Be Immersed in Learning
Students don’t merely study a topic at Belmont Day; they dive into it and explore it from every angle. They take the role of a Colonial settler and write a journal from that perspective. They complete a unique independent project related to human rights and share it on Freedom Night. They build robots and solar cars and design objects for a 3D printer—using not only math and science, but also creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving skills.
The curricular program for the middle school rests on the balanced foundation of the lower school curriculum and similarly joins traditional skill acquisition with creative hands-on project assignments that are authentic and meaningful.
Because teachers here form a team, integrated units that combine science and social studies, literature, and the arts abound in the middle school. Teachers cooperate with one another to weave their subjects together whenever possible, giving learning richness, context, and a pulse. Students might find themselves making art that ties in with the history they’re studying. Or they might tackle a writing project along with others in the school. The assignments here are varied, purposeful, challenging, and creative, allowing students to explore new concepts in fascinating ways.
Be an Expert: Capstone
Imagine that you’re sitting in a large room full of teachers, students, and other parents when your eighth grader walks up to the front. For the next half-hour, you listen as your child gives a dynamic presentation, sharing information, observations, and insights about an area of expertise. Your child presents with poise and gracefully answers follow-up questions posed by members of the audience. This vision becomes reality at Belmont Day. It’s called the Capstone Project.
It begins in the spring of seventh grade, when students choose and develop two topics of interest. Then they carry out research over the summer and narrow their topic to a single focus. Next, they write a research paper and develop an independent project based on their knowledge, supported by a faculty mentor. Finally, students craft a 30-minute oral presentation that they deliver in the kiva, followed by a question-and-answer session.
Students meet with their Capstone project mentors weekly. A mentor might be a teacher, the school nurse, business manager, or chef. The role has been described as “part shepherd and part cheerleader.” It’s just one part of a support system that ensures that students meet their demanding project goals and gain the self-assurance and skills that will serve them the rest of their academic lives.
There is no overestimating the importance, the thrill, or the transformative powers of Capstone. The diligence, creativity, and tenacity that it requires are something like college, and completely like Belmont Day.