A JK-12 pluralistic school that engages students in an exemplary and inspiring general and Jewish education.

High School (9-12)

High School



At CESJDS, writing is a mode of discovery. We emphasize a writing process through which we unearth exciting ideas about the literary texts we read. Our classes follow the "writing workshop" format during which questioning, brainstorming, close reading, and revising become second hand to all students. Throughout, the English teacher meets with each student, both individually and in groups, to discuss progress and give guidance along the way. Throughout our students adventures in literature, they are exposed to a wide variety of historical and contemporary plays, poems, novels, and essays.


The Arts pulse through the life of CESJDS. In addition to our many musical and theatrical performances, visits to art museums, and student gallery displays spread throughout the school. Students may also register for Art, Music and Theater classes. Students can paint self-portraits in Art and Design classes, design business cards in Graphic Design classes, build gorgeous stacking vases in Ceramics class, and take pictures on a photo safari for Photography Class. Musicians of all backgrounds may join Music classes, which emphasize ensemble performance, and culminates in a concert each semester. Beginners may enroll in Intro to Piano class. Those interested in Acting, Directing, or Film may take Stage and Screen, a course that has students writing, performing in, directing, and editing their own films. We help students feel comfortable in front of an audience, foster broad appreciation of music, theater and dance, and celebrate creative expression. The work of our Arts students is celebrated at Arts Chai-lights, our spectacular annual Arts gala event.

Our studios offer state-of-the-art equipment: a kiln and six potter's wheels, a photography darkroom, multiple Apple computer stations for Graphic Design and Photography studios, and a large color printer that can print life-size photographs and posters. The Bernstein Music studio houses recording and sound equipment, as well as a baby grand piano for student use.

Health & Exercise Science

Our students are students of the body as well as the mind. Through physical education classes, health classes, and courses in Sports Medicine and Exercise Science, CESJDS students graduate with the understanding that physical activity and fitness provide the opportunity for enjoyment, challenge, self-expression and social interaction. The Health and Exercise Science program focuses on lifelong proactive health and aims to promote a lifetime of healthy choices. All students must complete a high school physical education requirement through a wide variety of options tailored specifically to the individual student's needs, desires, and schedule.

A particular strength of the program is our unique Student Athletic Trainer program. Students who are enrolled in/have completed Sports Medicine have the opportunity to become Student Athletic Trainers for one of our many sports teams. The department also offers the opportunity for students to earn Red Cross certification in CPR, AED, and First Aid.

Our impressive, state-of-the-art fitness facility includes the spacious Daniel Pearl Memorial Gymnasium and our weight room. The weight room includes commercial-grade treadmills, elliptical machines, stationary bikes, 9-pin select machines for full body strength training, smith machine, and 3 full body professional free weight platforms with safety attachments and full size adjustable weight benches.

Hebrew Language

ברוך הבא   
?  אתה מדבר עברית

Imagine an environment where all students can hold basic conversation with each other in two languages!  Walk down the hallway, and you’ll hear “What’s up?” and “? מה נשמע “   In a Hebrew class, we build students’ confidence in communicating with others.  Students gain an appreciation for Hebrew literature and culture, and foster a love for the rich history of Hebrew as the shared language of the Jewish people.  We immerse students in the Hebrew language through the reading of novels, short stories, and newspaper articles, the watching of Hebrew films, conversation, songs, and  discussions in Hebrew of current events.

Always looking back as we look forward, in History classes, current events are placed in the context of American and global history.  History is not only a study of the past, but also of the present as well.  All students at CESJDS complete an engaging two-year World History survey course during their first two years of high school, followed by a year of American History.  Seniors have the option to explore their interests by taking a History elective, which includes War and Civilization, Art History, Economics, and Contemporary Issues.  We bring history to life through simulations, research projects drawn from student interest, and creative projects.
Jewish History

Students holding in-class debates about Israeli politics, or critiquing the representation of Jews in contemporary American film, or preparing a school-wide program for Yom Hashoah -- these are a few snapshots of a Jewish history class. Through engaging with the vast expanse of Jewish history, our students realize they are a part of something larger than themselves. While embarking on a rich study of Jewish history and culture past and present, our students gain the knowledge to become active, engaged, and knowledgeable Jews for life. We emphasize the CESJDS core value of Ahavat Yisrael, forming an inextricable bond with the Jewish people, past, present, and future.

A Jewish history class encourages leadership and collaborative learning, with at least one core project in each course that places students in the roles of researcher and teacher. Students are asked to apply their research through simulations, presentations, and the writing of argumentative research-based papers. Units in Jewish History courses extend beyond the mere memorization of information. Instead, we emphasize individual reflection and critical analysis of historical developments as they manifest in students' lives as Jews today.

Immigration Simulation

Jewish Text

As a pluralistic Jewish day school, our Jewish Text classes expose students to multiple viewpoints and religious expressions.  We want our students to understand that Judaism is large enough to encompass many different sorts of people, with varying ideologies, and that all of these individuals have something valuable to add to our shared Jewish community.  Just as our students come from many backgrounds, our Jewish text faculty do as well.  We are deliberate in forming a faculty from across the Judaic denominational and/or post-denominational spectrum. Our faculty members become living embodiments of the divergent views and positions that Judaism encompasses. Our hope is that exposing students not only to the multiplicity of viewpoints in Jewish texts but also to a diverse faculty will aid them in shaping and developing their own emerging Jewish identities.


Our math program emphasizes thoughtful, persistent problem-solving, while helping students develop an appreciation for the beauty of numbers.  We want our students to communicate mathematical ideas effectively through modern, real-world phenomena using the language of mathematics.  Our students break down difficult problems into approachable tasks, recognizing the patterns to solve complex problems.  While applying mathematical principles, our students are encouraged to take intellectual risks to grow as independent thinkers.  The department offers coursework in Geometry, Algebra II, Function Analysis and Trigonometry, Precalculus, and Calculus, each at multiple levels to meet student needs.  We also offer Computer Science as an elective.


The Science Department offers a range of courses in the three general content areas:  biology, chemistry, and physics. Science students are taught to apply their knowledge through hands-on opportunities: conducting laboratories and solving real-world problems, while analyzing data to arrive at scientifically accurate conclusions.  Students also communicate scientific ideas through multiple forms: lab reports, oral presentations, and classroom debates on the ethical issues that confront scientists today.  We train students to become lab assistants and mentors to younger students, and we assist them in applying for and obtaining scientific internships in the Washington, DC area.

World Languages

Not only do our students study the English and Hebrew languages, but they also have the opportunity to study Spanish and Arabic.  Our lessons embody the ‘5 C’s’--Communication, Communities, Cultures, Comparisons, and Connections. As we read, write, and speak the language, we also examine historical and cultural events, discuss original literary texts, study films, watch news broadcasts, and learn traditional cultural dances. We encourage our students to be 21st-century students of language by integrating technology into the language study, including online discussion boards, and the creation of electronic presentations and websites.

Washington, DC as a Classroom

Learning at CESJDS expands beyond the four walls of the classroom. Throughout the year, we study on-site the many cultural, historical, and religious opportunities that Washington, DC and surrounding areas have to offer. Imagine the excitement of "Visual Arts Day", when we take the every student in Upper School into the city to study the works of great artists at five different museums! Picture learning about the Civil War on the fields of Gettysburg or researching American Jewish History with primary documents available only at the Washington Institute. Envision students plotting the physics behind acrobatic acts after a trip to see Cirque du Soleil, or attending a talk-back discussion with the cast and crew of The Tempest after seeing a live production on a stage full of water!

We also are able to bring many Washington, DC experts to the school to discuss their fields with students. Recently, Jewish history students got to ask questions of Senator Ben Cardin, the ninth and tenth grade learned about the development of hip hop music from Grammy-award winner Christylez Bacon, and the entire school learned about Mozart from National Philharmonic Orchestra Maestro Piotr Gajewski. Each month, in honor of Rosh Chodesh, we typically invite a speaker to inspire students.

21st Century Learning


CESJDS is a 1:1 bring-your-own-device (BYOD) school. Students and their families can choose any computing device that best fits their needs and meets the school's minimal specifications. BYOD yields students the opportunity to understand the concepts of technology and how it applies to use in the classroom and all areas of learning. The advantages are many: Through Google Docs and various programs that encourage brainstorming, teachers can guide their students in the moment through their thought and writing processes, rather than after a paper has been handed in. Students can create films, audio recordings, and web pages as they study eras of History. In language classes they can conference with students in Hebrew or Spanish halfway around the world. On field trips to art museums, students text thoughtful reactions to a shared blog. Technology has allowed for more fluid collaboration amongst students as they learn the responsibilities of working as a team, as many will once they enter the professional world. We are encouraging our students to become creatorsrather than mere consumers of knowledge. We also guide students to become thoughtful and ethical voyagers in a digital landscape, to explore the digital world critically and act responsibly as they wield these new tools.

Critical Thinking

Smart questions are just as important as smart answers. We want students to gain the confidence to attack any problem they encounter, even the answer is not at first readily apparent. Our classroom assessments encourage curiosity and exploration. Although memorization of facts is necessary, projects, written analyses, lab experiments, and presentations ask students to problem solve and develop new ideas, adding to a scholarly conversation rather than repeating it.


Through the written word, through numbers, through speech, gesture, and image, we want students to become clear and confident in expressing their thoughts and ideas.


CESJDS is especially well-known for graduating students who are stand-out writers. Although the writing process is primarily taught in English classes, the writing process is emphasized in written work across all disciplines. This constant reinforcement helps students internalize that critical thinking and quality writing overlap: writing, like sharp ideas, can seem messy in the beginning, but through a constant process of rethinking and rewriting, complicated ideas can become clear, profound, and quite impressive. Most importantly, we want each student to find his or her authentic voice, and to feel confident in his or her ability to share with the reader something new and exciting.


Each week at our Kabbalat Shabbat assembly, a student writes and delivers a d'var Torah before the student body. At holiday assemblies students serve as emcees, guiding us through the rituals of reflection. In the classroom, students are often asked to present their findings, with feedback from teachers that speaks to content and style. Our students grow in their comfort in speaking before groups because we value the opportunities during which they may do so throughout their high school careers.


The monotony of spending hours sifting through a dusty card catalogue are over. Research is fun! At the high school level, students question, investigate, and uncover answers in the library, on the web, and through interviews, as they build their research skills. More importantly, students learn that research is a stepping stone on the path to discovery. Our research projects are designed not for students to regurgitate their research, spitting back what has already be written, but for presenting something new. Research is a starting point for developing innovative ideas -- adding to a conversation, rather than repeating it. In this respect, research is a creative act. Research skills are charted across the high school curriculum in many forms and through multiple classes that students encounter.


Once our students enter the workforce, it will be a common experience that as professionals they will be asked to work as part of a team. Collaborative projects in and out of the classroom, on the stage and on the field, during communal observances of holidays and rituals -- these are all ripe opportunities to help students discover that a team in sync can go a greater distances than any single individual. Students learn so much by working in teams: how to share responsibility, how to build group synergy, how to work with different personality types, how to bring one's strengths to a group, and how to applaud each others' successes.

Innovation and STEM

Our STEM program reaches far beyond the surface concepts of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. We engage our students in innovative thinking and problem solving; guide them on how to question and learn via an inquiry-based system; and prompt students to search for solutions to problems.



The opportunities for our students to grow as leaders while at CESJDS are plentiful. Not only is leadership a value emphasized in the majority of our classes through projects and classroom activities, but also through additional leadership opportunities that enhance the life of the school. Whether it is stage managing or choreographing the school musical, serving on the student government, writing and delivering a d'var Torah before the entire student body at our weekly Kabalat Shabbat program, being an editor of one of our many school publications, leading a holiday assembly, or being a member of our STAR (Student Admissions Representation) program -- students are encouraged to become leaders.

The leadership skills that students shape during their years at CESJDS continue into college and beyond. Alumni are involved on the boards of Hillel and JStreet on-campus, as well as fraternities, sororities, and student governments. See our alumni page to read about representative alumni who have become leaders in their field -- we are very proud of them!

Alumni Spotlight


Our students' imaginations are our greatest resource and creative expression is at the center of nearly every aspect of school life. We recognize that in fostering student creativity, we are giving students a greater sense of self, as they find their authentic voices in which to express themselves. Projects and activities that encourage film making, visual journaling, role playing, and creative problem solving are found across the curriculum. They not only are a means for students with diverse learning styles to master content material, but they also help students understand their own creative processes. Whether students want to become artists, scientists, or businesspeople, confidence in their creative abilities will be critical for their success.

The CESJDS year ends with Arts Chai-Lights, a celebration of student creativity at CESJDS. Not only does this two-hour spectacular highlight student work in the Visual and Performing Arts, but also creative work done through our other academic and school life programs -- including Commonplace booklets in English classes, poetry written in Spanish and Hebrew classes, and a collaborative Hamsa creation stemming from a minyan program. Each Friday at our weekly Kabbalat Shabbat program, the creative pursuits of our students are front and center before the entire school as we showcase a student musical, dance, or theatrical performance.

Arts Chai-Lights Media Gallery

Jewish Identity

In addition to the rigorous curriculum in general studies, CESJDS has a commitment to building and enriching the Jewish identity of its students. We place a high value on the traditions and experiences of the Jewish people, and translate that into the experiences our students encounter daily. Through both academic coursework and events on the calendar, our Jewish Life program integrates values, tradition, identity-building and culture into the every day.

Performing Arts

CESJDS produces an extraordinary high school musical each year, performed before sold-out audiences. Past musicals have included Young Frankenstein, Xanadu, Man of La Mancha, The Drowsy Chaperone, and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Each cast and crew has also raised over $2000 each year to donate to charities of their choosing. We also produce one play as well, often student-directed, including 12 Angry Jurors and One-Acts by Agatha Christie. Additionally, we showcase Shir Madness, our award-winning high school a cappella choir, and our high school bands at our winter concert, spring concert, and our annual Arts Chai-lights celebration.

Throughout the year, we look forward to bringing our students to area theaters and concert venues to see theatrical productions and musical concerts. Students also enjoy workshops with professional actors, musicians, and dancers, including workshops in ballroom dancing, African drumming, tango and flamenco dance, improv comedy, klezmer, puppetry, and Latin American musical instruments. Each year, we also honor the memory of Daniel Pearl, after whom our gymnasium is named, by taking part in Daniel Pearl World Music Day, a day dedicated to music, which includes performances and workshops by guest musicians, and a classical music concert put on by our students.

Young Frankenstein: 2015 High School musical


CESJDS is proud to offer 11 sports with 33 teams competing at Middle School, Junior Varsity and Varsity levels. Our teams compete in the Potomac Valley Athletic Conference, with the Girls Varsity Soccer, Boys Varsity Cross Country, and Boys and Girls Varsity Basketball each winning PVAC titles in 2014.

Athletics is a great teaching tool for building character and discipline in today's youth. Coaches and athletes at CESJDS share a strong sense of fair play, enthusiasm, positive attitude and competitiveness. We at CESJDS expect the students to be leaders in the school, in the community and on the playing field. We encourage students to try out for different sports to give them a well-rounded athletic experience.


We are proud of our six award-winning high school publications -- all written by, edited by, and designed by our students. The Lions Tale is our school newspaper, which comes out five times a year. Dimensions, our school yearbook, is a full-color celebration of the school year. The high school students also produces four literary magazines. Reflections is a yearly collection of students' creative writing, photography and artwork. The Melting Pot is our Spanish literary magazine and Loa Ha'ari is our literary magazine for creative work in Hebrew. Hidden Gems is a publication that collects the creative writings and artwork of homeless individuals in the Washington, DC area, with the mission to give a face -- or multiple faces -- to the problem of homelessness. All our publications have received awards from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association and the National Scholastic Press Association.

Loa Ha'ari 2015

Senior Capstone Trips

The Irene and Daniel Simpkins Senior Capstone Israel Trip is a unique and extraordinary adventure. Following their February graduation, students travel for 13 weeks to Eastern Europe and Israel, where they spend the semester living, learning, exploring and celebrating together.

They follow the historic footprints of their ancient and modern forbearers, uncover the magnificence and tragedy of Eastern European Jewish life, and discover the vibrant culture of modern Israel. Guided by teachers from the Alexander Muss High School in Israel (AMHSI), students:
  • Learn about nature and the environment, debate the complex challenges facing the State of Israel
  • Explore various approaches to Judaism, and volunteer their energy and skills alongside students from around the world.
  • Hike, bike, dance, and swim, while challenging themselves to new levels of personal growth.

CESJDS seniors develop independence, while strengthening their ties to one another and their community. They learn to live abroad and process new life experiences within the familiar intellectual, social, and spiritual context that distinguished their high school years. More than a trip, the Senior Capstone Trips are a joyous and life-altering step on the journey of self-discovery.



Responsibility/Derekh Eretz

Jewish law and practice mandate a society rooted in ethical standards, tempered with great sensitivity to the complexity of real-life situations. CESJDS adapts the practice of Derekh Eretz by teaching our students to be ‘citizens of the world.’ They are taught to take action when a natural disaster or political crisis occurs, and to assist when others are in need of help.  We also discuss and practice academic standards and interpersonal dynamics that keep our CESJDS community strong.

Love of Learning

The most important learning goal at CESJDS is to develop a love of learning for the sake of learning.  As teachers, we are aware that our passions can become students’ passions, so we create lessons that are engaging and exciting.  We value a passion-based learning environment -- we want our students to love what they do as much as we do!  Discovering one’s passion takes time and encouragement, but it is important to us that each student has the opportunity to find a passion and explore it.

Love of Torah

This value extends far beyond the text of the physical Torah. Each day, students attend Minyan dedicated to starting the day in a spiritual way.  This is a form of sacred time that enables students to build positive connections with Judaism and with their school community.  We offer a wide variety of Minyan options — from traditional prayer in Egalitarian and Mechitza separate seating settings, to alternative approaches such as Social Action, Yoga, Art, and others.  Additionally, each grade spends one Shabbat together on their annual Shabbaton.  We travel off campus to see new sites and bond in ways that we cannot during the school day.  The annual Shabbaton is a highlight for many students, as they become closer to their classmates and teachers and have memories that last a lifetime.

Love of Israel

The CESJDS community celebrates Israel in and out of the classroom.  At school, we celebrate American and Israeli holidays, and we study Israeli culture.  We commemorate the ‘Yom’ holidays with assemblies, school-wide activities, and celebration, as appropriate.  Our Yom Hazikaron (Day of Remembrance for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism) and Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) assemblies are created by and led by students, including a Yom HaShoah vigil that lasts well into the night.  A highlight of the school year is Yom HaAztmaut -- Israeli Independence Day.  The entire school joins in a friendly musical competition, singing and dancing to Israeli music.


Community and K'hillah

K'hillah is a physical "homeroom" class that students attend twice a week. It is a place to share school news, congratulate the achievements of individual students, clubs, and sports teams, and spend time getting to know peers who they may not otherwise see in their classes. The groups are a mix of high school students from every grade. Sometimes we spend time with our "Buddy K'hillah," which takes place with the Middle School. The value of community also drives our weekly Kabbalat Shabbat assembly, held in the gym - a celebration of Jewish identity, creativity, and school spirit. This weekly gathering of the entire school features a student-led D'var Torah and musical, dance or theatrical performance.

Kabbalat Shabbat


CESJDS embraces its diverse environment and we encourage our students to actively understand and create dialogue around different viewpoints of teachers, classmates, and the larger world. Pluralism, as we see it, allows students to learn about other identities and commitments, while staying true to their own beliefs.

Tikkun Olam

The concept of Tikkun Olam – repairing the world – describes the obligations incumbent upon each of us to make the world a better place for ourselves and our community. All students complete 80 hours of Community Service to graduate from CESJDS. Many students double and triple this requirement on their own accord. Students may begin, and are encouraged to start their hours while in middle school, and are provided with a wealth of resources in which to find and pursue projects that interest them.

Students at the Tech Cafe assist seniors with using technology.


Counseling and Advising

Our caring, supportive guidance staff monitors student's' overall academic and social well-being in school. Like our teachers, guidance counselors view themselves as part of an educational team. When necessary, guidance counselors will discuss issues with teachers, department chairs, and administrators in order to work out a solution to a particular problem. As part of our philosophy of helping students develop independence, guidance counselors will help students take ownership of concerns, and encourage them to discuss concerns directly with their teachers in a respectful, honest, and mature manner. In this way, students are learning how to work through challenges and disagreements with thought, care, and reflection, an important skill that they will practice for life.

College Counseling

We approach College Guidance as a holistic process that starts in the spring of sophomore year. CESJDS College Guidance staff takes a significant amount of time to get to know families and students long before college application deadlines roll around. Students are engaged in resume creation, one-on-one meetings, a college "conference" for juniors, the opportunity to explore a gap year, and CESJDS alumni panels to learn about what is next from recent grads. Our three seasoned professionals have strong relationships with college representatives from around the country, are heavily involved in professional development, and work with each student very closely to find the right fit and next step for each of them.

Class of 2018: College Acceptances and Matriculation

The list below reflects the extensive variety of colleges and universities where the Class of 2018 has been accepted and will attend. Bold indicates matriculation.

See the College Acceptances page for matriculations over a three-year period.

Beloit CollegeSkidmore College
Bennington College (1)St. Mary's College of Maryland
Binghamton University (1)State University of New York at Albany
Boston UniversitySuffolk University
Brandeis University (1)Susquehanna University (1)
Brown University (1)Syracuse University (2)
Case Western Reserve UniversityTemple University
Chapman UniversityThe George Washington University (2)
Colgate University (1)The New School
College of Charleston (1)The Ohio State University
Columbia University (1)The University of Arizona
Cornell University (1)The University of Edinburgh (1)
Dickinson College (1)The University of Memphis
Duke University (2)The University of Tampa
Eckerd College (1)The University of Texas, Austin
Elon University (1)Touro College
Emerson CollegeTowson University (6)
Emory University (2)Trinity College
Fashion Institute of TechnologyTulane University (3)
Florida Atlantic UniversityUniversity of California, Los Angeles
Florida State UniversityUniversity of California, San Diego
Franklin & Marshall CollegeUniversity of Central Florida
George Mason UniversityUniversity of Chicago
Georgetown University (1)University of Colorado at Boulder
Georgia Institute of TechnologyUniversity of Connecticut
Gettysburg CollegeUniversity of Delaware (2)
Goucher CollegeUniversity of Denver
Haverford College (1)University of Florida (1)
Hofstra UniversityUniversity of Hartford (1)
Hood CollegeUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Indiana University at BloomingtonUniversity of Kansas
Ithaca CollegeUniversity of Maryland, Baltimore County
James Madison UniversityUniversity of Maryland, College Park (23)
Johns Hopkins UniversityUniversity of Massachusetts, Amherst (2)
Juniata CollegeUniversity of Miami (1)
Knox CollegeUniversity of Michigan (2)
Lehigh UniversityUniversity of New Hampshire at Durham
Macalester CollegeUniversity of North Carolina at Charlotte
McGill UniversityUniversity of North Carolina at Greensboro
Miami University, OxfordUniversity of North Carolina at Wilmington
Michigan State UniversityUniversity of Pennsylvania (1)
Middlebury CollegeUniversity of Pittsburgh
Montgomery (2)University of Rhode Island
Muhlenberg College (1)University of Richmond
New York University (1)University of San Francisco
Northeastern University (2)University of South Florida, Tampa
Occidental College (1)University of Southern California (1)
Ohio UniversityUniversity of St Andrews
Pennsylvania State University (1)University of Vermont (1)
Princeton University (1)University of Virginia
Purdue UniversityUniversity of Wisconsin, Madison (1)
Rice University (1)Vanderbilt University (1)
Rutgers University-New BrunswickVirginia Tech
Salisbury UniversityWashington College
Sarah Lawrence CollegeWashington University in St. Louis (1)
School of Visual Arts (1)Yeshiva University


Teachers, guidance counselors and learning specialists work with students to develop strong study, time management, note-taking, writing, reading and test-taking skills.  We strive to bring all children to their personal bests knowing that each person has strengths to tap and areas of growth on which to focus.

Welcome to High School

We are committed to reimagining what secondary-level students can achieve in an environment characterized by academic excellence and Jewish values. In High School (grades 9-12), rigorous study in the classroom is infused with creativity, joy, and relevance, while activities outside the classroom are characterized by learning, vibrancy, and hands-on engagement. Students develop close connections with the faculty, enabling them to develop confidence as students, artists, and athletes.

High School Course CatalogCollege CounselingTechnologyMeet Our TeachersSenior Capstone Trip