The Middle School Experience
Our students are confident collaborators who find excitement and challenge in our integrated programming in an environment that offers choice, structure, support, and never-ending opportunity for intellectual inquiry.
They speak up, they respectfully disagree, and they learn from their teachers and from one another. It’s a process that builds confidence in their thinking as they discover who they want to be beyond Hillbrook.
At Hillbrook, we recognize that Middle School is a time for establishing independence and engaging in self-discovery. Our students are idealists who value fairness, and our teachers cultivate a healthy evolution of reliance on adults to reliance on one another. The Middle School curriculum is designed to present complex, purposeful experiences in which failure is a real possibility. Our students find satisfaction and meaning in the process – even in unexpected outcomes.
Our interdisciplinary Middle School curriculum builds on foundational skills, as students rise to the challenge of applying those skills to problems of ever-increasing complexity and in contexts that extend past traditional school subjects. Students sharpen their ability to communicate clearly, develop a concise argument, analyze someone else’s reasoning, think critically, and imagine real-world applications for what they’ve learned. Classes involve animated discussions and active learning–our students have ideas and opinions.
The Middle School Schedule
Our school hours, currently, in Middle School are as follows:
5th-8th Grade Students: 8:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Early Release occurs on the first Wednesday of each month for Faculty Professional Development.
2:00 PM Dismissal for 5th-8th Grade Students
The Middle School schedule incorporates time for skill-building as well as transdisciplinary, collaborative learning and opportunities for student choice. English, Science, Math, History, World Language, Physical Education, and Visual and Performing Arts meet with equal frequency, as students build skills and establish fluency in each of these disciplines. Integrated learning blocks, such as our weekly Reach Beyond Block and other project times, are co-taught by faculty across disciplines and offer students extended time for inquiry, labs, debates, making and more– so good conversations can get the attention they deserve. Students have opportunities across Middle School to tailor their learning, through club times, 7th and 8th Grade quarter-long Electives, Athletics and afterschool opportunities, and during Reach Beyond experiences, allowing students to explore diverse offerings as well as pursue areas of curiosity or passion.
Students use lunch times to pursue many club and leadership opportunities, get help from teachers, and spend time hanging out (and eating!) with friends. Through specially designed programs, like our weekly Reach Beyond Block, annual Reach Beyond Week, and the 8th grade capstone Social Impact Project, our students have regular opportunities to partner with, explore, and problem-solve with the community beyond campus. After school, our students can play team sports, including basketball, cross-country, volleyball, flag football, and more.
The Chance Carnival is a multi-layered, multi-class project that partners our Lower and Middle School. Seventh graders use design thinking to plan and prototype games of chance while learning about probability, statistics, accounting, and marketing with a focus on their Lower School audience. In the end, 7th graders analyze the data to see how accurate their predictions of the results were and reflect on their learning together.
In this six-week Reach Beyond cycle devoted to social impact, biology, and other sciences, students set up three aquaponic mini-systems and learn about the social impact and possible future uses of this resilient form of food production. Aquaponics is a sustainable method of agriculture that combines raising fish in tanks with soilless plant culture, resulting in the growth of substantially more food with less water, land, and labor than traditional agriculture.