The O’Dowd English Department offers a rigorous preparation for the liberal arts, with a special focus on the humanities. Our rich program of reading and writing draws on history’s greatest thinkers whose timeless contributions to society address the challenges of modern life.

Students write in a variety of ways for a variety of audiences and read poetry and prose, fiction and non-fiction, classic and contemporary works. O’Dowd students establish a solid foundation of language use through their study of grammar and usage. We emphasize technological and informational resources to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.

Fine & Performing Arts

O’Dowd students experience an eclectic array of offerings in the arts. The arts programs are versed in the traditional to the avant-garde, and are cognizant of contemporary trends to provide breadth and relevance. The program is designed to foster creative artistic expression, and to support the exhibition of such work.

Students are able to study specific disciplines, such as ceramics and painting, symphonic and jazz band, acting, directing and playwriting, and participate in performance of full-scale musicals and plays. The department encourages work that is socially conscious, conceptually rich, and personally meaningful.


The O’Dowd Mathematics Department fosters understanding and appreciation for mathematics, prepares students for college-level math, and enables and encourages students to apply their math skills outside the classroom.

While some students choose Advanced Placement Calculus or Statistics, the majority of students are enrolled in a standard college preparatory sequence that takes them through the UC required Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2 or Algebra 2/Trig. Most students take a college recommended fourth year of math.

Physical Education

The physical education program involves students physically, intellectually, emotionally, and socially in the learning process. Self-discipline, support, perseverance, patience, teamwork, and sportsmanship are core to the curriculum. The physical education program is designed to help students commit to active, healthy lifestyles. Daily participation in class activities is vital to student success in our physical education curriculum.


Religious Studies at Bishop O’Dowd High Schools honors, presents, and explains the teachings and traditions of our Roman Catholic faith. We also respect and embrace the diversity of religious backgrounds and beliefs students bring to our school community. Subjects include: Catholic Traditions, Scripture, adolescent development, social issues, spirituality, and ethics. Courses are designed to provide students with an understanding of religion, ethics, and service for the person and for society. Class sessions emphasize cooperative learning, service, reflection, group projects, discussions, as well as traditional lectures. Students are required to take a religion course each semester.


Science students at O’Dowd learn to apply foundational concepts and processing skills that connect knowledge and applications. Laboratory practice, mathematical reasoning, computer skills, research and presentation, and ethics are all components of each course. Members of the science faculty strive to stimulate curiosity about the natural world and encourage students to form opinions and pursue problems in a scientific manner. The science curriculum offers year-long advanced studies in biology, chemistry, physics and environmental science.


O’Dowd prepares its students to be confident users of today’s technologies and adventurous with future technologies. Consistent access to technology encourages students’ evolution as critical thinkers, thereby ensuring them success in their future.

Students use open-ended technology-based tools that enhance the curriculum, depend on individual initiative and creativity, and provide for an interactive learning environment that draws upon an individual’s knowledge.

Social Studies

The Social Studies Department encourages students to view society as an evolving and interdependent system, exposed to constant activity, challenge, and human interaction. The curriculum includes a three-year required program plus elective courses. Student gain a knowledge of the human experience, its achievements and its conflicts, and develop a critical awareness of human interrelations. They acquire skills to understand local and world geography and cultures, as well as governmental, societal, and economic institutions. Students are encouraged to critique major events from historical, political, societal, ethical, or multicultural perspectives.

World Languages

The primary goal of the World Language Department is to enable students to communicate effectively in a second language.Teachers in the World Language Department use their diverse talents, perspectives, and experiences to instill enthusiasm for language acquisition from beginning levels to advanced placement. Students are given in-class and outside experiences designed to demonstrate connections between language and culture.