Rhetoric School Course Catalog 2019-2020

Distinctives of Desert Springs Christian Academy

Our faith statement is the Apostles’ Creed, the most ancient and widely accepted expression of the essential beliefs of the Christian faith. Desert Springs teaches and upholds traditional Christian morality, and the Holy Scriptures as the divinely inspired word of God. In all of our instruction we are respectful of other faiths, while humbly maintaining the truths of our Christian faith.

Classical education is unique in that it seeks to faithfully restore the most proven form of education ever developed. The study of Latin in the grammar school years organizes and develops the mind. The study of classical languages and the Greek/Roman classics is foundational to the development of wisdom. It is the point at which knowledge meets virtue. The classical paradigm has produced the greatest thinkers, leaders, and scientists in the Western world from the time of the Greeks until the late 19th century, including America’s founding fathers.

Classical education can be distinguished from modern education in that it does not neglect the important first step of giving students the classical tools for both intellectual development and for understanding their classical, Christian heritage.

At Desert Springs, knowledgeable and enthusiastic teachers lead students into an understanding of their subjects. Students learn the value of producing quality written work and contributing to meaningful classroom discussion. Homework is limited and intentional in order for students to be actively involved in their family life and community.

A classical Christian education aspires to give students the kind of wisdom that would require a lifetime of experience to achieve on their own. This wisdom is gained by reading the classics under the guidance of teachers who have integrity, knowledge, and wisdom.

Our curriculum is organized into the following six academic subjects plus music, art, and physical education:

  • Classical Languages
  • Mathematics
  • Classical/Christian Studies
  • English Studies
  • Science
  • American/Modern Studies

The Pursuit of Excellence
Desert Springs Christian Academy strives to create an academic culture where teachers and students hold high expectations for scholarship and Christian character. Our motto is: Pursue excellence for the glory of God. The desired outcome for our students is that they leave Desert Springs Christian Academy with an attitude of humility, a desire for lifelong learning, and the tools necessary for leading a life of virtue.

Graduation Requirements

Credit Requirements

Each credit represents 160 hours of class time and ½ credit represents 80 hours of class time.

Spanish or Greek1
English & Composition4
Traditional Logic2
Classical Rhetoric1
Classical Studies3
American/Modern Studies1
Christian Studies3
Music (four years of choir)1
P.E. (over 4 years)1
Art/Theater (over 4 years)1
Total Credits30

Graduation Rates

Desert Springs Christian Academy has a 100% on-time graduation rate. 100% of graduates have been accepted into their first-choice college or university and all of them attend college. 100% have been offered merit-based scholarships their academic and/or extra-curricular achievements.

Rhetoric School Curriculum Map

Area of StudyNinth (Logic School)TenthEleventhTwelfth
Latin/Greek or Modern LanguageThird Form LatinFourth Form Latin/Henle IIAdvanced Latin TranslationAP Latin
English StudiesRobinson Crusoe
Romeo and Juliet
The Scarlet Letter
Canterbury Tales
Aeneid, BeowulfAP Language and Composition

The Divine Comedy
Pride and Prejudice
AP Literature and Composition

King Lear
'Til We Have Faces (Lewis)
The Great Gatsby
Short Stories/Essays
Classical/Modern StudiesThe Orestia by Aeschylus
Three Theban Plays by Sophocles
Trojan Women, Medea by Euripides
Modern World History
AP US HistoryAP Government/Politics

Cicero - De Officiis, On Obligations
Cicero - The Republic and the Laws
ScienceIntro to Physics and Chemistry (ASPC)
Advanced 9
MathGeometryAlgebra 2 w/ TrigPre-CalculusAP Calculus or Human Endeavor
Christian StudiesThe Early Church by Henry Chadwick
Early Christian Writings
City of God ConfessionsHermeneutics
World Religions
Logic/RhetoricMaterial LogicClassic Rhetoric 1Classic Rhetoric 2Senior Thesis

Classical and Modern Languages

Aside from its unique historical importance, there are a number of practical reasons for studying Latin. It is not only the foundation of the Romance languages, but the source of the greater part of technical vocabulary in almost all modern languages, including English. For this reason, the study of Latin certainly reinforces understanding of English and other languages, but it also makes Latin far more accessible to modern students than other classical languages. Once an English-speaking student has learned the grammar and a basic core of Latin vocabulary, he can transfer his knowledge of English technical vocabulary back into Latin. The Spanish language is part of life in Las Cruces, New Mexico. For students to be engaged in the community and become productive citizens, a working knowledge of Spanish is a necessary skill.

Third Form Latin

Credit: 1
Prerequisite: Second Form Latin

Third Form Latin continues the journey of Latin grammar by reviewing all material in First and Second Form, completing the verb paradigms for all four conjugations in the indicative and subjunctive active and passive voices. Adjectives, adverbs, and pronouns are mastered.

Fourth Form Latin (Henle 2)

Credit: 1
Prerequisite: Third Form Latin

Fourth Form Latin, combined with Henle 2, complete the Latin Grammar with subordinate clauses, participles, the gerundives and deponent verbs. Grammar and syntax lessons in Henle prepare students for translating De Bello Gallico (Caesar) the following year.

Advanced Latin Translation

Credit: 1
Prerequisite: Fourth Form Latin/Henle 2

Translation work begins with Caesar’s De Bello Gallico and continues with translating passages from Virgil’s Aeneid in preparation for Advanced Placement Latin.

Advanced Placement (AP) Latin

Credit: 1
Prerequisite: Instructor Permission

AP Latin follows a syllabus approved by the College Board through the AP audit. The majority of the coursework involves translating Virgil. The course culminates with the AP Latin Exam taken in early May.

Spanish 1

Credit: 1
Prerequisite: None

Humor, oral proficiency, interaction and personalization are stressed for listening, speaking, reading, and writing, and for the acquisition of practical, useful vocabulary and expressions. The course content includes but is not limited to: basic elements of the Spanish language, level one vocabulary, idioms, and practice in listening, reading, and writing.

English Studies

English mastery in reading, writing, and speaking is the mark of an educated person. An essential component of superior English skills is the study of a classical language, so our Latin curriculum supports and enhances the English skills of our students. Students study English grammar and vocabulary in both English and Latin classes. Another factor in the development of superior language skills is the study of good literature, which provides models of correct English and excellence in writing. Poetry requires thought and is especially effective in developing comprehension and thinking skills. We choose the very best literature and poetry—works that model heroes, virtues, and high ideals. Our literature not only develops reading and thinking skills, it also inspires students to love what is good and noble in life.

English 9

Credit: 1
Prerequisite: None

English 9 provides a broad survey of classical literature selections from different literary genres. Students strengthen writing skills, primarily through practice with analytical, compare/contrast and persuasive essays. Emphasis is placed on writing as a process and in developing a strong voice and perspective in writing. Literature in English 9 may include such works as: Robinson Crusoe, Romeo and Juliet, The Scarlet Letter, Canterbury Tales, Tom Sawyer, and Twelfth Night.

English 10 (Honors/Pre-AP)

Credit 1
Prerequisite: English 9

Students begin in-depth work with such literary devices as metaphor, allegory, symbolism and allusion. There is a strong emphasis on literary analysis. The two primary texts for English 10 are Beowulf and Aeneid. English 10 is taught as an Honors course, but differentiated assignments are provided for students who do not wish to pursue and honors track.

English 11/ Advanced Placement (AP) Language and Composition

Credit 1
Prerequisite: English 10

This course is approved for AP status by the College Board. Students read and carefully analyze a broad and challenging range of nonfiction prose selections, deepening their awareness of rhetoric and how language works. Through close reading and frequent writing, students develop their ability to work with language and text to improve rhetorical analysis and their own writing abilities. Course readings feature expository, analytical, personal, persuasive, and argumentative texts from a variety of authors and historical contexts. Differentiated assignments and alternative readings are provided for students who do not wish to sit for the Advanced Placement exam.

English 12/ Advanced Placement (AP) Literature and Composition

Credit 1
Prerequisite: English 11/AP Language and Composition

This course is approved for AP status by the College Board. The course offers a broad survey of literary genres with extensive readings in short stories, poetry, and drama, and literary novels. A significant amount of reading is required outside of class time. Differentiated assignments and reduced reading requirements are provided for students who do not wish to sit for the Advanced Placement exam.

Classical & Modern Studies

Classical studies, provide the foundation for wide range of humanistic disciplines such as comparative literature, political theory, art, architecture, and much more. It also offers college-level preparation for students who are considering careers in law, business, medicine, science, or communication. Classical studies teach students to read and think clearly and enables them to deal, from a critical perspective, with the ethical and moral issues of modern society. Classical studies develop and inform a worldview built on Biblical principles and wisdom. Modern studies is the natural follow-up to classical studies and provides students with an understanding of modern geography, the modern (post-renaissance) world, international politics, and United States History and Government.

Ancient Greek Literature

Credit: 1
Prerequisite: None

This course is designed primarily for ninth grade students who have taken History of the Ancient Greeks in the Logic School. New Rhetoric School students who have not been introduced to the Greeks must take this course. Students will be introduced to classical literary criticism through the study of writings by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripedes.

Modern World History and Geography

Credit: 1
Prerequisite: Renaissance and Reformation (Logic School)

This course will introduce students to the major themes throughout world history beginning just after the Renaissance through the Enlightenment in Europe. The course uses maps and other geographic tools to assist in the learning process. Students will be able to make connections from their classical studies to the modern past and consider events that directly affect their lives today.

United States History/Advanced Placement United States History

Credit: 1
Prerequisite: None

This course, designed for 11th grade students, is approved through the AP Audit and is intended to be an introductory level college U.S. history course. Students investigate significant events, individuals, developments, and processes in nine historical periods from approximately 1491 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 comparisons; and utilizing reasoning about contextualization, causation, and continuity and change over time. Differentiated assignments are provided for students who want to take United States History without the rigor of preparing for the Advanced Placement Exam.

Classical Political Theory (Cicero)

Credit: 1
Prerequisite: History of Ancient Rome (Logic School)

This course is for 12th grade students who have completed The History of Ancient Rome in Logic School or during a summer school program. It offers a critical introduction to the main issues and debates in western political theory, including but not limited to the topics of justice, legitimacy, equality, democracy, liberty, sovereignty, and the role of history in the political and social world. Cicero’s Republic and the Laws and De Officiis are the primary texts.

Advanced Placement United States Government and Politics

Credit: 1
Prerequisite: Classical Political Theory (Can be taken simultaneously) by invitation of instructor

AP U.S. Government and Politics is a nonpartisan, college-level introduction to key political concepts, ideas, institutions, policies, interactions, roles, and behaviors that characterize the constitutional system and political culture of the United States. Students will study nine U.S. foundational documents, 15 Supreme Court decisions, and other texts and visuals to gain an understanding of the relationships and interactions among political institutions, processes, and behavior. Students will engage in disciplinary practices that require them to read and interpret data, make comparisons and applications, and develop evidence-based arguments.


Students are introduced to both faith-based and secular scholarly writings on a variety of scientific disciplines, theories, and subjects. They are taught that Christians hold a variety of views on how and when God created. Without saying or implying that they should accept a particular view, we want our students to understand the following positions: naturalistic (i.e., undirected, accidental) evolution, theistic (i.e., God-ordained) evolution, special creation, belief in a young earth (i.e., thousands of years old), and belief in an old earth (i.e., billions of years old). Additionally, we believe the study of Physics informs all other sciences; therefore, Desert Springs Christian Academy follows a Physics First sequence to Rhetoric School Science.

Accelerated Studies in Physics and Chemistry (ASCP)

Credit: 1
Prerequisite: Physical Science (Logic School); Prerequisite: Algebra 1 or concurrent enrollment

Accelerated Studies in Physics and Chemistry (ASPC) is a 9th grade honors course designed to give students a strong foundation upon which to build their high school science experience. ASPC integrates history, mathematics, and technical communication skills.

Introductory Physics

Credit: 1
Prerequisite: Physical Science (Logic School); Prerequisite: Algebra 1 or concurrent enrollment

Introductory Physics is for standard track 9th grade students. Only standard algebra is required for this course, but there are two optional chapters with more challenging math content (Pressure and Buoyancy, and Geometric Optics) which can be used with advanced students or high school students who have transferred into DSCA from another high school.

General Chemistry

Credit: 1
Prerequisite: ASCP or Introductory Physics (Transfer students on case-by-case basis)
Prerequisite: Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 (or concurrent enrollment)

This course is designed to help students understand basic chemical principles and master problem-solving skills. Students will develop an understanding of how those concepts and skills are relevant to other courses and their daily lives. Chemical topics covered in the course include basic science concepts, measurements, atomic theory, bonding, stoichiometry, states of matter, solutions, acids & bases, and nuclear chemistry.


Credit: 1
Prerequisite: ASPC or Introductory Physics

This course includes a study of living organisms and vital processes. Themes that will be covered in this course include scientific skills, ecology, biochemistry, cellular processes, genetics, evolution, classification of organisms, as well as plant and human body systems. The course includes laboratory experiments designed to reinforce course content.


Credit: 1
Prerequisite: ASPC or Introductory Physics, Algebra 2

Astronomy, part of the quadrivium, is the scientific study of the contents of the entire universe. This course is a study of the universe and the conditions, properties, and motions of bodies in space. The content includes, but is not limited to, historical astronomy, astronomical instruments, the celestial sphere, the solar system, the earth as a system in space, the earth/moon system, the sun as a star, and stars.


Mathematics, like all languages, is cumulative, rigorous, and demanding; it develops logical, accurate, and precise thinking habits. Mathematics is the language of science and the indispensable tool for the study of the natural world. The key to success in all sciences, especially chemistry and physics, is a superior mathematics education.

Algebra I (usually completed in 8th grade)

Credit: 1
Prerequisite: Pre-Algebra.

This is a first-year algebra course in which students learn to reason symbolically. The key content involves writing, solving, and graphing linear and quadratic equations, including systems of two linear equations in two unknowns. Quadratic equations are solved by factoring, completing the square, graphically, or by application of the quadratic formula. The course also includes study of monomial and polynomial expressions, inequalities, exponents, functions, rational expressions,  ratio, and proportion. Algebraic skills are applied in a wide variety of problem-solving situations.

Algebra II (with Trigonometry)

Credit: 1
Prerequisite: Algebra 1

This course is designed to build on algebraic and geometric concepts. It develops advanced algebra skills such as systems of equations, advanced polynomials, imaginary and complex numbers, quadratics, and concepts and includes the study of trigonometric functions. It also introduces matrices and their properties. The content of this course are important for students’ success on both the ACT/SAT and college mathematics entrance exams. Foundational concepts of Trigonometry are introduced.

Euclidian Geometry

Credit: 1
Prerequisite: Algebra 1 and Traditional Logic 1&2

This course in geometry covers the standard content of Euclidean geometry including congruence, similarity, polygons, circles, constructions, and coordinate geometry. This standard content is explored with greater intensity and emphasis on proof and analytical thinking. Additional topics may include transformations and further investigations of three-dimensional figures such as polyhedral.


Credit: 1
Prerequisite: Algebra 2 and/or Euclidian Geometry

This course is designed to cover topics in Algebra ranging from polynomial, rational, and exponential functions to conic sections. Trigonometry concepts such as Law of Sines and Cosines will be introduced. Students will then begin analytic geometry and calculus concepts such as limits, derivatives, and integrals.

Advanced Placement(AP) Calculus A/B

Credit: 1
Prerequisite: Pre-Calculus and Teacher Recommendation

Calculus AB is concerned with developing the concepts of calculus and providing experience with its methods and applications. The courses emphasize a multi-representational approach to calculus, with concepts, results, and problems being expressed graphically, numerically, analytically, and verbally. The connections among these representations also are important.

Math: The Human Endeavor

Credit: 1
Prerequisite: Algebra 2 and/or Euclidean Geometry

This course is provided for students who have completed 3 credits of math and do not have the desire or need to continue into Calculus. The course is not preparatory for other high school courses or for any first-year college math courses. Mathematical reasoning and problem solving in such areas as logic, sets, probability, statistics, graph theory, number theory, and Euclidian geometry are the core of the course. It builds upon previous knowledge.

Logic & Rhetoric

Logic and rhetoric are essential tools for effective communication. The three stages of the trivium are all about language: Grammar teaches the structure of language; Logic teaches right reasoning with language; and Rhetoric teaches the adornment of language with power and beauty for persuasion.

Material Logic

Credit: 1
Prerequisites: Traditional Logic 1 & 2

What are the ten ways in which something can be said to exist? What are the five ways in which something can be said of something else? What are the four questions you must answer in order to really know something? In ancient and medieval times, the answers to these questions were common knowledge among educated people. When most people think of logic, they think of formal logic—the study of the structure or form of reasoning. But what most educators don’t realize is that formal logic is only one part of a complete logic program. The other branch of logic study was called “material logic,” and focused not on the form of reasoning, but on its content. In short, while formal logic studied the “how” of reasoning, material logic studied the “what.”

Rhetoric 1: Aristotelian

Credit: 1
Prerequisites: Traditional Logic 1&2

To the ancients, rhetoric was the crowning intellectual discipline. It took the knowledge the student had gained over the course of his years of schooling and the understanding of logical principles gained from the study of traditional logic and molded them into powerful tools of persuasion. To Aristotle, the art of rhetoric was the chief weapon in the service of truth. Students analyze three model speeches as examples of the three branches of classical oratory: the “Appeal of the Envoys to Achilles,” from Homer’s Iliad; the “Apology of Socrates,” from the dialogue of Plato; and Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address“. Students will also be asked to analyze Marc Antony’s “Funeral Oration,” from William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, as an example of a great speech that defies categorization.

Rhetoric 2: Public Speaking

Credit: 1
Prerequisites: Rhetoric 1

This course is an introduction to speech communication which emphasizes the practical skill of public speaking, including techniques to lessen speaker anxiety, and the use of visual aids to enhance speaker presentations. Civility and ethical speech-making are the foundations of this course. Students will learn the organization and research needed for effective speeches while gaining experience with typical public speaking situations. There is an emphasis on persuasive speech in preparation for the Senior Thesis Defense.

Senior Thesis (With public defense)

Credit: 1
Prerequisite: Rhetoric 1 and 2

The senior thesis is a large, independent research project that students take on during their senior year to fulfill a graduation requirement. It is the culminating work of their studies and represents their ability to conduct research and write effectively. Students typically work closely with an adviser and choose a question or topic to explore before carrying out an extensive research plan. Before graduation, the student must successfully make a public defense of his or her thesis to a panel of judges composed of faculty, administration, and community professionals. The defense is attended by all Logic and Rhetoric school students and is open to the community.

Christian Studies

Desert Springs Christian Academy believes it has a unique responsibility to teach its students that while the intellectual tools he has acquired through his education can be used to attack the faith, they can also be used to defend it, that while the Christian faith may be above reason it is not contrary to reason, that belief is a choice that is intellectually respectable, and that many of the greatest minds, both scientific and literary, in every age, including our own, have been believing orthodox Christians. We believe the Christian faith is true and that both reason and history support this belief. All time is dated from the birth of Jesus Christ, the central figure in human history. Our Christian Studies Program helps students understand why this is true.

The History of the Church and Early Church Writings

Credit: 1
Prerequisites: None

Students will examine the theological, social, historical, intellectual, cultural, political, and popular influences upon the development of early Christianity. This course offers a survey of the entire history of the church, in its many branches from the Apostles to the Pre-Reformation. Special emphasis will be given to standard theological themes, studied in their historical context, with people, places, and events, as well as to the spread of the church into all lands.

City of God

Credit: 1
Prerequisites: None

Augustine’s City of God is arguably the first magnum opus of Christian philosophy. The work covers, among other topics, theodicy, civil and natural theology, the history of creation, philosophy of history, eschatology, and martyrdom. Written during the transition from antiquity to the rise of Christianity, it is one of the key texts in defining our ethical framework into the 21st century.


Credit: 1
Prerequisites: Early Church History and Writings

This course is an introduction to the process of investigating the meaning and significance of biblical texts. The general, historical, literary, and contextual principles of interpreting texts will be investigated through readings, lectures, discussions and assignments. Students will gain a working knowledge of hermeneutical tools and study detailed information contained in a proper biblical hermeneutic. The student will understand the relationship between faith and proper interpretation, the requirements of in-depth Bible study and the pitfalls of faulty interpretation.

World Religions

Credit: 1
Prerequisites: None

For students interested in understanding how Christianity compares to other world religions, this course presents the historical origins, central teachings, and devotional practices of Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Judaism, and Islam. They are considered in relation Christianity through the themes of human experience: Holiness, evil, suffering, love, justice, wisdom, death, forgiveness and deliverance (salvation).


Credit: 1
Prerequisites: Hermeneutics and Rhetoric 2

This course is a theological and philosophical defense of the Christian faith. The study includes the impact that faith, reason and experience have on Christianity. It evaluates modern systems of thought and demonstrates the validity and defense of Christian doctrines as truth. It also addresses current societal questions and proposes a proper Christian response.

Music, Art, Theater

large part of a classical education is to learn to discern and love the good, the true, and the beautiful.


Research has found that learning music facilitates learning other subjects and enhances skills that children inevitably use in other areas. Mathematical at its base, music expresses thoughts and emotions with an almost divine power to touch the soul. Music is comparable to Latin in its potential to form the character of a student and define the culture of a school. Like Latin and mathematics, music is a core subject, required of students every year. In addition to studying music theory and singing in one of the school choirs, students also learn to play and perform recorder, guitar, piano, and hand chimes. Extra-curricular music lessons are encouraged. All students have the opportunity to audition for All-State chorus and the upper school choir competes in several local and regional competitions. There is a school-wide spring concert that is well-attended by the community.


We believe art is critical for developing well-rounded, well-prepared learners and leaders. Art is woven into the core classroom curricula, studied for its historical value, and created by students through the teaching of specific artistic skills. Desert Springs Christian Academy has a school-wide, juried art show every year. Additionally, students have been invited to display their art at local galleries and seniors are encouraged to enter the City-wide Senior Art Show.


Theater is not all about acting. It is a very diverse field of study. While part of theater does involve acting, it also involves the history of theater, playwrighting, technical theater and a plethora of skills necessary for producing a theatrical work. Theater give everyone and opportunity to be creative whether they are acting or working behind the scenes. Students at Desert Springs are given the opportunity to become stage managers, set designers, sound and lighting designers, board operators, costume designers, makeup artists, and choreographers. There is something for everyone. As Stanislavski said, “There are no small parts, only small actors.” A student’s role in theater is what they make of the experience. Theater is a place for learning how to become a better student and human being. Every performance requires a team of people who are willing to work hard to achieve success. Theater classes are scholarly, utilizing constant creativity and critical thinking. Desert Springs Christian Academy produces one play, one musical, and one academic variety show each year. Every class integrates drama into its core curriculum. Lastly, through a working relationship with the No Strings Theater Company—a community Black Box Theater—students are given the opportunity to audition for plays or work on a backstage crew.

Students are required to take Choir every year and must compete in one juried art show and participate in one school production prior to graduation.