Eighth grade is a year of culmination and completion. As students approach the end of their journey through the grades, they have opportunities to reflect upon their experience, to celebrate their achievements, and to look ahead toward high school. The eighth grade student enjoys debate and questions ideas, yet continues to be preoccupied by personal changes of early adolescence. The students demonstrate considerable mobility of thought, passion in feeling, and a desire to feel engaged in the world. The eighth grade student has strong, critical faculties of judgment and relishes the subjects of revolution and human rights. We study the roots of the American Revolution and examine the differences between the American and French Revolutions. The study of World Wars, Civil Rights, and highlights of modern politics allow the eighth grader to stand in the world as a knowledgeable, grounded young person.
In eighth grade, the elements of fiction are introduced in a short story main lesson block. By the end of the year, each student will have completed their “eighth grade project:” an individual research project in an area of individual interest and presented this as both written and oral report to the community. Language Arts practice periods are generally taught by a middle school Language Arts specialist or high school humanities teacher. Main lesson book work includes discussions of science experiments, summaries of historic accounts, descriptive writing, essays, and other compositions.
In math, the class is divided into two ability groups in math track classes. The advanced group pursues a formal high school course of Algebra 1 with the help of a textbook. These students are likely to continue with geometry when entering high school. The intermediate group continues with seventh grade pre-algebra work, deepening their seventh grade work to build readiness skills for Algebra 1 in ninth grade. Math specialists teach both courses. They calculate surface areas and volumes of solids such as prisms, cylinders, pyramids, and cones. In physics students review and deepen the study of the fields of physics that were introduced in sixth and seventh grades. New in eighth grade is the focus on electromagnetism, aerodynamics, and hydraulics. Organic chemistry highlights chemical processes within the body systems.
The study of world geography includes trade and economics, aspects of geology (plate tectonics and the internal structure of the earth), and meteorology and the water cycle. Students continue to specialize in one foreign language (German or Spanish), studied three times a week. In music they continue to sing as a class choir. Students either participate in a strings ensemble or a woodwinds group.
Outside of the curriculum carried by the class teacher, eighth graders receive instruction in handwork, eurythmy, games and movement, farming and gardening, and music.
Eighth grade students also complete community service work, either independently or through class projects. They are very active in fundraising, preparing for their eighth grade trip. The eighth grade class prepares and completes a full-length play or musical, usually directed by a guest drama teacher. The end of eighth grade is commemorated by the May Day ceremony, when eighth graders wearing white perform Maypole dances for the community. Graduation is the last class function, a moving ceremony wherein students have an opportunity to express gratitude and celebrate their accomplishments.