Although Art Survey is the only art class required for graduation, you’ll probably find the range and depth of our art courses too enticing not to try at least one more class, maybe all that you can squeeze in. Whether it’s ceramics or painting, art classes offer a fun, relaxing way to learn new skills. But they also challenge you to think about the world, beauty, knowledge, yourself, in ways that are deep and sometimes unexpected.
Of course, if you’re already serious about art, Kent is a wonderful place to explore it further, with challenging offerings like sculpture, architecture or advanced photography. Art courses can be taken more than once because the syllabi change every term and there’s both Advanced Placement Studio Art and AP Art History. Or, you can focus on a particular topic of your own choosing, through an independent study project.
And even the places you study art at Kent are inspiring. The studios have floor to ceiling windows, illuminating the work spaces with natural light and offering spectacular views of Mount Algo and the Macedonia Valley. The hallways of the building are wide and almost always covered with student work. It feels like a real artist’s loft, which is appropriate, as you become a real artist.
Taking one of our Classics courses is almost like taking a class in everything, all at once. It starts with language, of course. Studying Latin or ancient Greek will teach you a lot about communication, from vocabulary cognates in modern English to the form and structure of drama, oratory or poetry.
To be sure, classical studies covers more than literature and linguistics. You’ll look at history and mythology, art and architecture, politics and social interaction. You’ll probe democracy, civilization, philosophy. You might even have a guest lecturer from the math or theology departments. There are so many topics, all tied together in such a maddening, intriguing, exciting way that you may start to wonder where it all ends. Then you’ll realize it doesn’t. You’ll discover that learning about the ancient world is one of the best ways to understand today’s world.
Classics at Kent are designed to acquaint the student with the most salient and lasting characteristics of Greek and Roman civilization. Latin is not, because it was not, a prerequisite for the study of Greek, and a student may choose a program in either area. Each year several students elect to take courses in both languages. We approach the elements of the two languages through a combination of modern linguistic techniques and traditional rigor. We place equal emphasis on the unique and intrinsic merits of literary works and on their role as the source of later Western literature. A full program of visual instruction is offered, in order to relate literature to its attendant art and architecture. Special attention is paid to the wide range of classical mythology.
Through a challenging academic curriculum, in the English Department you’ll learn to read and write effectively. As a third-former you’ll study literary genres; as a fourth and fifth-former you’ll survey British and American literature. After this grounding in a traditional course of study, as a sixth-former you’ll either enroll in the year-long AP Literature and Composition course or choose from a variety of electives, ranging from Playwriting to Russian Literature.
Courses at every level are increasingly practicing creative writing in a variety of forms—short fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, and drama—because practicing writers are perceptive critics. Still, you’ll most often be reading and developing your understanding of literature that matters, working with your classmates in discussions led by teachers with a passion for their field. You’ll learn how to present your best ideas in writing.
In addition to the support available from your classroom teacher, the Academic Resource Center (ARC) provides assistance for Kent students in improving their writing skills. You can meet one-on-one with a faculty member who helps students learn how to plan, draft, revise, and edit their own essays. Students usually schedule their visits to the Academic Resource Center, but there are also drop-in hours during study halls, when peer tutors are also available.
Honors sections expect you to have already developed critical perceptiveness and a graceful prose style. They are for those students who readily see the connections between a text’s form and content. The English department reviews the placement of every student at the end of every year to make sure each is in the right course, so some move into honors sections, and some out. On the whole, there are more students in honors sections in the upper forms: they are writing and thinking at a notably higher level after a few years.
History courses at Kent cover a wide variety of topics but they all make sure you see one thing: two sides. Whether you’re studying Medieval History or Genocide in the 20th Century, to learn the true lessons of history, you need to have a healthy skepticism and a sharp critical mind. You need to understand that the old maxim, “history is written by the winners,” means it’s imperative to go beyond the popular telling of an event. So, digging, examining, researching, discussing—that’s what you’ll do in Kent history classes. You’ll read both primary and secondary sources, go on field trips, have lively debates and perhaps argue a supreme court case before an actual judge.
In the 3rd Form (freshman year), you’ll study Ancient & Medieval History, gaining a thorough understanding of the roots of Western Civilization before moving onto Modern European History in the 4th Form. In the 5th, you’ll study U.S. history, taking an honest and objective look at this country, and developing a stronger, better sense of what America is and what it means, to you and to others.
You can build on this historical foundation with a wide variety of courses. There’s AP Government, Economics, Irish-American history, and The Modern Middle East. Each of the classes delves into topics and explores epochs that have a real impact on our lives today. And all of the stories have another side.
The secret to learning math is starting in the right place. Too little challenge and you quickly grow bored. Too much and you quickly lose hope. Just enough and your skills and confidence skyrocket. So Kent offers a great variety of mathematics courses. And many of them, like Geometry, Algebra, Trigonometry and Precalculus courses are available at up to four different levels: regular, honors, accelerated and AP.
Our offerings start with Algebra and Geometry, classes that will strengthen your background to think logically and analytically. From there, things can ramp up considerably, again, depending on your ability. You can go all the way through AP BC Calculus, which is equivalent to a two-semester college course in Calculus, or even to Post-Calculus. There's also AP Statistics and AP Computer Science or you could even come up with your own independent study project.
And in a place that embraces technology the way Kent does, it's only natural that most math classes use a variety of computer hardware and software to enrich the classroom experience and help you visualize what you’re learning.
It is the goal of the department to engage students in math outside of the classroom. We make it easy for students to get involved in individual and group activities. About 15% of the Kent student body participates in the American Mathematics Competitions and 10% in the New England Math League. Other mathematics competitions that students are involved in include the WPI Invitational Mathematics Meet, the Harvard-MIT Mathematics Tournament (HMMT), the Purple Comet Mathematics Meet, the High School Mathematical Contest in Modeling (HiMCM), Moody's Mega Math Challenge, and the North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad (NACLO).
We think that the confidence to compete comes from being in the right place, at Kent, and in your math classes.
Imagine traveling to Shanghai or Barcelona and chatting with the locals, watching Amelie without subtitles, or reading Don Quijote in the original Spanish. Imagine learning to communicate easily and effectively in another tongue. That’s our goal in the Modern Languages department here at Kent. We offer a full range of courses in French, Spanish, and Chinese, plus electives in Italian or Russian Language and Culture (alternating years).
Lower-level classes give you a solid foundation in grammar and speaking, and begin to introduce you to the art and culture of the places where your language of choice is spoken. Films, television, literature, music, and other contemporary media are gradually incorporated. Through it all, the emphasis is on building a skill you can use and enjoy for the rest of your life.
Both in and out of class, Kent’s state-of-the-art language lab and computer system allow you to practice your speaking and listening skills. The Mattoon Language Learning Center is located right next to the language classrooms, with eighteen carrels for both teacher-controlled class work as well as independent student work. Frequent use of the facility helps students be comfortable and ready when it comes time to take the AP exam in either French or Spanish. Whatever language students choose, the language lab helps develop and improve four skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
Language study is undertaken with the idea of using your skills in real-world situations, so perhaps you’ll choose a Winter Weekend trip to Quebec City or a summer trip to China to really test how much you’ve learned and spark your cultural interest even more. How far you go with your language (or more than one language!) is up to you, so jump right in.
Whether you are an experienced musician, a curious beginner or an avid listener, there is a wide range of musical opportunities waiting for you at Kent.
Kent offers engaging music courses, like Music Technology, that introduce you to the multi-faceted world of the sound and recording industry. You learn about recording & composition programs, equipment & its care, and acoustics; you create and record your own music; you address the ethics and legal issues facing today’s musicians and producers. Ever wonder how a composer crafts a movie score or how a songwriter creates the perfect melody? You can explore the answers to those questions and gain a better understanding and appreciation for musical structure in a Music Theory course. You may discover that you are a composer, too!
You can enjoy being a musician at Kent. Students of all levels of musical ability find great ways to enrich their musical life, whether through private lessons or being a member of a performing ensemble. As a Kent School musician, you can play in the concert band, participate in the full orchestra, or try a new ensemble style like jazz. Have you ever played in a pit orchestra for a musical production? You can at Kent! Perhaps you want to sing in a choir or aspire to be a part of an a cappella vocal group.
The music faculty members at Kent are active, professional musicians who perform and teach regionally, throughout New England, and the United States, or even around the world. They are committed to their students and will encourage you to develop your skills to their fullest potential. They will find performance experiences that meet your needs. There are formal and studio recitals, coffeehouses, talent shows, community outreach events, and concerts scheduled throughout the year. Many students appreciate sharing their music in Chapel services as soloists or in a chamber ensemble. Annually, instrumentalists and choir members come together to create our festive Lessons and Carols service. Do you like a challenge? Perhaps you’ll audition for the Connecticut Northern Regional and All-State Music Festivals. Maybe you’ll participate in a solo competition or apply to a special summer music program. Whatever your interests and goals may be, the Kent School Music Faculty will provide excellent technical instruction and their personal passion for music will inspire you.
Research & Learning Skills offers New Student Seminar in a format tailored to a specific audience: new students in their 3rd or 4th form year. Students take this class in the fall of their first year at Kent to fulfill a graduation requirement.
New Student Seminar - 3rd, 4th form (fall) New Student Seminar is designed to help students evaluate and improve their work habits so they can produce their best academic results at Kent and beyond. Students practice methods of organization and time management, consider the ways that their study choices help them effectively process new information, and are introduced to new methods of active study. The course also addresses the basic research skills of accessing and evaluating information and exposes students to the types of resources they will be expected to use at Kent including peer-reviewed journals, research databases, e-books, and other academic media. For many, Kent provides a first opportunity to create written work synthesizing one’s own ideas with the published work of others. New Student Seminar addresses this higher level of research and writing by introducing students to the framework of supporting a thesis with previously published material. Learning to navigate the vast world of information available today is an essential and life-long skill, and in NSS we encourage students to address questions with an inquiring mind paired with practical research skills.
Kent’s Science courses encourage you to look at the world with a curious eye. We want you to question things. And then question some more. We want you to realize the world is full of information, and misinformation. Even if you’re not going to be a scientist, we want you to have a scientist’s curiosity, a scientist’s skepticism, and a scientist’s joy of discovery.
In your Biotechnology class, you’ll test tortillas for genetically modified corn. In Ecology, you could work with the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection on an on-going (since 1995) project to monitor a local stream. Other classes might have you studying the behavior of lizards or making bacteria glow. You could jump on a quaking bog. Replicate genes. Explore quasars. You might even develop your own Independent Study project, like the two students who studied burying beetles and then submitted their paper in a scientific journal. That kind of depth is rare for high school students, but then a lot of Kent science is really not that far from what college students or even professional scientists are doing. In fact, Kent will prepare you exceedingly well for a career in science. The science faculty, many with advanced degrees, and many here over ten years, take the time to develop creative projects and keep the curriculum fresh.
Our Science facilities have the right lab equipment too. Dickinson Science Center houses Kent’s modern, well-equipped science laboratories. Wireless computer access in all the laboratory and classroom areas allows the use of technology in science to flourish.
There are the simple things, like micropipettes or just having enough space to set up an experiment. Of course there’s also the polymerase chain reaction machine and the gel electrophoresis kits. There are fume hoods in the chemistry classrooms and portable tables and the physics labs have instruments that transmit data directly into your laptop for your lab results. Because the science workspaces are all laboratory classrooms, mini-labs can be done as a part of the class and then the apparatus can be set aside so other work can be done. If an experiment is unfinished one day, it can be completed the next day with no conflicts or interference.
Outside of the classrooms and labs, science continues. A permanent seismometer installed on the hillside above the chapel transmits live data back to our classrooms as well as to Columbia University laboratories. Hoerle Hall is designed to make effective use of resources following LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) standards and includes geothermal heating and cooling systems.
So, whether you’re taking basic Biology to see how your own body works or you’re learning about the stars and the sky in Astronomy or Meteorology, Kent science classes will push you to explore. You’ll learn how to find data, analyze it, and communicate it. (Writing well is not just a goal of the English department.) And once you’ve answered a few questions, you’re sure to have more.
Theology courses at Kent are, in many ways, more about questions than about answers. Of course, you’ll study the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. You compare the major religions of the world and learn about their beliefs, ceremonies and holidays. You can even be introduced to the major Western philosophers: Plato, Aristotle, Descartes.
But you’ll do a lot more than acquire new information. You’ll be pushed to think critically and probe deeply. You’ll be encouraged to ponder and reflect on your experiences and even question your own ideas. That’s because at Kent, we see theology and philosophy not as a bunch of fixed notions but as concepts that will engage and invigorate you. We like to look at how theology interacts with science and literature, the world in general and ourselves in particular.
Kent was founded by an Episcopal monk who would no doubt be pleased that Kent has maintained its spiritual affiliation. But we like to think that he would be even more pleased that we push our beliefs, even prod them a bit, that we view theology as another opportunity (albeit one close to the heart and the soul) for intellectual exercise. This is perhaps one of the best possible tributes to our past and to where we’ve been. It’s also one of the best sources of hope for where we’re going.