Skip links

Inspiring Innovators of Change

Upper School Curriculum

Cushman’s High School offers a personalized, character building and academically rigorous curriculum that is anchored in technology and the Arts and is enriched with real-life, learning experiences.

Cushman’s approach to educating the whole child is time-tested, proven by our graduates and celebrated by their parents. Both parents and alums praise our purposeful focus on creating an environment that prioritizes personal responsibility, global awareness, industry and independence.

Exceeding national standards, our rigorous core curriculum is complemented by independent learning opportunities. Curriculum offerings include honors and AP
courses in topics such as English, American history, calculus, biology, economics,
psychology, world languages, technology, and the Arts. That said, at Cushman High School, learning goes beyond the books:

Every Cushman student graduates with an immersion experience reinforced by mentorship, internship, and apprenticeship opportunities.

Students can take advantage of Junior Varsity and Varsity Athletics programs in track and field, tennis, swimming, golf, basketball, volleyball, and various water sports.

Art, technology, and community service projects are woven into course offerings to match the passion and interest of students.

Admission Inquires

Ready to start your Cushman adventure?  Fill out an inquiry form today.

Inquire Today
College Counseling

Subject Areas

All freshmen take an introductory-level Foundations of Literature course. In small classes, students read classic novels, shorts stories and plays while they work on the basics of analytical writing. All sophomores complete a year-long Global Literature course in conjunction with their Global History studies. Juniors may choose between American Literature (juniors only) and Literature of the Modern World (juniors and seniors), while seniors may elect either Meaning and Representation (seniors only) or Literature of the Modern World. Electives vary from year to year and may include classes in creative writing, book into film, and banned books. Students are required to complete twelve Language Arts credits (4 years) to graduate.

The Math Department offers a range of college preparatory options from Math 105 (an Algebra I-based course) through Calculus II with a number of options in between including Advanced Statistics, Calculus I, and Pre-Calculus. The math curriculum is also tailored to meet the entry requirements for the University of North Carolina school system, which currently mandates that every student applicant have a year of high school math beyond Algebra II. To fulfill this requirement, students can take Pre-Calculus, Statistics, or Functions and Modeling. Term-long math electives are offered based on student interest. These have explored Advanced Topics in Calculus, Economics, the SAT Math section, or the History of Math (From Zero to Infinity). Math teachers recognize that math is not every student’s first love and realize that there is value in being in a math class where all of the students learn and perform on a similar level. To meet that end, both the 200 level Math courses (Geometry) and the 300 level Math courses (Algebra II/Trigonometry) run in two parallel classes. The 210/310 classes move through material at a faster pace and expect more in-depth coverage of the curriculum. The 200/300 classes are more project-based and move through material at a slower pace to allow for maximum retention of concepts. Students can move through the curriculum in a variety of ways based on the recommendation of the teachers. Nine math credits (3 years of math) are required to graduate, but most students take four years.

American Sign Language

In our Upper School, students may fulfill their modern language credit requirements by developing knowledge of American Deaf Culture and American Sign Language (ASL). These courses nurture ASL communication skills both receptively and expressively, in regards to fingerspelling, numbers, vocabulary, and grammar and syntax. Based on an understanding of American Hearing culture, students explore American Deaf culture and history.


Our French department offers the language from French I through a class on French Literature and Composition. In the classroom, there is an emphasis on the speaking and writing of French. Classes tend to be small, which allows for plenty of individual attention and focused speaking time. Students are exposed to contemporary French literature and cinema. End of Year sessions may offer a trip to France that allows students of French an opportunity to take their skills to another level. This trip includes a short home-stay that allows students to visit a local Lycée (high school) and a community service component. Two years (6 credits) of Foreign Language are required to graduate, although most students continue with the program.


The Upper School Spanish department offers classes from Spanish I to Advanced. Spanish classes focus on conversational and written Spanish skills. Students are exposed to contemporary Spanish literature and cinema. In the more advanced classes, students participate in analysis of Spanish poetry among other advanced topics. Occasionally, classes travel into the Durham community to practice their Spanish with native speakers. The End of Year Program frequently includes a trip to a Spanish-speaking country where students can develop their skills through community service work and home stays with local families. Two years (6 credits) of Foreign Language are required to graduate although most students continue with the program.

High School Graduation Requirements – Minimum Credits:

(Note: 1 credit = a year-long course. 0.5 credits = a semester-long course)

4 English Each with significant writing
4 Mathematics At or above Algebra 1 level
3 Science At least two lab sciences
3 Social StudiesIncluding Global Studies & American History
2 World Languages Sequential in same language
1 Fine ArtsVisual/performing arts
2 Physical Ed/HealthRequired for all students
5 OtherCore competencies; required credits

“Our students come to expect great things of themselves and for their futures because Cushman has given them a curriculum for life that engages their hearts and minds.”

– Dr. Arvi Balseiro, Head of School