Common Ground’s curriculum mixes rigorous expectations for all, responsive relationships, relevant learning that’s rooted in the community & environment, and real roles and rights for students.
Common Ground’s Core Courses challenge and support all students to travel pathways to college success, powerful environmental leadership, meaningful careers, and healthy, happy, sustainable lives:
- Every 9th grader spends 4 of 8 periods in Core 9 — combining math, science, social studies, and English to explore who they are, our school community, and our unique 20-acre campus. Alongside the core, 9th graders take more traditional courses — including art, PE, French or Spanish, a second math class, biology, and academic support classes.
- 10th graders dedicate half of their school day in Core 10 — learning science, social studies, English, and the arts as they explore stories, justice, change, power, and health in the City of New Haven. Sophomores also take a level-appropriate math course, biology or chemistry, foreign language, and academic support labs.
- Junior Seminar empowers students to take action NOW toward their future goals — helping them get ready for the SAT, explore career and college options, and reflect on their growth as leaders
- In Senior Social Justice Capstone, students write college essays, complete and defend a portfolio that shows their growth as leaders, conduct college-level research on an issue that matters to them, and take on senior projects that contribute to a more just and sustainable community.
Over their four years of high school, students have more and more opportunities to blaze their own pathways, based on their unique passions and strengths. Around their core classes, juniors and seniors can choose to take a mix of more traditional classes — from physics, to pre-calculus, to Advanced Placement Government — alongside college courses, credit-bearing internships, green jobs opportunities, out-of-school programs, and electives ranging from ceramics to race, identity, and justice.
English Language Arts Courses
All Common Ground students take Core 9 English, Core 10 English, Junior Seminar, and Senior Social Justice Capstone. In addition, students can choose to take electives including:
AP Language and Composition | Creative Writing | Nature Literature | Gods & Heroes | Journalism
Students who need to make up ground in reading and writing also take Introduction to Literature.
Common Ground uses an integrated math sequence, starting with Math A & B (helping students who enter high school behind grade level make rapid progress), and continuing with Integrated Math 1, 2, and 3 (building mastery of high school Common Core Math standards, including content from Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Geometry), followed by Pre-Calculus, and then Calculus (offered through local colleges).
All 9th graders double up on math — taking integrated Core 9 math to build skills for real life mathematical problem-solving alongside a math class appropriate to their level. This combination has helped our students make gains greater than 90% of their peers across the country.
All students take integrated science through Core 9 and Core 10 — building a deep understanding of scientific thinking and inquiry, along with core concepts in environmental science, biology, physical science, geosciences, and chemistry. In addition, Common Ground students take year-long courses:
Biology | Chemistry | Physics | Oceanography | Neuroscience | AP Environmental Science
Many Common Ground students graduate with 6 or more science credits.
Social Studies Courses
All Common Ground students take Core 9 & 10 social studies — building skills for historical and social science thinking, while building understanding of core concepts from civics and government, U.S. history, and world history. In addition, Common Ground students take …
AP United States Government | AP European History | U.S. History | Environmental History | Civics: Crime and Justice | Sustainable Design | Food & The Environment | Food, Culture & Identity
Common Ground offers:
French 1, 2, 3 | Spanish 1, 2, 3 | Advanced language courses and additional language options offered through local colleges
Art 1 & 2 | Ceramics | Art Portfolio | Music (introduction to music theory and composition) | Shakespeare Workshop & Social Justice Theater offered in partnership with Southern Connecticut State University & Elm Shakespeare Company.
PE 1 | PE 2 | Fitness Design
Above & Beyond Learning Opportunities
Alongside more traditional classes, Common Ground students can:
- Take college courses free of charge at Southern, Gateway, or Yale.
- Take 6 different Advanced Placement and Southern courses on our campus.
- Take on paid jobs — and earn academic credit — through Green Jobs Corps.
- Earn credit through internships — in environmental education, on our urban farm, as a teaching assistant, or helping improve student opportunities.
- Choose from unique electives — including race, identity & justice, outdoor leadership, environmental education, and social justice theater.