Lesley Ellis seventh and eighth graders are ready for more: greater academic challenges, additional responsibilities, increased independence, and expanded leadership opportunities. Varied and creative classroom activities stimulate curiosity. Each day students transition seamlessly between engaging learning experiences; from the preterite and imperfect tenses in Spanish to breaking down stereotypes in To Kill a Mockingbird to applying a slope intercept to exploring the economies of chocolate. This final two year loop in middle school also offers an expanded creative arts program with a wide variety of electives to inspire emerging interests and further existing talents.
In addition to a robust academic program, our oldest students benefit from new opportunities that extend beyond the core academic curriculum. Seventh and eighth graders are role models, peer mentors, team captains, school ambassadors, and assembly leaders. They are also civic leaders—combining well-practiced skills with a growing social consciousness to tackle meaningful service projects and make their world a better place.
When Lesley Ellis students graduate they are well-prepared for their next steps—with a clear sense of self and a sense of responsibility for their own learning process. They have learned to listen, solve problems creatively, think critically, and communicate and collaborate effectively with both peers and adults. When Lesley Ellis graduates enter high school, they are leaders who appreciate diversity, recognize bias, and actively contribute to their school, local, and global communities.
Middle School Support
Grade 7/8 Advisor Program
Although supporting our students is a committed team effort, we understand the distinct benefits of an individual advisor/advisee relationship. The middle school team approach assures that there are many diverse, strong relationships between students and faculty; the 7/8 advisor program assures that there is always one go-to person who is available as a consistent trusted resource.
Seventh and eighth grade students are thoughtfully paired with middle school staff members who become their point person for support and guidance. Advisor/advisee meetings take place at least twice a month, with the goal of further strengthening the connections between students and staff and ensuring that students and their families have a deeply personalized and supportive school experience.
Weekly Group Meetings
Lesley Ellis’s school counselor meets weekly with combined groups of students in grades 5 and 6 and grades 7 and 8 to talk about the most pressing developmentally appropriate issues. Topics are often informed by student interest, as well as by the situations we know students are facing: test anxiety, social frustration, peer pressure, etc.
Additionally, group meetings serve an important social function, creating peer groups that frequently extend beyond the classroom and last for years.
Grade Level Highlights
The concept of service is a foundational pillar of the Lesley Ellis community, and a range of initiatives helps students increase their capacity for empathy and to make a difference. Student interest drives seventh and eighth grade service projects, which are identified at the beginning of each year, to allow for a year-long commitment and positive impact.
Past projects have included:
- creating and hanging holiday decorations for Heading Home’s holiday gift event;
- helping to organize shelves and do yard work for the Arlington Food Pantry;
- organizing and running a bake sale benefitting the American Red Cross hurricane relief effort.
ThinkGive empowers students to realize their capacity to positively impact their own lives and the lives of others through hands-on, collaborative acts of giving. With an emphasis on gifts of self, students share acts of kindness—a compliment, a helping hand, an expression of gratitude—demonstrating that small acts can have huge impact.
Seventh and eighth graders have increased responsibility not only for their academics but also for their community. Abundant leadership opportunities ensure that older students can practice their developing skills in significant ways while supporting their younger peers.
- Peer Leadership Program: Seventh and eighth graders are paired with groups of students in grades 1–4 and lead meaningful age-appropriate discussions on topics such as community building, respect, having a positive attitude, and how to work together as a group.
- Seventh and eighth graders organize and run the monthly all-school assemblies.
- Student Ambassadors: Seventh and eighth graders represent their school and support admissions at open house events and during visit days.
Theatrical experiences continue to provide seventh and eighth grade students a growing toolbox for self-discovery and expression. Through participation in the dramatic arts, students stretch their communication, decision-making, teamwork, active listening, calculated risk-taking and physical awareness muscles, while building self-confidence and sparking new interests. Students analyze scripts, practice different acting techniques, blend interpretation and performance in musical productions, and explore aspects of technical theater—all with increasing depth as they gain experience through the middle school years.
Seventh and eighth graders have the opportunity to engage in weekly theatrical experiences, participate in the much-anticipated improvisation workshop, and be a part of a substantial musical production each year.
Seventh and eighth graders begin their year with a one-night overnight for leadership training. To support their expanding role in the school community, students focus on the skill development that will help them be strong peer advisors.
Learning through contextual experiences changes the way young people process information and deepens understanding. Lesley Ellis purposefully attaches study to travel to broaden student perspectives and illuminate lessons learned in the classroom. Seventh and eighth graders have the opportunity to travel to both Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.