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First Year Program


Ancient Cultures & the Middle Ages begins with a week-long archaeology study as students gain "hands-on" experience exploring clues to ancient civilizations. Historical periods are explored as follows:

Archeology                   September (1 week)
Mesopotamia                    September & October
Egypt                                      October
Greece                                      November 5 - December 18
Ancient Israelites             January 2nd to January 16th
China                                     January 23rd to February 4th
Rome & Early Christianity        February 6th to March 16th
Middle Ages                               March 18th - May 23

In History, students will learn to examine archeological and historical clues for evidence of cultural and social structures. By learning the difference between observations and inferences, students begin to understand how historians piece together information about ancient cultures.

In this class, students will learn to: read a text for information, use a study guide to help in test preparation, research information for use in reports and presentations, and organize their thoughts in short essays on tests.

Weekly Geography quizzes require students to learn and to remember both physical and political geographical features of the regions they study in Ancient Cultures. At the end of the 1st Year, students will know the physical and political geography of: the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and Asia.

Students will be required to select a year-long interdisciplinary independent project that relates several aspects of one or more cultures to their lives. As their project develops, they will be asked to review portions of it with various teachers for advice and direction. Independent projects will be displayed to the public at the annual parent meeting in May.


First Year English combines literature selections (novels, essays, poems, plays) from time periods and concepts studied in Ancient Cultures & the Middle Ages with analysis of short stories, creative and analytical writing, and SAT- prep Grammar, Vocabulary, and Spelling.

In Literature, students learn to mark a text, looking for proof to illustrate their own answers to an interpretive question. By writing summaries of their ideas, and learning to organize their arguments into paragraphs and outlines, students gain gradual experience with literary analysis. Novels include: Mara, Daughter of the Nile; Antigone; D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths; The Canterbury Tales; A Proud Taste for Scarlet & Miniver; and The Green Book.

Continuing the work begun with our math studies in Writing Workshop, students will begin to connect the mathematical insights of Leonardo Fibonacci with the art & architecture of the Ancient World. By writing math, students learn to organize their writing in logical, ordered sequences, a skill which helps them to unravel the rational complexity of analytical essays.

Students also read selections as writers in Writing Workshop. Since writers learn to write well by reading what other writers have written, the literature component of Writing Workshop is essential. Additionally, writing poetry helps students hone their precise use of language, developing the skills necessary for weeding out unneeded words and "dead" descriptive language from their prose.

Finally, in preparation for standardized tests, First Year students delve into the correct applications of grammar, spelling, and weekly vocabulary.

Academic subjects in this course will be fully integrated, with ten hours of Art instruction, ten hours of Drama, and several interdisciplinary classes in archeology, Fibonacci sequence mathematics, and teacher-assisted, student-directed independent projects.

Fine Arts

Fine arts is integrated into the four-day 1st Year Program schedule. Students will have Fridays "off" to study at home. Most students (and parents) have found this Friday afternoon study time to be tremendously beneficial, as students adjust to the increased workload and expectations of the North Fork School Program.

The fine arts curriculum will include ten hours of performing arts work with Jodie Lea, and ten hours of fine arts with Cynthia Dittmer that will be integrated throughout the year into the History/English syllabus. The performing arts classes will culminate with a performance at the Alpine Playhouse, while artwork will be displayed during the year at the North Fork School before students bring it home.

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