Upper School students have the opportunity to go beyond the formal Harvard-Westlake curriculum, to request and design courses in their own areas of interest.
A group of two or more students in the 10th through 12th grades may submit a request to an academic department of a faculty member to teach a directed study class which meets at least three times per week. The teacher determines the content, pace and evaluation of the course. Past topics have included alternative foreign languages, specialized mathematics, and advanced studies in the arts.
Senior Independent Study
An individual student may apply to study an academic topic in the 12th grade under the supervision of a teacher. The independent study is developed by the student, and it must meet rigorous intellectual criteria. Past topics have included scientific research projects, historical research papers, creative writing, and the production of plays and films.
School Year Abroad
Harvard-Westlake is a member of the School Year Abroad (SYA) consortium. Students accepted into the SYA program spend their junior or senior year in Spain, France, China, Italy, or India. The program is recognized internationally and is enthusiastically supported by top universities. To visit their website, go to www.sya.org.
The Mountain School
The Mountain School is an independent semester program that provides high school juniors the opportunity to live and work on an organic farm in rural Vermont. Each semester the Mountain School draws 45 high-achieving students from all over the country. Courses provide a demanding, integrated learning experience that takes full advantage of the school's small size and mountain campus. While living with teachers in small houses, students help to make important decisions concerning how we live together and manage the farm. Every semester a group of 60 people from varying backgrounds works to create a trusting atmosphere where everyone belongs and every voice matters. To visit their website go to www.mountainschool.org.
HMI Semester at The High Mountain Institute
The HMI Semester is a unique opportunity for juniors and some seniors in high school to spend a semester living, traveling, and studying in the mountains of central Colorado and the canyons of southeastern Utah. In essence, the HMI Semester combines some of the best qualities of an academic program at a rigorous boarding school with the adventure of a summer backpacking expedition. To visit their website go to www.hminet.org.