The Middle Level Art Program is essential to the growth and development of all students. Visual communication, creativity, innovation, and collaboration serve as the pillar of each unit. This sequential program focuses on the process and understanding of a variety of media and techniques, art history, cultural context, and concepts. Idea development, planning, and creativity play an important role in the student’s growth and creative problem solving throughout each grade level. The student’s personal expression, aesthetic appreciation, and confidence constantly grows and evolves throughout the three years in the Middle Level Art Program and is celebrated each May with the Middle Level Art Show. This event showcases the work created by each student as well as garments from the annual Middle-Made Design Challenge and Fashion Show and the Eighth Grade Art Capstone.
The English Program in grades six, seven, and eight enriches and extends the skills learned in elementary school while it strives to develop mastery of the English language based on the standards of the National Council of Teachers of English. Teachers encourage students to make connections between reading, thinking, and writing through intensive seminar discussions and individual and collaborative research projects. The program includes the study of a variety of literary texts (novels, short stories, plays, poetry, and nonfiction), writing, grammar, and vocabulary. Novels are chosen thematically in order to build students’ understanding of the human experience. In sixth grade, students study “extraordinary women.” Seventh-graders explore stereotypes and coming-of-age novels, and eighth graders focus on texts which address global issues and the nature of humanity in the modern age. Each year students develop their writing skills through reflective literary essays. All classes incorporate seminar discussion, multimedia, and collaborative and individual research projects in the learning process.
The Middle Level has a full-time school counselor who provides a comprehensive school counseling program that focuses on the academic, personal/social, and career development needs of each student. The counselor teaches guidance class at each grade level and meets with students individually and in small groups. The school counselor coordinates with parents, teachers and other school personnel to help each girl succeed and reach her full potential at NDP.
In the Middle Level Language Program, students begin their language study in sixth grade with an Introduction to Latin as part of the Romance Language Program. In grades seven and eight, students choose to begin French I, Spanish I, or continue in the Romance Language Program (seventh grade Romance Language includes Introduction to Spanish and Italian; eighth grade Romance Language includes Introduction to French) that emphasizes speaking, writing, reading, and listening skills. High school Chinese is available for students who demonstrate advanced ability. 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 Topics in Algebra, 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 band, strings, chorus, piano (Grade 6 only) or dance (Grades 7 and 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. Private lessons in voice and all instruments are available.
The Middle Level Physical Education Program includes instruction in fitness-based sport education units of basketball, field hockey, soccer, softball, and volleyball. The swimming course follows the goals and objectives of the Swim America program. The Physical Education Department also sponsors a Synchronized Swim Show, Field Day, and intramurals through the Middle Level Spirit Association.
The Middle Level Religious Studies Program in grades six, seven, and eight is a journey of faith covering Hebrew and Christian scriptures, and Catholic beliefs and practices. The program combines academics and spirituality to challenge the students to foster Catholic identity and relate it to today’s culture. This curriculum serves as an opportunity for students to understand the Catholic heritage, to become aware of others’ beliefs, to recognize the importance of local service and global justice in their daily lives, and to build a spiritual foundation for years to come.
The Middle Level Science Program begins with an introduction to the scientific method and measurement techniques as a basis for the next three years of scientific study. Sixth-grade students examine the diversity of life through a survey of living things and environmental issues and explore physical science through a study of sound and light. Participation in lab experiments amplifies and clarifies students’ understanding of the applications of the scientific method and the subject matter. Seventh-grade students study cell structure and function, cell processes, systems of the human body, and genetics. A more advanced understanding of the scientific method is developed through experimentation. Observation, the collection of data, and the interpretation of that data are stressed throughout the course. Eighth-grade students study motion, forces, simple machines, matter, energy, atoms, and the periodic table. Science and mathematics are integrated in class and lab work. Students demonstrate proficiency in the use of the scientific method in lab experiments and written reports.
The Middle Level Social Studies Curriculum offers students the opportunity to explore 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 grades. Seventh-grade students study world history, from ancient civilizations to feudal Europe. In grade eight, students focus on American History, examining the development of our nation from colonization to the 21st century. All classes incorporate class discussion, multimedia, and research projects in the learning process.