A Day in The Life
The Middle School Experience: Grades 6-8
Our 100-Acre Campus
Our 100-acre campus is a thriving, learning laboratory that includes woodlands, stream, pond, trails, and gardens. Students in Grades 1-12 share the same building on campus, with separate spaces for each division. Middle School students spend most of their time on the lower level of the Blaustein wing (by the pond), in the library, the Arts Center, and the Athletics Center.
Middle School students typically arrive at school between 7:45 and 8:20 a.m., leaving enough time to get settled, visit their lockers, catch up with friends, speak with teachers, and check the daily announcements on the white board in the main hallway. Middle Schoolers then make their way to their first period classes, which begin at 8:30 a.m.
What is a Progressive Classroom?
When you enter the progressive classroom, you’ll find active engagement — lively debate and discussion, small group work in the halls, all-class writing workshops, documenting research, and one-on-one conversations with teachers.
In every discipline and through every learning activity, students — with each other and with teachers as partners and collaborators — construct their knowledge about the world through inquiry and thoughtful analysis. In an environment of mutual respect, students direct the conversation; they challenge each other and their teachers, and all voices are valued and considered.
Park Middle School students take required courses in every academic discipline, the arts, and physical education. Our schedule of five or six classes per day minimizes the number of transitions that Middle School students have to make and allows ample time for exploring topics of interest, researching Park’s more than 20 information databases, collaborating on projects with peers, and venturing out onto our 100-acre campus. Grade level themes (6th: Community, 7th: Identity, 8th: Advocacy) are seamlessly woven into classroom experiences.
Park students are inquisitive, show and earn respect, and are mature beyond their years.
Labs, Math, and Interactive Learning
In Middle School science, students are encouraged to think, explore, and behave like scientists. Science is an ongoing, evolving discipline, not simply a body of facts, and the more students are able to participate in the scientific process, the more keenly they come to understand this. Similarly, the math curriculum, in keeping with the guidelines set by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, is an integrated program that teaches students to view math in a holistic manner. Emphasis is placed on the acquisition of mathematical concepts and reasoning tools as a means of promoting problem solving. The classroom environment is characterized by an inquiring atmosphere requiring student interaction, investigation, and communication. In both disciplines, individual as well as small group work and whole-class discussions are planned for most classes.
Mid-morning, from 10:35-11 a.m., students take a break from academic classes and meet in their advisory groups for “House.” Upon entering Middle School, students are assigned a faculty advisor, who serves as the student’s advocate and is the primary liaison between school and home for parents. House groups are made up of 9-11 students from all three grades, and they meet together daily for announcements, snacks, discussions, and celebrations. Students also typically venture outside for the last 15 minutes of House to play games and run around for a bit before returning to classes. In addition to providing a nice break in the morning, House is a unique opportunity for students to build relationships with their peers in different grades.
SEAL is the Middle School’s social and emotional learning program and is part of our students’ regular academic program in Grades 6-8. SEAL coursework focuses on the skills, attitudes, and behaviors necessary for young people to thrive interpersonally, intrapersonally, and to become active, engaged community members. Our SEAL program teaches the core competencies formulated by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL): self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, responsible decision-making, and relationship skills. These competencies reflect the most current research findings and trends in adolescent health and development. SEAL courses are taught by our school counselors, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Health Educator, administrators, and faculty.
Our cafeteria is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and has a variety of hot and cold meal options, as well as snacks available throughout the day. The cafeteria prepares its menu using fresh ingredients, limiting the use of processed foods. Vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free offerings are always available and menus reflect seasonal changes. Our staff make every effort to source produce from local farmers who practice ecologically responsible farming methods. All of the cafeteria’s single-use food containers and napkins are compostable. The Bruins’ Den, located in the Athletic Center, is open in the afternoon for sandwiches, salads, snacks, and drinks to go.
Building our Middle School Community
Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, the entire Middle School participates in Community Time. For the last 35 minutes of the day, depending on the needs of the community that week, students and faculty either gather together for assemblies, or participate in activities (a range of 30 different choices that are either faculty or student-led), have PLUS Time (time to meet with teachers or work with classmates to complete projects and assignments), or participate in AAA groups (affinity, alliance, and advocacy groups). The flexible, dedicated time to gather together each week as a community is an important aspect of the Middle School experience. Students are encouraged to be advocates for themselves in PLUS Time and AAA groups, to get involved in the life of the school during activities, and to listen and engage with both internal and external speakers at assemblies.
Humanities and Arts
The ultimate goal of Middle School social studies is to guide students in their development as culturally competent, active citizens living in a democratic society through cultivation of the four Habits of Mind: Historical Thinking, Global Mindedness, Valuing Diverse Perspectives and Developing Empathy, and Active Citizenship. Social studies encompasses the study of history and geography, while also incorporating the approaches and strategies of many other disciplines, including economics, anthropology, sociology, political science, and psychology. In the Middle School arts curriculum, students create, imagine, and explore new ways of engaging with the world. Through a wide range of experiences in drama, music, and visual art, students develop the physical, aesthetic, and critical thinking skills that enable them to see and respond to the world with empathy and discernment.
Athletics, Music, After Day, and Activities
When the Middle School day ends at 3:15 p.m., bus riders move to the bus circle and those planning on getting picked up proceed to the carpool area. Students staying at school either proceed to an activity (sports teams, robotics, tutoring, music lesson, club, etc.), or sign into After Day in the Middle School Commons. Students first check-in with the After Day monitors, and then they may go to the library for study hall, play in a gym or on a field, or simply hang out in the Commons or other approved locations. Monitors will regularly check each space, locating students when parents arrive or call the front desk for pick up. There is no charge for these services. After Day ends at 6 p.m., and no supervision within the school is provided afterwards.