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The Middle School years, which encompass 5th through 8th grade at Harrisburg Academy, are a time of dramatic development –– physical, intellectual, and emotional. Harrisburg Academy recognizes that these changes present unique and wonderful opportunities for young people and their teachers. Acknowledging the energy and enthusiasm of early adolescents, we have created a challenging program that empowers Middle School students and successfully prepares them for the Upper School (high school) and beyond. Learning at the Academy is a powerful and enjoyable experience.
Early adolescents can present their challenges, but Middle School also provides unique and wonderful opportunities for bonding and forming community. Because we acknowledge the energy, openness, and enthusiasm characteristic of young people at this age, we are committed to a teaching philosophy known as Developmental Designs. This model of classroom engagement facilitates successfully the middle years of the Academy learning journey.Developmental Designs contends the following: 1) Social learning is as important to success as academic learning; we learn best by constructing our own understanding through exploration, discovery, and application; 2) The greatest cognitive growth occurs through social interactions within a supportive community; 3) There is a set of personal/social skills that students need to learn and practice in order to be successful socially and academically (Cooperation-Assertion Responsibility-Empathy-Self-Control); 4) Knowing the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual needs of the students we teach is as important as knowing the content we teach; and 5) Trust among adults is a fundamental necessity for academic and social success in a learning community.
Every student is assigned to an advisor who monitors his or her academic and personal development. The Middle School team, which includes faculty, the school counselor, the head of Middle and Upper Schools, and the learning support liaison meets at regular times during the academic cycle. At team meetings, teachers address curricular scope and sequence, long-term projects, event planning, and individual student concerns.
Core curriculum offerings in Middle School include mathematics, English, science, social studies, and world languages (Spanish, French, and Latin). The curriculum is further enhanced by health and fitness, computer science, music, and studio art classes. Curriculum-enhancing field trips, creative outlets for self-expression, and class-bonding social events, like dances and after-school outings, are a vital part of the Academy’s Middle School program.
Co-curricular opportunities include athletics –– soccer, basketball, tennis, swimming, lacrosse, and cross country –– as well as a wide range of in-school clubs, including newspaper, literary magazine, environmental club, Middle School Gives Back, and Tech Club. In season, Ski Club is also a popular weekly event in Middle School. Middle School students are involved in fine and performing arts, including Grandparents Day concerts (fall), drama productions (winter and spring), All-School Concert (winter), and Middle School musical (spring).
As a college preparatory school, we devote extensive resources to individually guiding our students through the college search process. Our head of Middle and Upper Schools, John Binnert, and our director of college counseling, Keo Oura Kounlavong-Sabath, work one-on-one with students and their families during their four-year experience in our Upper School (for students who attend the Academy for 8th grade, we offer special college counseling opportunities to prepare them for their Upper School experience).Our director of college counseling assists students and their families by providing access to a vast library of materials, information nights, financial aid sessions, college trips, a college fair, and a college prep course. Our college placement rate is 100 percent, with more than two-thirds of students typically attending “Most Competitive” or “Highly Competitive” colleges and universities, which comprise the top 5 percent of higher education institutions in the United States. Our juniors’ SAT score averages about 300 points higher than the national average.
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