The Foundation for a Meaningful Life
Kindergarten - Grade 9 in Southborough, MA
Upper School

Grade Eight

Grade Eight Overview

Both eighth grade boarding students and day students benefit from challenging courses that develop essential skills in reading, writing, quantitative reasoning, scientific thought, and world language. English, history, and science courses are standard for all eighth graders, while courses in mathematics and world languages require placement tests. Eighth grade students continue to internalize fundamental skills and habits such as organization and time management, and they refine their thinking, speaking, reading, writing, and listening abilities throughout the year in all classes. Students also focus on problem solving and design with our Creator’s Class, a required course that takes place in our Center for Creativity & Design. Courses in visual and performing arts and wellness class round out students’ schedules. Students have numerous opportunities to develop and demonstrate academic and personal independence throughout the year as they practice essential life skills such as discernment, adaptability, and collaboration.

List of 11 items.

  • Mathematics

    Students are placed into one of our Upper School math courses based on their ability to work independently and persevere with problems, along with their past mathematical performance. We recognize that students at this age develop at different rates and appreciate that there is more than one path through the math curriculum; for that reason, we conduct careful student placement in the spring of each year to ensure that each student is appropriately challenged.

    Click here to see a full list of Upper School math courses.
  • English 8

    Eighth grade English emphasizes literature, grammar, writing, and vocabulary. Students read from a selection of major literary works that in recent years have included Hope Against Hope by Sheena Wilkinson, The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon, Maus I by Art Spiegelman, America Street by Anne Mazer, The Alchemist by Paolo Coehlo, A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen, and Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Other readings are selected to complement the Modern World Cultures history course, such as an Irish poetry unit and an interdisciplinary project on Irish poetry that is completed in both history and English.

    Through discussion and reflection, students participate in a close examination of literature and reflect on each book or play with an analytical essay. Students focus on using grammar as a tool for good writing, and they practice incorporating more complex sentence structures, including verbal phrases and subordinate clauses. As with all grades in the Upper School, eighth graders participate in the Upper School Speech Contest and the Scull Essay contest.

    Writing assignments are frequent, and students learn to move from the free writing stage, through the process of revision, to final drafts of longer essays. The emphasis in class discussions and in student essays is on a more abstract examination of the work rather than on plot description, and students learn to identify themes and literary devices as well as specific details in the reading. Students study vocabulary in context in order to develop a more sophisticated written and spoken command of the English language.
  • Modern World Cultures

    Modern World Cultures is a comprehensive study of 20th-century post-colonial civilizations. Students examine what happened as the colonial era ended and new societies and cultures evolved in places like Ireland, South Africa, India, and Palestine, as well as the Balkans, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. Students learn about the cultural, economic, and political roots of each society’s independence movement before examining each nation's transition to autonomy. Students focus on the challenging and sometimes rocky process of state-building, including systems of justice, government structure, and cultural influences. Students annotate, interpret, and analyze primary source documents; identify key terms and seminal themes; and use evidence to support written and verbal arguments. Students participate in class discussions, writing activities, and project-based assessments to develop their analytical, critical, and creative thinking skills.

  • Physical Science 8

    Physical Science is a lab-based course that covers foundational content related to physics and chemistry. It includes three units: motion and forces, chemistry, and coding. At the beginning of the year, students learn about motion and forces, starting with motion as related to a position, building to define speed and acceleration, and ending with an examination of the force of gravity. Through focused laboratory experiments, students learn to isolate variables, work with large data sets, graph findings, and extract information from graphs. In the winter term, students learn about the structure and properties of matter and chemical reactions through the study of chemistry principles. In the final term, students learn how to write code to manipulate movement and collect data. Students design investigations where they control variables to provide evidence for the law of conservation of mass and energy, while taking into account variables that affect the rates of reactions.
  • World Languages

    Upon entering the Upper School, students select a world language to study. Students choose from French, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, and Latin. Placement in all levels is based upon the student’s prior experience in the language, teacher recommendations, and a placement test.  

    Click here to see a detailed list of all Upper School world language course offerings.
  • Music

    The music faculty is committed to the concept of "learning by doing" and recognizes the value of performance in every student’s experience. Each year, Upper School students choose a music course from options that include Bass or Treble Chorale, Bells, String Ensemble, Band, and Music Exploration. The courses extend the theory and performance skills developed in the Lower School, but students new to Fay will also find that they can succeed in a beginning-level ensemble with little or no previous musical experience.

    Click here to see a complete list of music offerings.
  • Art

    The Upper School visual arts curriculum encourages personal expression and fosters the development of cognitive, motor, and social skills. Interdisciplinary and multicultural projects, art history, and resources within the school and community are integrated through the program.
    Students learn basic art skills as well as the elements and principles of design. In all grades, students have regular opportunities to draw from life and imagination; they also work in a range of media that includes paint, collage, ceramics, cut paper, sculpture, printmaking, origami, digital media, and other two- and three-dimensional media. Eighth and ninth graders have the option to participate in art electives that allow them to focus on specific areas of interest.

    Click here for a complete list of course descriptions.
  • Drama

    Acting is an elective is open to eighth and ninth grade students with a strong interest in performing arts. In this course, students explore the importance of taking risks, embracing vulnerabilities, and exploring one’s authentic self as a way of strengthening their work on stage. Through improvisation, playmaking, monologue exploration, and script analysis, students develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of acting methodology and theatrical works. 
  • Creativity and Design

    Creators Class is a required course that takes place in Fay's Center for Creativity & Design. The course is designed to build each student's creative confidence and focuses on the following themes:
    • Design thinking, an empathy-based, problem-solving mindset and process, to help students identify problems and generate solutions
    • Physical maker skills that include measuring, cutting, joining and design drafting
    • Digital fabrication, to design and build 2D and 3D objects using the school's laser cutter, vinyl cutter, and 3D printing technologies
    Through a series of hands-on design briefs, students practice identifying problems, ideating through understanding, crafting, iterating solutions and presenting their ideas to peers and industry experts.

    Eighth and ninth graders may also select Creativity and Design electives, which include Robotics and Coding for Apps and Games. Click here for detailed course descriptions.
  • Wellness 8

    Eighth graders delve more deeply into a range of topics that includes sleep accepting others’ differences, stereotyping, bullying prevention and response, mindfulness, conflict resolution, boundaries, keeping oneself safe, stress management, tobacco and alcohol awareness, and reproductive health. Students also explore how outside influences such as the media affect decision making. Other topics include resisting peer pressure, dating and relationship violence, drug misuse prevention, and the development of leadership skills.

  • Athletics

    The athletics program takes place every day following academic classes. All students in grades seven through nine are required to participate daily in all three terms. Students choose from an array of interscholastic sports and intramural activities (one per term). Students may try out for competitive interscholastic teams or join an intramural team or activity. However, all students are required to participate in at least one interscholastic sports team each year.

    Click here for the complete list of athletic options.
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