Art class meets one trimester a year. Seventh-grade students create work that further reinforces the use of the elements of art. Students work on creating depth through perspective and continue to develop techniques in drawing, painting, and sculpture, including flat and dimensional work. Student work is focused on technical precision and promoting fine crafting skills.

Using books as springboards, seventh grade English focuses on the themes of identity and perspective—how do different people view the same issue or event? Students explore how gender, race, age, socio-economic status, and cultural and personal history can affect an individual’s perspective on a given topic. Students are encouraged to make connections and find meaning, to seek a better understanding and appreciation of his/her own personal points-of-view, while at the same time, to gain a broader sense of perspective.

Some of the major texts used are a Shakespeare play, a collection of short stories and poems by Edgar Allan Poe, The Outsiders, Freak the Mighty, Zen and the Art of Faking It, and Fahrenheit 451.

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 seventh-grade health and wellness curriculum focuses on addictive behavior and the use and abuse of drugs, inhalants, tobacco, and alcohol. Discussions regarding the use/abuse of dangerous substances, media influence and marketing to youth, as well as Internet safety and cyberbullying, are explored in this course. Current health issues as related to wellness through exercise, health promotion, and disease prevention are also discussed. Strategies to promote healthy behaviors through risk elimination and risk reduction strategies in the face of peer pressure are emphasized.

Students in seventh grade are assigned to either Pre-Algebra or Algebra I. The material presented in Pre-Algebra deepens students’ knowledge of arithmetic fundamentals and number theory, while reinforcing their understanding of fractions, decimals, and exponents. Goals for the course include solving multi-step equations, exploration of square roots and percent-fraction relationships, graphing linear equations on a coordinate plane, introduction of polynomials, and developing the process for solving various word problems. Real world application of concepts is also discussed and investigated through hands-on projects. This course prepares students for Algebra I in eighth grade.

Algebra I further develops the students’ abilities to solve equations and problems after they have satisfactorily demonstrated high proficiency in Pre-Algebra skills. Polynomials are factored, systems of linear equations are introduced, and increasingly complex fractions, exponents, radicals, functions, and inequalities are studied. Students who successfully complete Algebra I in seventh grade will take Algebra II in eighth 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 seventh-grade science course is an overview of contemporary Earth and environmental science topics along with broad overviews of ecology and plants through a year-long tree study. Students explore these areas through a variety of ways including the text, online resources, contemporary videos and simulations, lab investigations and other hands-on activities. All students research a topic in environmental science, identify a problem or issue in that area to which they propose and design a solution.

Students begin the year studying ecology by investigating populations and how they change in a variety of ecosystems. In Earth and environmental science, topics include the Earth’s beginning, its structure and the impact of forces on the Earth as they relate to weathering, erosion, soil formation and conservation, and events such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Students will also study elements of geology, weather, climate and climate change, and space science. The botany component of the course involves a long-term study of trees that enables students to use their skills of observation, data monitoring, and prediction-making. Students will relate the effects of the environment on tree growth and development.

Seventh graders survey American history from colonization through WWII. Activities include the study of both political and physical features maps, an individual oral history project to interview a person at least 50 years older than themselves, and a field trip to the Lackawanna Coal Mine and Anthracite Museum as part of Pennsylvania history. Students also explore the history and culture of the Moravians in colonial Bethlehem.

All middle school students will experience learning off campus. The seventh-grade travels to Boston, MA for three days, performs field studies at Jacobsburg State Park, attends a Shakespeare play, and has community service opportunities throughout the school year. Seventh graders may also participate in our international travel program.

Merle Smith Campus

Downtown Campus