In an effort to keep the course focused on the problem-solving and experiential aspects of science, each thematic topic is complemented by hands-on explorations. Whether students are observing cells using the compound light microscope, investigating heredity by breeding cybercats, or designing an experiment to figure out why fresh pineapple cannot be added to Jello, these activities create a conceptual framework for their studies. Students continue to develop their analytical writing skills through their lab reports. In the honors level of Biology, the same general content will be covered, with added detail in certain areas. The lab program will also be similar to what students experience in the grade level section, but more will be expected of them in their lab reports. Quizzes/Tests will be more challenging and involve greater concept application. In general, students will be expected to work more independently as they tackle the course’s challenges.
  • Algebra I

    The students will review some of the concepts from Pre-Algebra prior to moving on to more abstract thought. In this course, students strive for efficiency. They will be challenged with learning formulas needed to assist them in certain algebraic situations. They will learn how to use a graphing calculator as well, which is a skill they will strengthen throughout the year.
     
    They will be given opportunities to work in groups and demonstrate the steps they learned to solve a problem. They will explore algebraic concepts including polynomials, applying fractions, solving equations, and understanding word problems. Upon successful completion of this course, students will take Geometry.
  • Geometry

    Euclidean Geometry is a year-long exercise in deductive reasoning. Students accept a small set of axioms as universal truths and use them as building blocks to prove a wide array of theorems. This requires students to be flexible. Taking risks continues to be a key aspect of ninth-grade math. In prior math classes, students are presented with algorithms to apply to a given set of problems. In Geometry, concepts are not applied until proven to be true by the rigors of mathematics.
     
    Students work on a coordinate plane to study and manipulate points, lines, angles, polygons, and circles. Since vocabulary, postulates, and theorems are essential for the course, students will be expected to review each section the night before it is taught. The use of the TI 84 graphing calculator is integral to the class, especially when working with trigonometry in the spring. Upon completion of this course, students typically go on to Algebra II.
  • Geometry Honors

    Euclidean Geometry is a year-long exercise in deductive reasoning. Students accept a small set of axioms as universal truths and use them as building blocks to prove a wide array of theorems of ever increasing complexity. In prior math classes, students are presented with algorithms to apply to a given set of problems. In Geometry, concepts are not applied until proven to be true by the rigors of mathematics.

    Students work on a coordinate plane to study and manipulate points, lines, angles, polygons and circles. Use of the TI 84 graphing calculator and online construction tools is integral to the class. Upon completion of this course, students typically go on to Honors Algebra II.
  • Algebra II Honors

    Algebra II is a continuation of Algebra I with a greater emphasis placed upon the study of functions, which are the building blocks for modeling and interpreting real world phenomena. Students will learn transformations, exponential and logarithmic functions, rational and radical functions, trigonometric functions, probability, and conic sections.

    Use of the TI 84 graphing calculator and online construction tools is integral to the class. Upon completion of this course, students typically go on to Honors Pre-Calculus.
  • Beginning Spanish II

    Ninth-grade Spanish (Beginning Spanish II) is a continuation of the eighth-grade Level I course. The beginning of the term serves as an overview of introductory vocabulary and builds gradually upon this foundation. Key themes include families, traditions, celebrations, favorite places to go/activities outside school, foods, and ordering in a restaurant. The primary objective is to broaden students’ vocabulary and understanding of syntax in order to achieve greater oral fluency. This course is taught utilizing a variety of comprehensible input methods such as the TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling) method, MovieTalk, simulations, music, and QTALK. The QTALK method, utilizes a series of visual icons placed grammatically and interpreted as full complex sentences.

    Through Beginning Spanish II, the aim is to instill greater confidence and risk taking in students. Students read and write more complex compositions in order to enable them to ask and answer specific questions with greater fluency. Describing people, ordering a meal, school subjects, times of the day, bedroom items, electronic equipment, describe items as well as rooms in a House, and listing household chores, allows students to communicate actively about their daily activities. In addition to expanding their vocabulary and grammatical knowledge, students will also focus on cultural elements, geography, traditions and customs, as well as current events throughout the Spanish-speaking countries.
  • Spanish II

    What are the characteristics of a good friend, a good leader? What sort of legacy do you wish to leave behind? Students start the year reading the Nicaraguan poem, Uno No Escoge - One does not choose. The poem points out that while people do not choose where they are born or the circumstances into which they are born, people have control over their choices and the footprint they leave behind. As global citizens, students are called upon to have a greater understanding and appreciation of other cultures. The novels read in class provide the vocabulary to explore these rich themes. Students develop a richer vocabulary and ease of expression so that they can communicate their ideas and opinions more effectively in Spanish.
     
    In ninth grade Spanish, students complete and often surpass the equivalent of a high school level 2 curriculum. Students are expected to communicate almost exclusively in Spanish.Through novels, stories, and news summaries, students are introduced to the vocabulary and structures needed to discuss a variety of topics such as friendship, identity and values, discrimination, disasters and disaster relief, medical practices, ways to protect the environment, travel and tourism. Students will prepare a variety of products such as newscasts, posters, fictional stories, videos, and a travel brochure demonstrating their increasing oral and written competency and fluency. Students are introduced to the subjunctive mood as well as learning to use the present, past, and future indicative tenses appropriately.
  • Latin II

    The ninth-grade course emphasizes the grammar of clauses, the dependent uses of the subjunctive, and the reading of classical authors. After reading The Labors of Hercules and The Adventures of the Argonauts, students study select passages from Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic Wars and from Ovid and Livy when time allows. There are nightly assignments in translation. Completion of this year fulfills or exceeds the requirements of a second year of high school Latin at most schools.
  • French II

    Ninth-grade French is a full immersion program in which students continue to broaden their vocabulary and understanding of syntax to make greater oral fluency achievable. Oral and written communication become equally important. Focusing on reading and retelling short stories and novels becomes fundamental to learning to express oneself. At this level of study, students continue to improve their mastery of syntax and are required to communicate in French as at all times. The goal of ninth grade French is to instill greater confidence and risk taking. In addition to expanding their vocabulary and grammatical knowledge, students will also focus on cultural elements, geography, traditions and customs, as well as current events throughout France and francophone countries.

    In vocabulary, students will widen their knowledge of sports, parts of the body and expressing pain, talking about countries with particular attention to the the difference that the definitive articles and certain preposition make in French when connected to a name of country, and vocabulary learned from the news and the novels read in class. In grammar, students will review and learn all tenses of reflexive verbs, Imparfait vs Passé Composé, Passé Recent, comparative of adverbs, superlatives of adjectives, interrogative pronouns, Future Tense, regular and most common irregular verbs, Subjunctive, and the Hypothetical Period. Upon completion of the course, the expectation is that students enter French III in 10th grade.
  • Innovation - Innovator's Studio

    The ninth-grade group has, at this point, all the tools they need to develop their own sophisticated and ambitious independent projects. However, the term will begin with a review of the design thinking process through a series of short challenges and a refresher on safe use of all the tools available in the Innovation Center. They will need to complete one project to demonstrate their mastery of these tools before they are given the opportunity to work on an independent project. Once they are ready, they will begin work on one project that seeks to solve a problem they see in the world today. They will need to identify a problem or issue that they have some personal connection to, research the issue, and look at all current solutions. Next students will develop their own unique solution and use it to develop a prototype to present to the community for feedback. Ideally they will have time to make improvements to their design for further testing and sharing with a larger audience outside of school.

Capstone Experiences

Lower Campus (PreK-Grade 4)
325 West Patent Road
Mount Kisco, NY 10549
phone: (914) 244-1200
Upper Campus (Grades 5-9)
439 Cantitoe Street 
Bedford, NY 10506
phone: (914) 244-1250
Rippowam Cisqua School is a PreK-Grade 9 independent day school in Westchester County, New York. RCS offers challenging academics built on innovation, fine and performing arts, competitive athletics, wellness, leadership, service learning, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.
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