Upper School (7/8) Academic Programs
Comprehensive Reading / Language Arts Program (daily)
The English / Language Arts program is literature based, with classes reading several classic works each year in addition to instruction in reading comprehension, grammar and usage, vocabulary, and writing. A wide variety of literary forms, including novels, plays, short stories, poems, and essays, provide a sophisticated survey of classic literature and help foster a love for the written word and inspiration for writing development. Through reading, class discussion, and writing, this accelerated program spurs interest and insight into humanity, stimulates imagination, sharpens analytical skills, and develops reading and writing fluency. In addition to expository writing, students enjoy many opportunities for creative writing, including poetry. Writing is emphasized across the curriculum, with English standards upheld in all classes.
Advanced Math (daily)
Westminster’s mathematics program at all levels emphasizes logical thinking and problem solving as well as computation. Teachers employ a variety of teaching methods and activities to clarify abstract concepts, and online textbooks provide a wealth of additional resources for instruction, practice, test preparation, and enrichment.
In 7th grade, all students embark on the study of Algebra I. Class groupings and textbook assignments, however, take into account the variation in students’ readiness for abstract mathematical concepts. Based on established qualifying criteria, students take either the entire course of Algebra I or part 1 of Algebra I, completing part 2 in 8th grade. Those students who complete Algebra I in 7th grade study Geometry in 8th grade.
History / Classical Studies (daily)
The history program in grades 7 – 8 continues and completes Westminster’s sequential survey of western civilization, including in-depth study of historic events and personages, daily life, and contributions to government, science/engineering, art/architecture, and religion/mythology of the great civilizations of the west. Seventh-grade studies focus on the Renaissance, with an emphasis on the rise of humanism. Concurrent English classes introduce students to great writers of the period, including Dante, Petrarch, and Chaucer, with a strong focus on Shakespeare. Finally, 8th graders follow the arc of western civilization across the Atlantic to the founding and subsequent history of the United States. Students enjoy many opportunities to analyze primary sources, including the influential and founding documents of our nation.
Laboratory Science (daily)
The science curriculum in all grades excites wonder and curiosity about the natural world and trains students in the processes of careful observation and systematic analysis. Through reading, discussion, research, creative projects, and hands-on activities, students are guided to discover, explore, question, and reflect on different aspects of the world around us.
The 7th grade science program is a laboratory-based introduction to basic concepts in biology/life science, with emphasis on microbiology and biochemistry, including extensive practice in the use of the microscope. Scientific processes and practices are reinforced in the numerous labs, and students learn to write properly formatted laboratory reports.
The 8th grade physical science program is a mathematics-based, inquiry approach to the study of chemistry and physics. This course serves as a rigorous introduction to basic concepts in both disciplines, and also provides a multitude of laboratory activities designed to help students develop science process skills.
French Class (daily)
As the second-greatest contributor to the English language, after Latin, knowledge of French is one of the strongest tools a student can have for vocabulary acquisition, reading comprehension, writing, and cultural breadth. Students in all grades study French. Seventh and 8th grade programs continue the training in reading, writing, and speaking French with increasing mastery of vocabulary, grammar and usage, comprehension, and fluency. The upper-school French program essentially comprises (high-school) French II. Most Westminster graduates place into French II Honors or French III in high school. For transfer students, a strong support program is in place to facilitate transition into the French program, including summer school, after-school help, and one-on-one tutoring, if needed.
Latin Class (daily)
As part of Westminster’s classical curriculum, students in 7th – 8th grades are instructed in Latin, completing high-school Latin I over the two years of study. The cumulative 7th – 8th grade curriculum provides a thorough foundation in Latin language, stresses the richness of Latin heritage in English vocabulary, reviews the outline of Roman history, reinforces knowledge of Roman mythology, and expands understanding of Roman daily life. Study of classical Latin texts illuminates the essentially classical heritage that underlies American literature, art, political ideals, and sense of history.