middle school FAQ
We understand boys and how they learn. To learn more about grades 6, 7 and 8 at St. John's, browse these frequently asked questions. Our Middle School is conveniently located for boys throughout the North Shore of Boston and the Merrimack Valley. If you would like more information, feel free to call the Office of Admission at 978-624-1301.
The Middle School at St. John's includes grades 6, 7 and 8.
Brother Benjamin Hall is home for grades 6, 7 and 8. It includes classrooms, science labs, a collaborative media and study center, school counseling, dining space, and Middle School administrative offices. Suited in scale and layout to the needs of younger students, it provides a dedicated space while still feeling like a part of campus life. The space has been designed to be flexible in order to accommodate the natural energy and curiosity of younger boys.
A balanced curriculum for students in grades 6, 7, and 8 provides a strong foundation in core academic areas with an emphasis on developing the habits of mind, enthusiasm for learning, and study skills necessary for a successful, positive educational experience. See this full description of the Middle School Program of Study.
Daily classes include mathematics, science, social studies, and English. Other courses include religious studies, computer science, health, and physical education. Fine arts offerings include art, music, and drama. Students also choose between participating in a chorus, band, or strings ensemble. For world languages, students may chose from among German, Chinese, Latin, and Spanish.
Co-curricular offerings supplement the Prep experience for our younger boys on their path toward personal growth.
Three grade-level themes - Learn, Serve, and Appreciate - form the foundation of the Middle School experience. These themes help inspire and organize curriculum and co-curricular programs that challenge, engage, motivate, and teach students in developmentally appropriate ways.
In grade 6, learn guides an understanding of personal wellness; in grade 7, serve asks students to consider their role in the school community; and in grade 8, appreciate fosters a culture of multiculturalism and diversity. In addition to this grade-level emphasis, these themes are woven throughout the entire Middle School experience.
The Middle School has its own faculty. The student to teacher ratio is 10:1. The average class size in the Middle School is 16-18 students.
Only mathematics classes are leveled. Teachers appropriately differentiate their instruction to meet the unique interests, skills, and challenges of all learners. Co-curricular clubs and other offerings allow students with particular passions to stretch their learning and encounter unique experiences and challenges in different content areas.
The religious studies program helps students understand the roots of Catholicism, the global religious context, and the role of religious and spiritual traditions while gaining a sense of their own faith and spirit life. It is an inclusive program that shares the good news of the Gospel, but also helps students appreciate difference and diversity of beliefs and values. Each grade’s religious studies program is connected to the theme for the grade. A campus minister dedicated to the Middle School guides the emerging spiritual life of the students, coordinates service opportunities, and offers pastoral care and counseling through a ministry of presence.
The Middle School is a self-contained program that provides a consistent, nurturing and appropriately scaled environment for our younger students. During the school day, students are supervised by adults at all times, and the level of independence and freedom to move around on our broad campus is intentionally monitored. For instance, if students need to go to another building cross the street, they are escorted and supervised by faculty.
At the same time, there are opportunities for students in grades 6, 7 and 8 to interact with our older students in shared school spaces. For example, High School students act as tutors, club leaders or mentors for younger students. Students in all grades may practice near each other on our athletic fields. Lastly, students in all grades come together on occasion for important events in the life of the school.
There are many times during the day when students in grades 6, 7 and 8 get together – at lunch, in clubs and activities, and during prayer services. Students in grades 7 and 8 have many opportunities to interact through mixed academic teams, mixed grade advisories, and interscholastic sports. They also participate in student leadership to serve their greater Middle School community.
The Prep’s Middle School provides students with a web of academic and personal support during their time here.
First, students have a faculty advisor who checks in with them multiple times each day. Advisor sessions include small group instruction and discussions about study skills, leadership, extra academic help, ethics, and current events. An advisory group consists of ten students.
Next, each student has a guidance counselor who stays with him throughout his three middle school years.
Lastly, each team of teachers and students meets daily to discuss student wellness and school culture. Common planning time is built into each teacher’s day for the sole purpose of providing time for conversations about student learning and curriculum.
We hope this approach, bolstered by teachers who care about the success and welfare of their students, helps each boy feel known and appreciated.
We are proud of our vibrant, highly regarded fine arts program. Our middle schoolers take classes and pursue co-curricular enrichment experiences in the performing and studio arts as part of their Prep experience.
In sixth grade students explore Latin foundations and Classical culture in an interdisciplinary religious studies course. Sixth graders also participate in an exploratory program where they experience Spanish, German, and Chinese. Beginning in seventh grade, students choose the language they will study for two years: Spanish, German, Chinese, or Latin. Our hope is that students who apply themselves can place into a second level world language course as high school freshmen.
Students in the Middle School have access to iPads through our 1:1 program. The school monitors apps, content, and usage closely through our secure network. We gradually release responsibility to students, allowing them more use and freedoms with the technology as they complete learning units on responsible use, digital citizenship, and understanding expectations for appropriate use.
In addition, MacBook Pro laptops are available in the Digital Commons and Digital Commons technology classroom for longer writing assignments, research projects, and computer science classes.
Students in grades 6, 7 and 8 may spend time before and after school in health and wellness activities, structured study halls, and diverse enrichment activities that include clubs, volunteer service, and performing arts. Students may also seek extra help from teachers and advisors before and/or after school. A full-time faculty or staff member is on hand to supervise during these times.
The Digital Commons in Brother Benjamin Hall provides students with comfortable seating, room for individual study, and technology resources for research and writing. On occasion, Middle School students go with their teachers to use the resources of the A. E. Studzinski Library for major research projects or workshops and presentations.
Our Middle School program is designed to integrate efficiently and appropriately with the High School. For instance, we pay attention to content to prepare students for the High School, while avoiding repetition. Attention to study skills, time management, and organization in the Middle School provides an important foundation for academic success in the High School. The High School department chairs take the lead in placing students in the appropriate classes once they reach the High School.
This is a rundown of what High School families can anticipate:
- iPad: Students in grades 6, 7 and 8 use school-owned iPads. Some students choose to purchase their own stylus, earbuds and/or optional bluetooth keyboard. Costs vary, depending on model, from about $20 to $100.
- Books and ebooks: Middle School families can expect to spend about $220 for e-books and books.
- Bus: St. John's offers round-trip bus transportation on eight different routes. The cost is $2,400 a year.
- Other Programs: St. John's offers a wide variety of social programs and field trips throughout the year. The cost of these programs varies, but typically range from $100 to $150.
The dress code is similar to the High School. This includes Oxford-style collared dress shirts or golf shirts; khaki or single color dress pants; leather dress shoes; dress socks; and a belt. Students taking physical education may purchase shorts and a t-shirt in our bookstore.
Many families carpool to St. John's, and our online family directory makes it easy for parents to find other families living nearby. We offer bus transportation along six routes:
- North Shore/Cape Ann
- North Andover
- Southern New Hampshire/Newburyport