Upper School


Tradition. Diversity. Excellence.

Since 1766, Rutgers Preparatory School has been preparing students for the challenges of college and beyond. In the Upper School, students enjoy our many traditions, from the Freshman Camping Trip in September to Senior Explorations just prior to Commencement—we appreciate the links to the past that our traditions provide. The school year is punctuated by annual events like Career Day, Burger Blast, and of course, Commencement, as well as daily traditions like Morning Meeting, when the entire high school comes together to hear students and teachers promote upcoming events, announce results of athletic and academic competitions, applaud honors that our students have earned, or share a poignant reflection.

Many of our curricular and extracurricular offerings complement the broad diversity of our community, but it’s through the daily experience of working and collaborating with students and faculty from a myriad of backgrounds that we truly come to appreciate the benefits of living in a multicultural society. At Rutgers Prep, approximately 40% of our students are "students of color"—we celebrate not only Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, but also Diwali, Eid-ul-Fitr, and Chinese New Year. While many institutions promote "color blindness," we openly embrace the varieties of ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, and other forms of diversity that exist in our community, and use this richness to promote understanding and tolerance in our daily interactions.

Students in the Upper School understand the RPS motto: Severa res est verum gaudium—"Hard work is true joy." Excellence in the classrooms, the art studios, the athletic fields, the performing venues, and the broader communities in which students live, is a direct result of the effort and commitment they exhibit. We see it in ways that are easy to measure-college acceptances, standardized test scores, state athletic championships, selection to juried art exhibits or all-state choirs and orchestras. We also experience excellence in ways that are more subtle-the regularity with which Upper School students volunteer to read to Lower Schoolers, the command of complex data when Student Research class members present their gene sequencing findings to scientists from the Waksman Institute at Rutgers University, the percentage of students who complete much more than their required hours of community service. In the Upper School, students derive joy from challenging themselves daily, and work hard to meet and exceed expectations.

Advisory System

Students in the Upper School are assigned to an advisor when they enter the school. Generally, advisors remain with their groups of about ten students as they move from freshman year through graduation. The advisor plays a dynamic role in guiding students to become independent learners, active participants, and developing leaders who enrich the school and wider community. Advisors meet regularly with the advisory, either for brief meetings to share important information, or longer meetings to discuss specific topics. They also touch base with their individual advisees informally throughout the school day, and formally through scheduled meetings as needed.

The advisor’s role is to listen actively, offer advice, bestow praise, facilitate communication between the home and school, and provide a more unbiased perspective on challenges as they occur. The advisor is often in a unique position to provide relevant information about an advisee’s circumstances to parents as well as classroom teachers, coaches or administrators in order to assist them in their work with the student.

The advisor has the “big picture” of a student’s progress, academic and otherwise, and serves as an advocate for the student, particularly when he or she is first adjusting to the Upper School, when it can be difficult for a student to initiate or conduct difficult conversations with teachers. The advisor is a sounding board for the student, offering advice on how to handle situations, and encouraging the student to be active in the daily life of the school community. He or she helps the student to set realistic and attainable goals and discusses with the student strategies for achieving those goals.

Community Service

Rutgers Prep encourages and supports volunteerism in its student body – Upper School students completed more than 14,000 hours of community service last year alone. As part of its curricular requirements, Rutgers Prep expects all Upper School students to perform at least 10 hours of community service each school year and to reflect on that experience, and many choose to go far beyond our expectations. For those students who perform 50 hours or more in a given year, we offer Honors Level Certificates, a distinction earned by 40% of our students last year. The highest level of recognition is the “Honors250” award for performing 250 hours in a year – 12 students earned this honor in 2017.


Community Service Statistics for 2016-2017

  • Total number of Upper School students receiving Honors Level (50+ hours): 147
  • % of Upper School student body achieving Honors: 38%
  • Average # of service hours per student: 48
  • Total number of students receiving H250 Level (250+ hours): 12
  • Total number of service hours reported & approved: 19,452
  • Top Twelve Service Organizations that Rutgers Prep students volunteered for:
    • Elijah's Promise Soup Kitchen (New Brunswick)
    • Family Day at the State Theatre (New Brunswick)
    • Franklin Food Bank/Tour de Franklin (Somerset)
    • Franklin Twp. Little League (Somerset)
    • New Brunswick Public Library
    • Oxfam Fast (Somerset)
    • Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (New Brunswick)
    • Sandy Hook Beach Sweep
    • Tend to a Friend (Somerset)
    • Community Food Bank (Hillside)
    • Hope to Dream

General Guidelines

Basic requirements for Community Service in the Upper School (grades 9-12):

  • Each student must perform a minimum of 10 hours Community Service per academic year; this is a curricular requirement in order to move onto the next grade or to graduate; we also recognize Honors Level in Community Service for those students who complete 50 or more hours per academic year
  • To encourage students to engage a wider world than the school community, we require that at least five hours of a student's service experience come from off-campus/“outide RPS” activities (NOTE: there is NO on-campus/“inside RPS” service requirement)
  • We ask students to fill out a Community Service form (a paper copy or in some cases a digital form) for each service activity they participate in; this accomplishes two goals: we can verify that students are performing service (since supervisors must sign the form or approve it digitally), and students have an opportunity for some reflection on the activity when they write about it on the back of the form
  • Activities that can fulfill our Community Service requirement must be: volunteer work (no pay involved), sponsored by a non-profit organization, supervised by an adult, serving an identifiable community in need, one whose resources are already stretched, and/or one to which the student already belongs (local govts., churches or temples, etc.)
  • Although we offer several on-campus service activities that directly benefit the RPS community (e.g., tutoring younger students, after-school childcare, etc.), we also offer transportation to and supervision of many off-campus service activities (e.g., Habitat for Humanity, Special Olympics, Sandy Hook Beach Sweep, etc.)
  • Students can exercise leadership in this area through the Community Service Board, which organizes events, publicizes opportunities, and encourages service in general

Forms and Downloads

Daily Schedule

Technology Overview

At the core of a Rutgers Preparatory School education is the expectation that our graduates will be well prepared for college and the life that lies ahead for them. We believe that the foundation of such preparation is the ability to be a lifelong learner: to embrace and explore ideas both old and new; to consider the value of new ways of understanding the world; to seek better ways of knowing.

We believe strongly that students cannot prepare for their future using the tools of our past. This is why Rutgers Prep is dedicated to providing students and faculty a fully integrated array of digital resources to encourage learning and to enhance teaching. From our campus-wide wireless network to our innovated flipped classrooms and our Upper School iPad initiative, it is our goal to prepare your child for success in college and beyond.

Every classroom at Rutgers Prep, from Kindergarten through Twelfth Grade, is equipped with projectors and Apple TVs, which allow our faculty to share digital resources with their students. In addition, members of the faculty take great advantage of VR headsets, MakerBot 3D-Printers, iPads, and laptop computers to extend collaboration in the classroom. Whether it is a digital presentation or an interactive exercise, instruction and learning are enhanced by this integration of digital and projection technology.

In keeping with this tradition of balancing the new with the familiar, the Upper School proudly announced the launch of an expanded iPad initiative for the 2013-2014 Academic Year. After considerable thought and conversation, the Upper School Faculty determined that all students would be required to have iPads.

Ubiquitous and uniform technology offers students and faculty greater opportunity to take advantage of digital tools and resources. Electronic textbooks are readily available and significantly less expensive while offering an engaging alternative to the traditional text.

If we teach today the way we were taught yesterday we aren't preparing students for today or tomorrow.

As a Google Apps school Our faculty and students use state-of-the-art management systems, to extend their collaborative teaching. In addition, we use a modern Learning Management System to facilitate communication between students and faculty beyond the school day and the campus boundaries. Whether it is simply looking up the homework, contributing to a conversation, or accessing digital resources, this is a key component of our education for the 21st Century.

Curriculum Guide 2019-20

The Rutgers Preparatory School Upper School Curriculum Guide for the 2019/2020 academic year can be accessed here. The curriculum guide contains graduation requirements, academic information, required courses by grade level, and course descriptions. If you have any questions, please contact the Upper School Dean of Academics, Graig Domanski (domanski@rutgersprep.org) or 732-545-5600.

Curriculum Guide (.pdf)


Humanities - History


The Upper School History Department works with students to understand the past and to develop skills for applying that understanding to the world we live in today. Our goal is to produce students who are active participants in an ongoing historical process. Our program introduces students to cultures, events, and forces for change from all over the world, past and present. We provide opportunities for gathering and applying information and thinking critically about problems in the social science disciplines--history, geography, political theory, economics, sociology, and anthropology.

In addition to this core of knowledge and skills, we strive to promote responsible attitudes and actions. Stressing the importance and dignity of individual human beings, we encourage students to respect themselves and others. We introduce the principles and practices of democracy, and encourage students to explore the various economic, social, political, and environmental challenges of our times. Students will develop an awareness of these challenges, and the ability to acquire, assess, and apply information toward solutions to these challenges. We study the past not only to understand the present but also the possibilities for the future.

Graduation Requirements

Foundations of Civilizations is required for freshmen, juniors must take U.S. history, and seniors must elect a year of history. Sophomore year history study is strongly advised.

Course Offerings

  • Foundations of Civilizations
  • World History
  • AP World History
  • History of American Science and Medicine
  • US History
  • AP US History
  • American Government
  • AP American Government
  • Economics
  • AP Economics
  • Modern European History
  • AP Modern European History
  • AP Psychology

Co-curricular Information

Princeton University Model Congress—supervised by Mr. Kuchar—a club that simulates the legislative process, from researching to bill writing to debating and amending proposed laws, culminating in a 4-day conference with dozens of other schools in Washington, DC, shortly before Thanksgiving. http://pmc.princeton.edu/

Georgetown University Model United Nations—supervised by Mr. Cohen—a club that simulates the work of various UN agencies in dealing with various global issues and crises, culminating in a 4-day conference in Washington, DC, with dozens of other schools, in mid-February. http://www.modelun.org/naimun

Fed Challenge—supervised by Mr. Loose—a club that researches and presents a policy recommendation to members of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, usually in early spring. http://www.federalreserveeducation.org/teachers/FedChallenge/FedChallenge_intro.htm

Other history-related clubs that have met in the past and can be revived, depending on student interest, include: Maroon Exchange (stock exchange simulation), Amnesty International, and the National History Club.

Faculty Professional Development Activities and Achievements

Tim Cohen serves as the RPS school archivist and historian, maintaining a collection of documents, artifacts, and other material dating back to the school's founding in 1766. Tim is currently writing a book on the history of RPS from the 1950’s to the present, building on the work of earlier school historian Dr. Frank Sperduto. This book will be available in time for the school's 250th anniversary celebration in 2016.

Dr. Jill Cooper’s recently published articles include:

  • "A Brief Romance with Magic Bullets: Rene Dubos at the Dawn of the Antibiotic Era," in John W. Ward & Christian Warren, eds. Silent Victories: The History and Practice of Public Health in Twentieth-Century America, Oxford University Press, 2007.
  • "Selman Waksman" in Maxine Lurie & Mark Mappen, eds. The Encyclopedia of New Jersey, Rutger University Press, 2004.

Geoffrey Loose is working on research and an early draft of an autobiography of Detroit Tigers Hall of Fame second baseman Charlie Gehringer. He recently attended a Rutgers History Seminar with Professors Jonathan Lurie (Rutgers-Newark) and Maxine Lurie (Seton Hall) on late 19th Century history.

Humanities - English


As communication is a fundamental human activity, the English Department provides our students with a language program that develops confidence, competence, flexibility, and enjoyment of listening, speaking, reading, writing, and thinking. Our program underlines the interrelationship that exists among the language processes. While fostering a love of literature in our students, we emphasize close reading and critical thinking.

Our goals include: development of reading skills at the literal, figurative, and inferential levels; awareness of the writing process; mastering the mechanics and process of writing to accomplish fluency, clarity, and focus; appreciation of various literary genres and forms and the differences among them.

Graduation Requirements

One credit in English is required in each of the four years of Upper School.

Course Offerings

  • English I
  • English II
  • Honors English II
  • English III
  • AP English Language and Composition
  • AP English Literature
  • Creative Writing
  • Comedy
  • Journalism
  • Mystery and Detective Fiction
  • Mythology
  • Shakespeare
  • Literature of War
  • Monsters
  • Dystopian Literature
  • Science Fiction Literature

Co-curricular Information

The Argo

The Argo, published since 1889 and one of the oldest student newspapers in the country, is a proud Rutgers Prep tradition. In 2009, The Argo made history again by converting to an online-only format. All Upper School students are invited to join The Argo staff and may write articles for sections ranging from News and Opinion to Arts and Entertainment and Eats. Experienced Argo writers serve as editors, usually in their junior and senior years.


The literary magazine of the Upper School was formerly known as the Argomag, inspired by the RPS mascot, the Argonaut. As this was too similar to The Argo, the School’s newspaper, the editors formally changed the name to Excelsior in 1987. Its primary function is to meet weekly with student authors, to encourage the writing and revising of student poetry and fiction, and to publish usually two issues of the magazine every school year. Excelsior also showcases student photography, drawing, and occasional non-fiction as well. Our writers have won awards at the Somerset County Teen Arts Festival, on the state level from the New Jersey Council of Teachers of English, and the Governor's Awards for the Arts, and in national arenas such as the National Council of Teachers of English and the Scholastic Writing Awards. Excelsior editors have also provided leadership for Writing Day activities from 1993 to 2003.

English Club

The English Club began in 2004 to expand activities for students who enjoyed reading and other literary activities, but were not involved in student publications. For “Banned Books Week” the English Club has designed bulletin board displays and announced in morning assembly many popular books, which Americans have censored to draw attention to the issue. The "Healing Words" committee visited three nursing and retirement homes in the area for several years, and read selections of poetry and prose to the residents. For Halloween, we have sponsored our annual Literary Characters Costume Contest since 2005, encouraging students to come to school as their favorite author, character or group. Past winners have included groups from Peter Pan, The Wizard of Oz, 1984's Anti-Sex League, Alice in Wonderland, and the Seven Deadly Sins. The English Club took over leadership responsibilities for Writing Day in 2005, organizing "Good Writing is Hard Work," a theme inspired by Snoopy sitting atop his doghouse at his typewriter, beginning "It was a dark and stormy night . . . ". T organizers for the 2008 Writing Day used "A Tapestry of Words" as their motif. Their committee collected electronic submissions from about 85 per cent of the Upper School and posted them on a series of web pages and accessible to the whole school. The Reading Club has chosen books to read and discuss since 2007 with selections such as Running with Scissors, Water for Elephants, and Reading Lolita in Tehran. The English Club has also raised funds with periodic Read-a-Thons in the Upper School, to bring visiting writers to campus.

Writing Day

Writing Day began in 1992, when second grade teacher Joanne Emory organized a Writing Fair in Baldwin Hall and invited kindergarten through fourth grades to come for about 45 minutes each, aided by Mr. Kendall and parent and student volunteers. In 1993, and then in 1994 and 1995, Mrs. Emory, Dr. Riley, and Mr. Kendall coordinated a pre-K through 12th grade day-long celebration of writing. Usually, a professional author visited each division, such as a storyteller for the Lower School, a short story writer or journalist for the Middle School, and a Dodge Poet in the Upper School. Upper School students would often visit Lower School classes to guest teach, and they ran many workshops for Middle School students for a number of years, as well as helping with the Lower School Writing Fair. We have generally alternated years with the Science Fair and more recently with Math Day as well, and have sponsored Writing Day in 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, and 2008. This school year, Writing Day is scheduled for March 18, 2010. Previous themes have included "Plant Your Imagination," "Scribere bene est verum gaudium ("Good writing is a true joy"), "Taking Flight with Writing," "Compose Yourself," "Writing Through the Ages," and "Wordfest: Writing Day 2003." Major events have included spiral mobiles of words in the lounge, posting written contributions on wooden kiosks throughout the library and the hallways, and an electronic version of web publishing school writing in 2008.

Student English Awards

RPS students have received awards from:

Scholastic National Writing Awards

New Jersey Council of Teachers of English State Awards

Governor's School for Creative Writing

National Council of Teachers of English Awards

Rutgers University at Newark’s state poetry contest (who then read on the Main stage at the Dodge Poetry Festival

New Jersey Governor’s Awards in Arts Education Gold Medalist

Visiting Writers

Cat Doty (1993, 1997, 2001, 2005)

Lois Harrod (1994, 1999, 2003)

Rick Poverny (1995)

Allison Alibino (2001)

Christina Harcar (2003)

Marjorie Barnes (2005)

Joe Weil (2005)

Marie Howe (2007)

Charles Johnson (2008)

Reginald McKnight (2008)

Patrick Phillips (2009)

Mark Doty (2010)

Hannah Tinti (2011)

Gail Carson Levine (2015)

Eliot Schrefer (2016)

Field Trips

Dodge Poetry Festival

Since its beginning in 1986, the Dodge Poetry Festival has brought premier poets from all over the world to New Jersey and has provided unique literary opportunities for high school students. The English department has taken our full quota of students to each of the twelve festivals, and three of our students have read on the main stage on Student Day. Students have heard poets such as Gwendolyn Books, Billy Collin, Lucille Clifton, Stanley Kunitz, Galway Kinnell, Sharon Olds, and Paul Muldoon, and have participated in smaller workshops with regional poets, many of whom have come to RPS as visiting poets.

Faculty Professional Development Activities and Achievements:

As part of the Master's program in English at the Virginia University of, Theodora Angelos completed a pedagogical thesis entitled, “Questions of Travel: Nineteenth- & Twentieth-Century American Travel Narratives.” She has adapted her thesis for use in the classroom at Rutgers Prep, teaching a senior elective on American travel narratives in the spring. While in the graduate English department at UVA, she worked on the transcription and digitization of Walt Whitman's Civil War correspondence for The Whitman Archive.

Eireann Corrigan has written four books for teen readers. Her novels have been named to the Best Books for Young Adults list, the New York Library’s Books for the Teen Age, and won the 2007 Garden State Book Award.

Flo Gange has served on Accreditation and Accreditation For Growth (AFG) teams for both NJAIS and the Middle States Association. She was part of a Faculty Exchange with Lancaster Country Day School. She recently attended a workshop on Teaching English with Technology.

John Kendall has coordinated the Upper School's section of Writing Day for the tenth time since 1993. This campus-wide celebration of literacy in the Lower, Middle and Upper School divisions includes guest authors, older students teaching classes of younger students, the Writing Fair in the Barn and other activities. Mr. Kendall has published several articles in professional journals about writing and teaching literature. "Beaming Hamlet Up to the 21st Century: Using the Internet to Help Teach Shakespeare," in the NJCTE issue of FOCUS, described a two-year hypertext project with four classes analyzing short passages from the play. " Hamlet Out Loud" described a later project involving juniors reciting 15-20 lines of the play from memory and posting these snippets as pod casts on the RPS web page. "Virtual Ink and Transcontinental Writing: Writing at an Experimental Virtual School," published first in Independent School magazine, described his two-year experience of teaching an expository writing class with the Virtual High School, located physically in Concord, Massachusetts, but virtually all over the United States.

Steven Loy has had the opportunity as an Adjunct Faculty Member to teach Freshman Expository Writing at Rutgers University as well as Educational Administration at Pepperdine University.


The Math Department offers a comprehensive program from Algebra I to AP Calculus BC and, in some circumstances, several Post-AP courses are available. Our primary goal is to develop and instill in our students competence and confidence in mathematics. We strive to equip our students with technical proficiency, strong problem-solving and logical reasoning skills, and an appreciation for the beauty and usefulness of mathematics. As a college preparatory school, we prepare our graduates for success at the post-secondary level.

We believe in engaging students in a dynamic and supportive classroom environment. We pose questions to get students thinking and encourage them to voice questions of their own. Students are continually asked to articulate their thought process and justify their reasoning. Though a facility with basic rules and formulas is important, we go beyond rote learning to promote creative thinking and conceptual understanding. We appropriately incorporate technology and other teaching techniques to enhance learning.

We believe the best way to assess a student’s understanding is through traditional, independent testing and therefore, it is our primary tool for assessment. However, alternative assessments, such as individual and group projects, are also used as part of the evaluation process in many courses. Whenever appropriate, students are encouraged to work cooperatively to enhance each other’s learning. It is quite common for formal and informal study groups to develop throughout the school year.

Graduation requirements

All students are required to complete three and one half years of math.

Course offerings

  • Algebra 1
  • Geometry or Honors Geometry
  • Algebra II, Honors Algebra II AB, or Honors Algebra II BC
  • Precalculus, Honors Precalculus AB, or Honors Precalculus BC
  • Statistics
  • AP Statistics
  • Calculus
  • AP Calculus AB or AP Calculus BC
  • Post-AP Multivariable Calculus
  • Post-AP Linear Algebra
  • Mathematics of Finance

Co-curricular Information:

Mu Alpha Theta

National Honor Society which serves as our math club. Students may either be inducted members of the society or associate members. The math club provides peer tutoring to the community as well as prepares teams for various math competitions.

American Mathematics Competitions

Every year students enrolled in upper level math courses have the opportunity to participate in the AMC. Students who qualify then move on to take the American Invitational Mathematical Exam (AIME).


A team competition where groups of four students use a multidisciplinary approach by using math modeling and technology to investigate important issues in their lives.

Princeton University Mathematics Competition (PuMaC)

An annual competition run by the Princeton University Math Club. In the competition, participants from all over the US and various international teams go to the Princeton University campus and spend the day taking various mathematics assessment tests. The aim is to expose these students to the creative thinking and rigorous application of skills necessary for a successful future in mathematics.



Science not only studies the natural world but it also adds to and changes that world. It will continue to change the world in the future. Therefore we believe that the study and understanding of Science is an important component in the education of every student at Rutgers Prep. Some students will directly create our future world as working scientists. Other students will enter different occupations, but as world citizens, they will participate in the political and economic processes that encourage or limit scientific exploration. The products of scientific research will affect everyone and everyone will affect scientific research.

We believe all students need to understand what scientists do, how they work, and how they communicate and resolve disagreements. To understand the life of scientists, students need to read about science, they need to perform science, and they need to think about science.

Science courses should expose students to the history of scientific progress in order to appreciate the effort and time that created the knowledge base we enjoy today. The courses should expose all students to a part of the massive amount of knowledge and skills available to us today as a result of that history. Courses should excite all students about the future of scientific research and foster discussions about how best to use the new information and technologies that are being discovered.

Familiarity with science is a result of work in several areas:

  • Students must practice direct observation of their world. They should ask questions, design experiments, analyze data and evaluate hypotheses.
  • Students must practice reading, understanding, and evaluating scientific literature.
  • Students must practice searching through information sources, challenging ideas and engaging in discussion and debate.
  • They must practice creating and interpreting quantitative data (for example—graphs).
  • They must read about the past, examine the present and imagine the future.

Graduation Requirements

Two years of a lab science are required. One year must be a life science (Biology) and one year must be a physical science (Chemistry or Physics). Advanced study is strongly advised.

Course Offerings

  • Environmental Science
  • Biology
  • Honors Biology
  • AP Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Honors Chemistry
  • AP Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Honors Physics
  • AP Physics C: Mechanics
  • AP Physics C: Electricity & Magnetism
  • Student Research in Molecular Biology
  • Advanced Student Research in Molecular Biology
  • Topics in Organic Chemistry
  • Topics in Microbiology
  • Topics in Astronomy
  • Topics in Meteorology
  • Topics in Forensic Science
  • Topics in Human Diseases
  • Topics in Cancer Biology
  • Topics in Exercise Anatomy and Physiology
  • Topics in Biotechnology
  • Topics in Immunology
  • An Introduction to Pharmaceutical Science
  • AP Environmental Science

Co-curricular Activities

Our classes have recently been visited by:

  • Penelope Moore of the NJ State Crime Lab
  • John Osborne, a Forensics Document examiner
  • Dr. Patricia Wright, an international authority on Madagascan lemurs

Field Trips

In recent years, our classes have visited:

  • Morris County Crime Lab
  • Somerset County Investigative Services Lab
  • Liberty Science Center
  • American Museum of Natural History
  • Great Adventure (Physics Day)
  • NJ Chemistry Olympics
  • Caldwell College CSI Forensics Competition
  • Block Island Conservancy
  • Harbor Branch Oceanic Institute

Student Accomplishments:

  • NJ Star Ledger Mort Pye Scholar
  • NJ Governor’s School in Math and Science
  • NJ Governor’s School on the Environment
  • NJ Governor’s School in Engineering and Technology
  • Liberty Science Center Partner’s in Science
  • Original DNA research on Artemia at the Waksman Institute at Rutgers University
  • Original DNA research on duckweed at the Waksman Institute at Rutgers University
  • NJ Chemistry Olympics (Section winner)
  • NJ Physics Olympics -we came in first place (in one event) three years in a row
  • Internship in human development at Rutgers University
  • Environmental Club-the club has planted a Monarch Butterfly Way Station on campus with more biodiversity and land-use projects in development
  • National Youth Leadership Forum for Medicine
  • 2017 US GLOBE Student Research Symposium Award was presented at a symposium with US GLOBE at Palmyra Cove

Faculty Professional Development Activities and Achievements:

Ralph Avella (Department Chair) has earned four “best teacher” awards as voted by Rutgers Prep seniors and faculty. He is a member of: the National Science Teachers’ Association, N.J. Science Teachers’ Association and NJ Earth Science Teachers’ Association. He has attended the NSTA Area Conference- Philadelphia, Pa and annually participates in the N.J. Science Teachers’ Convention-Princeton. He has taught Chemistry, Physics, Astronomy and Meteorology. He has served as a long time advisor to Rutgers Prep’s School Council. He coordinates our annual Baseball Senior Exploration.

Dr. Jill Cooper has been a reader for the College Board's AP Psychology exam since 2006. She authored a chapter entitled "A Brief Romance with Magic Bullets: Rene Dubos at the Dawn of the Antibiotic Era" which appeared in Silent Victories: The History and Practice of Public Health in Twentieth-Century America published by Oxford University Press in 2007. She also contributed a biographical piece on Selman Waksman, the Nobel Prize-winning soil microbiologist (and Rutgers Prep parent), in Maxine Lurie & Marc Mappen's, Encyclopedia of New Jersey. She coordinates our annual physics and conservation themed Senior Exploration trips to Walt Disney World and Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, respectively.

Dr. Allan Furtek in springtime takes about 10 senior students for a weeklong hiking trip to the White Mountains of New Hampshire (Senior Explorations)

He has taken several on-line advanced AP Physics courses offered by MIT and other institutions.

He is the faculty advisor for RPS physics team, which successfully participates in the NJ Physics Olympics (finishing first place for several years in a row).

He is the faculty advisor for Technology Innovations program at RPS.

Jacque Lamb served as a mentor for Rutgers Prep’s Mort Pye-NJ Star Ledger Scholar as well as two student semifinalists in the Siemen’s Talent competition. She was recently honored as the most outstanding graduate student in Chemistry at Montclair State University.

Dr. Valerie Pierce has presented many Professional Development workshops: “AP Biology Roundtable: Discussion of Strategies for the new AP Biology Exam” - New Jersey Science Teachers Association annual convention; “I know How to Use Technology – But How Do I Teach With It?, National Science Teachers Association annual conference, Indianapolis, IN ; “Candy Cladograms: A Hands-On, Fun Approach to Understanding Species Diversity and Evolution”, New Jersey Science Teachers Association annual convention; “Open-Ended Experiences in Biology”, the Independent Curriculum Group Conference on Creative and Critical Thinking, Scarsdale, NY; “Small Pieces of Technology With Big Impacts On Learning”, co-presenter, New York State Association of Independent Schools, Teaching with Technology Conference; “Student Science Writing Projects on the Web”, New Jersey Science Teachers Association annual convention; “What College Professors Really Wish Students Knew”, New Jersey Association of Independent School biennial meeting, Lawrenceville, NJ.

She has been involved in the following Professional Development Activities: Life Discovery Conference, Society for the Study of Evolution; NJSTA & NSTA annual conventions; Advanced Placement Summer Institute, Middlesex County College; College Board one-day Workshop in AP Biology Lab Redesign, Edison, NJ; Gardner-Carney Leadership Institute; NJAIS Leadership Institute and Teaching Forensic Science, College of the Atlantic, Bar Harbor, ME.

She has taught Biology, Honors Biology, AP Biology and Forensic Science.

Nishita Desai began her careers in scientific research. She conducted research at the Cancer Institute and UMDNJ (now Rutgers) on topics including prostate cancer and organogenesis. Before that, she worked in a neurobiology lab studying the effects of supplements on memory and recovery and brain injuries. The professors, students, and other researchers she interacted with in those environments inspired her to become a teacher full-time. She gives back to the community she calls home by volunteering at the Food Bank Farm Program, working at the Sunday Can Collection at our local Stop & Shop, lending a hand with the Stage Crew for Sampson G. Smith Drama productions, organizing a semi-annual Blood Drive at RPS, participating in NASA GLOBE stem activities, is a advisor for American Cancer society, active participant in Environmental club, and as a Girl Scout Troop leader.

Joan Zanfardino Member of the ACS (American Chemical Society). Facilitator of the ACS Chem Club for the Upper School. Moderator for the RPS Chemistry Olympics team. Also a member of the School Council at RPS. Has taught Chemistry, Honors Chemistry and Physics.

Chris Merryman studied Biomedical Engineering and Cellular Biology and Neuroscience at Rutgers University before earning a Master’s in Science Education at the Rutgers Graduate School of Education. He avidly participates in technology conferences and has become heavily involved with environmental stewardship programs at RPS. As advisor of the Environmental Club he has overseen ecological landscaping projects on campus in addition to field trips to destinations such as Block Island in Rhode Island and Vero Beach in Florida. Considering himself the “Swiss Army Knife of the Science Department”. He has taught Algebra II, Environmental Science, AP Environmental Science, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, and Exercise Physiology.

Peter Gange has taught Material Science Honors, C.P. Chemistry, Honors Chemistry, Honors Physics and C.P. Physics. He has served on the District Council & Technology committees and as MEA President. Peter is a Master Teacher. He was involved in the Rutgers University Research program for experience for teachers in Engineering, helping math and science teachers integrate their research experiences into their classrooms.

World Language

Upper School

The goal of the World Language Department of RPS is to produce a world citizen who can function knowledgeably and comfortably in an increasingly global society. Our integrated program begins with an introduction to World Language as early as kindergarten. Your child can continue with one language through twelfth grade but also has opportunities to choose or add another language. Throughout the curriculum, we emphasize such elements as language, history, literature, arts, geography, lifestyle, and social customs and behaviors. The importance of reading, writing, listening and speaking is central to our approach. Technology is used in educationally viable ways to support and augment the program.

We offer Chinese, French, Japanese, Latin and Spanish, with 2 consecutive years of study of the same language required in the Upper School for graduation. Our teachers have a variety of teaching styles, experiences and multi-cultural backgrounds. We are dedicated to excellence within the classroom, but also to inspiring interest through connections outside: trips abroad, day trips, on-line conferences, and various clubs and activities.

Graduation Requirements:

2 consecutive years of the study of a language is required in the Upper School to graduate from Rutgers Prep.

Course Offerings:

  • Chinese 1
  • Chinese 2
  • French 1
  • French 2
  • French 2 Honors
  • French 3
  • French 3 Honors
  • French Conversation & Culture
  • French Language & Literature
  • French Language AP
  • Latin I
  • Latin II
  • Latin III
  • Honors Latin III
  • Honors Latin IV
  • Honors Latin Literature
  • AP Latin
  • Spanish 1
  • Spanish 2
  • Spanish 2 Honors
  • Spanish 3
  • Honors Spanish Language & Literature I
  • Spanish Conversation & Culture
  • Honors Spanish Language & Literature II
  • Honors Spanish Contemporary Culture
  • AP Spanish Language & Culture


Mrs. Bautista Burk is a native Spanish speaker with experience teaching all grade levels from K-12. She was part of the committee that worked on translating and developing the benchmarks for the state’s NJASK exam.

Ms. Curutchet has studied Spanish, French, Arabic and Italian and has studied in Paris and Fes, Morocco while working for a French company.

Mrs. Dixon worked as a director and co-director of the Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy (MMLA) Arabic Academy for three summers. She has also worked as an instructor for Where There Be Dragons, and led two student groups to Jordan for four week courses.

Mrs. Dutta has studied Spanish in three continents (Asia, Europe & North America) and has been teaching Spanish since 1993. She has also worked with ETS as a Reader for the AP Spanish Language & Culture exam for ten years.

Mr. Hussian intensively studied French throughout the entirety of his academic career, including a semester abroad with a host family in Besançon, France. Before joining the faculty at Rutgers Prep, he spent two years teaching ESL in public schools in different regions of France.

Ms. Kratzman studied in Madrid for both her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Spanish. While in Madrid, she conducted independent research taking oral histories from women who lived through the Spanish Civil War and the dictatorship of Francisco Franco.

Mrs. Metters is a native speaker of Chinese who is a life-long language learner. She has taught Chinese for the past six years, teaching students from the Pre-K to adults. Mrs. Metters has studied German & French and is currently teaching herself Japanese.

Mr. Schiller holds an MAT in Latin and Classical Humanities from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a BA in Greek and Latin from Hunter College. He has been teaching Latin, grades 5-12 since 1997.

Computer Education


The world’s dependence on computers is growing at a staggering rate. The Computer Education department believes that we are preparing students to gain a competitive advantage in the changing and challenging global economy of the 21st Century. “Computational thinking will be a fundamental skill used by everyone in the world by the middle of the 21st Century.” These words from Carnegie Mellon University help define our departmental philosophy. We believe that computational thinking is as important a skill for our students as learning to read, write, and do math.


Our mission is to provide an effective teaching environment that develops our student’s computational thinking skills. This is done through an array of foundational courses that provide exploration into a selected set of intellectual themes. Our laboratories and faculty expertise foster student engagement in computational analysis, design, and creativity.

Graduation Requirements

Computer literacy is required of all students graduating from Rutgers Prep.

The Computer Department offers elective courses. Introduction to Computer Science, AP Computer Science, and Advanced Software Design fulfill the math department elective requirement. Multimedia Design and Computer Design for Print and Web fulfill the requirement for arts electives.

Course Offerings

  • Introduction to Computer Science
  • AP Computer Science
  • Advanced Software Design
  • Multimedia Design
  • Computer Design for Print and Web

Co-curricular Information:

Field Trips

A computer programming team attends the New Jersey Institute of Technology annual programming contest for high school students. Students get a chance to compete in a problem-solving and computer-programming contest involving over 48 high schools in New Jersey.

The AP computer science students attend the Stevens Institute of Technology Workshop on High School Computer Science. Students get a chance to hear about the various fields in Computer Science. This workshop features well-known professionals in the field from MIT, Carnegie Mellon, The College of New Jersey, Stevens Institute of Technology, and Microsoft.


RPS placed 9th in the NJIT annual programming contest out of 48 schools across New Jersey.

Every year the Computer Education Department awards the top computer science students with two awards - the Dr. Edwin Oertell Scholarship award to a junior and the Computer Prize to a senior at Commencement.

Faculty Professional Development Activities and Achievements

Mr. Lake is the director of our iPhone Apps Creation Summer Camp. This camp teaches students how to design and implement iOS Apps that run on iPhones and iPads. It takes students through the creative app-making process from theory to final delivery. Mr. Lake attended the NJAIS Leadership Institute "Blueprint for Leadership" which develops teachers to become leaders in independent schools.

Theater & Dance


The Upper School program offers both curricular and extracurricular opportunities for students to explore the theater and dance as art forms. Whether motivated by a curiosity to try something new or by a continuing interest in a discipline, students can explore several different aspects of performance art forms or choose to specialize. Through performing, students learn to use their voices and bodies expressively, to analyze and enliven a text, to think and create on their feet, to physicalize abstract ideas, and to present themselves confidently in front of an audience. Recent alumni have continued their performing in college, where their theatrical adventures have included acting, directing, designing, and stage-managing in productions as well as completing majors and minors in theater performance and production.

Two year-long acting electives are offered each year. Introduction to Acting is offered every year; advanced acting electives rotate so that students can take a four-year sequence with a different emphasis each year.

The elective Topics in Dance welcomes new as well as experienced dancers to explore multiple dance forms, including hip hop, contemporary, concert and international forms. Offered through a special partnership with Rutgers University, Mason Gross School of the Arts, the program gives students access to resources at the college as well as the opportunity to dance with live percussion and music accompaniment. The Spring Dance Concert showcases student work from the program.

Extracurricular offerings include two major theater productions each year, some of which incorporate dance, an Instant Theater Festival, and the school’s Diwali celebration, which includes dance performances by students from all divisions of the campus.

Graduation requirements

Two credits in the Arts are required for graduation. Each course counts as one credit towards this graduation requirement.

Course offerings

  • Introduction to Acting
  • Topics in Dance
  • Scene Study
  • Solo Performance
  • Improvisation

Co-curricular Information

The extracurricular Upper School theater program seeks to

  • involve interested students in a variety of aspects of the theater;
  • expose its audiences, actors, and technicians to a wide range of theater styles, periods, and playwrights;
  • expand the range and develop the skills of its participants; and
  • promote theater as an enjoyable and thought-provoking art form.


Two “mainstage” non-musical plays are produced in the Upper School each year, though some of the productions incorporate music and dance. In addition to performing, students build the sets, participate in design decisions, hang lights and configure audio equipment, and run the show during performances, with a student stage manager calling all of the cues. Rehearsals and tech sessions are held after school and on occasional weekends. Recent productions have included works ranging in style from Shakespeare to science fiction, with cast sizes ranging from ten to 25. Holley Hall’s flexible performance space provides the opportunity for stages customized to each production, including varied stage configurations and design styles.

The Spring Dance Concert is designed as a celebration of the students' talents, showcasing forms of dance studied inside and outside of school. Student performances include works in the genres of Modern, Ballet, Hip Hop, Theater Dance, Indian Dance, and Classical Chinese Dance. The dancers also have the opportunity to present their own movement studies, demonstrating their choreography skills and creativity.

Instant Theater Festival

Each May, starting in 2003, Rutgers Prep students have produced and organized an Instant Theater Festival (ITF). The ITF is a fast-paced adventure compressing the entire play production process into a little more than 24 hours. Student playwrights are assigned to write a script for a small group of student actors. After scripts are submitted one Saturday morning, directors and actors arrive to begin rehearsing. A team of students finds and makes props and costumes as others configure lighting and sound effects. That evening several world-premiere short plays, all related to the festival theme, are performed for an exhilarated audience.

Recent Achievements

Recent theatrical productions include “A Wrinkle in Time,” “Much Ado about Nothing,” and “Almost, Maine.” In 2015, Rutgers Prep produced a world-premiere adaptation of “The Two Princesses of Bamarre” by Gail Carson Levine, who attended a performance. Students from Rutgers Prep have performed in McCarter Theater’s production of “A Christmas Carol,” and as part of the Show Choir at Paper Mill Playhouse.

Faculty Professional Development Activities and Achievements

Department Chair Cora Turlish was a Directing Fellow in the 2014 Directing Workshop for Theater Educators at The Juilliard School. Her recent workshops include acting intensives with the Fiasco and Red Bull Theater Companies as well as “Making Theater without a Script” with Elevator Repair Service. She has also studied Improvisation with The Upright Citizens Brigade and Playwriting at Primary Stages.

Olivia Mode-Cater serves on the adjunct faculty of the Dance Department at Rutgers University supervising graduate student teaching interns and teaching several courses at the undergraduate and graduate level. She has presented on dance education at various conferences including NJAHPERD and NJ Charter Schools Conference and will be presenting at this year’s National Dance Education Organization Conference in San Antonio, TX. She has earned several recognitions for her teaching: 2012 Nancy Higginson Door Award, 2012 New Jersey Distinguished Student Teacher Award, and 2013 Union County Superintendent Round Table’s Teacher Excellence Award.



The Music Program at Rutgers Prep aims to develop and nurture the musical soul that resides in every student. The Music Department offers musical training and instruction in music literacy, listening, performance and appreciation of varied eras, styles and cultures. Our music programs promote confidence, self-esteem, sensitivity and inner discipline within each student as it encourages cooperation and teamwork within the school and the community.

Graduation Requirements

Students in the Upper School are required to take two full credits of an arts course along with their academic requirements to graduate. They may select a music course from a variety of offerings to fulfill this requirement.

Courses Offerings

  • Music Theory/Composition
  • Upper School Orchestra
  • Chamber Orchestra (auditioned)
  • Women’s Vocal Chamber Ensemble (auditioned)
  • Madrigals Singers (auditioned)
  • Concert Choir
  • Concert Band
  • Brass Ensemble
  • Saxophone Ensemble


Lyssandra Stephenson – Department Chair, Director of String Orchestras, IMI Coordinator

Dr. Colin Britt - Director of Choirs, Music Theory

Lisa Peterson –Director of Bands

Anna Espinoza – Lower School Music Teacher


Each year the Music Department presents two annual concerts for Band, Choir and Orchestra. These take place at RPS Pegeen O'Connell Dining Commons (Band), Voorhees Chapel in New Brunswick (Choir), and the Christ Episcopal Church in New Brunswick (Orchestra).

Region and All-State Opportunities

Each year talented RPS musicians are selected to audition for and perform in New Jersey Regional and All State Choir and Orchestra. Choir students annually are chosen to be members of the American Choral Directors Association Eastern Division and National High School Honor Choirs. Madrigal Singers and Women’s Vocal Chamber Ensemble annually participate in the New Jersey ACDA High School Choral Festival and regularly receive ratings of excellent and superior.

Co-curricular Information

Jazz Band

Jazz Band is comprised of upper school students who have been playing for a minimum of three years. The ensemble meets once a week before school. Students are expected to learn their music via home practice.

Private Music Lessons

Rutgers Preparatory offers private music instruction in violin, viola, beginning cello and bass, flute, and piano. Private music instruction is scheduled after 3 p.m. The fee for music lessons is $40 for 30 minutes, $55 for 45 minutes and $70 for 60 minutes. Payment is made directly to the private music instructor. There is a $110 annual fee per family to enroll in the Private Music Lesson Program.

Students interested in taking lessons should email Mrs. Lyssandra Stephenson, Coordinator of Independent Music Instructor Program: stephenson@rutgersprep.org



The Art department directs students toward creating artworks revealing of personal thought and feeling. Professional artists guide students to create their own fine art statements and understand those of others. The studio provides an atmosphere for the casual and curious as well as the serious and focused, allowing for risk-taking and rigorous craftsmanship. The graduating Rutgers Preparatory School senior who has applied him/herself in the art department will enter college with skilled hands, deft critical awareness and distinct personal vision.

Graduation Requirements

Students in the Upper School must meet the minimum requirement of completing two (2) arts courses for graduation.

Courses Offerings

  • Drawing and Design (full year)
  • Intermediate Art Making (full year)
  • Critique and Production 1 (full year)
  • Critique and Production 2 (full year)
  • Ceramics 1 (full year)
  • Ceramics 2 / 3 (fall / spring)
  • Ceramics 4 / 5 (fall / spring)
  • Senior Ceramics (full year)
  • Architecture 1 (full year)
  • Architecture 2 / 3 (fall / spring)
  • Architecture 4 / 5 (fall / spring)
  • Photography 1 (full year)
  • Photography 2 / 3 (fall / spring)
  • Photography 4 / 5 (fall / spring)


Scot J. Wittman – Department Chair, Photography Teacher

Circe Dunnell – Drawing and Painting Teacher

Charles Lid –Ceramics Teacher

Derrick Laurion – Architecture Teacher

More about the Arts