Class Descriptions

This is a partial list of classes offered at Holden. For a complete listing of current semester classes, please email


Students will continue to develop their composition skills and narrative voice through regular fluency, vocabulary, and grammar exercises. Students will also hone their abilities to derive solid thesis statements and write convincing arguments as well as to properly quote, cite, and format in line with MLA guidelines. Active reading strategies (annotations) and group discussion will help students develop a better understanding of narrative text.

Literary Analysis
Students will read two or three novels per semester, writing an essay for each book. We explore themes, motifs, author message, and writing styles, among many other topics, through discussions and journal writing. Students have 15 minutes of in-class journal writing for every class meeting. On a weekly basis, students hone grammar skills and learn new vocabulary. Vocabulary words are culled from the novels and correlated to SAT vocabulary lists. Students will also create art pieces such as dioramas and collages for each novel. Themes and books vary by semester. Examples of past novels/authors are: The Handmaid’s Tale; Life of Pi; The Mists of Avalon; A Clockwork Orange; 1984; H.G. Wells; Kurt Vonnegut; Alice Walker; Phillip K. Dick, and Octavia Butler, among many others.


Algebra C/D
This CPM [College Preparatory Mathematics] class, which adheres to the state of California’s new common core standards, will focus on group interaction, puzzles, manipulatives, and critical thinking. Algebra concepts are studied through puzzles and identification of growth patterns with each pattern deciding a rule. Each concept is represented by a graph, pattern, rule, and table. Students use group learning and different forms of manipulatives to solve problems. Students will learn not only key algebra concepts, but also how to approach and solve real-life problems using math. Students will be graded, both individually and in groups, on participation, class work, homework, and unit tests.

Algebra II A/B
This year we will become familiar with solving equations and inequalities involving absolute values, systems of linear equations and inequalities, complex numbers, quadratic equations, polynomial functions, logarithmic and exponential functions, and radical functions. Students will be graded on attendance, participation, unit quizzes, homework worksheets, and an end of semester final.


Astronomy A and B
Astronomy will seek to answer fundamental questions about earth and space and to inspire an appreciation of science, problem solving, and exploration in each student. The primary concepts that we will cover are planetary motion, starlight, the scale of the universe, and the evolving solar system. We will also answer questions such as “What is the shape of the Earth?”, “How do we measure time?”, “What is mass?”, “Why are there eclipses of the Sun and Moon?”, and many more. Students can expect weekly homework, quizzes, tests, and group work.

IMG_5986_select_webBiology with Lab A and B
This class will explore the structure and function of DNA and the role of DNA in genetics, evolution, and biotechnology. We will start with an overview of the basics of cell, DNA, and chromosomal structure. We will then continue with a wide range of topics, including: identifying criminals from DNA evidence; physical and other genetic traits in humans and animals; cloning and bioengineering; and genetic diseases ranging from sickle-cell anemia to addiction. There will be brief weekly quizzes, labs with write-ups or presentations, and a final research paper or project that involves genetics.


U.S. Government A
Students will learn about the structure and foundation of the U.S. government and will analyze the constitution and the dominant political theories and events of our time. Students will have the opportunity to critically evaluate political articles and speeches and will be expected to synthesize this process through essay writing.

World History: Survey of Monsters and Myth
In this academically challenging course students will explore the world of monsters and mythology across time and location. The goal of this class is to contextualize sociological and historic regional knowledge through an understanding of each area’s folkloric creatures. As a group the class will curate a digital art collection and each student will do her or his own research paper. Students’ final grades will be based on attendance, homework, class participation, their research paper, and their contribution to the art collection.


Art Journaling
In this class, we will find a creative way to record our lives. Incorporating poetry, prose, drawing, collage, and doodling, we will explore our dreams, goals, inspirations, friendships, and favorite things. Using the mixed media métier, we will express our most creative selves. By the end of the year, you will have a beautiful book that will act almost as a time capsule, recording you and your year authentically and colorfully. If you aren’t feeling particularly creative one week, don’t worry, I will supply prompts each class to get your creativity flowing.

Open Art
We will be focusing on visual works, such as mixed-media sculpture and painting. I will have some great project ideas set aside for those days when you cannot think of what to do next.

Beginning Blender – 3-D Modeling and Animation
This course will introduce students to fundamental concepts, principles, and practices of 3-D modeling, lighting, texturing, and animation. Students will use the powerful yet free open source software Blender to dive into this endless and practical art form. By the end of the course, students will be able to confidently navigate the software, create 3-D models, texture them, and animate them at will. Students are encouraged to use their own laptops but can share school computers if necessary; Blender is compatible with both Mac and Windows.

The First Time I Met the Blues 
This is an introductory guitar course for students with an interest in music. We will start by listening to some blues songs from different artists each week and move into playing with the same styles. Students will learn basic blues progressions. This course will teach students to play music from different eras in blues, tracing bits of its history in the process.

Strength Training
Want to get stronger, more agile, and develop your muscles? Want to be quick and gain more energy? Want to do it at your own pace in a non-competitive environment? Then this is the class for you. We will be doing yoga, jump rope, obstacle courses, sit-ups and push-ups in our own styles and at our own paces. The only goal is to improve your own strength and stamina. Everyone who makes a consistent effort will receive credit. Comfortable clothes and shoes that allow for free movement required.

Yoga and Mindfulness
Cultivate your spiritual warrior! This class introduces the physical practices of Hatha Yoga, as well as mindfulness and meditation techniques. Descended from the Indian warriorship tradition, yoga gives us greater strength and flexibility. This class is designed to increase our connection with our bodies and strengthen our connection to the present moment. No experience required, but comfortable clothing that you can move in is a must.

College Empowerment
This class is geared towards students considering attending college after high school. College Empowerment aims to give students a supportive environment in which to discover their options and commiserate with peers. Students will gain a better understanding of the college admissions process, test taking skills, and perspective on different colleges and college life. Together we will make sure that we choose schools that are right for us, take steps to fulfill admissions requirements, and create the best possible versions of our applications.

Dreams, Passions, and Visions
Are you interested in getting a really awesome internship? Or landing a great summer job? Or taking time to research other possibilities after Holden? If you have a dream, passion, or vision — the bolder the better — that you want to begin pursuing, then this class is for you. We will get clear about intentions, set goals, make a plan, and, with the support of the group, begin to take the action needed to help those interests take root.