Grade eight at SRDS challenges students to explore the concept of leadership. As senior members of the Middle School community, eighth-grade students have the opportunity to take on a variety of formal and informal leadership roles both inside and outside the classroom. Classes emphasize the development of skills critical to success in the Upper School while remaining responsive to the unique needs of the age group. Grade eight culminates in a capstone three-day trip to Washington, D.C.
Adopting a high school mindset, eighth graders take separate classes for English and history, but teachers collaborate closely to emphasize similar reading, writing and research skills. In English, students cultivate their comprehension and analytical skills through reading both classic and contemporary texts. They explore a variety of writing genres, including personal narrative, literary response, graphic stories and blogs. Simultaneously, in U.S. History, students evaluate the world around them by investigating the events of the past. They learn to read primary sources and to analyze critical writings, speeches and political cartoons in order to understand important questions about the development of American economy, society and foreign policy. Students are also taught to write persuasively using historical evidence, and they end the year with a formal debate that integrates many of the research, writing and public speaking skills developed all year.
Depending on their strength in mathematics, eighth-grade students may take either Algebra I or Geometry or Algebra 1b, the second part of the two-year Algebra sequence started in seventh-grade. Both courses educate students beyond the formulaic approach to mathematics and help them apply essential mathematical concepts to solve problems in and out of the classroom.
Eighth-grade students explore physics and chemistry through labs and hands-on projects guided by the principles of engineering. This course challenges students to investigate topics such as force, acceleration and movement through real-world application and experimentation. It also continues to develop STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) skills by relying on student inquiry, design thinking and collaboration.
Eighth graders may continue their two-year sequence of Spanish or French or begin Arabic in the Upper School. Students continue to build their linguistic skills through speaking, reading and writing. Either pathway allows students to achieve learning outcomes that will prepare them for the second level of Upper School world language in grade nine.
Eighth graders are expected to bring a personal computing device for use through the school day. As a result, students engage in technologies relevant to each curricular area. Teachers from all academic areas integrate IDEAS Lab resources, such as Tinkercad and 3-D printers, laser cutter, robotics and circuits into their curriculum. Such hands-on experiences give students the opportunity to make connections between various disciplines. In addition, the state-of-the art video production studio at SRDS allows students to communicate using multimedia tools.
Eighth graders must take two art classes: studio art, graphic design, chorus or instrumental music. SRDS boasts one of the most in-depth digital arts programs and advanced facilities in the region; students may also take art classes in our first-class drawing and painting studio. Eighth graders may continue to participate in Middle School band, orchestra, and chorus. Students may also participate in drama, jazz band, percussion, and musical theater through clubs and after-school programs.
ADVISORY AND CLUBS
All Middle School students have a daily homeroom and once-a-week advisory period with an advisor and small group of students. Advisors help coach students on their social and academic lives and help them to become reflective learners. Students also have a choice of clubs twice a week within the school day, which allow them to pursue individual passions such as chess, coding, robotics, drama, student council and many more.
Eighth-grade students have gym class twice a week where they focus on skill development in various sports, including soccer, basketball and badminton. Students also have recess twice daily and are encouraged to play outside.