At Keith we boast a college-preparatory curriculum that combines required classes with challenging electives, as well as opportunities for independent study both in and out of the classroom. Upper school students are required to take five academic courses per semester in English, social studies, mathematics, science, foreign language, speech/communications, fine arts (visual, performing or dramatic), physical education and health. Students are also required to complete two semesters of college counseling which assists with the completion and submission of college applications, scholarships and grants, and the writing of a college entrance essay. Along with the core academic work, students are required to complete 90 hours of community service and a senior project. The senior project is a student-designed, faculty-assisted program that allows students to experience real-world job situations that are relevant to their intended future career goals.
A Keith school year has two semesters, during which over 65 courses are offered, each worth 1 unit. Sixty-one units are required for graduation. Course descriptions and semester requirements are described below:
Course Descriptions and Semester Requirements
Click on the links below for course details.
In upper school, the English Department places an increased focus on analytical reading and critical dissection of text, using textual evidence in writing, and learning how to compose collegiate-level term research papers. Using both the latest technologies available and some very traditional methods, our high school program produces outstanding writers, readers and thinkers ready to master the ever-growing world of communications. High school students are required to take four years of English and one semester of speech. Course descriptions are as follows:
Ninth Grade English
Ninth grade English surveys Western roots through a study of influential writers and philosophers in correlation with the ninth-grade ancient history course. Students read selections from ancient Sumeria and Israel, classical Greece and Rome, and from medieval and Elizabethan eras. This course introduces the concepts of archetypal and psychological criticism as students observe common themes and techniques used throughout our literary heritage. Composition studies emphasize levels of diction and sentence styling; interdisciplinary, expository, reflective, and creative writing; research paper design, process, and product. The instructor, in turn, provides individual written feedback on each student’s writing assignments both before and after students revise their work.
In alternate years and in conjunction with the American history course, this tenth and eleventh grade English course focuses on American literature from colonial exploration narratives to contemporary poetry and prose. Students cover texts chronologically and explore parallels between the texts and the times in which they were written. Students practice the expository methods of comparison and contrast, cause and effect, drawing logical inferences, and making valid generalizations. The instructor, in turn, provides individual written feedback on each student’s writing assignments both before and after students revise their work. Finally, students write a research paper in which they focus on transitions, coherence, and economy of language. In all their writing, students identify the appropriate audience and strive to develop an authentic voice.
In alternate years and in conjunction with the European history class, this tenth and eleventh grade English course focuses on European literature from the Middle Ages to the present. Students cover texts chronologically and explore parallels between the texts and the times in which they were written. Students practice the expository methods of comparison and contrast, cause and effect, drawing logical inferences, and making valid generalizations. The instructor, in turn, provides individual written feedback on each student’s writing assignments both before and after students revise their work. Finally, students write a research paper in which they focus on transitions, coherence, and economy of language.
Twelfth grade English will cover a wide span of works from canons that encompass the world, including such cultures as Greek, Indian, Chinese, Islam, British and American. Students will study the historical, philosophical and cultural background of various cultures to help put the literature in perspective, and to become more well-rounded critical thinkers. This class will work in tandem on many occasions with the World Religions and Government classes. As they read, students consider and evaluate a work’s structure, style and themes as well as the author’s use of figurative language, imagery, symbolism, and tone. In turn, the instructor provides individual written feedback on each student’s writing assignments both before and after students revise their work. In addition, students must write a research paper, using the correct process of research, organization, composition, and documentation.
Advanced Placement English
Advanced Placement English is for those seniors with high interest and strong writing skills and whose performance in previous English courses supports their placement. This course is designed to prepare students for the rigors of college writing and to take the Advanced Placement English Language examination offered. Through close reading of the assigned texts and writing brief reaction papers, critical papers, and timed, in-class responses, students deepen their understanding of the ways writers use language to provide meaning for their readers. In turn, the instructor provides individual written feedback on each student’s writing assignments both before and after students revise their work. Students read most of the same literature as in the World Literature course with additional readings in prose and poetry. Composition goals, including a research paper, likewise remain essentially the same as in the World Literature course with additional focus on the development of a personal style in the writing or creative and analytic essays. Students will also practice for the AP Composition examination through timed-writing exercises.
Four years of science is required to graduate from Keith Country Day School. The upper school science program aims to foster the thrill of scientific discovery through hands-on experiments. All classes are laboratory courses with a double-period laboratory time scheduled during each six-day rotation. Some of the laboratory experiences include dissections, microscope studies, chemical testing of water, electrophoresis of DNA, bacterial transformation, forest monitoring, chemical reactions and wave formation. In addition to our indoor lab work, the department takes great pride in using the natural laboratory outside on our the 15-acre campus. Surrounded by adjacent fields, woodland, parks and the Rock River, our curriculum puts a great emphasis on studying natural science and creating awareness and understanding for current societal and environmental issues.
Biology is a freshman level foundation course in the study of living systems and their special ways of existing in relationship with their environment. Students study the main unifying processes of life built on chemical and physical principles. They explore some of the areas of the grand diversity found among living things. The course emphasizes the processes of life science and the methods, tools, and motivation which expand the knowledge of life.
Chemistry is a sophomore-level course which presents an introduction to the descriptive, symbolic, and quantitative language of chemistry. Emphasis is placed on building a solid foundation of understanding of matter and the associated changes in its composition. Students experience hands-on learning of these processes in the extensive laboratory component of the course. In addition, students develop critical thinking skills as they evaluate and analyze results from this experimentation.
A junior level course built around the conceptual base of the study of the rules of nature, and students use equations as guides to thinking rather than recipes for algebraic manipulation. Units of study include motion, electricity, light, sound, and heat. Students come to see physics as integral to everyday life.
This senior level course provides students with the scientific principles, concepts, and methods required to understand the interrelationships of the natural world. Goals include understanding the foundation of ecological processes and the Earth’s biogeochemical systems, as well as the role of cultural, social, and economic factors in environmental problems and their solutions. Field work and independent study are important elements in this course.
Advanced Placement Biology
This is a second-year biology course with emphasis on preparation for the AP Biology exam. Although there is open enrollment, success in the freshman biology course and completion of one or two years of chemistry is required for enrollment in the course. The course follows the guidelines of the College Board and is designed to be equivalent to a college-level introductory course. Eight major themes of biology study (science as a process, evolution, energy transfer, continuity and change, structure and function relationship, regulation and development, interdependence in nature, and science, technology and society) are emphasized in this course and supported by extensive laboratory investigations and written reports of data and observations.
Advanced Placement Chemistry
This is a second-year chemistry course with special emphasis on preparation for the AP Chemistry exam. Although there is open enrollment in this course, success in the sophomore chemistry course and completion of two years of algebra is required for enrollment in the course. The course follows the guidelines of the College Board and is designed to be equivalent to a college-level introductory course. Emphasis is placed on the study of materials and the changes that they undergo. This course is designed to develop specific skills needed to evaluate, analyze and form valid conclusions about the experimental designs and to communicate these conclusions in written form.
It has been said that math is the language of the universe. Through our rigorous curriculum we aim to foster an appreciation for the power of that language by helping our students acquire meaningful problem solving skills, confidence and the ability to make successful transitions from one level to the next. Keith’s mathematics department centers upon the standards set forth by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. In addition to teaching our students how to think logically and to work in an organized manner, our four-year high school program puts an emphasis on learning to be effective critical thinkers.
Algebra I is the foundation for the basis of all mathematics. The course is designed to meet the needs of students who have a firm grasp of mathematical concepts and a satisfactory degree of competency in arithmetic. Students learn the standard algebraic topics while strengthening their basic math concepts and arithmetic.
Geometry involves the study of measurements, properties, and relationships of points, lines, angles, surfaces, and solids using deductive and inductive reasoning. Students develop an understanding of the nature of mathematical proof and the relationship of mathematics and the physical world.
This geometry course also involves the study of measurements, properties, and relationships of points, lines, angles, surfaces, and solids using deductive and inductive reasoning. Students develop an understanding of the nuances of mathematical proof and the relationship of mathematics and the physical world. In addition, the course introduces trigonometry, analytic geometry, and the language of mathematics.
This course incorporates a review of the basic concept covered in Algebra I but at a much greater depth. It also provides an introduction to topics in high mathematics. The importance of understanding both the structure and the process of mathematics is emphasized, and students are encouraged to see problems and concepts from both a geometric and algebraic viewpoint.
College Algebra II and Trigonometry
College Algebra II and Trigonometry reviews the techniques of the first-year course in greater depth. Then, it introduces many of the higher level algebraic concepts and procedures to represent, simplify and solve a variety of problems By the second semester of the course, students study trigonometry, the branch of mathematics that deals with the relationships between sides and angles of triangles and the calculations based on them (particularly trigonometric functions). This course is designed to maximize both the acquisition of skills and the understanding of mathematical concepts.
Probability and Statistics
This senior-level course is comparable to an introductory, college level course in statistics. Estimation, hypothesis testing, linear correlation and regression, and the Chi-square distribution all are introduced. Also included is a connected introduction to elementary statistics, odds, probability, distribution, and samples.
This course has equal amounts of time spent on college algebra, analytic geometry, and introductory calculus. The course integrates all previously studied math topics with emphasis on the logic of our mathematical system and proofs of theorems through direct, indirect, and mathematical induction methods. The process of problem solving is also refined.
Advanced Placement Calculus, AB and BC
Advanced Placement Calculus is the branch of mathematics that deals with limits, the differentiation and integration of functions of one or more variables, and various applications. This course presents both differential and integral calculus with the curriculum modeled upon the Advanced Placement Calculus AB curriculum. To be successful in this course, the student must have a strong background in algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. When enrollment permits, Calculus BC is offered for students who have successfully completed Calculus AB. In addition to a quick review of AB, topics include sequences and series, slope fields, logistic growth, and applications of calculus to parametric, polar, and vector functions.
The history department plays a vital role in encouraging the development of knowledge and critical thinking skills necessary for responsible citizenship and a more extensive understanding of the events, people, and casual mechanisms which have created the world in which we live. A global education is more than just memorizing facts. Our program encourages students to see connections between the past and the present and with other disciplines, to view complex issues from multiple perspectives, and to understand that people create histories and that interpretations can change over time. Developing a lucid writing style, being comfortable articulating positions in class and collaborating with peers on complex research projects are just a few of the many skills expected of students after four years of study. A nationally recognized program, Keith’s Advanced Placement history classes are among the best in the world. In fact, in recent years, the College Board rated Keith’s AP U.S. History course and the AP European History course among the best in the United States. Other courses offered include:
Ancient and Pre-Modern World
Ancient and Pre-Modern World begins with a study of prehistoric, early civilizations and ends with an overview of medieval Europe. Students use primary and secondary source material to discover the political, economic, social, and cultural settings of Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, India, Greece, Rome, Byzantine and Islamic civilizations. Activities include class discussion, lectures, projects, debates, internet activities, simulations and tests. Students learn the fundamentals of historiography as they research, analyze, and compose both structured and creative historical essays.
Modern European History
Modern European History covers important events in the development of Europe from the 14th century to the present. Students explore major political, economic, social, and cultural events that influenced the development of modern Europe. Students continue to develop their writing skills as they compose historical essays with each unit. This course complements the European literature course.
Advanced Placement European History
Advanced Placement European History is for the more motivated student who seeks an intensive investigation of modern European history from 1450 to the present. Students must complete reading and writing assignments on the college level in preparation for the Advanced Placement European History Exam offered by the College Board. Criteria for entrance into the course include performance in previous history classes, writing skills, and high interest.
United States History
The United States History course examines the development of this country from pre-Columbian civilizations in North America to the present, including a geography component. U.S. History complements the American Literature course and uses a variety of primary and secondary sources as students discover the political, economic, social, and cultural trends of our past, and in turn, come to a better understanding of contemporary America. The course also prepares students for a Constitution test at the end of the semester.
Advanced Placement United States History
Advanced Placement United States History is for the more motivated student who seeks an intensive study of America’s past from European settlement to the present. The course traces the development of this country in the context of world events and intellectual trends. Students must complete reading and writing assignments on the college level in preparation for the Advanced Placement United States History Exam offered by the College Board. Students use a variety of primary and secondary sources as they discover the political, economic, social, and cultural trends of our past and, in turn, come to a better understanding of America today. Criteria for entrance into the course include performance in previous history classes, writing skills, and high interest.
United States Government
United States Government is a one-semester, senior-level course devoted to the origins and structure of the American political system. Students use a college-level textbook to examine key documents that have defined and established our republic, the branches and levels of government, civil rights, civil liberties, and elections and political parties. The course also prepares students for a Constitution test at the end of the semester.
World Religions is a one-semester, senior-level course that introduces students to the major religions of the world. In addition to using a college-level textbook to study Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism, course work is complemented and enhanced by expert speakers and field trips.
8 Semesters (in one language)
“The Limits of my Language are the Limits of my World,” is a quote taken from a poster within one of the foreign language rooms at Keith. This quote serves as an underlying creed of the foreign language department. Keith’s upper school offers Spanish, Latin, Greek, and French (III-V). Using both the newest technologies and some traditional teaching methods, the department’s goals are to help students build large vocabularies, to be capable of reading and writing, to speak accurately and to pronounce confidently, to learn the history and the culture, to develop insights into the English language, and to experience a variety of literary genres. Keith students are required to take four years of high school level courses of the same foreign language to graduate. Nevertheless, many students take on multiple languages, even getting a jumpstart by selecting high school level courses in middle school.
French III presents an overview of French history in addition to emphasizing increased acquisition of vocabulary and grammatical structures. Students continue to explore culture, and literature is introduced in novella style and abridged versions.
French IV continues the emphasis on skills and moves students toward spontaneity in the language. Students explore culture in more detail and study works of literature in abridged and unabridged versions.
French V continues to explore areas of culture and literature more profoundly and, at the same time, continue to refine the previously acquired skills, with the objective of preparing students for the Advanced Placement French Language exam and for advanced university classes.
Latin I encompasses the study of Latin grammar and vocabulary. Through composition and translation, students learn to apply the rules and principles of Latin. The Latin I course also covers Roman life, Roman history, classical mythology, and English word study.
Latin II prepares students for the advanced classes in Latin literature. The coursework includes review of the vocabulary and grammar learned in Latin I and also more intensive advanced work in grammar. Students continue to build their Latin vocabularies and composition skills with emphasis on the forms and uses of the subjunctive mood. The major emphasis, however, is preparation for the reading and translation of Latin prose.
Latin III is a translation course designed to develop the student’s proficiency in reading and understanding Latin. The course also serves as an introduction to Latin literature, presenting Latin writings of different authors, genres, and historical periods. Since the emphasis is on the craft of translating, the increasing difficulty of the texts determines the schedule. Readings include “made” and real Latin texts.
Latin IV continues a survey of Latin literature. Students study Roman drama through the comedies of Plautus. During the second semester, they study the letters of Pliny.
Latin V introduces the student to Latin poetry of the Golden Age. The course centers on the first half of Vergil’s Aeneid with reference to and discussion of all twelve books. Students also focus on meter and rhetorical devices, the historical and cultural background of the poem, and Vergil’s life and works.
Ancient Greek I and II
Designed for students with serious interest in language study and high achievement in Latin, these courses serve as an introduction to the fundamentals of ancient Greek (Attic) grammar and the workings of the language. The courses are restricted to students who have studied Latin for a minimum of three years. Greek I and II are offered in alternating years and may not be used to satisfy the foreign language requirement.
Spanish I is designed for upper school students who wish to begin studying Spanish. It is an introduction to the fundamentals of the Spanish language: vocabulary, grammar, verbs, and idioms. The purpose of the course is to enable students to develop their ability to comprehend spoken and written Spanish, to carry on basic conversations, and to read and write basic Spanish. Students are also introduced to the culture, customs, geography, and history of Spanish-speaking countries.
Students review previously acquired fundamental vocabulary and verbs and continue expanding vocabulary, uses of verb tenses and grammar, and idiomatic uses of language. The course emphasizes conversation, writing, and reading. Students work on carrying on extended conversations, writing short essays, and reading selections in Spanish, in addition to continuing their study of the peoples and cultures of the Spanish-speaking world.
Spanish III expands and elaborates upon the fundamentals of verb usage, grammar, and vocabulary acquired in preceding courses. It emphasizes more sophisticated use of the language in speaking, reading, and writing. Students read and discuss excerpts from Spanish literature and articles on history and contemporary culture, give oral presentations, and write brief essays in Spanish on topics of interest.
Spanish IV begins by reviewing all important elements of the Spanish grammar and verb usage acquired previously, while emphasizing listening, speaking, reading, and writing at an advanced level. Students work on conversing extemporaneously, as well as on acquiring vocabulary necessary for discussion of current events and topics in Spanish literature and history. They do research, give oral presentations, and write essays on topics of interest.
Speech is a performance-oriented course designed to introduce students to the elements of oral communication and public speaking skills. Informative and persuasive skills are stressed. Other topics include speech phobia, critical listening, vocal dynamics, and gestures, and the college admissions interview. This course provides a more thorough treatment of oral communication than is possible in the regular English curriculum. Speech is a one-semester required course.
Fine, Creative and Performing Arts
At Keith Country Day School, the performing and visual arts are essential – not peripheral – to the school experience. Every student from preschool through 12th grade has an enriched arts curriculum. In fact, upper school students must take at least one fine arts course a year until they graduate.
Music and theater comprise our performing arts program. Music is part of the core curriculum from preschool through eighth grade. In addition to an abundance of music courses, Keith also offers a variety of choral opportunities including two student-led acapela groups, Basil and Rosemary. Open to all students, participants have the opportunity to perform at all-school assemblies, music night concerts, drama productions and special competitions such as the Illinois Music Education Association Festivals. Class Descriptions >
Theater is introduced at Keith in lower school to learn the elements of storytelling and creative dramatics. Middle and upper school thespians stage four to five productions every year in a small theater setting that is fully equipped with moveable sets, state of the art lightning and sound boards and a proscenium arch to compliment the sets on stage. Drama students act, sing, dance, play music, build the sets and work behind the scenes as stage managers, technicians, and set, sound, and lighting designers. Class Descriptions >
The visual arts program encourages students to express their creativity and explore a range of art mediums in an art studio that overlooks the Rock River. Drawing, painting, ceramics, mixed media, graphic design, photography and computer art all are part of the art curriculum. During the school year, students participate in community art shows four to five times a year and in April, the school dedicates an entire week for the Fine Arts Festival which includes gallery nights to showcase student works. Many Keith artists have won local and national awards. Our specialized studio includes a photography darkroom, a ceramics studio, a kiln room, and several desktop computers for digital media work. Class Descriptions >
Freshmen students create and follow a rigorous four-year plan of study which will include challenging courses and activities. Volunteer service hours and participation in student organizations are emphasized. Students learn to set goals, make decisions and develop their leadership skills. Career exploration and possible college majors are introduced to students and college campus tours begin!
Sophomore students continue taking challenging courses and participating in student organizations and community service. College test preparation begins and the PSAT/NMSQT is taken. Students receive general information about the college application process through notices of college fairs, admission representative visits, and scholarships. Students are encouraged to take on leadership roles in student organizations and participate in personal interest organizations outside of school.
Junior students enroll second semester in the College Preparation Course. They learn about SAT and ACT exams, the components of an admission application, how to visit a college, how to conduct a college search and to evaluate their interests, strengths, and academic and career aspirations. Juniors take a field trip to tour a college campus each spring semester. By the end of the semester, each student will have enough information to generate a list of potential colleges.
Senior students enroll second semester in the College Preparation Course. They learn about SAT and ACT exams, the components of an admission application, how to visit a college, how to conduct a college search and to evaluate their interests, strengths, and academic and career aspirations. Juniors take a field trip to tour a college campus each spring semester. By the end of the semester, each student will have enough information to generate a list of potential colleges.
Seniors work on their Senior Project during the second semester of the senior year. Students have the unique opportunity to assess their skills and talents and to plan a project that investigates a career or area of personal interest. The class culminates in the project itself: a carefully designed, four-day excursion into the world outside the school’s walls. A faculty advisor oversees each student’s project, and written and oral reports are required.
The upper school physical education courses encourage students to lead healthy lives and make healthy decisions. These programs promote living an active lifestyle, individual improvement, and the importance of physical activity following their high school years.
High school PE teaches individual and team sports, places a premium on improving skill development, and puts a strong emphasis on teaching good sportsmanship and team building skills. Not every Keith student aspires to be an athlete, but we do want our students to appreciate physical activity as well as the social, cultural and emotional benefits of playing sports.
Every ninth grade student is required to take Health. This course seeks to identify and address many of the current health issues facing adolescents through open discussions, guest speakers, textbook information and use of the internet. These topics include drug and alcohol education, human anatomy, nutrition, and sexuality. The course also explores safety, community health and decision-making skills.
Each upper school student must fulfill 90 hours of community service as a requirement for graduation. This service requirement follows the group-based, Service Learning program in the middle school. The goals of Keith’s community service program are:
1) to develop character by providing services to those in need
2) to appreciate the diversity of the global community and to accept responsibility for the development of that community
3) to foster the spirit of volunteerism as a integral part of the American way of life
4) to share one’s resources and talents while acquiring new skills as a volunteer.
Must pass both a United States and Illinois Constitution test.