Unparalleled opportunities for academic and personal growth.
San Domenico seeks to develop unique, signature programming that addresses the personal development needs of students, encourages their academics and creative growth, and responds to the changing needs and demands of our 21st century world.
For one week in April, our students in grades 9-12 have the opportunity to enjoy fully immersive, project-based, experiential learning and discovery outside of the classroom. Each grade takes a trip that offers students the opportunity to stretch their limits and deepen their sense of community. Trips are carefully planned to connect with the developmental themes of each grade level, as well as the common grade-level curriculum. Students might go rock climbing at Joshua Tree, snorkel on Catalina Island, practice compassion with our developmentally disabled neighbors at Cedars Art Studio, volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, visit the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, or explore the unique marine biology of San Francisco Bay. The destinations and opportunities are endless, as teachers develop programming in response to student interest and the cultural zeitgeist.
Since 2019, San Domenico has partnered with Stanford School’s Project Wayfinder, a curriculum that utilizes a wayfinding metaphor—using traditional and indigenous navigation techniques and skills to journey through the natural world—to equip students and teachers with tools and skills to create purposeful lives. This collaboration has brought forth another layer of learning, as the Wayfinder curriculum has been integrated into the Human Development (ninth grade) and Myth and Meaning (tenth grade) curriculum, providing students with the opportunity to develop a sense of personal purpose and meaning.
Game Design Academy
The Game Academy is a three-year program that gives students the experience of being a practicing member of the 3D video game industry. Students have the opportunity to focus on a branch of the industry, Software Engineering, Digital Art, or Narration Design. They learn the fundamentals of game design and simulations so that they can best function as professionals when they enter the field.
Digital Arts Program
The Digital Arts Program empowers students to become active digital citizens. Within each course, students learn to decode contemporary texts and digital content, to use 21st century tools to engage with their worlds in meaningful ways, and to express their sense of purpose through real-world production. In the Digital Arts program, learning is personalized, collaboration is organic, and expertise is synthesized into college level, interdisciplinary work. The Digital Arts Program exists at the intersection of technology, society, the arts, and humanity.
Students in eighth and twelfth grades must design and implement a service learning project. San Domenico students do not simply “help” by volunteering or logging volunteer hours. In eighth grade, students plan, develop, complete, and reflect upon a service project that directly impacts their immediate school or local community. In the Upper School, the Real Opportunities for Service Education (ROSE) Project is a two-year commitment to an issue with reciprocal benefits for both the community and the student. The project begins in 11th grade when the student writes an Action Plan to choose a justice issue that will be the focus of their project. The student then identifies a group with which they will work or designs their own project. After completing their projects, the students present them at a special evening event that includes SD faculty and students, family, and local community members.
Ethnic Studies—a thread that runs through the Philosophy, Ethics, and World Religions (PEWR), Social Studies, and English Programs—is meant to cultivate understanding, respect, and empathy for individuals and groups of people living both within our own community and globally. We begin in Ninth Grade Global Studies with the question of why “where” matters, considering how human life has been shaped and altered by unique environments. We then examine the current distribution of the human population across the planet, investigate what contributes to migration, and assess how migration can impact language, culture, and religion. We also explore the origins of race and ethnicity. All of this sets the stage for a deep dive into social justice in the 11th grade, as well as the senior Ethnic Studies elective that explores the unique histories of Native Americans, Asian Americans, Black/African Americans, and Chicanx/Latinx peoples in the United States. Our English courses at each grade level augment the exploration of content and themes related to Ethnic Studies to extend the depth of learning and reflection.
The Virtuoso Program is designed for Upper School students who are exploring their potential as string musicians and wish to dedicate themselves to a rigorous academic and musical curriculum. San Domenico is the only upper school in the nation that offers an integrated and intensive music program, combined with college preparatory academics, that prepares students for music careers. Limited enrollment guarantees personal attention for every student.
The Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) Program facilitates project-based learning in various departments. Teachers across disciplines generate innovative projects – many of which are completed in the 3D Lab, the physical heart of the program. As students work to complete projects, they are encouraged to use not only the knowledge gained from coursework but also to develop the skills to solve tough problems, gather and evaluate evidence, make sense of information, and design innovative solutions.
Philosophy, Ethics, and World Religions
The Philosophy, Ethics, and World Religions courses study cultural thought and belief systems, historical events, theological concepts, and philosophical issues and movements. Students explore principles of decision-making, inquire into the spiritual dimensions of life, and develop their understanding of the meaning of interconnections with self, with others, with God, and with the universe. Course offerings honor the diversity of beliefs within the context of the Dominican tradition.
Our ecoliteracy program is integrated into the K-12 curriculum with environmental education, engagement, and stewardship at the core of who we are and what we do. SD’s faculty counsel and 515 acres of open space provide students the time and space to work and learn outdoors, allowing for a natural development of reverence, respect, and care for the land. Students learn to think critically, analytically, and contextually using real life, hands-on, integrated projects to solve real world problems. Ecoliteracy at San Domenico means our students develop a sense of their place on the land, in our community, and in the world at large. We continue to push the boundaries, to explore where we can reduce our ecological footprint and educate globally minded citizens. Students in the Upper School have the opportunity to participate in our Sustainability Program by joining Green Team and co-curriculars, such as Gardening.