Our classes in content and style reflect the “outside the box” character of our approach to providing an engaging education for every student. The following descriptions are a sampling of on-going and recently offered classes. With a shifting smorgasbord of classes four times a year at Wellsprings, there is never a dull moment in our classrooms!


This class is meant to serve as a general introduction to the anatomy of the human body. While much of the organization of the class follows analyzing specific “systems” of the human body – cardiovascular, nervous, muscular, skeletal, lymphatic, reproductive, etc. – this class also addresses the underlying health issues that can affect each system (and its parts).

Ancient Civilizations

Did aliens build the pyramids in Egypt? This class will look at how primitive tribal groups developed into full societies. Specifically, we will look at the rise (and fall) of some of the earliest known civilizations including those in Mesopotamia, Egypt and in the Americas (Maya, Aztec and Inca).


Not quite 20000 leagues beneath the sea. This oceanography course especially looks at many of the challenges the oceans and its creatures are confronted with today. On the brighter side, it also looks at all the amazing things that exist and thrive in the deep blue seas on this planet. Lectures, class discussions, readings, research reports, along with selected films and videos, provide in-depth information and thought-provoking questions.

Climate and Community

Connects the most important environmental pressures of our times to human impact, both globally and locally. Understanding the scientific mechanisms behind climate change empowers students to better understand their role in and solutions to the issue. This course covers the basic science necessary to understand our climate and a more in-depth look at certain phenomena, guided in part by students' interests.

Community Building

The community supports the individual; the individual supports the community. All students are enrolled in this class every term, and it is required for graduation. It is an essential part of being a Wellsprings student. Credit is based on the following criteria: being present in Morning Circle; doing a daily chore; participating in weekly Silent Circle; participating in Community Meetings; participating in advisor group meetings; participating in All-School activities.

Creative Writing

This class is designed for students who enjoy writing as a form of art and personal expression. We will explore the elements of numerous literary genres (short fiction, poetry, lyrics, and narrative essays) and the power of both print and multimedia formats. To develop original writing pieces, students will engage in writing workshops, literary element development lessons, writing/author studies, and peer reviews/conferences.

Figure Drawing

It is suggested that if one can draw the human figure, one can draw most anything. Most essential forms in nature can be found in the study of the human figure. This is an introductory class for students with various degrees of drawing experience, from little or none to extensive. Using mostly black charcoal and sketch paper, students will improve skills in rendering likeness and proportions, realism and depth, various contour line applications, and shading.

Fundamentals of Guitar

An introduction to the acoustic guitar. Coursework is individualized since students start at different stages and advance at different speeds. Students have the opportunity to learn about chord formation, strumming and finger picking, scales, and song structure.


This course takes a critical look at local, national and international government. Emphasis is placed on current events and issues that are of interest to students and relevant to their lives. By understanding the way our government is run, students are empowered to take an active role in the larger community.

Health Issues

Students learn about a variety of health topics. Both how they are individually impacted and how others across the world face such issues are examined. Sample topics covered include: access to fresh food and water in the United States, the impact of technology on health, and establishing good boundaries for physical and emotional health in relationships.

A History of Superheroes

This social studies class is designed to allow students to learn about history, both ancient and modern, by analyzing heroic characters from different cultures and points in history. This will range from Ulysses and the Iliad, to a study of the Holocaust through the comic series Maus, to Superman's origins as a freedom fighter for the working class in early 20th century America .

Human Sexuality

The libido and all its facets. This class explores the emotional, physical, and biological aspects of sexuality. It provides a safe forum for healthy discussion of questions and concerns about sexuality and sexual relationships. Through lectures, readings, self-surveys, and discussion, it covers topics such as attraction, consent, birth control, STIs, and so on.

Lies My Teacher Told Me

This class will focus on making history both fun, accurate, and memorable for students. Author James Loewen addresses the truth about such events as Christopher Columbus's interactions with Native Americans, and illuminates how many textbooks ignore or downplay racism and sexism in America, and often times contain strong pro-government propaganda.


Mindfulness is the ability to attend in a nonjudgmental way to one’s own physical and mental processes during ordinary, everyday tasks. This class will look at the relation of mindfulness to various health and illness factors such as diet, physical activity, sleep, depression, and anxiety. Students will engage in discussions and activities such as creating focus wheels, making collages, and coloring mandalas, as well as different types of puzzles and strategy games. Students will be taught various mindfulness practices including meditation.

Mixed-Level Math

Undoing the fear many of our students have developed in math, our classes allow students to move at their own pace with knowledgeable support from our math team. Our classes are mixed-level, meaning that students of all abilities work independently in the same room. This allows for individualized progressive development of math skills, and also provides the opportunity for more advanced students to take on a peer mentorship role to those who wish to learn from them.

Music Jam

It is one thing to play music by yourself. Playing with others requires musicians to develop skills above and beyond learning your own instrument. Members of this class will have the opportunity to experience some of the highs and lows of trying to communicate and collaborate musically. Some proficiency in an instrument (or vocals) is required.

North American Indian Studies

Turtle Island and its people and their ways. This course looks broadly at Native American culture, history, art and music, religion/mythology, and much more, including modern day issues. This course includes field trips and guest speakers, as well as lectures, discussions, handouts, readings, cooking, art projects, individual reports, and selected films and videos.


Who am I? This course looks at the self; what is perception and sensation, what is memory and learning, the conscious and unconscious, personality development, abnormal psychology, and a whole lot more. Students participate in lectures, discussions, readings, self-surveys and interviews, along with some in-class lab/experiments.

Reading Circle

Students have an opportunity to choose books of their interests to read. Students share comments on their books individually with the teacher and with the whole class. While improving reading skills, students develop personal confidence and critical thinking.

Role-Playing/Dungeons and Dragons

Based on the role-playing game of “Dungeons and Dragons.” The intent of the class is to provide a setting that is a relaxing elective, which uses one's imagination while participating in a group cooperative effort. The class also involves using mathematical skills, reading, reference to mythology, interpersonal skills, and artistry.


This is the practical application and technique of the working songwriter. Melody, lyrics, “hooks,” points of view, and song logic will be covered. Solo writing as well as the concept of collaboration will be introduced. Participants will work individually to learn to use metaphor, extended metaphor, storytelling, line length and rhyme schemes to create distinct parts (verse, chorus, bridge, etc.) and unify them in meaningful prosody.

Small Group Communication

In this course, we will study how to work well in groups by focusing on its communication components: creating workable goals, the stages of group development, task and social maintenance roles, membership diversity, leadership, motivation, active listening, conflict resolution, problem solving, critical thinking and argumentation, planning and conducting meetings, and issues of ethical behavior.

Team Sports

This class provides a safe environment for students to get physical exercise while having fun with their classmates. Depending on student interest (and the weather), we play dodge ball, basketball, soccer, floor hockey, football, ultimate frisbee or any other game that we can enjoy as a group. Effort and a good attitude are the only expectations.


Designed specifically for seniors, the class helps students prepare for life after graduation. Credit evaluations, career explorations, researching colleges and other vocational programs help each senior develop a plan for their next phase of life. The class also focuses on all aspects of personal finance, including job hunting, banking, housing, bills, credit, as well as savings and long term planning. Students develop their personal goals, and field trips are made to help familiarize students with local resources.

Writing Skills/Essay Writing

It is a graduation requirement for students to demonstrate proficiency in three Essential Skills: Reading, Writing and Mathematics. As an alternative to taking the Oregon Smarter Balanced Assessment, students can demonstrate proficiency in the Writing Essential Skill through writing samples. This course begins with guided instruction and practice, and culminates in students producing two writing samples that meet the standards for passing.