The Middle School English program meets students where they are as thinkers, readers, and writers and challenges them to more fully develop their skills. The department chooses literature to encourage and engage at each grade level, utilizing a mix of classic and contemporary texts to ensure students are challenged and exposed to a diverse collection of voices and perspectives. In addition to the reading that students are assigned in English class, each student is expected to read independently — in fact, a period is set aside each week for all students and faculty in the Middle School to read for pleasure. Writing assignments, be they creative, expository, and/or analytical, frequently stem from the assigned reading, and their goal is to help students find their voices and develop proficiency with the conventions of academic writing they’ll need going forward. Each student’s vocabulary development is individualized through Membean, a web-based program, and students study the elements of grammar at each grade level.
A central experience of the Middle School program, each year all students choose a significant work and then declaim it to their English classmates. Thus begins a school-wide series of auditions to discover approximately 12 excellent declaimers, three to five from each grade, who perform before the entire school at the annual Declamation Celebration each February or March.