Arlington Catholic Social Studies

Social Studies

Social Studies

The ultimate goal of Social Studies coursework at Arlington Catholic is for students to make positive contributions, based on knowledge and faith, to the world in which they live. Students gain a foundational understanding of various cultures in the ninth and tenth grade which allows them to have a greater understanding of the modern world. In the eleventh grade, students understand our own country and how they can be better citizens by studying themes of US History that extend across time periods. In the senior year students are able to choose from a variety of electives that allow them to develop a greater understanding of economic, legal, and psychological concepts that can inform their lives and help them think critically through the various lenses. We see the student’s positive contributions to the world as beginning in high school and encourage students to immediately apply their learning to their lives by getting involved in politics and service projects that make the United States and the world a better place for all to live.

The Social Studies Department seeks, in accordance with the philosophy of Arlington Catholic High School, to prepare our students for active participation in lifelong learning; to use that knowledge to stimulate social awareness from a Christian perspective; and to provide a solid foundation for future learning.

The Department fosters the development of critical thinking, discussion and writing skills on all levels. The use of technology is integral to our teaching and we are excited about the digital initiative and ways to use the iPad and Google Classroom.

The Social Studies Department also sponsors the school’s participation in National History Day. All freshman students are required to participate, with optional participation at other levels.

Students are required to take either Western Civilization or Honors World History I in their freshman year and United States History in their junior year. Students are required to take 3 years of Social Studies, therefore they must choose to take an elective Social Studies course in either their sophomore or senior years. Many students take advantage of the variety of electives and take a Social Studies course all four years. The AP Seminar course will fulfill one year of Social Studies.

The department offers Advanced Placement courses in World History, US History and Psychology. Our students consistently score above the national average on these exams, which allow them to earn college credit, higher course placement, or both.



Robert Sarmiento, Social Studies Department Chair,
BA Political Science, University of Washington
MEd, University of Washington
Kyle Adams,
BS Secondary Education/History, University of Vermont
William Cobb,
BA History & Education, Emmanuel College
MEd, Administration, Cambridge College
Michael Foley,
BA Sociology, Boston College
MA History, University of Massachusetts, Boston
Elizabeth Heston,
BA English and History, College of the Holy Cross
M. Ed. Secondary Education, Providence College
Walter Johnson,
BA- Political Science, Boston College
MEd- Curriculum and Instruction, Gordon College
Nathaniel Naughton, ’90,
BA History, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth
MA History, Salem State College
CAGS Educational Administration, Cambridge College
Hayley Webster,
BA, History & Psychology- Indiana University,
MEd- Curriculum & Instruction- Western New England University

Course Offerings

All students are required to take three years of Social Studies, including a history course in Grade 9 and US History in Grade 11. The AP Seminar course will count towards this requirement, but may not replace US History.

World History


1 Credit

This course is a survey of the great civilizations of the world. Beginning with pre-history, and ancient cultures, students will study The Middle East, China, India, Africa, Asia, Southeast Asia, East Asia and Europe.  The course concludes with a study of Absolutism. Students develop skills in geography and writing, as well as in document reading and analysis.


Grade: 9

Honors World History


1 Credit

 This course is a study of the great civilizations of the world, beginning with Prehistory through the Reformation and Renaissance. Students will study The Middle East, China, India, Africa, Asia, Southeast Asia, East Asia and Europe.  The main aspects of a civilization are covered: government structure, culture, belief systems, societal structure, and geography. Emphasis will be placed on critical reading and writing as well as the development of a student’s analytical skills.

 Grade: 9

Honors Modern World History


1 Credit

 This honors course explores major themes in world history from the time of the Scientific Revolution until the present day. Students will examine political, economic, social, and cultural aspects of history. Significant topics include the Enlightenment, Nationalism, Imperialism, Wars of the 20th century, Popular Culture and significant revolutions (both violent and nonviolent). Great emphasis will be placed on analysis of issues and writing. Students are required to complete a written research project for this course. Completion of a history course in the sophomore year is required for admission to AP U.S. History.

 Grade: 10

Modern World History


1 Credit

 This course examines the major turning points of the modern world from approximately 1700 to contemporary time. Components of this class include: Historical Linkage, the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, Nationalism and the growth of Democracy, the Rise of Imperialism and Colonialism, World War I, Totalitarianism, World War II and the Cold War. Students should develop an understanding of the historic as well as contemporary geographic, social, political and economic consequences of the various areas and problems they review. Completion of a history course in the sophomore year is required for admission to AP U.S. History.

Grade: 10

AP World History: Modern

1 Credit

 In AP World History: Modern, students investigate significant events, individuals, developments, and processes from 1200 to the present. Students develop and use the same skills, practices, and methods employed by historians: analyzing primary and secondary sources; developing historical arguments; making historical connections; and utilizing reasoning about comparison, causation, and continuity and change over time. The course provides six themes that students explore throughout the course in order to make connections among historical developments in different times and places: humans and the environment, cultural developments and interactions, governance, economic systems, social interactions and organization, and technology and innovation.  Students are required to take the AP Exam in May.         

 Grade: 10

United States History


1 Credit

 This course provides a one year survey of American history by exploring the themes  of  democracy, war, immigration, and social change. Examination of primary/secondary sources, critical thinking skills, cooperative learning, and discussion will be used to allow students to understand how the past relates to the present and the future.

 Grade: 11

Honors United States History


1 Credit

This course provides a one year survey of American history by exploring the themes of democracy, war, immigration, and social change. Examination of primary/secondary sources, critical thinking skills, cooperative learning, and discussion will be used to allow students to understand how the past relates to the present and the future. While essentially the same content as US History, instruction is at an accelerated pace and more independent work is required. 

Grade:  11

Requirement: Completion of history or AP Seminar in the sophomore year and Departmental approval.
AP United States History


1 Credit

This course is a single academic year survey of the history of the USA from first discovery to the present day. The course examines the geographic, political, diplomatic, cultural, social and economic forces that converged over time to forge a unique and dynamic entity that continues to impact the evolution of world society. The course involves extensive reading assignments and written work to prepare for class. Students must take the AP Exam in May.

Grade: 11

Requirement: Completion of history or AP Seminar in the sophomore year and departmental approval.
AP Psychology


1 Credit

Advanced Placement Psychology introduces students to the systematic and scientific study of the behavior and mental processes of human beings and other animals. Students are exposed to the psychological facts, principles, and phenomena associated with each of the major sub-fields within psychology (neuroscience, development, learning, personality, etc.). Students also learn about the ethics and methods that psychologists use in their study. This course requires nightly reading assignments, numerous writing assignments, and extensive class participation. There is also a summer assignment for this course. Emphasis is placed on the ability to think, read, and write in a critical fashion. Students are required to take the AP examination.

This course will have open enrollment: any student who is willing to do the work equivalent to a first-year college level course is invited to enroll. Students must obtain an enrollment contract before registering for this course. No student will be permitted to withdraw from the course after the first full cycle of classes in September.

Grade: 12
American Law & Society



1 Credit

This course examines American Law in our judicial system today. Subject matter covered during the course of the year includes: The Constitution;  Bill of Rights; other amendments, United States Supreme Court decisions; due process of law; lawmaking; the legal profession; crime in America; the criminal justice process; torts; contracts; and consumer law. Students are required to complete a written research project in this course.

 Grade: 12



1 Credit

This course examines human behavior and thought processes. Among the topics that will be covered are: research methods; social psychology; how our brain and nervous system affects our behavior; perception; learning and memory; development across the lifespan; sleeping; hypnosis; and drug use; intelligence and personality and psychological disorders.  Students will apply their study of psychology to their lives and will examine how the various perspectives, within this discipline, interpret the topics discussed.  Students will be required to do independent reading to prepare for class, actively participate and complete outside class projects.

Grade: 12

AP Research

AP Research allows students to deeply explore an academic topic, problem, or issue of individual interest. Through this exploration, students design, plan, and conduct a yearlong investigation to address a research question.

Students further develop the skills acquired in the AP Seminar course by learning research methodology, employing ethical research practices, and accessing, analyzing, and synthesizing information. Students reflect on their skill development, document their processes, and curate the artifacts of their scholarly work through a process and reflection portfolio. The course culminates in an academic paper of approximately 4,000–5,000 words (accompanied by a performance, exhibit, or product where applicable) and a presentation with an oral defense.

Prerequisite: AP Seminar is a prerequisite for AP Research. Instructor approval required.

Grades: 11, 12

AP Seminar

AP Seminar is a foundational course that engages students in cross-curricular conversations that explore the complexities of academic and real-world topics and issues by analyzing divergent perspectives. Using an inquiry framework, students practice reading and analyzing articles, research studies, and foundational, literary, and philosophical texts; listening to and viewing speeches, broadcasts, and personal accounts; and experiencing artistic works and performances. Students learn to synthesize information from multiple sources, develop their own perspectives in written essays, and design and deliver oral and visual presentations, both individually and as part of a team. The course aims to equip students with the power to analyze and evaluate information with accuracy and precision in order to craft and communicate evidence-based arguments.


Students who are highly motivated and prepared for college-level coursework are best suited for the program, but the program also benefits those students who show potential for AP course work but have not as yet enrolled in AP courses. Students should demonstrate curiosity about real-world issues, a willingness to take intellectual risks, and a dedication to acquiring the skills that colleges and universities value — critical inquiry, analysis, and research. In short, AP Capstone students have an interest in becoming curious, independent, and collaborative scholars. Above average grades in English are highly suggested.


This course may be used to fulfill the 3 year Social Studies requirement.


Prerequisite: Instructor approval required. Students will be required to sign an enrollment contract and make a commitment to remaining in the course once enrolled.

Grades: 10, 11, 12

Art History

What is art and how is it made?  Why and how does art change?  How do we describe our thinking about art?  These questions invite Art History students to discover the diversity of and connections among global artistic traditions in this year long course.  Students interact with different types of art, observing and analyzing relationships of form, function, content, and context.  Actively engaging with the art world through their reading, discussion, research, and writing, they learn about the visual characteristics of art, the people who make and experience art, materials and processes that create art, and the contexts that frame its production and reception. This course will fulfill the Fine Arts/Humanities requirement.


Grades: 11, 12