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Welcome to the Upper School at Roeper, Grades 9–12

The humanistic values of Roeper’s founders continue to be the driving force behind the school. Respect for the individual rights and the human dignity of all people encourages cooperation and mutual acceptance among students and staff. Roeper is a place where the ideas and feelings of students are important to the adults in their lives. The result is an environment in which students are free to take educational risks and make decisions in an environment in which it is okay to be smart and okay to be committed to learning.

At Roeper, students are challenged by their courses, the majority of which are honors level and higher. Teachers guide them in understanding and taking control over their learning process as they develop skills, form concepts, and define ethical and moral issues. Students are encouraged to become increasingly self-directed and independent. A testament to this is that the choice of courses is determined by the student, confined only by their ability and their own goals post-graduation. Despite only two required courses—Health and American Government—students are expected to maintain a full course load which brings a personal level of challenge.

Upper School Academics

List of 13 items.

  • English

    Our English program aims to empower students by helping them understand that their learning is not just an isolated experience, but rather a part of a larger conversation with the world. By teaching them how to analyze and respond to texts, we enable them to examine the world around them in a more curious, critical, and empathetic way. This experience becomes even more enriching when students engage with other talented students in a community of learners. We believe in striking a balance between studying the works of others and developing students' own voices, focusing on improving their clarity and conviction.

    Upper School students initially engage in a shared curriculum in the ninth and tenth grades. Afterward, they have the option to choose from a range of courses that specialize in writing, literature, or the analysis of other media. If they choose, students can also prepare for both AP English exams, namely Language and Literature. These opportunities are often created based on student interest and the expertise of our teachers, allowing students to continue growing as readers, writers, and critical thinkers.
  • Forensics

    Middle and Upper School students who join the Roeper Forensics team participate in competitive speaking competitions locally and in the state tournament. Roeper has a very enthusiastic and supportive group. Students may choose to compete in several categories such as: presenting an original, student-written speech; dramatic readings of prose and poetry; dramatic delivery of a famous speech; dramatic interpretation of a portion from play or film by a single student or in small groups. 

    The Roeper community can enjoy these amazing performances at the Middle and Upper School Forensics Nights held in winter and spring.
  • Health & Physical Education

    Our Health/Physical Education program is an important component of students developing a strong sense of self-awareness. This agency allows students to be more capable of making sound decisions that will affect their physical and mental well-being.  

    Students take a quarter-length, grade-level health class for each of their middle school years, and a semester-long health class in the upper school (usually during sophomore year). At all levels, course activities require students to develop collaborative skills and effective communication strategies. A variety of instructional methods are used to meet student needs, including discussion, research, journaling, group activities, surveys, and presentations.
    Physical Education can be taken as an elective class in the middle or upper school, and students can select from more generalized offerings emphasizing movement and gameplay as well as specialized classes in archery and strength training. In all classes, students receive encouragement, support, and care in developing their abilities, whatever their starting abilities may be.  
  • Independent Study

    The planning, creation, and implementation of a thoughtful, researched-based independent study truly places the onus of learning on the student. It requires as much study time and focus as a regular course, if not more. A well-implemented Independent Study personalizes the Roeper learning experience. Departments may have varying requirements for Independent Study options.
  • Malone School Online Network

    The Malone Schools Online Network (MSON) provides upper level students at registered Malone Schools with a variety of superior online courses that enhance each member school’s existing curriculum. Roeper is one of twenty-two member schools, and the only school in Michigan, that is part of the MSON.

    Real-Time Classes
    Through the MSON, Upper School students have the opportunity to take academically challenging courses that are not offered at Roeper. The Roeper Middle and Upper School houses a digital classroom with the latest video conferencing technology, allowing students to participate in interactive seminars in real time with students from other Malone Schools from across the country.

    Advanced Students, Expert Teachers

    MSON courses are conducted by teaching professionals who are experts in their fields, have experience with independent school education, and share a commitment to excellence, small class sizes, and personal relationships. Course offerings target juniors and seniors who demonstrate sufficient independence and commitment to succeed in a virtual discussion seminar setting.

    Advanced Electives

    Examples of courses include Building Utopia, Multivariable Calculus, Arabic, Ancient Greek, Data Structures and Design Patterns, Man’s Inhumanity to Man: Genocide and Human Rights in the 20th Century, Positive Psychology, Applied Math through Finance, and Environmental Bioethics.

    Malone Online Schools
    MSON 2023-24 Course Guide
  • Makerspace and Robotics

    Our makerspace is a collaborative space containing tools and materials that students can use to bring their ideas to life. It is a place where they can safely experiment and create. It provides innovative learning methods that allow students to express their learning in their own unique way.  
    Students program drones to fly autonomously through obstacle courses, create interactive art, make wearable technology, and create game controllers out of pencil drawings. They create digital designs and use the laser cutter or CNC router to cut or engrave cardboard, wood, and acrylic. They run computer code to bring designs to life, embroidering those designs onto clothing with the programmable sewing/embroidery machine. And so, so much more.  

    Much like the making process itself, we build, evaluate, and reinvent the space over time. We examine how we can best use it and which equipment best serves our students. This significantly increases technology integration in the classroom and prepares students for the unknown.

    Our robotics program nurtures student passion for robotics and engineering. Our inclusive team comprises members of various skill levels, from amateurs to experts, who collaborate as equals.

    For Upper School students, the Roeper Oakland County Competitive Robotics Association (OCCRA) Robotics Team provides a comprehensive experience in robotics. Students gain knowledge in design, programming, construction, and team-building while creating a functional robot capable of excelling in at least one operation. Our primary focus is ensuring students have fun while working towards their goals. Robotics elective courses during school hours and regular after-school meetings are available for Upper School students as well.

    Both Middle and Upper School students partake in Robofest, a thrilling local event hosted by Lawrence Technological University. Robofest features autonomous robot competitions and activities, where students learn STEAM principles and fundamentals of computer science. Students design, construct, and program robots using any robotics kits and programming languages.
  • Math

    The Math Department strives to provide each student with an opportunity to maximize their potential as a mathematician and truly understand the concepts and process of math, rather than simply learning to compute and master content in a rote way. Students are placed in classes by ability rather than age or grade-level, and our faculty endeavors to meet the needs of different learners within these classes. Students also have the opportunity to take advantage of a math clinic, and advanced students also frequently return to help out in this space as peer advisors.

    The linear path of math classes progresses from Pre-Algebra through Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, Pre-Calculus, and several levels of Calculus. Along the way, students have options for several different options depending on their interests and learning styles, including College Algebra, Statistics, and several rotating options for advanced study, including non-Euclidean Geometry and Linear Algebra.
  • Performing Arts

    The heart of the Roeper dance program is that students develop their own choreography by learning exercises, techniques, and concepts, and emphasizing improvisation and emotional expressiveness.

    The kind of experience fostered by Roeper’s long-standing dance program is one that is especially attuned to the needs of the individual and to the school's philosophy. In the words of Karen Roeper, daughter of George and Annemarie, “When we see ourselves more kindly and clearly, we can move more powerfully in the world.”

    Middle and Upper School Dance courses include
    • Dance Fusion
    • Jazz Hip Hop
    • Modern Dance

    Instrumental Music
    In the instrumental ensembles of the Middle and Upper Schools, students develop an understanding of the elements of music: melody, harmony, rhythm, tone color, texture, and form. On their instruments, students discover how to combine these musical elements with expressive qualities to create a rich, balanced ensemble sound.

    Repertoire for the different ensembles is chosen based on the instrumentation of the group, student input, and to highlight individual strengths. These performance-based ensembles participate at scheduled concerts throughout the year, participate in MSBOA Solo & Ensemble Festivals, and observe musical performances given by professional performers in the community.

    Beyond these elements, a major part of our instrumental program is that we have a curricular jazz program. The jazz bands meet regularly during the school day, affording the ability to play a wide variety of styles and go into more depth. There is also no restricted instrumentation in our jazz bands. Want to play jazz clarinet? Come on in—let's hear you!

    • Upper School Concert Band
    • Upper School Percussion Ensemble
    • Intermediate and Advanced String Orchestra
    • Upper School Jazz Band

    Vocal Music
    The Vocal Music program at Roeper School offers students a vibrant platform to unleash their creativity and empathy through music. In this inclusive and supportive environment, students explore a diverse range of musical genres, considering their historical and stylistic contexts. They learn to sing songs in various languages, enhance their musicianship skills, master vocal techniques, and develop sight-reading abilities. Through participation in concerts as soloists or ensemble members, students gain valuable performance experience.

    Roeper's choral groups have a remarkable track record of success, consistently earning top honors at the Choral Festival. These groups foster individual growth by emphasizing the importance of each voice in creating a unique ensemble texture. Students also learn to sing with accompaniment and a cappella, collaborate on arrangements, and explore choral literature spanning pop, jazz, classical, Broadway, and world music. The vocal groups perform at Winter and Spring Concerts, as well as various special events throughout the year.

    • Small Choir (9th-12th grade group, a cappella focus, auditioned group)
    • Concert Choir (9th-12th grade larger group, no audition)
    • TrebleMakers (6th grade choir)
    • Accompanied Minors (7th/8th grade choir)

    General Music and Non-Performance Electives

    Roeper Theatre Company

    Students have their choice of several classes to explore the diverse facets of theater, including Stage Makeup and Theatre and Social Justice, as well as hands-on opportunities to participate in Tech. All RTC projects place an emphasis on the unique insight into oneself and one's community that is gained through theatrical collaboration.
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  • Science

    Science at Roeper allows students to understand the principles underlying phenomena and to know where opportunities exist to make tangible improvements to the world. Inquiry is the focus of the program and propels the investigations that occur in classes of all levels, from a middle-school elective on inventions to Advanced Physics. We encourage divergent thinking through problem-based learning, open-ended class discussions, and experimental design. 

    In Upper School, the introductory series of biology, chemistry, and physics provides a foundation for advanced study in a student’s subsequent years. Electives in anatomy & physiology, electrical engineering, biochemistry, and forensic science are also available to students.  

    Roeper alumni often enter STEM fields and frequently report that they exceed their peers in experience and understanding of science. Even those who do not enter science as a major in college still exhibit a level of mastery and understanding that prepares them to be active, reasoned, and informed members of their communities.  
  • Senior Projects

    The George A. Roeper Senior Project is designed to allow students to follow their personal passions and to extend their learning beyond the classroom.

    Taking on a Senior Project is a choice, not a requirement. Students design the questions they want to explore as well as the process they will use to discover their current understanding. They are capable of taking on these projects because of the skills they have developed over time at Roeper.

    Students who participate manage at least one semester of independent, self-directed learning. They are supported by mentors within the school as well as by professionals in their respective areas of interest outside the Roeper community. It would be easy to focus solely on the results these students produce; however, the processes they employ and relationships they develop are likely what will impact them most in the years to come.
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  • Social Studies / History

    Students approach social studies with a focus on active participation in their communities, locally to globally. They recognize these disciplines as ever evolving, requiring continuous inquiry and mindful self-awareness. The goal is to nurture engaged and considerate citizens who positively contribute to their environments.  

    In Upper School, students establish a foundation in American History and 20th-Century World History during the first two years. Students have the freedom to select courses based on their interests, including AP Comparative Government, Political Philosophy and Thought, Military History, and Queer History. There is a required course in US Government. Additionally, the eleventh-grade class trip to Washington DC offers opportunities for students to engage with lawmakers, lobbyists, and scholars, reinforcing their learning experiences. 
  • Visual Arts

    The Middle and Upper School Visual Arts Department is an open, creative environment where students have opportunities to explore traditional and untraditional methods of artmaking. Learning about the motivations, processes, and ideas explored by professional artists is an important aspect of study.

    The visual arts curriculum is designed to balance instruction of technique—whether in photography, painting, drawing, ceramics, fibers, or other media—with fostering each student’s interest and creative visions. Students can elect classes in a wide variety of disciplines and, in Upper School, have the option to take Open Studio, where they can propose and execute projects of their own design while still having access to and advisement from arts department faculty.

    Students’ ever-evolving abilities to contribute creative solutions, collaborate with their peers, and assess their own efforts are a critical part of the program goals.

    Art Gallery Coming Soon
  • World Languages

    In Middle School, students can continue their French or Spanish studies from the Lower School, and different entry points become available for studies of Latin and Chinese. Upper School students may choose to continue their studies or begin a language at the introductory level. In both divisions, students take courses that correspond with their skill level rather than their grade level. Students may also opt to include the study of multiple languages in their coursework.

    In keeping with best practices of second language acquisition, we use the communicative method in the target language as much as possible. Latin takes a more traditional approach, focusing on vocabulary and textual analysis, but all languages focus on a multi-modal presentation of material. In all language courses, students engage with authentic texts and resources to connect with different cultures and learn vocabulary in meaningful contexts. Observing and analyzing aspects of other cultures widens students’ perspectives and provides a more critical eye for one’s own culture and norms.  These practices align with our philosophical tenets of preparing students to cope with a global society, as well as teaching cultural competency.

    Additional offerings through the Malone School Online Network allow students to learn other languages. German and Arabic have been recent offerings.

Student Experience

Susannah Nichols, Director of Middle & Upper School

Playfulness, exploration, and personal discovery are essential elements at all levels of our school, and as a result, our students apply information in thoughtful and innovative ways. With this holistic perspective, Roeper succeeds in matriculating students of uncommon excellence to the schools and opportunities of their choice.
Educating and inspiring gifted students to think as individuals and to engage as a community with compassion for each other and this world.

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