The Friends middle school program is structured very intentionally, including a model advisory program, to meet the needs of the age group. Middle school is a time of uncertainty—and, because of uncertainty, it is sometimes contentious. As part of the necessary growth toward independence, it is a time when taking risks and trying new things inspire both excitement and fear. To guide students through and well beyond the fundamentals of “junior high” academics, the Friends middle school program emphasizes interdisciplinary learning and group work; oral, written, and artistic expression; participation in sports, service, and ensembles, including an eighth grade musical that involves the entire class; and organizational techniques and study skills. As part of the Friends Human Dynamics & Development curriculum, the middle school program includes courses in interpersonal and risk-assessment skills (6thgrade), conflict resolution (7th grade), and decision making (8thgrade). The structure of our 1:1 laptop program ensures that all students have the same computer hardware and software, which is both reflective of our mission as a Quaker school and practical in enabling students and teachers to collaborate more effectively.
The Advisory program in middle school provides a setting for students to learn to be organized and responsible, to discuss social concerns, to build trust and to have fun. Advisory groups consist of 10 to 13 students and one teacher. The teacher is responsible for knowing the “big picture” about a student and will be the primary link for communications between school and the parents/guardian.