The philosophy of Sacred Heart education is framed by the assumption that education is transformational because students and educators are engaged in learning for the purpose of coming to self-understanding as those loved by God. Such self-understanding is not possible without intentional formation in critical thinking. ~ The Network of Sacred Heart Schools
Committed to educating to a deep respect for intellectual values, the Middle School at Stone Ridge seeks to inspire students to a lifelong love of learning. Our academic program across all divisions is founded upon our mission: to inspire young women to lead and serve, through lives of purpose that integrate faith, intellect, community, social action, and personal growth in an atmosphere of wise freedom.
Our Middle School program is designed specifically to serve the needs of girls in their preadolescent years of growth, curiosity, and development. Preadolescent girls thrive on interactive engagement and meaningful connections. When learning is directly tied to the understanding of self and to increased knowledge of the world, girls learn best. The Advisory and Study Hall programs in the Middle School facilitate interaction among the students and faculty. Each year, students are placed in an advisory group of nine to eleven students and one faculty member. They meet often to discuss school issues, develop peer relationships, build community, and plan activities. This work is grounded in the Developmental Designs curriculum for social-emotional health.
Our Middle School teachers believe that full engagement and inquiry fosters lasting understanding and the transfer of knowledge. As such, our program uniquely serves girls with hands-on, inquiry-based curriculum as they navigate new landscapes of learning. Stone Ridge educates using Understanding by Design as its pedagogical approach for instruction and curriculum design. Each course is grounded in essential questions which allow the girls to engage in meaningful, open-ended questions designed to foster student interest, guide inquiry, stimulate discussion, and spark rethinking over time, pointing toward intra- and inter-disciplinary ideas. Students’ understanding of skills and knowledge is revealed through flexible performance. By anchoring our courses with Essential Questions, we guide students in uncovering and constructing meaning that they can flexibly transfer to new settings, issues, and problems. Learning, for our Middle School girls, becomes an exercise of purpose, of self-understanding, and of coming to know the world in which they will soon lead and serve as children of the Sacred Heart.
English Language Arts
The English Language Arts curriculum offers a program of sequenced and integrated skills in vocabulary, grammar, writing, speaking, reading, and research. Students learn to write coherent paragraphs, well-developed multiple-paragraph essays, short stories, poems, and literary analysis essays. In Grades 5-8, students engage in research, some of which is coordinated with other academic disciplines. Honing their critical thinking and literary analysis skills, students read short stories, novels, nonfiction, poems. Students develop as communicators and thinkers; they take joy in self-expression and seek to make meaning of their experiences. Through their reading of literature, they make connections between self and the world, seeing their own lives reflected in timeless stories while developing empathy for the experiences of others.
Year-Long Essential Questions for English Language Arts:
- How does literature help us to understand our world?
- How does literature help us to understand ourselves?
- What are the elements and characteristics of effective written and spoken communication?
- How does studying literature contribute to our understanding of how authors convey meaning about both human nature and the human experience through their writing?
The mathematics program progresses from higher elementary mathematics through pre-algebra to algebra I. The curriculum encompasses comprehension and practical applications, using a variety of hands-on, manipulative resources. Through the study of mathematics, students cultivate a sense of pride, a desire for discovery, skills of cooperation, and joy. Students are challenged to stretch their math knowledge in developmentally appropriate ways. At the conclusion of Grade 8, the School makes a recommendation of the best Grade 9 math course, appropriate for each student.
Year-Long Essential Questions for Mathematics:
- How do I communicate mathematically?
- What are the qualities of effective problem solving in mathematics?
- Are there patterns in mathematics? What are these - specific to each level?
- What does it mean to reason mathematically?
- How do mistakes help me to succeed?
The Performing Arts are an integral part of educating the whole child at Stone Ridge. Through vocal/instrumental music, drama, and dance offerings, students celebrate and connect with history, diverse cultures, and their own imagination. Creative expression is encouraged through improvisation and personal interpretation during class and in performance. In addition to musicianship and presentational style, students are challenged to build technique, gain discipline through practice, and strive towards a level of excellence. Formal and informal performance opportunities allow ensemble members to learn life skills and grow in character with enhanced focus, sensitivity, teamwork, listening skills, balance, self-awareness, respect for the arts and for each other’s work.
Year-Long Essential Questions for Performing Arts:
- Why does music move people?
- How can my performing art be a vehicle for self expression?
- How do the arts preserve history?
- Do the arts define culture or does culture define the arts?
The Physical Education program helps each student explore and enhance their physical ability while continuing to understand the importance of a healthy lifestyle. In Grade 5, students are exposed to a variety of basic movement to create and develop their physical intelligence, rich with sport specific and non-sport specific units that focus on adaptability, agility, flexibility, strength and power, endurance, rhythmic and synchronized movements, stability, spatial orientation, and reactive ability. In Grades 6-8, students begin early engagement for talent development and may try out and participate in an organized sports team during the fall, winter, and spring seasons. Students who participate on a sports team will not take physical education; they may choose among an array of sports, including: field hockey, soccer, cross country, volleyball, basketball, swimming, track and field, softball, lacrosse, and tennis. This allows students to gain exposure to targeted sports of their choosing. If students in Grades 6-8 elect not to participate on a sports team, they will engage in physical education classes that will explore self-defense, swim aerobics, walking fitness, archery, handball, ultimate frisbee, and frisbee golf.
Year-Long Essential Questions for Physical Education:
- What are the benefits of physical education?
- Why is it important to move your body?
- How can we stay fit?
- How will being physically active help us now and in the future?
The religion curriculum in the Middle School presents a comprehensive study of Catholic tradition and doctrine. At every grade level, students develop a scriptural, traditional, and historical Catholic experience. The ongoing presence of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit is acknowledged and celebrated; students actively participate in liturgies. Social Action is an integral part of the academic and spiritual life as well. Students participate in a number of activities that help raise their awareness about the needs of their community and of their world.
Year-Long Essential Questions for Religion:
- How can understanding the sacraments help me become a kinder sister, daughter, and friend?
- How does knowledge of the Old Testament help me make good choices in my life today?
- Who is Jesus and how can I follow Him in my daily life?
- How is the Church a mystery?
In science, we cultivate young women, confident in their ability to actively engage in the sciences and challenged to push their limits and encouraged to embrace their mistakes. In this process, each student develops critical thinking skills to analyze and act responsibly in the world around them; this is achieved in the Middle School with emphasis on experiential, hands-on learning. Grade 5 covers a range of scientific disciplines including biological, physical, and earth science, with special emphasis on classifying organisms and allowing students to compare and contrast different animals. Grade 6 encompasses physical science, with focus on the metric system as well as force, speed, energy, motion, momentum, velocity, and acceleration. In Grade 7, students explore life science with concentrations in biology and anatomy, focusing on cell processes, genetics, and organ systems. Finally, in Grade 8, students study earth science, exploring geology, meteorology, and chemistry.
Year-Long Essential Questions for Science:
- How can we develop scientific habits of mind?
- What does research look like in Grade 5, 6, 7 and 8?
- How can we use evidence-based argumentation to make the case for our ideas?
- How do scientists recognize, describe, appreciate, understand, and organize the diversity of living things?
- What processes shape and change the physical Earth?
The social studies program fosters an environment in which students appreciate, understand, and apply important historical principles to the realities of the modern world. We emphasize the importance of being culturally conscious and socially aware of the past and present on a local, national, and global scale. In order to accomplish this, students are given developmentally appropriate challenges that sharpen their ability to think critically and to evaluate evidence. In the Middle School, social studies encompasses a broad examination of the human condition from the earliest world civilizations to modern societies. Periodically, the focus changes to emphasize particular areas of the world, and research and study skills are reinforced throughout. Students also study people of the world and explore the earth in its variety, learning to how to use geographic tools such as maps, globes, graphs and charts.
Year-Long Essential Questions for Social Studies:
- How does the study of history help us realize that ideas and actions of individuals and groups have consequences and shape events?
- Why do we still study ancient cultures and societies?
- How can you determine if evidence is valid and reasonable?
- How can we, as students, analyze and develop historical perspective on different facets of history, cause and effect, and why they matter now?
The Visual Arts program encourages students to take creative risks, develop an artistic voice, and practice important problem solving skills. Students explore a wide array of media, including: drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, and mixed media. At times, class projects are cross-curricular in nature with other disciplines to help enforce important concepts. The program also helps students to establish a lifelong commitment to the conversion of social action and the arts through a foundation built on the Goals of Sacred Heart education.
Year-Long Essential Questions for Visual Arts:
- What roles do personal voice and narrative storytelling play in a work of art?
- How is a work of art defined as a portrait?
- What is the goal of portraiture?
- How does cultural context affect a work of art?
- How does art affect change?
Middle School students have the choice of continuing to study French, if they matriculate from our Lower School, or to begin Spanish in Grade 5. Students are immersed in language and culture and interact with a variety of authentic materials that allow them to demonstrate their mastery in multiple modes of expression. Classes are conducted in the target language, and active student participation is expected as the construction of language is a reciprocal endeavor. Students complete the equivalent of the Upper School Level I of French or Spanish language, by the end of Grade 8.
Year-Long Essential Questions for World Language:
- Why learn a World Language?
- How does my understanding of language and customs impact my growth and understanding of the world?
- How do I learn about culture through language?
- What are benefits to building interpersonal relationships in the target language both in my community and within the classroom experience?
The Middle School at Stone Ridge recognizes and strives to accommodate the learning diversity of our students. Academic support is viewed as a shared responsibility that includes the efforts of advisors, teachers, learning specialists, counselors, and parents. In each subject area classroom, through direct instruction, guided practice, and differentiation, teachers work to meet the needs of their students. Additionally, during Study Hall periods, students have the opportunity to meet with their classroom teachers in either small groups or individually to receive prescriptive instruction and reinforcement of core curriculum skills. When alternative, learning support is required, the learning specialists will determine an individualized course of action and intervention.
Middle School Learning Specialists:
- Work as instructional coaches in collaboration with classroom teachers to offer strategies for curriculum design, differentiation, and direct instruction.
- Offer instruction in learning strategies to all students during Study Hall periods.
- Serve as liaisons between students, parents, and teachers for students with learning challenges.
- Recommend psycho-educational testing, tutoring, and academic coaching when appropriate.
- Create individualized Student Success Plans based on submitted documentation.
- Present individual student profiles to teachers and oversee the implementation of academic accommodations.
- Provide individual and small group instruction in learning strategies to students with documented learning differences.
In the Middle School, students are encouraged to become involved to further develop interests, skills, and friendships.
- Entrepreneur program
- Junior Chorus
- RidgeSound (a cappella group)
- Instrumental music
- Theater productions (fall and spring)
- Student Government
- Committee of Games (Blue & Gold Team captains)
- STEAM Club
An interscholastic Athletics program is available to all Grade 6-8 students in the fall, winter and spring. Learn more about Stone Ridge Athletics.
- Soccer (separate Grade 5 team offered)
- Field Hockey
- Cross Country
- Ice Hockey
- Basketball (Grades 7 & 8 only)
- Lacrosse (separate Grade 5 team offered)
- Track & Field
- Golf (Clinics)