Signature Programs

At each grade level Canterbury School has designed programs that focus on discovery and exploration, growth and challenges, and the opportunity for students to change their community and their world.


Grade 9 - The Written Word

Writing is a core life skill and a core part of the freshman curriculum. The ninth-grade writing experience includes some particularly distinctive elements that punctuate students’ English and World History classes. Students write 24 five-paragraph essays in English, and they learn to craft effective outlines and compose a scholarly research paper in World History. Students celebrate the written word orally through participation in Poetry Out Loud, a nationally recognized program that helps them gain a strong appreciation for masterworks of poetry. Canterbury students are also state leaders in the Scholastic Writing Competition. Collectively, these experiences are foundational for work in Grades 10-12, for college and beyond.


Grade 10 - Art, Architecture, and the American Experience

Early in their sophomore year, Canterbury students launch their studies in U.S. History and American Literature and Composition with a trip to Chicago to explore the broad brushstrokes of American intellectual and cultural history. The trip centers on two key components: a boat tour and lecture featuring Chicago’s internationally recognized architecture, and a chronological survey of major American artworks at the Art Institute of Chicago. In addition to providing a window into various periods of American history and culture, the field study serves as a frame of reference for the sophomore humanities classes and the major research project. The broad outlines of the American experience help students understand ways in which scientific and technological developments shaped - and were shaped by - the evolution of American culture. The result is to create touch points for cross-disciplinary connections during the sophomore year and a lifelong appreciation of American intellectual history.


Grade 11 - College Bound

As Canterbury students prepare for college, several key elements supplement the curriculum. One of the school’s more distinctive programs is the weeklong junior college trip, during which students visit a representative range of colleges in a selected region of the country as part of their initial college selection process. This trip offers an unparalleled opportunity for students to see firsthand how the college experience differs dramatically from one institution to another. As they travel from school to school, students reflect on and evaluate the college they have left, and begin to read about the university they are about to visit to generate a list of criteria for their individual college search. The trip is followed by a semester-long weekly class called College Bound, in which students learn the essential elements of the college application process. Canterbury’s college counselors provide individual counseling with students and families, assisting them in charting a course that will shape each student’s future. As a final piece, for many students the decision to undertake a scholarly Independent Research Project, defended before a panel of experts, marks an introduction to the academic rigor of college life.


Grade 12 - Facing the Future

While Canterbury’s entire mission is college preparatory, senior year is marked by a number of experiences that explicitly focus on college and beyond. The vast majority of students serve as Senior Leaders, and each of the Canterbury Houses and major student government committees are led by seniors. All seniors take seminars in Ethics and Diversity as well as topic-based seminars to prepare them for life beyond the walls of Canterbury. Students begin the year with College Bound for seniors, a weekly class that builds on the junior year class and helps students stay on top of the college application process. Seniors end their High School experience with 40 hours of internships, during which they explore various possible career paths by shadowing professionals in a wide variety of occupations and settings - their first step into their new world ahead.

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