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21st Century Learning

Creativity, character, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and cosmopolitanism, the 6 C's, are the primary skills students need to be competitive in the 21st Century. At Wye River Upper School, we have embedded a structure for students to grow in these areas across the curriculum, whether through course-based projects, working in the Middendorf MakerSpace, or gaining leadership in the arts, athletics, and internships, or community-based involvement.

Students document their accomplishments and growth in the 6 C's during their entire Wye River Upper School experience and formally reflect on their learning in preparation for a final digital portfolio presentation, a graduation requirement. Before a faculty panel, seniors use their portfolios to defend how they have accomplished the School's Twelve Demonstrations of Learning. These "Demos" are meant to foster 21st Century and Executive Function skills; student strengths and learning processes are rewarded as much as academic content.

Twelve Demonstrations of Learning


Write a cogent and persuasive opinion piece on a matter of public importance.


Exercise leadership and articulate the strengths used to be a leader.


Declaim with passion and from memory a passage that is meaningful — of one’s own or from the culture’s literature or history.


Use statistics and/or logic, to assess whether or not a statement by a public figure is demonstrably true.


Demonstrate an understanding of long and short term personal goals addressing such areas as finances, time management, self-advocacy, personal and social skills, occupational plans, health and wellness strategies and recognition of the impact of their learning differences.


Assess media coverage of a global event from various cultural/national perspectives.


 Describe a breakthrough for a team on which you served and to which you contributed to overcoming a human-created obstacle in order for the team to be successful.


Complete and critique personal performance in an internship or experiential learning.


Produce or perform an original or challenging work of art.


Construct and program a robot capable of performing a difficult physical task.


Demonstrate a commitment to creating a more sustainable future with means that are measurable.


Identify a community need and demonstrate your role in meeting it.

“21C” Projects From WRUS Students

  1. Robotics: Students constructed and programmed a robot capable of performing a difficult physical task.

  2. Forensics: Students studied Forensic Anthropology and its practical applications in criminal investigations.

  3. Music Recording: A school rock band, “The Khakis,” played for several school events and recorded their three-song demo, one of which was an original composition.

  4. Student Government: Students in traditional offices identified student concerns and community needs to address, planned events, fundraised, and drafted a detailed charter.

  5. Zoology: Students studied animal structure and behavior by observing live animals and dissection.

  6. Kindergym: Students designed a repertoire of games to develop gross motor skills and regularly delivered a class to local Head Start preschool students.

  7. Computer Animation: Using green screen technology, students created a professional-looking stop-motion animation short.

  8. Science Art: Students used scientific subjects to inspire drawing, painting, poetry, and sculpture.

  9. Computer Programming: Knowledgeable students teamed to write code using standard programming languages.

  10. Sustainable House Building Project: Students designed a “Green Thumb House,” a sustainable small house, and raised funds to construct a replica on school property.

  11. Trebuchet Design: Students studied, designed, constructed, and tested a large-scale trebuchet and taught lessons to local primary students about the physics of their design.

  12. Wye River Radio: Students publicly broadcasted radio podcasts of news, weather, music, and human interest stories relevant to school life.

Ready to explore your project as a Wye River Upper School student?

12 Demos
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