In this section
In their middle school Bible class, as in the primary program, all students participate. Students study the life of Jesus and the role of the church in our society.
It is important to enable students to gain a better understanding of themselves and their relationships with others. Students learn precepts of human virtues--what they look like, what they are in practice, how to recognize them and how they work. To this end, students study the Bible and other literary sources and participate in class discussion.
Students gain a better understanding of personal beliefs and values as well as the study of ethics and moral dilemmas. Bringing together their study of faith and religion, students examine who they are, their moral codes and how their actions and decisions affect others. Students practice communication and decision-making skills with an emphasis on developing healthy relationships and moral maturity--knowing right, desiring right and doing right.
Once a week, we visit the church for Chapel to reinforce these values. Each class sponsors several chapel programs during the year. VVAA hosts two Week of Prayer events each year, presented by guest speakers.
The 5th - 8th art program is designed so that the lessons lay groundwork for those that follow and reinforce those that have come before. Perceptual skills and media skills are repeated within grade levels and from one level to the next. Art techniques are developed in sequences to build students' confidence with materials and equipment. New and challenging applications follow the acquisition of basic skills. The art curriculum at each grade level is organized around three main themes: Creating Art, Looking at Creation and Growing closer to our Creator. Aspects of these themes are developed within each year and across all nine years of the program. Within each year, students create in two and three-dimensions and study drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, graphics, design, architecture, textiles, collage, ceramics, and crafts. Artistic achievements of women and ethnic groups, past and present, are represented.
The 5th – 8th grade English curriculum is designed to prepare students for the demands of high school academics. The emphasis is on study skills, reading, writing, vocabulary building, and research. Students are actively involved in shared inquiry discussions led by the teacher or students as they examine literature. The writing process teaches the student to write with purpose, clear organization, and adequate and relevant development and to use an original voice, applying effective sentence structure while following the conventions of mechanics and formatting. Understanding how to access information from reference books, magazines, and online sources is taught.
The essay format is introduced and practiced in narrative, descriptive, persuasive and expository writing throughout the year as compositions are related to the literature being studied. Grammar, punctuation, syntax, and vocabulary studies, although taught as separate units, are involved in the writing process and are included in the assessment of all written work.
The goal is that the student will learn to value and enjoy the process of learning mathematics, become a mathematical problem solver, learn to reason mathematically, become confident in his own ability and learn to communicate mathematically. There is a focus on the content standards for number and operations and for geometry and measurement.
Algebra is taught to eighth-grade students capable of successfully completing the course. The course teaches solving linear and quadratic equations and problems.
Math is a comprehensive program which emphasizes thinking skills, problem-solving strategies, real applications, mental arithmetic, estimation, approximation, measurement, organizing data, geometry, probability, statistics, and algebra. Computational skills are drilled and reviewed daily. Skills and concepts are taught and re-taught in different contexts, never in isolation. Exploration, practice, problem solving and projects address a variety of learning styles. Once a skill has been introduced it is integrated, practiced, and reviewed in context and mixed practice. Throughout the course, games are used which provide extensive practice and extend the student's knowledge to real-world situations.
Students in grades 5-10 experience more complex music studies. Students, having had exposure and practice in theory and site singing in the keys of C, F, and G and having played and sung polyphonic lines of music, are now ready to "spread their wings." Using the Orff instruments or their own instrument, students are taught how to improvise and how to solo.
As students progress to the middle school, a variety of physical education activities are offered within the context of a school day. Students are introduced to a wide range of sports skills and are encouraged to develop skill in all sports rather than specializing in one. The curriculum includes games, sportsmanship, and endurance. All students are taught to participate regularly and to value the role of physical activity and the maintenance of a healthy lifestyle. In addition to physical education instruction, middle school students may participate in after school interscholastic competition.
Much of the middle school science program uses constructivist theory and tools. Students generate much of their scientific knowledge and understanding through labs and research. Labs, projects, and quests comprise much of the class time with the remaining time used for lecture, homework, evaluations and discussion. One of the major goals of the middle school science program is to force students to have confidence in their own observations and to rely on themselves and their peers for answers to confusing or difficult questions. Students are compelled to use evidence to support their conclusions and to always ask the question "WHY?"
While the topics covered are important, they are primarily used as the backdrop for integrating the instruction of the scientific method, theory, and philosophy to students. Included in the curriculum is Adolescent Development which focuses on nutrition, drugs and alcohol, sexual development and puberty and peer related issues.
Every student in the school is expected to enter the Science Fair.
In middle school, the social studies focus alternates yearly between World and United States history. As they study World history students learn about the geography, history, and culture of ancient civilizations, the Medieval era, and the rise of the modern world. Studies in United States history lead students on a path of discovery as they delve into the geography, history and culture of the early civilizations of the Americas, the conquests of the European explorers, the Revolutionary era and the early republic, expansion and the Civil War, the World Wars and the emergence of the United States as a world leader, the Civil Rights movement, and the country's leadership role and the challenges it faces in the modern world. Literature is used throughout the program to enhance study and give students the opportunity to make personal connections with history.
The middle school student uses basic word processors, spreadsheets, databases and graphics programs, integrating technology into course curriculum. They use library links, web-based search engines, and websites to conduct more discerning research than in earlier years. Graphics productions include web pages, videos, and multi-media productions.