Middle School at Northern Light (grades 6 to 8) is a time when students embrace increased independence, new leadership roles, and heightened academic rigor.
For the first time, students get their very own lockers and rotate through their classes rather than staying with their homeroom teachers. Core classes include Mathematics, Reading, Writing, Science, History, Spanish, and P.E. Middle school students also get to participate in a Trimester-long electives. Previous course offerings include Maker Space, Cooking, Service Learning, High School Prep, Computer Skills, Gardening, Songbook, Board Game Bonanza, Watershed Exploration, Soccer & Statistics, Video Production, and Vex IQ Robotics. These courses afford kids the opportunity to explore new topics, take risks, and discover hidden talents and passions.
Because middle school students have the same teachers for three years in a row, they develop a familiarity and comfort level with their teachers that enables them to blossom both socially and academically. During the year, the dedicated middle school team meets at least three times a week to collaborate, share concerns and success stories, and ensure that academic and behavior expectations are clear and consistent. Students receive grades at the end of each 12-week long Trimester; official progress reports are sent home halfway through the Trimester. In the spring, NLS students in grades 3-8 take the CPT4, a rigorous standardized assessment administered by the ERB. On average, across all sections of the CPT4 examination, NLS middle school students improve at a rate over 1.5 times that of their Independent school peers.
Northern Light’s middle school program stands out for its focus not only on academic excellence, but on character development as well. Our Impossible is Nothing speaker series, in which community and business leaders come to NLS to share their stories with our students, inspires our students to persevere in pursuit of their dreams. Middle school students get a chance to further develop character and sportsmanship on the athletic field through our successful soccer, basketball, volleyball, and track and field teams, and by serving as counselors at Northern Light summer camp, which is open to the community.
Indeed, service to the community is a crucial part of the middle school experience. In the past, students have sorted medical supplies to be sent to Peru, penned letters to active military officers, and wrote and performed anti-bullying skits for younger students. When High School admissions officers consider a Northern Light student, they know that they are looking at a student who will be more than an A-student – they are looking at someone who will be a kind, considerate, and engaged member of their school community. It is for this reason – just as much as grades or tests scores – that Northern Light students go on to matriculate from some of the finest Independent and Parochial schools in the Bay Area and eventually from top colleges and universities across the country.