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That individual values are created by and exist in a historical context is the foundation of the SAAS History Department. To understand both the past and present, one needs to understand the context shaping and influencing individual, national, and cultural values. The department emphasizes the development of specific thinking, writing, and speaking skills that help prepare students for college and life. These skills include the ability to research, to analyze, and to develop, articulate, and defend a thesis. Students demonstrate all of these skills through various assignments and projects, showcased especially when students participate in the school’s Culture of Performance during in-class presentations. Such skills and activities expand students’ understanding of major historical causes and effects, and they enable students to become thoughtful, active members of our society.

Civil Disobedience 

The 11th grade American Studies Civil Disobedience Project requires students to prepare a solution for a set of injustices set in a school. Students consider ethical and constitutional arguments regarding those injustices. They analyze the situation from the perspective of thinkers like James Madison, Henry David Thoreau, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. They consider the real-life ramifications of the divisions created within a community when injustice occurs and create an action plan demonstrating how to repair those divisions.


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Student Profile:

For Anna N. (class of 2018),the American Studies course required that she work hard to gain confidence in her ability to “put herself out there” when she had to perform.  Throughout the year, she developed the poise required to effectively communicate her ideas.  That competence translated to success in our school’s Youth Legislature program.  In her second year, she went beyond her regular role of arguing bills as a Senator to successfully run for a state-level leadership position and serve as a committee chair.  Being able to respond to critique in the moment in an academic setting and calmly defend her position helped her become an accomplished Senator, and Anna described her growth over two years this way:  “I went from not speaking at all, to presenting a topic that I was passionate about and being able to handle the opposition.”