At Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School, we pride ourselves on providing an individual experience for our students so that they may pursue as many avenues of interest as possible.
Please explore the many and wide-ranging Signature Programs offered here at CGPS. Our choices vary from athletic pursuits such as swimming and yoga, academic options including competitive math teams, Advanced Science Research and our elective program which offers hundreds of tailored curricular options to our Prep School students, to our community oriented efforts in service learning and philanthropy. The School offers something that we are confident will excite and inspire every child.
Chess is an exciting game that students can enjoy and learn at their own pace. It is a mental exercise for logical thinking and problem-solving using strategy and planning. Chess develops character, patience, focus and the ability to concentrate for longer periods of time. In addition to the chess classes in kindergarten and first grade, students are offered three other opportunities to experience chess in the Grammar School:
Sunrise Chess is offered daily between 7:15 to 8:00 a.m. Students enjoy guided play and problem solving.
Morning Chess Dojo is continued enrichment and study for players who might compete or plan on traveling with the team to regional and national events. Interactive learning on the board occurs while sparring with ideas through discussions.
After-School Chess program classes are curriculum based and group students based on their level of experience. Students can take classes that offer enrichment across all levels or classes that focus on tournament play.
Playing within the classroom with their peers helps with the fluency of movements and the deliberate exchanges of concepts, ideas and strategy. Everyone has opportunities to choose to participate in local, state or national team tournaments. CGPS chess encourages good sportsmanship and politeness, and inspires gracefulness in victory as well as defeat.
The swim curriculum begins with the School’s youngest students. The program concentrates on Pre-K through second grade building a solid foundation in swimming and water safety in a 60-foot-long pool located on campus. Pre-kindergartners learn safety rules both in and around the pool, and are introduced to a variety of basic water adjustment skills such as floating, bobbing and gliding. As the students get comfortable and progress, they are challenged with the intermediate skills of treading, underwater swimming, jumping into the deep end and the basics of front and back crawl. By kindergarten, students learn beginner breaststroke, elementary backstroke and the butterfly. First and second graders continue to improve their fundamental technique in all four competitive strokes while continually learning and following safety protocols in and around the pool. Third grade swim is a fitness-based program focusing on endurance and stamina in the water. Throughout the year, as they practice their skills, all students progress toward becoming confident swimmers who have mastered an essential life skill.
The STEAM program is an essential part of the Grammar School curriculum, creating cross-curricular opportunities at all grade levels. While students learn math in their classrooms, science and engineering in the science labs, art in the studios, and technology in the technology labs, STEAM integration is how these subject areas coalesce. In their classrooms, students use technology to better access learning and make it more real. In the MakerSpace, children build, tinker, code and craft as they consider and solve problems big and small. Students are challenged to find what inspires them to create and innovate, and teachers are prepared to help them learn the content and skills necessary to make their ideas a reality.
STEAM projects can include analog, digital and augmented reality options, helping inspiration take hold in young builders, coders and makers. Students use the cutting-edge technology found in the MakerSpace — including 3D printers, laser cutters, Makey Makeys and Chromebooks to run Scratch and the VR/AR program CoSpaces — to show what they know and enhance their understanding of other subject areas. For example, third graders might create interactive board games using the laser cutter, the 3D printer and Makey Makeys to share their knowledge of social studies. In fourth grade, a math unit challenges students to design and budget an aquarium complex. Students integrate STEAM as they build analog or digital models of their plans, or even a combination of the two.
- DEAN SYSTEM
- STEAM and Technology
- Current Issues Research Seminar (CIRS)
- Band, Chorus & Orchestra
- Math Team & Competitive Math
- Service Learning and Philanthropy
The 6th and 7th grades have their own Dean assigned to support the individual students on their journey through Middle School. The Deans collaborate with the Middle School Director and Assistant Director to advocate for the social-emotional and academic interests of the students in their respective grades by frequently interacting with the students, their teachers, the School psychologist and their parents. They are critical to shaping the life of the Middle School by creating a sense of community through the advisory program, student government and other community building activities and programs.
As part of the STEAM initiative in the Middle School, students create art projects that reinforce the curriculum in various subject areas. Teachers work collaboratively to provide students with a well-rounded, fully-immersive academic and creative experience. The Middle School STEAM program picks up where the Grammar School leaves off, building upon the skills and content students are taught in the lower grades.
In fifth grade, students enhance their engineering skills as they engage in various project-based learning units including egg-drop and bridge building challenges. They develop their coding skills by using Scratch during an invention project in which they create a wide variety of end-products that showcase their personal interests. In sixth grade, they build upon this coding work through an interdisciplinary robotics unit tying science content together with engineering, coding and problem-solving skills. Students engage in various other project-based units in which they learn about bioengineering, 3D printing and modeling, creating and coding virtual reality spaces and video editing. The STEAM program culminates in seventh grade with two major projects in which students showcase their engineering skills by creating full-sized boats out of recyclable materials and pinhole cameras respectively. In addition to building upon and applying real-world mathematics and science skills during both projects, students learn how to create websites using HTML, edit photographs using various programs, create 3D models on SketchUp and create elaborate virtual reality environments.
Throughout their time in the Middle School, students engage in a variety of STEAM-centered technology projects. Focus is on hands-on learning to teach coding, engineering, design thinking, making functional machines and the importance of cooperation and teamwork. Topics within the Middle School technology curriculum for all ages also include digital citizenship, using the Internet for research and the Google suite of tools. The Middle School technology curriculum furthers students’ knowledge and understanding of how technology is used for research, creativity, production and organization. The diverse curriculum allows each student to build confidence while using a wide range of current tools. We develop critical thinking skills through coding, robotics and circuits, 3D printing and engineering. Students become responsible and competent digital citizens able to navigate the technology in the world and think through problems logically.
In CIRS, students investigate a current issue of their choice. Some past topics of CIRS have included: bullying, depression, sports injuries, fast food, allergies and ADHD. Students learn important skills such as: taking notes from books, videos and articles, creating an outline, interviewing techniques and conducting surveys. Students write two research papers during the school year. The sixth grade participates in a current issues fair in late May. In addition, one of the CIRS periods each cycle is used to read and discuss current events, such as immigration, elections, the Supreme Court and North Korea. One of the most exciting and fun components of the class is interviewing an expert in the field they are researching or someone close to the issue (i.e. a former addict or family member). Students concentrate on how to ask relevant questions in order to get the best response.
Civic education is an indispensable part of democracy and constitutes the core building blocks that make for a good citizen and ultimately a good nation. As Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free…it expects what never was and never will be.” Indeed, it is difficult to understand how we can realize our full potential as a nation if our citizens lack a firm understanding of our political history, its leadership, governmental institutions and practices, and the evolution of our political system. What citizen can be truly informed in casting a vote, leading an organization, voicing an opinion or joining a protest movement without a sound background in civic education? Most importantly, as we make this journey as a class to become more informed and better prepared citizens, we will also place a high premium on the obligation for each of us to respect one another as individuals and to further respect and to even show empathy for the opinions and views that each of us hold and voice.
Beginning in the spring of fourth grade, students are introduced to the Middle School through tours and meetings with the fifth grade CORE teachers. During this time, students have the opportunity to ask questions about fifth grade, the curriculum and opportunities they will have throughout their Middle School experience. In the beginning weeks of their fifth grade year, students travel with their class and teacher to gradually learn how to navigate their new building, as well as the procedures and routines in their schedule. After a month, students transition to traveling independently to their classes. The CORE program creates a central place for students to come back to throughout their day. To begin their day, students attend homeroom in their CORE classroom. CORE teachers are also responsible for language arts and social studies instruction, which are taught over three forty-minute periods. Language arts instruction includes the analysis of fiction, the discussion of literary elements, the development of vocabulary and frequent writing about literature. While written instruction focuses mostly on expository and formal essay instruction, poetry, personal narratives and creative pieces are also practiced. The social studies curriculum focuses on American history through the implementation of the three branches of the United States government. A central focus of this curriculum is to provide the multiple lenses, perspectives, contributions and voices of those varied individuals who contributed to the events that built our nation.
The Band, Chorus and Orchestra initiative is in addition to the comprehensive general music program that prepares students for the Prep School music program, where students are able to join in a wide variety of ensembles. Students may choose Band, Chorus and Orchestra (BCO)—or Chorus and Band or Orchestra. BCO students meet multiple times per cycle both as a full ensemble and in smaller learning groups, helping to encourage consistent practice and growth. By including these specialized music ensembles within the regular school day, students are able to participate fully without worrying about scheduling conflicts with other extracurricular activities.
The Middle School has a thriving extracurricular math program, with over 60 students participating in in-house and nation-wide math competitions. On the Math Team, students apply classroom skills to unique problem-solving challenges in a low-stress environment. Competitions Math Team members enter include the AMC 8 (American Mathematics Competition), a 25-question, 40-minute multiple choice examination in Middle School mathematics designed to promote the development of problem-solving skills. The AMC 8 provides an opportunity for Middle School students to develop positive attitudes towards analytical thinking and mathematics that can assist in future careers. Female students can enter GAIM (Girl’s Adventures in Math), a team-based math competition for girls in grades 3-8. The competition presents some of the most challenging and innovative math problems to students in this age group, contextualized in a comic book containing the stories of pioneering women from history. Another competition is the MathCounts Competition Series, a national program that provides students in grades 6-8 the opportunity to compete in live, in-person contests against and alongside their peers. Finally, the Math Olympiad and The Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing's Problem of the Week round out the extracurricular math offerings in the Middle School.
Middle School students participate in meaningful service-learning activities. The goal is to develop social awareness through direct and indirect service learning. Middle Schoolers deliver meals to the elderly with CityMeals and visit Goddard Riverside to speak to Goddard’s Director about what services the Center provides and who it serves, and then spend time at the Center’s elderly home and day care center. Students run bake sales and donate the money raised to carefully selected organizations. The Middle School also invites guest speakers from charitable organizations, including: the Fresh Air Fund, Ready, Willing and Able (The Doe Fund), Make A Wish, The Foundling Hospital, International Rescue Committee, Pencils of Promise, CITTA, Safe Horizons, Special Olympics, ABC (Association to Benefit Children) and the New York Center for Law and Justice.
- Dean System
- Eighth and Ninth Grade Shakespeare Performances
- Student Travel
- Advanced Science Research (ASR)
- Tufts University Advanced Seminar
"A hallmark of CGPS is the value placed on individual students and their interests. Beginning in the ninth grade, the curriculum offers many electives in art, music, theater, dance, technology and physical education. As the students progress through the Prep School, they are given increasing autonomy to choose their courses and, by the time they reach their junior and senior years, they are creating their entire academic programs in all subjects — English, history, math, science, world language and all other elective courses. Harnessing and building upon their passions within the context of the courses results in interested, successful and independent graduates who are ready for the next educational step in their lives. The elective system allows for flexibility in course offerings, so no two academic years are identical. Every discipline in the Prep School offers elective courses. They can be taken in addition to required courses in a department, after those course requirements have been met. The electives reflect student and teacher interests and are beloved among the student body. Elective offerings at CGPS are vast and change semester to semester.
New York Literature
Crime and Punishment
From Utopia to Dystopia: The Search for Idealism
London in Literature
Ink On Your Fingers: An Appreciation of Journalism
Nineteenth Century American Literature
Introduction to Dramatic Writing
Princesses, Monsters and the Madwoman in the Attic
The Iliad and War Literature
American Literature Today
From Slapstick to Satire
History & Social Sciences
The Pacific War
Genocide in the XX and XXI Centuries
Modern Latin American History
America and the Vietnam War
The Politics of Food
History of New York City
Japan Through Film 1949-2011
Conquest: The Portuguese, Dutch and English Empires in the East Indies and the Orient
Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in America
A Brief History of World Religions
Renaissance: Birth of the Modern World
Number Theory and Pattern Recognition
Seminar in Advanced Mathematics
Geometric Applications and Statistical Analysis
Advanced Topics in Geometry
Honors Physics I and II
Human Anatomy and Physiology
Advanced Science Research
French IV and V
Spanish IV and V
Japanese IV and V
Chinese IV, V and VI
Project Fitness and Wellness
Intro to Programming
Object Oriented Programming
Data Science with Python
Mobile App Design
Robotics: Mechanisms and Electronics
AP Computer Science A
Advanced Computer Science Projects
Web Design I, II
Graphic Design I, II
3D Modeling and Printing I, II
Storytelling in the Digital Age (AR & VR)
Navigating Media in the 21st Century
Theory I, II
Theory III, IV
Advanced Music Theory
Logic I: Music Composition and Production
Women's Chamber Choir
Advanced Music History
Music History Seminar
From Showboat to Sondheim: The History of the American Musical Theater
Bop and Beyond
Musica Da Camera: Chamber Groups
Mixed Media Sculpture
Painting and Drawing
Film & Video
Art History I, II
Design: Theory and Practice
Ceramics I, II, III (Sculpture, Wheel Throwing)
Advanced Projects in Ceramics
Metalsmithing and Jewelry I, II, III
Advanced Projects in Metal
Painting and Drawing I, II, III
Advanced Painting and Drawing Portfolio Development
Advanced Projects in Painting and Drawing
Black & White Photography
Intermediate Black and White Photography
Advanced Projects in Black and White Photography.
Art Through Technology
Art Through Collage
Film and Video I, II, III
Advanced Projects in Film and Video
Theater & Dance
Acting and Directing Studio
Acting Studio: Improvisation
Senior Play Project
Movement for the Actor
Costume and Make-Up Studio
Intro to Technical Theater
Advanced Technical Theater
Modern Dance I, II
Teacher and proud CGPS graduate Olivia Salzano guides eighth graders through their first year in the Prep School as the grade-level Dean. Beginning in ninth grade, every class is assigned a Dean that will accompany the group of students until graduation. The Dean oversees each student's academic, social and emotional life and frequently interacts with the students (through private, group and class meetings), their teachers, counselors and parents. They are instrumental in their students' well-being. The Deans organize grade-level meetings with teachers and counselors, visit classes and clubs, attend school functions and meet with the Director twice a cycle to keep them up to date. This is considered one of the most meaningful programs at the School.
The English Department offers a particularly vibrant exploration of Shakespearean drama to the eighth and ninth grades. Along with traditional close readings of poetic language, students also engage in lively analysis of performance, viewing and discussing films and often leaving their seats to recite and perform lines themselves. Then, in an exciting culminating project for ninth grade, students develop their own scene interpretations, choose costumes and props, learn Shakespeare’s lines, and prepare to direct and act in order to bring their characters and scenes to life. These performances are a highlight of the spring term and offer alternative paths for students to connect with the plays.
The Prep School Math Department celebrates π Day every March 14 with its annual Pi-athlon. In lieu of their regular math classes for two days, students are placed in multi-grade teams to compete in a variety of events (Problem Solving, Tangrams, SET, π Recitation and Logic Puzzles). Each year, the event encourages friendly competition and learning between students of different ages, and the winning team gets to choose the charity to which proceeds from Student Government's π Day Bake sale are donated.
Student trips are an integral part of the Prep School curriculum. Each year, groups of students travel to and compete in Model Congress and Model UN tournaments. Students participating in the Tufts University Seminar spend four days at Tufts University for the April conference organized by the University. For international travel, the School has partnered with the Amigos program, which offers summer immersion programs in Latin America.
ASR is a student-centered research program that encourages individual and group scientific inquiry beginning sophomore year. ASR is one of the most exciting curriculum initiatives that a secondary school can offer. ASR provides high school students with the structure and support they need to explore original research at a very high level in a topic of their own interest. This serious pursuit of new knowledge provides students with a deep experience of independence, industry and collaboration. ASR offers students the chance to complete original research projects on a topic of their choice in the areas of physical science (chemistry, physics, engineering, earth and space sciences), life science (biology, medicine and health, environmental science), mathematics and computers, or social science (psychology, anthropology). This is a challenging course designed to inculcate a strong foundation in personal responsibility, self-reliance, creative problem solving and advanced interpersonal communication skills.
Taught in conjunction with the Institute of Global Leadership at Tufts University, this seminar reflects the latest thinking in this field. Each year, students analyze a topic established by the Institute both as a historical phenomenon and an analytical-legal concept. Previous topics have included genocide, migration, the future of Europe, petroleum and water, global health, and Putin and the 21st century, among others. Throughout the year, students interact via the internet with Tufts students taking a parallel course. Every participant engages in meaningful research activities and essay-writing assignments, and class activities mostly center around seminar-style discussions. Though each year the seminar has its own thematic focus, the objectives remain the same. Students participate in collaborative and active learning; hone critical thinking skills by engaging in discussion, argumentation, debate, information literacy, planning and strategy, project creation and management; engage in creative problem-solving; gain confidence in inquiry; and participate in research writing and oral communication to develop a personal voice.