The Middle School Program (MS)
In the Middle School Program, grades 7 and 8, students build on content and skills mastered in Upper Elementary. Students pursue a course of study developed in concert with Montessori’s views on adolescents and learning; work in the Middle School is both appropriate to each student’s age and parallel to his or her own intellectual development. As students learn to examine topics and synthesize their own theories and interpretations, their perspective shifts from the external to the internal, from the global to the personal, and from the concrete to the abstract.
The curriculum of the Middle School establishes thematic links between social studies and science, with the school year divided into six-week-long learning modules. In each learning module, the thematic link is maintained through lessons, discussions, and assignments. In humanities, students read and critique novels, plays, and poetry while also developing more sophisticated writing skills. In science, the students pursue empirical studies of physics, chemistry, biology, and general science through research, lab work, and group projects as well as the mathematics necessary for that particular science. In mathematics, the students follow a course of study that includes basic math as well as preparation for pre-algebra and algebra. Each successive year culminates with one of two in-depth, personal explorations: the Expert Project or the Magnum Opus. The Expert Project is a long-term independent research task involving a final written paper as well as a multi-media oral presentation. The Magnum Opus is a creative journey, a chance for each student to explore artistic talents. Final projects have included original music compositions, novels, video game designs, and choreography performances, to name a few. Each May, the students present projects at a symposium to which parents and other members of the school community are invited. Because the Middle School is a two-year program, each student undertakes both an Expert Project and a Magnum Opus during their tenure at BHMS.
The Middle School also offers new opportunities for off-campus study and exploration. Each September, the Middle School students take a three-day trip to a wilderness retreat where they participate in self-confidence- and team-building activities as well as outdoor education activities. In the Spring, students travel to Boston or Washington, D.C. (alternating each year) for a three-day historical and cultural immersion.
At the heart of the Middle School experience is BHMS’s advisory program, wherein each student is assigned to a faculty advisor and a peer advisory group. Advisory groups meet each week to discuss group activities and dynamics, as well as to offer individual planning and organizational guidance to students. Each day in the Middle School begins with a community meeting where students and teachers can discuss relevant topics and issues, make plans, and work on community service or student government projects.
Preparing our students for high school is a top priority of BHMS’s Middle School program; recent graduates have gone on to some of the City’s finest private, public, and parochial high schools. In each class, teachers devote time to the development of organizational, study, and test-taking skills essential to high school success. Extensive guidance and counseling about the high school application and selection process is provided to both students and parents.
Upon graduation, BHMS students are more than ready for the transition to high school. They leave with a concentrated understanding of the learning process and a variety of tools with which to create a successful future. The achievements of our alumni are well documented and a testament to the success of the Montessori method and BHMS’s unique approach to education.