The ultimate goal, though, is to learn how to learn, learn how to do, and learn how to be, so that each person who enters our doors will find a calling and change the world.- Laura A. Sandefer, author of Courage to Grow
Our eighth grade students spend their final year at Presbyterian School preparing to share their personal experiences and passions with the greater Houston community and the world beyond. A daily balance of leading others and depending on the guidance of those around them serves as the essential skill to hone and master. Based on authenticity of self and respect for others, our curriculum explores the way in which our culture presents itself through people of integrity and energetic focus. From the character analysis of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird to the confidence required to design and report on their own scientific experiments in Integrated Physics & Chemistry, our students own their learning and stand as models for those they encounter in the future.
8th grade promotes student agency and choice where students own the learning that exists in the various spaces on campus. Teachers take advantage of programming that advances student ownership and makes connections between the many content areas. Cross-curricular work plays a pivotal role in our design, often blurring the lines from one “class” to the next. Students become adept in concepts such as civil discourse where a person can express personal opinions backed by research while listening to potentially dissenting opinions in a safe and respectful environment. Students continue to enjoy an elective program developed with the idea that kids need to explore and find new and exciting pathways for learning.
Character Development: Advisory & Squads
All students are assigned to an advisor. The middle school promotes character development through daily connection to a charismatic adult with reflection serving as a key to personal development. In addition to advisory, a fun, community, leadership-minded house system, which we call Squads. The Squad program distributes all middle school students and teachers into four distinct groups that focus on collaboration, construction, competition, and fun. Older kids counsel younger and faculty members guide teams towards building community and unifying our incredible school culture.
Place-Based Learning: Museum Partnerships
While our classrooms begin in the somewhat traditional sense, the Presbyterian School classroom extends its boundaries into the many incredible museum resources Our faculty utilizes permanent and special exhibits to enhance the curriculum, spending time in the museums. The opportunity to deepen our learning by walking to new and exciting spaces right outside our walls vastly enhances the programming we can offer to middle school students.
Art Every Day
7th and 8th grade students take a fine arts class every single day... and these classes aren't just your run-of-the-mill electives. Classes include Scientific Illustration, Expressive Sculpture, Paper Art, Mock Trial, Guitar, Main Street Singers, Yearbook and more! The School has offered 80 different fine arts classes to students in the following genres: drawing & painting, multidimensional Art, Digital Art, Museum Art, Expressive Art, Music, Film, Dance, and On Stage.
The Power of Play: P.E., Fitness & Athletics
As a way to focus on the mind, body, and spirit of a middle school child, Presbyterian School facilitates intentional time for structured and unstructured play. 8th grade students attend P.E. and Fitness classes which include cross training to improve cardio and agility. Our no-cut athletics program after school is open to all 8th grade students and offers over 30 teams in 14 sports. 8th grade students have the opportunity to play on varsity level teams and compete with other middle schools in Houston. They learn to take on greater responsibility on the field as they look towards experiences in high school athletics.
Spiritual Growth: Bible & Chapel
We invest in each child’s spiritual development through Bible class every other day. Our faculty offers the consistent message of sound character as supported by our school's Core Values: respect, perseverance, courage, compassion, gratitude, and integrity. Middle School students have opportunities to learn God's word, talk about current issues, and dive into matters of the heart in Bible Class and lunchtime bible studies. Students also attend a weekly chapel to worship together as a Middle School.
Change the World
The 8th grade RIDEE (Research, Ideation, Development, Evaluate, Empowerment) Project provides a platform for students to pursue specific interests and develop a dynamic way to present findings to the greater Presbyterian School community. From virtual reality to the second amendment, eighth grade students choose their topic and build a unique learning experience.
The 8th grade class puts together the annual school musical, the quintessential class project, a collaboration months in the making. Every student plays a role in the musical. The hard work and dedication of our 8th grade students spans all realms of imagination, creativity, and effort to manifest in every aspect of the production. The class is asked to design sets, construct props, rehearse songs, block dances, memorize lines, and practice scene changes ad nauseum. Students also lead from the wings, serving as the essential “set crew” which elevates the flow of the show.
Confidence in every Child
Middle School students at Presbyterian School are expected to demonstrate their learning by creating, collaborating, and presenting. Students grow as a result of intentional reflection and challenging goals for improvement. Our Classroom Learning Cycle focuses beyond “what we know” and challenges students to think about “what we do with what we know.”