Students in eighth grade stand with one foot in middle school and the other in high school. The vigorous program at HDS challenges them to further refine and solidify skills learned in previous years, while also stretching themselves to meet higher expectations in preparation for the next steps in their learning. In addition to an increased rigor in curriculum, students are asked to assume greater responsibility and independence, and are called upon to be leaders and role models in the school community.
Algebra/Geometry courses continue to focus on developing accurate and thorough problem-solving skills as students explore topics that include rational and irrational numbers, generating and solving various types of equations, inductive and deductive reasoning, and the connections of logic and trigonometry to their work.
English class in eighth grade explores the year-long theme: Dreaming of Freedom & The American Dream. Students are challenged to refine their skills in literary analysis, expository writing, and compelling communication. As readers, they are asked to consider a variety of artistic forms employed by authors, examine the role of a writer’s perspective, and reflect upon the relationship between literature and history, including identity development, the coming-of-age narrative, and broadly, the human experience.
U.S. History focused upon units including race, foreign relations and war, individual rights and social movements, economics, and government. The units will cover the 1700's to the middle 1800’s. Each unit will be broken down to cover key terms, important figures, events, and their causes and effects. Research skills, response papers, primary source materials, map skills, projects and one major paper and an organized notebook. Current events will be discussed and analyzed. Geographic impact upon the development of the U.S. Geographic terms taught and reinforced. The Constitution will be emphasized.
French, Japanese, and Spanish tackle increasingly complex (and irregular) grammatical constructions in eighth grade. Students further develop their abilities in conversation, laying the groundwork for interactions with native speakers, and for high school language classrooms that do not allow English to be spoken at all. As they focus on communicating about daily routines and their own experiences, students enhance their abilities in using various tenses and voices and become more proficient in writing with the target language.
Physical Science provides students with a foundation in chemistry, physics, and engineering. In preparation for their high school science classes, students are exposed to such fundamental concepts as the structure of matter, atoms, and compounds; Newton’s Laws of Motion; and features of energy and energy transformation. Introductory engineering design skills are woven throughout the course, as are accurate data collection and statistical analysis.
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.