Middle School Curriculum

Grades 5th through 8th

Our Middle School program offers a challenging curriculum that encourages students to become independent and critical thinkers. Our small class size allows for individual attention that enables every student’s voice to be heard and allows children to comfortably take risks, make mistakes and learn how to recover from them. Teachers engage students in Socratic seminars that foster open discussion and thoughtful analysis. Our goal is to develop what is best in each student, and to prepare him or her for the challenges of high school, college and beyond.

Literacy

We believe that an exceptional English program is crucial in inspiring students to become lifelong readers, learners, effective communicators, and critical viewers. We strive to instill a love of reading and language and an informed appreciation of literature. The reading curriculum builds from Lower School texts and includes classic fiction, poetry, drama and non-fiction as well as young adult fiction.

Our students write every day in a variety of forms to communicate information, opinions and ideas; poetry and fiction are also important components of the writing program. Students are taught to use a writing process that includes developing the idea in prewriting, composing drafts, revising, editing and reflecting upon finished work. By the end of their 8th grade year, our students have a mastery of pre-writing strategies; they are familiar with rhetorical strategies and will be able to write well-structured, well-developed essays including persuasive essays and research papers.

History

The History program at Cathedral School employs an inclusive, seminar-style approach for deconstructing themes. Myriad perspectives, those that create space for student-built lenses, only develop our understanding of history. We engage ancient civilizations, geography and world cultures. At the core of our curriculum is an appreciation for technology, and its conversation with traditional formats, that help students become multi-dimensional practitioners of history. Project-based and inquiry-based learning is central to our objective as well.

Mathematics

The Middle School math curriculum is designed to enhance students’ number sense and to discover the dynamic elements of mathematics. Inquiry-based learning is a fundamental part of the program. Students are encouraged to ask questions and to become creative problem solvers. The Middle School math program builds on the fundamental skills learned in Lower School and explores algebra, data and geometry.

Science

The Middle School Science program is a rigorous curriculum designed to provide a solid foundation for advanced high school work. Students are well prepared in all areas of content and skills. The curriculum begins in fifth grade with an emphasis on basic skills, scientific method, and life science. Sixth grade continues this trend with a deeper exploration of life science and transitioning into earth science and astronomy. Seventh grade is dedicated to the physical sciences where students are exposed to both physics and chemistry, which then sets the stage for eighth grade, an advanced high school biology class that prepares students for the Living Environment Regents exam. In all courses, students are challenged to think independently, creatively, and to work collaboratively on an array of inquiry-driven investigations and activities. Each year also culminates in an annual science fair where students have the opportunity to present the results of their own independent investigations to a large audience.

Enrichment

Our exceptional and dedicated teachers and small class size enable us not only to dispense a first-rate education in the core disciplines, but also to enhance the students’ experience with our strong enrichment program. Specialized classes in music, visual arts, physical education and foreign language are hallmarks of our Middle School curriculum.

  • Visual Art: The Visual Art program explores drawing, painting and sculpture set in a professional art studio environment. Students listen to classical music and engage in philosophical discussions about art and its place in the world around us. Imagination flourishes.

  • Physical Education: Upper school, having built a strong foundation within the Lower School program, works on perfecting movements and becoming the “everyday athlete.” Sports and games designed to build strong bonds between classmates are enhanced by drills and mini workouts designed to build strong bodies. Putting students in leadership roles and helping them discover strength of will and teamwork helps to create an "everyday athlete," which is defined not by the strength of body but by the strength of character.

  • Music: The Upper School music program builds on the skills learned in Lower School, specifically vocal training and melodic concepts. Students are exposed to the world of music through singing, listening and the interpretation of musical compositions. Students perform several times a year in various musical performances and concerts. Cathedral School students are encouraged and supported to shine onstage and graduate comfortable and familiar with being in front of an audience.

  • Foreign Language: Upper School students continue with their study of the Greek Language. Classes are designed to support conversation in Greek as well as reading and writing of the language. Hellenic culture is also an integral part of the curriculum, focusing on mythology, history and philosophy. In 7th grade and 8th grade, Latin and Ancient Greek are added to the curriculum to enhance the students’ exploration of the classics.

  • Religion: Upper School students spend one semester studying Orthodox Christianity and one semester studying World Religions. In World Religions we concentrate on diversity, namely by examining belief systems under Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Islam, and Judaism. Therefore, we introduce our students to an array of theological ideas that broaden their understanding of our world's cultures. This programming allows our students to question the evolution of religious thought over time. We, then, investigate sundry themes concerning religion to expand our fervency for tolerance and understanding.

    Orthodox Christianity is a special religion course that meets once a week for one period. The aim of this course is to provide a general introduction to the basics of Orthodox Christianity. Among the themes and topics to be considered are: the history and beliefs of the Orthodox Church, the Orthodox understanding of Scripture, the importance of liturgy, and the symbolism of church architecture and iconography. All classes begin with a short prayer and are conducted in a discussion-type manner. Short readings and video clips during class will often serve as points of departure for approaching the themes under consideration.