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Grades » Grades Overview » Grade 8

recycling boy

eight grade circus kids and teacher

8th grade paiting

middle school girls

knitting with first grader

middle schoolers cleaning the school

The Tempest 8th grade play

getting ready for the performance

Grade 8

Highlights

  • American history
  • History of European expansion
  • The major revolutions (American, French, Russian, Industrial)
  • Literature
  • Grammar
  • Composition
  • Geometry of Platonic solids
  • Mathematics, algebra and volumes
  • Anatomy and physiolog
  • Physics
  • Organic chemistry
  • World geography
  • Asian geography
  • Foreign languages
  • Chorus
  • Orchestra
  • Instrumental ensemble
  • Woodworking
  • Handwork
  • Eurythmy
  • Physical education
  • Drama
  • Independent project
  • Business practicum

 

Revolution, evolution, resolution

The Waldorf Curriculum reaches children ages 7 to 14 through their hearts. Every year we study cultures and histories that reflect in the outer world what the students are undergoing within. By eighth grade, they are questioning everything, challenging the world to show them ideals as well as flaws, looking for guidance in ideas, in history, the culture and the people they find around them. The narrative of the history and sciences of eighth grade are just as exciting and tumultuous as our students’ inner lives.

In grade eight we study revolutions—the American War of Independence, the French Revolution, and the Industrial Revolution among them. What happens when our individual desires for freedom clash with the good of others? What is the nature and purpose of human rights? Of law? How can they be in balance? At the idealistic and culturally aware age of our eighth graders, the discussions can grow quite lively. Why is today's world the way it is? Our history studies progress right up to the present day.

Words and bones in their proper order

As always, our historical and cultural studies form a jumping-off point for language arts, providing vocabulary words, essay topics, and more. We place great emphasis on grammar. The students may revel in teen slang, but in English class the prerequisite is precision, and proper and ever more expressive and intelligent writing and speaking. Our language has an underlying structure, and its study brings clarity in both expression and thinking. Analysis of the novel moves from plot to underlying themes, and students are led to argue and defend their points of view in persuasive writing.

The growth and hardening of the children’s skeletons opens the door to the anatomical study of the skeleton and its musculature. The students' earlier studies of the simple machines in grade seven physics return to aid in understanding the skeleton in motion, and the chemical lime cycle of last year's chemistry appears once again, transformed within us as the skeleton. Anatomy and physiology segue to chemistry, where we explore sugars, starches, cellulose, proteins, and fats and the way these substances work in building the plant world around us and in our own metabolism. In eighth grade main lessons, and within each lesson itself, the focus of learning shifts from outer world to inner world and back again.

The physics curriculum may include acoustics, optics, thermodynamics, meteorology, electromagnetism, and hydraulics.

Studies in mathematics include algebra, areas and volumes of polyhedra, number bases, further exploration of the theorem of Pythagoras, binomials, percents, and growth rates. Our geometry studies focus on the properties and construction of the five platonic solids: cubes, tetrahedrons, octahedrons, dodecahedrons, and icosahedrons.

Grade eight conducts a year-long business practicum in the form of vending lunches for the entire school, typically pizzas bought from a local restaurant. Students take orders, make salads, deliver lunches and clean up as a fund-raiser for their class trip.

World citizens and school leaders

If they haven't already done so, geography addresses the formations, culture and history of the continent of Asia and begins to look at the formations of the earth as a whole. As the year comes to a close, the students have gained a comprehensive understanding of their world, physically and culturally.

The students have been performing a class play each year, but the eighth grade performance is usually something special. For example, having studied England’s Elizabethan period, written sonnets, and delved into the history of our English language, it’s not uncommon to stage a Shakespearean comedy.

Eighth graders also play a leadership role in the winter’s Hilltop Circus. Pine Hill offers a Hilltop Circus production each year to the surrounding community, and every performance is sold out, every year. It’s a collaborative, creative exercise like nothing possible in sports or theater, and the children work hard all year long perfecting their skills.

They do it—juggling, tight-wire acts, clowning, or whatever ingenious ideas they develop through many arduous house of practice—for the joy of achievement, for the great pleasure of pleasing an audience and bringing smiles to all faces, and because it is fun.

Our eighth graders are encouraged to become the leaders in our student body as well. At the start of their final year at Pine Hill, the eighth graders welcome the new first graders into the journey through the grades, individually, with the presentation of a rose to each. Throughout the year the bond between each pair of eighth/first graders strengthens. The older students have the responsibility to foster these young new members of the school community, teaching them their first knitting lessons, drawing and carving their pumpkins in the fall, taking them for walks, perhaps reading to them from time to time. By the end of their final year, each of the first graders is poised enough to present "their" eighth grader with a farewell rose and a loving embrace.

Before graduation, grade eight takes the class trip the students have worked toward all year. These are typically milestones in the children’s lives. Past trips have included a week on a two-masted schooner and volunteer work in Mexico, walking tours of England, a week at a retreat in the Virgin Islands, a trip to Washington D.C. to witness the birthplace of so many of our nation's struggles to embody its ideals.

It is our custom that each eighth grade does not forget the needs of their local and global community. Past gifts to the school, out of their year's fund-raising, have included things like soccer nets, stage curtains, or benches for the grounds. Gifts to the world have been in the form of community service and donations to national and international charity organizations.

The year can be intense for parents and students alike, and while most milestones are a well marked event — a big circus performance, raising funds, the class trip, a major play - the most important milestones are marked by the growth that occurs within each of our students. It is a busy year and the work may seem like a lot, but the students are ready and able to accomplish great things. Eighth grade is a year that typically brings great physical changes. Having looked up to their teachers for years, some eighth graders suddenly find themselves looking down when they shake their teacher's hand each morning. Voices drop dramatically in chorus as the bass section expands over the course of the year. Students find themselves taking responsibilities with a new seriousness and, some, looking around themselves, realize their own achievements are mirrored in those of their classmates. At the Rose Ceremony that closes their time at Pine Hill, and in their graduation, the students begin to realize that they will carry their experiences as Waldorf students in a special place in their hearts, throughout their lives.