Middle School-Fifth through Eighth Grade
- Fifth Grade
- Sixth Grade
- Seventh Grade
- Eighth Grade
- Service Learning
- Music Performing Groups
- Leadership Symposium
Introduction to Middle SchoolThe Elisabeth Morrow middle school, located in Morrow House, combines personal attention, knowledge of each student and individual support with a broad, accessible program that inspires and challenges students.
Middle school forms the bridge between elementary school and high school. The Elisabeth Morrow middle school program mirrors an elementary model in fifth grade with students studying language arts and social studies with a homeroom teacher. As students grow in maturity and independence, the program becomes departmentalized with many electives. Both rigorous and supportive, the middle school program challenges students to do their best in academics, creative arts and athletics. Learning specialists are available for additional curriculum and organizational support if needed, and opportunities for electives increase as students progress from fifth to eighth grade. The program provides options for students to feel a sense of community–including sports teams, musical groups, advisory groups and clubs.Character development embodied in the 4 C’s (courtesy, cooperation, consideration of others and compassion) and community service is integral to the middle school program. Students are guided as they develop effective work habits and learning strategies. Through the advisory program and individually, the faculty works closely with students to help them become self-advocates and increase self-awareness. As well, The Elisabeth Morrow School realizes that early adolescence is a challenging time in life. A commitment to meeting the individual needs of students while providing a safe environment for social development is a hallmark of our middle school.
Graduates of The Elisabeth Morrow School attend a wide variety of secondary schools including independent day and boarding schools, the Bergen County Academies and other public high schools, and religious schools. Graduates are well prepared for rigorous secondary school programs.
Homeroom is the foundation of the fifth grade year. Students begin and end each day in homeroom. Through an integrated language arts and social studies curriculum, a deep focus on reading, writing, research, and study skills provides students with a firm foundation for their middle school experience. Homeroom teachers provide consistency and familiarity to support the transition into middle school and act as the liaison between home and school.
In fifth grade, with genres that include historical fiction and contemporary novels, students learn to strengthen their reading comprehension skills, make inferences, summarize texts and identify character development. Reading activities provide students with practice in answering directed questions and opportunities to reflect upon their reading. Students are taught to support their ideas with examples from books as well as to express and develop written ideas creatively within specific forms. Fifth graders are exposed to a variety of writing experiences such as personal narratives, short stories, journal entries and poetry. Students are introduced to the ACER paragraph structure. An assertion is provided as a framework to guide students’ work as they connect their ideas to the context, provide evidence and end with a reasoning or summarizing statement. Students are encouraged to spend ample time in the prewriting stage, brainstorming and outlining their ideas. Composing effective, well-constructed paragraphs and essays are the primary goals, with an emphasis on vocabulary, grammar and mechanics.
Fifth grade social studies focuses primarily on early American history. Students study the political and economic growth of the colonies; the American Revolution and formation of the United States; the history of the Constitution; how government works and affects their lives and westward expansion, with an emphasis on the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The research process and writing as well as the consistent study of current events are cornerstones of the middle school social studies curriculum. Field trips and hands-on projects support the units of study, and current events are discussed throughout the year.
Fifth graders review basic mathematical facts, skills and operations with whole numbers and decimals. Two- and three-digit multiplication and division, with two- and three-digit divisors, are introduced and reinforced. Students study the place-value system, including rounding, placement of the decimal point in products and quotients and comparison of decimals to the thousandth place. The study of fractions, mixed numbers, decimals and percentages is a major focus. Measurement in both standard and metric systems is investigated; conversions are used to solve multistep problems. Students learn geometric terms and concepts, including area and perimeter. Shapes are classified and their properties are explored. Fifth graders are exposed to a variety of problem-solving techniques and strategies and are encouraged to find patterns to help them reach solutions. Order of operations is emphasized in order to evaluate algebraic expressions. Students are grouped based on performance criteria in order to provide challenge for students who demonstrate different levels of understanding and emphasize mastery of material.
In fifth grade science, students explore the ecological relationships in Elisabeth Morrow’s very own backyard, which is home to herbaceous plants, woody trees, squirrels, birds and invertebrates as well as the Hudson River. They study the life and work of Charles Darwin, his theory of evolution and the evolution of vertebrate animals such as fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. Individual and group research is focused on each kind of animal’s evolution, anatomy, physiology, diet, reproduction, habitat, niche and value to its ecosystem.
Through various projects, readings and videos, students engage in authentic language experiences and gain enriching insights into the culture and geography of Hispanic countries. They communicate and exchange information with others in oral and written form. Using the vocabulary and grammar structures they have acquired, students learn to describe people and things, family, home and other types of dwellings, school, classes and after-school activities. Language concepts include adjectives, gender differentiation, and noun-adjective agreement.
Through various art projects, fifth graders learn about mixing colors by layering, using colors at full strength, design, balance, proportion, abstract and critical thinking, using lines to create texture and positive and negative space. Materials include crayons, tissue paper, scratchboards and cut paper, with an emphasis on manipulating these mediums in new and unexpected ways.
Fifth grade has a 1:1 Bring Your Own Laptop program. Students use the Google Apps Suite regularly and technology is integrated into the curriculum throughout the day. In science, students have the opportunity to use technology tools for research and in the creation of projects that showcase their knowledge. In addition, fifth graders have a technology class once per week and learn to use tools including multimedia editing software as well as participatory social platforms such as multiplayer games and virtual worlds.
Music literacy is a significant component of music class in fifth grade. Students are expected to be able to read music in both the treble and bass clefs by the end of the year. Music reading, sight singing and musical dictation are incorporated into every unit and related to the theme of the main unit of study. Students complete assignments individually and in groups, including compositions in GarageBand, composer projects and musical/dramatic performances.
In fifth grade physical education, students grow and develop physically, cognitively and socially to the fullest of their abilities. Movement skills, athletic techniques and health-related fitness are taught using a variety of activities, with a focus on group participation, teamwork and sportsmanship throughout every task and challenge. Students are tested at least twice a year to evaluate their individual fitness level in the form of stamina, strength, endurance, aerobic capacity and flexibility.
Students are introduced to the Morrow House Library Research Process in a modified format, instructing them on the proper way to locate and cite trustworthy, subject-specific print and electronic sources —including databases — for their individual research. They learn to develop multiple search strategies to solve information problems and meet their informational needs.
The program is departmentalized in sixth grade. Advisory groups are formed with about eight students in each group. Students travel to history, English, science, art and music in learning groups comprised of students from each advisory. Math and language follow the same model as fifth grade. Sixth graders have the option of joining interscholastic sports teams in addition to PE.
The sixth grade English program integrates literature and social studies, with students reading creation stories from around the world, Greek mythology, epic poetry and Greek tragedies with an emphasis on literal comprehension and an introduction to critical analysis. Connections to medieval times are made through historical novels, primary source documents and excerpts from medieval literature. Using classic short stories and poetry, students further develop their inferential skills, review literary terms and note figurative language. They are taught to express and develop ideas creatively within the specific forms of expository, persuasive, compare/contrast, narrative and descriptive writing. Through writing exercises on topic and concluding sentences, thesis statements and introductory and concluding paragraphs, students learn to compose effective, well-constructed essays. Creative projects include writing inventive creation stories, the retelling of a Greek myth from one character’s point of view, original ancient and modern myths and poetry inspired by reading selections. Grammar topics include the review of and introduction to parts of speech and punctuation, with vocabulary lessons and exams highlighting words in context.
Sixth grade history explores the history, geography and development of classical civilization in the Mediterranean region, the development of Greek, Roman and Byzantine civilizations and Europe in the Middle Ages. Projects include an Athens/Sparta research paper, a Roman emperor’s apology and the diary of a medieval person. Students participate in the two exhibitions of mastery in the Greek Olympics and Medieval Day where they present interpretations of characters and events. A field trips to the Metropolitan Museum of Art enriches students understanding of their study of the ancient world.
In sixth grade math, students practice skills and operations with whole numbers and decimals. More advanced concepts are developed in number theory, including properties, order of operations, exponents, algebraic expressions, factors, multiples, prime numbers and divisibility. Students study the concepts of and operations with fractions and work with ratios, proportions and theoretical and experimental probability. The study of geometry includes points, lines, planes, triangles, polygons and circles. Sixth graders learn the metric system of measurement and explore area, surface area, volume, percentages and their various applications. Students are grouped based on performance criteria in order to provide challenge for students who demonstrate different levels of understanding and emphasize mastery of material. More advanced classes explore solving one- and two-step equations, the study of integers and integer operations and graphing equations with two variables.
Sixth grade science focuses on understanding the earth and its processes. Lab safety, proper use of lab equipment and the scientific method are stressed, with most units including hands-on and inquiry-based activities. Students develop the skills of observation, inference, measurement, accurate recording of data and forming conclusions. They study the earth system, its interior structure and interactions between the geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere. Further investigated is the theory of plate tectonics and how it explains changes in earth’s land features. Students learn how, where and why volcanoes and earthquakes occur. Several topics of astronomy are covered such as why we experience seasons and phases of the moon. Sixth graders study several aspects of the atmosphere and weather, leading up to climate change, including causes, effects and ideas for prevention. Using the engineering design process, they work in groups to design small solar-powered cars and the most effective blades for classroom wind turbines.
Sixth grade French and Spanish emphasize the acquisition of the four language skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing. Students concentrate on expanding conversational patterns and reinforcing grammatical structures through reading, writing, roleplaying and cooperative learning. For French students, cultural activities are integrated throughout the school year to expand their appreciation and awareness of the Francophone world. Language concepts include adjectives, possessive adjectives, contractions, the near future and quantity expressions. For Spanish students, thematic topics include foods and meals, sports, personality and emotions, minor illnesses, summer and winter weather and leisurely activities. Language concepts include more adjectives, regular verbs in second and third conjugation, verb expressions, stem-changing verbs in present tense and verbs used to express likes and dislikes.
Through art projects, students are introduced to ancient Greek and medieval styles, including lettering, symbols, mosaics and stained glass. Eye/hand coordination, visual perception, small motor coordination, creative thinking, problem solving and time management skills are used in every project. Basic art skills, such as the use of color, design, balance, line and shape are also incorporated and whenever possible, projects are integrated with subject areas studied during the school year.
Sixth grade students participate in a 1:1 Bring Your Own Laptop program. Students continue to use Google Apps as an integral part of their learning process and technology is integrated into the curriculum throughout the day. Social Studies and English teachers use Google Drive extensively to share work amongst students and teachers. Sixth graders have a technology class twice per week. Projects continue to incorporate multimedia tools and social participatory platforms, as well as exploring promising emerging technologies.
The primary goal of sixth grade general music is for students to ‘speak’ music by reading notes in treble and bass clefs, recognizing pitches, textures and colors and being aware of different kinds of music along many axes, including pop, classical, ethnic and historical. Students study scales, composition, Gregorian chants, medieval notation and clef reading.
In sixth grade physical education, students continue to grow and develop physically, cognitively and socially to the fullest of their abilities. Movement skills, athletic techniques and health-related fitness are taught using a variety of activities, with a focus on group participation, teamwork and sportsmanship throughout every task and challenge. Students are tested at least twice a year to evaluate their individual fitness level in the form of stamina, strength, endurance, aerobic capacity and flexibility. Sixth grade students also have the option to participate on our interscholastic athletics teams along with seventh and eighth grade students.
Students further their use of the Morrow House Library Research Process, reinforcing their information literacy and research skills through direct instruction and guided practice. With a continued focus on independent reading, they develop a love of literature and grow to become efficient, effective and ethical researchers.
Students in seventh grade at The Elisabeth Morrow School study a rich, challenging academic curriculum that is enhanced by experiences in visual and performing arts and sports. In addition to their class responsibilities, students are members of advisory groups and belong to clubs that meet during the school day such as culinary skills, ceramics, writing workshop and digital media. Students in take five or six academic classes: English, history, math, science and language (some students take two languages). Students also take classes in creative arts and athletics. Students go on an extended overnight Adventure Week field trip.
With a classroom experience based on the Socratic method of discussion, students explore the elements of great literature. The study of poetry, short stories, and essays weaves into the themes that emerge in longer texts such as The Pearl and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare. Students refine their understanding and analyses of texts through annotated written responses and disciplined class discussions. Students build on their strong foundation for expository writing by mastering the five-paragraph essay format. They expand their writing style and voice through personal narrative and creative writing exercises. These strategies are modeled and practiced in the context of the students’ work for their content area courses.
Seventh grade students investigate the history, current events, geography and cultures of China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan and Southeast Asia. Students learn about these countries’ mountain ranges, deserts, plateaus and river systems as well as the religious movements, philosophies and worldviews of Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Shintoism. They explore the role of European colonization, cultural diffusion and the rapid transition from feudal political organizations to modern ones. Students discuss the economic and political elements of communism, free-market capitalism and controlled capitalism. Continued focus on research process and writing through an in-depth paper and presentation on an Asian country’s political position within the region further students’ ability to locate, discriminate, and apply varied sources of information.
In Pre-Algebra, a strong emphasis is placed on word problems to accompany each topic as students begin to translate sentences into variable expressions, equations and inequalities. They learn how to solve and graph these equations and inequalities using the laws of mathematics as well as how to perform operations with negative numbers and fractions. Working with monomials, students find the greatest common factor and least common multiple while studying exponential rules and scientific notation. As the year progresses, students solve equations and inequalities with rational numbers, including both positive and negative fractions and decimals. They learn about rates, ratios and proportions, solving problems that include direct and inverse variation. Work with proportions leads to the study of percent equations, similarity, scale drawings and probability. Various topics in geometry include Pythagorean Theorem, area, volume and surface area. Students are grouped based on performance criteria in order to provide challenge for students who demonstrate different levels of understanding and emphasize mastery of material.
Seventh grade science focuses on principles of chemistry and physics, and how they affect us in our daily lives. Lab safety, proper use of lab equipment and the scientific method are stressed, as all units include hands-on, inquiry- or STEM-based activities. The skills of observation, inference, measurement, accurate recording of data and making conclusions are further developed. While completing lab work, students are challenged to come to their own conclusions about their observations and results. In chemistry, students study the properties of matter, the periodic table and chemical reactions. In physics, they learn about waves and the electromagnetic spectrum, exploring the ways in which common wireless devices — cell phones, remote controls and GPS units — make use of these waves.
World Language and LatinThere are two world language tracks beginning in seventh grade. Students have the option to focus on the study of only one language or to take two languages concurrently. Seventh and eighth grade students participate in the National Spanish, French, and Latin exams each March and exhibit their deep cultural understandings in a World Language assembly.
Track One: French or Spanish
FrenchIn seventh grade French, students continue their study from fifth and sixth grade as they develop oral and written communication, promote cultural competence and sensitivity about Francophone countries and French-speaking people in our community and around the world. They learn vocabulary related to shopping for clothing, airline and train travel and master –ir and –re in regular and irregular conjugations, demonstrative and comparative adjectives. French students concentrate on extending conversational patterns and reinforcing grammatical structures through diverse audio and video programs. Cultural activities are integrated throughout the year to expand students' appreciation and awareness of the Francophone world.
SpanishIn seventh grade Spanish, students build upon their fifth and sixth grade Spanish understanding as they develop oral and written communication and promote cultural competence and sensitivity about Hispanic countries and Spanish-speaking people in our community and around the world. The program aims at expanding oral and written communication by integrating more complex thematic vocabulary with idiomatic expressions and grammar concepts. Students have learned to talk about food, describe meals, and discuss a visit to a restaurant. The grammar introduced regular –er and –ir ending verbs in present tense and verb expressions with the infinitive. Cultural readings and projects are presented throughout the year, giving the students opportunities to explore and compare the diversity of the Hispanic world.
Track Two: Latin In Latin, seventh grade students develop their reading skills while learning about Roman culture. Language skills include an expansion and development of Latin vocabulary and English derivative, an introduction and strengthening of the first three declensions, a close analysis of the role of the nominative, dative, accusative and ablative cases, and an initiation to the use of first- and second-person personal pronouns.
ArtSeventh grade students learn to draw a basic four-sided box and three-dimensional landscape using one-, two- and three-point perspective. They explore the various properties of artist pencils while beginning to properly use a T-square.
DramaStudents participate in a variety of dramatic activities such as monologues, character analysis, improvisation and scene work, with a focus on building self-confidence, creative expression and cooperative learning.
TechnologyIn seventh grade, technology is used extensively. Macbook laptops are shared amongst the seventh and eighth grade and seventh graders will be part of our 1:1 Bring Your Own Laptop program starting in the fall of 2014. Seventh graders have a technology elective for one trimester during the year. In addition, there are a number of technology electives as well as a technology club where students are given the opportunity to structure their own projects. Students use Google Drive for note-taking and collaborating on written assignments.
Students in eighth grade have a program similar in many ways to that of seventh grade. They study a rich, challenging academic curriculum that is enhanced by experiences in visual and performing arts and sports. Students take five or six academic classes: English, history, math, science and language (some students take two languages). Students also take classes in creative arts, athletics and Decisions (a class that helps students navigate the secondary school admissions process). In addition to class responsibilities, s tudents meet in advisory groups, join clubs ( culinary skills, ceramics, writing workshop, drama, digital media, etc) and go on two extended overnight trips: a camping trip during Adventure Week in the fall and a trip to Washington, DC in the spring.
With a classroom experience based on the Socratic method of discussion, students expand their understanding and appreciation for enduring literature and deepen their skills and strategies for interpreting and analyzing complex literary texts. Through the study of poetry, short stories, and essays, they build on themes explored in major texts that include The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, and Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. Through integration with the eighth grade history class, students expand their understanding of the Civil War and slavery with their reading of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Students begin to develop sophistication and confidence by writing essays that move beyond the confines of the five-paragraph essay format. Through lively classroom discussion and annotated analytical responses to texts, students develop a deep understanding of theme and interpretive qualities in literature.
By the eighth grade, students begin to grasp the relevance of historical events, evaluate supporting evidence, identify cause-and-effect relationships move beyond the ‘facts’ to comprehend and analyze information and understand bias and intent. Eighth grade students explore what information is not presented and why, develop an interest and awareness of politics and current events and recognize and explain multiple points of view. Topics of study include civics and the foundations of government, Supreme Court cases, the Civil War, Reconstruction, immigration and urbanization, the Gilded Age, the Progressive Era, the Civil Rights Movement and current events. Eighth grade students engage in a thorough research process and write a comprehensive research paper on a curricular topic of their choice. Current events is a cornerstone of the eighth grade history curriculum, and students read and explore the significance New York Times articles each day. They study the major political events like the State of the Union and election cycles and analyze them through class discussion and written responses.
In eighth grade science, students analyze scientific theories on how life on earth began. They learn about the biology of the cell, the organelles that make up the structures of the cell and help it function, the structure of atoms and subatomic particles and the special properties of water that make it the key to life for all organisms. Students also examine the chemistry of the cell — the atoms that make up the cell’s macromolecules; its proteins, lipids, carbohydrates and nucleic acids and DNA, RNA and protein synthesis. They are introduced to mitosis, cellular reproduction, and the cell cycle.
World Language and Latin
As in seventh grade, there are two world language tracks beginning in seventh grade. Students have the option to focus on the study of only one language or to take two languages concurrently. Seventh and eighth grade students participate in the National Spanish, French, and Latin exams each March and exhibit their deep cultural understandings in a World Language assembly.
Track One: French or Spanish
In French, eighth grade students study conversational topics related to movies, plays, museums, health and summer and winter activities, including trips to the beach and ski resorts. The study of grammar at this grade level is more complex, including reflexive verbs and other regular and irregular verbs in the present and past tenses, direct and indirect object pronouns and the imperative.
In Spanish, thematic topics include air and train travel, personal daily routines, food, festivals and technology. Language concepts include more irregular verbs, the present progressive, reflexive verbs, the preterite of irregular verbs, stem-changing verbs in the present and preterite, the passive voice, regular and irregular forms of the imperfect tense and the preterite and imperfect tense.
Track Two: Latin
In Latin, students learn about the fourth and fifth declensions; vocatives, imperatives and demonstrative pronouns; relative clauses, personal pronouns, present, imperfect, perfect and pluperfect tenses; the first three declensions, the six major case endings and noun-adjective agreement; present and perfect passive participles and deponents and imperfect and pluperfect uses of the subjunctive.
Among other projects, students work extensively with ceramics as well as create freestanding, three-dimensional papier-mâché sculptures in the form of a creature or mask. Decorated with acrylic paint, the artwork is visually interesting from all angles and uses a mix of pattern and color to mimic a folk art style.
Eighth grade drama students take the lead in determining the focus of this class. Students may be involved in such projects as writing the script for the seventh and eighth grade play; writing, casting and directing movies; improvisation and advanced acting techniques. Topics covered include group dynamics, individual responsibility, play structure, characterization, interpretation and directing.
In eighth grade, technology is used extensively. Macbook laptops are shared amongst the seventh and eighth grade. Eighth graders will be part of our 1:1 Bring Your Own Laptop program starting in the fall of 2014. In addition, there are a number of technology electives as well as a club where students are given the opportunity to structure their own technology projects. In world language, students use presentation software and Voicethread for their culture projects. Many of them also use Google Drive for notetaking and collaborating on written assignments.
Advisory ProgramAdvisory forms the heart of the Middle School program. In a middle school environment, where students assume increasing personal responsibility and independence, it is important to have adult advocates at school looking after students’ best interests. Students are introduced to advisory in homeroom groups in fifth grade. Beginning in sixth grade, advisory groups are composed of about eight students. Fifth and sixth grade students begin each day in their advisories. Seventh and eighth grade students meet in a community "Morning Meeting" and sit with their advisory groups. In addition, there are two longer periods during the week when they work on areas such as organization, self-advocacy, team building, character education, peer relations, and community service.
Advisors maintain consistent contact with parents to collaborate with them as partners. Advisors help facilitate the preparation for student-led conferences and manage the progress report process, including writing a cover letter summarizing students’ strengths and challenges as well as observations regarding social interactions. In grades seven and eight, students lead the advisor-parent conference. Additionally, eighth grade advisors assist students in managing the secondary school application process.
EMS has a long history of community outreach and service. This begins with our EMS "buddy" system where Morrow House students spend time reading to, playing games with, and mentoring students in Little School on a regular basis. Beyond this, each class commits to a yearly service endeavor. Examples have included weekly trips to local elementary schools to read to students, knitting dolls for orphaned children, and collecting food and assembling snack packs for the Center for Food Action. Finally, Morrow House students are constantly encouraged and supported in creating their own service initiatives. In recent years, individual students have conceptualized and led initiatives to collect food and donations for Hurricane Sandy relief and organize a book drive for teachers serving underprivileged communities.
Athletics As a country day school, Elisabeth Morrow believes that athletics are an important part of student life. Students in the seventh and eighth grade fulfill their physical education expectation through interscholastic athletics and/or the intramural program (sixth graders also have the option to play on athletic teams). All students participate in at least one team sport per year with many students playing multiple seasons. We believe that the challenge, camaraderie, and persistence involved in athletic competition has a critical place in the middle school education experience.
At The Elisabeth Morrow School, we believe that music education is a central part of a well-rounded middle school education. Students at Morrow House have the opportunity to participate in several performing groups.
Chorus & StompAll fifth and sixth grade students participate in chorus for the entire year while seventh and eighth grade students choose between chorus and stomp. These groups rehearse and perform a variety of musical genres at our winter and spring concerts.
Instrumental Ensembles In the middle school, students have the opportunity to play in multiple instrumental ensembles including the full orchestra, several smaller orchestra configurations that perform music of different levels of sophistication as well as the Concert Band and Jazz Band. Through individual and small group lessons, sectional rehearsals, and full ensemble rehearsals, students engage in a deep and rewarding musical experience. Ensemble groups perform at our winter and spring concerts and are honored to be invited to play at many off-campus performance engagements.
At EMS we want to help students develop the leadership skills explicitly -- and just in time for them to enter secondary school, a broader canvas on which they will have the opportunity to make their mark. Therefore, we have created our signature eighth grade program, the Leadership Symposium, a year-long class which will help students discover their strengths and develop the confidence, competence and connectedness needed to become leaders in all aspects of their lives.
The students kick off their work together on Adventure Week, our traditional class bonding activity that takes place at the beginning of the school year. Students participate in workshops and activities designed to promote collaborative decision making and aid in planning the secondary school process. This is followed with a two-day retreat, to allow students the time away from school to participate in various bonding activities.
In class, students use a discussion protocol called Open Session which allows them to share both concerns and celebrations and seek advice from one another in a supportive environment. They also completed a self assessment using StrengthsFinder, a scientifically designed self-assessment that reveals individuals’ top five strengths. Interwoven into the curriculum are lessons on managing the secondary school process, and all students are assigned interview mentors who work with them in addition to the secondary school placement team. As part of their classroom work, the eighth graders also wrestle with complex moral dilemmas as they seek to come to an understanding of the mechanics of how leaders make decisions that serve a common good.
The students take the leadership skills they learn out to the community by being responsible for planning weekly assemblies at Morrow House and other school activities. They also learn about how adults use their leadership skills through panel discussions and guest speakers.