While the basic skills continue to be reinforced, the curricula of the departmentalized Upper School becomes increasingly more demanding as students learn to grasp concepts more abstract in nature. Numerous opportunities are provided for the students to actively participate in their own learning. There is a distinct “doing atmosphere” which permits the students to develop self-confidence by taking part in group activities as well as displaying individual expression. Emphasis on the writing process provides the vehicle for extensive self-thought and communication of one’s ideas. An environment is established permitting students to practice self-discipline in work habits and conduct. Interdisciplinary objectives for all grades include critical thinking, information retrieval, reasoning, analyzing, decision making, collecting data, problem solving, communication skills, interpersonal skills, and conflict resolution.
Within the eight period day, literature, language arts, and reading are required courses. This allows students an in-depth study of grammar, composition, and vocabulary. These skills are reinforced through the use of a wide variety of literature. All types of writing are incorporated into the class work and strong study skills are always stressed.
A deep understanding of concepts, applications, and problem solving are at the heart of the mathematics curriculum. All areas of math are integrated and reviewed as skills are mastered using a hands-on approach. The curriculum used in fifth and sixth grade is Singapore math which emphasizes word problems and problem solving. Students in seventh and eighth grade are also given the opportunity to take pre-algebra, algebra I, geometry, or even algebra II and trigonometry in some cases.
A discovery method and interactive approach is used throughout the science curriculum. Lab work and reports are an integral part of learning at the school’s Science and Environmental Center. In depth analysis of all types of sciences including life science, physical science, chemistry, and earth science prepare students for similar high school level work. Double class periods in the Science and Environmental Center allow for hands-on lab experience.
Students in grades five and six study world geography and its effect on the past and present. They explore all areas of the globe with emphasis on Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Seventh and eighth graders gain an overview of world cultures before examining American history from its days of early exploration to modern times. A global view of historic and current events is highlighted.
The study of Latin is offered to seventh and eighth graders. This consists of the development of vocabulary and the grammatical structure through translation. Also, the history and culture of the Roman daily life is studied. The natural by-product is a greater understanding of English vocabulary and grammar, as well as acting as a springboard for the study of other languages.
The teaching of French and Spanish continues in the Upper School. The conversational approach is supplemented by a rich study of grammar and culture. This provides a thorough preparation for advanced high school courses.
Critical reading is an offering for seventh and eighth graders. Students learn to comprehend and analyze what is read from a variety of sources. The results of their investigations are then communicated using written and oral presentations.
Small group computer classes keep students on the cutting edge of technology. Students learn about the technological world through design and problem solving. Practical computer skills such as PowerPoint, word processing, spreadsheets, database and web design are studied in depth. Touch typing lessons and tests are used to improve accuracy and speed. These skills can then be applied to various disciplines. Cyber Safety is discussed through an age appropriate video presentations and open discussion.
Exposure to varieties of athletics and physical fitness are stressed in the physical education program. In addition, an appreciation for personal well-being is learned through health courses. Units on various types of sports are introduced using the school’s gymnasium, tennis courts, soccer field, baseball fields, and outdoor courts. The school’s indoor, heated pool facility allows for swimming instruction in both the fall and spring. An innovative technology course entitled “Explorations” allows Upper School students to utilize state-of-the-art technology for research based projects. Cooperative groups work creatively to choose a topic, analyze material, and present their findings. Similarly, students work in small groups to do project work in “Math Workshop.” This course allows students to connect their mathematics skills to real-world applications.