Academic Departments


The goal of the English department is to implement an instructional program that highlights interrelationships among the different domains of language arts: reading, writing, written and oral English-language conventions, and speaking and listening. The aim is to prepare students to be critical thinkers and writers and to academically prepare them for post-secondary education. Students apply the knowledge and skills acquired in earlier grades yet in more refined and sophisticated ways as they analyze literature and other informational materials. Creativity and originality are encouraged as students strive to foster an appreciation for the subject. 

AP Literature and AP Language classes also are offered as options.


The Languages Department is inspired to provide a learning environment where students are able to learn the foundation of an additional language, while also gaining cultural exploration of that language. Students are encouraged to use the language in their daily lives, while keeping awareness of where languages are used globally. Beginning students are provided with the tools to communicate basic introductions and needs, while intermediate students are taught to communicate in an array of daily situations. Opportunities exist for students to pursue advanced levels of the language to further explore their skills.

Physical Education

The Physical Education Department aims to develop the whole student. It is strongly believed that the lessons learned outside of the classroom are equally important as those within. Games and activities are designed to encourage cooperation, compromise and teamwork. Exercises that focus on strength, flexibility and endurance will help to develop and maintain physical well being. The goal is for each student to continually pursue their own positive health and fitness beyond graduation from Southwestern Academy.

Visual and Performing Arts

Creative expression and innovation are the foundation of the mission for the Visual and Performing Arts Department. A nurturing atmosphere with small class sizes is conducive to all levels of creativity and exploration. Whether a student is new to the arts, or is preparing for a career in the arts, the department will assist in the achievement of those goals. 

In the visual arts, students learn traditional skills in art and photography, explore three dimensional design using a 3D printer, and acquire various applications from the Adobe Creative Suite. In the performing arts, musicians practice and perform together in small ensembles showcasing musical genres including jazz, classic rock, and pop. Drama students have the opportunity to perform various theatrical works. Each spring, all VPA students participate in the annual Arts Festival to showcase their achievements.

Students who are interested in pursuing a career in the arts are regularly accepted to colleges such as Pasadena ArtCenter College of Design, Rhode Island School of Design, SVA, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Otis and CCA and Berklee College of Music.


The English as a Second Language (ESL) Department endeavors to provide students with a smooth transition from their native language to English mainstream classes. Particular emphasis is placed on the grammatical foundations of the English language, as well as a strong phonics base for reading. The department guides students with an array of thought-provoking and exciting literature, with a focus on writing skills that enhance clarity and style. ESL students are actively encouraged to understand and practice communication skills and self-exploration through reading, analyzing, research, writing, and listening. Multi-cultural classrooms promote sensitivity among the students and faculty.


The Mathematics Department challenges students to become proficient mathematicians who are confident in their abilities. Students are expected and encouraged to take math each year in order to continually engage their problem-solving abilities, while expanding their skill sets to allow them to take on increasingly demanding curriculum. 

AP Calculus AB and AP Calculus BC are offered as options.

Social Studies

The Social Studies curriculum cultivates critical thinking, passion, and an ability to approach information and questions from a historical perspective, which are essential in becoming a thoughtful and responsible citizen of the world. Through both required and elective classes, students and faculty work together to interrogate the political, economic, social, cultural, and intellectual developments of the different societies that have led to our present, globalized marketplace. 

Whether reading the great ancient authors, examining the precepts of Hinduism, assessing the Reconstruction Era in the USA, understanding modern Chinese trade negotiations, or debating the issues in an upcoming election, students will sequentially gain the skills and strategies they will need in successfully meeting the demands of their post-secondary life. 

AP Human Geography and AP European History are also offered as options.


The Southwestern Academy Science Department provides a solid foundation in the core sciences of Physics, Biology, and Chemistry. Hands-on laboratory work is integral at all levels to help develop reasoning skills and apply scientific principles using proper techniques. Students learn to relate key connections across all areas of science, therefore each course helps prepare students for successive courses and higher-level courses in both high school and college. A flexible fourth-year science is offered to allow for more focused advanced studies.

“Southwestern Academy exposed me to not only a rigorous academic setting, but also the possibilities. There is so much out there for us to experience, and Southwestern has granted us the necessary tools to succeed.”