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Upper School
Signature Experiences

A high school experience like no other

There are so many things that make the PCDS Upper School unique, impactful, and unforgettable. Our students' rate their relationships with their amazing faculty atop the list of most important PCDS experiences, along with their academic growth and peer relationships.


Here is just a sampling of some of the many experiences that make the PCDS Upper School special:

Independent Studies

If a student wants to pursue an academic avenue beyond the courses offered at PCDS, our Upper Schoolers have the unique opportunity to dive deeply into an academic topic of their choice, guided by an expert faculty mentor, and more than a third of PCDS students will complete at least one Independent Study before graduating. Topics are wide-ranging, with Independent Studies occuring in any academic discipline. An approved Independent Study is a graded class that culminates with the student's showcase presentation to a faculty committee.

Senior Speeches

Every year, each senior delivers a 7-10 minute speech to the entire Upper School students and faculty body on a topic of their choice. Whether tackling a prescient political issue, sharing personal experience, or laughing about the foibles of human relationships, these speeches allow the community to gain insight into the student speaker and their passions.

Unique Electives, Clubs, and Activities

Whether connecting novels to historical issues or working with complex biochemical reactions in the Shin Center, Upper School course offerings reflect student interests, world issues/challenges, and passions/expertise of our faculty. Because of the range of elective choices, no two transcripts look alike, just as no two students are alike. In addition to classes, Upper School students have the unique opportunity to participate in after-school activities and to start and lead student clubs, with more than 50 Student Clubs & Activities operating each year and reflecting the evolving interests of the students.

Humans of PCDS

Each year, students and faculty join together for a day of non-academic activities centered around diversity, inclusivity, and social issues pertinent for our community. This student-led initiative has included guest speakers and student- and faculty-led discussion panels on topics such as gun violence, gender identity, political climate, and more. The day is capped by a favorite PCDS tradition-- the International Food Festival, which features food, music, and dance reflecting the array of cultures and backgrounds in the PCDS community.