The Middle School English program aims to meet students where they are as thinkers, readers, and writers, with the intention to help them 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 genres, voices, and perspectives. 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. Specifically in the 7th and 8th grades, students will begin to engage with different types of student-led discussions in response to the literature, wherein the students take the lead, allowing the teacher to moderate from the side, prompting as necessary, assessing student engagement and contribution. 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 and then declaim a significant work to their English classmates. Thus begins a school-wide series of auditions to discover those truly outstanding declaimers, who perform before the whole school at the annual Declamation Celebration each February or March.