College Preparatory School for Girls Grades 3-12

Upper School

Grades 9-12

Challenging academics, personal attention, and opportunities to excel outside the classroom are hallmarks of the Holton-Arms Upper School. Students discover their passions and are encouraged to pursue them and develop their own unique potential.

Students receive careful guidance regarding graduation requirements and the college admissions process. We encourage all students to strive for depth and breadth as they move through Holton.


Holton-Arms offers a diversified college preparatory curriculum for Upper School students. The program is carefully designed to provide the necessary academic foundation as a student moves from Grade 9 to Grade 12. At each grade level, girls may choose from an increasing variety of opportunities, designing their programs to meet individual needs, abilities, and interests.

Graduation Requirements

A minimum of 63 credits including Core Courses in:

  • English (12 credits)
  • World Languages (9 credits in one language; successful completion of level 3)
  • History and the Social Sciences (9 credits - The Historian’s Craft, The West in the World: 1492-1870, and The West in the World: 1871 to the Present)
  • Mathematics (9 credits, 3 of which are Algebra 2 and Trigonometry, in Upper School. Summer work will not count toward graduation credits)
  • Pure & Applied Sciences (9 credits, including Biology and 6 additional credits in Upper School science, the final 3 credits can be earned through a One Schoolhouse school year class, not through summer course work; 3 credits of science must be earned during grade 9)
  • Physical Education (6 credits, 1 credit for each trimester or season by taking physical education or dance classes or participating on interscholastic teams in Upper School; 2 of the credits must be taken during junior or senior year. Students are required to take Fundamentals of P.E. by the end of grade 10)
  • Fine and Performing Arts (4 credits in Art, Music, Drama, or Dance if not taken for P.E. credit)
  • Computer Science (1 credit, can be earned by taking Web Development, App Development, Introduction to Engineering, Computer Programming and Robotics, or an approved CS course through One Schoolhouse. Credit must be earned in grades 9-12 )

Electives to complete requirements

The minimum course load in grade 9 is five major courses. In grades 10 through 12, the minimum load is four major courses each trimester. The recommended course load for most students is five majors. Students may take a sixth major with permission of the Upper School Director, although carrying additional academic classes is not advised.

To graduate, a student must have a 70 average in each of her last two years, and her final grade in Senior English must be at least a 70.

Community Service

Fifty hours in grades 9-11, to be completed by the beginning of the senior year; students may begin during the summer between grades 8 and 9.

Swimming Competency

Students must pass a swimming competency test by the end of the first trimester of the senior year.

Global Scholar

In 2014, Holton established the Global Scholar honors designation for students with an interest in global issues and international affairs. Upper School students interested in this program take a specialized global curriculum, including four years of world language study, the Global Issues and Perspectives course, participation in a Holton Junior Journey, and completion of a capstone Senior Project focusing on one or more of the U.N's Sustainable Development Goals.

Learn more about the program requirements.

One Schoolhouse

Students may take courses through the One Schoolhouse, a consortium of over 65 schools that share a commitment to creating the best online courses for students. One Schoolhouse classes may count toward credits earned for graduation, but cannot be used to fulfill discipline-specific requirements, with the exception of science, for which a class can be used to complete the third of three required years.

Students seeking to earn Holton credit for a One Schoolhouse class must seek permission in advance from the Upper School Director, who will review such requests with the Class Dean, advisor, and, where applicable, the Learning Specialist. If the course is approved, grades and credits from the One Schoolhouse class will be recorded on the student’s Holton-Arms transcript. However, grades earned in a One Schoolhouse class are not included in the student’s Holton-Arms GPA. For further information about One Schoolhouse classes, such as how to register and payment requirements, see the Upper School Director or the Grade 11 Class Dean.

Science Research

Holton’s Science Research Program, now over 10 years old, gives students the opportunity to practice genuine science in a professional lab. This opportunity expanded into a formal relationship with the George Washington University School of Engineering in 2013. George Washington guarantees a certain number of internships for interested Holton students. Partners also include the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences (USUHS), the University of Maryland, and Georgetown University.

Senior Projects

During the month of May, each senior undertakes a Senior Project. Some explore possible future careers; others select social service work or creative pursuits; all find in the experience an impetus to learn and grow.

Seniors return to school in early June before Commencement to present their projects to juniors, faculty, and staff assembled in small groups. Seniors discuss and evaluate their experiences and share tangible evidence of their project, such as a journal, photographic essay, portfolio of sketches, or a performance or recital.

The Senior Project program is a direct reflection of Holton’s educational philosophy, which encourages “intellectual curiosity, tenacity of purpose, and commitment to others.”

Our mission is to nurture lifelong skills and to provide an opportunity for seniors to engage in an experience that provides a unifying and intellectual perspective. Students use and develop their critical thinking, organizational tools, and efficient time-management skills. As they work through the stages of the Senior Project process from conception to completion, students acquire self-confidence, envision a world of vast possibilities, and develop the drive to explore areas of interest and passion.

STEM Scholar

Students who demonstrate interest, complete required applied science and math opportunities, and achieve a high level in related academic course work at Holton may receive the designation of STEM Scholar. This designation is noted on final transcripts and recognized at Commencement. This designation is limited to students who demonstrate the strongest performance in math and science related course work as well as their extra-curricular endeavors.

Holton is pleased to have community partners including: George Washington University (GWU), Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences (USUHS) Summer Research Training Program, University of Maryland, and Georgetown University. Student interns are supported by partnership mentors and enjoy the use of their state-of-the-art facilities.

Learn more about program requirements.

Learning Specialist

The faculty at Holton-Arms is committed to serving the needs of students with documented learning disabilities, consistent with the mission of the School. Accommodations are made as part of a process that encourages students to grow in independence as they understand their own needs and take increasing responsibility for their own learning.

The girls have opportunities for one-on-one meetings with the Upper School Learning Specialist to review schedules, to set goals, and to make plans for the year. The counselor spends time visiting as many classes as possible throughout the year. Faculty are both welcoming of these visits and enthusiastic in their collaboration.

Time is also available for parents to schedule meeting to discuss a variety of subjects. Several parent coffees are hosted throughout the year.

College Counseling

Two full-time counselors work closely with each girl and her family to guide her through the college search and application process.

Learn more about college counseling at Holton.

Guidance Program

The mission of the Holton-Arms Guidance Program is to promote the healthy emotional development of our students. Dedicated counselors in each division help students identify and articulate thoughts and feelings that would otherwise interfere with their ability to focus in the classroom.

Girls are encouraged to recognize the connection between emotions and behavior. Counselors help “cultivate that which is unique in each individual,” by using a variety of modalities, including classroom guidance and individual, group, and family therapy. Counselors work in close collaboration with parents and teachers.


The Upper School Advisory Program provides opportunities for students to develop strong connections to adults, as well as peers across grade levels. It is designed to guide our students through their Upper School Learn Well, Live Well, Lead Well experience, supporting their academic, social, and emotional learning while building strong communities. Advisory groups meet to discuss life in Upper School, and focus on an agenda driven by student needs and realities.

Students are assigned an Advisory group in ninth grade, and remain with that group until they graduate. Groups are organized by grade-level, with ninth- and 10th-grade students together and 11th- and 12th-grade students together, allowing Advisory work to focus on age-appropriate topics and discussions. Each group has 11 to 14 students and two faculty/staff advisors who specialize in that pair of grades.

Each Advisory has a buddy group from the other age range, and throughout the year there are opportunities to meet as a larger grades 9-12 group to have conversations and build relationships across all the Upper School grades. Advisory time is set aside as a break from academics and allows for relationships between students and adults beyond the core curriculum.

Student Leadership

The Representative Assembly serves as the Upper School student government, acting as a recommending body to the School and as a communications link among the students, the faculty, and the administration. Representative Assembly works for the students and is receptive to any ideas that students bring to it. Open meetings and forums are held so that students may offer ideas, opinions, and suggestions. In addition, the Representative Assembly hears cases involving infractions of Major Rules.

Upper School Clubs


Animal Rights
Community Service
Environmental Awareness
Think Pink
Duke of Edinburgh
Future Faces of Medicine


Black Student Union
Jewish Culture Club
Greek Culture Club
Hispanic Culture Club
Iranian Culture Club
Asia Culture Club
Southeast Asia Culture Club


3-D Printing and Computer Programming
Art Club
Culinary Club
Debate Club
Drama Club
Golf Club
Happiness Club
Knitting Club
Math Club
Hip Hop/Step
It's Academic
Mock Trial
Outdoor Adventure Club
Robotics & Cyberpatriots
Young Entrepreneurs
World of Dance


Young Democrats
Young Republicans
Model UN


Scribe (yearbook)
Scribbler (newspaper)
Scribbling (online yearbook)
Scroll (literary magazine)
Screen (videos)

School Support:

Blue White
HAA (Holton Athletic Association)
Peer Counselors
Panther Pack
RA (Representative Assembly)
SAC (Student Activities Committee)
Tour Guides

I love being in an environment where the sports are very good but my academic work is most important.

– Taylor
Grade 11