Surprise, 6th Graders:
It’s not what you think.
With confidence and academic skills gleaned from the Lower School journey, these wise (and suddenly so tall) 11 and 12 year-olds feel like they know a thing or two about Green Vale and the arc of a school day, week, year. The Middle School program is just the thing to harness this sweet swagger and ensure it doesn’t devolve into a yawn (an all-too-common fate for young adolescents).
Green Vale's Fail-Proof Recipe:
1. Build a comfort zone.
2. Stretch it.
3. Remain as comfy as ever.
Daily life is wholly different. Instead of revolving around a homeroom teacher, all instruction is clustered by academic or artistic department. The routine may be new, but the comfort of their peers and the wink of a faculty in cahoots to light a spark make the change invigorating.
Expectations for time management, skills mastery, comfort with diverse test formats (particularly essay and written), and extracurricular involvement are heightened (See Academics). Having dabbled progressively deeper into the behaviors of serious students throughout Lower School, our Middle Schoolers respond: “We’ve got this.”
- Interscholastic athletics (Fall, Winter, Spring)
- 6th, 7th, & 8th Grade musical
- 8th Grade public speaking course & culminating speech contest
- Reading Shakespeare each year beginning in 6th
- YSOP (8th Grade community service overnight)
- Student Council and Executive Board
- Elective clubs (Interact, Amnesty International, Sustainability, Yearbook, Rocketry, Lit Magazine, etc)
- Faculty-student advisory program
- Multi-day trips (6th to Frost Valley, 7th to Boston, 8th to Washington DC)
- Dances, talent shows
- “Best Of” Science Labs (“Brownie Lab" in 7th, “Sludge Project" in 8th)
- English and History classes around communal "Harkness Table" for discussion-based learning
- “The Lunch Quiz" at each Thursday's advisory lunch
It’s time to rule The School.
There’s a reason we usually refer to our Middle School internally as “Upper School”. The 6th, 7th and 8th Grades at Green Vale aren’t in the ‘middle’ of anything: they are an exciting culmination of childhood to date. Rather than experiencing a countdown to amorphous, looming high school, Green Vale middle schoolers experience “The Big Time” now:
- Building submersible motor vehicles and testing them in a pool (6th Grade Science)
- Reading a Julia Alvarez novel and Skyping with the renowned author (7th Grade English)
- Working overnight in a New York City food pantry (8th Grade Service Learning)
It’s well known that there are many ways to excel in life. At Green Vale we strive to replicate this breadth of personal endeavor so that every single child finds a time to shine. And it is the culture of Green Vale to recognize and celebrate talent in others...both as a form of peer support as well as a means of being enriched by difference.
As the oldest students in the school, 8th Graders are given early leadership opportunities within clubs, sports teams and student government. At the same time, not having to succumb to the pressures of a high school atmosphere helps preserve a healthy level of innocence. This is a place where children can take their time to grow.
Knowing and trusting your community leads to knowing and trusting yourself.
The care and attention our students receive in Early Childhood and Lower School continues quite intensely when they reach the middle school years. Our Middle School teachers are specialists in both their discipline and in this age group. They appreciate the complex physical, emotional, and cognitive changes that young adolescents experience. Emotional well-being through these tumultuous times must coincide with academic achievement.
A cornerstone of Green Vale’s success is that teachers get to know each student holistically: following their academic progress as closely as their social and personal development. In place of homeroom sections, students are clustered into advisory groups with 6-7 students per faculty advisor.
The intention behind fostering this level of relationship is to enhance teachers’ ability to tap into each student’s truest intellectual potential. This dynamic also results in a comfort zone where students feel safe enough to take risks.
Each day begins with an all-around check-in:
“Did you find some good sources for your history paper?”
“What a close soccer game that was yesterday!”
“That idea would make a great article for the student newspaper.”
With a breadth of offerings from robotics, rocketry, and advanced chorus to the campus garden, the vibe at Green Vale says: “Go ahead and try it!” Healthy risks feed the natural inclination of the adolescent brain. With the right attitude, a mediocre singer can perform an outstanding solo in the play.
Ready. Set. Psyched.
By 8th Grade, academic skills are ingrained. Problem solving, writing, critical thinking, and empathy are intellectual food groups.
Green Vale students are prepared for a multitude of high school settings (see Secondary School Placement). Not only do they flourish academically, their preparedness extends to the organizational skills, time management, judgement, and social awareness needed to juggle the demands of this era.
Accustomed to trusting, friendly, respectful rapports with adults, students leave Green Vale knowing how and when to ask for help. Understanding how to advocate for oneself as young as 8th grade makes life’s opportunities more accessible.