A Year in the Life Of a Rivers Ninth Grader

The Ninth Grade Experience

As the largest entry point for new Rivers students, the ninth grade brings together students from both the Rivers Middle School and communities throughout the greater Boston area to create a diverse class that features myriad backgrounds, talents, and interests. The ninth grade program challenges students to pursue excellence across our core curriculum as well as in a variety of athletic, artistic, and co-curricular requirements.

Windsor Mountain

Grade 9 Orientation: Windsor Mountain

Prior to the first day of school, all ninth grade students take part in a three-day orientation at Windsor Mountain International Camp in Windsor, New Hampshire. Set on a pristine lake, the camp provides an idyllic setting for a host of activities designed to bring the class closer together. Students stay in cabins with members of their advisory group and take part in activities with their new classmates that helps them to get to know each other and form relationships that will carry through their time at Rivers and beyond. All ninth graders are also introduced to their senior advisor during the trip.

Activities may range from a full ropes course to team-building challenges to chariot races with their Student Advisory groups on the final day.

The First Day of School and Beyond

The ninth grade curriculum requires students to take classes in all academic disciplines, including the arts. English 9 focuses on the development of writing, reading, critical thinking, and study skills. In Perspectives in World History, students explore the origins of the present, current events, civic participation, and an understanding of the triumphs and failures of previous human societies. The first of a two-year integrated curriculum, Biology & Chemistry I is the traditional first-year science course at Rivers. Students begin by examining the scientific method, followed by the fundamentals of chemistry and the study of evolution. In geometry, ninth graders learn deductive and inductive reasoning as methods of investigating properties and problem solving. More advanced students can place into honors Geometry or Algebra II. And, finally, students work toward fluency in language and culture as they study Spanish, French, Latin, or Chinese.

Visual & Performing Arts

The visual arts program at Rivers cultivates a lifelong involvement in the arts. The department teaches creative problem solving, fosters cooperation, and encourages risk taking in a variety of media, including drawing and painting, digital and darkroom photography, printmaking, ceramics, and sculpture. Students apply what they have learned to the creation of works of art. Through active participation, students develop creativity, visual literacy, and a honed awareness of the visual world.

Recognizing that the performing arts are at the core of human existence, Rivers offers ensembles and classes in a collaborative environment that provides for performance-based assessment and process-oriented learning. Students are encouraged to exceed previous levels of achievement, discover self-confidence, build self-discipline, and achieve self-awareness. As performers themselves, our teachers are models for active learning, risk-taking, and self-expression.

The Rivers School Conservatory Program

The Rivers School Conservatory Program

This program provides student musicians with the faculty, classes, and performance opportunities needed to cultivate their musical artistry while at the same time pursuing a rigorous and challenging academic experience – all on one campus.

The Conservatory Program is open to classical and jazz instrumentalists and vocalists in the Upper School and runs in tandem with The Rivers School’s academic and music curriculum. At the end of the regular school day, Conservatory Program students take additional classes in music theory, ear training, performance, improvisation, solfege, and independent studies, as well as being assigned to Conservatory Program jazz, chamber or vocal ensembles.

Clubs and Co-Curriculars

Rivers students are more than scholars; they are athletes, artists, musicians, leaders, newspaper reporters, actors, and poets. And more than a few students are all of those things. Upper School Students are encouraged to get involved in a wide array of clubs, including Debate, Model UN, GSA, DECA, Robotics, RICA, Rivers Givers, and Community Service Council. The school also has three student-run publications: The Rivers Edge, a national award-winning newspaper; The Current, the literary magazine; and The Nonesuch, the yearbook.

Service Learning

Service Learning at Rivers

The outreach program at Rivers is based upon the belief that each student has the potential and responsibility to be an educated, contributing member of society. Through school, class, and individual endeavors, a student has the opportunity to learn about the challenges facing our local and global neighbors and to take part in a variety of outreach activities designed to meet existing needs within these communities. Those who discover a particular interest are encouraged to make a difference by volunteering. Students will learn from and reflect upon their service experiences, striving for partnership with those who have needs in the spirit of ‘doing with, not doing for’ those with whom we work.

Advisory Program


The advisor system is yet another way Rivers ensures that each student forms meaningful and long-lasting connections with the adults on campus. Serving as mentors, role models, and trusted confidants, advisors play a significant role in each student’s life at Rivers. Every Upper School student is assigned an advisor at the beginning of his or her freshman and junior year, and stays with that advisor for two years. The student-to-advisor ratio in the Upper School is 6 to 1. Advisors meet twice a week with their groups and also serve as a vital resource for parents.

Rivers Athletics

Athletics at Rivers

Rivers believes that involvement in interscholastic athletics is a meaningful and integral part of each student's overall education.

Athletics at Rivers complements our rigorous academic program and provides another arena in which students can excel. The personal growth and achievements realized by our student athletes provide them with a balance between academic pursuits, physical endeavors, and social interaction.

Rivers athletic teams have won 14 NEPSAC and Independent School League championships in the last five years.


The Fall celebration of Homecoming is a great weekend of community events that kicks off with a Red & White competition, continues with a bonfire and a dance, then culminates with two games under the lights on Waterman Field.

The Journey Continues

The ninth Grade is just the beginning of a four-year journey full of challenges, opportunities, and experiences that help students achieve their goals and reach their greatest potential. We look forward to seeing you at the Reception for Admitted Families on April 4 and our revisit days on April 2, April 5, and April 9.

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