Middle School

Discovering talents and building confidence.

Middle School is a time of transition at every level 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 educating to a deep respect for intellectual values, the Middle School (Grades 5-8) 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. 

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.  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.

Middle Scgool Steam Competition

 

Middle School Rome Day

Academic Program Overview

English Language Arts

The Middle School 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.  At every grade level, 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, non-fiction and poems. Students develop as communicators and thinkers.  They take joy in self-expression and seek to make meaning of their experiences.

Grade 5

Students work to develop sentence structure and paragraph construction. This includes subjects, predicates, as well as the various parts of speech and sentence types. Students learn that written communication begins with understanding the audience and purpose of the writing. As focused paragraph construction evolves, the six traits of writing, particularly organization, word choice, as well as sentence fluency and voice are specifically reinforced. Grammar and writing mechanics are continuously practiced. The three parts of the paragraph are closely examined and discussed and attention to writing mechanics is expected and consistently reinforced in all written work, which spans all styles. In Reading, literature work encourages students to actively read and learn several literary elements.

Text include Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry.

Grade 6

The writing program is a robust balance between the application of writing mechanics fundamentals, Vocabulary Workshop, and a review of the writing process and narrative study. In reading, students focus on concepts including identifying fact vs. opinion, identifying author’s purpose, interpreting figurative language, and summarizing. The course also focuses on the higher-order thinking skills of analysis, synthesis, and creation of new meaning by way of literature study of characterization, plot, conflict, and theme.

Texts include From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg; Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D. Taylor.

Grade 7

English 7 continues to focus on the various literary genres and on expanding upon writing mechanics and skills, to include in-context application of vocabulary and grammar usage. Students read not only for understanding and active reading, but also to expand their knowledge of literary forms and devices. Through daily practice and consistent focus on structure, content, and process, students hone their skills by writing expository and persuasive paragraphs as well as a research paper. In this course, students also practice editing skills, public speaking, and continue developing their analytical and critical thinking skills. 

Texts include Stealing Freedom, by Elisa Carbone; Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli; Animal Farm, by George Orwell.

Grade 8

English 8 studies the literary genre, including the short story, novel, poetry, and drama. Students examine protagonists from diverse backgrounds as they explore what influences a character’s decision-making and empathize with perspectives different from their own.  Students work to develop a range of skills throughout the year, including the critical reading of literary sources, annotation, note-taking, analytical thinking and writing, the crafting and presentation of clear arguments supported by appropriate evidence, the pre-writing, drafting, revision and editing stages of the writing process, the mastery of proper grammar form and sophisticated vocabulary usage, and research using library and internet resources.

Texts include The Pearl, by John Steinbeck, Much Ado About Nothing, by William Shakespeare, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, and March, by Andrew Aydin and John Lewis.

Math

The Middle School mathematics program progresses from higher elementary mathematics through Pre-Algebra to Algebra I, and in some cases, Geometry. 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 confidence and pride, a desire for discovery, skills of cooperation, and joy.  Students are challenged to stretch their math knowledge in developmentally appropriate ways. Students will take a math placement test for the high school to ensure the best placement for Grade 9. 

Grade 5

The Math 5 course reinforces, enriches, and extends the concepts learned in the Lower School. Students multiply and divide multi-digit numbers, and use all operations with fractions and decimals. Through problem solving and an introductory study of algebraic concepts, students begin exploring expressions and equations. In geometry, students identify spatial relationships and learn to apply their knowledge of perimeter, area, and volume to real-life situations. Given a measurement system, students practice converting like measurement units. 

Grade 6

The Math 6 course is designed to not only polish the skills already known, but to present new concepts needed in preparation for Pre-Algebra and beyond. A major emphasis of the year is for students to learn to think critically and be able to verbalize why they use a certain method to solve a problem. Discussions are an important part of the daily class.  Instructional time is focused on connecting ratio and rate to whole number multiplication and division, and extending the notion of number system of rational numbers, which includes negative 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.

Grade 7

Pre-Algebra Concepts 
This course is an introduction to key algebra concepts and a review of foundational arithmetic algorithms. The course is designed to deepen student’s mathematical understanding through rich mathematical activities, emphasizing procedural fluency necessary to be successful in subsequent mathematics courses.  Developing a strong, confident mathematical mindset is an integral part of this course so that students are successful in subsequent math courses.
 
Pre-Algebra
This course builds on arithmetic skills taught in previous years and is an introduction to formal algebra concepts. The course is designed to guide students through pre-algebraic skills to develop problem-solving and critical thinking strategies in a wide range of situations. The course is designed for students to develop foundational and flexible mathematical skills, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.
 
Pre-Algebra with Analysis
This course builds on arithmetic skills and algebraic concepts mastered in earlier grades. The instruction is designed for students to discover and unpack pre-algebraic concepts within a wide range of applications. The course is designed for students to expand and progress at an accelerated pace to develop foundational and flexible mathematical skills, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. 

Grade 8

Algebra Concepts
This course is a continuation of key algebraic concepts and foundational arithmetic algorithms. It is designed to deepen students’ mathematical understanding through rich mathematical activities, emphasizing procedural fluency necessary to be successful in subsequent mathematics courses. Deepening a strong, confident mathematical mindset is an integral part of this course so that students are successful in subsequent math courses. 

Algebra
This course builds on arithmetic and algebraic skills taught in previous years. It is designed to guide students through algebraic skills to develop problem-solving and critical thinking strategies in a wide range of situations. The course is designed for students to strengthen their foundational and flexible mathematical skills, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. 

Algebra with Analysis
This course strengthens and builds upon arithmetic skills and algebraic concepts mastered in earlier grades. The instruction 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 expand and progress at an accelerated pace to further enhance foundational and flexible mathematical skills, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.

Geometry
This course begins with an understanding of lines, rays, and planes, and emphasizes the correct use of 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, and in particular, as the students learn the two-column proof and indirect proofs.  In the second semester, students continue to use their algebra skills along with newly-acquired geometry skills to solve visual problems relating to similarity, right triangles and circles. The course culminates by using all previous concepts to derive area, surface area and volumes of plane figures and solids.

Science

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 an emphasis on experiential, hands-on learning. 

Grade 5

Life Science
Students explore life science and learn the characteristics that all living things share, where they come from, and what they need to survive. The class describes the levels of organization in animal bodies, identifies the four functions that enable animals to meet their needs, and explains how animals are classified. Students investigate why biologists classify organisms, relate the levels of classification to the relationship between organisms, emphasize how taxonomic keys are useful, and learn the relationship between classification and evolution.  Some highlights include science experiments comparing living and nonliving organisms and several activities using classification keys and microscopes. Individual science projects are presented that involve the participation of the entire class.

Grade 6

Environmental Science
In the 2019-2020 school year, Grade 6 science will be piloting an NGSS-aligned environmental science program utilizing materials developed in the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC-Berkeley.

The program will begin with the concept that liquid water and the correct temperature range are essential for life as we know it, and will examine geologic features on Mars looking for signs that liquid water may once have existed on its surface. We will then move into an examination of populations and resources, using a model of a jellyfish population explosion to seek answers to what can cause changes in population size and energy flows through the population and its related links to other populations. A model of a “biodome” type experiment will then be used to explore how matter and energy flow throughout an entire ecosystem. Students then examine the energy flow between the sun, the atmosphere, and the oceans and how the Earth’s surface temperature is regulated. An examination of the reduction of surface ice follows this unit, as students attempt to discern the possible causes for this change. The year ends with a culminating “engineering internship,” where students attempt to solve a real-world-type problem of a desert town looking to reduce its carbon footprint without impacting its income as a tourist destination.

Grade 7

Life Science
This course 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. They then learn about the main 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. Students then study and compare the structure and function of animal and plant cells. Finally, they explore the processes of cell transport to learn how cells obtain the materials necessary for survival. A cell project of the student’s choice depicting the eukaryotic cell and its organelles is completed this semester. 
 
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. A genetics project is completed this semester.  Any remaining time is spent investigating the structure and function of human organ systems. 

In the spring, students spend two weeks of class participating in a STEAM competition, in which they select and construct a project either individually or with a partner. They then compete against others in their grade.  Following the competition, blueprints and a written project are submitted. 

Grade 8

Earth Science
Students explore the disciplines of geology, meteorology and chemistry during the course of the year.  They examine the origins, composition and structure of the Earth 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 learn about and come to understand the interconnectedness between concepts that include layers of the atmosphere, factors that interact to cause weather, and weather patterns. They will understand how these processes interact to produce our weather.  In the spirit of the maker movement and STEAM, students will construct a project in the spring using class time that relies on their imagination, mechanical, and engineering skills. Finally, an examination of matter and how elements react to produce chemical reactions will be covered. This includes an understanding of how to use the periodic table as a tool. 

Social Studies

The social studies program fosters an environment in which students appreciate, understand and apply important 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.  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 how to use geographic tools such as maps, globes, graphs and charts.

Grade 5

Students consider the reasons for studying history and how scholars use many clues to help them understand events of the past. Students then learn how geography, both physical and human, has a major influence on history. Early humans as hunters and gatherers are discussed and shown how they adapted to their environments. How mankind 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, learning about Sumerian city-states, religion, society, and achievements. Ancient Egypt and Kush continue the investigation of the ancient Middle Eastern civilizations. Students then sail across the Mediterranean Sea to Greece. Early government, mythology, and literature are discussed. Comparisons and contrasts 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. Society and government, as well as early achievements of the Republic are reviewed. The rise and fall of the empire, as well as the religious situations of the time, are discussed.

Grade 6

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, there is a study of Islam and the Middle Ages. The course ends with the study of the Renaissance and the Reformation. Students examine each of the civilizations’ societal structure, culture, government and religion.

Grade 7

Students examine the major themes and developments that shaped the modern world. The course begins with a brief examination of some of the important events that happened in the 16th and 17th centuries. It continues with a study of the English, American and French Revolutions. Students examine the nationalistic spirit that resulted from the revolutions and wars. These events led to the great political changes in Latin America and the formation of new states like Italy and Germany. Students study the decline of old states like the Austrian and Ottoman Empires.  Finally, the course examines the great economic, ideological, scientific and artistic changes that occurred in Europe during the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions in the 18th and 19th centuries. The first semester ends with an examination of the modern age of imperialism. The first semester also includes a unit on civics.

The course continues with a study of World War I and the problems that resulted from it. Students examine the rise of modern totalitarian dictatorships, specifically the rise of communism in Russia and the development of fascism in Italy, Germany and Spain. They then study World War II. The course focuses on the causes of this conflict in a world that was recovering from the Great War and the Great Depression. Students study the early Axis victories and the relentless effort of the Allies to defeat fascism in Europe and Asia. They then examine the long Cold War period and the American strategy to contain and defeat communism.

Grade 8

Students in this course study the roots and origins of a new society in North America. The course begins with the study of the arrival of humans in North America, followed by the collision of three cultures, before and after the 1400’s.  Students learn how the Native American, European and West African worlds interacted. They analyze the European patterns of conquest and settlement and come to understand how the dominance of the English Colonies caused the growth of industry and agriculture in the new world and how the French and Indian War settled the rivalry for control of the North American empire. They then trace the causes and events that led to the American Revolution, the issues and ideas that led to the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War. The class traces the growth of America from its formation as a new nation to the ultimate crisis and conflict of Civil War.  Students study the launching of a fledgling government as Washington became the first president, through early foreign affairs problems under Adams to the peaceful transition of power to Jefferson and the extraordinary Louisiana Purchase. The growing problems of slavery and abolition are portrayed as challenges to the very stability of the country.  Expanding markets and the Mexican War are highlighted as the country moved toward becoming a union in peril. Careful attention and examination are fostered to understand the divisive politics of slavery, protest, and resistance.
 
Students apply their mastery of related concepts from the previous eras studied to a more thematic study of major events from the 1860’s to the 1960’s.  

World Languages

In order to prepare middle school students to be globally-minded citizens and to ensure our students’ second language acquisition is in full 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 Spanish and French. 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 basic information in speaking and writing. Classes are authentically communicative and culturally rich, engaging each student in real world conversational scenarios. Each grade level reinforces previous material and introduces new vocabulary, syntactic structures and verb conjugations. Students move step by step to becoming proficient in the language, able to engage in spontaneous interactions in a variety of communicative contexts. Students complete the equivalent of Upper School Level 1 French or Spanish by the end of Grade 8.

Grade 5

Grade 5 French or Spanish provides students with very basic vocabulary related to daily life 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 sounds of the language are introduced and imitated, using music, games and creative exercises. Students begin to explore how verbs work, learning conjugations in the simple present tense. 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 Spanish or French speaking world.

Grade 6

Grade 6 French or Spanish reviews and builds upon previous content, continuing to expose students to 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 inspired by topics like school, daily activities, schedules, fashion, shopping, sports and home. Expressing actions in the present and the near future, using both regular and irregular verbs, is presented and practiced. Students read, write, listen and speak in the target language each class.  Active class participation is encouraged to maximize language acquisition. Students demonstrate their knowledge through a variety of formative and summative assessments that are fun and allow for imagination and originality.

Grade 7

Grade 7 French or Spanish reviews and expands upon previously seen content, reinforcing and solidifying the building blocks of language. In meaningful situations and personalized contexts, students learn about and practice more complex structure including imperatives, direct objects, reflexive verbs and progressive verb tenses. Students read, write and speak more extensively about a variety of 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 are representative of the target culture. Students begin to experience the joy of self-expression in a second language.

Grade 8

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 skills in reading, writing, listening and speaking by utilizing a wide array of resources inside and outside of 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 are able to express ideas about their past, present and future and 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 and are on their way to becoming informed global citizens. 

Religion

The religion curriculum in the Middle School presents a comprehensive study of Catholic tradition and doctrine, and meets the requirements set forth by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). 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 of the needs of their community and of their world.

Grade 5

Religion 5 focuses on the Seven Sacraments.  Students begin with the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist. The students develop an understanding of how to give witness to their faith through daily words and actions.  They continue with an overview of the Mass, and special emphasis is made about how it brings us closer to God and to one another. Next, they learn about the Sacraments of Healing: Reconciliation and the Anointing of the Sick, paying attention to Jesus’ example of seeking out the poor, the suffering and the marginalized. The class focuses on the development of conscience and how to make good choices, and how to appreciate God’s gifts of love and forgiveness. Finally, the class completes the 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, the students learn that they can be relevant at their present age. As they prepare for adulthood, they can reflect on these sacraments by understanding the qualities of being and choosing a good friend, acting towards others as Jesus would, and discovering and preparing for their vocations.
 

Grade 6

Religion 6 studies the Old Testament, beginning with learning how to read and interpret Sacred Scripture. Throughout, the students learn how God’s love was first revealed in the Old Testament and that Jesus fulfilled Old Testament Promises.  Students read the Creation Stories and make connections with Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’, in which he implores us to care for our common home. Students work in small groups to design and implement environmental initiatives at Stone Ridge. The class continues through the Old Testament stories of Abraham, the Father of our Faith, and his descendants, Jacob and Joseph. Students continually make connections between the Old Testament, the New Testament, and how we live our lives today. Next, students work with partners to create a Google slides presentation depicting the details and lessons of the Exodus story.  They study of the Old Testament is completed with a review of the roles and contributions of the Judges, Kings and Prophets as the Israelites struggled to establish their nation. The students reflect on the qualities of good leaders and role models. 

Grade 7

Religion 7 is aimed at introducing students to the mystery of Jesus Christ, the living Word of God and the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. In this course, the students come to understand that Jesus Christ is the ultimate Revelation of God. In learning about who God is, the students also learn who He calls them to be. The students understand that Jesus is the Way, Truth and the Life; and by growing in their knowledge of Jesus, the hope is that they may love him more ardently and serve Him more generously.  The primary focus of the first semester is to deepen our understanding and appreciation of who Jesus is and inspire a desire to follow Jesus in our daily lives. Students explore all events of Christ’s life and why these events are worthy of reflection and imitation. They also develop their understanding of how Christ continues His presence in the world through the Church and the Sacraments.   The main focus of the second semester is the mystery of Christ as the Truth. Students explore the teaching of Jesus, particularly the parables and stories that Jesus told in order to communicate the truth. Jesus Christ reveals the Father to us, who we are, and our call to holiness.  

Grade 8

Religion 8 is aimed at helping students understand that in and through the Church they encounter the living Jesus Christ. Students are introduced to the fact that Christ established the Church through the Holy Spirit. They come to know that the Church is the living body of Christ today. The class discusses the divine and human elements of the Church, as well as the Church’s sacred nature and the unfolding of the mystery of the Church in time, that is, through history and events.  The primary focus of the first semester is to deepen our understanding and appreciation for the Church, and also to explore the Church’s identity and mission.  Students learn that the Church is a community planned by God the Father, united to Christ, and guided by the Holy Spirit. The main focus of the second semester is the supply students with a general knowledge of the Church’s history from apostolic times to the present. They are introduced to the fact that the Church was founded by Christ through the Apostles and is sustained by Him throughout history through the Holy Spirit. Students will be able to identify key people and events in the Church’s history and the beginning of the Church in North America (with an emphasis on missionaries and the roles of St. Madeleine Sophie Barat and St. Rose Philippine Duchesne). The class concludes its studies by focusing on the role the Vatican II Council played in ushering the Church into the modern era.

Visual Arts

The Middle School 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, print-making, 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.

Performing Arts

The performing arts are an integral part of educating the whole child at Stone Ridge. In Middle School, students choose between chorus, band and orchestra. Through one of these 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.  

The Middle School drama program introduces students to the basics of theatre, including stage direction and the process of theatrical production, from auditions through performance. They also explore the process of creating a character and story structure. In Grades 7 and 8, students study improvisation, including standard improv technique. The course culminates in Grade 8 when students learn the art of playwriting, including plot and character creation. Students also explore various roles in the theatre (tech and production) and the tasks associated with them.  These roles will be implemented in the classroom as the students mount their own production.  Middle School students may also elect to participate in two optional dramatic performances each year – a musical in the fall and a play in the spring.

Physical Education/Sports

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 movements 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.  

Technology and Innovation

The education technology program seeks to introduce students to emerging and current technology tools and usage, as well as to work with them regularly to implement these resources in their classwork. Grade 5 marks the beginning of the school’s laptop program, which students use throughout their time in middle school for all academic subjects, both in school and at home.  Students receive direct instruction about the care and use of their laptop, as well as best practices about Internet safety and information management through regularly scheduled classes, as well as through ongoing instruction throughout the curriculum. Emphasis is placed on helping students become safe, ethical and educated consumers of technology, and to teach them to use technology to enhance their creativity, communication skills, research skills and critical thinking. Specific subject-related software and relevant internet websites are used to reinforce concepts in the core subjects.  Students also explore the fundamentals of coding.

Advisory Program

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 8-10 classmates and one faculty member, who is also a teacher of one of their classes. This advisory meets regularly to discuss school issues, develop peer relationships, build community and plan activities. The advisor also functions as the primary liaison between school and home, in an effort to ensure clear communication and to foster a shared commitment to the student’s success and well-being.

Learning Support

The Middle School 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.

Learning Specialist Team:

Sarah Bramble     
Learning Specialist  (Grades 5 & 6)

Maryann Will
Learning Specialist  (Grades 7 & 8)

Traditions, Activities & Clubs

Middle School students participate in a variety of activities and share in many traditions:

  • A Capella
  • Congés
  • Dances
  • Entrepreneurship Program
  • Father/Daughter Field Day
  • Feast Wishes
  • Grade 6 trip to Calleva
  • Grade 8 trip to Calleva
  • Grade 8 trip to New York City
  • Fall Musical
  • Robotics Club
  • Spring Play
  • Student Government
  • Social Action