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Upper School

Our Upper School program embodies a healthy balance between academic rigor and personal development.  As we like to say: we focus equally on head and heart.

The Upper School begins with foundational studies and expands to meet the ambitions of our students. The core experience in humanities and STEM emphasizes collaboration, student-led discovery, and original research — as well as the skills and habits of mind that allow for more advanced study. Our “physics-first” science program and our math curriculum encourage shared inquiry; our 10th Grade American Experience sequence brings together English and history. Our Advanced Topics (AT) Program is Packer’s intensive and intentional alternative to Advanced Placement; the 19 AT courses cover a wide range of subjects, including computer science, Chinese conversation and culture, and original research at the Brooklyn Historical Society, where Packer’s archives are housed. Our 40+ upper-level electives allow students to pursue specialized interests, from astronomy to choreography, journalism to mobile app programming. 

Upper School Curriculum Guide

Beyond the Classroom

We also provide learning experiences that can only take place beyond our classrooms. Our independent, student-driven study opportunities include the Independent Study Program, the Senior Thesis Program, and the Independent Science Research Program, in which students design and conduct a three-year project under the guidance of mentor-professors in college and university research labs across the city.

The Packer Symposium

In our two-week Symposium program, each grade embarks on an intellectual journey —or a literal one: every 11th Grader travels internationally at no additional cost. Learn more about the Symposium program for our 9th, 10th, and 12th Graders below, and peruse a sampling of faculty-designed Symposium offerings from recent years.

Maria Nunes
Upper School Division Head

I love Packer's focus on both academic excellence and personal development — the purpose of an education is to strengthen students’ integrity as well as nurture their minds.

Read More about Maria Nunes

Clubs and Affinity Groups

Upper School students can choose from over two dozen clubs and affinity groups.

College Counseling

At Packer, the college application process is a highly individualized experience that puts students at the center of decision-making.

Explore our Campus

Packer Campus and Neighborhood Aerial Rendering

Get to know Packer's unique and historic campus and neighborhood using our interactive map.

Program Overview

View our Upper School Curriculum Guide for course listings.


The Upper School comes together for a wide range of activities, including talks by renowned guests, such as #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, renowned artist Tim Okamura, and National Geographic photographer Andrew Evans. At weekly meetings in our non-denominational Chapel, students and teachers share news, stories, and inspiration, such as an update from the student-run Feminist Alliance, a report of student awards in the National Latin exam, and appeals to join the Kids’ Walk for Kids with Cancer (founded in 2001 by Packer students). At Packer, student leadership takes many forms, from Student Council to student-led discussions, workshops, and other peer-to-peer initiatives that give voice to a diverse range of interests, commitments, and experiences. Our Student Leadership Council is an incubator whose goal is to empower and train students who want to help their peers succeed. Our annual schoolwide Packer in Action program is just one of many opportunities for Upper Schoolers to plan and lead conversations and action toward greater social justice in our community and our world.

Extracurricular Opportunities

JV Boys Soccer Team on home field in Brooklyn Bridge Park

We view extracurricular activities as a valuable extension of our students’ learning. Dozens of student-led clubs organize service projects. Affinity groups provide important spaces for students to come together around shared identifiers. Students attend the National Association of Independent Schools’ Student Diversity Leadership Conference. Our faculty-led global travel programs offer service-learning experiences in Ecuador and South Africa. Our programs in the arts are a major force on campus, with theater, music, and dance performances, the senior art show, the Dance Concert, and the Packer Film Festival. Our athletics program — which earned 23 championships in 2017-18 — instills character, discipline, teamwork, and leadership.