Middle school students are nurtured and challenged during early adolescence in a small, cohesive community. They are encouraged to ask questions, seek creative solutions and take risks as a part of learning.
The middle school faculty works together to strengthen study and organizational habits, emphasizing self-directed learning and time management in preparation for the increasing demands of Upper School. The students follow a hybrid block schedule, with core courses and their choice of an elective – art, music or band. In the eighth grade, students have the opportunity to focus their studies on a language of their choice – Latin, French or Spanish. All students benefit from a dedicated study hall, known as ACCESS (academic success time), providing them with structured time to complete assignments, learn new skills and to develop soft skills, such as leadership and time management.
In sixth grade English, students read and respond to works of literature from numerous genres. They recognize and analyze literary devices in their reading and apply these techniques in their writing utilizing the writing process. In addition to writing several types of essays, including descriptive, persuasive, narrative and expository, they complete two formal research papers. Grammar instruction focuses on the eight parts of speech, understanding sentence structure, mechanics and proper word usage. Writing and reading experiences are tied to the study of vocabulary and grammar concepts. Students explore numerous novels through literature circles and class reading, including War Horse, Woods Runner, Al Capone Does My Shirts, The Wednesday Wars and Lord of the Nutcracker Men.
This course is designed to provide students with the opportunity to improve their written and spoken word. Students explore a variety of literary genres, beginning with the short story, continuing with the novel, and ending the year with poetry. Texts include John Steinbeck’s The Pearl, Jennifer Roy’s Yellow Star, and Lois Lowry’s The Giver. Myriad short stories and poetry selections are also included. Particular emphasis is placed on writing, as students relate the reading selections to their personal lives and the world around them. The grammar curriculum is intensive, and students master the eight parts of speech and many of the roles they play in the written word.
Eighth grade English forms a bridge between the English curricula in the Middle School and Upper School programs. The goal is to build a solid foundation for future work in English and world languages through grammar integrated in all writing assignments. Vocabulary development is taught both in context and through regular assignments in a SAT- based vocabulary book. Students analyze literary elements in a collection of short stories and challenging novels. In composition, students write and revise a series of brief narratives, a mini-research paper, several basic literary analyses and descriptive essays, as well as original poems. Emphasis is placed on the development of a five-paragraph essay. In addition, students write a personal essay about a strong belief or value that they hold, which becomes the basis for the eighth grade capstone oral presentation, “This I Believe.” Public speaking skills are also emphasized through a series of individual and group presentations.
- Math Concepts and Skills
- Foundations of Pre-Algebra
- Algebra Concepts and Skills
- Algebra I
- Honors Geometry
This sixth grade math course reviews addition, subtraction, and multiplication of whole numbers with emphasis being placed on division of whole numbers. Operations using fractions and decimals are introduced. Geometric formulas are introduced and applied to area, perimeter, and circumference. Problem-solving strategies are stressed, and real-life situations are solved using mathematics.
The Foundations of Pre-Algebra course focuses on solidifying concepts from Math Concepts and Skills. Students will continue to build understanding of rational numbers. This course focuses on number operations with integers, evaluating expressions, solving equations and inequalities, ratios, proportions, and percentages, an introduction to functions and graphing, geometry concepts, area and volume, and probability and statistics. Students learn problem solving within each unit of study.
The Pre-Algebra course focuses on the transition from arithmetic to the introduction of algebra and emphasizes critical-thinking skills that enable students to think mathematically. This course focuses on algebraic properties, all operations with rational numbers, proportions, percents, solving multi-step equations and inequalities, graphing linear equations, slopes, intercepts, and algebraic applications to two-dimensional geometry. Students learn problem solving within each unit of study. Many mathematical concepts are reinforced in our “Million Dollar” and “Dream House” projects and in our interdisciplinary cultural fair graphing project.
The Algebra Concepts and Skills course focuses on strengthening concepts from Pre-Algebra. This course focuses on integers, rational numbers, exponents and scientific notation, writing and solving expression and equations, inequalities, ratios and proportions, percentages, scale drawings, area and volume, probability and statistics, and linear equations. Students learn problem solving within each unit of study and how to apply the concepts they are learning. At the conclusion of this course, students should have a firm understanding of algebra concepts.
This course is a study of elementary algebra making frequent use of authentic data in real- life applications. The course includes traditional topics such as linear, exponential, quadratic and rational functions as well as the more contemporary topics of probability and statistics. Rigorous and challenging, it demands daily preparation. The graphing calculator is used regularly in a controlled fashion for efficiency and exploration.
This is an accelerated geometry course that requires motivated work at a fast pace. Course content includes all topics in the Geometry course with the addition of solid geometry, transformations and exploration of nontraditional topics. It also includes an extended study of trigonometry to better prepare students for Honors Algebra II/Trig. Greater attention is given to writing proofs and using algebraic techniques to develop geometric concepts.
Prerequisite: Teacher recommendation based on Algebra I achievement
Sixth grade science students conduct in-depth examinations of topics in Earth Science. Students apply their knowledge of scientific methods while studying oceans, watersheds, geology, weather and a bit of chemistry. Throughout the course, students are required to problem solve, apply scientific skills, use design skills and modify designs according to test results. Additionally, students will research and conduct in-class group investigations, as well as independent investigations.
Seventh Grade Life Science is an interactive study of living organisms and the building blocks of life. Students investigate cellular biology, genetics, classification, plant and animal anatomy, microscopic organisms, changes in species over time, and human anatomy. Students use a web-based textbook that includes a digital learning pathway. Individual and small group discovery are encouraged through active, hands-on lesson plans designed to retain student interest and spark intellectual curiosity. Students engage in individual labs, projects, and group activities. They will investigate cells while learning to use a microscope, learn dissection techniques, and collect plant specimens.
The eighth grade science curriculum is designed to provide students with a solid base with respect to acquiring necessary 21st century skills in the areas of physics and chemistry. The course is intended to prepare students for success in high school science courses. Students will develop an understanding of several scientific practices.
In this course, which is the second part of a two-year study of the United States history that begins in the fifth grade, students study the history of the United States from Reconstruction to the post World War II era. Content focuses on the political, economic and social events and issues related to industrialization and urbanization, major wars, domestic and foreign policies and reform movements, including civil rights. Students will appreciate the influences of key people and their contributions to America's growth as a nation. The students will address the rise and growing role of the United States in world affairs during the 19th and 20th centuries. Students will have ample instruction devoted to reviewing and strengthening map skills, analyzing, interpreting and researching information and developing higher-level thinking skills.
This course allows students to make connections between the physical, biological, and cultural features of their world with a special focus on the regions of Europe, Latin America, and Canada. The overarching theme is that physical geography determines distribution and characteristics of human society. Content revolves around the six essential elements of geography: The world in spatial terms, places and regions, physical systems, human systems, environment and society, and the uses of geography. The curriculum includes an emphasis on research, writing, and study skills as well as strategies involving maps, charts, diagrams, and technology. Students will apply and use geographic facts and concepts throughout the yearlong Cultural Fair, which services as a framework for the seventh grade interdisciplinary studies program.
Eighth grade World Geography emphasizes the world regions, providing students with the foundational knowledge to succeed in future history courses while making them more informed members of the world community. The course will focus on the study of the world’s physical and human geography and also provides students with an in depth introduction to the skills for social studies. Specific areas of study will include Eurasia, Southwest Asia, the Middle East, Russia and Africa.
The Middle School Physical Education program includes activities related to team sports, individual sports, agility training, dance, rhythms, and recreational games. The units for sixth, seventh and eighth grades include soccer, flag football, field hockey, basketball, volleyball, lacrosse, softball, kin-ball, floor hockey, team handball, adventure team challenges, speed-strength and agility training. The principles of physical fitness are incorporated into each unit and the students complete the Saints Fitness Pre-test and Post-test each year. We allow students to develop physically, socially, and mentally and give them the opportunity to discover how to attain not only skill development but positive relationships as well. Emphasis is placed on developing and leading healthy lives.
Sixth grade art students are introduced to 20th century American artists. This course works in conjunction with the United States History course. The artists studied relate to the time period the students are studying in their history class. Students keep sketchbooks in class to promote creativity, practice new techniques, and provide a place for notes on each artist studied.
The seventh grade art curriculum introduces students to the seven elements of art and promotes personal expression. Design skills are reinforced through pre-drawings while new techniques and materials continue to be introduced. Students keep sketchbooks to further promote creativity, explore designs and develop thumbnail sketches.
In this course, the eighth grade students are introduced to the principles of design. Famous artists and works of art are studied that demonstrate the seven principles of design. This knowledge is applied to their artwork and projects while promoting personal expression. Students provide artwork and banners for teachers and Saints LEAD members as needed. Students keep sketchbooks to further promote creativity, explore designs, and develop thumbnail sketches.
In this beginning band course, students begin receiving instruction on a wind or percussion instrument of their choice with guidance from the teacher prior to enrollment in the course. In the beginning stages, students learn how to properly assemble and care for the instrument. Students will learn how to read, interpret and perform musical notation. A significant emphasis in this course is the foundation of learning how to play a wind or percussion instrument and then how that translates into being a part of an ensemble. Music theory and music history are also actively incorporated in the classroom instruction. Students perform in three concerts and participate in the adjudication trip in the spring.
This course allows for Middle School band students to continue their study of band literature with the emphasis on the continual development of skills. Throughout rehearsals, the students are instructed in proper methods of performance, musicianship and self-discipline. Music theory and music history are incorporated in the classroom instruction. Students perform in three concerts and participate in the adjudication trip in the spring. In addition, seventh grade students may participate in Marching Band and Jazz Band.
Beginning Choral Music is designed as an introduction to vocal production, music fundamentals and music appreciation. Students will experience opportunities to sing for personal enjoyment and to perform a variety of choral literature through which knowledge of form and historical context is acquired. One of the goals of instruction is the development of fundamental vocal technique including proper posture, breathing, diction, a free and clear tone, accurate intonation and singing in unison and harmony. Basic music reading skills are encouraged through theory and sight singing enhancing the student’s ability to understand the mechanics of a music score. Students will also learn to demonstrate the expressive qualities of music, to evaluate music performances and to contribute to the quality of the ensemble.
Students who may need specific accommodations are supported by The Sandra F. Birdsong Center for Academic Excellence. The team works with the Middle School teachers and administration to customize learning plans. Students may qualify to enroll in a study skills course, where test-taking strategies, note-taking strategies and organizational skills are reviewed and reinforced to help students develop the skill sets needed to be successful in the Upper School.