Middle School (Grades 6–8)
The SHA middle school is a nurturing and rigorous environment where students are able to find their passions, cultivate curiosity, wrestle in debate, and collaborate with their teachers and peers. Students blossom from young absorbers of information to adolescents ready to apply their knowledge in the form of essays, arguments, and hypotheses. Wholly integrated into the middle school program, Judaic studies is at the heart of the middle school experience, with a goal of putting students on the path of becoming independent Torah scholars. Students are encouraged to grow intellectually as well as socially and emotionally, and they are acknowledged for their accomplishments at weekly assemblies and through honor roll and director’s list. At the end of eighth grade, students travel to Israel for 10 days.
Starting in sixth grade, middle school students become immersed in the world of Navi (Prophets), starting with Shmuel Aleph (I Samuel), then moving on to Shmuel Bet (II Samuel) and Melachim Aleph (I Kings) by eighth grade. The goal in studying these books is to uncover the practical lessons of the texts and have students relate and apply them to their own lives. Middle school students also dive into the sea of Mishna and Gemara, studying ancient problems and current issues with an eye to how the oral law factors into the larger system of Torah. Students come away with analytical, investigative, close reading, analysis, and debate skills useful for their lives as both Torah scholars and critical thinkers. In daily tefilah, boys and girls separately lead prayers and become skillful leaders.
The MS Chumash curriculum includes a number of elements; gathering information, understanding the facts, asking questions, considering the answers, looking at the commentaries and most importantly, making connections to our daily lives with the lessons learned from the chumash.
In this phase of intellectual growth, students engage with history, science, math, and literature more critically. Student interaction is paramount to learning new material, whether it be asking questions, going over problems, making connections and/or taking notes. SHA’s small student body allows for individualized attention and deep personal relationships among students and teachers, and personal and intellectual growth is measured at events like the annual science fair, where students showcase individual and well-planned experiments and findings. Activities, including student council and competitive sports, help students develop leadership, teamwork, and skills. At the end of eighth grade, the SHA experience culminates with a class trip to Israel.
SHA’s art program is an integral part of the day. Each grade focuses on a different technique, including clay, paper mache, shading, and stitching. SHA has its own kiln, out of which come myriad creations, from pinch pots to ceramic animals. Students also experience the Jewish cycle through art, from model sukkot to paper mache sufganiyot for Hanukkah. SHA’s halls are proudly decorated with student projects.
SHA’s K-8 physical education program covers fundamental fitness and the basics of team sports. Emphasis is placed on developing motor skills while fostering respect and responsibility for others and the self. Students at this level find time for experimentation, practice, and decision making, and they develop personal health and fitness habits that they will carry with them into the future and into their own lives. The physical education program is derived from nationally accredited standards and meets the Washington state academic standards for health and fitness.
Students participate in block coding challenges on Code.org
eventually leading to coding in HTML and CSS. Students move at their own pace and enjoy familiar games like Minecraft that incorporate coding into gameplay. Additionally, students are allowed to play side games and challenges that focus on creativity within the coding curriculum.