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Signatures of
Seven Hills

Inspired by our future-focused educational philosophy, our carefully honed signature programs set Seven Hills apart.

"Our top-notch academic, athletic, and enrichment programs, coupled with our supportive culture and community, allow students to pursue their emerging interests in deep and meaningful ways."

Matthew Bolton, Ph.D. Head of School


In impassioned class discussions, painstaking data gathering and analysis, and innovative problem-solving, our students acquire the habits of mind they will need to excel — not only in college, but also in 21st century workplaces. Guided by our teachers, these learning experiences help students acquire a lifelong aptitude for thinking more deeply, pushing further, and reaching higher, not only in a school setting but in the collaborative workplaces that lie ahead of them.

Our faculty are deeply committed to innovative methods for student learning, both in and out of the classroom. It’s why they continually evolve their curricula with new content, new methods, and new approaches: to keep students engaged and excited about the material, every single day. This approach also means that our students do more than just participate; they play an active role in shaping their own learning. We always want to know: What’s catching their attention? What project was their favorite, or which one left them wanting more? Are they drawn to design thinking, or curious about other cultures? As responsive as they are rigorous, our signature programs draw inspiration from time-tested methods as well as from leading educational research at Harvard and Stanford. These signature experiences, part of a comprehensive, intentionally designed education,  ensure that your student will leave Seven Hills confident and ready to dive into what’s next.

Active Learning

By keeping our students engaged as active participants in their own learning process, we ensure that they’re ready take on challenges and confident that they can forge their own way.


Sensory integration and motor development play a key role in learning during a child’s early years. We design lessons that engage all of a child’s senses, while incorporating movement as much as possible. Our classrooms, muscle and activities rooms, gyms, art spaces, and music rooms have many resources that stimulate touch, sight, hearing, taste, and smell. Children work with materials that require large and fine motor skills and allow them to explore texture, temperature, and weight. They may use play dough one day, and practice forming letters with shaving cream the next.

On the Doherty Campus, pre-kindergarteners may study the makeup of red blood cells using a variety of materials, including ping-pong balls. In a lesson taught by a visiting presenter, the parent of a Seven Hills student, a vascular surgeon filled a sensory table with water and red and white balls to illustrate how blood cells move through plasma. Excited eyes opened wide as the students listened to the beat of their own hearts and those of their friends through a stethoscope.

Lotspeich pre-kindergarteners study the human body using relatable resources to learn about complex systems. They draw full-size outlines of their own bodies, hang them in the halls of the Early Childhood Center, and decorate them with paper organs, one by one, as they explore the various systems. To learn about the function of lungs, they blow up balloons and release the air to represent inhaling and exhaling.

In their Living Biographies, students use their research to transform themselves into a historically significant character of their choosing. For example a fourth-grader might become a mustachioed Albert Einstein, confidently and dramatically sharing his life story and wisdom with his peers.

In their fifth-grade Inventions Unit, hats that zap static from your hair, indoor clotheslines, wheel enhancements for lawnmowers, remote-controlled bird feeders and shoes that also serve as stepstools, all ­­absorb students’ attention for hours on end. After learning in social studies how early technologies helped navigators solve the challenges they faced in the new world, students research and brainstorm ways to solve modern-day problems, conceptualizing designs, creating cardboard models, and eventually building full-size prototypes.         

Learning to read critically and proficiently are crucial skills that can accelerate your student’s education at any level. Our Reading Program places great importance on developing a lifelong love for reading, and in a way that is integrated through the student’s entire academic journey. Our youngest students learn letter-sound relationships through a multisensory approach, and because 85 percent of the English language is structured predictably, children become aware of phonetic patterns even at this early age. These patterns are then taught systematically as children begin decoding words for reading and writing practice. We also introduce children’s literature, whether read aloud by teachers or selected independently by students, bringing with it a wealth of vocabulary awareness, differentiation in reading levels, and a growing appreciation for the written word. These skills continue to build through the grades, turning your student into a highly successful reader and writer, prepared for what’s ahead.

Sixth graders wrap up their intensive study of Asia with a day devoted to hands-on activities and lessons about cultures of many Asian countries, including India, China, and Korea. On Asia Day, students may learn how to play cricket, become amateur calligraphers, or enjoy a kung fu demo from a local dojo. The day ends with a celebration of Holi, an Indian Festival of Colors that welcomes the arrival of spring. Students gather outside to throw handfuls of colored powder in the air, making for a fun and fascinating experience.

Using pasta, cardboard, and hot glue, seventh-graders create towers for the Shake Table Project to learn firsthand, basic architectural principles and to simulate how engineers in places like San Francisco design earthquake-resistant structures. Students learn what’s going on beneath the Earth’s crust, and how that affects what happens on the surface. They also begin to understand how people work together to save lives.

From mid-April to the end of the school year, eighth-graders explore alternate energy sources through the Wind Turbine Project, a culminating exhibition that gives student teams a chance to apply all the physical principles they have learned for the year in an authentic design project. By designing turbine blades of differing shapes and reconfiguring gear ratios, they seek the most efficient energy transfer to power lights and mechanical infrastructure of simulated microcities.

The concepts of freedom and human rights have changed dramatically over the centuries and in different socio-cultural systems, so it’s a challenging subject to navigate. In our Human Rights and Responsible Authority unit, eighth-graders explore the history of oppression and of freedom movements, making actual and virtual visits to the museums like the Center for Holocaust and Humanities Education or by critiquing documentaries, like the groundbreaking 1968 “Blue Eyes-Brown Eyes” experiment conducted by third-grade teacher Jane Elliot.

The Tournament of Greatness gives our Upper Schoolers the opportunity to research and articulate the historical impact of a particular historical figure. In a month-long competition, freshmen and sophomores go head-to-head in a battle of historical significance. After each presentation, the combatants field audience questions about their figure’s historical impact, drawing from their extensive knowledge of the political, social, scientific, or religious context in which that figure operated. A jury of students rule and select a debate winner.

Global Awareness

We think learning one new language is just the start of understanding other cultures. By taking a global lens and applying it to advanced subjects, as well as understanding the connectedness of multiple languages, we build global awareness in our students.


From the earliest age, your student will engage with the Spanish language through storytelling, conversation, gestures, movement, repetition, and active group participation.

Students explore different countries and cultures through fun and celebratory activities during Cultural Connections Week. For example, the pre-kindergarteners on the Doherty Campus participate in a mock flight to Egypt, Chile, or Italy, exploring the country through décor, food tasting, and virtual tours.

During the holiday season, kindergarteners at Lotspeich enjoy the Festival of Lights. The celebration teaches students about the multitude of cultures from around the world that incorporate light into their holiday celebrations. Students learn about Las Posadas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas, and St. Lucia—all holidays that use light to signify hope, peace, and love. 

As part of a yearlong intensive India Unit, first graders at Lotspeich study the Taj Mahal and the Statue of Liberty, taking a virtual tour of each landmark and sharing the results of their comparison research. They also dive into the lives and philosophies of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., and how they approached peace in their societies. The students also toss brilliant streams of color powder into the air during a celebration of Holi, just before spring break.

Lotspeich second-graders complete an extensive study of bridges. Students begin the unit with a basic geography lesson called “Me on the Map,” which asks second-graders to look at their streets, cities, state, country, continent, and planet. Students study the different types of bridges and learn about bridges located everywhere from Cincinnati to a different continent. Each student then presents a bridge of their choice to their classmates and parents.

Spanish students on the Doherty Campus learn new vocabulary while helping the community. Through Doherty’s service-learning curriculum, students collect food for Open Door, a local nonprofit organization in the neighborhood. Students make lunches and practice their Spanish vocabulary as they work.

On Global Education Day, the whole Middle School comes together to participate in a day filled with speakers, learning sessions, and a culminating activity styled after the television show The Amazing Race, that takes students around the world without leaving the Middle School. The day opens with a guest speaker and students break into sessions hosted by speakers from around Cincinnati and the Seven Hills community. The highlight of the day is The Amazing Race, an interactive experience where students work in groups to complete globally themed challenges. Students run with the bulls, build pyramids, and dance an Irish jig, just to name a few.

Sixth-graders learn about latitude and longitude with a hands-on activity. At the beginning of the lessons, students learn how the lines on a globe look different than what is on a map. Using blue tape and stability balls, students recreate latitude and longitude lines, giving them a simple way to visualize the imaginary points. The activity gives students an opportunity to learn by doing.

In the Human Rights and Responsible Authority unit, eighth-graders explore the history of oppression and of freedom movements by making actual and virtual visits to museums, like the Center for Holocaust and Humanities Education, or by critiquing documentaries, like the groundbreaking 1968 “Blue Eyes-Brown Eyes” experiment conducted by third-grade teacher Jane Elliot.

In Upper School, the world language program culminates in a host of immersive classroom experiences designed to put students on a path to functional fluency in speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Each of the Upper level language courses contains a host of cultural and learning experiences, designed to heighten students’ awareness of those areas of the world in which that language is spoken or read. 

To supplement classroom learning, students in all four languages can enrich their linguistic and cultural experience through a host of study-abroad opportunities aligned with school vacations.  On a two-year, rotating basis, Seven Hills students travel to Spain, France, China, and Italy and Greece.

Seven Hills students can participate in an exchange trip to Spain. Chaperoned by Spanish teachers, the group takes day trips to Toledo, Madrid, and Segovia, as well as workshop days at Spanish Universities. Students stay with their host families on the weekends, experiencing day-to-day life of the culture in Spain.

French students from Lycée de la Croix Blanche, located in Bondues, France, visit Seven Hills as part of an exchange between the two Upper Schools. As part of the exchange, students travel to France and tour Paris and Belgium.

Our Downey Scholars Program extends our Chinese curriculum, enabling students to visit China in the summer, to immerse themselves in Chinese life, and to use what they have learned to communicate in the real world. Students learn about the culture, eat local foods, visit important landmarks, attend school, and build relationships with their host families.

Guided by our classics teachers, both trained archaeologists, Upper School Latin and Greek students travel to Greece and Italy, exploring many of the richest cultural sites in the ancient world.

In ninth- and tenth-grade, students study World History I and World History II, respectively. These courses build a solid foundation of global history that covers the dawn of civilization to present day. Students practice critical literacy skills and examine history through a worldwide lens.

Students with a passion for history can choose from electives that explore historical and social-science topics in depth. In Global Issues: Asia, students study the history of east, south, and central Asia, exploring events that shaped the continent from 1945 and on. Students examine the same time period in Global Issues: the Non-Asian World, which covers Europe, Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East. Other history electives include Introduction to Archaeology, Economics, Environmental History, Honors Modern Political Theory, and Postmodern America Since 1968.

Design Thinking

In our schoolwide makerspaces and through our innovative Design Thinking programs, students can brainstorm, plan, create, and test ideas, nurturing creativity, engagement, and entrepreneurship.


Pre-kindergarteners are introduced to STEM concepts through hands-on activities. During a six-week unit, students learn about simple machines and their uses. In a lesson about inclined planes, they create their own ramps using boxes, cardboard, and tape. Students experiment with the different types of inclines, learning what happens when the plane is moved by just a few, or even several, inches.

At our Early Childhood Center on the Hillsdale Campus, pre-kindergarteners work together as a class to build a city, complete with a road, the Ohio River, hand-painted buildings, and Cincinnati landmarks. Students talk about what they love about Cincinnati and what makes it unique before deciding on what structures to build.

The Doherty Campus’ Creation Studio is open to even our youngest students. The space is filled with hi- and low-tech materials that spark imagination. Pre-kindergarteners and kindergarteners take part in design challenges that require creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. They may be prompted to craft a digging tool to aid in the search for buried treasure, or design a shoe and put their prototype to the test. These projects ask students to think critically and create an item with a real-world application.

Hats that zap static from your hair, indoor clotheslines, wheel enhancements for lawnmowers, remote-controlled bird feeders and shoes that also serve as stepstools – these are just some of the creations our fifth-graders have developed during their social studies Invention Unit. After learning how early technologies helped navigators solve the challenges they faced in the new world, students research and brainstorm problems to solve, conceptualize designs that would address the challenges, and create cardboard models that they would eventually turn into full-size prototypes.

Lotspeich students participate in Project Math, an innovative math enrichment program that spans first- through fifth-grade. This program includes many long-term projects and lessons that connect the quantitative concepts students learn in the classroom with real-world applications. This might include a Cincinnati Council member visiting the classroom, designing a four-block region above Fort Washington Way, transforming classrooms into an arcade by using recycled materials, or developing platforms for making Seven Hills a more environmentally sustainable campus.

Our Everyday Mathematics program, designed by the University of Chicago, is inspiring and fun, making math something that students are excited to apply. At Seven Hills, we want each student to understand mathematics at the most fundamental and conceptual level, so solving problems creatively and confidently is part of the experience from the beginning. The “spiral design” of the program means that material resurfaces repeatedly and that students are continually building on previous experiences. This gives students a strong base for high-level problem-solving in later grades, as well as a chance for recurring assessments to track progress.

The Doherty Campus features the Creation Studio, equipped with Apple computers, 3-D printers, hand tools, and well-organized shelves that provide all the materials an inspired mind can desire. A highlight of the program is the Passion Project, a student-led assignment that asks fourth- and fifth-graders to identify what they love and explore it in-depth. A future fashion designer may test an idea for a raincoat on a sewing machine. Along the way, students delight in the process of discovery as much as in the results.

Our Middle School Innovation Lab asks students to approach science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) with the mindset of problem-solvers, inventors, and entrepreneurs. Because empathy and innovation are often linked at Seven Hills, the start of every project in our Middle School Innovation Lab begins with students asking themselves  and those around them, “How can I help?” “How can I make your life easier?” 

At the beginning of the semester-long Design Thinking course, seventh-graders interview people in the Seven Hills community and identify problems to solve. Working in groups, they examine a problem from all angles, and develop a prototype based on their ideas using the tools and materials they find in the Innovation Lab. Every step of the way, the students keep their “client” in mind, finding ways to put their empathy into practice. Students’ projects have ranged from a toy designed to engage animals in the Cincinnati Zoo, to a bracelet designed to remind elderly people to remain hydrated, and even a better toothpaste dispenser. The school year culminates for our Design Thinkers in a special presentation to a panel of evaluators with expertise in diverse STEM-related professions. The evaluators listen to student presentations, ask questions, and take a closer look at projects and presentations, providing students with invaluable feedback from real-world experts.

Sixth-graders apply design thinking principles during their study of Mayans, Incans, and Aztecs. Using TinkerCad, a 3-D design software, students create an artifact or temple from one of the three civilizations, designing their own or copying one they found through research. This cross-curricular lesson allows students to stretch their skills and create complex structures using computer software.

Our Upper School offers micro and macro engineering courses that introduce students to STEM-based disciplines through engaging assignments with real-world applications. Our engineering students collaborate to solve a problem, sometimes one found in the Seven Hills community. For example, students devised, prototyped, and built tools and a specially designed backpack to help a graduating senior with a medical condition as he prepared to head off to his freshman year in college.

Our four-course computer science sequence offers some of the best opportunities for students to learn problem-solving techniques and the freedom to design their own work. In Programming I, students are introduced to computer science and computational thinking through the Python programming language and real-world examples. Through a variety of supplemental tools, programming languages, activities, and contests, students gain a broad range of experiences intended to prepare them for additional areas of study in this field. Programming II is an introduction to object-oriented concepts and designs, where student build on the skills obtained in Programming 1, using the Java language to reinforce programming practices and explore object modeling and interactions. In AP Computer Science A, students explore more advanced topics in Java and object-oriented design, including inheritance, polymorphism, recursion, and searching and sorting algorithms. Computer Engineering students learn what makes a computer work as they explore hardware, digital electronics and the tools computer engineers use to design and test. This course is hands-on and students use computer engineering tools to create a real-world learning experience.

In our Entrepreneurship elective, students visit a local business and then work in small groups to solve an issue facing it, ultimately presenting their solutions to the owner. The students do this for several Cincinnati businesses, gaining experience in developing a strategic plan, pitching ideas, and reading relevant publications. Students apply their new entrepreneurial knowledge toward developing their own products. The course culminates in the Upper Schoolers presenting their ideas to a panel of business experts, who provide valuable advice and feedback.

Biotechnology, an elective class, introduces students to biotechnology career pathways and business applications. Young scientists learn about DNA, RNA, and protein technologies, as well as genetic diagnostics and forensic science. Discussions center around a host of topics, including bioethics, stem cells, and environmental management.

Learning Support

Because every individual student learns differently, we treat their educational experience as individual, too. Our talented faculty, ably assisted by counselors and learning specialists, are committed to making each student’s learning experience as fruitful as it can be.


Each student has a different learning style and academic needs. In the Lower School, we offer a Learning Support program that pairs small group support classes with trained learning specialists. Learning specialists collaborate with our school counselors and teachers to identify students who may benefit from learning support. Specialists carefully coordinate the skills, scaffolds, and strategies to best support student work and classroom learning. Smaller group sizes allow students to reflect on what they learned in class, while developing strategies to support future ready learning, in a setting where they receive one-on-one support. In our Learning Support Program, students are not only given the tools to succeed, they also discover a love of learning.

During these years students with identified learning needs have the option to enroll in Learning Lab, a scheduled class taught by a learning specialist focused on identifying and understanding students’ particular learning styles, as well as helping them develop organizational and study skills. 

Math and eighth-grade science classes are organized by skill level so that students have the extra time and space they need to best learn these areas of study.

All Middle School teachers are available to provide daily help outside of class. School-vetted private tutors may work with students on campus, in private space that best promotes focused learning.

The Upper School schedules most English, history, math, science, and world language classes by skill level so students can flex their experience based on each subject in a way that works best for them. Students choose from varied entry points to the math curriculum and an array of course options in every discipline.

All students have consistent access to extra help from their Seven Hill teachers.

Those with identified learning needs also work with experienced learning specialists during the school day.

School-vetted private tutors are available to work with students on-campus in a private space that encourages focused, individualized learning.

Social and Emotional Learning

We care about each student as a complete, complex individual. From friendship building to self-expression, we invest time and energy into making sure your student is confident, able to work with others, and happy and healthy overall.


Our educators use works of children literature and the wisdom of many different authors to introduce children to social and emotional concepts. The book “Calm Down Time” is used with our youngest students to introduce “feeling words” into their vocabulary, begin the practice of noticing feelings, and recognize that there are appropriate ways to respond to feelings. Pre-kindergarteners explore their differences and similarities in a lesson guided by their school counselor. At this age, children are developing the language skills to express their feelings and recognize the feelings of others, as well as see how people are alike and how they are different. In the Early Childhood Center, our school counselor uses the book “The Color of Us” to help students learn about self-awareness and social awareness in an accessible way.

Teaching mindfulness begins in pre-kindergarten. Our Lower School counselors educate students on how they can be mindful and calm their feelings. Counselors teach breathing techniques and help students visualize concepts with tangible objects, such as a Hoberman Sphere. Counselors believe mindfulness benefits children by teaching them to acknowledge their feelings.

Our teachers know that the best way for children to learn and understand the Seven Hills values is to teach by example. Our educators model kindness, caring, compassion, respect, and empathy in the classroom. This practice of demonstrating model behavior plays an important part in fostering students’ social and emotional development.

Both Doherty and Lotspeich provide comprehensive social-emotional learning programs through classroom guidance sessions. These are regularly scheduled 30-minute classes, provided by the school counselor, for all the students, from 2-year-olds to fifth graders. We also have added training in mindfulness practice to our classroom guidance programs.

Students study different types of breathing, learn about the different parts of their brain, and growth mindset is introduced in third-grade, integrating the concepts of brain science and mindfulness. Students discover that the best way for our brains to grow is through challenges and mistakes.

Fifth-graders at both Doherty and Lotspeich participate in the annual Kindness Retreat. This tradition brings students together for a day of dancing, music, and group work dedicated to community building while illustrating the value, and power, of kindness. Students leave the retreat inspired and empowered, taking with them a new sense of character and understanding of their peers.

Second Step is an advisory and guidance program that helps students understand the importance of managing their emotions. Using video tools and exercises, students learn that we experience many emotions throughout a typical day, and each of these emotions is often associated with a certain physical response. By learning to get their initial reactions under control and respond appropriately to what they’re feeling, students gain crucial skills for moving forward in the school setting.

Advisory and assemblies are an integral part of Middle School. During advisory, students are grouped by grade into homeroom-like classes, led by an assigned teacher. Our teachers work closely with the school counselor to develop programs and activities that meet the social and developmental needs of students at each grade level. Students are more than peers. In advisories, they become families. Once a week, sixth- through eighth-graders and faculty gather for student-led assemblies. In a manner similar to a town hall meeting, teachers make announcements, awards are given, important information about the upcoming week is shared, and students and teachers work on Second Step activities. Students are permitted to speak if they’re holding the talking stick, which emphasizes the importance of respect and good listening skills. While advisories may become students’ families, assemblies are where the Middle School comes together as a community.

Seventh-graders take part in the Courage Retreat, during which they spend the day participating in group discussions, games, and story sharing, all designed to build self-confidence and promote work with new and old friends. The retreat encourages positive leadership skills and courage, as well as the ability to make good choices. As the day goes on, students take more and more steps out of their comfort zones as they participate in activities that ignite self-reflection and insight.

In addition to serving as the ninth grade class advisor, the Upper School Counselor plans a number of class meetings for students in all grade levels on social-emotional learning topics, including mindfulness practices, healthy relationships, diversity, stress management, executive function, and inclusion.

Health classes offer a holistic approach to wellness, encouraging students to actively maintain and even improve their physical, social, and emotional well-being. These courses also provide critical information about physical education, nutrition, stress management, drug education, healthy relationships, and sex education, as well as the chance for American Red Cross certification in first aid and CPR.

The Seven Hills Athletic Leadership Team (SHALT) is based on “The Team Captain’s Leadership Manual” by Jeff Janssen, who is nationally known for sports leadership training. The program brings together coaches and select student-athletes for workshops and guided discussions, with a focus on creating successful leaders and promoting sportsmanship, ethical behavior, and integrity.

Advisory and assemblies play an important role in the lives of our Upper School students. During weekly, student-led  assemblies, the entire Upper School gathers in the Hillsdale Commons for announcements and presentations. These meetings build a sense of community, bringing the Upper School’s youngest and oldest students together in one place. In advisories, students are grouped in homeroom-like classes to participate in exciting activities, including the month-long Funuary. Advisories compete to earn points and be declared the Funuary winner. The Upper School goes all in, collaborating and creating, and having fun in the process.

Experiential Learning

We believe that your student’s interests and academic passions should be connected with real, tangible experiences, even if they extend beyond the boundaries of our campus or the school year. We’re committed to providing the opportunities they need to feel prepared for a larger world of experience.


Students take their first steps in this journey of self-discovery in our Early Childhood program. At this stage, our approach is to provide the widest possible range of co-curricular programs. In Early Childhood, we devote significant instructional time to a host of “specials” classes that are designed to pique students’ interests and to get them involved, excited, and engaged with their classmates. Students receive instruction in Spanish, physical education, visual arts, drama, music, library, and guidance. 

A visit from Sunrock Farm and its myriad animals gives our pre-kindergarteners an up-close look at goats, chicks, lambs, and even a pig, accompanied by an interesting lesson on mammal characterization. The visit also incorporates the children’s studies of the life cycles of plants and animals, as well as the importance of habitat and life cycle changes.

Pre-kindergarteners  learn What a Wonderful World  we live in through the study of a book named for the Louis Armstrong classic. Children spend time each day talking about a page from the book and research scientific facts about the world. As the lesson goes on, they craft puppets and stage a show for parents and friends, even visiting their older peers in kindergarten.

After kindergarteners study penguins, marine animals, and Antarctica, they visit the Newport Aquarium to see firsthand the creatures they’ve been talking about. Following the trip to the aquarium, students give presentations for their parents about what they saw and how certain species behave.

Students come to understand the world around them on Terrific Tuesdays. Per Lotspeich tradition, kindergarteners spend their Tuesdays exploring campus during a day of outdoor education. In the winter, students focus backyard birds as they search for nests and study their unique attributes. 

Our wide array of offerings in the arts are essential to building the poise and self-confidence that distinguishes our young students. In carefully sequenced, yearlong classes in art, music, and theater, they have the freedom to explore a multitude of art forms, and discover the unique and many ways they can express themselves.

Our students also begin to learn a new world language. At the same time, we expose them to a wide variety of world cultures and traditions through celebrations, crafts, music, and research projects.

Our Lower School libraries are a great place for our students to engage with our curriculum. Our librarians are dynamic teachers who prepare exploratory experiences that both complement what they are already  learning in the classroom, and add even more topics to the mix. We think of our libraries as our students’ window on the larger world, centers for exploration, inquiry, and discovery.

From simple keyboard skills to mastering advanced searches for research projects, our students come to use technology well, for many authentic purposes. They might Skype an expert food buyer at Whole Foods during a unit on nutrition, or use the web to interview a scientist about Alaskan salmon breeding patterns. Students are also able to take virtual field trips that add to their lessons, like cave paintings in France, South Africa, Australia, and the southwest.

The excitement to innovate starts at a young age, so both our Lowers Schools provide students makerspaces to inspire and nurture students’ curiosity. At our Doherty Campus, students design and build in a well-equipped Creation Studio, bringing their ideas to life with 3-D printers and assembling recycled materials, with the support and guidance of their teachers. Our Lotspeich students participate in Project Math, an innovative enrichment program designed to engage students in applying quantitative and geometric skills to address real-world challenges.

Our After School Enrichment Programs offer the space and supervision for your student to stay involved in learning after the bell rings. Eight-week programs like Move & Groove, Creating with Clay, Bricks 4Kidz or Mad Science offer fun opportunities during the fall, winter and spring sessions. There are also mini-sessions, which run for two weeks and will offer a one-day special event, or programs that can meet on a short-term basis.

Our Summer Camps and Programs reflect many of the same qualities of our regular school programs: hands-on, adventure-filled experiences where they can reach further and learn even more. Our Honeybee and Stingerbee programs are designed for our youngest campers, from ages three to six. Weekly special-interest programs provide a great framework for appealing activities that support academic, social, and emotional growth. Whether it’s painting or drawing, chess or tennis, acting or creative writing, every program contains countless opportunities for new discoveries and unforgettable summer memories.

Even at a young age, we like to give our students opportunities to take the lead in a team or group. Leadership roles offer invaluable experience with working with peers, learning new skills, and stepping a bit out of their own comfort zone. An important part of the Seven Hills education is the rich tradition of students presenting and speaking in front of their peers. Students assume leadership roles over their projects and hone their public speaking skills in the process. They may transform into the subject of a poem in third grade, when students present verses they meticulously memorized. Or they may become project leads while collaborating as a member of a team project to design a theme park ride and make a presentation to classmates and teachers about their design process. In fifth-grade, students take center stage in the yearly musical and perform in front of an audience of teachers, parents, and peers. Children may also participate in the Good Apple program, spending an afternoon a week aiding the Lower School community with various helpful projects. There is no shortage of opportunities for students to gain leadership skills.

In Lower School, field trips help our students to understand how their classroom conversations come to life outside the school’s walls. These tailored trips encourage discovery, foster curiosity, and take experiential learning to new heights. Here are some examples:

City Hall (Lotspeich)

Our third-graders’ trip to City Hall launches their unit on Cincinnati history. They discover the city’s infrastructure and architecture, as well as the importance of civic responsibility. Students leave the day with a better sense of their community’s past and their own role today in local government.

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (Doherty)

Fourth- and fifth-graders visit Cincinnati’s National Underground Railroad Freedom Center to learn more about the history of slavery, broadening their historical knowledge and better understanding its affect on our society.

SunWatch Indian Village (Doherty)

At SunWatch, third-graders explore both indoors and out in nature, including 13th-century-type structures rebuilt in their original locations. In the Interpretive Center, students view artifacts and learn about the rich history of the village and its inhabitants.

The journey continues in Middle School with a wide range of co-curricular courses; however, at this age students begin to have some chances to make choices, to choose their own path, driven by their emerging interests and talents.

So, while all students are required to have significant annual exposure to physical education and health; library skills; visual art, music, drama; world languages; design thinking and technology; and social and emotional learning, they can supplement these required courses by opting to immerse themselves in one or in several areas by joining one of a wide range of after-school, extra-curricular programs.

So, in Middle School, all students dedicate roughly 80 minutes a day to our immersive arts program, which gives all students a host of opportunities to explore and express themselves in a variety of media. But many students chose also to participate in after-school music, theater, or arts programs.

Similarly, while all students are required to take a robust creative writing course in sixth-grade, many choose to develop their skills further in the journalism elective or on the yearbook staff.

All of our students take a full-fledged physical education course throughout Middle School; and over 80 percent of students choose, also, to play on at least one competitive, after-school team.

As students begin to discover unique talents or interests, they can pursue them in interest-based activities or clubs. These cover a wide range of performing arts, athletics, leadership programs, academic topics, and more.

Eighth-graders selected to attend the Bystander to Upstander: Youth Leadership Summit participate in valuable, interactive sessions about personal integrity, teamwork, and recognizing personal strengths. The leadership summit is an all-day program that encourages students to stand up to anti-Semitism, bigotry, racism, and bullying.

Seven Hills offers three seasons of athletic options for Middle Schoolers. Whether it’s soccer, volleyball, or baseball, every student athlete can find a team to join.

Field trips allow our Middle School students a chance to explore the world beyond our classrooms and truly see how what they’re learning applies in everyday life. Whether it’s interacting with professionals in a certain field, studying a new ecosystem, or putting themselves in someone else’s shoes for the day, our field trips are designed to push students out of their comfort zones, and introduce them to communities they might not otherwise encounter. Here are some examples:

Indianapolis, Indiana

Sixth-graders spend two days and one night in Indianapolis, exploring the city’s museums and zoo. Chaperoned by our teachers, students have the chance to exercise independence and responsibility in a new setting and learn about a new city.

Middle School Retreats

At the end of the first full week of classes, sixth-graders get the opportunity to learn about our campus, our facilities, and particular features of life in Middle School. The seventh-graders have their own retreat for play-based activities, both in small groups and with their entire class.

Around Cincinnati

Venturing into the city together, all Seven Hills seventh-graders explore historic sites and landmarks that continue to influence Cincinnati’s story. What they learn reinforces the concepts and lessons students are studying in their history and English classes.

Adventure Treks

At the beginning of their eighth-grade year, students travel to Pisgah National Forest, in the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina, for a four-day camping trip. The endeavor is planned and designed by Adventure Treks, a national leader in outdoor education. In the company of their classmates and teachers, students take on a variety of challenges (like rock climbing, whitewater rafting, and overnight camping) that work to create a shared identity for the entire grade. Learning what it means to be both a member and a leader of a community, they return to campus with a renewed sense of identity and purpose.

Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education

In conjunction with studying the rise of fascism in the 20th century and reading Lord of the Flies, eighth-graders visit the Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education. The field trip challenges injustices, inhumanity, and prejudice, and fosters understanding, inclusion, and engaged citizenship. Students have a rare opportunity to understand the tangible importance of tolerance, inclusion, and social justice.

n addition to our core curriculum, we offer electives that appeal to a wide variety of student interests, whether in the arts, science, history, English, or a combination of them all. Students can delve into music, art, and theater with a slew of fine and performing arts electives, including Ceramics, Theater Directing, Chorus, and Instrumental Ensembles. Science students can explore Psychology, while learning about the inner workings of stem cells and DNA in Biotechnology. Young historians can take Introduction to Archaeology as well as Honors Modern Political TheoryAnd for budding writers, Journalism and Creative Writing are opportunities to expand on different writing styles they learned in the classroom.

Our student clubs meet during lunchtime and feature topics like new chess strategies, the environment, activism, and more. They’re a great way for students to share their interests with others, or discover a new group of friends to connect with. Many of our clubs are fueled by the students themselves: born out of their own interests and organized by their efforts.

During and after the school day, students might also gather to prepare for a state-level Latin competition, share French food and conversation, or edit poetry and short stories for the Seven Hills literary magazine. There are always many fun and interesting ways to get involved.

Volunteering opportunities are another great way for students to get some hands-on experience in topics they care about, and to help others at the same time. Seven Hills students support local food banks, shelters, clinics, rehab centers and literacy programs.

Students can connect with Seven Hills parents and alums to find summer internships or job shadowing experiences that align with their career or what they would like to pursue in college.

For those students who wish to pursue an area of interest in more depth, Seven Hills offers the option of graduating with a concentration. Students can request a specific or unique area for their concentration, but some include Community Engagement, Engineering and Design, Environmental Stewardship, Global Citizenship, Political Engagement, Technology and Innovation, The Arts, Wellness and Written Expression. To earn a concentration, it’s required that students do one of the following:

  1. Core course requirements plus an elective, an online course, a summer course, a college course, or some other educational experience.
  2. Some combination of job shadowing, internship, interviews with professionals, public lectures, conferences, and workshops.
  3. A Challenge Experience project, community service, a job, an internship, a student project, or a student competition.

They also must write a reflection paper, perform an oral defense, and keep a log or journal of their activities.

May Term Intensives offer students the opportunity to explore their academic interests in further depth. After spring exams, when all regular classes are finished, our ninth, 10th, and 11th graders participate in these courses for five days during regular school hours. Some examples: furniture design and construction, food production and processing, medical careers, architecture and murals, and more. 

Immersive Arts

We think participating in the arts is an essential part of living a rich, satisfying life and a key element in a well-rounded education. It’s why we have a wide variety of outlets for your student to shape their artistic skills, each led by faculty with broad expertise.


The value of an arts education is instilled in our youngest students, as pre-kindergarteners and kindergarteners take lessons in visual arts, drama, and music. In these classes, we emphasize building self-esteem and the importance of self-expression, while laying the groundwork for an appreciation of the arts. Students take creative risks and challenge themselves in a variety of artistic mediums.

Equipped with professional stage lights and ample resources for inventive costuming and sets, The Red Barn on the Hillsdale Campus and the stages of the Doherty and Founders Hall “cafetoriums” are the designated spaces for Lower School drama productions. Students in both divisions perform traditional class plays, as well as choral and instrumental recitals, giving all of our students multiple performance opportunities that supplement the formal instruction they receive in visual arts, music, and drama.

Lotspeich and Doherty students delight in their weekly drama classes with our dedicated Lower School drama teacher, reveling in these opportunities to hone their performance skills. For our youngest students, our drama teacher focuses on improvisation games and practices, allowing students to make their own stories and tell them on stage.

In their visual arts class, Doherty kindergarteners participate in an all-ages art installation that goes hand-in-hand with Cultural Connections week. Students study a country throughout the year, then replicate a signature landmark in art class. During a study of Egypt, all of Doherty pitched in to recreate the Nile River. Kindergarteners filled the river with 3D fish, making an important contribution to this all-school arts project.

An array of instruments is on display when Schoolhouse Symphony visits our Lotspeich Lower School. Schoolhouse Symphony, a Cincinnati organization that brings music to life, visits Seven Hills’ pre-kindergarteners and kindergarteners to teach them about instruments, instrument families, and how sound is made. The musicians play a variety of songs, both as an ensemble and solo, and encourage students to become a part of this hands-on lesson.

The Sassmannshaus Tradition is a staple of Lotspeich Lower School’s music program. Offered during After the Bell, our after-school enrichment program, students study the violin—embarking, for some, on a journey with this instrument that may take them through their senior year in the Upper School.

Each year students take sequenced classes in visual arts, drama, and instrumental and choral music. In the visual arts, students engage their imaginations in creative projects like paintings, stained glass, masks, mosaics, sketches, cut-paper designs, calligraphy, self-portraits, and chalk drawings. Students also have the opportunity to step out of the classroom through art trips to the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Taft Museum, and the Contemporary Arts Center. The Doherty Art Show features a robust visual arts exhibition that displays the extensive and exciting work of our students for the community.

Every student from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade participates in a formal drama class as well many other performance opportunities. At Seven Hills, we believe drama classes and performances teach problem solving and collaborative skills, as students overcome challenges in both small group scenes and more extensive plays. Students begin to understand the connection between storyboard ideas and staging a finished play, as well as how their own role on stage fits in with the larger performance.

By the time students reach fourth and fifth grade, they can read and play music in 4/4 and 6/8 meter; read musical symbols, notation, and terms; and play chords. At this age, students also have access to supplemental instrumental music classes offered before and after school. Music also begins to blend with the drama productions, culminating in the fifth-grade musical, which always plays to a packed house.

Our Middle Schoolers participate in two art periods per day, including yearlong required classes in visual arts, drama, and music. As the sophistication of the material begins to increase, students’ involvement in the design and technical work does as well, offering new opportunities to not only learn new skills, but put them into action as well. During Middle School, there are more students participating in performances and the arts, so it’s a great way for your student to meet others and make new friends

During their Upper School years, students are required to participate in the arts for three semesters, but most students far exceed that requirement, having built a deep appreciation for the arts by this time.

At this level, students have the freedom to initiate and lead their own productions, including one-act plays that they write and direct, art exhibitions that they create and curate, and readings of their creative writing to classmates or wider audiences. They gain the confidence to explore more technical approaches and reach further to find their own creative expression. Whether they’re firing pots, writing and rehearsing plays, building theater sets, filling sketchbooks, rehearsing and composing music, or working with editing software, they are developing a cultural and aesthetic fluency that enriches their vision of the world and enhances their understanding of themselves.

The artistic talents of our Upper School students are recognized outside the walls of Seven Hills. Throughout the year, students participate in major arts festivals and competitions, most notably the Overture Awards and Ohio State Thespians. Seven Hills has received numerous “double superior” ratings at the Thespian Conference, and has received and been nominated for several important Cappies awards, including student acting, directing, and technical theater.  

In the winter, our Upper School chorus travels and performs around the community. They also travel to New York City in the spring, performing and experiencing the many sights the city has to offer.

Sometimes the talent comes to Seven Hills. Our instrumental music teacher often invites musical talent from the community to visit Seven Hills to teach and play with our Upper School instrumental students. The visiting musician gives a master class in his or her musical genre, and offers tips to help our student musicians better understand advanced music concepts.

Full-Participation Athletics

With our no-cut athletic program and mission-driven coaching philosophy, we seek to provide for all students, not just the most gifted athletes, the benefits of a team experience: the chance to learn commitment, teamwork, and a sense of fair play.


In Lower School, our athletic programs emphasize active participation by athletes at all skill levels. Under the guidance of skilled and supportive coaches, our youngest athletes develop the mental and physical skills that will help them succeed on and off the field for the rest of their lives. Teams are coached by experienced parent volunteers who are trained and supported by our own expert coaches.

Boys and girls play on competitive teams through the SAY (Soccer Association for Youth) and CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) leagues, bringing together students from both of our Lower Schools in an effort to broaden and develop new relationships.

In Lower School, the following sports are offered:


Soccer (Boys/Girls, grades 1 through 6)

Volleyball (grade 5)


Basketball (Boys/Girls, grades 3 through 6, Clinics held for grades 1 and 2)


Softball (grades 1 through 6)

Baseball (grades 1 through 6)

Track & Field (Boys/Girls)

Lacrosse (Boys/Girls, grades 3 through 6)

At this stage, our competitive athletic teams are led by dedicated school coaches who foster teamwork, character, commitment, and leadership qualities year after year. This model produces strong, focused Middle School teams and promotes the skill-building that culminates in our highly competitive junior varsity and varsity teams.

To maximize our students’ skill development, we offer multiple teams in each sport, so each student has the opportunity to develop at their own skill level. Our no-cut policy allows every student who wants to compete a chance to play.

In Middle School, the following sports are offered:


Cross-Country  (Boys/Girls)

Golf (Boys/Girls)

Soccer  (Boys/Girls, offered to students in grade 6)

Tennis (Girls)

Volleyball (Girls, offered to students in grade 6)


Basketball (Boys/Girls, offered to students in grade 6)


Swimming  (Boys/Girls)

Gymnastics (Girls)


Lacrosse  (Boys/Girls, offered to students in grade 6)

Track and Field  (Boys/Girls)

Softball (Offered to students in grade 6)

Tennis (Boys)

Baseball  (Offered to students in grade 6)

ielding 34 teams in 14 different sports, divided by skill level, our athletes and facilities are championship quality. Our freshman and junior varsity programs ensure that everyone gets a chance to participate. Our varsity teams compete at the highest level in the Miami Valley Conference, often winning league championships and bringing home state championship titles. Through the dedication of our athletes and the extensive knowledge of our coaches, our teams maintain a hard work ethic, strong commitment, and true sportsmanship.

In Upper School, the following sports are offered:


Soccer (Boys/Girls)

Cross-Country (Boys/Girls)

Tennis (Girls)

Volleyball (Girls)

Golf (Boys/Girls)


Basketball (Boys/Girls)

Gymnastics (Girls)

Swimming (Boys/Girls)

Bowling (Boys/Girls)





Tennis (Boys)

Track and Field (Boys/Girls)

Lacrosse (Boys/Girls)