In their final year of high school, students examine the act of creation and learn the skills necessary for making and navigating the accompanying changes. Project-based intensives embody the theme, the first challenging students to launch a startup and the last asking them to create a community performance. An essential underlying element throughout this year is the change ahead, preparing to graduate from The Downtown School.

Opening Intensive: 
What is the Good Life?

ID 410 - What is the Good Life?
In this interdisciplinary class, 12th graders ask: What is the good life? And what does it mean to live a good life as an individual, as a member of a family, a culture, a nation, the world? Students explore ideas about the good life from sources including science, literature, philosophy, and religion. Students participate in Socratic seminars to unlock the keys of such texts as Boethius’s The Consolation of Philosophy and Voltaire’s Candide. Using the city as a lab, students take their questions to Seattle-area residents, museums, and service organizations to understand the depth and breadth of thinking on this topic. Drawing on their increasing understanding of the city and its inhabitants, students work in teams to explore answers to the complex question: What is the good life? This three-week class culminates in a triptych representation of their understanding of the good life--as it applies to them now and in the future.


E 400 - Great Works of World Literature
In this yearlong course, students explore masterworks of world literature, considering such authors as Christopher Marlowe, Franz Kafka, Chinua Achebe, Isabel Allende, Fyodor Dostoevsy, Jane Austen, and Mary Shelley. Students grapple with important philosophical questions: What is my place in society? Do I construct my own sense of reality? In what ways do historical or personal pasts haunt our present? Students deepen their study of grammar and vocabulary and write analytical essays. The course is designed to give students the skills to write and discuss at the college level and participate as culturally informed citizens of the world.

History and Social Sciences

Seniors can explore their own interests in history and social science through the Global Online Academy (GOA), where they learn alongside students and teachers from more than 60 of the best independent schools around the world. GOA courses may include Advanced Topics in Economics, Applying Philosophy to Modern Global Issues, Redressing Inequity Through Data, and Prisons and the Criminal Law.


Students choose between two full-year courses.

M 400 - Calculus
This is a problem-based inquiry course on differential and integral calculus. It seeks to develop an intuitive understanding of calculus concepts using varied problem-solving techniques from numerical, graphical, and algebraic perspectives. Topics include limits and continuity; the derivative and indefinite integral; the definite integral; the fundamental theorem of calculus; ordinary differential equations with slope fields; infinite sequences and series; the calculus of parametric and polar equations; and their applications. The course features a significant amount of numerical analysis of real data and extensive use of programming tools such as Python. Throughout the course students will engage in projects in which they use calculus to model real-world scenarios. This course is the equivalent of two semesters of college level calculus.

M 401 - Statistics
This college-level course integrates elements of elementary calculus with statistical technology packages that aid visualization and analysis. Using case studies, students are introduced to descriptive and inferential statistics and tools for collecting, analyzing, and drawing reasonable conclusions from data. Students are evaluated on homework, regular projects, tests, and a major end-of year project of their own choosing that will showcase their quantitative literacy via significant experimental design, collection of data, analysis, and presentation. This course prepares students for success on the AP Statistics exam.


Students choose between two full-year courses.

S 400 - Advanced Biology: Molecular & Cell Biology
This yearlong, lab-based course draws on the scientific content, skills, and habits students have developed at The Downtown School, and involves students in sophisticated hands-on projects that integrate quantitative skills, analysis of multifaceted systems, experimental techniques, and scientific communication. In addition to classroom labs and activities, the course uses the city as a lab, taking students to neighboring scientific institutions and educational organizations and providing them with real-world experiences in science. While not an AP course, the topics it covers align with a significant portion of the AP curriculum; with some additional studying outside of class, students may choose to take an AP science exam.

S 401 - Interdisciplinary Experiential Science
The ability to approach questions from multiple angles and draw upon a variety of bodies of expertise — to have an interdisciplinary way of thinking — will benefit students academically, professionally, and personally. The primary purpose of this course is to give students hands-on experience in grappling with an issue using an interdisciplinary approach. Students draw on knowledge and skills from biology and chemistry, and also incorporate information and strategies from other disciplines, including math/quantitative reasoning, psychology, economics, and political science. Students may use the city as a lab in a variety of ways: visiting research labs and nonprofit organizations; collecting data and conducting field observations; or through internships. Topics covered will be based on student interest, but could include subjects like the effects of climate change in the Puget Sound area or what goes into developing a cutting-edge cancer treatment.


L 400 - Advanced Studies
Building on decisions they made at the close of Spanish 3 — including the outcomes, topics, texts, projects, and communicative tasks they want to master — students undertake projects that expand their skills in reading, writing, listening to, and speaking Spanish, with an emphasis on higher order comprehension and production.

Closing Intensive: Capstone

ID 420 - Capstone Community Performance
The graduating class uses their final intensive to conceive, prepare, and deliver a meaningful performance for the entire school community. Students choose the form — for example, a video, drama production, community fair, symposium, etc. — and work with their teachers to create an experience for the school community that reflects the seniors’ journey and their trajectory.