The Middle School addresses the distinctive needs of students in Grades 5 through 8. We appreciate and understand their joys, challenges, and developmental changes. We also recognize their vulnerability and learning differences during this remarkable transitional period.
The Middle School offers a challenging and joyful experience that supports students along their journey from dependent to independent learners. Our multifaceted and evolving program fosters perseverance and promotes balance for healthy development. By modeling empathy and cultivating responsibility, we encourage our students to be good citizens and advocates — engaged in the world around them and ever mindful of the experiences and needs of others.
Our program provides the support and guidance that allow students to develop independent thinking, intellectual integrity, and physical, personal, and social maturity.
Acting as a bridge between the Lower and Upper Schools, the Middle School reinforces and applies previously learned skills and stimulates each student's emerging ability to think abstractly and reason logically. The program emphasizes the development of healthy work and study habits to ensure success with the ever-increasing demands of academic studies, and it offers students the opportunity to explore and make choices as they mature.
Just as important, the program helps students develop the following social skills, which enable students to be happy, contributing members of the school community:
- A positive attitude
- Kindness toward others
- Pride in self
- Working well within a group
- Respect for others
By the time students leave the Middle School, they are expected to have mastered the guidelines put forth in each academic discipline. We also expect that they will have become confident and capable students in all spheres of their learning. The curriculum is designed to help students strengthen the following study skills:
- Preparing efficiently for class and for tests
- Managing time successfully
- Using various tools, including the Internet, for research
- Taking notes
- Following directions
- Having a good sense of organization.
Middle School students at RCDS are full members of a strong learning community that offers an age-appropriate balance of structure and freedom unique to each young adolescent’s needs. Faculty advisors, grade-level deans, and systems of student progress monitoring—both social and academic—are at the core of the support we offer to students on their journey to becoming independent learners and good citizens. As our students mature, they enjoy more freedom of academic and extracurricular choice, including options for electives in various disciplines and the opportunity to participate on interscholastic athletic teams over the course of three seasons. Students have many opportunities to explore their passions, spend time with friends, and contribute to the community in meaningful ways.
- Assemblies and Morning Meetings
- Clubs and Activities
- Community Time and Flex Time
- Service Learning
- Good Morning RCDS
The entire Middle School gathers regularly in the Performing Arts Center for assemblies and morning meetings. These gatherings feature student performances, guest speakers and performers, film screenings, special programs that celebrate academic and extracurricular community life, announcements from students and faculty, as well as other fun and interactive community building programming. As much as possible, students are featured prominently in these programs.
Middle School students may participate in the after-school clubs program in the fall, winter, and spring. The clubs reflect interests as varied as chess, drama, strategic games, hip-hop dancing, coding, and yoga. The clubs may change periodically throughout the year, depending on the teacher offerings and students’ interests.
In addition, a number of after school programs are offered to Middle School students by Upper School students, including Students Working to Advance Technology, Club Etre, Women in Science Education, and several affinity-based student mentoring programs.
During the day, Middle School students may choose to participate in an existing student-run club or to start one themselves! Clubs have included the Debate Club, GSA, Diversity Club, Green Team, Digital Diversity, and Drawing Club. Students also may participate in extracurricular music groups during the day such as Jazz Band, Cubscats, and private music lessons.
Built into the six-day rotating schedule are times that offer students the chance to connect with their advisories, participate in service learning, and practice effective time management with their workloads. Assemblies, morning meetings, and advisory periods happen during Community Time. During Flex Time, students can meet with teachers, work with a study group, participate in a club or activity, or simply have time to socialize with friends.
Throughout their Middle School years, students learn about the five stages of service learning, the ethics of service, and the role of youth as change agents in the community and world. Students complete reflective personal inventories that enable them to more effectively put their own skills and interests to use in working in partnership with community organizations.
Specific community blocks are dedicated to service learning. Students and advisors may elect to work on teams that research, plan, and implement a different project. The teamwork culminates in student-driven direct service, advocacy, or activism projects in the community.
In eighth grade, students spend a series of service days in either the fall or the spring doing service projects with RCDS community partners.
In the Middle School, students have many opportunities that extend the curriculum beyond the classroom. Trips include travel to New York City landmarks, theaters, concert halls, museums, and restaurants; the Adam Krieger Adventure Center; music competitions; Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia; Camp Jewell and Camp Hazen; and Heifer Farm.