The final year of Almaden Country Day School's Middle School is filled with students who understand the rigorous academic program yet appreciate the safe and nurturing environment that allows them to take risks and stretch themselves. Our graduates are noted for their poise, confidence and intelligence.
The ACDS Middle School curriculum presents demanding academic core classes, balanced by a broad selection of high-interest elective courses. The school day consists of seven 50-minute periods with five core subjects — English language and literature, mathematics, social studies, science and physical education — along with two elective courses.
Character education and service learning & leadership time are integrated into the weekly schedule for all Middle School students.
Success after ACDS
Annually on average over the past decade, 95% of ACDS graduates are admitted to selective private high schools of their choice. Once in high school, ACDS students become involved in all areas of high school life. They distinguish themselves academically and otherwise, taking Honors and Advanced Placement classes, achieving high marks, participating widely in clubs, performing groups, and on sports teams, receiving service awards and earning college scholarships.
English language & literature
- Writing workshop multiple times a week with focus on writing to a specific audience, understanding how writing influences others and appreciation for how it represents them as individuals.
- Genres include persuasive writing, fiction, poetry, compare-contrast essays, biography, fiction and non-fiction.
- "Worldy Wise" text used for spelling and vocabulary development.
- Novels include "Animal Farm" by George Orwell, "Night" by Elie Wiesel, "Twelfth Night" by William Shakespeare and "Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck.
- Focused study of literary elements including imagery, theme, tone, rhetoric, allegory, symbolism and figurative language.
- Algebra, a high school equivalent class preparing students for higher levels of math.
- Algebra Concepts, an algebra course that provides a strong foundation by moving at a slower pace with increased flexibility.
- Thinking, talking and writing clearly about math.
- U.S. History course of study, from colonization to Reconstruction.
- Historical themes, such as leadership and racial conflict, are explored and connected to current events
- "History Alive" textbook in conjunction with projects and role playing activities in which students study individuals from a certain time period, including their belief systems and perspectives, and then hold panel discussions to debate topics of the day.
- Focus on physics and chemistry.
- Weekly STEAM/STEM-based science labs in a dedicated Middle School laboratory.
- Annual “How Fast and How Far Will It Go” project where students engineer cars out of recycled materials and then test the speed, acceleration, force and momentum of their cars.
- Use of "CPO Science Middle School Physical Science" textbook as a main resource.
- Visit Science in Middle School for more information on specific activities.
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)
The focus of SEL in the eighth grade is on leadership and the continuing development of Mission Skills. Our eighth grade students are offered leadership opportunities throughout the year:
- leading the pep rally for spirit week,
- hosting prospective families for our Open Houses,
- serving as role models for their Little Buddies,
- developing and implementing student-led service projects, and
- offering tributes to their teachers at commencement.
In class meetings, topics include the application process and the emotions of moving on to high school. The spring trip to the East Coast marks the culmination of their preparations for high school and the development of their independence and confidence, which are hallmarks of ACDS graduates.
Each eighth grade student gets to choose two elective courses per trimester. By eighth grade, students are completing ACDS graduation requirements, which include Speech 1, a choice of one service learning and leadership elective, and one Fine Arts or Drama course.
After studying U.S. history on campus, our eighth graders have the opportunity to visit some of the most noteworthy and celebrated historical landmarks of our nation's past. This eight-day trip to the East Coast is arranged through a professional school tour company and typically includes visits to Williamsburg, Washington D.C., Boston, Mount Vernon, or Philadelphia. Itineraries vary from year to year, but always create a memorable capstone trip for our graduating class.
Free Dress Fridays
Our Middle School students have the opportunity to earn a Free Dress Friday if they are properly dressed in uniform all week. This perk for Middle School students is a treasured tradition and helps distinguish the older students on campus.
Middle School Socials
There are four Middle School socials throughout the year, supervised by ACDS faculty: Halloween, Winter Holidays, Valentine's Day and Graduation. The focus is on having fun with friends outside an academic setting.