CORE CURRICULUM: 2nd Year Program

United States History and Literature


Integrated Core Program (grades 7 & 8) mixed-grade class strengthens and develops core skills in academic writing, analysis, and research.

The intensity and workload of this class demand that students have a mature, focused attitude.

American History covers the political, social, cultural, economic, and philosophical history of the United States from Pre-European settlement to Reconstruction. Teachers encourage analytical thought through the study of texts, literature selections, and supplementary materials, which provide a wide array of important theoretical points of view.

Understanding the varied motivations, beliefs, and values of Americans in different time periods provides students with a balanced view of the history of our country.

In this course, students will learn to read and think critically, to study efficiently, and to defend their own interpretations of historical events through written analysis and debate. They will learn how to conduct research, how to formulate a thesis statement, and how to organize effective essays. By recognizing and exploring differing points of view, students will gain the ability to determine accuracy, reliability, and fairness of input.

While investigating relationships between statements and events, past and present, students learn to make informed, thoughtful judgements about the meaning, accuracy, and worth of information. In addition to writing, projects which enhance the development of these skills include: debate, conducting oral history interviews, creating a timeline of historical events, looking at the effects of geography on history, and evaluating current events in the context of the history of the United States.

French language and culture continues our introduction to language study.  French class introduces 2nd Year students to the joys and difficulties of learning a second language, while giving them an increased understanding of how the English language is structured. 

The Fine Arts curriculum will include ten hours of drama/public speaking work, and ten hours of fine arts.  The performing arts classes will culminate with a performance at The Alpine Playhouse in May; artwork will be displayed at the North Fork School before students bring it home.


Second Year English combines literature selections (novels, essays, poems, plays) from time periods and concepts studied in the American History course with analysis of short stories, creative and analytical writing, and SAT- prep Grammar and Vocabulary.

In Literature, students learn to take notes as they read, looking for evidence that supports their own personal interpretations of a text. Later in class, students will explore the many possible interpretations of the same text, learning, as they hear other points of view, to expand upon, support, or even change their ideas of textual meaning.

Many of the literature selections follow our American History timeline, which adds depth, both to students' understanding of concepts studied in the American History class itself, and to their grasp of authors’ viewpoints. By writing summaries of their ideas, and learning to organize their arguments into longer, cohesive essays as the year progresses, students gain a gradual knowledge of clear, focused, essay-writing skills.

Novels in the Second Year include: The Witch of Blackbird Pond; The Slave Dancer; The Red Badge of Courage; The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; The Giver; and Fahrenheit 451.  Students also explore the writing of Transcendentalist poets and interpret various American historical documents and speeches.

Students also read short stories, poems, and nonfiction essays as writers in Writing Workshop.  An essay-writing focus in the Second Year prevents students from focusing on fiction or other personal pieces as much as they could in the separate Writing Workshop class. However, skills of organization, logic, and grammatical usage are equally essential to any creative writing students do on their own.

Finally, in preparation for the SAT and other standardized tests, we cover elements of grammar and weekly vocabulary.


one-room classroom by Phil Roeder

one-room classroom by Phil Roeder

The 2nd Year Program is a full-year course.  Students meet four days per week for two hours each day. 

Students who join North Fork School classes by the 2nd Year Program gain the most from our vertically-aligned core curriculum over the course of their middle and high school years. We believe that a slow, integrated, steady development of AP (college-level) skills is best begun in middle school, when academic habits are still forming.