Upper School Grades 9 10 11 122018-10-30T15:28:47-05:00

Upper School

Grades 9 10 11 12

Better is possible… At The Harley School, joy in learning is at the center of all we do. We are a community of educators and students who have a passion to learn and to impact the world around us. We encourage curiosity and inspire discovery. Our unique approach delivers a challenging academic program that creates a diverse and close-knit community while nurturing students’ strengths and helping them reach their full potential.

Why Upper School at Harley?

Upper School is a critical time in out students’ lives. They are facing many changes, new demands, high expectations and, at Harley, freedom to explore.

At Harley, these years are characterized by
student-initiated, passionate intellectual engagement.

Joy in Learning. Students in our Upper School lead discussions and actively participate in their own learning.

Our Students

Even during classes, Upper School hallways are alive with conversation, cello, and laughter—a happy blend that is Harley’s inimitable soundtrack.

Our students enjoy a distinctive blend of arts and sciences, and a playful spirit characterizes community life. At Harley, student-teacher relationships are deep and happy.

In all courses—including our Advanced Placement programs—we reward discipline, creativity, understanding, and originality. And while we excel by objective measures, we value independent thinking and expression above all.

Our students are encouraged to explore interests and pursue passions. Student decisions are guided by individual faculty advisors, and unlike many other schools, the Upper School division head reviews every student’s schedule, ensuring each individual is headed on the right path to achieve their goals.

Academic Excellence

While we measure far more than outcomes for academic excellence, we are proud of our students’ accomplishments, year over year. Above all else, a Harley education is built on a love for learning. Our students excel in all areas–traditional areas of study, arts and sciences, electives, athletics, civic engagement, and more— thanks to our commitment to growth of the whole student.

Success in Standardized Testing

Harley students far outperform the national averages on the College Board’s Advanced Placement exams. According to the Rochester Business Journal, our students also have the highest SAT scores in Monroe County, with an average score of 1280.

Advanced Placement

86% of our students scored a “3” or better on their AP exams, while 68% scored a 4 or 5. Nationally, 57% of students scored a 3 or better.

Advanced Placement results for 2016:

  • Art History – 3.50 average versus 2.95 national average
  • Biology – 4.43 vs 2.85
  • Calculus AB – 4.75 vs 2.96
  • Calculus BC – 5.00 vs 3.80
  • Chemistry – 3.33 vs 2.69
  • Computer Science A – 3.67 vs 3.04
  • English Literature & Composition – 3.88 vs 2.75
  • European History – 3.77 vs 2.75
  • French Language & Culture – 4.00 vs 3.33
  • Physics 1 – 3.44 vs 2.33
  • Spanish Language & Culture – 4.80 vs 3.78
  • Studio Art: 2D Design Portfolio – 4.40 vs 3.42
  • Studio Art: 3D – 3.60 vs 3.24
  • Studio Art: Drawing Portfolio – 3.50 vs 3.42
  • US Government & Politics – 3.69 vs 2.64
  • US History – 2.58 vs 2.70
Academic independence. We work with students individually to cultivate academic independence. This is true college preparation.
Academic independence. We work with students individually to cultivate academic independence. This is true college preparation.
Harley students are competitive! In the pool, on the field and in the classroom. While we stress cooperation over competition, our students consistently stand out as leaders.

National Merit

In Monroe County, Harley’s Class of 2015 had the highest percentage of students recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Program: 15% of Harley seniors were so honored vs. 3% nationally.

Awards and Recognition

In 2016, Harley students were presented with 14 awards in the Northeast Region Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, including one student who received nine awards for writing.

Harley’s robotics team won first place at the 2015-2016 Finger Lakes FTC Qualifier to advance to the Excelsior New York FTC Regional Championship.

Our Curriculum

At Harley, class does not end when the bell rings. Discussions spill into hallways where students regularly partner with classmates for collaborative work. Peek into any “empty” classroom and you’re certain to see—sitting side by side—teachers and individual students expanding upon class material. Our ideal is this very sort of student-initiated, passionate intellectual engagement. In all courses—including our Advanced Placement programs—we reward discipline, creativity, understanding, and originality. And while we excel by objective measures, we value independent thinking and expression above such standards.

Upper School Curriculum

Preparation for Life Our Commons building uses the broad theme of sustainability as a vehicle to teach STEM, empathy and civic engagement. 

Our Approach

We instill in our students the importance of caring for others, the community, and the world.

  • Students across the upper grades tend Harley’s organic garden, mentor city-school students, and provide foot care to the homeless.
  • Freshmen study Rights & Responsibilities. Each spring we recognize dozens of students who have performed 100+ hours of service.
  • Sophomores study Global Human Rights.
  • Seniors participate in Hospice, giving hands-on bedside care to people at the end of their lives.

College Advising

100% of graduates go on to college.

Harley considers the college advising process to be a central aspect of each student’s personal guidance. That’s why we dedicate three college counselors to lead students through the process; a ratio of 1:16 between college counselors and seniors.

Seniors have a capstone experience at the end of their senior year. For three weeks, they are sent out into the world on senior internships, where they undertake hands-on projects alongside professionals. Learn more about our alumni.

Annual tradition such as Candlelight, bring our students together in a pluralistic celebration of all religious traditions. 

Upper School Life at Harley

At Harley…

Class does not end when the bell rings. Discussions spill into hallways, where students regularly partner with classmates on collaborative work.
Take a look at our Upper School Schedule.

No one gets cut. Athletic participation is required, and our no-cut policy means that every student has the opportunity to play on a team, try new activities and experience what it means to work hard, improve, and succeed. Learn more about Athletics at Harley.

We offer innovative electives. Elective class options include: Glass Flameworking, Food & Farm Lab, Writers’ Workshop, Women’s Studies, Robotics, Food & Society, Writing Plays, Design & Innovation Lab, Gender Studies, Hamilton, and more.

We believe in the arts. The arts, a central focus of a Harley education, are critical to a well-rounded education. Students enjoy class offerings in visual arts, glass blowing, digital imagery, graphic design, acting and directing, vocal music, strings ensemble, wind ensemble, Italian Opera, A Capella Arranging, Jazz History and Shakespeare.

Unique spaces. Our campus features a glass flame work studio, athletic fields, and state-of-the-art science labs. 
Unique spaces. Our campus features a glass flame work studio, athletic fields, and state-of-the-art science labs. 
Balance. We offer over 18 AP courses. Students are also required to take part in an athletic team and study art and music. 

Our Community


Peek into any “empty” classroom, and you’re certain to see—sitting side by side—teachers and students expanding upon class material. While Upper School faculty care about the whole student and are deeply committed to their academic and intellectual growth, they are also devoted to their development as individuals and as civic persons.

For the faculty at Harley, their responsibilities do not begin or end when the bells ring. They are committed to our students, to helping them lead lives of great purpose, and to investing in them throughout their entire school career.

Nine of our Upper School faculty – 27% – have their doctorate degrees (PhD, JD, or EdD), and many come to Harley from industry or the business world, bringing practical experience to the classroom.

Learn more about our faculty.


Our geographic diversity speaks to the socio-economic diversity seen in our classrooms. Students come from Brighton, Greece, Fairport, Rochester, and Canandaigua, to mention a few of the 30 plus communities represented at Harley, and 32% of our students identify as students of color, among the highest rates in our surrounding suburban schools.

Here, we invest in civic engagement and provide students with the ability to lead lives of great purpose!

Harley Highlights

  • Average SAT score is 1855, highest in the Rochester area.
  • 18 Advanced Placement courses offered.
  • 64 Section V championships
  • Our students give their time to local food cupboards, retirement homes, and other organizations.
  • Healthy lunch program
    Our goal is to increase how much of our food is either grown in our own organic garden or sourced from local farms, and 100% of food scraps at Harley are composted.
Commencement! We don’t just prepare students for success, we prepare them for a Life of Great Purpose.

“At progressive schools, we believe that the way you get good at making choices is to have choices to make…We put our students at the center of the organization of school events—student council organizes New Student Orientation and without them, it would be completely different. The ‘buddy system,’ the scavenger hunt, the tours, the help with lockers and schedules… all arranged by our students. Adults are there supporting the students, of course, but we want them to learn how to take and discharge responsibilities. We’re a college-preparatory school and we want them to be prepared in every sense.

So, if you wonder why Harley may seem to give students a little more leeway than other schools, it’s intentional. We do it because they learn from it and it’s good for them. It’s not lack of structure: it’s structure with the purpose of preparing them for for the independence of college.” Larry Frye

Acorn Grants are now available!

Interested in learning how to make a Harley education possible for your child? For more information about the Harley difference, need-based grants or Acorn Grants, please contact admissions at admissions@harleyschool.org

The Harley School offers the Acorn Grant Program, aimed at helping families who may not qualify for need-based scholarships, meet the cost of tuition. This program is designed to recognize the investment of parents and student potential. Many middle-income families have benefited from our Acorn Grant Program, designed to help subsidize the cost of a Harley education.

Register now, or contact us to see Why Harley for yourself.

Admissions to The Harley School

Please contact us to schedule a personal tour or class visit. Click below or call (585) 442-1770.

Contact Admissions

Learn more about Admissions to Harley