Grades 6 – 8
Middle school inspires future leaders by challenging them to inquire, to think, to reason, and to act. Creative problem-solving, respect for each individual, and collaborative efforts are hallmarks of the middle school culture. Our talented and supportive faculty understands and responds to the unique needs of adolescents, fostering in each student a sense of confidence, ethics, responsibility, and respect for themselves and others.
Watch students build a bridge on our 77-acre campus.
Inside the Middle School:
We recognize the importance of adolescent development in the life of a middle school student. As a result, our advisory program provides a support network where various issues can be addressed both formally and informally. Each student is assigned a faculty advisor each year. Advisors meet with their mixed-age group of sixth, seventh, and eighth grade advisees for Morning Meetings and middle school gatherings. Advisors become familiar with the individual academic and organization needs of each of their advisees. In addition, they are the primary contact between parents and students.
The advisory program provides students with the tools needed to make responsible decisions and become contributing citizens within the Parker community as well as the community at large.
Academics: an integrated, project-based approach
All students take a core curriculum of language arts, social studies, science, math and Spanish. Teachers emphasize a personal approach with the intent that students will see clearly the relationship between their own lives and the topics and themes they are exploring.
Students work both collaboratively and individually to problem-solve and innovate as they produce presentations and projects that explore questions and display knowledge. Students are challenged with assignments that have relevance and application beyond classroom walls.
The visual and performing arts are woven into all areas of the curriculum. Students also are provided with ample time for expanding their creativity in writing, discussion and debate. All students take art, music, physical education, and health two times per week in mixed-grade groupings.
Public Speaking and Drama – Students practice public speaking skills in class presentations, in assemblies, at singing performances, and for project night. Middle school students perform a Shakespeare scene or adapted play for the annual Shakespeare Night. Eighth grade students plan and lead weekly assemblies and present oral abstracts of their thesis projects. Each eight grader writes and delivers a speech at graduation.
International Connection – Parker has a sister school, St. Peter’s School in Barcelona, Spain. On alternating years St. Peter’s students visit Parker for a week, and a group of our students visit Barcelona in a cultural exchange that includes a home stay and nurtures language skills, empathy and friendships.
Critique – We teach students how to use critique as a tool for improvement. They learn to impart and receive positive feedback in order to improve successive drafts of a piece of work. Analyzing the elements that make a piece of work excellent and then striving for that high level teaches students a life-long ability to self-reflect and work toward their personal best.
STEM week – In grades 6 and 7 a full week is dedicated to a STEM challenge (science, technology, engineering and math). Students cooperate in teams to solve complex dilemmas, making final presentations on Project Night. Watch the 2013 Bridge Project video documentaries.
Eighth grade trip – Eighth graders take an annual curricular-related trip to Philadelphia for five days. This is a culminating experience that reinforces academic, emotional and cultural elements of middle school.
Thesis project – Students in grades 6 and 7 begin developing writing and research skills leading to an eighth grade semester-long thesis project. Students work with the librarian, social studies and language arts teachers to choose a topic and formulate a thesis statement. The end product is a 12- to 20-page paper with an oral summary presentation on Project Night.
School Day 8:30 AM – 3:45 PM
Sports and after-school activities until 5:00. Before- and after-school supervision is available: 7:30 – 8:30 AM and 3:45 – 5:45 PM. Daily recess. Students bring lunch and snacks and eat in classrooms in a congenial setting. Pizza or Panera sandwiches are available two times per week.
Classes range from 45 minutes to 80 minutes in a modified block schedule. Students have two study halls and humanities workshops per week. Grade levels meet weekly with a grade level coordinator.
All middle school students are invited to participate in seasonal sports such as soccer, basketball, flag football, cross-country running, or baseball. Soccer and basketball games are organized against other independent schools. Parker hosts an annual cross country meet for area middle schools. Over 85% of middle school students participate in after-school sports.
Other after-school offerings can include Computer Club, LEGO Robotics Club, Bee Club, fencing, drama, chess, and circus theatrics.
Middle school students are responsible for recycling, composting, and cleaning classrooms. They also work with their lower grade buddies on writing, reading, and other projects. Eighth graders lead our weekly assemblies.
Middle school students work as assistants in lower grade classes, the library and the office as part of our mentoring program.
Reaching into the community, eighth grade students organize and promote an annual hunger awareness evening: Oxfam Hunger Banquet or Empty Bowls. Seventh grade students serve a spaghetti dinner to raise funds for Troy charities. Sixth grade students sponsor a food or clothing drive.
Each year, classes decide on a variety of projects responding to local and worldwide needs. They also are involved in community projects based on their interests, such as reading to children at a local hospital and supporting Joseph’s House in Troy.
All middle school students participate in clubs during the school day. Organized according to student interests, clubs have included yearbook, a school newspaper, an outdoors club, a technology club, a band, and a dramatics club.