Our 8th Graders are the leaders of our Middle School. Only they can run for President of the MS Student Government, and they serve as facilitators for the MS student-led clubs. As the oldest in the division, we work with them to set the tone, and model leadership, sportsmanship, community-mindedness, and kindness for the rest of the middle school.
In keeping with their role as leaders of the division, the theme for their year is Identity. In their Social Studies and English Language Arts classes, 8th Graders focus on ancient history and world religions and related literature, investigating how beliefs are formed, how those beliefs unite or divide peoples and communities, how civilizations form and how “isms” arise and impact groups. In Social Studies, topics include Ancient China (Buddhism), Ancient India (Hinduism), African Civilizations, Mesoamerican Civilization, Muslim Empires (Islam), Ancient Rome/Byzantium (Christianity & Judaism), and the European Middle Ages. In English Language Arts, 8th Graders dive into literature that reflects the realities of people from other cultures who have been impacted by sexism, colonialism, racism, religion, and war. Some of these works include The Book Thief, Persepolis, and Things Fall Apart. Students will have the opportunity to write poetry, short stories, prose, film reviews, music reviews, and book reviews, as well as essays and research papers.
Science approaches questions of identity through it own lens. 8th Graders study Earth Science, exploring the geologic sciences that are concerned with the origin, structure, and physical phenomena of the earth. Projects will focus on patterns and cycles that affect living organisms as well as larger astronomical concepts that lend to our understanding of our place in the universe. In mathematics, 8th Graders are in year three of the Connected Math curriculum; equivalent to Algebra 1, students will investigate mathematics models, the Pythagorean Theorem, exponential functions, quadratic functions, properties of triangles, symbolic expressions and equations, and functions. Where do we find the theme of identity in this course? Confident problem-solving is an essential part of understanding, and feeling comfortable with, oneself.
8th Grade Spanish rounds out a multi-year study of the language, with an emphasis on communicating. Listening to, as well as reading, writing, and speaking the language is the focus, with connections to the 8th Grade humanities study and as many field trips as possible. In the spring, students are exposed to French language and culture, preparing them to make a choice of which language to study in high school.
In Roundtable, which meets weekly, 8th Graders help explore their roles in their communities, who they are as learners and leaders, and how they are changing. This course will include a leadership development component, a community service component, a digital citizenship component, and an essential health component including discussions of biological and social issues that early adolescents face. Roundtable integrates with Media Arts, giving 8th Graders the necessary skills to understand media arts, produce various types of media, and use media arts to communicate their ideas and creativity. 8th Graders also take Physical Education twice weekly, learning a variety of new sports and techniques to help keep them active and healthy as well as increase their physical skills.
8th Graders select two arts courses per semester, each meeting for two periods per week. Students can choose amongst Beginning Ensemble (our band program), vocal ensemble, creative writing, drama, ceramics, and studio art.