In seventh grade, student thinking has matured. They are better able to engage in critical thinking and problem-solving. They are more adept at seeing various perspectives, and at providing reasons behind their assertions. Analytical writing becomes increasingly important in English, History, and Science classes, and Algebraic functions demand greater abstract reasoning in conjunction with arithmetic skills.
Pre-Algebra/Algebra are focused increasingly on thinking about numbers, data, and patterns. Students are expected to utilize visual representations, such as charts and graphs, to analyze and communicate numerical information. Much practice is devoted to translating words and operations into mathematical expressions and equations as students learn the language of Algebra.
Earth Science engages students in the study of our planet, its surfaces, sources of water, weather patterns,and ecosystems, as well as a broader examination of the structure of the universe. The place of humans within our solar system, galaxy, and universe is explored, as is the impact we exert upon our local and global environments.
English classes take full advantage of the developing minds of seventh graders by facilitating a deepening and more sophisticated understanding of literature and writing. Students are challenged to consider the ways in which novels, shorts stories, poetry, and drama are influential in promoting social justice and grappling with the issues of modern society. As subtleties of language, grammar, and vocabulary are explored, English provides a vehicle for developing a personal voice in writing, and a contemplation of the connections between identity, culture, and communication.
World History requires students to delve deeply into cause and effect, the relationships and impacts of events and leaders, and the roles of religion, technology, economics, and politics as influencers of history. A major focus of the course is teaching seventh graders to think like historians as they study the evolution of governments and cultures. Both primary and secondary sources are used in considering, primarily, Asian and African history, and students are expected to increase their proficiency in transforming their ideas and conclusions into writing strong, well-supported essays.
French, Japanese, and Spanish continue to provide practice in the target language through reading, writing, and speaking. Students expand their facility with the language through more advanced grammar concepts, including tense and number, and tackle speaking about themselves, their experiences, and activities. Active learning, through games, partner work, and drama remains an important element of the language courses.
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.