Upper School Overview

Rigorous Academic Program

Boys are actively engaged in a program that challenges them to be creative, collaborative problem solvers. 

  • STEAM units are incorporated throughout the Upper School curriculum. These units present challenges that promote cross-disciplinary thinking and problem solving. 
  • In English, students explore the best in modern literature and selected works from the Western canon. Boys write often, and they learn to write well, with a coordinated expository and creative writing program that builds targeted skills from year to year.
  • In mathematics, conceptual understanding and computational accuracy receive equal emphasis. Boys apply their knowledge in active projects that solve real-life problems. Example: Designing and building a mailbox to proper scale
  • In science, boys apply their knowledge of math and technology to engineering projects, and leverage their innate curiosity to hypothesize, experiment, observe, and interpret. Example: Designing and building an efficient wind turbine
  • In history, through multi-faceted examinations of Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance or the Vietnam War, boys obtain essential insights into the human past and translate those into lessons for our time. Example: Exploring the 20th Century from a kaleidoscope of perspectives
  • In languages, fourth and fifth graders are fully immersed in the Spanish language and experience cultures of the Spanish-speaking world. Boys begin studying Latin in the fifth grade and choose to continue with Spanish or begin French in the sixth grade.
  • The use of technology for instruction, creation, research and presentation is integrated throughout the Upper School curriculum.


  • Learning is active! Teachers use collaborative, project-based learning to cultivate creativity, teamwork, problem solving, leadership, and public speaking skills. Direct instruction is used to impart essential knowledge skills. Working in small groups, students learn to appreciate one another's gifts and to delegate and accept responsibility. Each grade has integrative projects that are among the highlights of a Saint David’s experience.
  • Educational partnerships with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History (Grade 6) and the DNA Learning Center at Cold Spring Harbor (Grades 5 and 8) offer opportunities to deepen boys' learning. In conjunction with Grade 6's study of astronomy, a unique partnership with the American Museum of Natural History: Hayden Planetarium enables boys to design, write, produce, and narrate an original research-based space flight presentation in the Planetarium before an audience of parents and faculty.
  • Public speaking/rhetoric is specifically addressed in each grade with multiple opportunities for boys to present
  • Several overnight learning experiences deepen and widen learning. These include overnight Grade Six trips to Frost Valley and Washington, D.C.; a week-long Grade Seven trip to Cape Cod; the two-week Grade Eight Italian Study Tour of Rome, Assisi, and Florence; and optional summer study in Salamanca, Spain, for rising eighth graders.


  • Through religion classes and chapel, boys develop a moral compass that we hope will inform the personal and social decisions they are called upon to make. Grade specific classes are devoted to the challenges facing emerging adolescents.
  • Members of our athletic teams, clubs, and musical groups understand what can be accomplished by placing the group before oneself. 
  • A boy who graduates from Saint David’s takes with him rich experiences and life lessons from the Lower and Upper Schools. He is the sum of early skill development and more mature analytical thinking, of gentle reminders to live by the Golden Rule and of the Headmaster’s call to “be good men.”