Cary Academy

Upper School Course Catalog

2018-2019 School Year

 This Course Catalog is a listing of all courses available in the Cary Academy Upper School.  Specific courses may or may not be offered in a given year due to student interest or scheduling conflicts.  A good faith effort will be made to enroll students in the courses they choose.  However, we may not be able to accommodate all requests.  Thus, this Catalog is not a contract to offer specific courses during 2018-2019 or any other year. 




Academic Policies and Procedures

 Graduation Requirements

A minimum of 21 credits is required for graduation; however, most students will complete 25 or more credits during their four years in the Upper School.  Students must also fulfill the following departmental requirements:

English: Four full-year courses in grades 9-12 to include:
  ENG 101: English 9: The Heroic Journey (Gr 9)
  ENG 201: English 10: Identity and Change (Gr 10)
  ENG 300: American Literature (Gr 11) or
  ENG 350: Advanced   American Literature (ADV) (Gr 11)
  ENG 485: Reimagining Classic Literature (Gr 12) or
  ENG 495: Creative Writing (Gr 12) or
  ENG 500: The Great Books  (ADV) (Gr 12)

Fine and Performing Arts: ART130: Art & Design (Gr 9) and 1.5 additional arts credits in grades 9-12

History and Social Sciences: Three full-years of courses in grades 9-12 to include:
  SOC 101: WH: Themes and Approaches (Gr 9) and 5 WH electives (Gr 9 and 10)
  SOC 300: U.S. History (Gr 11 or 12) or
  SOC 350: Advanced U.S. History (ADV) Gr 11 or 12)

Mathematics: Three full-year courses in grades 9-12 to include a minimum of Algebra II.  Students interested in a school in the University of North Carolina system will need to pass one course beyond Algebra II.

Physical Education and Health:
  Grade 9:   PEH 100: Physical Education and Health
  Grade 10: One trimester of PEH 310/320/330: Emotional Health and
                   One trimester of Physical Education or PEH240/290: PE Exemption
  Grades 11 and 12: One trimester each year of Physical Education or PEH240/290: PE Exemption

PE Exemption
Students in Grade 10-12 only may submit a request for a PE Exemption if they meet the following requirements:
  Any Dance class or
  Participate in one Cary Academy interscholastic team at either the Junior Varsity or 
  Varsity level

Note: Students with a PE Exemption who withdraw from a team after the drop/add deadline passes will still be responsible for satisfying the     requirements for a full trimester of Physical Education. PE Exemption forms may be downloaded from our website.

Science: Three full-year courses in grades 9-12 to include:
  SCI 100 Biology (Gr 9)
  SCI 200 Chemistry or SCI 201 Chemistry: Particle Exploration or SCI 202:  
  Chemistry:  Instructive Framework (Gr 10)
  SCI 300 Physics (Gr 11 or 12) or
  SCI 350 Honors Physics (H) (Gr 11 or 12) or
  SCI 365 Advanced Physics - Mechanics (Gr 11 or 12)

World Languages: Three full-year courses in one foreign language in grades 9-12. 


Online Courses 

The growth of online courses offered by external organizations provides students the opportunity to take courses not offered at Cary Academy and the experience of working independently and online. Students may take online courses that count toward Cary Academy graduation requirements. Please note that students who go on to play sports at the NCAA level should review current NCAA guidelines when considering courses that count toward CA graduation and/or college admission.  


Policies for online courses  that may  be counted toward Cary Academy graduation requirements 


·  Courses must be approved by the Department Chair and the Assistant Head of Upper School. Requests for approval must be made 15 days before a T1 course begins and 15 days before the end of T1 or T2. Students must provide a link to the course.

·  Online courses may take the place of elective courses at Cary Academy

·  Students with extenuating curricular circumstances who wish to take an online course in place of a required course must speak to the Assistant Head of Upper School for approval.

·  Students must still meet CA required course and graduation requirements. Earned online credits may count toward the total number of credits required for graduation (21).

·  Students must take a minimum of 5 courses per trimester. This may include one online course. If the online course is approved as a 5th course, the student may drop one of his/her elective courses. Students may take an online course that is in addition to the minimum course requirements.

·  Drop-add policies apply to online courses that are counted as one of the 5 minimum core courses.

·  Students must still meet Cary Academy requirements to take advanced online courses through approved online course providers.

·  Cary Academy will cover the cost for students taking online courses through approved online course providers.

·  If a student wants to take an online course through another organization, he or she must speak to the Assistant Head of Upper School.

·  The cost of courses taken through organizations other than approved online course providers are the responsibility of parents.

·  CA faculty are not required to provide extra-help.

Registration Process for Courses that meet CA Graduation Requirements

  • Courses must be approved by the Department Chair and the Assistant Head of Upper School. Requests for approval must be made 15 days before a T1 course begins and 15 days before the end of T1 or T2. Students must provide a link to the course.
  • In the spring, students register for a full schedule of courses at Cary Academy. If the approved online course meets graduation and policy requirements above, it may be taken as a sixth course or counted as one of the 5 required courses. If the online course is approved as a 5th course, the student may drop one of his/her elective courses.


Reporting Online Courses


  • Courses taken through the approved online providers will appear on Cary Academy transcripts.
  • If a student decides to drop an online course, the student and family are responsible for the cost of class.


Full Academic Schedule 

Students are required to take a minimum of 5 credits each trimester, unless they qualify for one of the exceptions listed below.  Required Physical Education and Wellness courses do not count towards this total.  The requirements for a full academic schedule are subject to two exceptions:

1.      Students may reduce their course load to four (4) credits of major academic courses each trimester if at least two of the four courses are Advanced (ADV) courses.

2.      Students who qualify for the Competitive Performance Program (described in CA Student Handbook) may be allowed to reduce their course load to four (4) credits.

 Honors and Advanced Courses

Cary Academy offers opportunities for students with exceptional talent and motivation to advance beyond the scope of the typical college-preparatory curriculum.   Honors (H) mathematics and physics courses are offered and Advanced (ADV) courses are offered in all departments except Physical Education and Wellness.

Honors courses designated (H) in mathematics and physics go into greater detail and depth than the corresponding non-honors course.  Students enroll in an Honors (H) course with the understanding that the work requirements are more rigorous than typical Cary Academy courses. 

Cary Academy offers Advanced (ADV) courses in lieu of Advanced Placement (AP) courses.  Advanced (ADV) courses are taught with the rigor and expectations (especially in terms of time needed for study out of class) of college courses.  These courses differ from AP courses in that teachers have the ability to modify the AP course syllabus and emphasize depth of research and study, or specific areas of study not prescribed in the AP syllabus.  Most Cary Academy students enrolled in Advanced (ADV) courses choose to sit for the corresponding Advanced Placement (AP) examination offered by The College Board.

Each May, Cary Academy administers AP examinations to interested students in all academic areas represented in the school’s curriculum.  Advanced Placement (AP) examinations are graded on a scale from 1 to 5.   Many colleges award credit or recognition to students who achieve a grade of 3 or higher on an AP exam.  Consult the catalogs of prospective colleges for their policies regarding the Advanced Placement Program.

Students who are interested in a particular Advanced (ADV) course should discuss their interest with their current teacher in the academic area, faculty advisor, college counselor, and their parents.  Students enroll in an Advanced (ADV) course with the understanding that the work requirements are more rigorous than typical Cary Academy courses.  The decision to admit a student into an Advanced (ADV) course is made at the department level after consideration of the student’s grades, teacher recommendations, standardized test scores, motivation, total course load, and extracurricular involvement outside and within the school.  Individual departments create their own criteria for entrance into Advanced (ADV) courses.  Advanced (ADV) courses in the sciences meet for additional class periods to accommodate the demands of a rigorous laboratory program

Normally, students are allowed to take up to two Advanced (ADV) courses in the junior year and three Advanced (ADV) courses in the senior year.  Exceptions may be made for students who demonstrate appropriate levels of achievement. 

 Drop-Add Policy

The following chart details policies governing course changes in the Upper School.  When adding or dropping courses, students and parents are asked not to request particular subject area teachers.

Time Period




Until the end of second week of school in each trimester 

Drop any course

No notation for dropped course





Add – one term, two term, or full-year course

New course appears on transcript

Full Credit 


Start of the third week of school year until last day of classes of first Trimester 

Drop full-year course only (One term courses may not be dropped after Drop/Add period)

No notation for dropped course



Add – full year courses only.  No new full-year courses may be added after midterm. No new one trimester course may be added after Drop/Add period. 

Course appears on transcript



Change from ADV/Honors to regular section of same course or regular section to ADV/ Honors or adjustment of world language level 

Grade calculated on the basis of work done in lower/upper level course.  Only the new course will appear on transcript.



After start of Second Trimester 

One-term courses may be added or dropped during the two-week drop/add period in second and third Trimester as in the first Trimester


Full-year long courses dropped before end of second Trimester

Trimester 1 grade, WP/WF/WM, and date of withdrawal will appear.
WP- withdrawal with passing mark
WF- withdrawal with failing mark 
WM - medical withdrawal

WA - administrative withdrawal

1/3 of a credit will be given only if this student earned a passing grade for the first trimester


After start of Third Trimester

Full-year courses may not be dropped after the end of classes in the second Trimester except for medical reasons. In that event, the transcript will show appropriate credit with WM notation.  A Withdrawal Medical (WM) in trimester 3 will earn him/her 2/3 of a credit for a 1 credit course. 

The final grade (based on Trimester 1 and Trimester 2 grades as ˝) and the date of the withdrawal will appear.

To remain enrolled at Cary Academy, a student must take courses that will earn her/him the equivalent of at least five (5) 1/3 credits in a trimester (PE does not count towards this total).

 Summer Courses for Advancement

Students may take courses for advancement during summer school at schools other than Cary Academy, but Cary Academy will not give graduation credit for such courses.  It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that the other school sends an official transcript, showing the grade and credit, to colleges, scholarship programs, summer programs, etc.  Cary Academy does not attach transcripts from other institutions to the Cary Academy official transcript.  Current and newly enrolled Upper School students interested in taking a summer course at another school in order to advance in an area of study (e.g., a student might take Geometry in order to advance from Algebra I directly to Algebra II), must obtain approval in writing, from the appropriate department chair, prior to taking the summer course.  The student will also be expected to complete the final exam of the Cary Academy course and earn a score of 85 or better to obtain the higher placement. 


Blended Learning Environment Courses

Blended Learning Environment (BLE) classes at Cary Academy feature an innovative course format combining two or three periods per week of classroom-based learning with three or two periods per week of on-line learning. This integration of face-to-face learning with a significant virtual component is designed to give students the opportunity to employ electronic tools to contribute in a substantial and sustained manner to the design and direction of their learning. The blended structure is also intended to facilitate original thinking and collaboration as students harness Web 2.0 tools and other emerging technologies to work creatively together in the pursuit of big ideas. 


Marking System and Grading

Students receive two marks for each course: one for achievement and one for effort.

Achievement marks


Effort marks


Numeric equivalent


Level of Effort


97 to 100


Superior effort


93 to 96


Satisfactory effort


90 to 92


Unsatisfactory effort


87 to 89


Seriously deficient effort


83 to 86




80 to 82




77 to 79




73 to 76




70 to 72




67 to 69




65 to 66




Below 65



Each academic department establishes its own criteria for assessing achievement and effort.  These criteria are shared with students at the beginning of year each year-long and trimester course.

Calculating Final Grades for Year Long courses:

Courses will have each trimester weighted as 1/3 of the final year grade.

The minimum passing grade at Cary Academy is “D.”

No student may graduate from Cary Academy, nor may an Upper School student advance from one grade to the next, with an unresolved failure in a course that is required for graduation. Although the grade of “F” will not be replaced on a student’s official transcript, a student must resolve the failure in a required course in one of the following ways:

q       repeat the course in a summer school session immediately following the course failure and take the appropriate Cary Academy course final exam and score a minimum of 70.

q       repeat and pass the course in the following academic year at Cary Academy. 

q       a means agreed upon by the teacher of the course, the Department Chair, the Upper School Head, and the student and parents. 

For a course not required for graduation, a course failure may stand unresolved: the student’s transcript will reflect an “F” for the failure and a zero for the credits earned. 

A student in the Upper School who has two or more course failures for an academic year will not be allowed to continue as a Cary Academy student. 

 Early Graduation

Cary Academy endeavors to prepare students for college by exposing them to four years of study in the Upper School program.  However, in special cases, with the approval of the student’s Faculty Advisor, Upper School Head, and Head of School, a student may be eligible to graduate from Cary Academy after the junior year. 

To graduate early, Cary Academy students must complete a minimum of 21 credits and fulfill departmental requirements (see pages 1-2) by the end of the junior year.  To graduate following the junior year means that a student must annually complete seven (7) Cary Academy courses in Grades 9, 10, and 11.  This is a very rigorous course load that does not allow for any study or free periods.

Requests for early graduation must be submitted to the Assistant Head of Upper School by May 1 of the student’s sophomore year (grade 10).


Registration and Scheduling

During the Spring Trimester, students register for their courses for the following academic year.  Each student’s advisor will review course options and work with the student, parents, the Assistant Head of Upper School, and the College Counselor(s) to help assure that he or she has met all graduation requirements and has chosen a course of studies appropriate to his or her academic achievement and plans.

In spite of the School’s best effort to satisfy students’ course requests within the academic regulations of each academic department, students may not be able to enroll in courses they have chosen due to enrollment, class size, scheduling conflicts, and other factors beyond the control of the School.  In this event, the School will make reasonable efforts to accommodate student requests for alternative courses.


Course Credits

Unless otherwise specified, each course listed is a year-long course that meets 5 periods a week and carries 1 credit for the year.  Courses which meet 5 times per week for one term carry 1/3 credit.  Other courses carry credit and meet as indicated in the course description.