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Course Descriptions

As they progress through Upper School, MPH students find that they are able to define a significant portion of their own education. Through independent studies in virtually all disciplines, an expansive choice of elective courses, abundant co-curricular opportunities, and the Senior Thesis Project, MPH empowers students to participate in shaping their own learning.

Students benefit from the flexibility and creativity that uniquely distinguish independent school curricula. A faculty member at MPH is able to adapt the course curriculum, perhaps to take advantage of a pertinent guest lecture at Syracuse University or to incorporate newly updated information – or to respond to students’ desires to more deeply investigate a portion of the material.  The majority of teachers have written their own course curriculum. The teacher-created curriculum of a geology course, for example, takes advantage of opportunities for field visits to drumlins and other geologic formations in Central New York.

As graduation from MPH approaches, Twelfth Graders undertake a culminating project that lies at the intersection of character education and rigorous academic research. Senior Thesis Projects allow students to personalize their education while, at the same time, immersing themselves in intensive writing, research, and personal growth. The projects are wide ranging. One Senior with an interest in medicine organized an American Red Cross blood drive at MPH and succeeded by more than 40% her projected goal for donations from the MPH community.  She hopes her effort, which coincided with an emergency call by the local Red Cross chapter for blood donations, will be replicated in the future by students interested in public health.

The Upper School experience is, by design, challenging and invigorating. The demanding curriculum asks students to engage in evaluative, higher-level thought. Seemingly limitless opportunities for learning beyond the classroom lead them on a discovery of their own interests, talents, and abilities.  Students are expected to balance the increasing independence they are afforded with a heightened sense of responsibility. And as they further define who they are as individuals and identify their personal goals, they are asked to act also as part of a wider community, to think beyond themselves.

The Malone Schools Online Network (MSON)

The Malone Schools Online Network (MSON) is a consortium of independent schools across the United States that offers real-time (synchronous) online courses to students at other member schools. Utilizing a high-tech videoconferencing platform hosted by Stanford Online High School, students participate in interactive seminar-style classes in subjects that are advanced beyond MPH offerings (i.e. Chinese V, Multivariable Calculus) or in fields that we do not offer (Arabic, Data Structures, and Design Patterns). Manlius Pebble Hill maintains a dedicated distance-learning classroom in the Bradley McNeil ’93 Learning Commons, equipped with sophisticated software and hardware to facilitate MSON courses. Students benefit from exposure to a broad range of exciting course offerings and passionate instructors from top independent schools, while taking ownership of their education in this flexible and independent environment.

For more information about the MSON program and current course offerings, please visit the MSON website.


English classes at MPH combine seminar discussions, group collaborations, independent in-class writing, quiet reflection, and other sorts of experiences that allow students to explore literature creatively and analytically. English Department courses nurture students as both creative and analytical writers. We believe that the ability to write a good story is as necessary a skill as analyzing a good story. It is a core belief of the MPH English Department that the effort to achieve precision of expression, creatively and analytically, leads to complexity of thought, which, in turn, leads to empathy and engagement. Learning to express a thought effectively and efficiently empowers one to navigate society with confidence.

Through survey courses, electives and Advanced Placement offerings, Upper School students explore a culturally diverse range of fiction, nonfiction, drama, and poetry, as well as journalism, art, film, and music. To give a sense of the scope of those courses, recent students may have read and discussed works by authors as diverse as Edwidge Danticat, Franz Kafka, Aristophanes, and Emily Brontë. They may have examined gender dynamics in nineteenth century literature, crafted original scripts in a playwriting course, or discussed the cinematography in “Psycho” and “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.” Our students assume increasing responsibility for their learning as they design projects, work collaboratively, evaluate their work, and reflect on the connections between classroom experiences and their own lives.

The English Department provides additional learning opportunities through student publications like our award winning news magazine, the Pebble, and our literary magazine, The Windmill. Interdisciplinary programming, summer reading projects, and trips to theatrical performances and lectures by authors of national and international stature expand upon our students’ engagement with the literary world. Student writers also collaborate with their peers in the fine and performing arts to stage exhibitions and performances. English Department faculty themselves have published their own work in various genres, and serve as passionate advocates for the life of the mind as both a solitary and public activity.


World Literature 9

English 9 is a foundational year for both content and skills. Students develop analytical and narrative writing skills such as generating thesis statements, integrating and analyzing quotes to support a thesis, organizing paragraphs, and establishing coherence and unity throughout an essay. Following the intensive study of writing, students will read texts from the two pillars of Western literature, the Judaeo-Christian tradition and the Ancient Greek tradition. Readings include stories from the Bible, Elie Wiesel’s Night, Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, Sophocles’ Antigone and Oedipus Rex, Homer’s Odyssey, and William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. These readings will allow students to appreciate and examine critically long-held ideas about character and heroism. Throughout the year, students balance these older texts with independent readings of their choice.

World Literature 10

In Tenth Grade, students explore the world through literature, examining how authors use words to give shape to and make sense of reality. Toward that end, the readings for this course include short stories, essays, poems, drama, and novels, as well as newspaper articles, magazine essays, and advertisements. These works form the basis of the formal and informal writing assignments that develop students’ critical and analytical skills. Students also write creatively in order to enhance their understanding of how literature works, as well as take pleasure and satisfaction in becoming practitioners of literary arts. Students continue to develop their ability to interpret literature and to analyze rhetoric in their oral and written assignments, which include presentations, seminar-style discussions, essays, and journal entries.

American Literature 11

In 2008, the head of the Nobel committee called Europe “the center of the literary world,” and said the literature of the United States is narrow-minded, its writers “too sensitive to shifts in mass culture”—a sign of their “ignorance.” The English 11 curriculum, traditionally focused on literature of the United States, aims to understand the strengths of our writers and recognize the unique ideas and important styles arising from our cultural seedbed. Students will read slices of every literary and cultural era from Puritanism to what is being composed right now. We’ll take the measure of those authors who’ve told the greatest stories (from Poe’s tales of horror to Twain’s transformation of the vernacular to Vonnegut’s fiction of the fantastic), the poets who reached for new forms of expression (from Dickinson in her ruminations on life and death to Plath and her dissection of the mental state of motherhood), and the essayists from Thoreau to Baldwin who wondered at the cracks in this country’s soul. This year, students will learn the themes and obsessions that drive our citizen-writers, and students will not only write about those authors but will themselves explore those themes in their own writings, discussions and presentations.

English 12: The Senior Seminar

This is a humanities seminar that puts the finishing touches on students’ preparation to write in college. Each month of the school year has its own topic that will be investigated from a variety of perspectives and disciplines. Potential topics include justice, finance, citizenship, comedy, tragedy, class, memory, reality, and postmodernism. Students will read personal essays, illustrated memoirs, reportage, opinion pieces, advertising copy, academic writing, and other forms of discourse from diverse schools of thought. Through this course, students will complete the research essay and prepare the presentation for the Senior Thesis Project.

Advanced Placement English Literature & Composition

Advanced Placement Literature presents the most able students with a college level literature class. The course emphasizes the skills in literary analysis introduced in English 9 and 10. Close reading of a range of texts strengthens the student’s ability to analyze literature independently. Features examined in poetry, drama, fiction, and non-fiction include: archetypal patterns, formal terminology, symbolic motifs, and complex structures. Works may include those by the following writers, as well as some by contemporary writers: Shakespeare, Austen, Bronte, Faulkner, Conrad, Ellison, Tennyson, Keats, Eliot, Shelley, Donne, Kafka, Dickens, Swift, Hardy, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Woolf, and Garcia-Marquez.

Advanced Placement English Language & Composition

How do words influence others? Why is some writing lively and memorable, while others are dull and lifeless? Students in this year-long course for seniors will understand the inner workings of the English language and will come to understand successful writing strategies for a variety of audiences and purposes. Beginning with oratory and public speaking, students in this writing-intensive class will learn to craft persuasive speeches, narrate compelling stories, draft winning arguments, and present accessible information. Students will also give considerable attention to digital writing, visual media, and other emerging forms of communication. The course aims to prepare students to read anything written in English since the late 1500s, and it teaches them how to say something interesting about the rhetoric of nearly any kind of text. The course culminates in the AP exam administered in May. Through this course, students will complete the research essay and prepare the presentation for the Senior Thesis Project.


This course explores the news and the narrative forms of reporting and writing through doing and discussing. By reading, critiquing, comparing, and producing various types of newspaper, magazine, and online articles, students improve as writers and storytellers. This class explores how newspapers and magazines differ in terms of structure, voice, and audience, and how both of those print entities use new media to extend their operations online. Key concepts include interviewing, idea generation, research, ethics, the use of quotes, the role of anecdotes, voice, and audience. Assignments include feature writing, profiles, service articles, essays, news stories, experiential/participatory articles, and reviews. Depending on student interest, this class may include field trips to see news and/or magazine operations. The best work from this class earns space in MPH’s school newspaper, the Pebble.

World Literature for English Language Learners

World Literature for English Language Learners is a transitional English course designed specifically for foreign national students. Like any other English class, students will read an assortment of poetry and prose, write in a variety of forms, and learn how to analyze and discuss literature. The difference is that this course is paced in its expectations for second-language learners. Along with the emphases typical to an English classroom, this course additionally focuses on essentials of English pronunciation and idioms as well as the differences between the student’s cultural and academic world and that of an American student. Readings include standards of the English classroom, from Elie Wiesel’s Holocaust memoir, Night, to Shakespeare’s poetry to Gene Yuang’s graphic novel American Born Chinese; these readings are supplemented with news about China and the world from American journalistic sources, exposing students to language for discussing current affairs as well as the America media’s treatment of such material. Students learn the expectations for academic research and writing in the American classroom, but they are also expected to experiment creatively with their second language.


Creative Writing

Superheroes: Then and Now


At Manlius Pebble Hill, mathematics classes are composed of multi-age, multi-grade student groups. That approach allows every student to complete a required three-year sequence of college preparatory mathematics within a framework of flexibility that empowers students to progress at their own pace. Whenever possible, we utilize a five-point approach to presenting material: numerically, algebraically, graphically, verbally (descriptively) and concretely (through an activity or with a picture). This makes math approachable to students with a range of abilities and interests, and enables teachers to emphasize rational and critical thinking skills.

MPH math teachers blend the best of traditional pedagogy with proven contemporary teaching practices, including frequent collaborative projects and open-ended investigative activities. Faculty members encourage students to take intellectual risks by raising questions and formulating conjectures using mathematical arguments. Interactive computer software, graphing calculators, and the Calculator-Based Lab (CBL) are used in courses whenever possible. As part of the School’s commitment to written communication, students are required to express mathematical concepts in clear, coherent prose in their math courses.

Most students complete four years of math in the Upper School, and learn to apply mathematical thinking in many areas of their academic study. Many students also pursue a variety of elective courses, including advanced calculus-based mathematics, statistics, and independent studies with faculty. Many students enjoy participating in math so much that they choose to spend their free time sharpening the skills they have acquired. Our math league team is a popular extracurricular activity and consistently places first among similarly sized schools in Onondaga County!


Advanced Placement Calculus AB

Calculus is a branch of mathematics that deals with two kinds of problems: the determination of the rate of variable change (differential calculus) and the derivation of functions from known rates of change (integral calculus). The AP Calculus course is designed to be an introduction to differential and integral calculus which covers all topics specified by the College Board committee in its Advanced Placement Mathematics AB course description. The course style is that of a freshman college course with open‑ended assignments, independent study, and class periods evenly divided between lectures and problem solving sessions. AP Calculus stresses problem solving, manipulative skills, and theory. The course ends with a comprehensive review in preparation for the May AP examination.

Advanced Placement Calculus BC with Applications

The second year of calculus covers topics unique to the Advanced Placement BC Calculus curriculum and numerous applications of calculus. Topics include vector and parametric functions and their derivatives, polar coordinates, rigorous definitions of limits, advanced integration techniques with improper integrals, and an extensive treatment of sequences and series. Applications include length of a path, areas bounded by polar curves and work. Various applications from economics and physics are also treated. The course includes a thorough preparation for the Calculus BC examination, including a demanding review of Calculus AB from an advanced viewpoint.

Advanced Placement Statistics

The study of Statistics at MPH is a full year course that follows the suggested course content specified by the College Board in order to prepare students for the Advanced Placement exam in Statistics.

The course in Statistics begins by focusing on the analysis of data with an emphasis on observing patterns in data and the departures from those patterns. Students plan a study of data, deciding what to measure and how to measure it. Students calculate the more familiar statistical indicators, such as the mean, median, and mode, as well as more complex statistical measures, such as the standard deviation. Students produce models of data using regression analysis, probability and simulation in order to be able to anticipate patterns beyond the measured data, to predict the patterns that random events might make. They observe the normal distribution and learn how to mathematically describe the variations from the norm.

Students study the process of sampling and sampling distributions to produce a confidence interval and to make an inference about a population based on the sample. The binomial and normal distributions provide good models for inference. Students analyze the relationship between a statistical model and the raw data used to create the model. Using the model and the laws of probability, they state how confident one can be about an inference from a given model. Students use several tests of significance to make inferences from a sample, including the “z,” “t,” and Chi-Square tests.

Algebra I

This course is offered to ninth grade students who have successfully completed Math 8. Students review traditional topics of algebra: solving equations and inequalities, linear functions and graphing, and rational numbers. New topics include systems of linear functions and inequalities, operations with polynomials, quadratic equations, and irrational numbers. The course pays special attention to algebraic manipulation skills, communication of ideas, and the basic use of the graphing calculator.

Algebra IAC

This course is offered to ninth grade students with faculty recommendation. This course is for students who embrace challenges, function independently and enjoy delving into how and why mathematical concepts work. Students pursue traditional topics of algebra: solving equations and inequalities, linear functions and graphing, systems of linear functions and inequalities, operations with polynomials, quadratic equations, rational and irrational numbers and logic. The course devotes special attention to problem solving skills, written communication of ideas, and the use of the graphing calculator.


The second course in this mathematics sequence introduces the student to geometric concepts. Students examine topics in plane geometry using algebra as a foundation for each unit. Euclidean geometry is introduced as an axiomatic mathematical model founded on postulates. Theorems and definitions are used to justify equations for solving problems focused on triangles, parallel lines, quadrilaterals and circles. Activities are used to explore the properties of geometric shapes using hands on explorations with measurement tools (ruler and protractor), and the ancient tools of construction – the compass and straight edge.

Geometry AC

The second course in the AC mathematics sequence is offered to students who have successfully completed Algebra AC. This course is for students who embrace challenges, function independently and enjoy delving into how and why mathematical concepts work. Students examine topics in plane geometry using algebra as a foundation for each unit. This course introduces Euclidean geometry as an axiomatic mathematical model founded on postulates, and students experience its development through the proof and exploration of theorems and properties. Students are also introduced to indirect, paragraph, and two-column proofs for triangles, parallel lines, quadrilaterals, and circles. Activities are used to explore the properties of geometric shapes using the ancient tools of construction, the compass and straight edge.

Algebra II/Trigonometry

The third course in this mathematics sequence is offered to students who have successfully completed Algebra and Geometry. It stresses algebraic manipulations and problem solving, exploring rational, radical and quadratic equations. Students continue their study of algebraic structures, including the real number system. The course begins the development of function theory. Algebraic manipulations involving whole number, integral and fractional exponents are examined. Trigonometric functions are introduced from the viewpoint of the unit circle and students explore their graphs and applications. The graphing calculator is used to explore and solve equations, to check solutions, to discover properties, and to simplify calculations. Some topics from this class are now included on the SAT.

Algebra II/Trigonometry AC

The third course in the AC mathematics sequence is offered to students who have successfully completed Geometry AC. This course is for students who embrace challenges, function independently and enjoy delving into how and why mathematical concepts work.  It stresses algebraic techniques, problem solving, and exploring rational, radical and quadratic equations. Students continue their study of algebraic structures, including the real and complex number systems. The course begins to develop function theory. Trigonometric functions are introduced from the viewpoint of the unit circle and students explore their graphs, and applications. Exponential and logarithmic functions are introduced, as well as practical applications. The graphing calculator is used to explore and solve equations, discover the properties of trigonometric, logarithmic, and exponential functions, and to simplify calculations involving complex functions. Some topics from this class are now included on the SAT.


Pre-Calculus AC

The fourth course in the AC mathematics sequence is offered to students who have successfully completed Algebra II/Trigonometry AC. This course is for students who embrace challenges, function independently and enjoy delving into how and why mathematical concepts work.  Pre-calculus AC builds on the skills developed in the accelerated Upper School mathematics sequence. It places a strong emphasis on problem solving. Sound manipulative algebra skills are necessary. Students analyze the relationships between numeric, algebraic and graphic representations of linear, quadratic, exponential, logarithmic, polynomial, rational, and trigonometric functions, along with the special characteristics of each function. The graphing calculator, Calculator Based Laboratory (CBL), various probes and programs, and computer software and applications provide a variety of ways to explore and create mathematics. Algebraic proofs are discussed to provide a greater understanding and appreciation of our mathematical system in preparation for Advanced Placement and college level math courses. One to three essays, lab reports or projects are completed each quarter to expand the student’s ability to communicate mathematical knowledge.


The Manlius Pebble Hill Science Department believes that in order to be informed members of the global community, students must achieve a “scientific literacy” that enables them to weigh disparate ideas, facts and points of view in order to make ethical decisions. Recognizing that such competencies represent a set of thinking skills, the department is committed to hands-on and inquiry-driven teaching that allows students to experience the natural world first-hand. Rather than fill students’ heads with facts about that world, we teach them to first formulate questions from their own observations, and then how to answer their own questions in a systematic way.

At MPH, science is presented as an open-ended process that leads to an understanding of theories and laws about the natural world. Opportunities are available for students to work both individually and as part of a team to develop the skills to test questions using the scientific process. That process involves researching a question, designing and carrying out an experiment, solving problems, analyzing data, drawing conclusions and communicating findings. In this way the study of biology, chemistry and physics builds a foundation of lifelong learning skills.

Our approach to scientific study also affords each student the opportunity to approach course content on her or his own terms. Inquisitive students often set the bar higher than the teacher may have, and push themselves to take intellectual risks if they sense the respect and trust of their teachers and classmates. Teachers in the Science Department proactively cultivate an atmosphere where new experiments and experiences are revered and encouraged, and the risk of failure is understood to be a necessary cost of success. From their experience in such an environment, students learn to think critically, challenge themselves and push one another in ways that extend beyond the classroom and toward a lifelong love of learning.



This is an introductory course that covers the basic concepts in biology. Topics include biological chemistry, cell biology, genetics, evolution, ecology, the diversity of living things, and human biology. Unifying themes stressed throughout the year are evolution, energy transfer, the relationship of structure to function, interdependence in nature, regulation, and science and society. Laboratory activities help students to understand that science is a process, and to develop important skills in scientific expression, qualitative and quantitative analysis. Biology challenges students to think critically in order to understand the larger significance of the details they are learning. Frequent discussions of science, technology, and society are a vital part of the learning experience. By the end of the year, students are able to understand and comment on current health and biotechnological issues, make meaningful inquiries into current social policy choices, and understand the healthy functioning of their own bodies.

Advanced Placement Biology

Advanced Placement Biology is the equivalent of the general biology course usually taken during the first college year. For some students, completion of this course enables them to undertake, as college freshmen, second year work in the biology sequence at their college or to register for courses in other fields where general biology is a prerequisite. For those students, the Advanced Placement Biology course fulfills the laboratory science requirement. Topics discussed include biological chemistry, cells, energetics, heredity, molecular genetics, evolution, diversity of organisms, structure and function of plants and animals, and ecology. The course aims to provide students with the conceptual framework, factual knowledge, and analytical skills necessary to deal critically with the rapidly changing science of biology. The College Board requires a laboratory component of the course. Students who take this course must spend more time in independent study outside class and labs than in other Upper School science courses. All students in the course will take the College Board Advanced Placement examination in biology. Successful completion of Biology, Chemistry and preferably AP Chemistry is recommended.


Chemistry is an introductory course covering the basic concepts of inorganic chemistry. The major units are: matter and energy, atomic structure, the periodic law, chemical bonding and reactions, stoichiometry, solutions, gases, and the reactions of acids and bases. The course encompasses both the conceptual aspects of chemical theories, and the application of mathematical formulas to the course concepts. Involving both quantitative and qualitative methods, laboratory exercises reinforce the course content and allow hands on experience with each of the topics. In addition to class discussion and whiteboard work, students are encouraged to express their ideas with clarity and logic in essays, calculations, and lab reports.

Advanced Placement Chemistry

Advanced Placement Chemistry is designed to be the equivalent of the general chemistry course usually taken during the first college year. Successful completion of Chemistry is a prerequisite. The course emphasizes chemical calculations and the mathematical formulation of principles. It also emphasizes the development of the students’ ability to think clearly and express ideas with clarity and logic, orally, in essays, and in calculations. Topics include atomic theory, stoichiometry, thermochemistry, gas laws, kinetics, solution equilibria, qualitative analysis, acids and bases, oxidation-reduction, electrochemistry and an introduction to organic and nuclear chemistry. Classroom instruction prepares students for the Advanced Placement exam. Every attempt is made for the student to reach a proficiency in all topics that are covered. Students who take this course must spend more time in independent study outside class and labs than in other Upper School science courses. The class is encouraged to take both the College Board Advanced Placement examination and the S.A.T. Chemistry subject test. Earning a four or a five in the AP Chemistry exam enables students to undertake, as college freshmen, second year work in the chemistry sequence at their institutions or to register in courses in other fields where general chemistry is a prerequisite. Earning a three may fulfill the college’s laboratory science requirement.

MPH GOES CSI – Forensic Science

Have you ever wondered how DNA can be manipulated to prove guilt or innocence? Did you know that lipstick left on a glass can be evaluated and then linked to a specific brand and, perhaps, person? Are you interested in learning how to lift fingerprints left on an object? Remember that chromatography experiment you did in biology and wonder how it can be used to determine which pen was used to write a ransom note? This forensic course will apply some new and some previously studied lab techniques to the evidence left at a staged crime in the science lab. The course will be a series of experiments that lead a team of investigators to decide upon a possible perpetrator from a field of suspects. The course will include significant lab work to be evaluated based on the accuracy of one’s results; it is the application of lab techniques that will be evaluated rather then just the understanding of the technique. The final project involves solving a crime staged in the classroom with faculty serving as suspects.


Over the last 435 million years, nature’s work has created an intriguing array of landscapes and topographic features in Central New York. Evidence of a saline sea, glaciers, and tectonic activity can be found throughout the area. Investigations of Chimney Bluffs, Labrador Hollow, Clark Reservation, Green Lakes State Park, and the Tully Valley exemplify the concepts presented in class. Students should plan on considerable fieldwork outside of class time. Significant group and individual projects are expected. A theme of the course is the nature of appropriate land and water use policies in the United States. For final projects, students design and execute models of mastery regarding a specific content area of the course.


Physics, is a rigorous, in-depth study of physical phenomena in preparation for the Physics SAT subject test. The topics to be covered include vector analysis, mechanics, electricity, magnetism, waves, optics, heat, thermodynamics, and modern physics. Physical problem solving is emphasized throughout the course, and laboratory investigations reinforce concepts and develop analytical skills. Because the course is highly mathematical and requires familiarity with algebra, trigonometry, geometry, and graphical analysis, students must have completed Algebra II/Trigonometry or equivalent before enrolling in Physics. It is also strongly recommended that all Physics students be concurrently enrolled in an advanced math class such as College Algebra, Functions, Precalculus AC, or AP Calculus.

Fundamentals of Physics

Fundamentals of Physics (1 academic credit) Fundamentals of Physics is a survey course of physics that emphasizes both a conceptual understanding of the material and a practical demonstration of knowledge through laboratory experimentation. Topics to be covered include motion, energy, properties of matter, thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism, sound and light, and modern physics. The history of physics and its impact on daily life provide the framework for the course, and the science behind everyday objects will be the focus of the labs. Some algebra will be used throughout the course. Enrollment is limited to students who will be concurrently enrolled in Algebra II/Trigonometry or lower. This one-semester course can be combined with Topics in STEM to fulfill the graduation requirement.

Topics in STEM

Advanced Placement Physics C: Mechanics

The Advanced Placement Physics C course forms the first part of the college sequence that serves as the foundation in physics for students majoring in the physical science or engineering. Strong emphasis is placed on solving a variety of challenging problems, many requiring calculus.

The primary emphasis of Advanced Placement Physics C is on Newtonian mechanics. Use of calculus in problem solving, derivations, and in formulating principles, increases as the year progresses. Topics include the laws of motion; work, energy, power, and conservation of energy; momentum; rotation and rolling motion; simple harmonic motion; and gravitation.

AP Physics is taught as a first year course, and prior enrollment in physics is not required; but approval of Advanced Placement Physics instructor is required. Please note that at the end of the year, the AP Biology Exam falls on the same day as the Advanced Placement Physics Exam. For this reason, students are strongly discouraged from enrolling in both courses simultaneously.

Advanced Placement Physics C: Electricity & Magnetism

Advanced Placement Physics C: Electricity & Magnetism provides a thorough grounding in the laws of static and dynamic electric and magnetic fields, and forms the second part of the college sequence that serves as the foundation in physics for students majoring in the physical sciences or engineering. Differential and integral calculus are used throughout the course. Topics to be covered include electrostatics, electric fields, Gauss’ law, electric potential and potential difference, capacitance, Ohm’s law, circuits, Kirchhoff’s rules, sources of magnetism, Ampere’s law, induction, Faraday’s law, and Maxwell’s equations. Successful completion of Advanced Placement Physics C: Mechanics and instructor permission are required to sign up for this course.




The History Department prepares students to critically examine the human condition from pre-history through the contemporary world. We use historical study to cultivate empathy, cross-cultural understanding and other skills essential to citizenship. To accomplish that, our classes explore individual and group identities from a myriad of viewpoints and study the ways that groups have interacted with one another through warfare, trade and colonialism. Required courses in world and U.S. history are complemented by a diverse selection of elective offerings, including European history, a sequence in global and U.S. citizenship, and a Model United Nations course that prepares students for competition at national and international conferences.

Across all offerings, teachers place particular emphasis on doing the work of a historian: analysis, criticism, perspective, narrative and argument. To clearly articulate their understanding, we teach students the fundamental skills of clear and concise historical writing. Students learn to break long and complex processes into periods and analytic categories. Those thinking skills empower them to evaluate change over time and debate causal relationships with one another and their teachers. Students learn that that their views are valued, and they learn to invest time and energy in developing their unique individual perspectives.

MPH history students are engaged in the historical process. Their classroom experiences include research, collaborative projects, and both group and individual presentations. Those activities produce refined and sophisticated communication skills, both in writing and public speaking. Marked by an atmosphere of respect for the past and the broad experience of human beings across time, our students emerge as informed global citizens who are able to understand and be understood.


Ancient World History

In World History I, students examine major historical developments in selected regions of the world from ancient times to the 15th century. Through the examination of this chronology, this course fosters the skills necessary for historical inquiry and research: critical reading and thinking, primary source analysis, and writing historical arguments. Through a global perspective and thematic approach, the course examines the connections between historical time periods and different regions of the world. Topics of study include the development of ancient civilizations, states, and empires; world religions and philosophies, and their impact on society; development of technology and trade; and the exchange of cultural ideas and practices. To connect various historical themes to the present, notable current events are incorporated when applicable. This is a project based course, where the major forms of assessment are quarterly projects that focus on a specific historical skill, an annual biography project, supplemented with smaller writing projects, note taking exercises and presentations.

Modern World History

This course teaches the development of the modern world from the mid-fifteenth century to the present day. We begin with a discussion of the concept “modernity,” defining that term as “the way we do things today.” We break modernity into categories for analysis, including globalized industrial economy, representative government, technology-based communication and multi-cultural values. The course seeks to explain those developments thematically, by creating and examining historical periods like the Age of Exploration & Colonialism, Enlightenment & Atlantic Revolutions, Industrialization & Imperialism, European Collapse and the Global 20th Century. The course prioritizes depth of understanding by examining case studies of major themes and eras. Textbook readings and lecture material are supported by activity-based learning and particular attention is paid to layering content to address multiple learning styles. Students have the opportunity to conduct long-term research into a “global connection” of their choice. Those are defined as “the threads that wove the modern world together.” Past topics have included the impact of the African slave trade on modern dance, the development of parkour (freestyle running) as an extension of martial arts film-making and the influence of the opera Carmen on the global perception of Roma culture. Students create a final project to showcase their findings, including but not limited to papers, historical fiction, short films or performative presentations. Quarterly grades are derived from regular non-cumulative examinations, longer written assignments and class preparation/participation.

World History Intensive

This course is intended to prepare students to sit for the Advanced Placement examination in World History. The majority of our time is spent examining the ways in which major patterns of human interaction in the modern era differed from long-standing traditions of the ancient past. Such distinctions include the triumph of reason over superstition, the conquest of nature through technology, the supremacy of national belonging over local, imperial and cultural ties, and ultimately the ascendance of global free-trade capitalism unencumbered by political boundaries. To understand those transitions, content is presented thematically, through the creation and examination of historical periods like the Age of Exploration & Colonialism, Enlightenment & Atlantic Revolutions, Industrialization & Imperialism, European Collapse and the Global 20th Century. Major themes and periods are illustrated with numerous examples from multiple cultural and geographic regions around the world. The course prioritizes the writing of AP-style argumentative essays, primary source document analysis and the importance of building a broad body of knowledge. Textbook reading assignments are complemented by challenging primary and secondary source readings. Students should be willing to spend one to two hours preparing for each eighty-minute class session. It is important that students have strong organizational skills, good study habits and be able to learn independently by wrestling with complex and sophisticated readings. Quarterly grades are derived from written blue book exams, argumentative essays and class preparation/participation.

United States History

This course traces the path of United States history from the colonial period to modern times through a thematic format, with emphasis on key concepts such as fundamental American documents, the development of an American identity, American political systems, slavery, the growth of business, and America’s role in the world in the 20th and 21st centuries. The two major textbooks listed below are used to provide the student with background material that is further developed in class through discussions and presentations. Primary source documents, period literature, and other supplemental materials will also be assigned. The course provides a full and challenging survey of American culture and stresses the development of a shared American identity as it has emerged from collective experiences. Students are expected to complete written papers of varying length, and to participate in class discussions, debates, and oral presentations.

Advanced Placement United States History

The Advanced Placement course in United States history provides students with the analytic skills and factual knowledge necessary to deal critically with the problems, issues, and events in American history. The course covers pre-colonial America to modern times. This survey prepares students for intermediate and advanced college courses by making demands upon them equivalent to those made by full-year introductory college courses. In addition to the main text, numerous outside readings are required. Students learn to assess historical materials — their relevance to a given interpretive problem, their reliability, and their importance — and to weigh the evidence and interpretations presented in historical scholarship. The course prepares students to take the mandatory Advanced Placement exam in May.

Advanced Placement Modern European History

The dual aims of this course are to prepare students to sit for the Advanced Placement examination in European History and to prepare seniors for rigorous historical study in college. Therefore we combine the model of an intensive introductory survey course with that of a thoughtful and reflective college seminar. To accomplish this, we spend about half of our time building a substantial body of knowledge on developments in European warfare, politics, philosophy, art and literature, cultural and social change during the modern era. To build depth we analyze key issues from a variety of angles, supported by critical reading, class discussions and argumentative writing. For example, we begin the year with an issue in contemporary France known as “the headscarf controversy.” By examining the discourse surrounding a 2004 law that prevents Muslim girls from wearing the hijab in public schools, we gain access to critical components Europe’s modern history, including colonialism, industrialization, migration, secularism and the construction of racial and gendered identities. We then trace those threads back through time, situating their development within periods like the Post-Modern 20th Century, Age of the World Wars, 19th Century Imperialism, the Industrial Revolution, Age of Napoleonic Warfare, Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment, Age of Religious Wars and the Plague and Renaissance. The course is supported by regular readings in a sophisticated college-level textbook, advanced secondary source material provided by the instructor and regular primary source readings. Students should be prepared to spend about two hours preparing for each eighty-minute class session. Quarterly grades are derived from written blue book exams, argumentative essays and class preparation/participation.

Model United Nations

MUN is a course in which students examine a range of international topics, as well as prepare to represent assigned countries at MUN conferences throughout the year. The course has regular lessons on international economics and law, parliamentary procedure, public speaking, current events, political science in general, and research skills. The class sends delegations to participate at local, statewide, and national or international conferences. Students are required to attend and to write resolutions proposing solutions to global problems and to submit those resolutions for consideration at conferences. Participants lobby to have their resolutions accepted for debate, debate various resolutions in committees, and endeavor to win approval of their resolutions. This course requires extensive research, refinement of ideas, and writing. Students displaying a superior degree of dedication, demonstrated ability, dependability, good behavior, and initiative may be invited on a year-by-year basis to participate in a national or an international MUN. Students are required to attend a specified number of local or regional conferences.

Global Citizenship in the 21st Century

In the twenty-first century networks of trade, information and migration crisscross the globe. As a result, people make choices in their everyday lives that stem from (and impact) the lives of many others in distant territories. Although national states remain the official forum for making political decisions, globalization has politicized a whole host of choices that stretch beyond the geographic and political boundaries of the nation-state. Awareness of those realities has led some scholars to argue that we are entering a post-national era in which non-state actors and organizations are becoming more powerful and important to the global order. This course examines the roles and responsibilities of the average person as a citizen of the world in the twenty-first century. Students will learn to inform themselves about global issues by using a variety of traditional and non-traditional media. We will examine select topics that highlight the limits of national politics, such as environmental activism, natural disaster relief efforts and diaspora communities.

Citizenship in America: Contemporary U.S. Issues

The job of a United States Citizen is no easy task. While democracy empowers us to freely discuss, advocate, and act, citizens must be informed and grapple with what responsible political action looks like. In the age of tweets, bloggers, and polarizing talking heads, we must navigate a colossal amount of information, discern its validity, and apply it to our own personal values. This course attempts to help students do just that. After an introduction to the workings of American democracy, students will examine critical, contemporary U.S. issues, which may include health care reform, fiscal policy, education, environmental issues, and immigration. As part of the process, students will research, write, discuss, and present possible solutions on various domestic issues. We will also examine the ways in which citizens participate at the local, state, and federal level.

Museum Studies

World Language

At Manlius Pebble Hill, we believe that fluency in a world language helps to develop a global perspective and serves as a gateway to a truly international life. We value the study of languages not only for their immediate practical benefits, but also for the way in which learning a new language enables students to learn about distinct cultures, and thereby understand their own more fully. In the Upper School, MPH offers instruction in Latin, Spanish, French and Mandarin Chinese.

In classical studies like Latin, students focus on reading, writing and translation in order to gain an understanding of the language, its historical context, and the linguistic and cultural heritages passed on through western civilization. Modern languages emphasize oral and written communication through an immersive classroom environment that cultivates not only fluency but also cultural appreciation. Students often pursue their language of choice through the Advanced Placement level, and many also take advantage of international travel and cultural immersion opportunities. A recent trip to China allowed our students to showcase their fluency in Mandarin in venues such as Tiananmen Square, the Ming Tombs and the Summer Palace.

Small classes are key to MPH’s excellence in language instruction. Students are immersed in the cultural products of the country whose language they are studying. They may prepare a Spanish meal, read a French magazine, or watch a Chinese film. Because the study of a world language entails a progressive acquisition of linguistic skills, our program is intentional in its vertical articulation. During their time her, students progress from beginners to truly fluent speakers and connoisseurs of the culture, and many choose to master more than one language.



Students must take 3 years of a language in Upper School AND complete Level III in one language.

Mandarin Chinese

Mandarin Chinese I develops the students’ basic communication ability by learning language structures, functions and related cultural knowledge as well as by training their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. This course focuses on the beginning level proficiency in phonetics, characters, basic daily life conversations and grammar. Classes consist of a variety of activities including classroom lecture and practice, cultural enrichment activities, multimedia presentations and field trips.

French I

The French I course develops the student’s oral communication skills in the French language by stressing vocabulary, correct pronunciation, and basic grammatical structures of increasing complexity. Students read and comprehend passages that focus on cultural affairs in France and in French-speaking countries. The course develops writing skills, from the simple sentence to paragraph compositions in French.

French II

This course entails the same program as the French I course but in greater detail and complexity, while maintaining the same emphasis on oral communication. Greater attention is given to written compositions and reading selections. Integrating the cultural material into the learning process, students acquire an awareness of youth-related life in the French-speaking world.

French III

French III emphasizes the development of greater speaking and writing skills through vocabulary units and French literature. Students review basic grammar and start learning intricate patterns of French grammar. They incorporate conversational tenses into the language use. They demonstrate independent written and oral control of the language through compositions, and reports. Reading passages include authentic materials and an introduction to French Literature.

French IV

Advanced Placement French Language & Culture

AP Language and AP Literature are offered in alternate years depending on the strength, motivation, or needs of the students. AP Language consists of a reinforcement and expansion of the four skills: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. This course develops the student’s ability to understand spoken French in different contexts, the ability to read newspapers, magazine articles, and literary texts of different forms and periods, and the ability to express coherent written and spoken French using idiomatic expressions and correct grammatical structures.

French Theater, Cinema and Culture

This class is for students who have completed French IV or above successfully, and want to enjoy perfecting their mastery of spoken French while broadening their general culture in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. In this conversation course, entirely conducted in French, students will learn about French history and culture from the Middle Ages to the present, read and discuss excerpts of francophone literature, and watch films that illustrate our class conversations.

The Crusades, the Great Plague, the Hundred Years War, the rise of Humanism, the great discoveries, the Reformation, the wars of religion, the classical age, the Enlightenment, the French revolution, the First Empire, the Restauration, and the Second Empire, industrialization and consumerism, the rise of proletariat and bourgeoisie, colonization and the emergence of the francophone world will be the backdrop for the works of art we’ll explore together.

While we’ll take a look at all forms of art, our main focus will be on reading and discussing works of literature. Among others, we’ll discover Marie de France, Charles d’Orléans, François Rabelais’ Gargantua, Ronsard’s poetry, and Montaigne’s Essais, Descartes’ Discours de la Méthode, Pascal’s Pensées, Madame de Sévigné’s letters, LaFontaine’s Fables, Molière’s theatre, Montesquieu’s Esprit des Lois, Voltaire’s tales, Rousseau’s Social Contract, Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, the Romantic Lamartine, Balzac, Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, Zola’s Au Bonheur des Dames, the poetry of Baudelaire, Verlaine and Rimbaud, the surrealist Apollinaire, and the post colonialist  literature of Aimé Césaire.

Latin I

The Latin I course develops awareness and mastery of Latin grammar. The course stresses proficiency in a language based on endings rather than word order. Vocabulary building is fundamental. Latin forms and endings are practiced and drilled daily. While the ultimate goal is translating sentences from Latin to English, there is practice in translating from English to Latin. A classical pronunciation is used. The class emphasizes the impact of Greek and Roman civilization on literature, culture, and art.

Latin II

The Latin II course continues the sequence begun in Latin I. The first half of the year is devoted to a student’s development of a secure knowledge of grammar and a mastery of reading Latin prose. The last semester is devoted to reading Caesar’s Gallic Wars: Book I. There is much emphasis on the student’s awareness of ancient culture.

Latin Literature

Students in Latin Literature read three ancient authors: Sallust, Cicero, and Ovid. Selections from Cicero’s Ad Catilinam and Sallust’s Bellum Catilinae begin the year. Considerable time is spent discussing the causes of the Civil War and the breakdown of the Roman Republic. Selected portions of the Metamorphoses of Ovid, which introduce the student to authentic Latin poetry, complete the year.  Students learn all aspects of Ovid’s work including style, meter, and literary devices.

Advanced Latin Literature

The Advanced Latin Literature course is set up to complete the entire required reading list as shown in the old AP® Latin Literature Course Description and it will follow the syllabus for the Latin Literature Advanced Placement Exam given by The College Board at ( Students review Latin grammar and develop skills in reading Latin passages from Catullus’ and Horace’s lists of works. Skills include the ability to translate, analyze, interpret, read aloud, and scan the meter appropriate to the text. The course places a strong emphasis on the historical, social, cultural, and political context of Catullus and Horace. Also, students learn how Latin literature has influenced the art and literature of the modern world and culture.

Advanced Placement Latin

This course is designed to give students the experiences needed to be successful on the College Board AP Latin exam. The course’s goals are to develop the students’ abilities to translate the required passages from Caesar’s De bello Gallico and Vergil’s Aeneid into English as literally as possible, to help them understand the context of the written passages (including the political, historical, literary, and cultural background of each author and text), and to help them understand the reasons behind the particular style of writing and the rhetorical devices employed. The course should also help students to be successful in analyzing Latin passages to understand how and why the author uses the language in a particular way and the effects he is hoping to produce.

Spanish I

In Spanish I, students begin to communicate in Spanish with other people who speak the language. They are also introduced to Spanish and Hispanic culture. Students listen to and read Spanish in order to interpret meaning and to convey their own ideas through speaking and writing. Class activities include whole group questions and answers, pair and small group activities, the writing of paragraphs, and the reading of authentic materials. Videos featuring native speakers are also used.

Spanish II

In Spanish II, students continue to develop communication skills, learning higher-level vocabulary and new verb tenses. Speaking activities become more complex and writing reflects a more sophisticated thought process. Passages written in Spanish develop reading comprehension skills, as well as cultural appreciation of Spanish and Hispanic cultures.

Spanish III

Students in Spanish III continue the communicative approach to language learning begun in levels I and II. They communicate successfully in more challenging conversational situations, such as expressing and defending opinions, and narrating past, future, and hypothetical events. Vocabulary units expand on previously learned topics and introduce multiculturalism and the global community. Reading passages include authentic materials and an introduction to Hispanic literature.

Spanish IV

This course is for students who have completed Spanish III successfully. Advanced Composition and Conversation develops ease in speaking through expanding vocabulary, refining pronunciation, and practicing grammar concepts orally. Students learn vocabulary word groups that reflect the interests of the class members, as well as vocabulary idioms and colloquial language that appear in current Spanish publications. Students refine pronunciation by developing a command of the allophones of Spanish and their distribution. Extensive oral practice of verb tenses, moods, and grammatical structures improves students’ ability to use them naturally and at a normal speaking rate. Students also read two modern Spanish dramas.

Advanced Placement Spanish: Language and Culture

The AP Spanish Language course is designed for the fifth year students who have demonstrated proficiency in grammar, composition, and conversation. The course prepares students to comprehend formal and informal spoken Spanish, to acquire vocabulary and a grasp of structure, to allow the easy, accurate reading of newspaper and magazine articles as well as modern literature in Spanish, to compose expository passages, and to express ideas orally with accuracy and fluency. Course content reflects intellectual interests shared by the teacher and students (the arts, history, current events, literature, sports, etc.). A personal tape recorder with a built-in microphone using standard size tapes is required. Materials include recordings, films, newspapers, magazines, grammar texts, and works of literature.

Spanish Theater, Cinema, and Culture

This course is for students who have successfully completed Level IV Spanish or a more advanced course. This class is conducted entirely in Spanish. Students strengthen their conversational skills by watching and discussing movies from Spain and Latin America. They learn idiomatic expressions as well as current slang and will strengthen their listening comprehension skills. Students will work together to plan, write and produce their own movies I Spanish each semester.

Computer and Information Sciences

In the twenty-first century, people have more and different kinds of information available to them at any given moment. What is more, the media through which that information is communicated are evolving rapidly and increasingly accessible to people in all walks of life. In such an environment, students need sophisticated technological skills to help them create ideas, manage data and effectively communicate information. At Manlius Pebble Hill, Computer and Information Science courses are designed to equip students with the technological background that is essential in school, the workplace, for personal satisfaction and meaningful lives.

All Computer and Information Science courses include elements of computer programming, even though course topics range widely from dedicated introductory and advanced programming classes, to digital film and animation offerings. The incorporation of coding helps students develop skills and knowledge pertaining to computer programming and software development, while allowing them the flexibility to apply themselves in areas of their own interest, for example by exploring how to create video games and virtual worlds with 3-D animation. For students interested in pursuing programming at a higher level, introductory courses build a foundation for a transition to writing code in Java and other languages.

Our students also use multimedia applications to create professionally finished products that are useful to them in other courses. Those include Web design, digital images, video technologies, animation, and audio production. Combined with computer literacy in areas such as operating systems, telecommunications, cloud computing, cyber safety and security, and ethical issues involving technology, MPH students are well equipped to use a broad range of technology with great aptitude in support of the school’s mission to inspire students to think critically, act responsibly and discover a passion for lifelong learning.


Web Design

Web Design is a course that functions both as an introduction to designing different websites and a venue to discuss the history of the internet and the way it has changed our lives. Students learn about the evolution of web technology, the way in which different internet tools have opened up new possibilities for website design and functionality, and the best methods to utilize social networking resources. Students then put knowledge into practice as they learn HTML coding, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Dreamweaver, and WordPress to design dynamic web spaces. Throughout the semester students will learn different approaches to web development and techniques to make their sites more intuitive. Web Design is an introductory course open to all skill levels.

Advanced Media Arts

Advanced Media Arts is a studio based technology class in which students work on a semester or yearlong project that is outside of the scope of a traditional computer technology class. A student submits a project proposal indicating the project he or she hopes to tackle during his/her time in the class. Upon approval, the student attends class once a cycle to showcase the project’s progress, learn about other projects, help troubleshoot any issues he or she may be having, and discuss the viability of the project’s real world application. At the end of the class students are encouraged to showcase their work to the community by presenting to a different technology class or having a show at a local venue. Advanced Media Arts is for students who are interested in honing a specific media or technology skill set and believe they can create high level work. Students are required to take an introductory computer technology class as a prerequisite for Advanced Media Arts. Enrollment requires permission from the instructor.

Cinematic Storytelling

Cinematic Storytelling introduces students to the process of audio, video, and image development and distribution. Students learn the ins and outs of different media production hardware and software then use their skills to script, shoot, edit, export, and publish media for the MPH community as well as independent projects.  By the end of the semester students will have the background to create their own documentaries, narrative videos, and audio presentations as well as write in the traditional script format. Over the course of the semester students will utilize audio editing software such as Audacity, and Adobe Audition and video editing software like Adobe Premiere Pro. Cinematic Storytelling: The Art Of The Motion Picture is an introductory course open to all skill levels.

Introduction to Programming

Anyone with a passion for the creative process who is interested in logic and problem solving can learn to develop games, applications, and software. Introduction to Programming is intended to ease students into the programming mindset by developing games in simpler languages like Scratch (developed by MIT) then progress to more difficult object-oriented languages such as BYOB (developed by Berkley) and Java.  By the end of the course students will have a foundational understanding of how programming works and will be able to create simple games and programs using different languages and design programs. Introduction to Programming is an introductory course open to all skill levels.

Advanced Programming

The line between programming and becoming a programmer is a blurry one that most creators struggle with until they have reached an abundance of success. What these digital inventors fail to realize is that most programmers working in the industry today are self-taught. This course is intended to help students shift themselves from casual programmers to active and public creators through a series of activities that will put student work on display in both physical and digital locations. Students will learn advanced programming tactics in the Scratch and Java languages as well as explore creative coding principles using the language Processing. Students will also be responsible for their own C.H.I.P mini-computer and are expected to regularly learn new content outside of the classroom. Advanced Programming requires the per-requisite of Introduction To Programming.

3-D Modeling

The ability to design and render 3-dimensional images was once a niche skill for animators and video game designers. As the public’s’ interest in computer generated films and 3D printers is on the rise more and more media developers are learning how to design and render 3D imagery. This 3D modeling course is designed to give students an introduction to the multiple ways in which 3D mesh designs can be utilized. Using programs such as OpenSCAD, TinkerCAD, 123D Design, and Blender students will develop 3D models for prototype development, 3D printing, video game modification, and character based animation. 3D Modeling is an introductory course open to all skill levels.

Computer Graphics

Visual imagery can function on a variety of different levels. Sometimes a viral internet image can be used to make people all over the world laugh while other times an image can become the face of a multi-million dollar corporation. In either case, the image’s creator must understand the process of image development, the audience that will see it, and the best method for its distribution. Computer Graphics is designed to give students an introduction to the world of graphic design and digital image creation. Students learn the ins and outs of Adobe Photoshop and test their skills through a variety of projects. Students will also be introduced to 3-dimenstional design through the use of the program OpenSCAD. Throughout the semester students will have the opportunity to create visual sculptures, visual stories, internet memes, and animated Gifs. Computer graphics is an introductory course open to all skill levels.


Visual Arts

At Manlius Pebble Hill, art and creative expression are revered and not limited to formal instruction time. Our art program is about more than the sharing of a skill; it is about creating an atmosphere of openness and exploration. Upon entering the Kathleen and Daniel ’56C Mezzalingua Arts and Athletics Complex, you will find the Mafrici Family Gallery, which showcases the work of our student artists.

Students are encouraged to create and display original works in a variety of media and to become literate, lifelong aestheticians. The incorporation of art history into classes, hosting of visiting artists, and student visits to museums and artist workshops help to develop each student’s perspective on the arts. Emphasis is always placed on respectful nurturing of individual creativity. The medium of choice ranges from traditional art materials to photography, film, and computer-generated art. Routinely, nearly 10% of MPH’s most talented students will continue a formal study of art at the nation’s leading art institutions; recent graduates have attended The Art Institute of Chicago, Maryland Institute College of Art, and Rhode Island School of Design.

Yet MPH students vary widely in the intensity with which they pursue the fine arts, from those who are experimenting and stretching themselves to learn new ways of self-expression to those who have committed themselves to the life of the artist. The fine arts program is flexible enough in breadth and depth that all students can have the art program they need, whether it is one that permits sampling from the array of course offerings or one that is focused on sophisticated portfolio development and college-level critique.



Elemental Studio

This course introduces the basic principles and language of 2D and 3D design, including composition, layout, and color theory. Long term projects will include: a four piece color theory design; the additive sculptural construction of a 3D card house; creating a graffiti alphabet and personal tag; and a self-portrait graphic collage. Class critiques and discussions follow the completion of each project. Students will learn a variety of technical skills, creative thinking or “brainstorming”, and patience while developing their individual concepts in different media. Emphasis will be placed on creativity.  The student should develop a critical eye and vocabulary about design, and also exhibit a professional attitude and behavior towards their own and others work.

Introduction to Design

Students are introduced to the basics of design and design thinking. Students are challenged to creatively solve problems and to create useful or desirable products with pleasing packaging. Students work both independently and collaboratively as a design team to solve problems and identify problems to solve with the end user in mind. The primary learning is rooted in design thinking and collaborative problem solving.

Introduction to Photography

This class introduces students to the basic technological, compositional and editing skills necessary to be a successful photographer. Through a series of games, field trip and photo shoots students learn everything from shooting in manual, to decisive moment, to historic and contemporary photographers, to designing a photo shoot. Students frequently collaborate with one another to generate ideas and craft photographs. The primary learning is centered on control of the camera, understanding of light, value and composition, collaborative skills and building creative confidence.

Mixed Media

In Mixed Media, students are introduced to a variety of mediums and challenged to create a product that combines multiple media. Students explore bookmaking, printmaking and collage. The class blends looking at others’ work for inspiration with the opportunity for students to put their own spin on the work. Primary instruction focuses on independence and finding inspiration. Course may be taken more than once.


Yearbook students are charged with the responsibility of producing the yearly MPH PK – 12 chronicle. During the process of producing the yearbook, students are introduced to the basics of publishing and project management. Students collaborate to document and organize what life is like at MPH.  The primary learning is based in organization, project management, collaboration and responsibility for deadlines. Course may be taken more than once.

Advanced Portfolio Preparation

Students work with their instructor and their peers to develop a portfolio of work based on their particular interests and skill set. Student work heavily with creating work that explores a particular concept. The Portfolio Preparation class experience is specifically tailored to the individual student’s goals and abilities. Assignments vary based on student needs. The portfolio developed in the class can be submitted to colleges or universities for students aspiring to be Art and Design majors or as a supplement to colleges or universities for non-majors who wish to show colleges another aspect of themselves and abilities or to competition. The primary learning for students is reflection of work and process and creative exploration.

Elemental Studio – Spring Semester

Elemental studios is a two-dimensional heavy class that dives deeply into technical skills and idea generation. Students learn the Art Elements, Design Principles and Post Modern Art Principles.  Students are provided an environment that supports creative experimentation and creative freedom. Students create a body of work and help their peers during the critiquing process.  The primary instruction for Elemental Studio is focused on reflection of work and process and the development of technical skills. Course may be taken more than once.

Introduction to Ceramics

Students are introduced to the basic hand building skills of coil, pinch, slab and sculpting, in addition to wheel throwing skills. Students are challenged to both define and consider the differences and similarities between Craft and Art and will often combine multiple skills. Primary learning is based in the development of technical skills and reflection.

 Photography II

Photography II builds on the foundation of Intro to Photography. Students dive deeper into camera control, editing, control of light, and photo shoot design. In addition, students will learn basic studio lighting and focus on the creation of larger photographic series for both concept and technique. The primary learning for this class is articulate visual communication, careful editing, a continuous level of high technical excellence and creative experimentation. Course may be taken more than once.

 Advanced Studio Concentration

Advanced Studio provides an opportunity for students to experiment with different mediums and test different ideas in an environment that supports creative risk taking. This class is independently driven and assignments differ by individual based on that particular student’s needs. Students will keep a sketchbook and are required to reflect upon and chronicle their process from inspiration to completion. In addition, students are challenged to consider not only how their work is made, but how their work is experienced. Primary learning is centered heavily in reflection of work and process and creative risk taking. Course may be taken more than once.


Performing Arts

The Performing Arts Department fosters an environment within the MPH community where students express themselves creatively through movement, music, and drama. For many, we are a haven from the rigors of everyday life. Though our performing ensembles are accomplished and high caliber, our rehearsal atmosphere is congenial and encouraging. For this reason, more than 50% of all MPH Upper School students regularly take part in a Performing Arts ensemble throughout their Upper School career.

Housed in the historic building fondly known as “The Barn,” the Coville Theater is an intimate space that has always served as a magnet for students. Here we perform large and small ensemble concerts and stage dramatic productions that rival those of professional theater companies.

Our passionate, accomplished faculty offer courses of study in choral music, band, strings, music theory, drama, and dance. In fact, MPH has the distinction of being one of the only academic institutions in Central New York to offer a fully integrated dance curriculum.

Every year we send performers into the community as members of All County and All State ensembles, and students have graduated from MPH to attend prestigious performance programs such as Juilliard, Boston Conservatory, NYU Tisch School, Eastman, Purchase College, and the Crane School of Music. Yet whether or not students plan to study Performing Arts beyond MPH, those who take part in our ensembles and programs move forward with fond recollections of their experiences here.


Music Theory

Music Theory  is designed for those students who want to learn more about the inner workings of music. We explore the areas of rhythm, melody, harmony, notation, compositional technique, and analysis. Students learn to sight-sing and take dictation. An instrumental or vocal background and the ability to read music are required. It is strongly recommended that students in Music Theory also be enrolled in a performing ensemble. This is a core academic course and counts as one of the five core courses each Upper School student must enroll in per semester.

Concert Chorale

The MPH Concert Chorale is an elective ensemble comprised of students in grades nine through twelve. Students rehearse a variety of interesting and challenging music ranging from three to eight parts, which they perform in concert at the end of each semester. The Concert Chorale also performs at the annual Baccalaureate ceremony, and senior members of the group perform at Commencement. Students work to develop good vocal habits including good breath support, placement, intonation, diction, proper vowel formation, and blend. No prior singing experience is necessary for participation.

At the start of each school year, all interested Concert Chorale members are eligible to audition for select vocal ensembles, which in the past have included mixed, men’s, and women’s groups. The current incarnation of the Upper School Select Ensemble is the Varsity Choir, which sings mixed, men’s, and women’s repertoire. These groups rehearse during Upper School lunch and perform at various on- and off-campus venues throughout the school year. Students must be enrolled in Concert Chorale in order to be eligible for these groups.

Dance Composition & Performance

This course is designed for any student who is interested in exploring dance as a performing art and medium for artistic expression. The curriculum includes movement technique classes, improvisation and development of the choreographic process, video screenings, and attending live performances.

The first semester focuses on cultivating the creative process and culminates with the annual Student Choreography Concert. Student choreographers use class time for developing choreography, directing and rehearsing their dancers, and production planning.

In the second semester the focus shifts to introducing the legacies of great dance companies and choreographers of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. Students learn historic original choreography in preparation for the annual Repertory Dance Concert.

Practicum in Choreography, Performance and Production

This two-semester course is designed for advanced dancers who have studied several dance genres including ballet, jazz and modern/contemporary dance. The curriculum for this class includes technique classes, improvisation and development of the choreographic process, research and reaction papers, video screenings and attending live performances.

The first semester will focus on preparation for the annual Student Choreography Concert in January. All students are required to perform and choreograph for this performance. Student choreographers will use class time for developing choreography, directing and rehearsing their dancers, and production planning.

In the second semester the focus will shift to introducing the legacies of great dance companies and choreographers of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. Students will learn historic original choreography in preparation for the annual Repertory Dance Concert.

Philharmonia Strings

Philharmonia is an opportunity to study orchestral literature and advanced small group ensemble music. Each student will experience the joy and love of music in the orchestra ensemble and realize that people can work together for a common experience and appreciate/support the contributions of one another. Philharmonia Orchestra offers students great variety and challenge in musical performance.

Students will continue the advanced development of instrumental technique, music reading and comprehension skills, independent musicianship, style, critical thinking skills, a deeper understanding of small group ensemble music, and orchestral literature. Literature will contain both Classical and Popular music. Students will perform both in small group ensemble projects and as a large group. Philharmonia Orchestra will perform outside of class on a regular basis.

Wind Ensemble

Students study a variety of challenging music geared to the performance level of the group. This ensemble will study the art of instrumental balance, intonation, blend and musical style.  Students will have the opportunity to participate in NYSSMA events and All- County auditions. These ensembles will perform at least two major concerts per year.


This one semester course is an introduction to various components of stagecraft and design for theatrical production. Lectures explore and describe the physical elements of scenery, lighting, costume, and sound, and how they are designed and utilized safely in the theatre. During the production period for the Upper School musical, class sessions focus on the design, technical production, and construction of the settings and lighting design. After the musical, sessions center on the theory and practices of theatrical production, as well as exploration of design and theory for the lighting of the Spring Dance concert.

Through reinforcing lectures with actual demonstrations and hands on projects, a familiarity with the tools and techniques of all aspects of stagecraft is acquired. This broad-based understanding enhances the collaborative process of production. This course may be taken more than once so that students can continue developing skills.

Non-Departmental Courses


In Macroeconomics, students examine the economy as a whole. Students learn the many ways with which we measure aggregate economic activity in the United States (with frequent comparisons to other nations). We study the business cycle and its effects both from a historical perspective as well as with reference to current economic activity. Students also examine aggregate supply and demand, inflation, unemployment, the U.S. banking system, and the creation of money in the banking system. We then study the role that government plays in moderating the extremes of the business cycle through the administration of monetary and fiscal policy, mentioning the multiplier effect in both cases. The actions of currency and interest rate fluctuations are an important part of this discussion.


This course begins with an introduction to Economics as a field of study; students study the concepts of supply, demand, and market equilibrium as well as the benefits of free trade in a global economy. Microeconomics examines the theoretical behavior of the individual consumer as an economic individual and how the individual attempts to maximize his or her level of satisfaction. Students study the public sector in depth, examining tax policy and the classification of “public” versus private goods. The course also discusses the individual firm’s behavior in various market structures: perfect competition, oligopoly, and monopoly, for example. We also study the business firm’s primary motivations, which include the maximization of profits. The course makes significant use of graphs and models of the market in order to understand economic behavior of individuals and firms.

Health and Wellness

The objectives and content areas introduced in Middle School are strengthened and elaborated upon in Upper School Health and Wellness. Critical thinking skills are sharpened and the consequences, both positive and negative, of personal choices, decisions and behaviors emphasized. The impact of controllable factors on long term health and wellness are also stressed. Students will explore external influences on their ideas and opinions. Themes of social justice, community building and creating positive change will be woven throughout the course.

Factors influencing mind, body and spirit are investigated. Nutrition, exercise, sleep, hydration, reproductive health (including contraceptive methods, discussions and activities related to abstinence), stress management, and healthy relationships are included in the core of the Upper School Health and Wellness curriculum. Speakers from health-related community agencies are on occasion presenters and facilitators. Current events relating to health are incorporated into the curriculum. CPR/AED certification is acquired.

Introduction to Psychology – Elective

This class will explore the many ways psychology influences our lives. We will explore the history of psychological thought. Important figures in the history of psychological theory and current modalities of clinical use will be explored. We will look at the ways psychology can be used in a variety of workplace settings. Guest lecturers will discuss their methods of counseling. Class interaction will be an important aspect in this experience.

Freshman Seminar

Entrepreneurial Studies

Physical Education

At Manlius Pebble Hill, Physical Education is integrated into several aspects of our academic, extracurricular and co-curricular offerings. Each student in the Upper School earns one Physical Education credit per year by participating in two seasons of competitive athletics, two semesters of dance education, or by documenting physical activity performed outside of school. The program is designed to support and promote physical well-being, while providing flexibility and acknowledging that students participate in a wide array of sports and other activities both within MPH and outside of school.

The MPH Athletics program includes team sports in each season, including soccer, basketball, volleyball and lacrosse, as well as a host of individual sports such as tennis, golf, cross country and track and field. Coaches help athletes across a broad spectrum of ability develop their individual skills, and teach them valuable lessons about working together as a team. Our program ensures that athletic opportunities are available to every student by promoting participation and sportsmanship, while competing at a high level against similarly sized schools across Central New York.