The High School Experience: Where Inquiry Becomes Mastery
In high school (we call it upper school), students further develop their sense of self as they gain academic mastery and identify their passions. The upper school experience positions our students to be highly competitive in the college admissions process and step confidently into their place in the world.
The upper school experience at Bosque School ensures that each student masters a rigorous college-preparatory curriculum while exploring individual interests and taking ownership of educational choices. Through the inquiry model, first introduced in middle school, teachers share a thoughtful and developmentally appropriate curriculum and then support students with rich opportunities to showcase their understanding and application of knowledge through inquiry questions and projects.
All upper school students prepare for college through demanding core courses in math, science, Spanish, and the humanities and engage in at least two years of visual or performing arts. As they progress toward graduation, students take ownership of their education by choosing from an array of advanced electives and planning their academic path in partnership with a faculty advisor, trusted teachers, and our college counselors. Finally, each Bosque senior becomes an expert on a self-chosen topic by completing a year-long individual capstone project of authentic research and inquiry and presenting their findings to a public audience in our spring Colloquium.
Upper school students are also deeply engaged in finding their place in the world, locally and globally. Our signature whole-child education program (WILLDS) provides curriculum, skills, and guidance as students develop a critical and reflective understanding of self in relation to the community. Through WILLDS, they build and practice the leadership and life skills that will enable them to thrive in the complex world of adolescence, in college, and in life beyond school. Juniors and seniors engage in a semester-long college seminar class (alongside 1:1 college counseling support) that prepares them to navigate college admissions and the college experience with confidence and expert guidance.
Three-week immersive courses (offered each May) provide additional opportunities for deep academic engagement as students apply their passions, skills, and knowledge through interdisciplinary coursework, broadening learning beyond campus. Immersives are assessed and transcripted courses that are a powerful college differentiator. The rigor that comes with sustained immersion and complete focus on one academic topic accelerates and strengthens student learning and outcomes. Some recent upper school immersives include Robotics & Coding, Filmmaking, Medical Reserve Corps, Art & Social Justice, and Sports Psychology & Medicine.
Upper school extracurriculars provide further opportunities for academic engagement and for students to explore diverse passions. Leadership opportunities abound—Bosque School students captain sports teams, create and run clubs and service-learning groups, collaborate on school policies, serve on task forces, lead student government, and sit on the school’s Judicial Committee.
Research indicates optimal learning occurs when students forge strong connections with empathetic and attentive adults and actively participate in a vibrant, joyful, and evolving community. Our commitment to nurturing a sense of belonging is vividly showcased during the upper school years. From the 9th-grade retreat to the famous juniors vs. seniors Blue Steel volleyball game to a week of senior service, white water rafting, and connection in Taos, to the daily tradition of morning meetings and a purposeful advisory program, our dedication to cultivating a thriving community is evident at every turn.
In the upper school, each ninth grader is paired with a peer group of 10-14 students and a faculty advisor who will follow them through all four years of high school. This provides a powerful relationship to an adult who walks alongside the student, supports them on the developmental arch of ninth to twelfth grade, and who will write a deeply meaningful and rich college letter of reference.
The upper school honors our students’ inherent need for increased independence and autonomy by providing increased academic choice and leadership opportunities, all within the structure of a very attentive and supportive community. By the time our upper school students graduate, they are confident learners and leaders with outstanding academics and a deep self-knowledge that helps them identify their next step. As such, they are highly competitive in their college admissions process and ready to tackle the world.
Why you won't see AP classes at Bosque School
Bosque School challenges education by transcending the limitations of standardized teaching-to-the-test curriculum — epitomized by advanced placement (AP) classes — which prioritize efficiency over deep and retained learning. Our advanced courses empower students to cultivate essential skills such as critical thinking, analysis, agency, research, writing, and presentation — far surpassing the memorization and regurgitation emphasized by AP courses. Our commitment to an independent curriculum dates back to our founding and aligns with other exemplary high schools and colleges across the country that have moved away from advanced placement courses. Over the decades, our alums have expressed how their Bosque education effectively and meaningfully prepared them to thrive at college and in their careers.