Grade 9

Social Studies

Ninth Grade Comparative Cultures

Essential Questions:

  • How do we look at and understand a people’s culture?
  • How does where we live influence how we live?
  • How do cultures change?
  • What happens when different cultures meet?
  • How do people who see the world differently share the world?
  • How does the past influence the present?
  • What is it like to live as a minority in a dominant culture?

This course aims to cultivate cross-cultural understanding through examination of and interaction with a variety of cultural groups, from our own multicultural community to several areas of the world, including China and selected countries in the Middle East and Africa. We study the complex cultural, political, and geographical forces that have shaped each region, and we follow the threads of continuity and change to examine these contemporary societies.  We begin the year with a study of the United Nations to give students a framework for thinking about international issues such as human rights and conflict resolution.  Throughout this project-based course, students use historical research and inquiry to view issues from multiple perspectives, using literature, films, nonfiction texts, periodicals and museum exhibits.  In addition, students practice taking notes, debating, writing critically and making oral presentations.  The centerpiece of the course is an optional two-week study tour in China, where students spend four nights with a host family from Yali, our sister school in Changsha.

In past years, text selections have included  Fires in the Mirror, Things Fall Apart, China A to Z, Red Scarf Girl, The Good Earth, In the Country of Men, and a variety of contemporary newspapers, periodicals and blogs, speeches, government documents, short stories, poems, films, historical and contemporary maps and other primary and secondary sources.



Throughout the year, our ninth graders take on “expert group” assignments, learning as much as they can about important Chinese sites, traditions, artworks, and historical items. In March, our students travel to China to return the visit and to immerse themselves in Chinese culture.




This high school course is composed of three parts:
• Ecology and Comparative Anatomy (fall) 
• Cellular Biology and Biochemistry (winter) 
• Evolution and Genetics (spring term)

Lab and fieldwork are important aspects of this course, and students are encouraged to generate knowledge directly from their own observations of natural and experimental phenomena and to learn how such knowledge can be evaluated for precision, accuracy and reliability. Throughout the fall, the West River and Long Island Sound serve as living laboratories. Students evaluate the watershed using topographic maps, Google Earth software, and site visits. From their data, students assess potential and actual human impacts on water quality. In teams, they carry out physical, chemical, and biological sampling at selected locations on the river and New Haven Harbor. The anatomy of an invertebrate (crayfish) and a vertebrate (perch) are compared. Dissections of each organism are carried out to establish the elegant connections between form and function of animal organ systems, tissues and cells. Comparisons to human biology are also explored.

During the winter term, the focus is on the form and function of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. Representative cells and some organelles (chloroplasts, nuclei, cell walls) are observed directly using compound microscopes. Other samples are studied using electron photomicrographs and computer animation. The spring term is devoted to the study of evolution by natural selection and the principles of heredity. Mitosis, meiosis and classical genetics are studied in depth, and the structure and function of DNA is introduced.


The Eighth and Ninth Grade classes delve more deeply into algebraic and linear functions, complex operations, and applications of mathematical thinking. Our program emphasizes Algebra I in eighth grade, either as the first half of a two-year course, as a one-year Algebra I class, or in combination with Geometry for students who began Algebra I in seventh grade. Students at these upper grades also learn and practice higher-level thinking in analytical reasoning and logical deduction, and apply these skills to mathematical proofs. Ninth grade students have the opportunity to engage in more complex and sophisticated mathematical reasoning. Some students complete the two-year Algebra I program; others are enrolled in Geometry. An Algebra II course is also offered when appropriate.


The ninth grade writing and literature program continues to develop the students' ability to analyze literature critically, both orally and in writing. The course approaches literature from an anthropological perspective, guiding students to identify elements of culture through classical texts. The curriculum focuses on autobiography and fiction, both in complete books and excerpts. Poetry is read and written throughout the year, culminating in a "poetry cabaret" conceived and performed by the students in June. Multi-draft critical essays, as well as personal narrative essays and creative compositions and projects related to the reading are assigned throughout the year, allowing students to work on skills such as forming and supporting a thesis as they work on developing a strong personal voice. Mechanics and grammar are taught based on the individual needs found in students' work. The month of May is devoted to discussing the poems that we have covered during the year and selecting and rehearsing material to be performed in the year-end cabaret.

In recent years, texts for this course have included This Boy’s Life, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, Looking for Alaska, and The Book Thief.

Fine Arts


In Middle School, drama classes include improvisation, playwriting, and many opportunities for performance. Students explore ethical dilemmas, dramatic plots, and methods for conveying complicated ideas. Monologues, dramatic literature, critique, and the technical components of theater are also included in the curriculum. The use of the stage--entrances, exits, sets, and production techniques are all incorporated into a variety of performances. Ninth graders all take part their own play, which is prepared through the fall and winter and performed in March. 

Visual Art

In our middle school visual arts classes, students explore global and historical themes. The sixth grade program reflects the global nature of the year-long study of the world through graphic design, travel posters, carving, print-making, and explorations of influential artists from around the globe. Ninth graders engage in a comprehensive overview of art history, starting with prehistoric times and ending with contemporary expression. They make Gothic gargoyles from clay, draw and paint in the style of the Renaissance, and examine the architecture of Greek, Roman, Romanesque, and Gothic periods. 


In the Middle School, students choose from a variety of musical electives, with options to pursue instruments such as guitar, hand bells, and steel drums. The Pop Colloquium and Opera programs in 7th grade include vocabulary useful for any genre of music, encourage deep listening, respect for differing opinions, and help students discuss a range of musical styles using accepted musical terminology and analysis. Our middle school chorus provides another opportunity for continued participation in vocal performance.

World Language


Chinese will expand to 9th grade during the 2018-2019 school year.



The program builds on the established foundation, introducing more complex grammatical structures (relative pronouns, ordinal numbers, comparisons with adjectives, superlative constructions, indefinite and demonstrative pronouns, adverbs, present participle constructions), additional verb tenses, (including the imperfect, the conditional, the future, and an introduction to the subjunctive) expanding vocabulary and cultural themes in order to develop the students' abilities to express themselves more fluently. Students continue to build upon and strengthen their aural and oral skills through daily conversations and the viewing of French films. Special projects may include the study of a French reader, oral presentations and participation in the COLT Poetry Contest. Students may be grouped by ability.


Reading fluency and advanced topics of grammar and syntax are the focus of the ninth grade year. In addition to learning the passive voice, comparisons of adjectives, participles, indirect statements, and the forms and uses of the subjunctive, students regularly translate increasingly lengthy and complex stories. Students acquire knowledge of the political, cultural and literary history of the Romans and their contributions to Western civilization. The events of the Roman Empire are studied as well as Roman food, education, baths, gladiators, weddings, and religion. Students develop independent research skills through an in-depth study of an emperor of their choice. Emphasis is placed on preparation for reading original Latin texts. Enrichment of the students' English vocabulary and methodical thinking are also stressed. Special projects may include poetry recitation, a Roman banquet, and a Roman artifact project based on an object in the Yale University Art Gallery’s collection. An accelerated honors level course is offered. Students are grouped by ability.


The program builds on the established foundation, introducing more complex grammatical structures and expanding the cultural themes. After a thorough review of the preterite vs. imperfect tenses, new material is introduced. This includes formal commands; the use of double object pronouns; the present subjunctive with "ojalá" and impersonal expressions; "por" vs. "para"; and the future tense. Grammar and vocabulary are introduced and practiced with native speakers on DVDs, audio CDs, and online support. For any given grammar point, activities begin with guided practice and move progressively toward freer self-expression, with numerous opportunities for both written and oral expression. Special projects may include researching, and presenting an ancient Mayan or Aztec city or creating their own, a researched presentation about a famous Hispanic figure, the creation of an illustrated children's book or short story, and participation in the COLT Poetry Contest. Students may read and analyze various literary selections by authors from Spain and Latin America. Students may also visit the local museums to discuss art in a variety of ways. Students may be grouped by ability.


Physical Education

At Foote, we believe in nurturing our students’ physical health and growth as well as their academic progress. With that philosophy as a guiding force, our physical education program is designed to support students’ self-image, build sportsmanship, and provide a basis for a healthy lifelong attitude toward fitness. Our curriculum is carefully sequenced to match the stages of physical, social, and emotional development from year to year. In addition to athletic skills, our program encourages creative expression, builds social concepts such as sportsmanship, cooperation, and fair play, offers opportunities for leadership, encourages children to take risks, and fosters a sense of well-being in a non-competitive setting.

All children at Foote School are members of either the Maroon or Grey sports teams. Spirit is high on our annual Field Day, when students participate in a variety of fun and competitive events between the Maroon and the Grey. Kindergarteners take part only in the morning, competing in a fun run, a scoop  relay, and a shuttle relay. All the other students participate in a full day of events, culminating in an all-school relay race around the entire field, featuring the day’s winners of the 60-yard dash from each grade.

Sixth through Ninth Physical Education

In middle school, our physical education program is designed to provide appropriately strenuous exercise, develop athletic skills, and promote team cooperation. Specific skills in a wide variety of games are incorporated into the curriculum, including all of the sports offered through the athletics program as well as Frisbee, juggling, football, floor hockey, volleyball, gymnastics, badminton, and distance running. In eighth grade, students participate in a double period of outdoor education each cycle in addition to their regular twice-per-cycle PE class. 

Sports Teams

All students in grades 7-9 are encouraged to take part in the after-school sports program. Sixth graders are invited to participate in team sports if there are spaces available. Team sports are an extension of the physical education program. Our interscholastic athletics program shares many of the goals as our PE program. The sports program at Foote provides an opportunity for all students in 7th, 8th, and 9th grades to participate voluntarily in a number of seasonal sports. Foote is a member of the New England Preparatory Schools Athletic Council.

Fall sports: Boys’ Soccer, Girls’ Soccer, Field Hockey. Co-Ed Cross-Country
Winter sports: Boys’ Basketball, Girls’ Basketball, Co-ed Swimming, Co-Ed Squash
Spring sports: Boys’ Lacrosse, Girls’ Lacrosse, Baseball, Softball, Co-ed Tennis