Middle School (5-8)
Independence – and the responsibility that comes with it – evolves during grades 5-8. Academics become increasingly challenging as Middle School progresses; with the help of supportive teachers, students are well prepared to take on age-appropriate rigors.
Maret's Middle School engages the natural enthusiasm, energy, and curiosity of adolescence with a curriculum that is challenging yet exciting. Our program is designed to create confident thinkers, healthy athletes, innovative artists, thoughtful friends, and engaged community members.
- Social Curriculum
- Middle School Houses
- Community-Building Excursions
- Committees AND CIRCLES
- Intensive Study Week
- Advisory Program
- Communication with Parents/Guardians
Cultivating friendships; establishing cross-grade connections; collaborating with adults; and becoming engaged on campus, in the neighborhood, and across the world: the emphasis in Middle School is on building the students’ sense of community.
Maret capitalizes on the spirit, energy, and curiosity of students in grades five through eight to create confident thinkers, innovative artists, healthy athletes, thoughtful social navigators, and proactive citizens. As students progress through the middle school program, they acquire the tools and skills they need to assume increased responsibility and to become independent young adults.
Middle school students study English, history, human development, Latin, library/research skills, mathematics, music, physical education, community engagement and partnerships, science, Spanish or French, technology, and visual art. The curriculum emphasizes broad exposure to each subject while systematically providing the basic skills for forthcoming upper school study. Teachers use a variety of approaches in the classroom that encourage creativity, collaborative work, and problem solving.
Each grade features curricular highlights: the American Experience Fair (history) and Science Fair in fifth and sixth grades, Global Issues Day (world cultures and geography) in seventh grade, and the Climate Change Conference (science) in eighth grade. Assemblies, advisor meetings, middle school houses, and extracurricular activities such as Jazz Band, Chess Club, Geography Bee, Art Club, MathCounts, and the Middle School Play offer opportunities for students to pursue their interests while building meaningful relationships. In addition, community engagement projects and partnership activities give students a broader understanding of local, national, and international communities.
The middle school social curriculum incorporates activities that foster a positive social and emotional growth in students and Maret’s core values: Respect, Integrity, the Individual, Creativity, Excellence, Connectedness, and Joy. Grade-level meetings and smaller advisor group gatherings help students gain a greater understanding of these values and how to live them authentically. In addition, classes and group discussions on human development and social issues are interwoven throughout the middle school program to help adolescents deal with concerns facing them in today’s society.
The entire middle school community gathers together for a weekly convocation, during which eighth grade students share announcements for the week. Each advising group leads one convocation a year and is responsible for guiding students in Grades 5–8 through activities based on one of Maret’s core values.
Every student is assigned to one of four houses for the duration of their middle school years. Comprised of students from all four grades, houses are named after the four streets that surround Maret: Cleveland, Garfield, Klingle, and Woodley. A house dean leads the members through various congenial competitions during the school year, such as a four-way tug of war, a gingerbread house bake-off, charades, karaoke, scavenger hunts, and other team-building competitions.
Among the highlights of Middle School are grade-specific overnight trips. These excursions foster independence and give students the opportunity to build deeper connections with their classmates and teachers. Overnight trips include Williamsburg (Grade 5), New York City (Grade 6), Mountainside Outdoor Adventures (Grade 7), and Philadelphia (Grade 8).
In addition to after school clubs and extracurricular activities, every student joins a committee or circle. Committees are action-oriented; students acquire leadership experience while working on initiatives that benefit the school community. These student-initiated, small group gatherings meet once a month, during the middle school assembly period. With the help of middle school advisors, students work together to set the group’s goals. Circles are interest-based, providing the chance to pursue a passion or discover a new one. Recent committees and circles have included:
• Current Events/News Committee
• Diversity Committee
• Hospitality Committee
• Itty Bitty Committee
• Library Committee
• Technology Committee
• Cooking Circle
• Debate/Public Speaking Circle
• Game Show Circle
• Meditation Circle
• Physical Fitness Circle
• Strategy Board Games Circle
• Theatre Games Circle
Every February, middle school students and faculty embark on a week of “out of class” projects and trips during Intensive Study Week (ISW). All eighth grade students take “Adventures in the City of Brotherly Love,” an out of town excursion to Philadelphia. Additional ISW offerings vary each year; students in Grades 5, 6, and 7 have recently enjoyed:
• Architecture 101: Amazing Buildings
• Around the Asian Continent in Four Days
• Civil War Battlefields
• Connecting with the Lower School
• Engineering Extravaganza
• Film Making Frenzy
• The DC Experience
Each middle school student is assigned an advisor. In daily meetings, advisors discuss social concerns, monitor academic progress, and provide a supportive environment focused on the individual needs of the student. Advisors also lead activities based on Maret’s core values, with an emphasis on personal and intellectual growth. Each grade level has a dean who works with the advisors to ensure class unity and cohesion.
Communication between teachers, faculty advisors, and parents and guardians provides a strong support system for students. Parents meet with their student’s advisor at the beginning of each school year and may also meet periodically to discuss the student’s academic and social challenges. Twice a year, on designated conference days, parents meet with each of their student’s teachers. These in-person get-togethers build connections that facilitate open communication. In addition, student progress reports and official report cards are sent home two times a year.
Middle School Advisory and House SystemThe Middle School Advising Program was modified over the summer of 2011 and implemented in the fall of 2011. The goal was to develop an intentional curriculum about core values, to increase the amount of contact between advisors and advisees. In addition, the middle school developed a house system to better connect students in grades 5-8 and to instill a sense of MS spirit.
I really feel that I developed a relationship with my adviser, where I would feel comfortable to bring issues to her, or just ask her for advice. Eighth grade student
Advisors create safe spaces for small groups of advisees to discuss ideas around the seven core values of the school (Respect, The Individual, Connectedness, Creativity, Integrity, Excellence and Joy).
Activities range from input on character dilemmas or scenarios that help students dig deeper into their own ideas about such issues as honesty, justice, and respect, or team-building activities such as the human knot or creating Advisee group rules that help create community among the students. The Value Pack (our Advisor/Advisee curriculum) was created to offer a variety of activities for our advisors to use. In Round 2 of our Institute Initiative, we developed a more grade-level focused curriculum fine-tuning activities to meet the developmental needs for our fifth through eighth graders.
IN FIFTH GRADE THE ENRICHED ADVISORY PROGRAM IS A SOLID CURRICULUM BALANCING THE INDIVIDUAL WITH THE CORE VALUES AND HELPS KIDS SEE THE BIGGER PICTURE FOR MANY SITUATIONS, IDEAS, AND GROWING-UP EXPERIENCES.
The Service Learning component is woven into helping students sense a bigger world and community where they can use and develop their core values on a broader spectrum. Our work with small groups of senior citizens helps strengthen their independence, individuality, and self awareness of others around them.
Christina Kyong, Director of Middle School
SOME OF MY FAVORITE MEMORIES ABOUT THE ADVISORY TIME WAS BEING ABLE TO PLAN OUR OWN CONVOCATION.
It was so fun and it was a really great bonding experience with my classmates who aren't in a lot of my classes. I really feel that I developed a relationship with my adviser, where I would feel comfortable to bring issues to her, or just ask her for advice. Every year, I feel that the most important thing I gain out of the whole advisory experience is that relationship between a teacher and a student! Overall, advisory time is great because you get to really gain a connection with those in your advisory group and your adviser.
Eighth Grade Student
MY FAVORITE MEMORIES ABOUT AA TIME ARE NOT ONLY TALKING ABOUT SOME OF THE IMPORTANT CORE VALUES AND HEARING EVERYONE'S IDEAS ON THEM BUT ALSO GETTING TO HAVE FUN WITH SOME PEOPLE THAT I WOULDN'T NORMALLY HANG OUT WITH.
What I have gained from AA time is that so many people in the grade care that everyone is going to be nice and act all of the core values.
I have been able to develop a relationship with my advisor because instead of just talking about math, I can also go up to my advisor and tell them about any problems I'm having in school. In addition, I also have fun in my AA group.
Eighth Grade Student
Middle School at a Glance
- Approximately 200 STUDENTS, grades 5-8
- Combined MATH/SCIENCE and combined ENGLISH/HISTORY classes taught in 90-minute blocks
- Students take LATIN in addition to a WORLD LANGUAGE beginning in 6th grade
- Each student meets daily with an ACADEMIC ADVISOR
- Middle School "HOUSES" engage in monthly competitions to encourage friendships across grades 5-8
Athletics & Physical Education
Middle School physical education builds on the fitness skills acquired in Lower School. Interscholastic team sports are introduced in grades 7 and 8. Embedded in the school day, these non-elimination sports develop the physical, emotional, and cognitive skills that enable students to become effective team members. All team members are guaranteed playing time.
|PHysical Education: Grades 5 & 6||Interscholastic program: Grades 7 & 8|