Eighth Grade

Coordinator: Michael Pauloski

This course begins the formal study of algebra at the high school level. The importance of basic algebraic knowledge to mathematical or scientific work cannot be over- emphasized. This course provides a comprehensive introduction to algebraic functions. Throughout, emphasis is upon good methodology, clarity of presentation, and fluency with mathematical language.

The algebraic axioms and properties are developed by using that language. Students then learn how to simplify linear, quadratic, power, root, and rational expressions. Exercises involving the manipulation and evaluation of numerical and algebraic expressions are undertaken. First degree equations, systems of first degree equations and linear inequalities in the x-y plane are covered. Second degree equations are solved by factoring, completing the square, and the quadratic formula. Students perform simplifications of various types of expressions, including extensive work with fractions, exponents, and radicals. Students will be able to write equations from graphs or from stated conditions. Accurate use of mathematical vocabulary is stressed when students are called upon to explain methods and techniques.

The eighth grade art curriculum centers on the study of American art. Sequential assignments emphasize the use of tempera, acrylics, pastels and a wide range of drawing, painting and mixed media materials. Students utilize greater technical fluency in drawing, painting, collage techniques and three-dimensional media, and develop a good understanding of context and style within the study of early, modern and contemporary American artistic styles; including Native American tribal art, Colonial period portraiture, patriotic art after the American Revolution, romantic landscape painting of the Hudson River School, early twentieth century Ashcan School, American Realism, Harlem Renaissance, Abstract Expressionism, Color Field, Pop Art, Minimalism, NeoExpressionism, and later diverse pluralistic styles including Graffiti Art and Neo-Dada. In painting, students use gradations of color, create illusions of volume on a flat surface, and incorporate direct observation and imagination. Students also design and construct geometric sculptures and transfer two-dimensional drawings into three-dimensional forms in clay.

Students will acquire insight into the evolution of computer science, covering the history of computer hardware and software. Topics include operating systems, compilers, interpreters, application software, and the binary system. Students will develop a conceptual understanding of algorithms - the key to designing programs. The Python computer language will be used to implement the algorithms.

In Creative Writing, students have the freedom to cultivate their own idea of fiction. There are no prompts. Each week they are required to write at least 1,000 fresh words, whether they continue a previous story or begin a new one. During class, students read excerpts from their stories and provide one another with feedback. Discussions range from technical advice to far-fetched recommendations about plot.

Health class in the 7th and 8th grades are split by gender. Trans students are welcome to attend whichever class they choose.

Boys’ Health: This course focuses on the changing bodies and minds of boys as they enter or will enter puberty. We teach about these imminent psychological changes and how they may affect boys psychologically or in other aspects of their lives. We also focus on the changing relationships and personal dynamics that occur between people going through these changes.

Girls’ Health: This course is designed to promote physical, mental, social and emotional health while students gain the necessary knowledge, skills, and positive attitudes for a lifetime of personal wellness. In addition this course will give girls the skills and information necessary to make educated and responsible decisions relating to her health. The course will also give students the knowledge to practice behaviors that promote individual and community health. Students will learn strategies to achieve and maintain these goals.

American History is meant to not only to examine the scope and breadth of our history, but also to provide students with the tools to be responsible and informed citizens in our democratic society. The study of American history from Jamestown to the present will be coupled with in-class simulations, research skills, historical inquiry, and current events. In these challenging times, we need to know where we came from as a nation in order to adequately address the issues of the future. In addition to the study of American history, students also participate in a tri-state Model Congress competition each year.

Each trimester is dedicated to exploring tropes of literary genres. Students will recognize patterns and themes of genres such as dystopia, satire, and the short story. 

By the end of this course, students will be able to analyze and interpret any piece of writing through different lenses, recognizing their own biases and forming their own interpretations. 

Highlighted works include but are not limited to Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, & Voltaire's Candide. Short stories include: "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" by Ursula K. LeGuin, "Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut, "Cathedral" by Raymond Carver. 

This course is designed as a continuation of the Latin A course, and it completes the study of upper school Latin I. Latin B reinforces and enriches mastery of more advanced grammar and vocabulary skills necessary for reading and understanding the second set of stories in the book Ecce Romani I-B. The first objective of this course is to enhance general language learning techniques and aptitudes through multiple English to Latin translations. The close attention to structure demanded by a highly inflected language such as Latin helps students understand English better, and gives them the ability to learn other foreign languages more effectively. The second objective is to use creative writing sessions to develop students’ full potential by strengthening skills of deductive and analogous reasoning, logical thinking, comparative analysis, and critical assessment. In the process of accomplishing these goals, this class will enhance student awareness of the historical significance and contemporary relevance of the Roman civilization. For a closer look at, and wider discussion of Roman life and governmental structure, students are offered a special mini-course: “Res Publica.”

As a component of the eighth grade social studies curriculum, students participate in Model Congress, a government simulation game in which students act as members of congress. They create and attempt to pass their own pieces of legislation. Students are provided guidance in constructing either a bill or a proposal for a constitutional amendment that they would like to see enacted by the U.S. government. They are then instructed in proper parliamentary procedure and given an overview of various debate strategies. Working together, students prepare to bring their bill before a committee for passage. This course culminates with a trip to a tri-state Model Congress in May, where the students work with delegates from other schools. By participating in Model Congress, students come to understand the legislative process and develop critical thinking skills. Another valuable result of this experience is that students improve their public speaking capabilities.

History of Musical Theater: America gave the world two unique and distinctly American musical forms: Jazz and Musical Theater. We explore the history of musical theater from its early roots in vaudeville, through the “golden age” of theater encompassing the decades of the world wars and from the cultural revolutions of the 1960's and 70's, up to current and contemporary expressions and experiments within the form.

Today, Earth is the only planet in the universe that we know contains living things, but can you define what it means for a thing to have “life” or what it means to be “living”? Our goal in this class will be to explore the living world from a scientific perspective. In the process, we will build an understanding of both the great diversity among Earth’s living things and their major commonalities.

Topics involve and come from physics, chemistry, and ecology. We will look at the scientific process and methodology, cell structure and processes, heredity and genetics, evolution and natural selection, viruses, bacteria, protists, fungi, animals, plants, and human biology and health.

Through the study of world languages students are able to break down the narrow certainties and provincial vision of their individual experience in order to embrace a broader range of the human family. Students develop sensitivity to other cultures. Acquiring other languages gives students a comparative expression of thinking, feeling, and understanding the world.