Visitation students are confident thinkers, excellent writers, and fearless problem-solvers. Rooted in the liberal arts and sciences, our well-rounded college-preparatory curriculum nurtures these qualities and gives girls glimpses into subjects and fields that pique their curiosity and drive them to explore their passions.
We provide engaging electives that proactively enhance our traditional core subjects. Our classes are laboratories for questioning, where girls are challenged to grow and pushed to stretch their own boundaries. All classes emphasize hands-on lessons, real-world scenarios, and interdisciplinary collaboration. Many courses take advantage of our location in the nation’s capital, which allows students to relate their studies to the world.
Guided by experienced and passionate faculty, students feel comfortable and confident challenging, answering, discussing, learning, and laughing. Through group projects and constructive feedback, girls build relationships with their peers and teachers. Beyond simply learning dates and memorizing theories, classroom discussion inspires girls to tirelessly question and learn from one another.
Visi girls are analytical collaborators, eloquent speakers, and energetic self-advocates. In every discipline, students deepen their faith and knowledge and discover what they are capable of, all while having fun.
Being at an all-girls school, no one is afraid to ask questions. Everyone is collaborative. The teachers are approachable, so I always feel I can go to them if I need help. It’s interactive - it’s not a teacher talking at you. Everyone is participating in the class, both students and teachers.
- Azure ‘21
Religion I: Scripture and the Revelation of Jesus Christ
Global Patterns of Civilization I: Ancient Peoples
Algebra I or Accelerated Geometry or Accelerated Math I
French I or Spanish I
Physical Education and Wellness
Intro to Art History
Intro to Technology
Physical Education & Wellness I
Learning Support & Strategies (by recommendation)
Religion II: The Mission of Jesus Christ and its Continuation in the Church
Global Patterns of Civilization II: Rise of the Modern World
or Honors World History
Geometry or Honors Elementary Functions or Algebra II
or Accelerated Math II
French II or Spanish II
Physical Education and Wellness
Academically eligible students may qualify for admission to honors courses.
Qualified members of the senior class may participate in our Bridge Program with Georgetown University, which enables them to take college courses for a nominal fee. Classes taken by previous participants include: Multivariable Calculus, Microeconomics Principles, Intro to Philosophy, Intro to Proof/Problem Solving, Principles of Accounting, Intro to Cultural Anthropology, and Intro to Sociology.
- Foreign Language
- History & Social Sciences
- Physical Education & Wellness
Our English classes develop students' close reading, writing, and discussion skills to be sure—but they also go well beyond this. Our four-year, vertically integrated curriculum nurtures young women's sense of wonder, awakens students' appreciation for literature's expression of the human experience, and builds their confidence in their abilities. Our students learn how to read with both a critical eye and compassionate heart and how to communicate effectively in both speech and writing.
One of the most notable moments in our English program is the junior-year research paper, which helps girls learn to create a strong thesis statement and argument, conduct research, identify proper sources and cite them correctly, and write an in-depth research paper. In the process, juniors are taught and expected to use resources in Georgetown University’s Lauinger Library.
Through an introduction to the literary genres short story, epic, drama, and novel, students learn to read for literal as well as figurative meaning. Class discussions encourage sharing of ideas and impressions based on evidence from the text. Students work with literature-based vocabulary to enable and foster clear communication and enhance reading comprehension skills. The course includes formal sequential instruction for writing paragraphs and short essays and augments the students’ fundamental understanding of grammar. Based on a solid grasp of the structure of language, students learn to elevate oral and written communication. Works studied in this course include A Raisin in the Sun, The Odyssey, The Merchant of Venice, Pride and Prejudice, Lord of the Flies, and Short Story Anthology.
Sophomore English presents a genre study of literary forms; short fiction, drama, novel, poetry. Grammar, vocabulary, and literary terms enhance and enrich the student’s communication and reading skills. Such assignments as comparative essays, poetry explications, and literary analyses challenge students as they continue to develop clear, fluid writing skills. Students learn and develop research skills to enrich their understanding of literature in context as well as to prepare them to evaluate the style and reliability of various sources and types of writing. The works studied include: Nine Stories, Sound and Sense, A Tale of Two Cities, Ethan Frome, A Separate Peace, Antigone, and Macbeth.
More rigorous than English II, this course encourages students to take risks with their thinking and writing as they study works from all genres - short story, novel, drama, and poetry. In addition, students engage in daily grammar practice and continue to learn new vocabulary. This Honors course also includes an introduction to the rudiments of classical rhetoric and debate, through which they will get a glimpse of the AP Language course offered junior year. In addition to core reading selections for all sophomores, including Oedipus, Antigone, Macbeth, and A Tale of Two Cities, students analyze speeches and satire and a wide variety of poetry and prose.
Junior English traces the chronological development of American literature from the 19th century Transcendentalist works through the 20th century Modernist texts. Students will consider distinct literary periods and recurrent themes peculiar to American literature. In addition, juniors will refine critical writing and research skills culminating in the composition of a major research paper. Short story and poetry study will familiarize students with many authors and allow us to reinforce literary terms and devices. Major works include The Scarlet Letter, Song of Solomon, The Great Gatsby, Catcher in the Rye, The Things They Carried, In Cold Blood, The Glass Menagerie, and Their Eyes Were Watching God.
More intensive than English III, Honors English III offers a thorough exploration of American literature. Working at a rigorous pace, students will hone critical writing skills by drafting a variety of essays, including a comprehensive research paper, which will adhere to Modern Language Association guidelines. In addition, honors students will study collegiate-level vocabulary. To sharpen their critical reading skills, students in this course will delve into various works of American literature, such as Self-Reliance, Walden, The Scarlet Letter, The Great Gatsby, Catcher in the Rye, and In Cold Blood. In addition to these works, students will read and study short stories and poems by major American authors and poets such as Edgar Allen Poe, Langston Hughes, Ralph Ellison, and Flannery O’Connor. In conjunction with assigned reading and writing, the honors course emphasizes the study of grammar as the foundation of the English language.
With a focus on both rhetoric and American Literature, AP English Language challenges students to read closely, recognizing nuances and underlying meanings, as well as to write cogently, employing a concise and sophisticated style. Different from the English courses in the freshman and sophomore years, AP Language explores the rhetorical strategies writers use to convey their messages effectively through language and style devices, also expecting students to use those strategies in their own writing. Students write an interdisciplinary research paper inspired by their summer reading assignment, and they write numerous shorter essays, both timed in class and at home. Besides the study of rhetoric, students read fiction to examine the artist's critique of American society and its ever-present moral conflict between the individual and conformity. Students read essays from authors like James Baldwin; Frederick Douglass; Martin Luther King, Jr.; Henry David Thoreau; Ralph Waldo Emerson; Toni Morrison; Jane Smiley; and Jonathon Swift. They also read classic fiction of the American literary canon such as All the King's Men, Death of a Salesman, The Great Gatsby, and Catcher in the Rye in addition to more recent works like The Things They Carried and Just Mercy.
Through close reading of both classic and contemporary fiction, the English IV course examines how virtue affects the pursuit of a good and happy life, how we define such a life, and how that definition relates to our own humanity. We also continue to work on skill development –both oral and written—focusing on elevating vocabulary, grammar, and rhetorical skills. Readings may include The Heart of the Matter, The Kite Runner, The Remains of the Day, Doctor Faustus, Frankenstein, Reading Lolita in Teheran, Brave New World, 1984, and a variety of essays and poetry.
This course engages students in a rigorous study of master works of British Literature. In addition to mature, scholarly analysis of prose, poetry, and drama, this course reinforces and builds upon previous study of literature and composition and invites the students to recognize the universal themes and concerns that transcend the boundaries of geography. Assignments will focus on honing critical reading and fluid, analytical writing skills as well as help them make important connections to their own lives, current events, and the world in which they live. Some of the major works include Beowulf, Grendel, Doctor Faustus, Frankenstein, Picture of Dorian Gray, 1984, Brave New World, Hamlet, and a variety of supplemental essays and poetry.
The College Board suggests the following guidelines for an AP English course: “An AP course in Literature and Composition is a course emphasizing the skills in critical reading of imaginative and discursive literature and in writing about literature and related ideas. It is for students capable of doing college level work in high school. Students must be willing to devote the energy necessary to complete a course more rigorous and demanding than other English courses for the college-bound student.”
This AP course provides students the opportunity for in-depth study of selected masters of English literature (including Shakespeare, Coleridge, and Woolf) and of World literature (such as Ibsen, Danticat, Tolstoy and Camus). The selections should present a challenge to the student who reads with knowledge, sensitivity, and skill. This course also encourages independent study in areas related to the course. Primary source materials include such works as: Anna Karenina, Claire of the Sea Light, Brideshead Revisited, The Plague, Hamlet, Paradise Lost, Mrs. Dalloway, Frankenstein, An Enemy of the People, Brave New World, 1984, Brideshead Revisited, Picture of Dorian Gray, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," and poetry text An Introduction to Poetry ed. Dana Gioia.
Our Foreign Language Department aims to give students the linguistic and cultural tools necessary to appreciate the richness of global diversity and embrace the challenges of living in a morally complex world. As a Salesian school, Visitation gives students opportunities to practice another language, while also practicing and cultivating respect, patience, curiosity, and gratitude for the many cultures and peoples around the globe. Freshmen can choose to study French or Spanish and must continue their language studies for at least three years, although most girls take four. Juniors and seniors may take Latin.
Through our chapter of the National Spanish Honor Society, nearly 20 students have won either the Bertie Green Travel Award (an all-expense-paid trip to a Spanish-speaking country) or a $1,000 college scholarship. More than 30 students have been published in the National Spanish Honor Society’s literary magazine, “Albricias.”
This course presents basic grammatical structures in an integrated program aimed at developing the four language skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Students are also introduced to French geography, culture, traditions, and customs.
This course continues the work of French I with increasing emphasis on communication in the target language. The parallel development of the four language skills is stressed. The course includes a review of French I structures, an introduction to an application of second-year grammar, and the expansion of active and passive vocabulary. Students will also gain knowledge and understanding of the cultures of the Francophone world.
During the year, all grammatical structures and verb tenses introduced in French I and II are reviewed, and new structures are learned. The student learns to use a wide range of vocabulary and, at the end of the course, should be able to communicate in French in a variety of situations. The student continues to build on her knowledge of French culture through readings, videos and project research. The student is required to write paragraphs and short compositions and to make oral presentations in French. The course is conducted primarily in French.
This is a rigorous course intended to prepare a highly motivated student for a fourth-year Honors course in French culture and literature or the Advanced Placement course in French language and culture. To that end, the grammar of French I and II is reviewed while remaining intermediate-level structures are acquired. The student improves pronunciation, intonation and rhythm of speech in reading and free expression, and she works to perfect spelling and composition. The student expands her active vocabulary and learns to paraphrase in order to avoid the use of English. The class is conducted entirely in French.
This is an elective course designed for self-motivated students who wish to work at the college level. Students will take an active role in the learning process as they continue to develop in all skill areas: listening comprehension, speaking, reading and writing. Emphasis is placed on mastery of grammar and expansion of vocabulary and their application to original expression. Students will gain further insights into French-speaking cultures by engaging with authentic language materials from a variety of sources. There are opportunities for both individual and collaborative work. The class is conducted primarily in French.
This course is designed for the highly-motivated student who wishes to prepare herself to do work at an advanced level. The course is an introduction to the highlights of French history and francophone literature. The student reads to understand and appreciate the literature, writes on literary as well as non-literary topics, and works toward oral fluency in class discussions and formal presentations. Grammar structures from French II and III are reviewed and more advanced points of grammar learned. The class is conducted entirely in French.
This course presents basic grammatical structures in an integrated program aimed at developing the four language skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing. This course is intended to develop the ability to communicate in the Spanish language as well as an understanding of the various Spanish-speaking cultures. The student is expected to learn to pronounce all the sounds correctly, to use and write the forms of simple verb tenses in sentences and short paragraphs, and to develop fundamental speaking skills needed to communicate with a native speaker.
This course continues the work of Spanish I with increasing emphasis on oral and written communication in Spanish. The parallel development of the four language skills is stressed as is the continued study of Hispanic culture. The course includes a review of Spanish I structures, the presentation of new verb tenses and other structures of grammar, and the expansion of active and passive vocabulary.
During the year, all grammatical structures and verb tenses introduced in Spanish I and II are reviewed; and new structures are learned. The student learns to use a wide range of vocabulary and, whenever possible, she learns synonyms and antonyms for the vocabulary listed in the texts. The student continues to build on her knowledge of Spanish culture through readings, listening exercises, videos, and project research. Students will create video speaking samples on their iPads each trimester. At the end of the course, the student should be able to communicate in Spanish in a variety of situations. The course is conducted in Spanish.
This rigorous course is meant to prepare the highly-motivated student for a fourth-year Honors course or the Advanced Placement course in Spanish language and culture. To that end, the grammar of Spanish I and II is reviewed while remaining intermediate structures are acquired. The student expands her active vocabulary and learns to paraphrase in Spanish. She furthers her knowledge of Hispanic culture through readings, short films, videos and songs in Spanish. IPads will be used for virtual visits to museums and cities and for video speaking samples. Students will make individual oral presentations to the class each semester. The class is conducted entirely in Spanish.
This is an elective course designed for the self-motivated student who plans to continue her study of Spanish at the college level. Students will take an active role in the learning process as they continue to develop in all skill areas– listening comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing. Students will gain further insight into Spanish-speaking cultures by engaging with authentic language materials from a variety of sources. This course is conducted primarily in Spanish and is not designed for native speakers of Spanish.
This course is intended for the highly motivated student who wishes to work at an advanced level. The course presents an overview of major topics in Spanish literature and culture, both Peninsular and Latin American. This includes poetry, short stories, films, and excerpts from novels, and plays. The students will review grammatical structures and learn more advanced points of grammar as well as more advanced vocabulary. Students work toward oral and written fluency in class discussions and by writing on literary as well as non-literary topics. The class is conducted in Spanish.
This basic course introduces the student to the fundamental structure of languages as well as to the influence of Latin on English and the Romance languages. An introduction to classical mythology and Roman culture is integrated with language learning. A thorough study of vocabulary, morphology, and syntax gradually leads to a facility in reading Latin and to a better understanding of the mechanics of English.
This course is a continuation of the first year Latin course emphasizing mastery of vocabulary and grammar. More complex syntax is introduced, and the Latin passages to be translated are longer and of greater literary value. Activities highlight the uses of Latin in the modern world. In the latter half of the third trimester, students pursue individual topics of interest through guided research culminating in a final paper and a creative presentation.
The College Board suggests the following guidelines for an Advanced Placement course in French/Spanish language: “The students who enroll should already have a strong command of grammar and vocabulary and have competence in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Most will be in the final stages of their secondary school training.” The course emphasizes the use of language for active communication through the study of six overarching themes and has as its objectives the development of:
- The ability to understand the spoken language in a variety of contexts;
- A vocabulary sufficiently ample for reading newspaper and magazine articles, literary texts, and other non-technical writings; and
- The ability to express oneself coherently, resourcefully, and with reasonable fluency and accuracy in both writing and speaking.
The AP French/Spanish Language and Culture courses are designed to achieve proficiency at the high intermediate level.
As a culminating project in the sophomore-level Honors Modern World History, students examine the European refugee crisis from multiple perspectives to gain knowledge of modern Europe. By studying historic events, conducting research and original interviews, reviewing national and international news, and producing a final presentation for the class, girls come to understand the political, economic, and national security issues involved in the crisis and how historical events have shaped the present situation.
Students in this introductory-level course will trace the historical circumstances that provided the foundation for contemporary global issues. A thematic approach enables students to compare how diverse societies interact with the environment, navigate religious diversity, participate in global exchange, and evaluate models of citizenship and government. By studying the enduring legacy of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, students will examine the significance of race and structural racism in the Americas and explore efforts to build pluralistic democracies. Students will also consider the impact of urbanization and governmental policies on the environment in Brazil, China, and Nigeria. Throughout the year, students will analyze a variety of primary and secondary sources, construct and support historical arguments, and develop information literacy skills.
This sophomore-level course examines key developments in modern history from a global perspective. Major topics include the Atlantic revolutions of the late eighteenth century, the industrialization of Europe and Asia, nineteenth-century imperialism and its legacies, the twentieth-century rise of fascism and communism, and the consequences of globalization. Skills development focuses on evaluating data and diverse sources of information, identifying recurring themes and patterns, and constructing evidence-based arguments. By exploring connections between current events and their historical roots, students are prepared for the demands of global citizenship.
This college-level course examines key developments in modern history from a global perspective. Major topics include the Atlantic revolutions of the late eighteenth century, the industrialization of Europe and Asia, nineteenth-century imperialism and its legacies, the twentieth-century rise of fascism and communism, and the consequences of globalization. This course entails a high volume of reading and requires students to grapple independently with a college-level textbook. Strong reading comprehension skills and a well-developed vocabulary are essential. Students who have mastered the synthesis required in the ninth-grade document-based essay will be pressed to examine more complex documents and to raise their analytical thinking skills to the next level. Considerable attention is given to developing the ability to construct historical arguments in oral discussion and presentation and to write thorough, well-organized and well-informed essays. Primary sources are used extensively. By exploring connections between current events and their historical roots, students are prepared for the demands of global citizenship.
This required junior-level survey course is organized chronologically, from the arrival of European explorers and settlers through the Trump Administration. Its main themes include American exceptionalism, the role of religion and race in American life, regional differences, and the idea of the frontier in shaping American identity and self-image. Students develop an understanding of key constitutional provisions and economic factors that have influenced American history. The course considers the impact of demographic, social, and geographic forces and analyzes the effects of watershed events and laws. In addition to the textbook, students use primary sources, databases, and independent research in their studies and in writing a springtime research paper. Students begin to analyze the current character of America, based on their studies of the events, trends, and personalities in her past.
This College Board designed course provides a survey of American history from the pre-Columbian period to the present in preparation for the required Advanced Placement exam. In addition to exploring key topics in government, economics, culture, and foreign relations, students will trace the “peopling” of the North American continent, Americans’ interactions with their environment, the evolution of a unique American identity, and the consequences of technological change. This course entails a high volume of reading and requires students to grapple independently with a college-level textbook. Strong reading comprehension skills and a well-developed vocabulary are essential, as is the ability to think conceptually in order to construct the “big picture.” Students who have excelled at composing the traditional five-paragraph essay will be challenged to master more complex writing formats. Primary and secondary sources are used extensively.
This College Board designed curriculum encompasses the study of the founding, institutions and political processes of American government along with the basic concepts of the discipline of political science. The founding and principles of American government will be examined and analyzed using primary source documents such as the Federalist Papers. Issues of civil liberties and civil rights will be examined in the context of the U.S. Constitution, as well as in the current context of minorities and gender. Key institutions of American government—Congress, the President, the Judicial branch and the Bureaucracy—will be examined in the context of checks and balances and separation of powers. Students will evaluate the role of the citizens in the political process, including elections, political parties, the political culture and the role of public opinion and they will study the complexity of the policy process especially with regard to economic and foreign policy. Throughout the year, students will learn to accurately identify, define and apply political terms in preparation for the mandatory AP exam. Finally, the issue of American democracy or “Who rules to what ends?” will serve as a theme throughout the course. Beyond preparation for a successful national exam result, the student will become an astute observer of the American political system and elections. Two college texts and a reading of daily news stories are required.
Economic issues have taken center stage in our political debates, and books like Freakonomics apply economic perspectives to all aspects of human behavior. This course will familiarize students with economic principles ranging from the behavior of national markets to individual cost-benefit decisions. After an introduction to basic economic principles (such as supply-and-demand and the multiplier), the course moves to macroeconomic ideas like inflation, unemployment, capital markets, taxes, and currency movements. The course then moves beyond a basic macroeconomics curriculum to explore questions including the role of Bitcoin, behavioral economics, recent structural changes in our economy, and international and developmental economics. Unlike Macroeconomics courses in college, no specialized mathematics skills (or even calculators) are required.
Prerequisite: Completion of U.S. History or AP U.S. History
This College Board designed curriculum encompasses the study of government and politics of United Kingdom, Mexico, Russia, China, Nigeria, and Iran. General political science concepts will be used to interpret the key political, social, and economic relationships found in virtually all nation-states. Students engage in the comparative method to formulate ideas, test theories, and evaluate the dynamics of public policy. Particular attention is devoted to the application of political reality, thus daily and/or weekly readings of The Economist, The Washington Post, and/or The New York Times are assigned. The impact of globalization is studied through the domestic and foreign affairs policies of each nation. The ever increasing role and impact of supranational organizations such as the World Trade Organization and the European Union upon nation-states is studied. The AP exam is mandatory for all students. Beyond preparation for a successful national exam result, the student establishes herself as an astute observer of various regimes systems and global politics.
This College Board designed curriculum introduces students to the scientific study of the behavior and mental processes of human beings. Students are exposed to the psychological facts, principles, and phenomena associated with each of the major subfields within psychology. Students will learn to critically evaluate research relevant to each content area and to explore how research design drives the reasonable conclusions that can be drawn in each field. Projects that allow students to apply content first hand will be assigned each quarter, allowing each student to take an active part in forming her own questions and analysis in preparation for the Advanced Placement exam in May.
Prerequisite: Completion of Algebra II
Real World Applications
In Algebra, girls simulate businesses and consumers to learn about markup and profits. As businesses, half the class tries to sell more goods than their competitor-classmates, while still making the most profit possible. The other half of the class plays consumers trying to find the best deal. This provides girls with a fun way to learn about percent, markups, discounts, and budgets.
The Praxis Project allows all juniors to be servant leaders and explore social justice through the lens of Catholic Social Teaching. In small groups, they research and advocate for a social justice they are passionate about. Read our magazine story about the Praxis Project.
Exploring the Chesapeake Bay, slingshotting a water balloon at your Physics teacher, and dissecting a fetal pig are only three of the interactive labs that instill a love of science in Visi girls. Our Science Department fosters scientific curiosity in and out of the classroom that ignites and enhances students interest in STEAM fields. Many students discover an enjoyment of science in freshman and sophomore year and enroll in more science classes than required.
Physics First is the foundation of our science program. All freshmen take Conceptual Physics because physics gives girls a strong foundation for chemistry and biology and has a symbiotic relationship with Algebra, which freshmen also take. Girls love the class because it hands-on and fun! Read our magazine story on Physics First.
In addition to learning a variety of sports and fitness activities, students learn to work together and respect each individual’s role in reaching a common goal through Physical Education lessons and activities. In their Wellness classes, girls develop an understanding of how health is an essential element of physical, mental, spiritual, and social well-being. P.E. and Wellness are required classes in freshman and sophomore year.
Throughout all units, classes emphasize positive body image. We believe and teach that self worth does not come from a number on a scale. Everyone is unique, beautiful and made in the likeness of God.
The Technology Department supports students and faculty individually and with curricular needs. Students come to understand how technology impacts their lives both in and out of school in positive and negative ways. Girls learn to find balance in using technology effectively and appropriately.
Our 1:1 iPad program teaches students how to successfully integrate technology into their schoolwork and to become responsible digital citizens. Students especially love the note-taking apps and organizational tools. Many teachers use iPads and specific apps to enhance the classroom experience and advance research.
Every student explores the arts as freshmen in Intro to Art History. Through this class and other electives, the Art Department (encompassing Visual and Performing Arts) fosters an open and respectful attitude toward people and ideas, an experimental and creative approach to the world, and an awareness of the joy of learning, thinking, and creating.
Arts classes are supported by many co-curriculars. Our annual student art show, judged by external arts experts and alumnae artists, features pieces from art students and non-art students. Our Chorus annually sings at diverse public venues, such as the National Cathedral, and is invited to private celebrations, including at the Capitol and Vice President's residence in recent years.
The Saint Bernard Library responds to the rapidly changing face of information -- the many avenues available to access it, the skills required to evaluate it, and the intentionality of using it ethically and responsibly. Through a wide variety of projects and experiences, a Visi student is well prepared for college-level research. She expects questions for which there are various answers and opinions and is critical yet open minded in her pursuit of knowledge.
Whether she is searching for background information for a student government speech or gathering data for an economics presentation, a student has access to an outstanding electronic and print collection: 13,000 volumes, periodicals, and DVDs, 2 daily newspapers, and multiple English, Spanish, and French language magazines. She is also only a few blocks away from Georgetown University's Lauinger Library should she want or need more resources.
Over 50 student-led clubs provide opportunities for girls to explore interests and build leadership skills.
Girls thrive in our classrooms because we understand how girls learn.
Our Campus Ministry and Christian Service programs help girls deepen their faith and put it into action.