Art class meets one trimester a year. Eighth-grade students study the principles of art: balance, rhythm, focal point, space, unity, and scale. These students work on including the principles in their work. They work on more complex lessons that require higher-level thinking as well as a competent use of medium and crafting skills. Their work continues to develop their technique in drawing, painting, fiber, and ceramics, including both flat and dimensional work. We study a variety of artwork and discuss its relevance to the projects we create.

Eighth-grade English students continue to develop skills in composition, vocabulary, reading comprehension, oral expression, writing mechanics, and literature appreciation and analysis begun in seventh grade. Students experience various genres, including fiction, memoir, drama, radio plays, and poetry. Some books include Lord of the Flies, The Giver, Animal Farm, and The Book Thief. Through literature, the course explores the idea of how individuals function within society’s structures and beliefs, making frequent connections to the social studies curriculum. Writing in various forms is emphasized, including reflective journals, expository essays, and the collaborative writing of radio plays. Classroom discussion encourages the development of critical thinking skills throughout the year.

Students in sixth grade choose a three-year sequence in French, Spanish or Chinese. All four basic skills—listening, speaking, reading, and writing—are practiced. Completion of the level I curriculum, over the course of three years, allows for a variety of supplemental and enrichment activities in addition to the instruction provided through the textbook series. Students who successfully complete the Middle School program are prepared for level II French, Spanish and Chinese in ninth grade. Students may select French, Spanish or Chinese at the Upper School to fulfill the 3-year Global Language requirement for graduation.

The eighth-grade health and wellness education curriculum reviews health-enhancing information and personal skills to achieve healthy living. Human anatomy and physiology, disease, nutrition, body image and the impact of the media are examined in this course. Although there will be further discussion on substance use/abuse, human sexuality education, abstinence, building healthy relationships, media influences, and sexually transmitted diseases are a focus. Social networking safety and discussion of the appropriate use of social media are also explored. The course provides lessons that deal with making good choices, setting priorities, developing refusal skills, understanding consequences and reinforcing open communication in order to secure healthy relationships.

Students in eighth grade are assigned to either Algebra 1A, Algebra 1AB, or Algebra II. In Algebra IA students develop and master topics necessary to succeed in Algebra IAB. Students gain experience in the use of algebraic principles while they build on their knowledge of integers, equations, and graphing. This course prepares students for Algebra IAB in ninth grade. In Algebra IAB and Algebra II, students continue problem-solving and develop a deeper understanding of variables, including an exploration of polynomials, graphs, complex fractions, functions, and inequalities. These courses prepare students for either Algebra 2, Geometry, or Honors Geometry in ninth grade.

Each student studies music during one trimester of the year. Students study biographical information on various composers and examples of music from all historical periods and in all styles. The social studies and music curricula dovetail to provide an interdisciplinary experience. Music Ace Maestro software enables the study of music theory through lab work and includes all basic concepts and rudiments. Performance is strongly encouraged in the classroom and in various ensembles which include Chorus, Handbell Choir, Concert Band, String Orchestra, Jazz Band and Chapel Musicians, all of which are open to grades sixth, seventh and eighth grades, and meet during the school day.

The middle school physical education curriculum is dedicated to meaningful instruction in developmentally appropriate movement experiences that will lead to an active and healthy lifestyle. A goal of the program is to promote a positive self-concept through fitness, sport and lifetime activities. All middle school students will have two periods of physical education per cycle throughout the year. By becoming and remaining physically, mentally, socially and emotionally healthy, students will increase their chances of achieving their highest potential.

The eighth-grade physical science course is a study of the basic principles of physics and chemistry. The content of the course includes the following unit topics: Methods of Science; Newton's Laws of Motion; Work, Energy, and Machines; the Atomic Model of Matter; Chemical Bonding and Reactions; Properties of Matter; and Chemical Compounds. It is a lab-oriented course that challenges the students to not only learn the concepts but also apply them to practical problems and develop important science process skills. Students will learn a variety of laboratory techniques and will become familiar with many common laboratory instruments. The lab activities involve measuring and observing, mathematical analysis of data, and drawing conclusions. Students will attain practical experience with experimental design and technical writing.

This course is designed to create wider interest and knowledge about the world and America’s place in the world beginning with the continuation of American history following WWll. Students also explore physical and cultural geography, including how different people live in different regions of the world. Russia, Vietnam, India, Africa, Southwest Asia, China, and Japan are among those that may be explored depending on current events and student interest.

All middle school students will experience learning off campus. The eighth-grade travels to Washington D.C. for three days, visits Camel's Hump Farm, participates in STEAM Day at Steel Stacks, and has community service opportunities throughout the school year. Eighth graders may also participate in our international travel program.

Merle Smith Campus

Downtown Campus