Virtual High School (VHS) 2016-2017


Students enrolled in Advanced Placement VHS courses are required to take the AP exam. Please note: there is a $75/year fee for taking the AP course. Some science courses also include a lab fee. AP courses run for the entire year. 

AP Computer Science A

Advanced Placement Computer Science A is designed to prepare students for the College Board’s AP Computer Science A Exam. The course curriculum covers the topics and activities of a first-year computer science course at the undergraduate level. The course will introduce the Java programming language while emphasizing universal language techniques like syntax, semantics and readability. Students will gain mastery in programming concepts by using a subset of Java features that are covered when needed throughout the course content. This allows the student to understand and master important concepts that will apply to programming problems in many additional languages. 

AP European History

AP European History is a rigorous academic course that furnishes a basic narrative of events and movements in European History from 1450 to the present. Students will investigate the broad themes of intellectual, cultural and political history and will appreciate how those ideas are reflected in trends of philosophy, popular literature and the arts. As events in history can only be understood in terms of their social context, this course will examine demographics and the influences of social classes and gender roles on history. The course will also focus on economic history and the role of industrialization by reviewing the development of commercial practices and changing economic structures to recognize Europe's influence on the world. 

AP World History

The AP program in World History is designed develop a greater understanding of human societies. The course covers world history from approximately 8,000 B.C.E. to the present. The following themes will be highlighted throughout the course:

*Patterns and impacts of interaction among major societies: trade, war, diplomacy, and international organizations.

*The relationship of change and continuity across the world history periods covered in this course.

*The impact of technology and demography on people and the environment (population growth and decline, disease, manufacturing, migrations, agriculture, weaponry).

*Systems of social structure and gender structure (comparing major features within and among societies and assessing change).

*Cultural and intellectual developments and interactions among and within societies.

*Changes in functions and structures of states and changes in attitudes toward states and political identities (political culture), including the emergence of the nation-state (types of political organization).

AP Physics I

*Please note: This course has a lab kit and an AP fee. 

This Advanced Placement Physics 1 Course is equivalent to a first semester, algebra-based, Introductory Physics college-level course. Students will investigate topics such as Newtonian mechanics (including rotational dynamics and angular momentum), work, energy, power, mechanical waves and sound. Students will also be introduced to electric circuits. This course incorporates a variety of textbook and multimedia resources and will require students to perform hands on and virtual experiments to develop a deeper understanding of physics. Students will engage in collaborative activities such as class discussions, contribute to class data and attend regular “lab meetings” throughout the course. This course has recommended summer reading. There is also a lab kit for this course that must be purchased for an additional fee of $175.

Prerequisite: Algebra 2

AP Statistics

This course will introduce students to the concepts and tools for collecting, analyzing, and drawing conclusions from data. Students will be exposed to four themes. Exploring data: students observe patterns in data, conjecture about relationships of variables. Planning a study: students develop a plan to identify variables related to a conjecture and devise a means to measure them. Anticipating patterns: students will develop mathematics models and simulations. Statistical inference: students will use the models to draw conclusions from data and express confidence in the modeling process. Students need to have access to a calculator (preferably a TI-83) and a spreadsheet software package (preferably Excel). They will be provided with a book and a software package.

Prerequisite: Algebra 2 


Programming in Visual Basics (1 semester) H

This course is an exploratory programming course that uses one of the easiest programming languages in the world today, Visual Basic. It's a graphically-oriented language that allows for the easy construction of useful programs. Students will gradually build a vocabulary and syntax to create programs that meet specific guidelines. The logic and creativity used in solving the course problems will enlarge a student’s capacity for problem-solving in all other disciplines. 

Computational Science and Engineering Using Java (1 semester) H

This course is designed as a first course in programming for science and engineering. This course is an introduction to computational science, an interdisciplinary method of scientific inquiry. Students will develop a working knowledge of Java, the most important new computer language to arise in the last decade. Students will also gain experience with the fundamental ideas of calculus and its application in science and engineering. The emphasis of the course is scientific programming, and not simply learning Java. The Java language is used as a tool in building mathematical models that are of interest to scientists and engineers. Each student will receive evaluative grade scores on the basis of the completion of the assigned programs, the completion and quality of a few writing assignments, the completion of an experimental design project (group activity), and the completion of a final modeling project that includes an online presentation (group project). 

Prerequisite: two years of Algebra, one year of Geometry, one year of a laboratory science. 

Computer Animation with Scratch (1 semester) CP

This course is an introductory-level class that does not require a background in computer programming. Students with an advanced level of game development or programming should understand this prior to enrolling in the course. Students who enjoy working on the computer, creating characters, writing stories, or playing games will all find a fun opportunity with Scratch. Scratch is a free visual programming language that helps students create interactive digital stories, animations, and games. It’s simple to use, and it gives students a rich environment in which to learn some basic computational programming skills. 

In this course, students will begin by programming simple shapes to move and interact with each other. Then, they will learn how to add sound effects and music to their project. Soon, each student will have a full portfolio of their own art, stories, and games. The class will even have an “interactive dance party!” 

Computer Science (1 semester) H

This course is an introduction to computer science, covering the basic concepts and elements of the Java programming language and introducing object-oriented programming. Students will gain experience writing programs that are well documented according to industry standards and will have the opportunity to create Java Applets and learn about Graphical User Interface programming with Swing. Additionally, the students will be encouraged to work both independently and collaboratively to solve practical problems that illustrate application-building techniques.

Prerequisite: Algebra 

Engineering for Sustainable Energy (1 semester) CP

This class will look at global energy issues and problems using a variety of skills and concepts from the worlds of engineering, math and science. It will explore concepts of sustainability, thermodynamics, design, statistics, public opinion, and much more on this journey to better understand the nature of the problem, and how to go about solving it. 

Prerequisites: Physics and Algebra


Creative Writing (1 semester) CP

The semester will begin with thought, reading, on-line discussion and writing about WHY people write. Why bother to do imaginative writing when we can just turn on our TVs or access the Internet? The class will explore these questions: What is the fundamental impulse behind poems and stories? How are they constructed, and what techniques do particular writers use effectively? What kinds of work do we most admire and why? How can a piece of fiction or a poem speak to us across, years, genders, and cultures? Over the semester, students will develop and polish a portfolio of fiction, poetry, and analyses of published work. The final days of the semester will include reading about and discussion of the market for imaginative writing, approaches to getting published, and jobs for which writing skill is useful.

Poetry Writing  (1 semester) CP

We'll spend the semester creating numerous poems, three short stories, and one essay - all based on your opinions, experiences, and viewpoints. You will have the opportunity to improve writing skills in a setting that welcomes everyone. Writing assignments will be inspired by selections from contemporary American authors such as Maya Angelou, O'Henry, Gary Soto, Sherman Alexie, Sandra Cisneros, Martin Luther King Jr., Barbara Kingsolver, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, as well as poetry written by other high school students.

Shakespeare in Film (1 semester) H

In this class, students will read four Shakespearean plays - Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing, Henry V, and Hamlet - and then view a variety of scenes from these plays performed by many popular actors (including Leonardo DiCaprio, Mel Gibson, Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh). The focus of the assignments will be discussions and compositions on choices the actors and directors have made and how those different choices lend different meanings to the plays.

Young Adult Literature (1 semester) CP

In this course, students will examine the issues and concerns of adolescence. Participants will have the opportunity to learn about their own heritage and the heritage of others. Through multicultural literature, students will read about and discuss the issues of intellectual, mental, emotional, and physical differences, poverty, prejudice, race, and ethnic pride, and tolerance in times of war. The course addresses four main sub-themes in this course about tolerance and diversity. The readings and activities will challenge students to think about the misconceptions and stereotypes. Students will read short stories, online articles, and four self-selected novels. 


Art History (1 semester) H

This course begins in the Renaissance in Western Europe, because 1500 was an important moment for Western culture, and finishes off the second half of the millennium. Students will visit virtual museums all over the world, and look at the connections among various types of art that have been created for the past 500 years. This course aims to expand the student’s understanding and love of history and visual art. As in any art history course, images of the nude human figure will be viewed and discussed. Some controversial topics will be raised during the course, particularly when discussing censorship and contemporary art.

History of Photography (1 semester) H

Access to a scanner is required. Students do not need to have a camera or a darkroom. This course will explore the use of photography as a record of visual history - not just the use of photography for documentation, but also as a reflection of technological developments, social trends, and as a means of personal expression. Students will examine the works of famous photographers, from its beginnings in the 19th century to contemporary times, and will develop an aesthetic vocabulary. In addition, they will have opportunities to exchange ideas and explore subject matter through class discussion forums and team work. They will also create studio assignments in order to gain an appreciation for how photography can be used as a means of personal expression.


Latin I (full year) CP

There are two primary goals of Latin 1. On the one hand, Latin 1 focuses on pronunciation, vocabulary acquisition, and the grammar of the simple Latin sentence, so that the successful student will gain a rudimentary ability to comprehend Latin. On the other hand, Latin 1 enables the successful student to better understand and use English or other languages. A secondary goal is to introduce the student to Roman history and culture, which so heavily influence our own.

Latin II (full year) CP

Latin 2 is a reading based exploration of Latin grammar. Students will read stories about three major heroes while learning the remaining grammar points from Latin I. Students are expected to have completed a Latin I course and to know the following grammar points: the five declensions; the six tenses in the active voice for the four conjugations and irregular verbs; first, second and third declension adjectives and adverbs; and the demonstrative pronouns hic, ille, and is. The three main goals for the course are: learning the grammar of Latin II, learning the vocabulary of Latin II, and continuing to explore the culture and history of the Romans through research, projects, and discussions. The first two goals will enable students to read complex Latin stories, which will use such Latin grammar points as participles, the passive voice, comparative and superlative adjectives, and the subjunctive mood. The third goal will further their pursuit of the amazing world of the Romans and its impact on today's world.

Prerequisite: successful completion of Latin I

Portuguese I (full year) CP

The primary goal of this course is to engage students in getting acquainted with the Portuguese language and culture and, therefore, to develop the abilities to communicate and to think in Portuguese. The practice with the Portuguese language will mainly involve skills of listening and speaking, but also reading and writing. Introductory knowledge of the Portuguese people, language and culture will certainly be a focal point in this course. The class will also explore Portuguese language and cultural influence throughout the world, while instilling attitudes such as those of curiosity and respect for the convictions of others. 


Physical Education: Personal Fitness (1 semester) CP

The purpose of this course is to promote the development and maintenance of personal health-related fitness. Students demonstrate and assess fitness levels by performing exercises or activities related to each fitness component, and establish personal goals to improve their fitness. Students design personal fitness programs to improve cardiorespiratory endurance, flexibility, muscular strength, endurance, and body composition. The course focuses on healthy living and lifestyle choice, with an emphasis on the role of exercise and nutrition. Course content includes fitness assessment, regular physical activity, a review of basic body systems, nutrition and sports injuries. 

Sports and Society (1 semester) CP

This course will focus on the evolving role of sports in American society. Students will examine the history of sports and its relationship with race, gender, economics and politics in the United States. Additional topics will include: pressures of sports from adolescence through college, supplement and drug abuse, violence in sports, and exploring sport-related careers. Students will also develop skills in historical research, analysis, and interpretation. Students will be expected to participate in a variety of activities including: weekly discussions about required reading and current events, online field trips, research projects, and group activities.

Prerequisite: must have completed at least one year of American History


Animal Behavior and Zoology (1 semester) H

This course explores the tremendous diversity of animal life and the inter-connectedness of different animal species with each other and with humans. The first part of the course explores the classification and characteristics of all the animal phyla, with an emphasis on the evolution of animals and the adaptations that have allowed such diversity to flourish. The second part of the course focuses on many different animal behaviors (including human behavior). Students learn about different types of behaviors – from innate (genetic) behaviors to learned behaviors. The social interactions between animals will be covered in depth as we study courtship, aggression, altruism, and parental behaviors in animals. Students also discuss different careers in the animal sciences as a culminating activity, which should be of great interest to students who wish to pursue their love of animals as their professions. The course will utilize a number of interesting articles, discussions, virtual field trips, activities, videos, and projects to give a wider perspective of the animal kingdom and animal behavior. 

Prerequisite: Biology

Biotechnology (1 semester) H

Nearly every day there is amazing news about biotechnology and genetic engineering. This is an exciting, dynamic area that includes many applications that we hear about often – cloning, stem cells, genetically engineered plants and animals, DNA fingerprinting and forensics, gene therapy, and the Human Genome Project. This course is intended to provide you with an overview of biotechnology, starting with a review of DNA structure and function and extending to the current research ongoing in the field. Biotechnology is a course designed to familiarize students with these current innovative technologies based on our use of the DNA molecule. You will examine the opportunities and challenges that these abilities have created for us all. You will look at the techniques that are used in biotechnology and will also see just what kind of work modern biotech companies are involved in. 

Climate Change (1 semester) H

This class focuses student learning on better understanding Earth as a dynamic system and then challenges students to evaluate how certain factors are connected to and ultimately impact this system. The course curriculum is anchored in the scientific investigation of Earth’s energy budget, carbon chemistry, paleoclimatology and climate data sources. Through this science, students have the opportunity to interpret current research and evaluate the latest news and then work together to investigate decision-making processes around public policy that will impact their future.  A major project in this course allows each student to research and evaluate a specific climate change impact story of their choice. Across both terms, course assignments guide students to develop a comprehensive climate report that ultimately can be shared publicly. Students are given the opportunity to demonstrate their expertise and advocate for those in their report via public policy proposal as they participate in a climate congress at the end of the course. Students will take away from the course newfound knowledge and confidence that will allow them to communicate about climate issues in meaningful ways.

Epidemics (1 semester) CP

This dynamic course is designed to enable students to understand why new diseases are appearing and why those we thought conquered are reappearing. This is done in the context of basic concepts upon which our understanding of biology is built; the interdependence of life and the interconnectedness of our world. Epidemic diseases will be analyzed using a holistic approach to controlling and eradicating disease called One Health. This framework will help us see how our past and present actions will affect the future course of disease. Students will utilize the One Health approach throughout the course building a solid foundation of the need for global collaboration in the fight against disease. With this foundation, students will tackle dilemmas such as the vaccination debate, antibiotic resistance, the human animal interface, food distribution, and travel quarantines. They will discuss breakthroughs in technology including how smart phones and social media are revolutionizing disease surveillance! 

Forensic Science (1 semester) CP

Forensics will provide students with an in-depth knowledge of techniques and strategies used by forensic scientists. They will learn the steps involved in analyzing a crime scene in order to provide evidence that will be admissible in a court of law. Emphasis is placed on the investigative process. They will get a detailed knowledge of the industry in order to explore the potential for careers in forensic science. Students will research different methods that forensic scientists use to solve crimes and analyze crime scene data to solve crimes themselves. Topics include collecting evidence, fingerprinting, blood-typing, ballistics, trace evidence, anthropology, and of course, DNA!

Genes and Disease (1 semester) H

Human Genetics has many areas of expertise. This course will focus on four areas, (1) classical or Mendelian genetics, diseases where major effects are from a single gene, (2) multifactorial inheritance, continuous traits and discontinuous traits where several genes plus environmental factors are involved, (3) cytogenetics, diseases involving chromosomal abnormalities, and (4) mathematical genetics, including population genetics, linkage, and mapping.

Oceanography (1 semester) H

Students will board the USS Cyber, a virtual oceanographic research vessel modeled after the flagship of NOAA’s fleet for a sail that begins in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and ends in San Diego, California. As the crew of the ship, students will perform scientific experiments and collect data that will teach them about the geology, chemistry, and physics of the ocean. From the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia to the Caribbean and Antarctica, from the coral reefs to the hydrothermal vent communities deep in the ocean, students will make observations about the sea’s ecosystems and the sometimes-unexpected life within them. There are no traditional tests. Students are expected to participate fully as members of the expedition.  

Preveterinary Medicine (1 semester) CP

Preveterinary Medicine will introduce students to basic vertebrate anatomy by covering the major systems of the body including the digestive, reproductive, skeletal, cardiovascular, respiratory, excretory, and integumentary systems. We will use examples from small animal medicine (dogs and cats although some large animal anatomy will be covered) and discuss medical problems that are commonly seen in veterinary offices. Every week we will have a "Dilemma of the Week" where students will examine and discuss common ethical dilemmas that veterinarians face on a regular basis. 

Following the introduction to anatomy and physiology, you will learn the diagnostic procedures that assist veterinarians in making appropriate diagnoses. You will learn how to take a medical history, perform a basic physical examination, and what types of tests (blood, Xray, fecals) that vets employ to get a better picture of the animal's health. For the remainder of the course, you will work in small groups on case studies. You will follow cases from start to completion, brainstorming about potential causes of ailments, diagnoses and treatment options. 

Prerequisite: Biology


Contemporary Issues in American Law and Justice (1 semester) CP

This course is a 21st Century focus on three major areas of the criminal justice system: law enforcement, courts and corrections. During the course and within these areas students will study current issues relating to crime/justice, punishment and victimization. Issues to discuss include the causes of crime and how we should and do deal with crime. Students will also participate in an online mock trial. Course participants will have the opportunity to study crime in their local region and become better acquainted with how their community deals with crime. This course will serve as an introduction to terms and issues and the many facets of the American legal system. 

Eastern and Western Thought (1 semester) H

Students will examine great thinkers of the East and the West, from ancient to modern times. Students will read selections from works such as the Bhagavad Gita and the I Ching as well as read excerpts by philosophers such as Buddha, Lao-Tse, Muhammed, Gandhi, Socrates, Locke, Rousseau, deBeauvoir, and Marx. A key theme of the course will be to examine the similarities and differences between Eastern and Western thinkers. Students will conclude the course with individual research and preparation of a project about a "thinker" of their choice.

Philosophy (1 semester) H

In this course, students are invited to participate in an activity that is over 2500 years old and expected to develop their own ideas about philosophical problems, theories and arguments. Students will be challenged to think critically, while taking into consideration what the others had and have to say about those matters. Philosophy enhances the improvement of the analysis of personal convictions, the understanding of the diversity of arguments of others and the awareness of the limited character of our knowledge. In this sense, philosophy is a basic and important part of education and an instrument for making democratic life deeper. Participants in this philosophy course will be challenged to think critically and learn to think with the ideas and points of view of past and contemporary philosophers. Students will write, read and debate extensively, always by means of an argumentative discourse and weekly assignments.

U.S. Government (1 semester) CP

This course is designed for students who are interested in attaining a well-rounded perspective in American government. The course will provide students with an introductory look at the major aspects of government that every American citizen should know. Students will become familiar with the major institutions, groups, and political beliefs in the American governmental system. Course activities will include discussion groups, short papers, peer feedback, interactive website assignments, and student projects. While significant content will be included as part of this course, a major focus will be on stimulating an interest and passion in the subject of government, with the idea of becoming an educated and involved civic citizen in an increasingly complex world. 


For St. E GPA credit:  AP courses receive AP credit. Courses marked with an H receive Honors credit; those with a CP are college-prep level courses. Use these designations to determine the demands and rigor of each course.