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.
Academic Program Overview
- Language Arts/English
- Social Studies
- World Language
- Visual Arts
- Performing Arts
- Physical Education/Sports
- Technology and Innovation
- Sample Schedules
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.
In Language Arts 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, writing traits, 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. Texts include Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry.
In Language Arts 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 America Street by Anne Mazer, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg, The Giver by Lois Lowry, and Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan.
English 7 continues to focus on critical thinking and effective communication. Analytical reading strategies are developed and refined. Writing instruction is framed around genres specific attributes and the 6 +1 Traits of Writing. Through the genre study method of Readers & Writers Workshop, students uncover the attributes of various fiction and nonfiction literary genres including memoir, poetry, feature articles, novels, and essays. Students write a full length exemplar of each genre to demonstrate mastery (analytical essay in the novel unit). Grammar instruction occurs within the four writing units and is informed by seventh grade standards as well as student needs as demonstrated in their drafts. All major pieces of writing will be typed in Google Docs. Vocabulary instruction will be drawn from a vocabulary workbook as well as from the texts we study in our reading units. In addition, the development of strong oral communication skills is a cornerstone of our work with group discussion skills being explicitly taught and practiced each quarter through book club discussions and collaborative conversation. In complement to the units taught in this course, students are expected to maintain an independent reading book outside of class at all times and will engage in book clubs around these independent reading texts. Sample texts include I Will Always Write Back by Caitlin Alifirenka, Liz Welch, and Martin Ganda, Trapped: How the World Rescued 33 Miners from 2,000 Feet Below the Chilean Desert by Marc Aronson, Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin, and Far from the Tree by Robin Benway.
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 Much Ado About Nothing, by William Shakespeare, Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson and March: Book One, by Andrew Aydin and John Lewis.
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.
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.
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 the number system of rational numbers, which include 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, hand-on learning.
Grade 5 – General Science
Students explore the interconnectedness of energy as it relates to different areas of study.
The year begins with a review of measurement and standard tools that scientists use on a daily basis. The course then transitions into the first unit, which is physics. Students explore topics including 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.
The second unit of study is biology. Keeping with the overarching theme of energy, students explore the similarities and differences between living and nonliving things. This study also includes the subtopics of food chains and food webs. Many of the class sessions contain a hands-on component as well as an opportunity for students to develop their analytical and reasoning skills.
The year concludes with a brief study of astronomy. Students learn about planets and moons as well as famous constellations.
Grade 6 – Environmental Science
Students explore interactions between living things and their environment utilizing a curriculum fully aligned with Next Generation Science Standards and developed at the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC-Berkeley.
The program begins with the concept that liquid water and the correct temperature range are essential for life as we know it, and examines geologic features on Mars looking for signs that liquid water may once have existed on its surface. We 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 is 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,” during 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Grade 7 social studies course offers an overview of 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 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. Students also focus on the struggles to form a new republic and to create a Constitution, engaging in analysis of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. 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 both 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. The study of current events is incorporated to help strengthen students’ awareness of the connection between contemporary events and the history that shaped them.
The Grade 8 social studies course is a continuation of the United States history survey begun in Grade 7. Grade 8 students begin their course 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, and the change and progress in postwar American society as the country moved into the modern era.
As in Grade 7, students craft their active reading strategies through the use of primary and secondary sources. Conducting research, developing an argument, and supporting one’s ideas with supporting details is emphasized. Project-based summatives such as debates, mock trials, and socratic seminars help strengthen the essential takeaways at the end of each topic. The study of current events is also incorporated to support students’ awareness of the connection between contemporary events and the history that shaped them.
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 eighth grade.
Grade 5 French or Spanish provides students with 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 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 the 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 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 structures 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 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.
The religion curriculum at Stone Ridge is rooted in the five Goals of Sacred Heart education. Goal One 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 expressed in respect, compassion, forgiveness and generosity. Stone Ridge helps students explore their relationship to God, to self, to others and to our Common Home through personal and communal prayer and reflection. We foster inter-religious acceptance and dialogue, and deep respect for the religions of the world. We remember that in the wider community, 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. They develop an understanding of the Holy Spirit, and how to give witness to their faith through daily words and actions. 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. During their study of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, students focus on the development of conscience and how to make good choices, and how to appreciate God’s gifts of love and forgiveness. The course then moves to the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, and students learn that it 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, 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.
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. In particular, they learn how the Ten Commandments are guides to loving God and loving others; and how to develop their conscience and make good choices based on the obligations we have, the principles we believe in, and the consequences our choices may have. The 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.
Religion 7 explores all events of Christ’s life and helps students discover why these events are worthy of reflection and imitation. Students examine creation accounts, with an emphasis on the literary form and God’s original plan for us. They also learn about God's covenants with His people, from the Abramic Covenant through the New Covenant. The class deepens its understanding of the life and teachings of Jesus, culminating with Jesus’ death, Resurrection, and Ascension. Students learn how The Paschal Mystery provides salvation, helps us make sense of suffering, and bestows life after death. Finally, we focus on our communion with God in prayer.
Religion 8 is aimed at helping students understand that in and through the Church they encounter the living Jesus Christ. Students begin with the origins of the Church as established by Jesus, according to God’s purpose and mission. The course explores how the Holy Spirit sustained and sanctified the early Church, with a focus on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Students 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, we establish our unique, active place within the Church by studying the tradition of the Catholic Social Teachings.
The Middle School fine 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.
The Middle School drama program introduces students to multiple elements of theatre. 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 musical in the fall and a play in the spring.
Drama 5 is focused on exploring 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 where we see examples of that in modern media.
Drama 6 explores theatrical forms highlighting the body and voice in performance. The students study 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.
Drama 7 looks at short-form improvisation, utilizing exercises and games that formed the curriculum of Upright Citizens Brigade and The Second City, as well as the use of improvisation to create a scripted piece. Students explore the physical theatre style of Jacques Lecoq and the acting method of Uta Hagen, applying those techniques to a monologue project. Drama 7 also explores the use of theatre as a tool for social change through a unit on Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed.
Drama 8 looks at long-form improvisation, requiring the actor’s sustained attention to plot and characters, as well as their scene partners. The students explore the Elizabethan Era and Shakespeare, with a study of dramaturgy, Shakespeare’s sonnet structure, and the similarities between Shakespeare and rhyme schemes in hip-hop. Drama 8 furthers the students’ awareness of identity through a unit on Indigenous voices in theatre.
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 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.
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. Fifth grade 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.
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)
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 to faculty, staff and families; and confidential individual counseling, referral and resource services and support for students and their families. In addition, the counselor participates in grade-level team meetings, facilitates educational programs for parents and faculty, leads parent peer groups and student-parent book club groups.
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. Students may also choose to serve as Ambassadors with our admissions office, welcoming prospective students and families to campus. Additionally, students may choose to participate in clubs reflecting their interests; many club activities offer opportunities for leadership and growth. All of these possibilities allow girls to discover and develop new interests, and to grow their self-confidence.
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 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.
Throughout the school year, students in the Middle School have the chance to dive deeper into our academic curriculum and the Sacred Heart Goals as part of the Explorer Series for Middle School Girls. Explorer Series programming provides each grade level with the opportunity to learn outside the traditional classroom setting.
Previous programming included day-long explorations in which students were able:
- To experience the vast offerings of the DC region through field trips and virtual webquests to the Smithsonian Museums, the National Arboretum, and Calleva Outdoor Education, among others.
- To interact with alumnae who eagerly share their professional experiences and the importance of Social Action in their public and private sector jobs,
- To complete service projects with community organizations such as the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and A Wider Circle,
- To engage in cross-curricular activities incorporating multiple academic subjects
The Explorer Series is designed to immerse students in new learning environments as they develop the critical thinking skills and resiliency necessary for the 21st century.