Day and Boarding; Grades 6-12

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Curriculum Overview

To see a grade-by-grade description of the Middle School curriculum, click on the tabs below.

Grade 6

GRADE SIX PROGRAM

The sixth-grade program has been developed with two critical understandings in mind: academically, students are in need of both specific and general skills that will help them take part in more formal studies specific to content disciplines, and personally, students are experiencing social, physical, and cognitive changes that affect their lives in immeasurable ways. Therefore, the sixth-grade program seeks to meet all of our students as individuals where they are in academic and personal development and help them grow in ways their potentials allow.

Core Courses

All core courses meet five days a week throughout the academic year.

Humanities

Humanities is a dynamic, interdisciplinary language arts and social studies course. It uses class discussion, multiple forms of media, research, and collaborative projects as ways to deepen students’ appreciation of diverse cultures while strengthening language arts–related skills. This course nurtures and supports creativity, growth, and expression. It exposes students to diverse writers and literature, and strengthens one’s ability to write thoughtfully and fluently while discovering the value of one’s own unique "voice." Humanities meets for two periods each day instead of one.

Writing lies at the cornerstone of the language arts curriculum. From daily prompts and quotations of the day to use of "The Six Traits," a thorough and well structured writing process, students are empowered to write freely and with increased confidence. Building a repertoire of grammatical skills and expanding their vocabulary base add to each student’s ability to write with a surprisingly higher level of sophistication. Students write a variety of expository, persuasive, and creative pieces, using the selected literature as their inspiration. Students read literature as diverse as the world around them as a way to expose them to different styles, perspectives, and personal exploration. Students develop purposeful reading strategies and experience elements of literature and poetry. Through a balance of writing, reading, listening, and oral strategies, students become increasingly active critical thinkers and effective communicators.

As a part of the Social Studies curriculum, students become world travelers as they study geography, history, diverse cultures, and current events related to the Eastern Hemisphere. Students read literature by a highly talented and diverse list of writers and artists. Students use technology to make connections with and learn from leaders of tribes, organizations, and/or citizens from those regions as a way to bring the world home. Using the five themes of geography, students begin to understand other regions as communities with specific geographic characteristics, governments, economies, beliefs, struggles and more. Through this understanding, students learn empathy and to appreciate differences.

All incoming sixth-grade students are required to take a mathematics assessment to help determine which course best meets each individual’s needs. Course placement is flexible and can change as students’ needs change. Except in extraordinary circumstances, students will be placed in one of the three courses described below.

Math 6

Math 6 is a course designed for sixth-grade students who could benefit from a reinforcement of foundational skills and concepts to achieve a level of mastery and build confidence not yet achieved. This course is not just about knowing facts, but about gaining a newfound conceptual understanding. Students learn that math is not meant to be learned in isolation and that collaboration is where the best insights often reside. Challenges are infused in practice as proficiency grows. Content includes the computation and comparison of decimals and fractions; ratios, rates, and percents; statistical analysis; probability; angles and polygons; geometric measurement of two-dimensional figures; and an introduction to three-dimensional figures.

Math 7

Math 7 is a course designed for students prepared to tackle the important skills and concepts covered in a pre-algebra course. This course pushes students to begin to think more abstractly. Accurate execution of basic concepts is expected. Algebraic concepts and applications are covered to give a firm foundation for increased algebraic thought to take place. Content includes computation of fractions and integers; order of operations; properties; one- and two-step equations and inequalities; exponents; ratios, rates, and percents; two- and three-dimensional geometry; and an introduction to the Pythagorean theorem, irrational numbers, algebraic patterns, and coordinate graphing.

Algebra IA

Algebra IA represents the first half of an in-depth, two-year Algebra I course and is available to sixth-grade students who have demonstrated exceptional mathematical capacity. Through time and carefully selected activities, experiences, and units of study, this course challenges participants by expecting mastery of basic skills and processes, building conceptual understanding for algebraic models, and increasing one’s ability to apply concepts in multiple representations. This course provides students with opportunities to gain mathematical fluency and confidence while also reaching a depth of knowledge that will be meaningful and lasting. Topics include but are not limited to computing all rational numbers; simplifying expressions; writing, solving, and graphing linear equations and systems; and integrating geometric applications. The mathematical experience in Algebra IA prepares students to tackle the more abstract lessons in Algebra IB.

Life Science

Students are immersed in an inquiry-based curriculum where they learn to "think like a scientist": identify problems, formulate hypotheses, carry out experiments, and draw conclusions. Students are introduced to ecology, using local resources of mud dauber wasp nests for a unit covering topics including habitat, animal behavior, classification, insect development, and symbiotic relationships. Throughout the year, students are exposed to animal and plant life starting at the smallest, cellular level and moving on to a study of more complex animals. This course develops students’ appreciation for the interrelatedness between science, technology, and society. Perhaps this reality is highlighted by an interdisciplinary unit on marine biology. In conjunction with their other classes, students learn about the marine environment and adaptations of the organisms that live there. Through research, dissection, and collaborative learning, students gain not only a solid understanding of marine biology, but also an appreciation for the impact global changes and humans can have on an ecosystem. This course intends to either begin or enhance students’ awareness of environmental issues and a commitment to environmental protection.

Latin or Spanish

All incoming sixth-grade students take a language class, and students can choose to take either Latin or Spanish. The Latin course introduces the foundations of Latin: basic grammatical concepts, forms, and vocabulary. Students learn how to translate, write, and analyze sentences. Studying Latin grammar, roots, and derivatives helps students accelerate their knowledge of English vocabulary, grammar, and writing skills. Latin stories are supplemented with readings and interesting videos about Roman life to expose students to the influence the Romans had on all areas of our modern world. Latin connects the language and culture of the past with the present day in ways that are never forgotten. Latin is a highly engaging and interactive experience.

Spanish is the first of a two-year Middle School language course that introduces the basics of Spanish: vocabulary, grammar, conjugations, and spoken Spanish. Taking Spanish beginning in Grade 6 prepares students to take Spanish II during their eighth-grade year, so that they are on an accelerated track for world languages.

*Latin or Spanish is required for all sixth-grade students except those who are part of the Cervone Center for Learning.

Study Hall

Study hall allows students the opportunity to read, complete upcoming assignments, review for assessments, or collaborate with fellow group members on a project. This is also a good time for students to organize materials and manage their time given their individual responsibilities and commitments.

Exploratory Courses

All exploratory courses meet three days a week for a trimester.

Art-O-Rama 6

In this team-taught course, sixth-grade students are introduced to the art forms of visual art and theatre. With the theme of storytelling, students learn focus and concentration, storytelling basics, and scene preparation as part of their theatrical studies. In the art studio, students are involved in mask-making, narrative art, quilt-making, and clay decoration. Students use their masks and their theatrical knowledge to perform a scene, complete with script, set, lighting, and sound. While each finished product reflects the rich collaborative effort of the group, it is the unique contributions of each individual that make this experience special.

Music 6

Music 6 offers sixth-grade students two distinct musical experiences. Each student spends half the time learning to play either trumpet or trombone. At the end of the experience, students have learned to read music, control their aperture to create better pitch, and contribute to the overall sound of the ensemble. When students are not playing a horn, each takes part in composition and music history in the keyboard lab. Playing and building an appreciation for music are experiences that prove to enhance students’ lives forever.

Health 6

Health classes throughout Middle School are divided into two parts: social health and physical health. In sixth grade, social health focuses on communication skills. Through case studies, class discussions, group activities, and personal explorations, students are able to identify the strengths and weaknesses in their own communication. Expressing feelings and articulating solutions to problems are inevitable. The goal is to provide students with practical strategies that can be implemented right away in order to help build and maintain healthy and fulfilling social interactions. In physical health, students learn about the nutritional value foods provide the human body in order to grow the way nature intends. Students also discover some of the negative effects certain foods can provide. From analyzing nutritional information in the dining hall to being able to read and make sense of nutritional labels, students learn to become educated consumers.

As is the case with all health courses in the Middle School, students gain a toolbox full of information and strategies that can empower them to make responsible decisions. Both intra- and interpersonal skills are strengthened throughout the health experience.

Elective Offerings

All elective courses take place two days per week each quarter (or semester).

A series of elective courses is offered by faculty on a quarter or semester basis. Students sign up for elective courses at the beginning of each quarter based on their individual interest, expertise, or curiosity. These courses vary from year to year and from quarter to quarter. All elective courses are cross-graded groups, in that all sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade students are able to take an elective together. Courses that have been offered in recent years include but are not limited to instrumental ensemble, chorus, girl power, knitting and needlepoint, puppetry, architecture, digital photography, technical theatre, public speaking, story writing, and ceramics. Offering such classes allows students to pursue a passion or try something for the very first time.

Grade 7

GRADE SEVEN PROGRAM

The seventh-grade program was created with developmentally significant academic and personal needs in mind. Seventh-grade students learn to become increasingly self-reliant as learners and to accept ownership for knowledge, engagement, processes, and outcomes. Students are experiencing social, physical, and cognitive changes that have an impact on their academic and personal lives in immeasurable ways. Therefore, the curriculum allows students to tap into the complexities of this stage of development to think more deeply and purposefully, connect with content, learn the reward of perseverance, and develop a level of character they can be proud of.

Core Courses

All core courses meet five days a week throughout the academic year.

English 7

Seventh-grade English continues to build on the skills and understanding established in sixth-grade Humanities and will prepare students to enter eighth grade as increasingly critical and creative communicators, readers, and thinkers. To facilitate the growth of lifelong reading, students tackle a variety of literary genres, including drama, poetry, the novel, and nonfiction. Students have opportunities to read both independently and as members of the class community. Writing is a meaningful daily practice in which students learn the rudiments of essay writing as well as the power to express their ideas in a creative manner. The study of grammar, building of vocabulary, and implementation of stylistic elements will enrich the quality of their writing, speech, and reading comprehension. Students will expand on their knowledge for writing and documenting a research paper. The classroom is dynamic, one in which every member is both encouraged and expected to share his or her unique ideas and perspectives.

All new students are required to take a mathematics placement assessment to help determine which course best meets each individual’s needs. Course placement can change in any given year as the student’s needs change.

Math 7

Math 7 is a course designed to tackle the important skills and concepts covered in a pre-algebra course. This course pushes students to begin to think more abstractly. Accurate execution of basic concepts is expected. Algebraic concepts and applications are discovered to give a firm foundation for increased algebraic thought to take place. Content includes computation of fractions and integers; order of operations; properties; solving one- and two-step equations and inequalities; exponents; ratios, rates, and percents; two- and three-dimensional geometry; and an introduction to the Pythagorean theorem, irrational numbers, algebraic patterns, and coordinate graphing.

Algebra IA

Algebra IA represents the first half of an in-depth, two-year Algebra I course. Through time and carefully selected activities, experiences, and units of study, this course challenges participants by expecting mastery of basic skills and processes, building conceptual understanding for algebraic models, and increasing their ability to apply concepts in multiple representations. This course provides students with opportunities to gain mathematical fluency and confidence while also reaching a depth of knowledge that will be meaningful and lasting. Topics include but are not limited to computing all rational numbers; simplifying expressions; writing, solving and graphing linear equations and systems; and integrating geometric applications. The mathematical experience in Algebra IA prepares students to tackle the more abstract lessons in Algebra IB.

Algebra IB

Algebra IB represents the second half of an in-depth, two-year Algebra I course. Through time and carefully selected activities, experiences, and units of study, this course challenges participants by expecting prior knowledge to be applied and built upon as they face new, more abstract and complex algebraic processes and understandings. This course provides students with a working knowledge of algebra in the real world while also affording opportunities to extend that knowledge. Topics include but are not limited to simplifying exponential expressions; computing, factoring, and manipulating polynomials; working with rational expressions; applying quadratic equations; and integrating geometric applications. The experience in Algebra IB prepares students to succeed in a formal Geometry I or Geometry I Honors course (upon teacher recommendation).

Algebra I

A one-year Algebra course is offered to those students who, for reasons of acceleration, would benefit from this fast-paced course. This course is designed to enable students to think and apply mathematical concepts in a more abstract manner. It intends its participants to master basic concepts and algorithms, build a core knowledge of algebraic concepts and skills that can be confidently and consistently applied, and experience more complex applications to be extended in future courses. This course requires participants to have demonstrated mastery of mathematical skills in pre-algebra as well as the ability to work best independently.Enrollment in this course must be approved by the Head of Middle School.

American History and Government

This course will introduce seventh-grade students to the democratic institutions of the United States government. The course focuses on the evolution of the American government with a particular emphasis on the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights and will increase student awareness of civil liberties, civil rights, and active citizenry. The class uses both historical and current events to highlight important concepts and to initiate purposeful discussions and debates. The flexibility of this course allows it to capitalize on governmental activity and elections taking place during the school year. Skills taught during this course include critical thinking, effective study and note-taking strategies, appropriate use of primary and secondary source material, research and presentation skills, essay writing, and effective use of technology. The class forces students to become increasingly efficient, responsible, and critical consumers of information because no textbook exists. All resources are both supplied and discovered in and out of class. Students collaborate often as a way to expand knowledge and challenge perceptions.

Earth Science

Have you ever wondered what life was like on earth three billion years ago? Do you want to learn how to make solar hot chocolate or a modern version of an ancient Roman aqueduct? What happens when lightning strikes a sailboat? Why do hurricanes, earthquakes, and volcanoes form and do what they do? How can humankind continue to evolve in ways that will leave a planet fit for our grandchildren? What if your local stream is polluted and what can be done about it? These are just some of the ideas students explore in seventh-grade Earth Science. This course intends to spark more questions than have answers. Students learn that questions must be asked in order for answers to be discovered. The classroom, the campus, and the surrounding area supply students with a laboratory ready for exploration and natural "in-real-time" data. A year spent in earth science will turn students into the citizen scientists that are within us all. In a highly interactive and engaging experience, seventh-grade students deepen their understanding of their environment through laboratory exercises and cooperative and individual projects that deal with the earth’s interior, rocks and elements, natural resources, water systems, weather, and climate.

Latin or Spanish

All Middle School students are required to take a language class.* Latin is the first year course for all sixth and new incoming seventh-graders who choose to take Latin as their language, and represents the first phase of a comprehensive Latin I curriculum.* This course introduces the foundations of Latin: basic grammatical concepts, forms, and vocabulary. Students learn how to translate Latin and how to write and analyze Latin sentences. Studying Latin grammar, roots, and derivatives will help the students with their English vocabulary, grammar, and writing skills. Latin stories used will be supplemented with readings and educational videos about Roman life and history to expose the students to the influence of the Roman world on all areas of our modern world.

Spanish is the first of a two-year Middle School language course that introduces the basics of Spanish: vocabulary, grammar, conjugations, and spoken Spanish. Taking Spanish beginning in Grade 6 prepares students to take Spanish II during their freshman year in Upper School, so that they are on an accelerated track for world languages.

Latin 7 or Spanish 7

All Middle School students are required to take a language class.*

Latin 7 is a continuation of the Latin program begun in sixth grade and is required of all returning seventh-grade students.* Building on prior knowledge, students will learn higher-level grammar forms. They will study all the verb conjugations, as well as the imperatives and questions, and will tackle more abstract ideas such as the difference between the imperfect and perfect verb tenses and the use of word order. They will significantly expand their vocabulary and improve their English by studying roots and derivatives. Their English grammar will benefit from writing and analyzing Latin sentences. Roman mythology and history will be highlighted in the classroom and in the translations as a way to develop an appreciation for Roman influence on modern cultures around the world. Upon completion of Latin 7, students may choose to continue with Latin 8 or to study a modern language in their eighth-grade year.

Spanish 7 is the second of a two-year Middle School language course that introduces the basics of Spanish: vocabulary, grammar, conjugations, and spoken Spanish. Taking Spanish beginning in Grade 6 prepares students to take Spanish II during their freshman year in Upper School, so that they are on an accelerated track for world languages.

* Students in the Center for Learning are not required to take Latin. Seventh-grade students new to Pennington will be required to enroll in Latin 6 or Spanish 6.

Study Hall

Study hall allows students the opportunity to read, complete upcoming assignments, review for assessments, or collaborate with fellow group members on a project. This is also a good time for students to organize materials and manage their time given their individual responsibilities and commitments.

Exploratory Courses

All exploratory courses meet three days a week each trimester.

Art-O-Rama 7

In this team-taught course, seventh-grade students get immersed in a highly interactive, interdisciplinary experience in visual arts and theater. Focusing on the theme of puppetry, students investigate character and develop speechwriting and public speaking techniques in their theatrical studies. In the art studio, students work with light, shadow, and perspective in line and shadow drawings, as well as with puppetry. Students demonstrate their artistic and dramatic skills in a one-act scene written, created, and directed collaboratively within their group.

Music 7

Music 7 offers seventh-grade students two distinct musical experiences. Each student spends half the time learning to play either clarinet or saxophone. By the end of this experience students have learned to read music, control their aperture to create better pitch, and contribute to the overall sound of the woodwind ensemble. This course builds upon the experience of playing a brass instrument in sixth grade. When students are not playing a woodwind instrument, each student takes part in composition and learns music history in the keyboard lab. Playing and building an appreciation for music are experiences that prove to enhance students’ lives forever.

Health 7

Health classes throughout Middle School are divided into two parts: social health and physical health. In seventh grade, social health focuses on gender roles. Students examine how their experience growing up, from family and friend influences to the media, has taught them about the roles that men and women play and how those perceptions guide their relationships with one another. By challenging perceptions, students become more understanding and appreciative of gender differences and proceed with less judgment and more open-mindedness. In physical health, students learn about the characteristics and effects of tobacco and alcohol on one’s physical, mental, and emotional state. Use of these substances is explored through the eyes of the media, from Hollywood to advertisers. A major emphasis of this course is allow students to connect and relate to the information in such a way that they are more likely to make the best decisions for themselves and others in the presence of peer pressure.

As is the case with all health courses in the Middle School, students gain a toolbox full of information and strategies that can empower them to make responsible decisions. Both intra- and inter-personal skills are strengthened throughout the health experience.

Elective Offerings

All elective courses take place two days per week.

A series of elective courses is offered by faculty on a quarter or semester basis. Students sign up for elective courses at the beginning of each quarter based on their individual interest, expertise, or curiosity. These courses vary from year to year and from quarter to quarter. All elective courses are cross-graded groups in that all sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade students are able to take an elective together. Courses that have been offered in recent years include but are not limited to instrumental ensemble, chorus, girl power, growing up male, drawing and painting, ukulele, knot-tying, Odyssey of the Mind, D.E.A.R, global connections, technical theatre, public speaking, small group dramatics, and fashion design. Offering such classes allows students to pursue a passion or try something for the very first time.

Grade 8

GRADE EIGHT PROGRAM

Two pronounced themes drive the eighth-grade experience: identity and leadership. Through personal and intellectual interactions with peers, faculty, and advisors, students learn about themselves and their connection to their world. As the oldest students in the Middle School, they learn what it means to be a leader and a role model: accepting responsibility to lead the way for others who follow. The academic program offers the skills and habits of mind that enable students to be confident, engaged leaders in any classroom and in any club or activity in the Upper School, regardless of discipline or level of challenge.

Core Courses

All core courses meet five days a week throughout the academic year.

English 8

Eighth-grade English is committed to helping students become increasingly responsible, adaptable, creative, and purposeful writers. Grammatical skills are practiced and applied, and a more descriptive and poignant vocabulary is built. Students learn to strengthen their writer’s "voice" while making sound, supportive arguments. Carefully selected literature, poetry, short stories, and other readings provide a multitude of opportunities for students to learn meaningful lessons about themselves and their connection to their world. As a result, reading becomes something students participate in as opposed to something they do. Students respond analytically, critically, and creatively to what they read and write. Students collaborate frequently as a forum to articulate ideas and exchange perspectives. Use of electronic media provides wider contact with sources other than the classroom, affording a more diverse view of material.

All new students are required to take a mathematics placement assessment to help determine which course best meets each individual’s needs. Course placement can change as the student’s needs change.

Math 8

Math 8 is a course designed for qualifying eighth-grade students. The primary goal of this course is to build all the necessary skills and thinking that best enable student success in a comprehensive Algebra I course freshman year; the focus of specific skills and algorithms turns towards the proper application of such knowledge. Content includes algebraic expressions; solving equations and inequalities; exposure to solving, graphing, and writing linear equations; real numbers; proportion and percent; simplifying expressions; mastering geometric measurement; data and chart analysis; and probability.

Algebra IB

Algebra IB represents the second half of an in-depth, two-year Algebra I course. Through time and carefully selected activities, experiences, and units of study, this course challenges participants by expecting prior knowledge to be applied and built upon as they face new, more abstract and complex algebraic processes and understandings. It provides students with a working knowledge of algebra in the real world while also providing opportunities to extend that knowledge. Topics include but are not limited to simplifying exponential expressions, computing, factoring and manipulating polynomials, working with rational expressions, applying quadratic equations, and integrating geometric applications. The experience in Algebra IB prepares students to excel in a formal Geometry I or Geometry I Honors course (upon teacher recommendation).

Algebra I

A one-year Algebra course is offered to those students who, for reasons of acceleration, would benefit from this fast-paced course. This course is designed to enable students to think and apply mathematical concepts in a more abstract manner and intends its participants to master basic concepts and algorithms, build a core knowledge of algebraic concepts and skills that can be confidently and consistently applied, and experience more complex applications to be extended in future courses. This class requires participants to have demonstrated mastery of mathematical skills in pre-algebra as well as the ability to work best independently. Enrollment in this course must be approved by the Head of Middle School.

Geometry

This course provides a thorough treatment of geometric concepts, introduced both visually and analytically, then inductively, and finally, deductively. Throughout the course, students are asked to make conjectures about figures and about relationships among figures. Constructions, computer labs, and hands-on activities are integral parts of this course.

Global Perspectives

This course takes students to places around the world that are facing significant, if not historic, times. Students are immersed in the issues each selected region faces through the eyes of its government, its citizens, its neighbors, and perhaps the globe. Current issues are examined through a variety of resources and perspectives intended to inform and challenge student beliefs. Students will become knowledgeable about a region’s past: the people, places, and events that have contributed to the issues it faces today. The class will stay current on proceedings in the United States and relate these developments to issues happening around the world. Deeper understanding of racism, prejudice, and genocide are natural results of an interdisciplinary unit on the Holocaust. This course has no textbook and therefore emphasizes learning through on-line inquiry and primary resources. Students become increasingly information-literate, learning how to become discerning consumers of information and efficient, responsible, and resourceful researchers.

Physical Science

This course provides students with a sampling of physics and chemistry. Searching for the answer to the question "Why does that happen?" is a habitual process. Relating the studied concepts to phenomena from students’ daily lives is also a meaningful and critical component of this science experience. Students are involved in laboratory inquiries, building projects, critical thinking, and collaborative learning to study topics including forces, motion, magnetism, electricity, simple machines, sound, light, molecular bonding, chemical reactions, matter, the Periodic Table, and behavior of atoms. Scientific inquiry, exploration, and discovery are paramount to this experience. Students learn that asking more questions often leads to much deeper knowledge and reveals more interesting and meaningful discoveries to investigate. Eighth-grade scientists become engrossed in how things interact with one another and why.

In eighth grade, students are able to choose which language they would like to take. Students should select a language they intend to study throughout their Upper School experience. In place of a study hall, passionate linguists may choose to take two languages, as long as both are able to fit into their schedule and one of those languages is Latin.

Latin 8

Latin 8 is the final year of a comprehensive Latin I program for those who began their Latin experience in sixth grade. In this course, students learn complex grammar such as the passive voice of verbs, participles, the pluperfect and future perfect tenses, clauses, and all the pronouns. Students will comprehend, translate, and analyze challenging, engaging, and historically relevant stories. There is a heavy emphasis on the correlations between English and Latin grammar and vocabulary and on the many influences of Roman history and culture on the Western world. Latin 8 is highly interactive, where discussion and discovery are commonplace. The further one studies Latin, the further one learns an organized and disciplined approach to schoolwork; one also is more likely to identify patterns in all languages, an ability that contributes to the ease of future language learning. Students who complete Latin 8 often excel in Latin II in Upper School.

Latin I

The introductory level of Latin covers the basic principles of grammar and sentence construction. The verb and noun systems are studied in detail, and students learn essential translation skills. The memorization of vocabulary is also emphasized. Students will explore ancient Roman history and culture. In addition, they will be prepared for the National Latin Examination.

Spanish I

Spanish I is an introductory course that assumes no previous experience in, or knowledge of, the language. This course includes detailed focus on structure, grammar, vocabulary, and in-depth study skills for language learning. The student is given instruction in each of the four language skills: listening comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing. Students also receive an introduction to the cultures of Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

French I

French I constitutes the first year of studying a foreign language in the Upper School. It provides the foundation of language study on which to build a sequence of further study. The course includes detailed focus on structure, grammar, vocabulary, and in-depth study skills for language learning. The student is given instruction in each of the four language skills: listening comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing. The student is also introduced to French culture and customs throughout the world.

German I

This course serves as an introduction to the German language. Students learn to read, write, speak, and listen to German through classroom and textbook work. Emphasis is placed on conversational German, where the questioning and answering model is heavily used. Language cassettes and video provide students with additional examples of authentic German in use.

Exploratory Courses

All exploratory courses meet three days a week each trimester.

Art-O-Rama 8

Art-O-Rama is a one-of-a-kind course that integrates visual arts and theatre. In designated teams, eighth-grade students view a series of artwork from diverse artists, styles, and genres. Each team selects a work of art and engages in a historical analysis of that piece of art. The team then uses that analysis and is responsible to bring that art to life through a self-written, -produced and -directed dramatic presentation. Imagination, critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity abound.

Music 8

Music 8 offers eighth-grade students two distinct musical experiences. Each student spends half the time learning to play either violin or viola. By the end of this experience students have learned to use the fingerboard to control the note’s pitch while developing a smooth bow stroke for a clean sound. Students learn to read and play music while also contributing to the overall sound of a string ensemble. By the end of Middle School, students will have played brass, woodwind, and string instruments and will be in a position to join the music ensemble with an instrument of their choice. When students are not playing a string instrument, each student takes part in composition and learns music history in the keyboard lab. Playing and building an appreciation for music are experiences that prove to enhance students’ lives forever.

Health 8

Health classes throughout Middle School are divided into two parts: social health and physical health. In eighth grade, social health focuses on the question "Who am I?" Students look inward, reflecting on the many relationships they have had throughout their middle school years. From romantic attachment to friend to family member, students identify the character traits that have contributed to the health (and challenges) of those relationships. Students use their experiences to set goals for the kinds of relationships they hope to establish in Upper School. The goal is for each student to be his or her best self. In physical health, students examine how the body’s natural chemicals, such as hormones and consumable substances from food to drugs, affect their physical development and decision making. Students will better appreciate the role that both nature and personal choice have on their development.

Technology Course

Applications 8

Students in eighth grade continue to build upon their technology skills in this required four-week course. Students work on keyboarding, word processing, desktop publishing, media presentation, and online research. Students also learn to use a scanner and digital camera. Skills developed in class are applied to produce documents that complement studies in students’ academic classes.

Elective Offerings

All elective courses take place two days per week each quarter (or semester).

A series of elective courses is offered by faculty on a quarter or semester basis. Students sign up for elective courses at the beginning of each quarter based on their individual interest, expertise, or curiosity. These courses vary from year to year and from quarter to quarter. All elective courses are cross-graded groups in that all sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade students are able to take an elective together. Courses that have been offered in recent years include but are not limited to instrumental ensemble, chorus, girl power, growing up male, drawing and painting, ukulele, knot-tying, Odyssey of the Mind, D.E.A.R, global connections, technical theatre, public speaking, small group dramatics, and fashion design. Offering such classes allows students to pursue a passion or try something for the very first time.