Typical School Day
A typical middle school student’s day reflects our intentional blending of strong academics and a focus on personal development. The MP&MS schedule is a ten-day cycle, with each 5-day week labeled a Blue Week or Yellow Week. This schedule allows for longer class periods to support deeper learning experiences. Each student has seven core and/or specialist classes every ten days, with seven classes rotating throughout a two-week (10-day) cycle.
Each middle school day begins with a 45-minute advisory period. Advisory is a dedicated time for students to check in with advisors and get organized for the day and week, which supports executive functioning. Advisory also includes an intentional focus on social-emotional learning and study skill development, and provides time for academic support during study hall. Following advisory, students head off to core and specialist courses (math, science, humanities, Spanish, physical education, music, art, drama) for the remainder of their day. Depending on the trimester, sixth through eighth grade students will have a concentrated music, art, or drama experience. Fifth grade students have all specialist courses once a week, including projects lab.
Friday morning begins with a student-led community meeting. These gatherings include a review of events of the week, a preview of the week ahead, student leadership announcements, opportunities to honor and recognize work done by individuals or groups of students, community-building activities, and student presentations.
Middle school students enjoy a fifteen-minute mid-morning break with a snack prepared by sixth graders in their classroom kitchen. During the 45-minute lunch period (12:15 to 1:00 p.m.), students gather around tables in the middle school courtyard or near the amphitheater, and enjoy time to play on our expansive playground or join activities in the garden, art studio, music room, projects lab or library media center. Some students may be involved in lunchtime student leadership meetings, or other interest-based clubs.
A student’s typical afternoon includes a continuation of core and/or specialist courses. Every other Friday afternoon, for the final period of the day, is a semester-long elective program. Electives are a time when mixed-grade groups participate in a range of self-chosen classes. A group of students might be found practicing with the Rock Band in the music room; working with the Community Service volunteers on a presentation designed to inspire others to think deeply about topics related to helping others; learning to prepare delicacies in our classroom kitchen; or working on a project involving engineering, design, and problem solving in projects lab. Elective classes are designed to reflect students’ interests and passions, which reinforces our academic, sports and arts programs.
At the end of the school day students rejoin their advisors for a fifteen-minute closure period to clarify homework assignments, reflect on the day’s activities and experiences, and prepare for the following day. Middle school teachers are available after school to check in with students and parents as necessary. After school, students can be found participating in after-school sports, rehearsing for our spring drama production, or working on homework in the library or Learning Resource Center homework support program.
In spring, each middle school class departs for a five-day, four-night trip. Our fifth grade class heads off to explore Yosemite Valley, sixth grade travels to the Mendocino Woodlands Camp to learn about our coast and forests, seventh grade jumps on a bus to El Capitan Canyon in Santa Barbara for some ocean kayaking and ropes course challenges, and our eighth graders fly to Olympic National Park for their final overnight adventure as MP&MS students. These spring trips are integrated into each grade’s curriculum, and support our overall academic and social and emotional program.
Our goal is for each middle school student to enjoy a well-rounded daily experience, blending academics and the arts, while reinforcing collaboration and community. The structure of a 10-day cycle schedule with no more than five academic or specialist courses per day, supported by an intentional advisory program, is responsive to the developmental needs of middle school students. Our teachers thoroughly enjoy working with students of this age, and have designed a program specifically to meet the needs of this unique time in a child’s life. They are here to support each of them, every day.