Mclean Hospital
Schools at McLean

Arlington School

Arlington School students come from numerous school systems and varying backgrounds. To meet the needs of students entering the Arlington School at different times in their high school careers, individual transcripts are assessed on a regular basis to determine grade level and classes appropriate for scheduling. Academic course subjects have continuity as students advance levels from year to year. Elective courses do not have levels, and course options vary each year.

We offer high school classes aligned to the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. More information on curriculum can also be found in the Arlington School Course Catalog and Program Guide found in the Publications section.

English Language Arts

In the English classroom, the student and the teacher are partners in the learning process. Together we learn how to ask questions, how to participate and listen in group discussions, how to examine ideas with increasing depth, and how to expand our individual reference points to take in new ideas and better understand the complexity of connections between literature and life.


Recognizing that success in the math classroom is dependent on practice and the mastery of concepts in sequence, students are provided with the opportunity to work within an individualized curriculum that addresses their level of knowledge, skill, and ability. While many students move forward at grade level in math, the curriculum can also be designed to address remedial and enrichment needs when appropriate.


Our history courses help students understand the larger significance of the great discoveries, conflicts, and ideas that continue to shape our world and our future. A major focus of the study of history and social science at the Arlington School is the development of skills that enable our students to become life-long learners and contribute positively to their community, nation, and planet.


Science in the classroomOur science teachers utilize a diverse methodology of instruction, incorporating interactive technologies, multisensory learning, and various texts to create a comfortable learning environment for participating in class discussions and for working independently. Options for science classes include general sciences, biology, chemistry, physics, forensics, and anatomy and physiology.

Art, Media, and Photography

The goal of the fine arts program at Arlington School is to provide each student with an appropriate level of challenge, given his or her background, interests, and abilities. In addition to producing art, music, and/or dramatic pieces, students are encouraged to reflect on their own process and progress, and to develop a portfolio of work that reflects their individual talents and interests.

Physical Education

The physical education program promotes physical fitness and emotional well-being. Students participate in group activities, weight training, and fitness instruction in a flexible and supportive environment. Students have access to cardio machines and weights, a basketball court, walking paths, and fitness tools.

World Languages

Arlington School offers introductory courses in French and Greek.

French courses introduce students to the French culture by learning vocabulary, grammar, and syntax through reading, listening to and singing contemporary songs, watching movies, and conducting conversations.

The main objective of the Greek course is to help students obtain a taste of the Greek culture and language and become proficient in modern conversational Greek.


We offer many elective courses that let students move beyond the regular curriculum and prepare for life after high school. Electives vary from year to year, depending on student interest and teacher availability.

MCAS Preparation

This course helps students prepare for the MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System), an exam designed to test a student’s ability to answer questions on what they have learned in 9th and 10th grades. Passing the MCAS is a graduation requirement for public schools in the state of Massachusetts. Students who perform well on this test currently have the potential to receive scholarship money to state universities.

SAT & PSAT Preparation

This course helps students prepare for the PSAT and practice for the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test). The SAT is a test that many colleges use in their evaluation of applicants for admission. Other tests, such as the ACT (American College Testing), can also be prepared for in this class.

College Writing

In this elective, students practice a wide variety of rhetorical forms across the disciplines to better prepare for the expectations and demands of a college composition course.

Film (English Department)

Films are studied as an artistic experience, like a novel or play. Discussion topics include style, techniques, problems in acting, focus, montage, image framing, directing, continuity, themes, and settings of film in intellectual history. In addition to class discussion, students produce essays about each film.

Film (Media Arts Department)

This film class views clips and entire films from a variety of genres, including comedy, fantasy, sci-fi, action, and classics. Students participate in film discussions and then apply their knowledge through quizzes and the creation of posters and other media to represent their understanding of each work. Class time can also be used to support students’ independent film projects for submission to college art programs.

Forensic Science

Forensic science introduces the fundamental concepts of crime scene investigation and forensic analysis of evidence and their application to the justice system and the law. Emphasis is placed on evaluating the role and importance of each type of evidence to determine the who, what, and how of a crime.


This hands-on gardening course was conceived as a way for students to appreciate the wonder of fresh food.

Interactive Science

Interactive science encourages scientific exploration without the rigors associated with a traditional science elective. Students are assessed based on their contribution to the curriculum, attendance, and the logic associated with their interactive discussions.


The media class combines computer, video, and photography mediums. Students become familiar with the operations of graphic programs on iMacs, digital cameras, and peripherals. Students also have the option to create work for their portfolios, posters for school activities, and participate in art contests.

Performing Arts

Students learn about and perform instrumental music, choral music, improvisation, and theatrical works. They learn how to read tablature and sheet music, play basic chords and rhythms on a variety of instruments, and learn the mechanics of singing and vocal technique. They also engage in improvisational theater exercises, learn basic acting techniques, practice monologues, and work together to produce a play.

Personal Finance

This course is designed to help students gain an understanding of the basic principles and practices of money management, credit, savings, investments, taxation, insurance, and consumer protection. Students engage in many activities, such as building a personal budget, managing a checking account, and making loan applications.


This course introduces students to traditional concerns within the philosophic canon. Students read primary texts and discuss them in relation to conventional and current understanding of ideas, society, personality, and lived experience.


Photography student takes picture outside Arlington SchoolPhotography is divided into two areas: the technical and the aesthetic. Students learn the workings of a film camera and a digital camera, develop their own negatives, and work in the darkroom to make prints.

Physical Education

Though all students participate in a weekly physical education class, students can also choose physical education as a daily elective.


Students study the content of the mind and human behavior, as well as learn thinking skills that help navigate real-life problems. Course topics include history and perspectives, nature/nurture, life span development, the brain and biological bases of behavior, perception, learning, memory, sleep, language development, intelligence, personality, and the treatment of psychological disorders.


The research curriculum is designed to create 21st century learners who can use research skills when searching for a variety of informational needs. Students engage in basic research and time-management skills necessary to produce long-term projects such as research papers, PowerPoint projects, and oral presentations.

Sewing and Knitting

Students design and sew dresses, skirts, costumes, toys, camping gear, and backpacks for this elective. They also knit or crochet socks, hats, and mittens. Students sometimes volunteer their skills to support school-wide events.

Studio Art

In the studio art course, students explore different media and topics, with the goal of covering six to eight topics over the course of a two-year period. Past topics have included drawing, painting, printmaking, ceramics, sculpture, jewelry making, and graphic design.


Over the course of a semester, students work together to develop the Arlington School yearbook. Students use Photoshop to combine and edit images, create a cover for the yearbook, brainstorm ideas for new pages, and get all aspects of the book ready for printing.