Beginning in the ninth grade, the WCDS student embarks on a systematic preparation for entry into a college or university.
The core Upper School program leading to the WCDS Diplomas consists of two hours each day of English: grammar, vocabulary, composition, and literature; two years of an ancient language; two years of a modern foreign language; four years of mathematics; four years of history; two years of laboratory science; plus art and physical education. Courses in the core curriculum are carefully chosen to convey the sweep of history and the breadth of human achievement from prehistoric to modern times. The curriculum furnishes an historical and cultural benchmark to which the student may constantly return for reference.
Students add classes to these core subjects to earn additional credits, designing a course of study appropriate to their personal academic goals. The list of options is rich: up to five years of French, Spanish, or Latin, and advanced courses in history, literature, art, music, mathematics and several Advanced Placement (AP) courses are offered yearly. The school also offers Dual Enrollment credit for Environmental Science and allows students to receive credit for AP or college courses taken on line through Virtual Virginia or the College Board.
All seniors take Senior Thesis in the twelfth grade, a course which focuses on critical thinking, mastery of the writing process, and public speaking. Within the course, seniors complete college applications, prepare for SATs and ACTs, research and defend a lengthy thesis, and prepare for internships prior to graduation.