Lower School (Coed, K-6)

Transitioning to Middle School

A Focus on Academics and Team Building

Students of this age have unique academic, social, and emotional needs. Our curriculum reflects the school’s Middle States Accreditation Goals to develop critical-thinking skills, nurture personal responsibility and academic integrity, as well as the Goal of Schools of the Holy Child Jesus, "To provide an intellectually challenging and creative program of study that fosters academic excellence."
An intellectually challenging and creative program of study that fosters academic excellence.

We Can Make a Difference

Expanding upon the intermediate-level academic program, sixth graders participate in a multi-disciplinary, integrated, and thematic unit of study, based upon the tenets of project-based learning. Creative block scheduling allows students to meet in flexible groups on two mornings in the six-day cycle to explore and develop the theme of “Making a Difference.” Within the context of the study of the Renaissance, sixth graders study historical figures, such as Galileo and DaVinci, who have made a difference in the world. Engaging in hands-on activities and thoughtful critical-thinking discussions enhances the learning process. Each student then embarks on a major research project, by identifying a contemporary individual who has made a difference in the world. Children receive copious mentorship from their teachers on the fundamentals of reviewing literature, accessing information, note-taking using NoodleTools software, organizing information, writing and editing, and providing a bibliography of resources  all activities that culminate in a three-page research paper. The final component of the year’s theme requires students to identify a way that they, as individuals, can make a difference in the world.

Team Building

The importance of working cooperatively with each other is developed through an overnight team-building experience at Fairview Lakes in western New Jersey. To help students cope with the variety of issues related to adolescence, all fifth and sixth graders meet frequently in small group advisories with teacher mentors. Sixth graders are encouraged to act as leaders of the school.

Renaissance Project

Students in grade 6 begin their annual renaissance project, a part of the curriculum aimed at developing students’ creativity, problem solving, and critical-thinking skills, in mid-September.

In the beginning of the project, every student is given a brown paper bag filled with miscellaneous items such as a piece of string; construction paper; a small, plastic cup; craft sticks, a film canister; a binder clip; and paper clips. The students are instructed to create a prototype of an invention out of the items in the bag. They are allowed to use glue, tape, scissors, and other items to assemble their creation, but are limited to only using the pieces in the bag, as well as the bag itself. Students have created everything from sleds and swings to water-powered rocket boosters with their very limited materials. The students also discuss what the inspiration behind their creation is, and learn that sometimes even if an invention starts out as one thing and doesn’t work out, it can be the start of the next invention. ”We start with this because creativity is such a big part of renaissance thinking and problem solving,” said Ms. Leslie Smith, Lower School social studies teacher. 

The students are then divided into three groups that rotate to work on a different part of the project at a time. This rotation takes place at each of the three trimesters, such that each student spends one trimester on each of the Renaissance focus areas. Individually, the first group of students identify and research an invention of their choosing and how that invention solved a problem in the world. The students work through the research process, included appropriate research techniques, note-taking and outlining, resulting in a quality research paper. 

The second group studies the architecture of the Renaissance period. Students will discover the primary themes of architecture in the Renaissance time. They will also discover the idea behind the Golden Ratio and how it applies to architecture and art during the Renaissance and today. Finally, as a culminating project, the students will choose a problem in today’s world (worldwide, national or local) and then create a piece of architecture (building or structure) that will help alleviate this problem. They will use the Internet for research on the problem, Google SketchUp to create a computer 3-D model of the structure and then create a physical model to present to the class. 

The last group kicks off their segment on the culture of the Renaissance by addressing the cultural, social and historical background of the Italian Renaissance period. Discussion topics include the impact of the invention of the printing press, the role of city-states, and the effects of trade during this time period. This group then delves into the impact of a true renaissance man, Leonardo Da Vinci. Students are involved in coming up with “out-of-the-box” ideas for solving current day problems where they live, similar to Da Vinci's ideal city. Students also design their own prototype of parachutes, based on da Vinci's designs. This segment of the project culminates with the creation of a living history dramatization, reflecting the culture of Renaissance. 

For the final segment of the project, students identify a problem in their lives and design a prototype of an invention that would solve this problem. The students then have the opportunity to present their results to the school community, as well as their families through a Renaissance Fair presentation.

Secondary School Placement

Our Lower School assistant division head works with parents and students of boys in fifth and sixth grade as they begin their application process to secondary schools. This includes meeting with parents in the spring and fall before they begin the application process, walking each family through the process with their son’s best interest in mind, working with the boys to help them prepare for interviews and school visits, and being available to answer questions each step along the way.

Where Our Boys Attend Middle School

After attending Oak Knoll, our elementary school male graduates go on to attend some of the best secondary schools in the area including:
  • Delbarton School
  • Oratory Prep School
  • Newark Academy 
  • Pingry School
  • Morristown-Beard School
  • Seton Hall Prep
  • Summit Public Schools
After that, alumni who built the foundation of their education at Oak Knoll go on to some of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the nation, as seen in the recent picture of our alumni boys above.

Coed Elementary School Student Council

The Coed K-6 Elementary School has elected its first-ever student council for the 2014-15 school year. This opportunity will not only teach the sixth graders leadership skills, but it will also help students to learn how to set goals, practice public speaking, and follow through on commitment.

Students in grades 4-6 also have the opportunity to serve as homeroom representatives. Sixth graders are elected to an executive council consisting of president, vice president, treasurer and secretary.
Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child is a Catholic independent school coeducational from kindergarten to grade 6 and all girls in grades 7 to 12. Oak Knoll was founded in 1924 and is one of 10 schools in the Holy Child Network of Schools that provides independent Catholic education across the United States.


44 Blackburn Road
Summit, NJ 07901
Phone: (908) 522-8100
Email  the Lower School (coed, K-6)
Email the Upper School (all-girls, 7-12)
© Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child 2019