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Truly Prepared for College

At Cranbrook, college preparation is what we do best. Beyond an exceptional foundation, we provide the knowledge and guidance necessary to give our graduates the opportunity to grasp the future they desire. Even our on-campus experience is more like a small liberal arts college than a typical "high school."

We challenge our students inside the classroom and out. We make certain that they have opportunities to grow and develop, and that they feel supported and encouraged. Students learn how to collaborate with each other and with their advisors and teachers.

We do all of this with an eye toward their futures. We want our students to look back at their Cranbrook experience and understand that their hard work was well worth it, because they are now living the lives they always imagined were possible.

"College prep is so much more than what goes on in the classroom. At Cranbrook, my children learned to manage their free time, advocate for themselves, and make decisions, qualities that have been key to their college success."


Explore Our Curriculum

Sample History, English, Religion and World Language Courses

List of 6 items.

  • AP World History

    AP World History is a rigorous examination of the breadth of human history from 8000 B.C.E. to the present. Through an examination of the major themes and chronological periods of world history, students gain an understanding of the development of global processes and contacts among and between different human societies. This understanding of world cultures and their pasts improves students’ ability to communicate and contribute in an increasingly global community. Students hone their skills in analysis, critical thinking, and problem-solving through comparisons between major societies and an examination of the changes and continuities in these societies over time.  We also study geography, historiography, and current global issues. This is an in-depth, college-level course for students who are serious about history, have an interest in World History and are capable of reading, analytically processing, and intelligently discussing the topics included.
  • Current Middle East Conflicts

    Students today are coming to adulthood during the "Age of Terror," yet possess little understanding of the ideas and events involving the Middle East, and its relationship with the United States.  The questions of national security, culture, religion, and politics emanating from the 9/11 attacks, the longstanding geopolitical relevance of the region in terms of oil and other U.S. interests, and the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, all point to the growing significance of this region.  Using the "Perspectives Method," a published method developed by the instructor to teach contemporary Middle East issues in secondary schools, students are engaged directly at the nexus of Middle East-U.S. relations as we focus entirely on current conflicts — The War on Terror, The Iraq War, and the Arab-Israeli Conflict.  As students take part in "real time" historical study, they learn how to discuss challenging issues with their peers and to navigate these conflicts using media resources from around the world.
  • American Literature

    This course examines signifi cant themes in American culture and introduces students to major American authors. Core texts include The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Miller’s Death of a Salesman, and Morrison’s Song of Solomon.  Vocabulary enrichment continues. Students are expected to participate in class discussions and are assessed through quizzes, timed writing, major essays, class presentations, other projects, and examinations.
  • Creative Nonfiction

    Creative nonfiction might seem like a contradiction in terms. How creative can a writer be with true events? Writers in this genre of literature use many of the same techniques as fiction writers. They develop characters, advance the plot, define conflicts, and make allusions. The only difference is that the events in their stories really happened. The end result can take many forms: memoir, biography, travelogue, or essay. Creative nonfiction can be deeply personal, carefully researched, or both. Major texts in this course include In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, a true-crime story; Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, which retraces the final months of a troubled young man; Wild by Cheryl Strayed, a memoir about both hiking and young adulthood; and A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, a collection of cerebral and funny essays by David Foster Wallace. We also read selections from the journal Creative Nonfiction.
  • Ethics: Philosophy as a Way of Life

    Many people think of philosophy as a set of abstract beliefs. For much of human history, however, philosophy was a way of life that included questions, practices, and living in the world in concrete ways. Philosophers also sought to change the world through philosophical reflection and practice. This course explores how philosophy can be a way of living in our world. Logic and argument evaluation are taught using contemporary news and marketing. Historical examples of how philosophy informed the way people lived are studied, including philosophers such as Pythagoras, Socrates, Marcus Aurelius, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. Specific issues in economics, language, politics, and morality are also addressed. Pierre Hadot’s Philosophy as a Way of Life is the textbook.
  • Latin IV: Literature

    Students in this fourth-level course use their grammar and vocabulary skills from Latin I through Cicero and Ovid (Level III) to read and analyze new topics in Latin literature.  Readings for the course include prose and poetry by Catullus, Horace, and other authors.  The course helps students strengthen their reading and writing skills in preparation for AP Latin: Caesar and Vergil.

Sample Math, Science and Computer Science Courses

List of 7 items.

  • Biology I Honors

    Biology IH is an accelerated first-year biology course in which cells, organisms and ecosystems are examined, primarily on a biochemical level.  Major components of the course include cellular anatomy and physiology, plant and animal structure and physiology, genetics, and evolution.  Lectures and laboratory investigations provide the student with exposure to fundamental principles and methods used in the field of biology.
  • AP Physics: C - E/M w vPython

    Understanding electromagnetic forces permits understanding the internal properties of everyday objects which in turn is critical to understanding the forces that act between objects; it is also one of nature’s four fundamental forces.  As the name suggests, an understanding of Electricity and Magnetism themselves are necessary to know how they behave together.   Electricity and magnetism are core topics in any physics experience.  This course is a one-semester course, offered only in the 2nd semester, adhering to College Board’s requirements for AP credit in their AP Physics C Electricity and Magnetism (E&M) course.  VPython programming will be included for process animation (now done in progressive AP Physics courses, and in typical college Introductory Physics courses).  Students must be recommended for AP Physics C Mechanics and must be concurrently enrolled in either Physics 1 or AP Physics Mechanics.  No prior programming experience is required.
  • Stellar Astronomy

    This course offers an understanding of Astonomy from the standpoint of stars, systems of stars, and the environment between stars.  Stellar evolution is studied in detail, as is  the Milky Way galaxy, other galaxies and the universe as a whole.  Weekly lab exercises reinforce lecture material.  This course is not necessarily intended to be a continuation of Planetary Astronomy and may be taken independently.
  • Algebra II Honors

    This course covers all of the topics studied in Algebra II in greater depth and at a faster pace, leaving the fourth quarter for a thorough study of Pre-Calculus level trigonometry. The additional topics studied include right, circular and inverse trigonometric functions and their graphs, as well as analytic trigonometry. Students who demonstrate exceptional work in this class may be recommended for Calculus AB with some additional work. The instructor and department head will make the recommendation.
  • AP Calculus

    AP Calc AB
    This course covers the topics of the differential and integral calculus as described in the AB syllabus of the Advanced Placement Program and prepares students for the Calculus AB examination, given in May. Additional topics are presented after the examination. Students enrolled in this class are expected to take the AP Examination in May.

    AP Calc BC/Advanced
    In addition to reviewing topics from Calculus AB, with heavier emphasis on theory, this course covers the topics delineated in the BC syllabus of  the Advanced Placement Program and prepares students for the Calculus BC examination, given in May. Additional topics not included on AP BC exam are discussed throughout the year, with emphasis on multiple integrals after the exam. Students enrolled in this class are expected to take the AP Examination in May.
  • Multivariable Calculus & Linear Algebra

    Course designed for exceptional math students who have completed BC Calculus.  Students spend time investigating topics in multivariable calculus and linear algebra.  Multivariable calculus topics include vectors and the geometry of space, vector-valued functions, functions of several variables, multiple integration, vector analysis, and differential equations.  Linear Algebra topics include Gaussian elimination, matrices and geometric transformations, eigenvectors and values, diagonalization and discrete dynamical systems.  Students learn to use the mathematical software program Maple to aid in their understanding of the material and to complete assignments and projects.  Students are assessed regularly through traditional methods and projects.
  • AP Computer Science A

    This advanced level course is designed for the student with a strong interest and ability in computer science. The language JavaTM is used exclusively, although a student need not know the language to enroll. Emphasis is placed on programming theory rather than on the language. Topics covered include searching and sorting routines, data structures, and simulations. In addition to the regular text, students use online interactive software to study and create programs.

Sample Fine and Performing Arts Courses

List of 7 items.

  • Advanced Dance

    This is a comprehensive course for the highly motivated student who has achieved proficiency in technical skills through the intermediate level, and who exhibits creativity and expressiveness in composition and performance.  In addition to class work, students are expected to assume a strong sense of leadership and initiative for participation in after-school performances and choreographic showcases. Scheduled performances require participation in some afternoon and evening rehearsals.
  • MasterSingers

    This ensemble is for the experienced male singer who wishes to study, sing and perform a wide range of difficult male chorus literature. The MasterSingers perform throughout the community as well as for the Department’s scheduled concerts. In addition, this ensemble presents its own concerts twice a year and participates in the Michigan Schools Vocal Music Association solo and ensemble festival.
  • Stagecraft

    This course is for students interested in the various elements of theatre production "behind the scenes."  Students explore the creation of a theatre production from design to installation to the fi nal performance.  Topics include the examination of the technical elements of sets, lighting and sound from a historical point-of-view as well as experiencing hands-on construction of these elements for the fall and winter productions.  A final design project is required of each student.
  • Symphony Band

    This ensemble is designed for the advanced wind or percussion instrumentalist.  Selected members perform in Jazz Band, Orchestra and Pit Orchestra for the musical. Students have the opportunity to perform in the district and state solo and ensemble festivals, spring concert and other events.
  • Digital Fabrication & Design Studio Honors

    Digital Fabrication and Design students create sculptural forms and functional design through the use of software. Students will also explore 3D scanning as a method for capturing real world objects. Both 3D Printers and CNC machines will be used for rapid prototyping and actual works of art. Classes will take place in various locations including CAA and CIS. Students complete two minor and one major project.
  • Metalsmithing

    Metalsmithing develops the student’s creative ability through projects that utilize the plastic qualities of non-ferrous metals: copper, brass and bronze. Instruction includes forging, raising, soldering, or construction of functional or non-functional three-dimensional forms.  Creative ideas are encouraged through critiques and slide lecture discussions of historic and contemporary metalsmithing.  Creative Jewelry utilizes the plastic qualities of metal. Forging, sawing, filing, soldering and polishing techniques are examined in the initial semester. Subsequent semesters include casting, fabrication and stone-setting skills. Non-commercial attitudes of inventive design are stressed through critiques and slide presentations of historic and contemporary jewelry production and adornment.
  • Weaving & Fiber Arts

    Students in Weaving and Fiber Arts concentrate on floor loom weaving as it relates to the contemporary field of Fiber Arts.  They explore various materials and techniques including collage, tapestry, sewing, digital photography, embroidery, computerized weaving, fashion, and product design.  All activities of the weaving studio use thread as the basic material for creative and individual expression.  Beginning weavers gain a familiarity with the entire process of weaving.  Intermediate and advanced weavers take on more creative challenges to further their understanding of the loom's capabilities.  They manipulate the cloth once it is off the loom in unexpected ways.  Inspiration for all projects comes from students' personal experiences and ideas, the cultural and historical use of textiles from around the world, from fashion, the decorative and fi ne arts, and the materials and techniques themselves.