Signature Programs

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

High School students are excited and eager to learn, test themselves, and truly stretch their abilities. They’re prepared for more challenging curriculum and activities that help them accomplish all this and more. Our High School Signature Programs give students the space and guidance they need to discover their capacities — and themselves.


Grade 9: The Written Word

Writing is an important life skill and the core of the freshman curriculum. The ninth-grade writing experience includes particularly distinctive elements that punctuate students’ English and World History classes. Students write 24 five-paragraph essays, learning to create effective outlines and compose scholarly research papers in World History. Students celebrate the written word orally through participation in Poetry Outloud, a nationally recognized program that helps develop a strong appreciation for masterworks of poetry. Collectively, these foundational experiences prepare students for Grades 10-12, college and beyond.


Grade 10: Art, Architecture and the American Experience

Early their sophomore year, Canterbury students launch their studies in US History and American Literature and Composition with a trip to Chicago where they explore 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 how 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 such element is the College Bound class. Students complete 18 assignments that prepare them the college application process during their senior year. These assignments include everything from learning the difference between a college and a university to crafting a college essay.

Another key component is the week-long junior college trip, where students visit a representative variety of colleges in a selected region for 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 generate lists of criteria for their individual college searches. The trip is followed by a semester-long course, meeting once a week, called College Bound. Here, students learn essential elements of the college application process. Canterbury’s college counselors provide individual counseling for students and families, helping chart a course that will shape each student’s future. As a capstone to College Bound, and an introduction to the academic rigor of college life, many students undertake a scholarly Independent Research Project, which they present and defended before a panel of experts.


Grade 12: Facing the Future

While Canterbury’s mission is to provide a college preparatory education, senior year includes experiences focusing on college and beyond. Students begin the year with College Bound for Seniors, a course that builds on the junior year course and focuses on the college application process. Through the year, students complete ethics, diversity and other topic-based seminars; serve as Senior Leaders; and lead Canterbury Houses and major student government committees. 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.