Discovering talents and building confidence.
Middle School is a time of transition for our girls. They begin to discover their interests and their potential to take on the world. Our faculty and programs cultivate their enthusiasm at every turn, encouraging students to explore new ideas, experiences, and perspectives.
Committed to a deep respect for intellectual values, the Middle School (Grades 5-8) at Stone Ridge seeks to instill in students a lifelong love of learning.
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 with peers and adults. When learning is directly tied to the understanding of self and to increased knowledge of the world, girls learn best.
The Advisory program in the Middle School facilitates interaction among students and faculty. Each year, students are placed in an Advisory group of 9 to 11 students and one faculty member. They meet often to discuss school issues, develop peer relationships, build community, and plan activities.
Our Middle School teachers believe that full engagement and inquiry foster lasting understanding and the transfer of knowledge. As such, our program uniquely serves girls with a 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. 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.
Academic Program Overview
- Language Arts/English
- Social Studies
- World Language
- Visual Arts
- Performing Arts
- Physical Education/Sports
- Educational Technology
- Seminar: Health and Wellness
- Seminar: Study Skills
- Sample Schedules
The Middle School English/Language Arts curriculum offers a program of sequenced and integrated skills in vocabulary, grammar, writing, speaking, reading, analytical thinking, and research. Students learn to write coherent paragraphs, well-developed multiple-paragraph essays, short stories, poems, and literary analysis essays. At every grade level, students engage in research, some of which coordinate with other academic disciplines. Students read short stories, novels, plays, nonfiction texts, and poems to hone their critical-thinking and literary-analysis skills. Students develop as communicators and thinkers. They take joy in self-expression and seek to make meaning of their experiences as readers and writers.
In ELA 5, students work to develop skills in writing clear, syntactically correct sentences and well-sequenced, content-filled paragraphs. Students learn that written communication begins with understanding the target audience and the purpose of the piece. As focused paragraph construction evolves, writing traits are reinforced, particularly organization, word choice, sentence fluency, and voice. Students work on practicing good paragraph structure, including topic sentences, supporting details, and elaboration. In reading, students learn to recognize literary and poetic devices, figurative language, and methods of connoting theme and characterization. Students study grammatical topics (including subjects, predicates, parts of speech, and sentence types) to develop clear writing. They learn that effective written communication begins with understanding audience, purpose, and organization.
Texts used: Garvey's Choice, A Long Walk to Water, D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths, How to Trap a Tiger, Sadlier's Vocabulary Workshop, and Exercises in English.
In ELA 6, the robust writing program balances the application of writing mechanics, syntax, and vocabulary acquisition, with the continued development of paragraph and essay-writing skills. Students focus on clarity of syntax, sentence structure, editing, and revision, as well as the organization and use of textual support in developing an argument. In reading, students work to identify fact vs. opinion, the author's purpose, and figurative language. They also work on summarizing and paraphrasing skills and learn to integrate textual evidence into their analytical essays. Finally, students continue to hone the higher-order thinking skills of analysis, synthesis, and creation of new meaning by studying characterization, plot, conflict, and theme.
Texts include America Street, Esperanza Rising, The Giver, Inside Out and Back Again, Sadlier's Vocabulary Workshop, and Exercises in English.
Students in English 7 continue to focus on critical thinking and effective communication. Analytical reading and annotating strategies are developed and refined. Writing instruction is framed around genre-specific attributes and the 6 +1 Traits of Writing. Through the genre study, students uncover the characteristics of various fiction and nonfiction literary genres, including memoirs, poetry, feature articles, novels, and essays. After studying models of these types of writing, students write their examples to demonstrate mastery. Grammar instruction is embedded in writing units and is informed by standards and student needs. Vocabulary instruction is drawn from Sadlier's Vocabulary Workshop and texts. In addition, the development of strong oral communication skills is a cornerstone. Classes center around group discussion and collaborative conversation. Students learn to read critically and to develop arguments using textual evidence and analysis. As well as engaging in the study of topic units, students pursue independent reading and engage in book clubs around these reading texts.
Texts used: A Monster Calls, Sadlier's Vocabulary Workshop, Exercises in English, as well as a variety of teacher-selected and student-choice texts.
Students in English 8 study various literary genres, including short stories, novels, poetry, and drama. Students examine protagonists from diverse backgrounds as they explore the forces that influence a character's decision-making and empathize with perspectives different from their own. Students work to develop a range of reading skills throughout the year, including the critical reading of literary texts, annotation, note-taking, analytical thinking, and discussion. As writers, students focus on crafting clear analytical arguments (theses) supported by appropriate evidence and close-reading analysis; drafting, revision, and editing stages of the writing process; skill in incorporating correct syntax and grammatical usage, as well as an ability to use clear and precise vocabulary.
Texts used: The Tempest, Brown Girl Dreaming, March: Book One, Sadlier's Vocabulary Workshop, Exercises in English, as well as a number of teacher-choses short stories and poems.
The Middle School mathematics program progresses from higher elementary mathematics to Pre-Algebra to Algebra I, and in some cases, Geometry. The curriculum encompasses comprehension and practical applications, privileges an in-depth understanding of mathematical concepts, and uses various hands-on, manipulative resources. Through the study of mathematics, students cultivate a sense of confidence and pride, a desire for discovery, skills of cooperation, and joy. In addition, students are challenged to stretch their math knowledge in developmentally appropriate ways.
Math 5 reinforces, enriches, and extends the concepts learned in the lower grades. Students understand the place value system and perform operations with multi-digit whole numbers and decimals to hundredths. Students work on using equivalent fractions as a strategy to add and subtract fractions and applying and extending previous understanding of multiplication and division to multiply and divide fractions. They study the concept of volume, relating it to multiplication and addition. Students begin exploring expressions and equations through problem-solving and are introduced to algebraic concepts. In geometry, students identify spatial relationships and learn to apply their knowledge of perimeter, area, and volume to real-life situations.
Text used: Big Ideas Math: Modeling Real Life Grade 5.
A required course in the mathematics sequence, Math 6 is designed to help students expand and master arithmetic skills that will serve as the foundations for higher-level math. Fractions, decimals, ratios, percentages, and geometry are revisited and consolidated to ready students for Pre-Algebra. Students learn to think critically and to verbalize why they use a specific methodology to solve a problem. Discussions are an essential part of the daily class. Students learn to connect ratio and rate to whole number multiplication and division and grasp the implications of the number system of rational numbers. Students work on writing, interpreting, and using expressions, equations, and inequalities. They also work on two- and three-dimensional shapes to solve problems involving area, surface area, and volume.
Text used: Big Ideas Math: Modeling Real Life Grade 6.
Pre-Algebra with Analysis
In Grade 7, most students at Stone Ridge are placed into one of three pre-algebra courses: Pre-Algebra with Analysis, Pre-Algebra, or Pre-Algebra Concepts. These courses build on arithmetic skills taught in previous years and serve as a foundational introduction to formal algebraic concepts. Lessons guide students through pre-algebraic skills and help them develop problem-solving and critical thinking strategies in various situations. Students develop foundational and flexible mathematical, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills in all three courses. Moreover, students in all three classes use the same textbook and learn the same concepts. The differences include
- the pace of the course,
- the depth of study of given concepts,
- the amount of practice per concept, and
- the degree of independence required of the students.
Within each class, differentiation also takes place. Students are carefully placed into one of these two levels on the basis of observations from the previous year’s teacher, grades, test scores, placement exam scores, demonstrated passion for the discipline, and ERB results.
Text used: Big Ideas Math: Modeling Real Life, Grade 7.
Algebra with Analysis
In Grade 8, most students at Stone Ridge are placed into one of three algebra courses: Algebra with Analysis, Algebra, or Algebra Concepts. These courses build on arithmetic and algebraic skills taught in previous years and are designed to guide students through acquiring algebraic skills to develop problem-solving and critical-thinking strategies in various situations. Students in Algebra Concepts work to acquire foundational mathematical understanding through rich mathematical activities and work with kinesthetic manipulatives; emphasis is placed on the procedural fluency necessary to be successful in subsequent mathematics courses. Algebra is designed to strengthen students' foundational and flexible mathematical skills and their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Instruction in Algebra with Analysis is designed for students to continue to discover, explore, and analyze new algebraic concepts within a wide range of applications. The course is designed for students to explore concepts in-depth and to progress at an accelerated pace to enhance other foundational and flexible mathematical skills, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. Students are carefully placed into one of these three levels on the basis of observations from the previous year’s teacher, grades, test scores, placement exam scores, demonstrated passion for the discipline, and ERB results.
This course begins with a study of lines, rays, and planes. Next, students learn to use correct mathematical vocabulary in oral and written communication. Postulates and theorems are covered in-depth as they relate to parallel lines, angles, triangles, circles, and quadrilaterals. Deductive reasoning is used throughout the course, especially as the students learn the two-column proof and indirect proofs. In the second semester, students continue to use their algebraic and newly acquired geometry skills to solve visual problems relating to similarity, right triangles, and circles. The course culminates by bringing together previous concepts to help students learn to derive area, surface area, and volumes of plane figures and solids. When there are too few Geometry students to run a section of this course, Stone Ridge will enroll such students in the One Schoolhouse Geometry course and a member of our faculty will supervise the student(s) engagement with this course.
The Middle School science curriculum, which draws from the Next Generation Science Standards, aims to cultivate young women who are confident in their ability to actively engage in the physical, Earth, and life sciences. In addition, the curriculum is designed to help each student develop the critical thinking skills necessary to analyze, interact with, and act responsibly in the world around them. The science curriculum in the Middle School is experiential, hands-on, and inquiry-based.
Grade 5 – General Science
Students in Science 5 begin by exploring the interconnectedness of energy as it relates to different areas of study. First, students review measurement instruments and learn about scientists' standard tools in their work. Then, in a physics unit, students explore Newton's Laws of Motion, inertia, mass, force, and kinetic and potential energy transfers. The unit culminates with a project in which each student designs and builds a Rube Goldberg machine out of recycled materials. Students also engage in an introduction to physical science. Next, in their biology unit, students explore the similarities and differences between living and nonliving things and the subtopics of food chains and webs. Finally, the year concludes with a brief study of astronomy, in which students learn about planets and moons and famous constellations.
Grade 6 – Environmental Science
In Science 6, students explore interactions between living things and their environment utilizing a curriculum aligned with Next Generation Science Standards and developed at UC Berkeley. The course begins with the concept that liquid water is essential to life as we know it and examines geologic features on Mars, looking for signs that liquid water may once have existed on its surface. Next, using a model of a jellyfish population, students examine populations and resources to seek answers to what can cause changes in population size, energy, and resources. Students then study a biodome type to explore how matter and energy flow throughout an ecosystem. In the second semester, students explore the nature of energy created in the solar system and its impact on the Earth's environment. The year ends with a capstone engineering project, in which students attempt to solve a real-world-type problem of a desert town seeking to reduce its carbon footprint without impacting its income as a tourist destination.
Grade 7 – Life Science
Science 7 focuses on living things, beginning with the smallest unit of nonliving matter, the atom, and working up to the billions of these comprising the simplest life form, the cell. Because chemistry plays an intricate role in the year's study of life science, students review atomic structure and the arrangement of the Periodic Table of Elements and learn about the primary chemical compounds that make up cells. In preparation for the cell study, students complete a unit on the microscope in which they prepare, view, and sketch microscope slides. Next, students study and compare the structure and function of animal and plant cells. Students continue their study of cells in the second part of the year by learning about cell processes, including respiration, photosynthesis, and mitosis. This is followed by a brief study of cancer and cancer treatment. Students then move into a study of genetics, first examining Mendel's work with heredity in pea plants and then using Punnett Squares to explore the probability of various genetic combinations. They also learn about several genetic diseases and their inheritance patterns. Finally, they explore meiosis, DNA replication, and protein synthesis. After students complete a capstone project on genetics, the remaining course time is dedicated to investigating the structure and function of human organ systems.
Text used: Life Science (Elevate).
Grade 8 – Earth Science
Students explore geology, meteorology, and chemistry during the year. They examine the Earth's origins, composition, and structure at the levels of minerals, rocks, layers of the Earth, and plate tectonics. They also examine how the processes of plate tectonics cause earthquakes and volcanoes. During the meteorology unit, students study the interconnectedness among layers of the atmosphere, factors that interact to cause weather, and weather patterns. Then, they analyze how these processes interact to produce our weather. Finally, the course examines matter and how elements react to produce chemical reactions.
Text used: Earth Science (Elevate).
The Social Studies program fosters an environment in which students learn to appreciate, understand, and apply critical historical principles to the realities of the modern world. Teachers emphasize the importance of being culturally conscious and socially aware of the past and present on a local, national, and global scale. Then, students receive developmentally appropriate challenges that sharpen students' ability to think critically and evaluate evidence. The Middle School social studies courses encompass a broad examination of the human condition from the earliest world civilizations to modern societies. Students also explore the Earth's variety of landforms, using geographic tools such as maps, globes, graphs, and charts. Research and writing skills are reinforced throughout all four grade levels.
Students consider the reasons for studying history and how scholars use clues to help them understand past events. Students then learn how physical and human geography has significantly influenced history. Early humans as hunters and gatherers are discussed, and students analyze how this group of people adapted to their environments. How humanity embarked on the road to civilization through agriculture completes the study of prehistory. The course continues with the earliest civilization of Mesopotamia and the Fertile Crescent; students learn about Sumerian city-states, religion, society, and achievements. The study of Ancient Egypt and Kush continues the investigation of the ancient Middle Eastern civilizations. Students then sail across the Mediterranean Sea to Greece, discussing government, mythology, and literature. Comparisons are made between Greece and Persia, and later between Athens and Sparta. The political fall of the Greeks is shown in a positive light, as the extraordinary achievements of the people are spread throughout the known world in the Hellenistic Period by Alexander the Great. A study of ancient Rome rounds out the year.
Text used: Ancient Civilizations (Houghton-Mifflin).
Students explore ancient civilizations through the lens of how they impacted the development of the world as it exists today. The course covers the ancient societies of Rome, Byzantium, China, the Maya, the Aztecs, and the Incas. Additionally, this course features units on Islam, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Reformation. Students examine each civilization's societal structure, culture, government, and religion. As they engage with content, students also gain skills in note-taking, research, critical reading, and analysis of visual information.
Text used: Ancient Civilizations (Houghton-Mifflin).
The Grade 7 Social Studies course overviews United States history, government, and politics as part of a two-year sequence completed in Grade 8. The curriculum begins with an exploration of the history of Indigenous cultures in North America prior to the 1400s. This is followed by a study of the events leading to the establishment of the original Thirteen Colonies and the factors that contributed to the American Revolution. Engaging in an analysis of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, students investigate the colonists' struggles to form a new republic and their work to create a Constitution. The year-long course of study ends with an exploration of Westward expansion, the crisis and conflict of the Antebellum period, and the Civil War.
Through experiential and project-based learning, writing, research, and note-taking skills are emphasized. Students develop reading and study strategies while using primary and secondary sources, honing their ability to acquire the knowledge and skills to interpret and evaluate the sources they encounter. Students also build their public speaking skills and strategies for collaborative work. As relevant, the study of current events is incorporated to help strengthen students' awareness of the connection between contemporary events and the history that shaped them.
Text used: My World: American History (Prentice Hall).
The Grade 8 Social Studies course continues the United States history survey begun in Grade 7. Grade 8 students begin the year with the study of Reconstruction and continue through the growth of American industry and social change of the Progressive Era, exploring the role of America in the 20th-century conflicts of World Wars I and II. Finally, students study change and progress in postwar American society as the country moved into the modern era.
Students cultivate active reading strategies through the use of primary and secondary sources. Conducting research, developing an argument, and supporting one's ideas with supporting details are emphasized. Project-based summative assignments such as debates, mock trials, and Socratic seminars help strengthen the essential content mastery of each topic. Studying current events is also incorporated to support students' awareness of the connection between contemporary events and the history that shaped them.
Text used: My World: American History (Prentice Hall)
To prepare Middle School students to be globally-minded citizens and to ensure our students' second language acquisition is in complete alignment with 21st-century education goals, we strive to offer our students a rich world language experience. Students in Grades 5-8 may choose between French and Spanish. The World Language curriculum develops the use of fundamental language skills used in listening, speaking, reading, and writing in French or Spanish. In an immersion setting, students learn to interpret basic, novice-level information when listening and reading, and to produce essential information in speaking and writing. Classes are authentically communicative and culturally rich, engaging each student in real-world conversational scenarios. Each grade-level course reinforces previous material and introduces new vocabulary, syntactic structures, and verb conjugations. Students move step-by-step to become proficient in the language and engage in spontaneous interactions in various communicative contexts. By the end of Grade 8, students complete the equivalent of Upper School Level French 1 or Spanish 1.
Grade 5 French or Spanish provides students with essential vocabulary related to daily interactions. Expressions related to family, friends, and school are presented and practiced. Students are exposed to and expected to produce simple declarative and interrogative structures. Students become familiar with the alphabet, spelling conventions, and common sentence structures. The language sounds are introduced and imitated using music, games, and creative exercises. Students explore how verbs work, learning conjugations in the simple present tense. The use of definite and indefinite articles and descriptive adjectives is modeled. Culture is embedded in all course content, and students are exposed to the richness of the French or Spanish-speaking world.
Text used: EntreCultures 1 or EntreCulturas 1 (Wayside Publishing).
Students in Grade 6 French or Spanish review and build upon previous content, continuing to learn the language in authentic and communicative contexts. Students are introduced to more complex structures, adding possessives, demonstrative adjectives, adverbs, and prepositional phrases to their grammar toolkit. Students build their vocabulary base topically: school, daily activities, schedules, fashion, shopping, sports, and the home. Expressing actions in the present and the near future, using regular and irregular verbs, is presented and practiced. Students read, write, listen, and speak in the target language in each class.
Text used: EntreCultures 1 or EntreCulturas 1 (Wayside Publishing).
Grade 7 French or Spanish reviews and expands upon previously seen content, reinforcing and solidifying the building blocks of language. Students learn about and practice more complex structures in meaningful situations and personalized contexts, including imperatives, direct objects, reflexive verbs, and progressive verb tenses. Students read, write, and speak more extensively about various topics related to the vocabulary studied. Actions are expressed in the present and near-future tenses. Technology is an integral part of the course, requiring students to record their speech, make short videos, and respond to video or audio-based prompts. Students connect topics studied in the target language to other content areas. Students can identify and describe products used in everyday life and how they represent the target culture. Students begin to experience the joy of self-expression in a second language.
Text used: EntreCultures 2 or EntreCulturas 2 (Wayside Publishing).
Grade 8 French or Spanish launches with a review of the previous year's work, supplementing textbook exercises with age-appropriate, primary-source materials. Students continue to develop their reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills by utilizing a wide array of resources inside and outside the classroom. Students begin to express actions in the past, learning conjugations of regular and irregular verbs. Students increase their descriptive and narrative power by incorporating more sophisticated vocabulary and syntax. By the end of the course, students can express ideas about their past, present, and future. They can use their target language skills to access authentic sources of information and entertainment for personal enrichment beyond the classroom setting. Students grow their cultural awareness of the French- or Spanish-speaking world via videos, presentations, readings, and discussions as they become informed global citizens.
Text used: EntreCultures 2 or EntreCulturas 2 (Wayside Publishing).
As an independent school in the Archdiocese of Washington, Stone Ridge adheres to the educational Goals and Criteria established by the Religious of the Sacred Heart and is informed by the standards set by the Archdiocese. The religion curriculum at Stone Ridge is rooted in the five Goals of Sacred Heart education; in particular, Goal 1 commits us to "educate to a personal and active faith in God." Stone Ridge encourages each student to develop her spiritual life and a personal relationship with God, no matter her faith background. We cultivate Christian attitudes about respect, compassion, forgiveness, and generosity. In religion classes, students explore their relationship to God, self, others, and our Common Home through personal and communal prayer and reflection. We foster inter-religious acceptance, dialogue, and deep respect for the world's religions. In the broader community, we remember that we are representatives of Stone Ridge and Sacred Heart tradition.
Religion 5 focuses on the Seven Sacraments. Students begin with the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist. Students then develop an understanding of the Holy Spirit and how to give witness to the faith through daily words and actions. Next, they learn about the Sacraments of Healing: Reconciliation and the Anointing of the Sick. Students look to Jesus' seeking out the poor, the suffering, and the marginalized. During their study of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, students focus on developing a conscience and ways to appreciate God's gifts of love and forgiveness. While studying the Anointing of the Sick, students learn that this sacrament is a gift of comfort and strength. Finally, the class completes its study of the Seven Sacraments, focusing on the Sacraments of Matrimony and Holy Orders. Even though both of these sacraments are received only in adulthood, students reflect on them by understanding the qualities of being and choosing a good friend, acting towards others as Jesus would, and discovering and preparing for their vocations.
Text used: Discover! Finding Faith in Life (St. Mary's Press).
The theme of Religion 6 is the Old Testament and the Trinity. Students begin by exploring the foundational truths of the Catholic faith and their roots in the stories of the Old Testament. Students are then introduced to the nature of God, His love as expressed in Creation, and His saving plan. Students come to know our great ancestors in faith and the relationship between God and His people. Students find inspiration and relevancy in their lives with additional chapters on the Patriarchs, the Exodus, the Kings of Israel, and Women of the Old Testament. In the second semester, students learn to better understand Jesus and how his teachings relate to the Sacred Heart Goals and Criteria. The course looks at Jesus as the fulfillment of prophecy, the Messiah who transforms and saves all people, and a guide and friend for youth today. As they explore the gift of the Holy Spirit, students are encouraged to recognize the presence of God in their own lives. With additional chapters on Moral Decision Making, Virtues, and Working for Justice, students consider the many avenues that can guide personal faith development.
Text used: Catholic Connections Handbook for Middle School (St Mary's Press).
Religion 7 explores all events of Christ's life and helps students discover why these events are worthy of reflection and imitation. First, students examine creation accounts, emphasizing the literary form and God's original plan for us. They also learn about God's covenants with His people from the Abrahamic Covenant through the New Covenant. Next, students deepen their understanding of the life and teachings of Jesus, culminating with Jesus' death, Resurrection, and Ascension. Next, students learn how The Paschal Mystery provides salvation, helps us make sense of suffering, and bestows life after death. Finally, students focus on communion with God in prayer.
Text used: The Paschal Mystery and the Gospels (St. Mary's Press).
Religion 8 aims to help students understand that in and through the Church, they encounter the living Jesus Christ. Students begin the course by examining the origins of the Church as established by Jesus, according to God's purpose and mission. Next, the course explores how the Holy Spirit sustained and sanctified the early Church, focusing on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Students then discuss the marks of the Church (One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic), and examine the images of the Church in scripture. The Church's relationship with other religions (Ecumenism, Judaism, Islam) is also explored. Finally, students explore their unique, active place within the Church by studying the tradition of the Catholic Social Teachings.
Text used: The Church: Foundation and Mission (St. Mary's Press).
The Middle School fine arts program encourages students to take creative risks, develop an artistic voice, and practice critical problem-solving skills. Students explore various media, including drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, and mixed media. Class projects are often cross-curricular with other disciplines to help reinforce important concepts. Through a philosophical foundation rooted in the Goals of Sacred Heart education, the program also helps students establish a lifelong commitment to the relationship between social awareness and the arts.
The Performing Arts are integral to educating the whole child at Stone Ridge. In Grades 5 and 6, students choose among chorus, band, and orchestra. In Grades 7 and 8, students may choose a music ensemble as a yearlong arts elective. In their performing arts ensembles, students celebrate and connect with musical history, diverse cultures, and their own imagination. Creative expression is encouraged through improvisation and personal interpretation during class and performance. In addition to musicianship and presentational style, students are challenged to build technique, gain discipline through practice, and strive toward a level of excellence. Formal and informal performance opportunities allow ensemble members to learn life skills and character growth with enhanced focus, sensitivity, teamwork, listening skills, balance, self-awareness, and respect for the arts and each other's work.
The Middle School drama program introduces students to multiple elements of theater. Drama games are used throughout the curriculum to build self-awareness, a sense of community, and vocal and physical expression. In addition to the specific course content described below, Middle School students may elect to participate in two optional dramatic performances each year: a fall musical and a spring play.
Drama 5 explores how actors and playwrights convey tone to an audience. What makes something funny? What makes something tragic? Ancient Greek drama is explored as a lens through which the students create solo and group performances. The students also explore the idea of the Greek Chorus and investigate examples of this in modern entertainment.
Drama 6 explores theatrical forms, highlighting the body and voice in performance. The students explore the stock characters from Commedia dell'arte and use that knowledge of the physical performance style and characters to adapt a well-known story. The students also study radio plays and work on the vocal and physical techniques required to perform different characters and make different sound effects.
Grades 7 and 8
Students in this course will study many aspects of theater, from performance techniques to costume design to stagecraft. Scenes from Shakespeare's plays will serve as anchor texts. Students will read and write plays and engage in research and critical reviews of theater performances. Drama 7/8 looks at long-form improvisation, requiring the actor's sustained attention to plot, character, and fellow actors. The students explore the Elizabethan Era and Shakespeare by studying dramaturgy, Shakespeare's sonnet structure, and the similarities between Shakespeare and rhyme schemes in hip-hop.
The physical education program helps students explore and enhance their physical ability while continuing to understand the importance of a healthy lifestyle. In Grade 5, students are exposed to various basic movements to create and develop their physical intelligence, rich with sport-specific and non-sport-specific units. Grade 5 athletes 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 for and participate in an organized sports team during the fall, winter, and spring seasons. Students may choose among various sports, including field hockey, soccer, cross country, volleyball, basketball, swimming, track and field, softball, lacrosse, and tennis. Students in Grades 6-8 who do not participate on a sports team will engage in physical education classes exploring self-defense, swim aerobics, walking fitness, yoga, archery, handball, ultimate frisbee, and frisbee golf.
The Educational Technology program provides students with guided experiences using technology to support their academic instruction and build foundational skills and understandings in innovation practices. Grade 5 marks the beginning of the school's laptop program; students use school-issued laptops throughout their time in Middle School for all academic subjects, both in school and at home.
Technology Orientation Seminar (Grade 5): The Technology Orientation Seminar introduces the digital learning tools of the Middle School to students, including hardware (devices, printing) and software (Windows, Office), Google Workspace tools, tools for supporting executive function skills, and multimedia strategies for documentation. Students learn to identify resources for problem-solving and inquiry with technology and build an understanding of responsible, principled use of technology.
Fast Track: Technology Orientation Seminar (new students, Grade 6-8): The short course introduces the digital learning tools of the Middle School to students, including hardware (devices, printing) and software (Windows, Office), Google Workspace tools, tools for supporting executive function skills, and multimedia strategies for documentation. Students learn to identify resources for problem-solving and inquiry with technology and build an understanding of responsible, principled use of technology.
Data Science and Data Storytelling Seminar (Grade 6). This class supports students in the development of their data fluency skills and the application of these skills to develop evidence-based narratives. In coordination with the Grade 6 Math curriculum, it guides students in the application of data skills (including data types, structures, and visualizations) for representing the data of places and people. Lesson plans are designed to support students in developing a sensitivity to data in the world around them and enable their expression of their own experiences as data.
Engineering & Systems - Mechanical (Grade 7): The Engineering & Systems Seminar will introduce systems thinking and design-thinking strategies for understanding machines and machine-human interaction. Students will explore the mechanics of bicycles and engines, create mechanical designs and prototypes, and apply their understanding of energy and directional forces to communicate their designs. They will build an understanding of human-centered design, including user experience (UX) practices, in engineering and innovation.
Engineering & Systems - Electric (Grade 8): The Engineering & Systems Seminar will introduce systems thinking and design thinking strategies for understanding electronics and the foundations of physical computing. Students will explore the strategies for physical inputs in electronics, create electronic and physical computing designs and prototypes (soldering, Micro Bits), and apply their understanding of mechanical engineering, electricity, and computer science to communicate their designs. In addition, they will build an understanding of human-centered design, including user experience (UX) practices, in computational design and innovation.
Media and Technology (Grade 7/8 Elective): Students enrolled in this course will investigate different forms of media (print and electronic). In practice, students will learn how to gather information, organize ideas, format stories for different forms of news media, and edit their stories for publication/video production. In addition, students create original examples of media forms using the school's Maker Space. The course will also examine the historical development of media and explore the skills necessary to be an informed consumer of modern media, including newspapers, magazines, podcasts, advertising/commercials, and social media.
The Health and Wellness Seminars are a part of our four-year, Middle School curriculum. Students at each grade level meet monthly with the Middle School Counselor for age-appropriate instruction and interactive lessons on a variety of topics related to adolescent health and wellness: mental health, nutrition, body positivity, self-care, the importance of sleep routines, stress management, friendship navigation, and conflict resolution. In Grades 5 and 6 lessons include the topics of puberty, hygiene, personal safety,female and male anatomy reproduction and fetal development. The Grades 7 and 8 curriculum covers previous years’ topics in more depth, as well as the topic of healthy boundaries and consent and disease prevention. Instruction about human sexuality and affectivity is informed and guided by Catholic Church teaching. We stress to our students that parents are their primary educators on sex and morality. Answers to questions will always be provided in ways that are developmentally appropriate and scientifically based. Our Health and Wellness Seminars are designed to help students develop healthy attitudes, values, practices, and skills that they will need in order to thrive as they journey through adolescence and into their adult lives.
Designed and taught by our Middle School Learning Specialists, our Study Skills seminar series is comprised of a sequence of lessons targeted to the learning needs of students at each of our grade levels. General topics covered include the organization of study materials and binders, time management, long-range project planning, an exploration of learning styles and affinities, metacognitive routines, growth mindset, goal-setting, note-taking, paraphrasing, annotating skills, and other important habits of learning vital to student success in Middle School and beyond.
At Stone Ridge, we offer more!
Stone Ridge has two full-time Middle School learning specialists who serve as resources for students, teachers, and parents to support those who are especially challenged by the academic program. Individual and small group help sessions are available to students in study skills, reading, writing, and the executive functioning skills necessary for student success. For students with academic evaluations on file in the school, the learning specialist helps to implement the recommended accommodations indicated by the test results.
Learning Specialist (Grades 5 & 6)
Mrs. Erinn Gosnell Walsh
Middle School Learning Specialist (Grades 7 & 8)
The intention of Sacred Heart education is to address the whole person. The counseling program in the Middle School consists of several components designed to advocate for and promote the spiritual, academic, personal and social development of each student. The counselor is part of a multidisciplinary team that provides a caring atmosphere in which to nurture with love and concern, each child's total development.
The counseling program provides classroom lessons and activities to help foster personal growth; consultation with faculty, staff, and families; confidential individual counseling, referral, and resource services and support for students and their families. The counselor supports a social board and card game time during recess in the winter as well as the Big Gator/Little Gator Grade 8 and Grade 5 mentorship program. In addition, the counselor participates in grade-level team meetings, facilitates educational programs for parents and faculty, and supports all parent programming.
Middle School Counselor (Grades 5-8)
Stone Ridge is committed to developing student leaders. As our girls grow and mature, increased leadership opportunities are available to them. Our Middle School has a robust Student Council, and girls may choose to run for a variety of elected offices, including President, Vice President, Secretary/Treasurer, Social Action Chair, Diversity and Belonging Chair, Sustainability Chair, Campus Ministry Chair, and Blue/Gold Captains. In addition, each Advisory elects a Representative to bring ideas to the Student Council level. Students may also choose to serve as Ambassadors with our Admissions Office, welcoming prospective students and families to campus, or apply to become a member of our Campus Ministry Team, partaking in the planning and orchestration of Masses and prayer services. All of these possibilities allow girls to discover and develop new interests, and to grow their self-confidence.
Rooted in the standards of CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) and Developmental Designs, the Middle School advisory program is designed to facilitate interaction among the students and faculty. Each year, students are placed in an advisory group of 8-12 classmates and one faculty member. This advisory meets regularly to discuss school issues, develop peer relationships, build community, cultivate agency and independence in their learning, and plan activities. Commitment to the student's success, the advisor also functions as the primary liaison between the school and home during the Middle School years.