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

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 responsibilities of a working farm.
  • Seventh Grade: Students band together to climb Cardigan Mountain.
  • Eighth Grade: Outward Bound on Thompson Island encourages teamwork and a sense of adventure.

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

“With each grade, students increasingly encounter problem-based learning, which inspires students to be creators of knowledge.”

—Kathy Gruzynski, math teacher

Math: Dive Deep into Problem-Solving

  • Sixth Grade: Students tackle Math Olympiad problems, which emphasize mathematical intuition and strategies that are at the root of problem-solving.
  • Seventh and Eighth Grades: Students create their own multi-media, math reference books to consolidate their learning.
  • Eighth Grade: Students solve and present problem sets created by Phillips Exeter Academy.
“The problem-based math class is my favorite this year. It isn’t easy, but if you study and use what you learn, then it’s really rewarding.”

—Jordan, eighth grade

Experiment with Science

  • Sixth Grade: Students discover how circuits work and gather before sunrise to observe the night sky. They design, build, test, and modify solar cars to achieve peak performance.
  • Seventh and Eighth Grades: Students move into the lab to apply the scientific method to questions about osmosis, photosynthesis, precipitate change, and reactivity.
“I’m teaching students to think and write scientifically. It’s important to know how to learn information and then how to apply it successfully.”

—Sandra Trentowsky, science teacher

English: Think Critically and Communicate Clearly

Each year students deepen their connection with literature and refine the expression of their own ideas.

  • Sixth Grade: Students increase the complexity of their writing voice.
  • Seventh Grade: Students write short stories, theatrical scenes, and critical analysis.
  • Eighth Grade: Students write nonfiction, poetry, personal essays, and graduation speeches.
“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

Discover the World in Social Studies

  • Sixth Grade: Students examine the Civil Rights Movement through the lenses of the legal system, primary sources, music, and literature. They write their own script to perform at Freedom Night.
  • Seventh and Eighth Grades: Students study geography and analyze how historic events impact the modern world. Topics include European expansion, the Atlantic slave trade, the American Revolution, U.S. westward expansion, U.S. immigration, and World War II.
  • Eighth Grade: Students take a trip to Washington D.C. to explore museums, memorials, and how government works.

“The sixth grade Civil Rights project is like a mini-Capstone. Students choose what they want to study in-depth, they choose the project format, and they present me with 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, teachers make room for student-led conversations similar to a Harkness model.

“We want students to love the idea of learning languages and understand how language is a window into understanding other cultures.”

—Jennifer Friborg, world languages teacher

Flourish in the Arts

  • Sixth Grade: Students sample every media, rotating through classes in music, theater arts, digital technology, visual arts, and woodworking.
  • Seventh and Eighth Grades: Each term, students choose from a wide variety of specialty topics, ranging from ceramics to blues guitar, from poetry performance to web design. Spring term is devoted to producing a musical, with electives in acting, set design, and theater tech.
“Arts electives let you expand to try things you’ve never done. Or you can do more of something you know you like. I tried knitting for the first time, and now I’m doing stand-up comedy.”

—Jacob, seventh 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 18 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 and Partnerships

All middle school students participate in two clubs each year. Possibilities include Model U.N., math club, Echo literary magazine, and Roots and Shoots service learning.

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

“It’s lovely to see the middle school students connect with little ones. They enjoy being role models, while remembering back to when they were the younger partner.” —Kaleen Moriarty, sixth grade teacher

Culminate Middle School with a Capstone

In spring, seventh grade students identify inspiring questions to anchor their Capstone projects. In fall, eighth graders write in-depth, formal research papers on their topics. Students then produce a creative work. In the spring of eighth grade — almost a year after the project began — students present a 20-minute presentation reflecting the totality of their work.

“Part of being a student here is knowing your limits, recognizing them, and pushing them a little each day. After giving your Capstone presentation, you feel like the world is yours.”

—Altea, ’17, currently enrolled at Concord Academy

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

“My daughters felt very academically prepared for high school. At BDS, students also have the opportunity and encouragement to take on leadership roles — and the effects of that carry through to the next steps.”

—Kathy Rothman, parent of two recent BDS graduates

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