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Welcome to Middle School AT BELMONT DAY SCHOOL

“Middle school is rooted in the development of identity. At BDS, we create a space where students can be bold. We give them room to take risks, knowing that sometimes they will make mistakes and other times they will inspire us all.”

—Brendan Largay, Head of School

“The middle school teachers have expertly created a program and schedule that provides an abundance of opportunities for the students to formulate perspectives, make connections, and deepen core skills. In their classrooms and labs they expand critical thinking abilities, develop new interests, and experience the joy of achievement.”

—Deborah Brissenden, Assistant Head of School and Director of Curriculum & Instruction

Learning and Leading Start with Community

Each fall kicks off with an adventure that becomes a metaphor for growth all year.

  • Sixth Grade: Staying overnight at the Farm School is a rite of passage where students take on the responsibilities of a working farm.
  • Seventh Grade: Students band together to climb Mount Cardigan.
  • Eighth Grade: Project Adventure encourages teamwork and communication.

Advisory Groups—a mentor teacher with a small group of students—nurture the bonds and well-being that are foundational for learning.

“In mathematics, we do more than teach algorithms and procedures. we push students to think critically about material and use real world examples to show them the applications of mathematics beyond the classroom.”

—RJ Parsons, math teacher

Math: Dive Deep into Problem-Solving

  • We use an inquiry-based mathematics program that helps students actively focus on math problem solving, reasoning and proof, communication, representation, and connections.
  • The IMPACT Studio provides students with tools to find tangible solutions to both geometric and algebraic real-world problems.
  • Students learn to make connections from concrete to a representation to the abstract. Consistently students move from one to the other, developing a strong sense of how and why a concept works.

Experiment with Science

  • Sixth Grade: Students discover how circuits work. Rising before sunrise to observe the night sky, they track the phases of the moon with a moon journal and create a scale model of the solar system. They design, build, test, and modify solar cars to achieve peak performance.
  • Seventh Grade: Students move into the lab to apply the scientific method to questions about the properties of waves, real and virtual images, cell division, diffusion, osmosis, and photosynthesis.
  • Eighth Grade: Students continue to develop their lab skills by studying heredity, investigating properties of matter, understanding the periodic table, and learning how elements bond to make compounds.
“activities challenge students to develop critical thinking and logical reasoning skills. TheY gain confidence that prepares them to become tomorrow’s scientific leaders.”

—Sandra Trentowsky, science teacher

English: Think Critically and Communicate Clearly

The study of language and literature is vital for communicating in the 21st century and fundamental to all learning. Students practice skills in speaking, listening, reading, and writing that enables them to become confident, participatory members of a democratic society. Our program has five main components: literature, composition, grammar, vocabulary building, and cultural competency.

  • Sixth Grade: Increasing the complexity of their written voice, students compose multi-paragraph essays, craft original creative stories, read and write poetry in a variety of forms. Grounded in the theme of "coming of age," Harkness discussions explore identity, rites of passage, and understanding and confronting change.
  • Seventh Grade: Students write short stories, theatrical scenes, and critical analysis. The work of Shakespeare is introduced. The thematic exploration of "values and conflict" culminates in a historical mock trial of Andrew Jackson for the Indian Removal Act of 1830.
  • Eighth Grade: Students engage in both analytical and creative writing, workshop, memorize and perform poetry, and each student writes a speech to be considered for recitation at graduation.
“Middle school is the perfect age for students to explore the world as readers and then reflect on the origins of their own ideas.”

—Elisabeth Klock, English teacher

Sixth Grade: Readings include The Hunger Games, The Outsiders, The Misfits, and American Born Chinese.

Seventh Grade: Readings include Persepolis, Of Mice and Men, Macbeth and excerpts from Born a Crime, The Body Papers, This I Believe, and You Remind Me of You.

Eighth Grade: Readings include The 57 Bus, To Kill a Mockingbird, House on Mango Street, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, and Romeo and Juliet.

"I really like English. It’s an interactive class with engaging questions and discussions where we can share our thoughts and challenge each other's ideas."

—Ella, sixth grade

Discover the World in Social Studies

  • Sixth Grade: Students learn to be self-reflective researchers and presenters through the study of world religions. They examine the civil rights movement through the lenses of the legal system, primary sources, music, and literature and write their own script to perform at Freedom Night.
  • Seventh Grade: Students consider how a multiple-perspective approach informs and enriches our understanding of the world. Topics include European and U.S. westward expansion; African studies; food systems, geography; current events; Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel.
  • Eighth Grade: Students hone research and writing skills as they work on their Capstone research papers. Topics include the American Revolution; the U.S. Constitution; the Civil War and Reconstruction; U.S. immigration; World Wars I and II. A trip to Washington D.C. to explore museums, memorials, and how government works brings the curriculum to life.

“Studying the civil rights movement, sixth graders are challenged to understand how the world worked, and they are inspired by how it was changed. The civil rights project is like a mini-Capstone. Students choose what they want to study in-depth, select a project format, and present a plan for accomplishing their goal.” —Dean Spencer, social studies teacher

Develop a Flair for World Languages

Students choose from French, Latin, or Spanish. Grades 6–8 offer a continuous arc that integrates language mechanics, vocabulary development, and cultural appreciation. As fluency builds, students become more and more comfortable using the language to express their own ideas and personalities.

“We hope to inspire a love of language learning and an understanding of how language is a window into other cultures.”

—Nicole Buck, Latin teacher

Flourish in the Arts

  • Sixth Grade: Students sample every arts discipline, rotating through classes in music, theater arts, digital technology, visual arts, and woodworking.
  • Seventh and Eighth Grades: Each trimester, students choose from a wide variety of specialty courses, ranging from kinetic sculpture, improv, composer's forum, book arts, fiber explosion, and digital film and photography. During the winter trimester, students also have the option to take part in a theater production.
“EVERY ELECTIVE HAS CHALLENGED MY MIND TO WORK HARD AND I HAVE LEARNED NEW SKILLS. SOME ELECTIVES, SPECIFICALLY POTTERY, KNITTING, AND FIBER EXPLOSION, HAVE INSPIRED ME TO DO MORE OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL.”

—Camille, eighth grade

Become a Leader on the Field

All middle school students represent Belmont Day by competing in our interscholastic athletics program. Over the course of three seasons, students choose from 12 athletics offerings, learning important lessons about teamwork, sportsmanship, and leadership.

“Some of our students are highly competitive and others are new to a sport. We meet kids where they are and challenge them from there.”

—John O’Neill, Director of Athletics

Take Pride in Clubs, Partnerships, and service

All middle school students participate in two clubs each year. Possibilities include Model U.N., math club, Echo literary magazine, trail biking, and beekeeping.

Middle school students also serve as the cross-graded partners for our youngest students. They meet regularly to read or do projects together.

Whether raising funds for UNICEF, volunteering to be school ambassadors, engaging in the community through the Roots and Shoots service learning club, or starting a climate change discussion group, our students are responsible and engaged leaders.

“Watching cross-graded partners interact is inspiring. Our middle school students are excellent role models in guiding their younger partners through a variety of challenging activities, while also simply enjoying the chance to remember what it was like when they were that age.” —Kaleen Moriarty, sixth grade teacher

Culminate Middle School with a Capstone

In spring, seventh grade students identify inspiring research questions to anchor their Capstone projects. As eighth graders they write in-depth research papers on their topics. Students then design multi-step projects to extend their learning. In the spring of eighth grade, they give a 20-minute presentation to the school community, synthesizing this year-long journey of independent learning.

“My biggest accomplishment at Belmont Day was getting through the Capstone journey. The last step is a formal presentation. I have public speaking anxiety. To help me get through that I reached out to a lot of my peers and teachers to give me tips and strategies.”

—Nico ’19, enrolled at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School

Graduate and Go to High School!

Starting in seventh grade, BDS guides families through the search process to identify best-fit schools for each student. Our graduates head to high school with confidence and excitement.

“Admissions officers appreciate BDS graduates as unique individuals who have a strong sense of self.” —Sarah Merrill, Director of High School Placement

I remain committed to Belmont Day years after my daughter has graduated. Being beyond the elementary and middle school years now, I see the value of her BDS education from a different vantage point and am even more grateful for it. She was extremely well-prepared for the academic rigor of high school. By eighth grade, she was also socially and emotionally ready for the next step. —Karen Liesching P '17 and Belmont Day Trustee

“during the Middle school years, the essential steps—SOCIALLY, EMOTIONALLY, AND INTELLECTUALLY—that students take outside of their comfort zones serve as the cornerstones of growing up. Their self-discoveries are lasting reminders of all that they are capable of achieving.”

—Liz Gray, middle school head