Upper School (6-8)
The Upper School program supports students in finding their own voices and caring for one another and the world around them. The rigorous academic schedule balances the traditional courses of English, math, science, social studies, and Spanish with service learning, performing arts, studio art, design and engineering, and technology. Crane’s daily Assembly allows Upper School students to shine through public speaking opportunities and Spotlight performances. Upper School students can also participate in team athletics, the marimba xylophone group, and the annual Upper School Musical both on-stage and behind the scenes.
Sixth, seventh, and eighth graders are natural leaders on campus through programs such as Families, Student Council, and Tech Crew. A robust service-learning program is largely student driven and empowers students to creatively support non-profit organizations both locally and globally.
In sixth grade, students are introduced to the Upper School through classes that balance academic rigor with creative expression in a program that provides a wide variety of courses. Sixth graders hold a leadership role through the school-wide composting program and running Assemblies with Tech Crew. Sixth graders enjoy the Upper School programs including E-Block electives, the literary contest, Advisories, Days of Service, dances, and MATHCOUNTS.
To explore the sixth-grade Catalina Trip and the Hooverville curriculum project:
As second year Upper School students, seventh graders continue to grow and pursue their passions. After kicking off their year with a trip week to Yosemite National Park, students maintain a full course load of English, math, science, history, and Spanish. Students also participate in performing art, studio art, design and engineering, E-Block electives, physical fitness, and computers. Unique to seventh grade, the QED (Quests, Explorations, Discoveries) project provides them the opportunity to chose an interest, work with a mentor on that topic, and present what they have learned and accomplished.
To explore the seventh-grade Yosemite Trip and the Stand Up curriculum unit:
Crane’s eighth graders are the esteemed leaders on campus. In the Families program, they are the “parents,” leading discussion and activities in the cross-grade group lunches. In Assembly, they lead announcements as the student council members. And, through public speaking class, each eighth grader prepares and presents a speech in Assembly, an audience of more than 300. The eighth-grade experience culminates with a formal graduation ceremony, which individually celebrates each student through a personal vignette highlighting his or her personality and achievements.
To explore the eighth-grade Civil Rights Trip and the Independent Art Project and Presentations:
- Trip Week
- Elective Program (E-Block)
- Study Hall
- Seminar & Digital Citizenship
- 1-to-1 Laptop Program
- Student Clubs & Groups
- Sports Teams
- Mornings of Service
- Upper School Musical
- Literary Contest
The goals of this experience include increased self-esteem, better understanding of others, and effective cooperation. In late September, the Upper School departs for week-long trips: sixth grade studies environmental leadership on Catalina Island; seventh grade undertakes a wilderness trip in Yosemite; eighth grade travels to the American South on a civil rights trip. All students are expected to participate in these activities, as these excursions are essential parts of the curriculum.
Integrating experiential learning and choice, E-Block elective classes go beyond textbook learning and allow students to delve into a topic with active hands-on exploration, interaction with professional experts, and occasional field trips. Students have a choice of several elective classes each year. The wide-range of selections offered have included:
Yoga and Meditation – Students practice living in the moment as they slow down, quiet their minds, focus on their breathing, and stretch their muscles.
The World of Water – Students celebrate the water surrounding us by examining water science in the lab and enjoying water activities at the beach.
Let’s Build – Students learn about different architectural styles both locally and globally and build replica creations of their own designs.
The Sporting Life – Students celebrate the fact that sports occupy an important place in society as they delve into the wide world of athletic competition.
Build a Bakery – Students study the keys to a successful business, experiment with recipes, look at food trends, and bake for a cause.
At First Sight: Looking through the Lens – Students leap into the adventures of photographic storytelling as they share their perspectives through images.
Making by Breaking – Students tinker as they take things apart, put them back together, figure out how to fix them, and use the parts for other things.
The Story Tellers – Students explore the power of stories through traditions such as song, dance, comedy, mime, costumes, poetry, juggling, and magic.
Coding and Programming – Students learn the basics of coding, learn about designing video games, and learn how operating systems work.
Farm-to-Table:Growing and Preparing Local Foods – Students engage in gardening and farming as they explore the Slow Food Movement.
Each student is assigned a faculty advisor and advisory group of his or her peers, which will be the assigned location for attendance and study hall. The goal of the advisory group is to offer students a faculty advocate who they can turn to for academic, social, and extracurricular concerns. The advisor supports students and guides them in learning personal responsibility.
Each day after lunch/recess, Upper School students have Study Hall, a block of time when teachers are available to assist students, and students are provided time to study and work on individual and group assignments. When students do not have assignments to complete during this time, they are encouraged to have a book for free reading.
All Upper School students participate in Seminar, a program that emphasizes the social-emotional lives of students—decision-making, peer relationships, defining values. For particular curriculum details, see grade-specific descriptions. The educators at Miles-to-Go visit campus one week each year to provide drug prevention instruction to seventh and eighth graders.
Upper School students are introduced to a wide array of topics related to digital citizenship in their computer and library classes. Appropriate and responsible behaviors with respect to technology and the Internet are covered and include topics such as cyber bullying, privacy of digital information, research skills and credibility, and ethics related to technology.
Upper School students participate in a 1-to-1 laptop program to enhance learning, increase productivity and communication, and provide students with necessary technology skills. The laptop is an ideal instruction tool to promote creative thinking, problem solving, project-based learning, and collaboration. Individual access to a laptop throughout the day and at home allows students to be more active and engaged in the classroom and provides opportunities to collaborate with peers and work on advanced software programs beyond school hours. Families are required to provide their student with a laptop that meets the school’s requirements to ensure they have all essential educational capabilities.
Upper School offers soccer, basketball, volleyball, and flag football teams for girls and boys. Teams are open for all skill levels. Practices are hosted on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, with home and away games on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
In addition to the seventh and eighth-grade service-learning curriculum, all Upper School students participate in two days of service each year. The goal of these days is to help students realize that they can make a difference and that their actions are important to not only the school community, but also the community at large. Experiential by nature, these mornings help support local organizations including schools, shelters, food banks, and retirement communities.
Every spring, the performing arts department has a spring musical. All Upper School students are welcome and encouraged to participate. Students are offered a variety of ways to participate that include, but are not limited to, performing, tech crew, stage crew, costuming, and make-up. There are three performances, which are preceded by a dress rehearsal for the school, as well as after-school and weekend rehearsals leading up to performances.