Course Bulletin 2020-2021

Course Selection Guide

St. Johnsbury Academy is a comprehensive, co-educational secondary school serving students in grades 9 through 12 and a post-graduate year. In describing itself as comprehensive, the Academy intends that its curriculum will meet the needs of all of our students. We offer a wide range of subjects and sequences at different levels of difficulty. A careful reading of this curriculum guide will help ensure that parents and students make the best choices from the extensive options available.

Grade Progression

St. Johnsbury Academy is a four-year institution. Students normally progress from the ninth through the twelfth grades and graduate by accumulating credits through successfully passing courses of study. As long as a student has acquired sufficient credits so that they can make up missed credits and graduate with their current class, even if they have fallen behind in their required courses, they will advance from grade to grade with their class.

Graduation Requirements

In order to be granted a diploma by St. Johnsbury Academy, a student must complete four years of study at the secondary level and accumulate 26 credits. (See the chart “Graduation Requirements”.)

The decisions that students and parents make in their choice of courses and in the sequence of courses are extremely important. The choices made for the freshman and sophomore years will strongly affect the options available for the junior and senior years. To help visualize several options, we have included model paths that typical students might follow at the Academy. They can be found here.

Please refer to the individual departmental sections for further explanation of graduation requirements. 

St. Johnsbury Academy will not accelerate graduation. Students must achieve four calendar years of study at the secondary level in order to qualify for graduation from the Academy.




Senior Capstone

1 credit


4 credits


3 credits


3 credits

Social Studies*

3 credits

Physical Education

1 ½ credits

Computer Literacy

½ credit

Health Education

1 credits


9 credits

Total Needed

26 credits


Levels of Instruction

As a comprehensive school, we admit students with a wide range of skills, interests and backgrounds. We believe that students learn best when the material that they experience is presented in a form and at a degree of difficulty matched to their previous achievement. In nearly all of our academic departments, students are homogeneously grouped; that is, they are placed in instructional sections with students of similar previous achievement and academic preparation.

All of our academic departments offer courses at four levels of instruction: basic, standard, accelerated, and Advanced Placement™ (AP). 

  • Students who are placed at the basic level have demonstrated a need for instruction in the foundational skills required to learn the material of the course. They benefit from a more gradual introduction to the subject material that allows them to master the content of the course with the supports that will help them achieve success. 
  • Students who are placed at the standard level of a course have demonstrated levels of achievement and background typical of most high school students. They possess the skills and the requisite information that enable them to be successful in this college preparatory curriculum. 
  • Students who are placed in the accelerated level of a course have demonstrated high levels of achievement and demonstrate deep background knowledge in the subject. They possess skills and information that enable them to master material at an accelerated pace. 

Students new to the Academy are placed in various levels of instruction after careful study of standardized and placement tests they have taken, transcripts from previous schools, recommendations of teachers and guidance personnel, parental and student wishes, and consultations with the appropriate department chair. Students are not placed automatically at a given level of instruction in any department simply because they are in that level of instruction in another department. It is quite common for students at the Academy to be placed at different levels of instruction in different departments. Furthermore, if students experience success at a specific level, we encourage students to move to a higher level. In particular, it is the aim of the basic courses at the Academy to equip students to move
to the standard levels of instruction as soon as possible. In each department, personnel meet regularly to make sure that students are appropriately placed.

Many of our non-academic and some of our academic courses are heterogeneously grouped; that is, a student will be placed in them without reference to already acquired skills and knowledge. Some of these courses are Senior Capstone, Computer Literacy, Physical Education, Health/Critical Skills, and some technical courses.

After courses have been assigned, level changes are made only by the relevant Department Chair or the Academic Dean. 

Advanced Placement Program

The Advanced Placement program of the College Board is offered to students who have demonstrated a superior understanding of the subject matter and have signified their desire to achieve college credit for courses taken while they are still in high school (sophomores, juniors, and seniors only). Successful completion of an AP exam is recognized by many major colleges and universities for advanced placement or credit, at their discretion. The Academy offers 30 Advanced Placement courses including: English Language and Composition, English Literature and Composition, United States History, European History, World History, United States Government and Politics, Microeconomics, Psychology, Calculus AB, Calculus BC, Statistics, Computer Science A, Computer Science Principles, Biology, Chemistry, Physics 1, Physics 2, Physics C: Mechanics, Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism, Environmental Science, Studio Art: Drawing and Painting, Studio Art: 2D, Studio Art: 3D, Music Theory, French Language and Culture, Spanish Language and Culture, Japanese Language and Culture, Latin, and the AP Capstone Program (AP Seminar and AP Research). Students who take Advanced Placement courses are required to take the nationally administered Advanced Placement exam at the end of each course. Payment for the Advanced Placement exam is due prior to the exam.

Advanced Placement Capstone Diploma™
and Certificate™ Program

The AP Capstone Program is a two-course sequence consisting of AP Seminar and AP Research that allows students to explore real-world issues while developing the analytic, research, problem solving, and communication skills that colleges look for in an applicant.

Students typically take AP Seminar in the 10th or 11th grade, followed by AP Research in 12th grade. Students who earn scores of 3 or higher in the AP Seminar and AP Research courses and on four additional AP Exams of their choosing will receive the AP Capstone Diploma. This signifies their outstanding academic achievement and attainment of college-level academic and research skills.

Alternatively, students who earn scores of 3 or higher on the AP Seminar and Research Exams only will receive the AP Seminar and Research Certificate.

SNHU in the High School

Southern New Hampshire University in the High School’s dual enrollment program allows high school students the opportunity to earn early college credits while in high school.  At St. Johnsbury Academy designated courses have been aligned to meet the same content, rigor and learning outcomes as that of the University. The high school teachers instructing these courses met the University’s adjunct faculty requirement and have been approved by the University. Students will have the opportunity to take advantage of the dual credit opportunities at the beginning of the courses by completing an application and submitting the course registration fee for each class. Once the registration period closes, students will not be allowed to register for college credit.   Since these courses are college courses, grades earned while enrolled in the course are recorded on a SNHU transcript. Portability and transferability of credits rests solely with individual colleges and universities as they have varying policies on accepting transfer credits; thus, it is the students’ responsibility to consult with higher educational institutions to determine whether the SNHU course(s) can be transferred. Additional information regarding the program can be directed to Director of Guidance. Currently, the courses offered for dual credit include: Rhetoric and Composition, Studies in Literature and Composition, Creative Writing, Applied Statistics, Applied Calculus, United States History, AP Microeconomics, and Cryptology. There needs to be a minimum of 6 students per class enrolled in the dual credit option in order to offer the course for college credit.

The Academic Support and Enrichment Services Center

The Academic Support and Enrichment Center (also known as the Learning Center) is professionally staffed with faculty representing core disciplines. The Center offers a resource for students to seek support or enrichment in their studies as they pursue their academic interests and realize their potential. Students can access the Center during their unscheduled blocks or study halls.

Grade Reporting

Grades are reported to students and parents four times a year: mid-semester and at the end of each academic term. Report cards consist of a list of courses taken, the teacher of each course, and the grades for the period being reported. After the name of each course there is a parenthetical abbreviation which signifies the level of instruction at which the course was offered. There are five abbreviations: IS (Individualized Services), BA (Basic), ST (Standard), ACC (Accelerated), and AP (Advanced Placement). Students will earn credit in all courses that they have successfully completed after each semester of work.

The Academy acknowledges superior student achievement with two published lists, the high honor roll and the honor roll. Honor rolls are determined by mid-semester and semester grades. To achieve high honor roll status, a student must achieve an overall average of 90 or better. To achieve honor roll status, students must achieve an overall average of 85 or better.

Procedure for Course Selection

With a wide range of courses and about one thousand students, arranging an overall schedule that enables students to achieve their desired goals within the limits of the daily schedule, available faculty, and facilities is a complex task that requires careful planning. The guidance office goes to great lengths to facilitate the scheduling process. To help enable this, the following timeline guides the process:

St. Johnsbury Academy begins the course selection process. Current freshmen will meet with a guidance counselor to discuss course selections for the next school year and the options available in the context of their educational plans. Student course selections will be mailed to parents for signed approval.

Current sophomores and juniors will meet with a guidance counselor to discuss course selections for the next school year and discuss the options available in the context of their educational plans. Student course selections will be mailed to parents for signed approval.

An initial schedule is distributed to each student for a final discussion with their parents and to ensure that the proper courses are listed. Student schedules produced in May will not contain teachers’ names or the time at which courses meet.

August 10
Teacher course assignments, and meeting times and locations are arranged over the summer by mid-August. Student schedules are finalized and academic course loads are balanced over the summer. Up until August 10 students have the unlimited ability to change their course selections. After this date, schedules become increasingly difficult to change.

After August 10
Limited course changes and additions may be made after August 10, subject to space availability, fulfillment of prerequisites, and other considerations, subject to the constraints and schedule listed below. Between August 10 and the first day of the school year, a course change may be considered in these situations:

  • The student’s schedule is incomplete or unbalanced;
  • The student completed a summer school course, an online course, or had work experience that enables a higher placement;
  • Summer experiences lead to a change in career plans;
  • A core academic class is to be replaced by another core class, or an elective course is to be replaced by an another elective;
  • Changing the desired course(s) does not cause a course to exceed minimum or maximum enrollment requirements. In other words, no course changes will be made that cause a course to be cancelled or that require a new section to be created.

Once the master schedule has been built (August 10), all students enrolled in AP classes are committed to completing the entire year of the AP course.

First day of the semester
Students will receive their schedules, which include the course, location and teacher name.

During Weeks 1 and 2 of the first semester
Students may change only elective classes, following the Course Change Procedure. Reasons that may lead to an approved request are listed above.

During Week 4 and Week 7 of either semester
Students may petition to change the level of the course they are in (to a lower level only) for academic courses during the week after the interim grades and the week after the mid-semester grading period. These changes must be made in coordination with the student’s current teacher of the subject, the appropriate department chair, and by completing the Course Change Procedure form available through the Academic Office.

After Week 8 of either semester
No course changes may be made. If a course is dropped for any reason after week 8, the student will be denied credit in that course.

Communication among students, parents and guidance personnel is key to a successful course selection and schedule. Guidance counselors, advisors, students, and parents should be fully aware of the student’s needs and each other’s responsibilities. Senior year courses can be critical in the college admission process and we encourage seniors to take a challenging academic course load.

Scheduling Policies

  • Freshmen must take eight credits, which must include Freshman Humanities, Health/Critical Skills, a math course, and Biology: Living and Chemical Systems. Most freshmen also take Computer Literacy and Physical Education I. 
  • Sophomores and juniors must take eight credits of study for the year. 
  • Seniors must take at least seven credits, though they may take eight. Seniors who sign up for eight credits will not be allowed to drop to seven after the August 10 cutoff date.
  • Students may take a fifth course in a semester if that course is Guided Studies, Freshman Study Skills, Study Skills, English as a Second Language, or a Performing Arts (acting, band, chorus, or dance) course. Students will not be allowed to drop the fifth course after the August 10 date.

Teacher/Time Request
Requests to change teachers are not honored unless the student has previously taken a class from that teacher and would prefer a new learning experience. Such a request is subject to space availability, other master schedule constraints, and must be made during the first week of school. No changes are allowed solely for a change in the time a course is offered.

Driver Education
Driver Education during the school year is a highly desired option and is requested through the course selection process with their guidance counselor. Previous requests do not carry over to the next year and must be made again each year. Acceptance into Driver Education is based on year of graduation and date of birth. Those not offered a spot in the course will be placed on a waiting list based on the same criteria. If you request to be placed on the waiting list after the course has been scheduled and the waiting list created, you will be placed at the end of the waiting list without consideration of year of graduation or date of birth. If openings occur, students will be chosen from the waiting list and notified.

Student Schedule Appeal
Occasionally, special situations arise that do not fall under the guidelines above. These may lead a student to make a special request to appeal a scheduling decision. In that case, the first appeal must be made to the Department Chair, the second appeal must be made to the Director of Guidance, and the final appeal must be made to the Assistant Headmaster for Academics.