The Pathways to Success 

The Pathways to Success represent the cross-disciplinary skills and dispositions that Casco Bay High School strives to have all students achieve before graduation. The Pathways were adopted in its revised form by CBHS faculty in the spring of 2012 and was introduced to the broader community in fall 2012. Students will routinely reflect upon aspects of the Pathways – and their individual progress and achievement - during conferences and expeditions. 

Academic Program

A set of distinct practices define Casco Bay High School’s academic program.

Learning Expeditions

Our curriculum is organized around Learning Expeditions. Learning Expeditions are long-term, in-depth studies of a single topic that explore vital guiding questions. They incorporate standards and involve fieldwork, service and research, culminating in a project, product or performance. Expeditions require strong habits of work and quality thinking that come through the daily rituals of reading, writing, research, problem solving, and discussion. Individual and group projects are designed to unify and ignite student learning by calling for concrete products or actions that address authentic problems, typically with a component of social or environmental justice. In past expeditions, students explored topics ranging from Portland’s Working Waterfront to Ancient Greece, from Flu Pandemics to Hurricane Sandy; they investigated questions from “How and why do I change the world?” to “What is the impact of a generation?”

In 2013 CBHS was named 1 of 20 “Deeper Learning” schools in the nation by Getting Smart.

Rigorous Academics and Focus on College Preparation

CBHS has a rigorous curriculum and promotes a high level of student engagement through real- world learning focused on issues of concern to teenagers. All students will meet college entrance requirements by graduation and will be proficient in the core subject areas of English, math, science, and social studies. We also place a strong emphasis on world language, wellness and the arts. Staff members take students to visit colleges annually and help them through the college application and financial aid process, especially in Crew and Senior Humanities. 

Building Character and an Ethic of Service

Students learn that values such as collaboration, perseverance, and craftsmanship are essential to the production of high quality work. Casco Bay's paramount values - best represented in the Pathways to Success (see page 11) - are routinely assessed, reflected upon and taught. Service to the community is an ethic that permeates CBHS. Students will experience authentic service to the community as an important element of their academic work, including expeditions. At CBHS, we are all crew, not passengers. Each year has its own theme designed to build character by providing numerous opportunities to learn, practice and demonstrate the trait.

9th Grade: Community 10 Grade: Stewardship 11th Grade: Service 12th Grade: Leadership


Students will often use portfolios to organize their work and reflect on their progress, for instance at student-led conferences.

Adventure and Fitness

Our innovative health and physical education program has a focus on lifelong fitness and nutrition and includes an outdoor expedition in 9th and 12th grades. This year's freshmen and seniors will spend four days adventuring and kayaking in Casco Bay. As sophomores, each student develops a personalized “wellness plan” that may be monitored and revised throughout high school.


Learning extends beyond our school’s walls; it connects to the world. Students at Casco Bay learn from fieldwork, experts, and service in addition to learning from texts. Students frequently work in the field during expeditions. In our first nine years, our students have worked with scientists, writers, politicians, businesspeople, graduate students, actors, documentarians, inventors, and more. Off-site fieldwork has ranged from deep-sea fishing to Augusta internships. When in the field, students are active investigators using the research tools, techniques of inquiry, and standards of presentation used by professionals. In addition to having students conduct research outside the school, teachers bring experts from the community into the classroom. These experiences maximize students’ motivation to learn and achieve.

Use of Primary Sources

Although our students have access to textbooks, they more often gather information from non- fiction texts, historical fiction, the arts, local experts, periodicals, and the Internet. By reading literature and exploring primary sources, students gain information-gathering and interpretive skills that they use to independently problem-solve and conduct research in the real world.

High Quality Work

Students at Casco Bay normally aren’t finished with a significant piece of work until they do multiple drafts of it. This expectation reaches across grades and disciplines. Improving on work again and again is a common practice. Teachers guide students from draft to draft. Students collaborate to assess the work of their peers. Rubrics set high standards for finished pieces and guide students as they strive to get their work to meet these high standards.

Learning is Public and Collaborative

Our students’ work is often assessed by their peers. Students read their writing out loud, solicit comments, and present project drafts for formal peer critiques. We also seek a public, outside audience for student work whenever appropriate. Having an authentic audience supports quality work with high standards – while extending the impact of student ideas and learning.

Freshman and Sophomore Year

Freshmen and sophomores take a core curriculum of six, yearlong courses that enables students to build foundational skills and knowledge in math, science, and the humanities while participating in interdisciplinary learning expeditions. All freshmen and sophomores take math, science, humanities (English and social studies), and crew. In addition all freshmen take a year of Visual Arts, and all sophomores take a year of an integrated health and physical education course called Wellness. For a sixth course, 9th and 10th graders take Spanish, French, Chinese, Academic English (for ELL students), or Executive Skills (for some students with an IEP). 





 Humanities 1  Humanities 2
 Math 1: Geometry and Probability  

Math 2: Algebra and Stats (or Math 3 or Pre-Calculus for students who completed Algebra in 8th grade

 Biology  Physics
 Visual Arts  Wellness (Health and PE)

French (1-4), Spanish (1-4), Chinese (1-2), Academic English (ELL) or Executive Skills 

French (1-4), Spanish (1-4), Chinese (1-2), Academic English (ELL) or Literacy Support/Supported Study 

 Freshmen Crew  Sophomore Crew

Elective Intensives (Casco Bay Quest, Winter Intensives, and Spring Intensives) 


Elective Intensives (Winter Intensives and Spring Intensives) 

Special Learning Opportunities for Sophomores

The purpose of the Sophomore Passage Presentation is, at the halfway point of high school, to give each student an opportunity to:

  • demonstrate who s/he is and where s/he wants to go

  • reflect on growth

  • develop presentation skills

  • share (and develop) talents and passions

    The “Sophomore Passage” is a gateway to being an upperclassman. In late spring, each sophomore will review classroom work with teachers and eventually complete a ten to fifteen minute, public presentation that addresses the overarching questions of Crew: Who am I? How am I doing? What are my plans for the future? The presentation will include a demonstration of a talent or passion as well as substantive reflection on the three questions and the Pathways to Success. The audience will include a panel of students and staff. The presentation grade will appear on a student's transcript. 

  1. Junior and Senior Year

    The goal of the junior and senior year at CBHS is to graduate each student:
    • Self Aware: with a clear sense of who they are and where they want to go.
    • Trained
    : with the skills and knowledge they will need to both follow their dreams and be productive citizens.
    • Ready
    : for college, career, and citizenship.

    Our junior and senior year curriculum will ensure all students...

    1. 1)  become more aware of themselves, their community, and their world.

    2. 2)  meet essential learning targets in math, science, and the humanities.

    3. 3)  experience structured opportunities to pursue their particular passions and interests in

      greater depth.

    4. 4)  assume greater independence and responsibility for the nature and course of their


    5. 5)  develop the habits, skills, and knowledge necessary for quality craftsmanship and

      responsible, involved citizenship.

    Juniors and seniors continue a college preparatory core curriculum through crew, humanities, math, and science as well as electives which might include second language study, a college course, a PATHS course, independent study or a course at Deering or Portland. Interdisciplinary learning expeditions will continue to drive curriculum, but, as compared to expeditions in 9th and 10th grade, junior and senior expeditions are more likely to involve fewer courses and more student ownership and choice. All CBHS upperclassmen are strongly encouraged to enroll in at least one USM or SMCC course before they graduate. CBHS students will be eligible for at least one course, tuition free, thanks to our partnership with the two colleges called U. Start Ahead





Humanities 3  Senior Humanities

Math 3, The Code, Pre-Calculus or Calculus 

 Math 3, The Code, Pre-Calculus or Calculus 

Environmental Issues or AP Env. Science

Junior Internship and Junior Journey 


AP English or AP US History 

French (1-4), Spanish (1-5), Academic English (ELL) or Supported Study 

French (1-4), Spanish (1-4), Pre-College English (ELL) or Supported Study 

 Junior Crew  Senior Crew, Senior Quest

Electives: USM and SMCC College Courses, CBHS Electives and AP's, PATHS Courses, Common Schedule Offerings, Winter Intensives 


Electives: USM and SMCC College Courses, CBHS Electives and AP's, PATHS Courses, Common Schedule Offerings, Winter and Spring Intensives 

Special Learning Opportunities for Juniors

In lieu of Spring Intensives, juniors will experience two different kinds of compact expeditions: the internship and Junior Journey. The first is a one-week Junior Internship (.5 elective credits). In collaboration with staff and community partners, students will design an internship in a field of interest. After the internship, crew advisors will help students reflect on their experience for a presentation of their learning.

The mission of the Junior Journey is to involve CBHS juniors in a one-week, cross-cultural learning experience that will expand students’ sense of both their world and who they are through service and adventure learning. In 2011, CBHS students and staff travelled to Biloxi, Mississippi and completed service projects as well as oral histories about residents whose lives were impacted by the BP Oil Spill and Hurricane Katrina. Last year's juniors engaged in a similar process of service and documentary study of Hurricane Sandy victims in the Rockaways (Queens) as part of an expedition called “The Eye of the Storm.” Students must complete substantial fund-raising so that all juniors can participate, but we expect the Junior Journey will remain a foundational piece of the Casco Bay education.

“When I walked into Juanita's house, I was shocked. The floors were torn up and dirty. The walls were broken in various places, and the windows didn't look like they did much to keep the cold out. Juanita's home is a former FEMA trailer. Juanita is an old, unemployed squatter who is unable to fix her situation. Seeing the inside of her home was very humbling to me, but knowing that the rain won't leak through her ceiling because of the roof that I helped build for her is very inspiring.”

~ Eliot McInnis ('09), reflecting on the Junior Journey to West Virginia, May 2008

Special Learning Opportunities for Seniors
All seniors will design and complete their own Senior Expedition focused on a particular passion or field of interest. Seniors will be coached through this process in Senior Humanities, publicly presenting their learning in the early spring. One requirement of Senior Humanities will be that each senior complete an application for a college or post-secondary program as well as a post- secondary plan. Senior Humanities teachers will support students through this process– with regular assistance from crew advisors and our guidance counselors. Senior year curriculum is launched with the Senior Quest (p 23) and ends with the Final Word (p 55).

[D]ata reveal consistently high-quality instruction occurring across classes at Casco Bay...[C]lassroom observations suggest that Casco Bay delivers a consistently high level of academic rigor, varies instructional approaches, and values interactions between students and teachers as a key component of learning.

~ Excerpted from the Great School Partnership's “Comprehensive Program Review,” Spring 2011 

Course Offerings

Common Schedule Offerings at Deering and Portland

All high school students in Portland are able to take advantage of common schedule offerings at Casco Bay, Deering and Portland High Schools. For the first and last blocks of the day, start times are synched so that PPS students may take a course that their home school may not offer or which otherwise does not fit in their schedule. Bus transportation can be provided to and from the home school. Casco Bay students have taken advantage of courses such as Band, Chorus, Latin, Java Programming. Public Speaking, US History and World Religions through the “Common Block.” Enrollment is subject to class size and logistics. Given the number of required team core courses for freshmen and sophomores, common schedule offerings are more likely to be an option for juniors and seniors. Please contact Mr. Hale for more information.

Early College – U. Start Ahead

CBHS is thrilled to offer the opportunity for each student to take a college course – tuition free – before s/he graduates from high school. This is a crucial part of our pledge to prepare each student for college, for career and for citizenship. We call it U. Start Ahead. USM Education Professor Lynne Miller notes that “freshmen who arrive on campus with 3 - 6 college credits gain momentum and increase the probability of graduating from college on time.” We are able to offer at least one USM or SMCC course to all interested and eligible juniors and seniors.

Certain standardized test scores (on the SAT's, Accuplacer and/or PSAT's) and a 3.0 GPA may be required to enroll in a particular course and/or be eligible for free tuition. CBHS students will be limited to courses where there is space available after matriculated USM students have completed their sign-ups. In addition, for USM, CBHS students will be limited to “100 level” classes (except by professor approval) and primarily classes that meet after 2pm on the Portland campus. See Ms. Doyle for the extensive list of potential courses. So far, nearly half of CBHS students have taken advantage of the opportunity to take USM or SMCC courses before graduation, ranging from Women's Studies to Beginning Japanese, from Oceanography to Calculus.

With SMCC, in 2014-2015, we plan to offer the following college courses on the CBHS campus, Introduction to Psychology (fall) and Introduction to International Relations (spring).

Like all USM students, CBHS students will be responsible for some University fees (which provide athletic facilities access) as well as the cost of buying course books. Participating students may be eligible for early dismissal or late arrival on some days. Taking an early college course is a significant challenge, opportunity and responsibility. Interested students must complete all of the requisite paperwork and requirements. Students must turn in their final college grades to CBHS in order to earn credit towards graduation and to have the course and grade listed on their CBHS transcript.