Upper School

Grades 9-12

Our Philosophy

Hawken takes its promises seriously.  Our commitment to prepare students to “navigate a complex and dynamic world with self confidence and determination; embrace challenges with disciplined analysis and creativity; and engage others with empathy and integrity” goes beyond college preparation. One of the hallmarks of the Upper School experience is found in the way engaged and caring teachers and administrators work collaboratively to provide an environment where rigorous college preparation is just the starting point. The Hawken commitment is preparation for life. Through unique course structure, opportunities for independent research, and experiential learning experiences, the commitment expands to provide students with the practical skills, self knowledge and purpose they will need to become citizens of substance and character.

The Upper School’s distinctive curriculum offers both core courses and elective opportunities where students can chose independent work from academics, athletics, the arts and service. Outside learning opportunities are varied and include the experiential campus at University Circle, a full menu of extra-curricular activities, and the community building House System. Our unique class schedule combines traditional learning periods with those of varying length, to allow more intensive study and multiple approaches to learning. Free time is built into all schedules to allow students the chance to conduct independent research, conference with teachers, or simply reflect. Hawken teaches students to embrace the intrinsic value of learning – not just the rote attainment of knowledge. We do this by providing everyday opportunities for student inquiry, analysis and experimentation. We believe that the development of these skills will best equip our students for the future. 

We also believe it will make our communities, and our world a better place.

Upper School Academic Overview

List of 4 items.

  • Students Learn by Doing

    Hawken prepares students to expand their horizons; think creatively and critically; and respond with compassion and wisdom to challenges. The Gries Center for Experiential and Service Learning, located in University Circle, supports authentic engagement by providing a home base for urban excursions and partnerships between Hawken students and other University Circle institutions. Students are able to apply what they have learned in the classroom to real world learning experiences while making connections between disciplines.  
  • Making the Most of Time: Innovative Scheduling

    Hawken believes that learning should be meaningful. The Upper School schedule combines traditional and innovative approaches to teaching and learning while providing opportunities for varied, differentiated instruction, collaborative work, and meaningful assessments. Built into the schedule is free time for students to conduct independent research, conference with teachers, or simply reflect. Unique highlights of the Upper School schedule include classes with varying lengths, at different scheduled days and times. Research shows this “rotating” schedule,  as opposed to the traditional same day, same time, same 45 minute subject approach,  accommodates more varied learning and teaching styles.
  • Innovative 3-week Intensive Classes

    Held between Thanksgiving and Winter Break and also at year’s end, Intensives allow for focus on a single course of study and enable a collaborative learning environment. Several Intensives are situated at the Gries Center, including seminars on Homelessness, Music Playlist, and Professional Writing. Many Intensives courses include multi-day, off-campus experiential opportunities of up to two weeks. Highlights include an AP U.S. History three-day trip to Charleston, South Carolina; Spanish Immersion Programs in Concepcion, Chile and Nicaragua; and an Honors Marine Science two-week stay at the Eleuthera Island School in the Bahamas.
  • Hawken’s Entrepreneurial Studies Program

    Hawken’s Entrepreneurial Studies Program develops an entrepreneurial mindset through a semester course held at the Gries Center. Designed as a forward-focused, interdisciplinary, honors-level course for juniors and seniors, it provides students an opportunity to work with Cleveland entrepreneurs, who present real-world business problems outlined in a scope of work, complete with hard deliverables and deadlines. In the final portion of the course, students use their knowledge about entrepreneurship and group work to create their own startups. Participants earn three honors credits, one each in English, business, and finance.

Grade Level Highlights

List of 4 items.

  • Grade 9

    Starting in 9th grade, students partake in the Upper School Humanities program which invites a philosophical examination of human nature through a study of the relationships between the history, geography, literature and arts of primarily ancient cultures from around the globe.

    Upon entering the 9th grade, students participate in The House System and are assigned to one of the four houses: Ansel, Bolton, Chester or Mather. The House System promotes school spirit, healthy competition and service learning.
  • Grade 10

    Beginning in 10th grade, preparations for college commence to ensure students find the right college match. Hawken’s comprehensive college counseling program starts academic scheduling consultations with 10th graders. Parent meeting opportunities are offered as well.
  • Grade 11

    Under the instruction and guidance of an award winning faculty member, the Writing Center teaches 11th and 12th grade interns selected for their writing proficiency, how to work with younger and less experienced writers. Interns also assist in “work- shopping” student essays for support and feedback.
  • Grade 12

    During the last three weeks of the year, a qualified senior may work with a faculty advisor and an off campus sponsor to plan a meaningful project as a culminating high school experience. The Hawken Project challenges the student outside the classroom and provides a transition to college.

Graduation Requirements

A total of 21 total credits are required to graduate.
  • English: 4 years
  • Fine Arts: 2 years
  • Foreign Language: 3 years of French, Spanish, Chinese, or Latin, or 2 years each of 2 languages
  • History: Humanities 9, Humanities 10, two Modern US History electives
  • Mathematics: Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2
  • Physical Education and Health: 5 semesters of activity, Health 1, Health 2
  • Science: Biology, Chemistry, Physics

Hawken Intensives

During upper school intensives, students take one course for three weeks. This provides the opportunity for field work, hands on learning, and depth of study not possible during the traditional 45-minute class period.

Library Information

Click here for information on Hawken's libraries at Lyndhurst and Gates Mills.

Hawken School | Lower & Middle Schools, 5000 Clubside Rd, Lyndhurst, OH 44124
Upper School, PO Box 8002 (12465 County Line Rd), Gates Mills, OH 44040
Gries Center, 10823 Magnolia Dr, Cleveland, OH 44106