The Middle School Equation: A Statistical Look at the 5th-8th Grade Experience at GSL
I hope that this message finds all of you well. As I sit down to write this week, we are in the midst of an exciting week. Our 5th and 6th graders are finishing up the trimester, our 7th graders are taking trimester exams, and our 8th graders are completing internships around the Mid-South (not to mention Nashville and Washington, D.C., too). If you’ve read any of my writing over the years, you’ve become accustomed to a focus on the personal, historical, and the social-emotional side of topics. I can’t hide my liberal arts background or my holistic world-view. As a result, those of you who lean in the “touchy feely” direction probably find my writing to be thoughtful and enlightening, and those of you who want and need hard data might find my writing to be too emotional.
Feelings aside, I want to go out of my own comfort zone this month and provide some hard data about the middle school experience. Despite my reservations at the time, I’m conceding to Mrs. Heslop, Mr. Rosenberry, and Mr. Jacob (my 5th, 6th, and 8th grade math teachers) that they were right: math is critical, and you’ll use it all the time throughout your life. The thank you is 25 years overdue, but I guess it’s better late than never.
With statistics in mind, what exactly does 1 middle school experience at Grace-St. Luke's Episcopal School =?
-700 days of learning for a total of 287,700 minutes or 17,262,000 seconds of school.
-140 extended advisory periods with a focus on your child’s social-emotional development.
-280 chapel services with a focus on your child’s spiritual development.
-140 celebration chapel services that bring together the GSL community and enhance the familial atmosphere at the school.
-988 math or math lab classes where your child is taught to appreciate the life-long impact of math.
-1026 English classes where your child is taught grammar, vocabulary, writing, and literature. This includes the introduction of 60 vocabulary lessons for a total of 1200 new vocabulary words, 15 novels (including To Kill a Mockingbird, Letters from Rifka, The Outsiders, and Lord of the Flies), 3 in-depth, cross-curricular research papers, and everygrammar rule imaginable.
-722 science classes where your child is exposed to chemistry, physics, and biology. Over the course of 4 years, students complete nearly 100 hands-on lab activities. These activities include: dissections of a fetal pig, frog, grasshopper, squid, and sheep’s eye, the hot air balloon project for 5th and 8th grades, the use of the Van der Graaf, the construction of a Canjo, the analysis of water and the water filtration process, LEGO robotics engineering, the testing of Newton’s laws of motion, the creation of simple machines, etc.
-608 history classes where your child learns geography, ancient history, American history, and American government.
-244 Bible, world religions, and ethics classes where your child explores the roots of Christianity and the message of the Bible, as well as different religions throughout the world and contentious ethical issues.
-640 performing arts, technology, and visual arts classes where your child hones his or her skills as an artist, learns and presents an interpretive dance, formulates an advertisement campaign, practices and delivers a chapel talk, creates a television commercial, works towards proficiency in Photoshop, iMovie, and creates work for a trimester art show.
-4 class trips, 1 internship, 1 chapel talk, 1 hoodie, 8 homecoming weeks, 2 dances, 2athletic banquets, 8 plays/musicals, and many other signature events where memories that last a lifetime.
Now that I’ve given statistics a chance, I could go on and on with numbers that quantify the GSL experience. Together, the figures represent a powerful example of what happens over the course of 4 years in Middle School. I know that I’m changing the equation at this point, but, taken together, what 1 GSL experience really = is the exponential physical, emotional, and academic growth that happens here and defines what it means to be a “Luker.”
As always, thanks for reading.
Head of Middle School