High School Course Descriptions


The Vail High School curriculum is designed to provide students with challenging college preparatory experiences in a nurturing and supportive environment. The VHS curriculum is designed to prepare each student for a rigorous college experience and to provide opportunities for college level work and college credit. Course offerings are subject to change based on course enrollment. All Students are REQUIRED to pass 2 credits of Honors, Dual Enrollment, or Advanced Placement (AP) Courses to GRADUATE.



Vail High School requires four credits for graduation. Students will utilize the writing process and 6 traits of writing in preparation for successful communication and the AzM2 test.  

English 9 Grade 9 One Credit

English 1 focuses on the development of high school level reading comprehension and writing skills. Organizational study and research skills are reviewed and emphasized. Students are exposed to a variety of genres and they are assigned a variety of writing activities, which include: essays, narratives, literary analyses, poems, etc.

English 9 Honors Grade 9 One Credit

This is an honors-level course open to 9th graders who have demonstrated high academic achievement and a desire to challenge themselves. Students will read a variety of literature from both American and World Literature strands. In addition, students will write in a wide variety of formats and genres and will practice speaking and debating.

English 10 Grade 10 One Credit

This literature class focuses on American literature from Pre-Colonial to Modern Times. Throughout the course, students will be provided with a myriad of opportunities to understand, evaluate, and clearly communicate ideas through reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Students will analyze a variety of genres through persuasive and analytical essays, creative writing, and oral presentations. This course offers expanded opportunities to use 21st century skills to enhance the learning experience and course themes.

English 10 Honors Grade 10 One Credit

This is an honors-level course open to 10th graders in English 10 who have demonstrated high academic achievement and a desire to challenge themselves. This class follows the same schedule as Sophomore English, but is designed to challenge and engage students at a higher level of rigor.

Modern Literature Grades 11-12 One Credit

This course is a thematic approach to fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and plays, published after 1900. The Modern Literature course has several goals:  to prepare students for life after high school by increasing their level of education and knowledge, teaching students to be critical in reading and in writing, and enrich their cultural awareness by exploring various thematic elements across multiple literary genres.  Throughout the year students will read and analyze several novels, short stories, poetry pieces, articles, movies, documentaries, and music.  They will also write argumentative essays, literary analyses, synthesis essays, and research papers.  Students will develop higher critical thinking skills and will be expected to speak in front of their peers in group discussions, class talks, and speeches. The goal of this class is to get students to think analytically, ask tough questions, and read and write at an advanced level.

World Literature Grades 11-12 One Credit

This Senior English class is designed to help students continue to gain understanding of the development, structure, and function of the English language through the study of world literature. Novels, plays, short stories, essays and poetry provide opportunities for expanding reading, writing, research, and problem solving strategies. Critical analysis of literature serves as the basis for written assignments. A research project prepares students for the transition to higher education and the world of work.

AP English Language and Composition Grades 11-12 One Credit (Next Offering in 2022-2023) (Offered in alternate years with AP English Literature and Composition)

This class prepares a student to take the College Board’s Advanced Placement English Language and Composition exam. Students will analyze and interpret works (focus on nonfiction) while identifying and explaining the authors’ use of rhetorical strategies and techniques. Students will write in a variety of genres and contexts, both formal and informal, employing appropriate conventions and moving through the stages of the writing process.

AP English Literature and Composition Grades 11-12 One Credit (Offered in 2021-2022) (Offered in alternate years with AP English Language and Composition)

This class prepares a student to take the College Board’s Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition exam. The students in this class read many pieces of literature from around the world. This course also has an extensive poetry unit.  The students read, discuss, analyze, and create literature.  Writing is normally a response to literature, but students also write research papers and creative pieces.



Vail High School requires four years of math including Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2 and a 4th year math.


Students taking Algebra 1 in 9th Grade
Algebra 1 (9th) —> Geometry (Honors optional) (10th) —> Algebra 2 (Honors optional)(11th) —> Algebra 3 (12th) OR Pre-Calculus Honors (12th)

Students taking Algebra 1 in 8th Grade
Algebra 1 (8th) —> Geometry (Honors optional) (9th) —> Algebra 2 (Honors optional)(10th) —> Pre-Calculus Honors (11th) —> AP Calculus AB (12th)

Students taking Algebra 1 in 7th Grade
Algebra 1 (7th) —> Geometry (Honors optional) (8th) —> Algebra 2 (Honors optional)(9th) —> Pre-Calculus Honors (10th) —> AP Calculus AB (11th) —> Calculus 2 @ PCC OR Equivalent (12th)

Algebra 1 Grades 7-9 One Credit

Students will use algebraic methods to explore, model, and describe patterns, relationships, and functions involving numbers, shapes, data, and graphs within a variety of real world problem-solving situations.  Students will also apply knowledge and understanding of number sense, data analysis, probability, structure, logic, and geometric principles.

Geometry Grades 8-10 One Credit

Geometry is a Math course that explores spatial relationships in Mathematics.  The course also provides an introduction to mathematical logic and proof.  Calculators are not permitted in this course.  Students’ grades will come from projects, homework, formative quizzes, benchmark tests and exams. (Prerequisite: Algebra I)

Geometry Honors Grades 8-10 One Credit

Geometry Honors focuses on all of the topics covered in Geometry with an emphasis on reasoning and proofs. Calculators are not permitted in this course. The bulk of the students’ grades will come from formative quizzes, benchmark tests, project work and exams. (Prerequisite: Algebra 1)

Algebra 2  Grades 9-11 One Credit

This course extends the concepts learned in previous Algebra courses.  Topics include fractional and negative exponents, quadratic equations, and problem solving related to other sciences, as well as an introduction to concepts of geometry and trigonometry. (Prerequisite: Algebra 1 and Geometry)

Algebra 2 Honors Grades 9-11 One Credit

Algebra 2 Honors focuses on all of the topics covered in Algebra 2 with an emphasis on higher level understanding of concepts in preparation for Pre-Calculus & AP Calculus. Students will be required to learn concepts in more depth. (Prerequisite: Algebra 1 and Geometry)

Statistics Grades 12 One Credit

Students will be able to: Describe a set of data by numerical and graphical methods. Use experimental or theoretical probability (as appropriate) to represent and solve problems involving uncertainty. Understand the concept of a random variable. Describe the normal curve and use its properties to answer questions about sets of data that are assumed to be normally distributed. Use basic statistical equations to sort data (z-scores, t-tests, etc.). Algebraic concepts will be reviewed to prepare students for college math. (Prerequisite: Algebra 2)

Pre-Calculus Honors Grades 10-12 One Credit

This Honors level course reviews topics covered in Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra 2 at an accelerated pace to prepare students to study Calculus. Students must have earned an A or B in Algebra 2 to be considered for this course. Topics considered are functions and their graphs, polynomial and rational functions, exponential and logarithmic functions, systems of equations and inequalities, trigonometric functions, sequences and probability, and Analytic Geometry. A graphing calculator is recommended for this class. (Prerequisite: Algebra 2)

AP Calculus AB Grades 11-12 One Credit

This class prepares a student to take the College Board’s Advanced Placement Calculus AB exam. Calculus is the study of how quantities and rates are related. Such as how a position and a velocity are related or, a velocity and an acceleration are related. Everyone knows that when the accelerator in a car is stepped on the car accelerates and the result is that the velocity has changed. There is a relation between the two and calculus is the tool we use to describe it. Calculus is also used to study optimization, volume, work, force, pressure, and probability. (Prerequisite: Pre-Calculus Honors)



To meet Vail High School Science graduation requirements, a student must successfully complete three credits.  This must include Physics, Biology, and Chemistry. Vail High School encourages all science students to participate in the S.A.R.S.E.F. Science Fair.

Physics Grade 9 One Credit

This course seeks to familiarize the students with the basic laws and forces that govern all physical events in the world around them. The course uses class and laboratory experience to aid discovery, inspire curiosity, and aid understanding of the basic principles of physics. Students will use inductive and deductive reasoning along with cause and effect relationships to solve problems. This course involves mathematics at the algebra level, using calculators and graphing work. Students in this course will gain experience learning and following a scientific method that will provide a way of thinking that will be useful in almost all future studies. Emphasis is placed on conceptual physics: Study of forces, laws of motion, energy, simple machine function, waves, light, and electricity.

Physics Honors Grade 9 One Credit

Students will cover the same topics studied in Physics; However, topics will be studied in greater depth. (Prerequisite: Algebra 1)

Biology Grade 10 One Credit

This course is split into two parts. The first semester we cover microbiology. The first quarter covers cell biology including biochemistry, cell theory, cell division, reproduction and photosynthesis and cellular respiration. The second quarter covers the molecular basis for heredity including genetics, DNA, RNA, replication, transcription and translation. The second semester covers macro biology. In the third quarter, we cover evolution by natural selection and how populations adapt and grow. In the fourth quarter, we cover the different kingdoms of life and show how they compare anatomically.

Biology Honors Grade 10 One Credit

Students will cover the same topics studied in Biology; however, the students will be required to go into more depth by writing a three to five page research paper each quarter and participating in the science fair.

Chemistry Grade 11 One Credit

This course is a laboratory-based class designed to prepare students for advanced study in science. Students will examine matter, its composition, and properties, and how it affects everyday life. The laboratory activities contain an environmental focus while instructing students about chemistry issues in society. A science fair project is required for juniors. (Prerequisite: Biology) (Corequisite: Algebra 2)

Advanced Chemistry PCC Grade 11-12 One Credit

This is a Dual Enrollment Course with Pima Community College. The curriculum will follow PCC’s CHM 151. The course assumes no prior knowledge of chemistry. Topics include an introduction to the scientific method, dimensional analysis, atomic structure, nomenclature, stoichiometry and chemical reactions, the gas laws, thermodynamics, chemical bonding, and properties of solutions. The laboratory portion of this course includes determination of density, classification of chemical reactions, the gas laws, determination of enthalpy change using calorimetry, and determination of empirical formula. There is no GPA requirement or fee necessary to take this course. Students will be able to receive 4 credits in CHM 151 from PCC upon passing the course and passing the placement exams in math & science at Pima Community College. This credit is transferrable to most major Colleges & Universities. (Prerequisite: Biology) (Corequisite: Algebra 2)



Vail High School requires a half credit of health for graduation.

Health Grade 9 .5 Credit

Health and Wellness is designed as a sophomore level, half credit, and required course. The focus of this is to lay a solid foundation for life-long, healthy decision-making, based on the District ACT statement. Students will be given the opportunity to practice skills that should help them make good choices, choices which will promote caring, responsibility and a respect for family values, others and self. This course will also focus on human development, sex education, and the avoidance of high-risk behaviors. Although the course will be comprehensive, emphasis will be placed on sexual abstinence. Guest speakers, role-playing and videos will be utilized throughout the course.



Vail High School requires the following three and a half credits of social studies for graduation:  One year of World History, one year of U.S./Arizona History, one year of U.S. Government, and a half year of Economics.

World History Grade 9 One Credit

In this course, students will study the history of the world’s great civilizations, their geographic settings, political development, social life and economic conditions. In this course students will study the relationship of the present to the past.

Economics Grade 9 .5 Credit

To enable students to make reasoned judgments about both personal economic questions and broader questions of economic policy. Students will develop an economic way of thinking and problem solving to understand and apply basic economic principles to decisions they will make as consumers, members of the workforce, citizens, voters, and participants in a global marketplace. This will prepare students to weigh both short-term and long-term effects of decisions as well as possible unintended consequences. The study of economics explains historical developments and patterns, the results of trade, and the distribution of income and wealth in local, regional, national, and world economies. Students will be able to analyze current issues and public policies and to understand the complex relationships among economic, political, and cultural systems.

U.S. & AZ History Grade 11 One Credit

This course content includes a survey of the political, economic, and social history of the American people from the founding of colonial Jamestown in 1607 to world leadership in the present decade. This course also covers the State of Arizona’s Role in US History.

U.S. & AZ History Honors Grade 11 One Credit

Students will cover the same topics studied in U.S. & AZ History; however, topics will be studied in greater depth.

AP United States History Grade 11-12 One Credit (Next Offering in 2022-2023) (Offered in alternate years with AP United States Government & Politics)

United States History, as an Advanced Placement course provides a college-level, discipline-based curriculum. Course content includes a survey of the political, economic, and social history of the American people from the founding of colonial Jamestown in 1607 to world leadership in the present decade.

American Government Grade 12 One Credit

This course studies early American concepts of political science as a basis for understanding today’s government. It also compares modern political and economic structures, provides in-depth treatment of constitutional rights, as well as the election process and the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches of the government at the federal, state and local levels. Finally it explores the impact of current affairs in these areas. This course requires research work.

AP United States Government & Politics Grade 12 One Credit (Offered in 2021-2022) (Offered in alternate years with AP Unites States History)

The primary goals of the Advanced Placement United States Government and Politics course are to provide students with critical insights into the governmental systems, to provide students with opportunities to practice the “science” of politics through simulations, and to prepare students for the Advanced Placement United States Government and Politics exam. For students to successfully complete these goals this course will work on continued development of writing and public speaking skills as they pertain to the discipline of Political Science.



To meet Vail High School graduation requirements, a student must successfully complete two years of the same strand of Career and Technical Education.  Students entering Digital Photography 1 will be expected to complete Digital Photography 2. Students entering Business Management 1 will be expected to complete Business Management 2.

Both the Digital Photography and Business Management Programs at Vail Academy & High School are supported and enhanced by the Pima JTED.





Digital Photography 1 Grades 10-12 One Credit

In CTE Photo Imaging students will start with basic units on a digital camera, composition and exposure. They will explore and create images using the Adobe Photoshop program.  Students will learn how to critique each other’s work. They will learn several aspects about the photo industry and avenues in which you can choose as a career pathway. The class will help design, construct, sell and distribute the school yearbook. Students will develop a service-learning project and implement it at our school. This class emphasizes developing a photographic eye and learning the fundamental concepts of photography, image making and the business of photography. (Students taking this course will be be required to take Digital Photography 2)

Digital Photography 2 Grades 11-12 One Credit

In CTE Photo Imaging 2 students will continue to explore the digital camera, working with composition and exposure. They will continue to explore and create images using the Adobe Photoshop program. Students will help critique the yearbook and other’s work. They will continue to explore aspects related to the photo industry and avenues in which you can choose a career pathway. The class will help design, construct, sell and distribute the school yearbook. Students will develop a service-learning project and implement it at our school. This class emphasizes developing a photographic eye and learning the fundamental concepts of photography, image making and the business of photography. (Prerequisite: Digital Photography 1)



Business Management 1 Grades 10-12 One Credit

The goal of this course is to introduce students to the world of business. They will explore a variety of occupational areas, demonstrate career planning skills and learn about proper communication skills for public and workplace environments.  They will develop leadership and teamwork skills necessary for the workplace, learn decision making and develop critical thinking skills in order to analyze how social, organizational and technological systems operate. This basic course is the beginning step in developing all of the competencies necessary to complete the rest of the business courses offered at Vail High School. (Students taking this course will be be required to take Business Management 2)

Business Management 2 Grades 11-12 One Credit

The goal of this course is to prepare individuals for careers in current or emerging employment sectors. Students will prepare for a career in business developing self-confidence, positive work attitudes, and general employment skills, while expanding their knowledge of basic business concepts and procedures. Virtual workplace simulations create a challenging and fun interactive workplace experience that will give students a chance to apply their academic and soft skills in a real world setting. Students will have the option of participating in FBLA activities. (Prerequisite: Business Management 1)



Students planning to go to a 4-year college must complete two years of the same Modern Language.

Spanish I Grades 9-12 One Credit

This class is for non-native speakers who want to learn the Spanish language. Students will develop primary listening and speaking skills, which stress the correct pronunciation and intonation of the Spanish language. Students will practice Spanish by oral practice, repeating gestures, telling stories, activities, songs, vocabulary games, specific grammar structure, and projects. Students will learn the differences and similarities of the Spanish speaking countries. Students will use appropriate Spanish material to assist them through the four basic communications skills (listening, reading, speaking, and writing).

Spanish 2 Grades 9-12 One Credit
Students will improve and expand their listening, reading, speaking and writing skills. Students will practice Spanish by oral communication, repeating gestures, creating Spanish stories, performing short drama skits, reading Spanish novels, singing Spanish songs, playing vocabulary games, learning specific complex grammar structures, and completing projects. Students will also continue to learn cultural similarities and differences of the Spanish-speaking world. This class will have a special track for students who speak Spanish at home. (Prerequisite: Spanish 1 or Students who speak Spanish in their home)



Students must complete one year of Fine Arts.

Studio Art Grades 9-12 One Credit

This course is designed for students who wish to refine their artistic skills in drawing, painting, design, and sculpture. Students will be taught artistic techniques through the use of professional artist’s materials. In addition to the studio experience, students will have an opportunity to expand their comprehension of art concepts, artistic techniques, and art media through a study of art historical themes and journal entries.

Drama 1 Grades 9-12 One Credit

Students will be given background and terminology in stage movement, play structure, acting, scene work,  characterization, scenic design, costuming, theater history, playwriting, and more. The intention is to provide a basis for exploration into the theatre as a whole. This is not simply an acting course, but an academically based introduction to theatre. Students will learn through individual and group projects and performances.

Drama 2 Grades 10-12 One Credit

Because everyone in this class has already mastered the basics, this class is meant to be an advanced acting class. You will have the opportunity to act in full length shows, direct, design, and stage manage. This class will act like a production company and students will be in charge of learning all aspects of producing a full length production from auditions, to rehearsals, to tech, to final performances. Be ready to immerse yourself in the world of theatre! (Prerequisite: Drama 1 or prior theater training)

Music Grades 9-12 One Credit

Students will learn about the Ukulele and the African Drums over the course of the school year. Students will learn how to strum and pick many songs. Students will also learn basic to advanced rhythm skills using djembe drums in an ensemble like setting. We will also be doing a little bit of singing. Along with learning the basics of ukulele and the djembe drum, students will learn how to read music and rhythm.



AP Computer Science Principles Grades 10-12 One Credit (Not Offered in 2021-22)

This class prepares a student to take the College Board’s Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles exam. The course is designed for the student with a general interest in computer science. No prior knowledge of computer science is required. It’s a heavily project-based course that emphasizes the “real world impact” of topics like networking, cyber security, big data, photo/video manipulation, programming and gaming. Students work most often in pairs or small groups.

Current Events Grades 9-12 One Credit

This class will be about what is going on in the world, currently. We will look at print media (newspapers and magazines), broadcast news (radio and television), and internet news (online newspapers, news blogs, news videos, live news steams, etc). We will learn about the seven different types of journalism and the twenty-five different types of news stories. We will also compare and contrast the same news story covered by different media.

Life 101 Grades 9-12 One Credit

This course is designed to teach students the basic skills needed to survive in today’s and tomorrow’s world. Topics covered will include: Public Speaking and Interviewing Techniques, Personal Finance, Time Management, Work Ethic, Resume Preparation, College Preparation, and Personal Responsibility. Professionals in the above areas will be guest speakers as well.

Sociology (Fall only) Grades 9-12 .5 Credit

The purpose of this sociology course is to provide students with a chance to examine human social interaction and the ways in which individuals are influenced by other people and society. Sociology focuses on special topics such as: Groups, culture, socialization, deviance and inequalities (gender, social class, race, ethnicity). This class will explore these areas through sociological readings and engaging in discussion and possibly simulations.

Criminal Justice (Spring only) Grades 9-12 .5 Credit

In this introductory course, we will examine the purposes, functions, and history of the three primary parts of the criminal justice system: law enforcement, courts, and corrections. We will further discuss how society balances the rights of individuals while maintaining public order. Students will view our current criminal justice system and propose ways in which it can be transformed to meet the needs of a changing society. In addition, we may study the criminal mind and possibly touch on forensics.

Psychology (Fall only) Grades 9-12 .5 Credit (Not Offered in 2021-22)

This course will introduce students to the introductory concepts in Psychology. We will focus on the history of psychology, behavior of individuals, how individuals react to certain stimuli, and also how the brain works. We will also look at learning, altered states of consciousness, psychological testing and disorders. In addition, we will focus on childhood and adolescence.

Holocaust Studies (Spring only) Grades 9-12 .5 Credit (Not Offered in 2021-22)

Holocaust Studies is a one semester elective course. During our time together, we will study about the victims of the Holocaust. In addition, we will talk about perpetrators, bystanders, collaborators, and the Nazi regime and how it came to power. We will also discuss the Jewish faith and its people along with the roots of antisemitism. There is usually a lesson on forgiveness and whether people are able to forgive for the atrocities of the Holocaust. If time allows, we will continue by learning about other genocides around the world. Further study will look at Holocaust deniers who exist practically everywhere, fortunately, in small numbers.

Business Management 3 Grade 12 One Credit

This course expands upon the skills and activities learned in Business Management 1 & 2 while participating in a supervised business training program. Students will participate in FBLA activities and attend both local and state FBLA competitive conferences. (Prerequisites: Teacher recommendation and Business Management 2)

Educational Applications Grades 9-12 One Credit

The goal of Educational Applications is to learn to use a variety of study skill strategies and organizational techniques to complete assignments, to improve grades, and to support students in making progress towards achieving their IEP goals. The class is geared towards helping special education students in 9th grade make a smooth transition to high school. Students learn to calendar their assignments, to communicate with their teachers, to use PowerSchool and Schoology effectively, and to make action plans for time management and work completion. The class also focuses on creating transition plans and developing goals for post-high school employment and/or education based on learning-style and interest surveys and on research into careers of interest to students. (Prerequisites: Teacher recommendation)

Office/Teacher Aide Grades 11-12 One Credit

Students will assist office staff and teachers in a day-to-day running of the school and classrooms. Prerequisite: Teacher recommendation required. (Students may only take a maximum of one credit of Office/Teacher Aide during High School)


last updated 5/7/21