Pacem School is a state-recognized independent school for 7th and 8th grade. We offer a complete full-time curriculum for this age group and we also offer courses for younger students starting at age 10. In many subject areas, we use a two-year course rotation and expectations are higher for the older/advanced students within each range. Students take a mix of core and elective courses. Electives across subject areas are offered depending on student and faculty interest.
Middle School Approach
We believe that middle-level students are at a critical juncture in their academic careers. They are experiencing rapid social and intellectual changes as they develop from children to adolescents. We help young people navigate this time and prepare to take on the increased independence and responsibility of high school. Pacem teachers focus on supporting students emotionally, developing conflict resolution and communication tools, and teaching important academic and organizational skills. Our small classes and supportive community nurture individual growth.
We vary the teaching approach and format of our classes to accommodate different learning styles as well as different levels of academic skill. We also teach and practice specific skills for learning at this level, including research skills and taking notes from oral and written material.
Middle School Course Overview
Language Arts and Literature – Classes combine both writing and literature through examining what makes great writing. Students read and discuss literature, write creative and analytical responses to literature, experiment with different writing forms, and work on independent writing projects based on their own interests and goals.
Mathematics – Our Real World Math course engages students in exploring hands on and real world applications of mathematics content typically taught at the middle school level. Students learn, practice, and apply concepts and skills through individual and group investigations and projects. When students are ready for it (generally in 7th or 8th grade) they will take our Middle School Math Tutorial. This is a largely self-paced class based either on the Singapore Math “Discovering Mathematics” curriculum or on Khan Academy.
Culture, History, and Peace Studies – Classes weave social science content and a variety of academic skills together while examining key questions about how human beings live together, locally and globally, today and in history. Courses may include: History Alive!, Around the World, The Ancients, Local History, Introduction to Peace Studies, and History, Culture, and Change.
Science – Classes engage students in hands-on investigations, including labs and field study, as well as research, discussion, writing, and projects. Students learn and practice the scientific method and other science process skills while studying content connected to their own lives and interests, environmental sustainability, and a sense of place. In general, courses for 12-14 year olds will focus on biological sciences and physical sciences in alternate years. Courses may include: Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water; Humans in the Environment; The Science of Food and Water; Habitats; Water Ecology; History of Life on Earth; and Astronomy.
Student Interest Project: From Inspiration to Presentation – Student-directed project work is at the heart of Pacem’s curriculum and provides a meaningful context for learning and practicing research and communication skills. Each student chooses a project of personal interest and the teacher helps to guide him/her in a rich, interdisciplinary, in-depth exploration of the chosen topic. Students receive support and instruction as needed in organization, research, and writing skills. Students also have the opportunity to join our “Community Classroom” to complete more in depth community service projects or internships.
Arts – Art Studio classes emphasize creative freedom while providing a foundation in art skills and forms. Classes focus on exposure to great artists and different art forms, exploration of a wide variety of materials, skill development, and self-expression. Pacem also offers performing arts opportunities that may include Spyglass Theater, chorus, and others.
Health and Physical Education – These subjects are integrated into the daily routines and classes in a variety of ways. Our morning break time begins with 30 minutes of physical activity (almost always outdoors) followed by morning meeting, which includes time for silent reflection followed by an opportunity to share reflections and discuss issues. We also offer a series of days at three different points in the year that focus specifically on health and physical education.
Foreign Languages – We believe that speaking a foreign language is an important part of understanding other cultures, peoples, and parts of the world, as well as a skill that students may need in their future life and work. This understanding, in turn is critical for fostering global peace and understanding which is central to our mission. Foreign language classes will be available at Pacem each year; the specific languages offered will depend on student interest. Current offerings include Spanish, and French.
Independent Study – In any subject area, students may work with a faculty advisor to design an independent study to substitute for a regular Pacem class. The purpose of an independent study is to allow students the flexibility to design their own curricula with faculty mentors. Independent studies must include similar concepts and skills and be of the same quality and complexity as the classes they are replacing.