As the transition year into Middle School, sixth grade is focused on developing Sound habits of thought and expression, effective study skills (including a weekly Study Skills class), and successful management of time, materials, and responsibilities. As students engage with a number of teachers each day and navigate the entirety of the HDS campus, personal accountability, independence, and self-advocacy are encouraged and cultivated.
Explore the depth and breadth of our course offerings below!
Math 6/Pre-Algebra provide a critical foundation for the study of algebra and geometry. Confidence with order of operations, the representation of numbers and data using graphs and charts, manipulation of decimals, percents, and fractions, and evaluation of rates, ratios, and proportions are all necessary as students progress in their study of mathematics. Pre-Algebra students explore concepts of variables, inequalities, and equation solving to prepare for the study of Algebra I.
Life Science examines the means of inquiry scientists employ, particularly the need to ask questions and formulate methods for testing answers to those questions, the importance of safety in the laboratory, and the use of models and formal reports to communicate information. Course includes scientific classification, an in-depth study of cells, exploration of the various human body systems, and genetics.
English affords students the opportunity to hone reading, writing, and critical thinking skills through guided exploration and discussion of short stories, plays, poetry, and novels. Analytical writing, including the use of text quotations and evidence is practiced throughout the year, and supplemented with lessons in grammar and vocabulary.
Medieval History delves into the color and richness of the early empires (e.g. Roman, Byzantine) that shaped the world’s cultures, as well as the origins and impact of Christianity and Islam. Students learn about the structure of feudal societies, the challenges and pageantry of the medieval era, and the ways in which we continue to see the influence of people and events from hundreds of years ago.
All three languages, French, Japanese, and Spanish, include the core elements of language instruction: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Vocabulary acquisition and correct grammar are practiced through target language conversation, games, songs, and projects. Students elect to pursue one language throughout the middle school years.
Middle School students enjoy a fun and challenging Physical Education curriculum that is scheduled into their school day, as well as opportunities to participate in a number of interscholastic sports. HDS competes against regional schools in soccer, field hockey, cross country, basketball, and lacrosse, and effort is made to allow interested individuals the chance to play on more than one team per season. We have a no-cut policy, and though athletic participation is not required, we encourage students to try a sport or two -- the benefits of physical activity, being a member of a team, managing time, and learning good sportsmanship are widely acknowledged!
Visual and Performing Arts are integral to the Harford Day experience. All students are enrolled in music and visual art courses during their three years in Middle School, and sixth/seventh grade students also take a course in graphic design. Additionally, students can elect to participate in Chorale and Set Design, as well as theater performances in the fall (a play) and spring (a musical); those interested in contributing behind the scenes are able to become part of the tech crew. A particular point of pride is our Artist in Residence program, a tradition that brings a professional artist to campus each year to engage with students and make art! Gorgeous examples of the masterpieces generated during the Artist in Residence week are permanently displayed throughout the school. The Middle School’s “smARTs Week” allows students to explore mini-courses related to the Arts, and finally, private, after-school lessons are available to children interested in piano or stringed instruments.
Leadership skills must be modeled and practiced, and the HDS Middle School abounds with occasions and opportunities to flex developing leadership muscles. An active Student Council comprises officers elected for the year, as well as grade level representatives elected twice each school year. Student Ambassadors are trained to provide campus tours to prospective families, and athletic team captains are responsible for assisting the coach and mentoring younger players. Each grade level at the MS has a “buddy grade” in the Lower School, service and charitable endeavors are often spearheaded by students, Eighth Graders deliver capstone speeches to the student body, and the annual Field Day games are run by middle schoolers. As a small school, all students have a wealth of chances to explore leadership, a key difference from larger schools where only a fraction of the population is able to engage in this manner.
Physical and Social-Emotional Health instruction goes well beyond the P.E. class in today’s middle schools, and Harford Day is no exception. In concert with science teachers, advisors, and the school counselor, students learn about taking care of themselves and each other. Examples of topics include nutrition, puberty, mental health, alcohol and other drugs, and relationships. Additionally, as issues of concern arise among students, the faculty works diligently, in partnership with families, to address and resolve matters in a safe and healthy fashion. Just as our academic program is designed with early adolescents in mind, our approach to Wellness is developmentally appropriate for 11-14 year old students.
From service trips to grade level retreats, from museum visits to outdoor adventures, from day expeditions to overnight outings, HDS Middle School students range far and wide. The camaraderie and learning that occur on ropes courses and hikes, in cabins and platform tents, in docent-led art tours and community projects cannot be replicated in the classroom. These program enhancements provide rich memories our alumni recall fondly for years to come!
A community as close-knit as the one at Harford Day loves getting together and celebrating its traditions! Big/Little Buddies, advisors who stay with you through your Middle School years, the Turkey Trot at Thanksgiving, baking bread for Manna House, Fun Runs, dances, and High School Night are just a few of the time-honored occasions that draw us together. The culmination of each academic year, eighth-grade graduation, features an alumna/alumnus chosen as a featured speaker, a reunion of graduates from years gone by, and the annual Blue-Green games that serve as a rousing send-off to summer vacation.