Special Programs and Activities
The Middle School sets aside time outside the classroom to expose students to new ideas and experiences. Co-curricular activities, a three-season competitive sports program, overnight grade-level trips, parent- and school-sponsored social events, and Exploratory Learning Week give students a chance to explore activities or topics that could spark new interests or identify new talents.
Special Programs and Activities
Civic Engagement and Service Learning
Service Learning has been part of the Middle School program in one form or another since the Middle School was established. It teaches students in a practical way to recognize and assume shared responsibility for their immediate environment and the community at large, fostering greater maturity, self-awareness, and cooperation among students.
Students and teachers care for their school environment by sharing routine daily maintenance in the classrooms and in the cafeteria after lunch. Increasingly, faculty look for ways to integrate service learning into their curricula. For example, in recent years students have created public service announcements for the Middle School community and sixth grade students have volunteered at local community gardens, which related to a class text. In addition, students have service learning opportunities through civic engagement days, Advoc8, and clubs that allow them to support local non profits.
Moreover, all eighth grade students participate in the Advoc8 program. After first volunteering at local organizations and learning about ways to address social issues, students then develop and execute their own advocacy projects that reflect personal interests while meeting community needs. Recent projects have focused on immigration, pollution, and mass incarceration issues, to name a few.
Middle School students have the opportunity to sign up for a variety of activities that meet during activity time and occasionally after school. Some activities last the entire year; other activities run for approximately half the school year. Students are encouraged to pursue their own interests and organize an activity themselves but will need to find an adult to sponsor them and to let students know it is being offered. We ask that once students have signed up for an activity, they continue with it for at least six to eight weeks.
Middle School students may audition for a variety of advanced yearlong ensembles that meet once per week before or after school. These auditioned ensembles have many performances throughout the year including assemblies, concerts, and a variety of Park community events.
They are as follows:
The B#s is our Middle School auditioned, soprano, alto, baritone, a cappella group. They work on advanced choral repertoire and have more performance opportunities than the Middle School chorus. The group rehearses on Wednesdays from 7:30–8:20 a.m.
Chamber Strings performs advanced popular arrangements, chamber orchestra, and small chamber group repertoire for a variety of events throughout the school year. Students auditioning for the Chamber Strings should have at least one year of experience on their instrument and, if in sixth or seventh grade, be enrolled in the Strings class. This group meets on Fridays from 7:30–8:20 a.m.
This auditioned group learns music from the classic era of jazz and explores contemporary styles. Playing traditional and non-traditional jazz instruments, students focus on improvisation and authentic engagement. Rehearsals are Wednesdays from 3:15–4:15 p.m.
The objectives of the Interscholastic Sports Program are:
- To give students thorough knowledge of the rules and strategies of each sport.
- To develop both the desire to compete to the best of their ability and an understanding of the importance of team play and commitment.
- To help students learn from the experiences of victory and defeat.
- To develop a skill set within a sport to prepare students for high school competition.
Students sign up for teams before each season and compete at the A, B, or C level. Coaches attempt to play every child as much as possible, without sacrificing overall team performance. Practices are held Monday-Friday (for A teams) and Monday-Thursday (for B and C teams) from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Practices consist of continued fundamental skill work coupled with more complex, game-oriented drills and scrimmages.
The following interscholastic sports are offered:
Student Government organizes social events, some community service, and other issues of concern to the general student body. The Government is made up of four elected officers and representatives from each grade. Meetings occur on a bi-weekly basis or more frequently, as needed.
Exploratory Learning Week
At the end of the second trimester, Park’s Middle School students participate in Exploratory Learning Week. Faculty, parents, and administrators lead week-long classes and workshops that offer students an opportunity to explore interesting topics, learn new skills, and engage in a range of activities that differ from our regular academic program. Students choose from nearly 50 offerings and the week concludes with a theatrical production by the eighth grade production class.
The following is a sampling of previous topics: Winter Camping in West Virginia, Street Art and Advocacy, Write a Play for Center Stage, Edible Art, 3-D Printing and CAD, Hack Your Teddy Bear, Wood and Metalworking, Futsal, Nature Photography, and My Money, My Future.
Grade Level Trips
Outdoor education trips at Park aim to strengthen the social, emotional, moral, and practical dimensions of each student’s character, simultaneously providing opportunities to extend classroom learning. Our program is designed to create transformational moments in children 11-14 years old by taking students briefly beyond their comfort zones to a space where adaptation to changing circumstances is required for success, the confidence to thrive in unfamiliar situations is discovered, and bonds of community are deepened.
Outdoor trips are significant experiences in Middle School life. Every effort is made to accommodate the individual needs of a child and safely manage medical conditions. Students’ participation is deeply valued and participation is expected.
Details regarding grade level trips will be made available to parents throughout the year.
Sixth Grade Fall Teambuilding Trip
Early in the fall, sixth graders will explore a variety of locations in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and surrounding areas as part of a day-long adventure race. This student-led experience will provide an opportunity to collaborate and problem-solve while exploring a variety of attractions in our beautiful city. Much of our time will be spent in small groups with faculty chaperones walking throughout the Inner Harbor area. Our day will conclude at Park’s Sugar Campus where we will debrief and celebrate our accomplishments. After dinner there will be an optional camp out, with tenting on the fields at Sugar Campus. The following day all sixth graders will continue to collaborate and reflect on their experience through a variety of fun, teacher-led breakout sessions.
Seventh Grade Spring Trip
In the spring, the seventh grade travels to Carroll County, staying near the northernmost point of the Chesapeake Bay. Students will engage in a variety of adventure activities that will allow for self exploration and leadership development. This experience will also allow students to develop a deeper understanding of the Chesapeake Bay watershed as they immerse themselves into this unique natural environment.
Eighth Grade Fall Social and Emotional Intelligence Retreat
In the fall, the eighth grade will embark on a day-long workshop focusing on the fundamentals of social and emotional intelligence. Through a frame of adventure programming, students experience team, group, and individual games that explore the dynamics of inter-and intra-personal relationships, value clarification, and self awareness. The goal of this trip is to strengthen students’ connections with classmates and enrich their affective skills.
Eighth Grade Spring End-of-Year Retreat
IIn June, our eighth graders will have the opportunity to celebrate their Middle School experience while exploring the outdoors in and around Harpers Ferry. Students will stay overnight at the Manidokan Retreat Center, located in the hills surrounding Harpers Ferry. They will have time to celebrate and reflect while gathering around a campfire and white water rafting down the Shenandoah River.
The Middle School sponsors special projects focusing on particular subject areas. Speakers may be invited to talk to students, or student projects may be displayed or presented to provide a sense of the breadth of a particular subject area.
Seventh Grade Activist Project
The Activist Project is the capstone project of seventh grade social studies and language arts. In the spring, each student chooses an activist and injustice to research. They then create an exhibit to share their learning and also draft a persuasive argument for their activist’s inclusion in our Activist Project Museum. Projects have ranged from documentary films, podcasts, and websites, to children’s books, portraits, and monuments.
Eighth Grade Advoc8
Students participate in Advoc8, a multi-disciplinary project designed for students to use skills and knowledge developed during Middle School in order to take on roles as advocates for change. During Advoc8, students choose a topic about which they are passionate and, with faculty and peer collaboration, create an individualized or group project that culminates in the creation of authentic, innovative, solution-oriented advocacy. Read more about Advoc8.