Physics First

While Bentley requires three years of laboratory-based science for graduation, many Bentley students choose to delve deeper into one or more subjects and increase their breadth of exposure in science by taking second exposure advanced classes. These courses include Advanced Placement classes in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Environmental Sciences, as well as a wide variety of honors-level seminars.
Physics 9 is designed to impress upon students the concept that science represents both a process and method for acquiring knowledge as well as a body of knowledge. Students develop a wide array of analytical skills and experimental design principles that will serve as a foundation for their subsequent science courses at Bentley and beyond. The course introduces the principles and physical applications of Newtonian mechanics, conservation laws, electrostatics and circuits, and basic thermodynamics. While physics entails conceptual understanding, this course also focuses on using basic algebraic equations to develop problem-solving skills. Time will be spent developing the essential skill of dimensional analysis, which will be used in subsequent science courses. Lab work entails inquiry-based learning, building projects, and experimental design to allow students to develop a deep, intuitive understanding of the subject as a whole and to be exposed to key principles of physics at work in phenomena they encounter in their everyday lives.

English Plays

English 1 and English 2 at Bentley are multi-genre, seminar-style courses that emphasize critical thinking, close reading, and analytical and creative writing. Both courses prime students to think critically about their own worlds and experiences and to broaden their understanding of cultures, time periods, and experiences other than their own.

Bentley’s annual Shakespeare competitions are rites of passage for 9th and 10th graders. Each year, students work together to write, stage, and perform an act of either Twelfth Night or Othello. These performances are student-led from beginning to end, and are memorized and staged in front of the whole grade. These spectacles of student creativity, ingenuity, and passion are capstone experiences for Bentley students.

Integrated Math

The power and beauty of mathematics make it a vital and essential component of secondary education. The department approaches mathematics as a way of thinking, and it strives to ensure that all Bentley students are prepared to understand and use mathematics effectively in everyday life. Bentley’s program ranges from Integrated Math 1 to Multivariable Calculus. It is motivated by the philosophy that mathematics plays a central role in modern culture, including aesthetic and recreational activities, as well as an essential role in the scientific and technical community.

Bentley School requires all students to complete three years of mathematics, although most students undertake four years of study. All incoming students are required to have a TI-Inspire graphing calculator. A test is required of all incoming students to help determine appropriate placement. Except for two of the Computer Science elective courses, all mathematics classes are currently yearlong.

Mini Term

Mini-term is a unique and exciting component of the Bentley experience and is a highly-valued time in our community when students slow down and engage deeply.

Our intellectually rigorous mini-term courses require students to expand their ways of learning, to take risks by experiencing something new, and to challenge their ways of thinking through experiential and creative learning. Students pose questions and explore answers in order to have a personally meaningful experience, while also learning to collaborate, to consider multiple perspectives, and to develop practical, relevant and applicable skills. During this two-week period, students come to better understand themselves as learners, which becomes the basis for future learning and prepares students to approach their regular classes with fresh perspectives.

Mini-term courses are taught over a two-week period between the second and third trimesters and aim to enrich students beyond the core curriculum. Each year, students are required to take two three-hour courses, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, or one all-day course. Each mini-term course earns one-eighth of one credit (a full-year course earns one credit). Independent Studies are not available during mini-term. 

World Languages

Bentley offers students the opportunity to pursue studies in French, Spanish, Latin, and Mandarin. In these courses, whether in Level 1 or Advanced Seminars, students engage in interactive real-world activities in the target language. Whether they be cooking traditional dishes, planning trips, or exploring the historical intricacies of countries where their target language is spoken, students are fully immersed in the culture of their language and develop competencies in all areas (speaking, reading, writing, listening).

In each of Bentley’s modern language classes, the rich history and culture of native speakers furnish an essential backdrop and context for learning to communicate effectively in the target language. Spanish, French, and Mandarin Chinese immersion classes develop students’ oral and aural fluency as well as reading and writing skills. Latin focuses more on authentic readings and textual analysis to explore effective communication and comprehension. Additionally, students in Mandarin Chinese learn to write and read Chinese characters. The language faculty is a dynamic group of educators who model and encourage the importance of being a multilingual individual in today’s global society.

Seminar Courses

English seminars are an experience unique to Bentley. These courses reflect the expertise of faculty and provide students with an in-depth study of the literature of a specific genre, culture, literary movement, or theme; they focus on the development of student voices through analytical and personal writing in response to literature as well as to theoretical and critical sources.

History seminars are modeled on college-level courses. Each year, students choose from a range of specialized topics and subject areas that build upon what students have learned in the introductory U.S. and world history courses. Seminars familiarize students with research methodologies and major scholarly debates within history and related fields in the social sciences and humanities.

Sample courses include:
  • Satire: The Rhetoric of Laughter (Honors) 
  • Literature of Identity: Blurring Lines, Breaking Boundaries (Honors) 
  • Cartooning Critical Theory (Honors)
  • Odds Against Tomorrow (Honors)

  • Introduction to Comparative Ethnic Studies (Honors)
  • Struggle Over the Planet: Nature and Empire, 17th Century to Present (Honors)
  • Power and Politics: The Gunpowder Empires (Honors)
  • Histories of Outer Space Exploration: Culture, Politics, and Science (Honors)


The power and beauty of mathematics make it a vital and essential component of secondary education. The department approaches mathematics as a way of thinking, and it strives to ensure that all Bentley students are prepared to understand and use mathematics effectively in everyday life. Bentley’s program ranges from Integrated Math 1 to Multivariable Calculus. It is motivated by the philosophy that mathematics plays a central role in modern culture, including aesthetic and recreational activities, as well as an essential role in the scientific and technical community.

Multivariable Calculus (Honors) Course Description
This course is the equivalent of a third-semester university calculus course that introduces students to the calculus of three-dimensional space. Topics of study include two- and three-dimensional vectors, dot products, cross products, surfaces, cylindrical and spherical coordinates, calculus of vector-valued functions, tangent planes, directional derivatives and gradients, Lagrange multipliers, partial derivatives, double and triple integrals, vector fields, change of variables, center of mass and moments of inertia, line and surface integrals, Green’s Theorem, Stokes’ Theorem, and an introduction
to first and second order differential equations.

Performing & Visual Arts

The Visual Arts program at Bentley is a comprehensive experience focusing on the development of students’ technical abilities as well as skills in creative problem-solving. Students must take a minimum of two years of the Arts, and ninth graders are required to take one yearlong Arts course. First-year art students take a full year of introductory courses that provide students with a foundation in sculpture, drawing, and design. During the sophomore, junior, and senior years, students may branch out to pursue discipline-specific topics in visual art. The Visual Arts curriculum is designed for students to continuously build a strong portfolio of work suitable for college entrance requirements.

Performing Arts courses are designed to be spaces in which students are inspired to become passionate risk-takers and pursue individual and collective expression as a lens of universal connection and critical engagement to place oneself in the world. Students may take classes in all areas of the performing arts, or they may specialize as they choose.

History/Maker Fair

Project-based learning allows students to apply classroom learning through designing and making. Students exhibit the products of their work in demonstrations and exhibitions before the broader community. The Maker Fair and 10th grade US History’s Reconstruction Museum Project provide examples of these principles.

The Bentley U.S. History experience offers students the opportunity to design and actually create a Museum of Reconstruction. Dedicated to America’s first experiment in bi-racial democracy between 1863-1877, this student-curated exhibition presents primary-source historical documents accompanied by student-authored historical narration. Whereas Bentley’s Reconstruction Museum has been a pop-up exhibition built in physical space, future iterations will focus on virtual museum design to reach museum-goers remotely.

History students participate in our newly-launched Colloquium Series. The History Colloquium provides a forum for students to hear and present scholarship beyond the classroom. Each year, seminar students whose work has been selected will have the opportunity to present their research and writing to their peers, faculty, and the broader campus community. Additionally, the colloquium annually will host a talk by an established scholar whose expertise relates to the year’s seminar themes. The History Colloquium fosters intellectual curiosity and exemplifies the environment of rigorous academic dialogue that makes Bentley a uniquely college preparatory experience.

Engineering & Design

Bentley values an interdisciplinary approach to learning. As students find threads between disciplines, their learning becomes more complex and nuanced, and the flexibility needed to undergo such an education can better prepare students for entry into an interconnected global society. Interdisciplinary studies foster curiosity, engagement, creative problem-solving, innovative thinking, creativity, teamwork, and collaboration. Further, interdisciplinary education encourages students to pose more questions than to find answers, to assume responsibility, and to construct meaning that is personal and relevant.

Engineering: Bringing the Idea to Life (Honors) Course Description
Students in this course will build robots or remote vehicles with parts they fabricate and assemble by themselves. Students will research project needs, materials, constraints, and duty requirements. Students will also learn how to work with plastic, foam, and metal in addition to wood and cardboard. Precision parts may be fabricated on the CNC wood router, laser cutter, or a 3-D printer. To complete the robots, students will test and improve their programs and mechanisms iteratively to achieve a well defined and articulated goal. This process is essential to making a product is ready for actual use. This course will emphasize attention to detail and teach students show to finish a project.