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Middle Level Academics


Students are encouraged to investigate, explore, discover, create and reflect using a variety of media, methods and techniques. Real world connections are made while students grow creatively and personally through fine art, design, crafts and digital media projects.  Aesthetic, creative and critical choices are made by the student in the process of making works of art.  Nurturing self-expression, confidence and creativity with various themes in their work is evident in their creations. Students have opportunities to show their work in February during Art Week and in May during the Middle Level Art Show.


The English Program in grades six, seven, and eight takes learned skills to the next level in preparation for high school work and focuses on mastery of the English language. Teachers encourage students to make connections between reading, thinking, and writing. The program includes the study of literature (novels, short stories, plays, poetry and nonfiction), writing, grammar, and vocabulary.


The Middle Level has its own school counselor who provides a comprehensive school counseling program that focuses on the academic, personal, and social needs of each student. The counselor meets with students individually and in small groups, and teaches guidance class at each grade level. The school counselor coordinates with parents, teachers, and other school personnel to help each girl succeed and reach her full potential at NDP.


Students begin their language study in grade six with an Introduction to Latin in our Romance Language Program. In grades seven and eight, students choose to begin French I, Spanish I, or continue in the Romance Language program (grade seven includes Introduction to Spanish and Italian; grade eight includes Introduction to French) that emphasizes speaking, writing, reading, and listening skills. Students also study culture, customs, and geography.


The sequence of topics for Middle Level mathematics is thoughtfully planned and designed to meet the current National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) standards for teaching math in the middle grades. Students begin in sixth grade studying the types of numbers and their operations, and extend their knowledge to other disciplines to promote an appreciation of math. In seventh grade students progress to Pre-Algebra or Algebra while continuing to practice and extend their knowledge promoting confidence. In eighth grade students progress to Algebra I or Geometry promoting confidence and mastery while building a solid foundation for the Upper Level math program.  The math program emphasizes for each student her ability to think critically, to problem solve, and to learn to communicate and reason mathematically in a quickly changing technological world. Mathematics is integral to the Middle Level STEAM program which emphasizes hands-on, project-based learning. 


All Middle Level students participate three times a week in their choice of applied music (strings, piano [grade 6 only], band, chorus) or dance (grades 7 & 8 only). These groups offer an opportunity for students to develop their technical, academic, and expressive skills while working with the group toward the common goal of a polished performance. Extracurricular private lessons in voice and all instruments are available on a limited basis. 


The P.E. program includes instruction in the team sports of basketball, field hockey, soccer, softball, and volleyball. Individual activities include badminton, swimming, and tennis. The swimming course follows the goals and objectives of the Swim America program. The Physical Education department also sponsors a Synchronized Swim Show and Field Day.


The Religious Studies Program in grades six, seven, and eight is a journey of faith covering Catholic beliefs and practices, Hebrew and Christian scriptures, and Catholic lifestyle. It combines academics and spirituality to challenge the students to foster their Catholic identity and relate it to today’s culture. This curriculum serves as an opportunity for students to understand their Catholic heritage, to become aware of others’ beliefs, to recognize the importance of service and justice in their daily lives, and to build a spiritual foundation for years to come.


Students are involved in many “hands on” activities that allow a venue for their natural curiosity to emerge. In grade six, there is an introduction to the scientific method and measurement techniques. Expanding on the scientific method, students in grade seven further develop the ability to measure, organize, and communicate scientific information. Students in grade eight demonstrate proficiency in the use of the scientific method in lab experiments in order to integrate skills developed in the sixth and seventh grades.  In progression, students study the environment, diversity of life, sound and light, heredity, human biology, chemistry and physical science. 


The Middle Level Social Studies Curriculum offers students the opportunity to explore the historical and current events and ideas which continue to shape our world. Sixth-grade students study world geography, learn map skills, and gather knowledge about the diverse and rich cultures of our planet. This course provides important fundamentals that students will build on in the seventh and eighth grade. Seventh-grade students study world history, from ancient civilization to feudal Europe. In grade eight, students focus on American History. This course examines the development of our nation from colonization to the 21st century. All classes incorporate class discussion, multimedia, and research projects in the learning process.