During the middle school years, grades 6-8, our objective is to create the “Birchwood Graduate.” The Birchwood Graduate is not simply someone who finished their eighth grade year at Birchwood. Rather it describes a student who is hard working, productive, eager to grow, willing to take on new challenges, and aspiring to serve purposes greater than themselves.
Curriculum and programming for these years revolve around these objectives. First we guide students on how to be a strong and successful learner. We help them accumulate the skills and learning habits that will pay intellectual dividends throughout their high school and college careers. We teach them how to approach life with self-determination, taking control of who they are becoming and what they will accomplish. They learn organization skills, time management skills, and problem solving skills.
Second, given the tremendous potential for the adolescent mind, we provide academic opportunities which will stretch their intellectual potential to its highest level. In addition to receiving rigorous and authentic coursework, students have the opportunity to participate in an array of state and national academic competitions.
Finally, we inspire students to become a “great person.” A great person is someone who is striving to bring his or her innate potential to its highest level. A great person is cultivating his character, building virtuous (excellent) habits to live in a manner that invites admiration and respect from others. A great person contributes to the well being of his family and friends. A great person lives for purposes greater than himself or herself.
From our experience, we have found one of the most effective ways to inspire greatness is to study the biographies of virtuous people. Hence, the first 15 minutes of each morning is dedicated to studying the lives of extraordinary men and women. Some of the biographies are about renowned individuals, others are about everyday men and women whose lives model exemplary character during the ordinary affairs of life.