Academic Curriculum

Inquiry-Based Learning

At OES, learning from day one is active, not passive. Students don’t just study science, they do it. They don’t just read great writers, they write – and write, and write. They don’t just listen to teachers, they ask questions. Each experience leads to the next one, always driven primarily by the passion and persistence of the student who serves, in effect, as the architect of his or her education.

  • Juniors research and write a magazine-length article on a topic of their choice in the Literary Journalism Project
  • Students can pursue multi-year science research projects that build on their questions and discoveries
  • Small classes foster in-depth discussions and hands-on activities

Essential Competencies


  • I seek meaning both within and beyond myself
  • I develop my understanding of the sacred
  • I investigate the world of ideas
  • I master the disciplines and skills of learning
  • I seek answers to the questions that impel me
  • I think critically
  • I test my personal strengths and challenges


  • I act with courage and compassion
  • I care for myself and others
  • I work for justice and peace
  • I build local and global communities
  • I respect the dignity of every person
  • I value and embrace diversity
  • I act sustainably


  • I design and apply solutions
  • I think divergently
  • I nurture my imagination
  • I respond constructively to setbacks
  • I construct meaning from my experience
  • I adapt to a changing world


  • I collaborate with others
  • I communicate effectively using multiple methods
  • I recognize and respect perspectives beyond my own
  • I synthesize ideas from various disciplines and areas of life
  • I take responsibility for my actions in relation to others
  • I nurture my relationship with the natural world