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Grade 8

Eighth grade is a time that many St. John’s students eagerly anticipate. This is the year in which they experience greater privileges and responsibilities and a culmination of their time at the school. Eighth graders assume many leadership roles and are involved in time-honored school traditions throughout the year. Eighth graders are allowed to run for President and Vice President of the Student Council, lead school assemblies, read in chapel services, and put on a major theater performance in the spring. 


The eighth-grade English curriculum integrates several areas of language arts into its six weekly classes. The main focus is on reading and analyzing literature, writing, grammar, and vocabulary. The course is designed to build upon the skills developed throughout middle school. The students read a variety of genres that represent both the traditional canon of literature and modern classics of young adult and adolescent literature. The students draw deeper connections between the literature, their own lives, and the world around them. Eighth grade students write a wide variety of genres including a memoir, short stories, literary analysis, and persuasive and expository paragraphs. They write at least one five-paragraph essay as a literary analysis. Direct grammar instruction takes place in a sequence designed for mastery and to provide the students with the tools to speak and write effectively. 

Eighth grade students follow an accelerated Algebra 1 curriculum, gaining proficiency in the following areas: solving multi-step equations with positive and negative numbers, exponents, fractions, and decimals; adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing equations with fractions, decimals, negative numbers, and exponents; simplifying and performing mathematical operations with algebraic fractions; analyzing and graphing linear and quadratic equations; creating equations in order to solve word problems; simplifying and performing mathematical operations with irrational numbers; and simple algebraic factoring of monomials and polynomials. Students are continually challenged to apply conceptual understanding in order to solve more difficult and unique problems. Ongoing assessment and feedback enables teachers and students to pinpoint weaknesses and to extend learning to greater depths. As students enter the eighth grade, they have the opportunity to place into an accelerated geometry curriculum.

In eighth grade physical science, students explore a wide range of concepts in both chemistry and physics. Students practice applying the scientific method while learning about the composition of matter, the periodic table, and chemical reactions during the first half of the year. Throughout the second half of the school year, students delve into concepts in physics such as force, momentum, work, potential and kinetic energy, waves, electricity, and light. Students engage in class discussion, practice lab write-ups, design a lab for the class, do labs and other hands-on activities, keep daily notes, and follow current scientific advancements and research. By completing labs, hands-on activities, watching exciting demonstrations, and participating in class discussions students rekindle their curiosity and passion for learning all things related to the physical world.

Eighth grade students study modern U.S. history to include the following units: the Progressive Era, the U.S. Rise to World Power, World War I, the Jazz Age, Great Depression, and New Deal, America and World War II, the Cold War Era, the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam Era, and Contemporary America. Following the themes of geography, economics, civics, history, and people of the nation and world, students analyze patterns of global change based on international relations and the impact and influence of the United States on them. In addition to using the textbook as a resource and reference guide, students also use, create, and analyze maps, pictures, stories, diagrams, charts, chronology, inquiry/research, and technological skills. Course work includes lectures, video presentations, interactive class activities and projects, and tests. Students regularly follow current events to foster an understanding of contemporary events and how they relate to history and world geography.

Following the Jenney’s First Year Latin I (a high school level textbook) curriculum and its accompanying workbook, seventh and eighth grade Latin students study Latin vocabulary, the first three Latin noun declensions, active and passive verb conjunctions, and English grammar and derivatives. Roman culture and mythology are a focus of the course, as well as Latin’s influence on our everyday life. Every December the students enjoy the celebration of the feast of Saturnalia at a local restaurant.

Every eighth grade student is assigned an advisor with whom they meet in weekly small groups. The advisor is a teacher or administrator who is an advocate for the student and helps the students navigate the social and emotional dynamics of middle school. Through a vertically aligned curriculum, the upper school advisory program reinforces our traits of success, organization, and study skills, and gives students an intimate forum in which to have discussions regarding academics, character, and faith.

The goal for eight grade is to prepare students for future language interactions in high school. In order to get it, students increase their knowledge of vocabulary and grammar through different kinds of skills. Grammar in eight grade focuses on the Preterite tense of irregular and irregular verbs as well as the Imperfect tense of regular and irregular verbs. Focus is placed on reading, writing and speaking in a fluent manner. Students are assessed on their participation in class by class assignments, listening activities, tests, and speaking activities which are reinforced by homework assignments. Students also learn about the culture of Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Argentina, and Costa Rica.

During eighth grade, students develop an age-appropriate understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations, building on their previous years’ experiences. By the end of eighth grade, we expect St. John’s students to be able to work independently in all programs that we use throughout the year. Eighth graders are expected to be able to create advanced presentations and animated movies, as well as citing any necessary bibliographic references properly using the MLA 9 style.  Students also dive deeply into their First Amendment Rights to intellectual freedom as well as critically analyze different media content to fact check information through their digital literacy curriculum.

Eighth Grade students focus on advancing artistic abilities and art techniques along with developing their unique artistic style. Students engage in different art mediums which can include: graphite and ink drawing, acrylic painting, watercolor painting, ceramics, and more. Eighth Grade art highlights large-scale grid drawing, a leave behind hallmark art project, yearbook page design, and observational drawing. Visual art demonstrations and step-by-step verbal explanations are utilized to promote comprehension. Students interested in applying for visual arts scholarships work with instructors to create a visual arts portfolio.

All Upper School students sing in Chorus and play an instrument in the Concert Band. Students can choose either a brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments. Additionally, students also have the option to play keyboards, guitar, and electric bass in the concert band as well.

The eighth-grade play is  a long-standing St. John’s tradition. In this team-building project, students select and produce a play that represents the character and legacy of their unique class. They are involved in costuming, props, set design, and performing. 

Articulating My Faith

The purpose of 8th grade religion is to identify the foundations of larger traditions the school and their family, begin to articulate their own faith journey, and understand what tools they have to support them in their continuing faith journeys. The class covers five major topics: Brief Overview of the History of Christianity - what was the basic story and why does it matter? Brief Overview of the History and Basic Tenets of the Episcopal Church - what is the faith foundation of this school and how is it relevant to me today? Family Faith Tradition and Heritage - what is my families faith story and how does it shape my own faith story? My Spiritual Autobiography - What do I believe? What do I not know? What do I want to explore more? Tools in my Toolbox - What tools to I have as I continue to explore my faith? Students leave the 8th grade with a clearer sense of their own faith and feel ready to engage with questions of faith and conscious for their years to come. 

The goal of St. John’s Physical Education program is to facilitate the development of skills to enable students to safely and successfully participate in team, individual, and life sports. Students learn the traits for success while participating in a variety of cross-curriculum-integrated activities. Continuing to build on the planned activities completed in previous years, eighth grade students incorporate much more gameplay into units of study. Emphasis continues on cooperation and communication skills inside a team. Students are encouraged to be moving and engaged. At all levels, physical fitness activities help students to challenge themselves to set individual goals in order to lead a healthy lifestyle.