Upper School (All-girls, 7-12)

Grades 7-8

Our All-Girls Middle School Develops Young Women of Promise

A Private All-Girls Middle School Just for Them
Understanding the unique needs of girls, ages 12 to 14, has led Oak Knoll to look purposefully at the total private, Catholic college prep program we offer for our seventh- and eighth-grade girls. These students experience the environment of an inclusive Upper School (our all-girls middle and high school grades 7-12), which spans the ages of girls from 12 to 18, and they also know the advantages of a small, student-centered program, which highlights the enthusiasm and special accomplishments of students in the middle-grade years.

A Rich, Rigorous, Academic Curriculum with a Caring Faculty
Aware of the growing sense of self, which begins to emerge in young women at this age, teachers, advisers, and guidance personnel create opportunities for their students to display their talents and use cooperative approaches in teaching in order to underline the importance of student voice in the classroom. "Hands-on" and "social interaction" are bywords of the middle grades educator — whether planning a science project, organizing a Consortium program in music, creating live book reports or working with students in the clown ministry as they plan a Christmas party for young children with cancer.

Faculty in English, foreign language, history and theology have created an integrative program that promotes connections across disciplines and holistic learning. The curricula are coordinated and common projects reinforce important themes.

We look at our seventh and eighth grades both as a "head-start" for the college prep high school courses and as a time for a girl's first strides toward the sense of individuality and identity that will be hers in adulthood. Our demanding, but nurturing program in a Catholic environment is designed to foster self-worth, cooperation, accomplishment, and a sense of community.

Our 7th Grade Girls Grow and Prepare

Oak Knoll's 7th Grade Curriculum for Girls
The program for the seventh grade emphasizes self-exploration, social interaction, skill development, competence, and achievement. The rich curricular offerings provide opportunities for students to learn skills that will be important throughout secondary and higher education and to experiment with new "identities" as young writers, scientists, and so on. Family and inclusiveness are important themes for this year, which is highlighted by the students' experiences in the Peer Leadership Program. 7th grade coursework details can be viewed on the right of this page.

Our 8th Grade Girls Learn Leadership and Teamwork

Oak Knoll's 8th Grade Curriculum for Girls
The program for the eighth grade stresses emerging individual identities, personal and group leadership skills, writing and analytical skill enhancement, proficiency, and accomplishment. The curricular offerings provide opportunities for students to practice skills important throughout secondary and higher education that were introduced in seventh grade and to continue to explore their talents in a wide range of subjects. Leadership, teamwork, and community are important themes for this year. 8th grade coursework details can be viewed on the right of this page.

Grade 7 Courses

List of 6 items.

  • English

    The seventh grade English program fosters interaction and growth through language. A variety of textual genres introduces students to multiple ways of expression and often link to history, religion and foreign language classes. Independent reading, shared responses, formal and informal presentations and writing are among the many varied activities in English 7. Along with textual analysis, the mechanics of grammar, punctuation, vocabulary building and diction are stressed. Texts may include "American-Born Chinese" by Gene Luen Yang, "The House on Mango Street" by Sandra Cisneros, "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens, "Summer of my German Soldier" by Bette Greene and "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" by William Shakespeare. 
  • History: Immigration – The American Mosaic

    Students examine the patterns of immigration to the United States beginning in the nineteenth century. The study of geographic and cultural origins of our ancestors leads to an analysis of the economic, political and cultural contributions, which constitute the mosaic of our nation. The course culminates in a research paper focusing on the push-pull factors which attract immigrants. In this class, students hone analytical, research and geography skills and learn the format of a formal outline, academic note cards and the MLA citation methods. Connections are made with English, religion and foreign language classes. 
  • Mathematics: Pre-Algebra

    Pre-Algebra is designed to give students the fundamental skills necessary to succeed in the Algebra I course taken the following year. Students will explore order of operations, number systems and the properties of exponents and radicals. They will also solve and graph linear equations and inequalities as well as systems of equations. The course emphasizes a problem solving approach by using information given in the form of equations, graphs and charts. Throughout the course, mathematical concepts will be taught with an emphasis on real world applications and cross-curricular interaction. 
  • Religion

    Through the study of the story of Jesus, students examine His life from four perspectives: what Catholics believe, how Catholics worship, how Catholics live and how Catholics pray. This thematic approach, which connects with English, history and foreign language includes exploration of the cultural landscape, history, writers and key sections of the New Testament. A variety of experiential activities involving liturgical feasts and seasons prepare the student for a relevant understanding of the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. 
  • Romance and Classical Languages

    Students in grade 7 begin the study of Latin and French or Spanish. This dual linguistic approach underscores the recognized cognitive benefits of early language learning. In Latin, students learn to read for global meaning as they encounter new sentence types. Lexically close to the Romance languages and English, students build vocabulary and learn strategies for decoding new words. Students also discover the richness and influence of the Roman culture. The French and Spanish courses introduce or build upon linguistic knowledge and provide a sound basis for continued study in the Upper School. Our French and Spanish classes are dynamic and encourage direct communication. Taught holistically, these classes incorporate films, music, songs, storytelling, and magazines. 
  • Science: Life and Environmental Science

    Through this course, students explore the basic principles of life, starting from the most basic cells through the most complex organisms. The students compare different types of organisms and understand basic heredity patterns. They also apply the principles of biology to topics within environmental science, connecting the living world and the Earth. This course exposes the students to environmental issues that shape our world today. As students explore these areas of science, they learn to put the scientific method into practice. 

Grade 8 Courses

List of 6 items.

  • English

    The eighth-grade English program integrates writing, grammar and vocabulary skills with dramatic and literary study. Works may include Lucille Fletcher’s "Sorry, Wrong Number" and "The Hitch-hiker," Holworthy Hall’s "The Valiant," Reginald Roses "Twelve Angry Men," and William Gibsons "The Miracle Worker." Students focus on the adolescent in reading Harper Lee’s "To Kill a Mockingbird," Lewis Carrolls "Alices Adventures in Wonderland," Joan Aiken’s "The Wolves of Willoughby Chase" and William Golding’s "The Lord of the Flies." The reading of selected biographies fosters an understanding of non-fiction. Creative and expository writing assignments are an integral part of this course, as are vocabulary, grammar, reading comprehension, and oral presentations. 
  • History: U.S. Topics – Washington and Wall Street

    In this class, students immerse themselves in the study of the practical aspects of government and Wall Street beginning with the U.S. Constitution and the operations of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the U.S. government. As the year progresses, the basic principles of the U.S. mixed market economic system will demonstrate the workings of business. Importance is given to appropriate vocabulary, written expression and research skills in the required two research papers. 
  • Mathematics: Algebra I

    Algebra I is designed to give students the requisite skills that provide a foundation for all future mathematics courses. Topics covered in seventh grade pre-algebra are reinforced and covered in more depth. Students learn how to solve equations, both linear and quadratic, and to use these equations in applications and modeling settings. Emphasized skills include factoring, laws of exponents and radicals, and operations with rational expressions. Systems of equations and inequalities are investigated in various ways, including through graphing and modeling. 
  • Romance and Classical Languages

    The skills that students have acquired in grade 7 serve as a solid foundation for a deeper study of Latin and French or Spanish. In Latin, students read adapted stories about a fictional Roman family. Projects on varied topics such as Roman architecture, Roman names and mottoes, gods and goddesses, Roman food and dress help the students appreciate the rich variety and power of ancient Roman culture and its connections to their own. In French or Spanish, students continue to build communicative skills through the daily, practical use of the language. A variety of real-world activities ensures growth in reading, writing, speaking and listening. 
  • Religion

    The eighth grade religion course focuses on the Catholic Church, the value of church history in understanding God and the Catholic faith. Students acquire knowledge of the structures and functions of the church community and explore their own participation in the current history of the Catholic Church through a variety of activities. A key theme of the class is social justice, social responsibility and social action. Experiential learning provides a unique learning vehicle at this middle-school level. 
  • Science: Introductory Physical Sciences

    This course introduces basic concepts of physics and chemistry through hands-on explorations that involve students’ application of the scientific method. The first half of the year is devoted primarily to concepts studied further in traditional physics courses. The second half of the year emphasizes chemical applications of physical science. The topics explored include matter, solutions, elements, mixtures and compounds, forces, motion, and energy. Laboratory investigations involving modeling, chemical reactions, and simple machines give students opportunities to work with and interpret scientific data. 

Additional Courses for Grades 7 & 8

List of 6 items.

  • Computer Skills - Grade 8

    This course responds to the varying technology needs that students encounter in other classes. The class supports interdisciplinary work, reinforces basic computer skills and adds new skills to a student’s repertoire. 
  • Creative Arts

    The seventh- and eighth-grade creative arts program introduces students to the broad spectrum of the fine and performing arts and provides curricular and extracurricular opportunities to develop and showcase talent. Sparking creative interest during this formative period will cultivate young artists in our extended arts program at the upper levels. Accordingly, performance groups such as Dancers and Chimes welcome auditions of talented and interested seventh and eighth graders. Exceptionally gifted or interested students are encouraged to work additionally with instructors outside of class. 

    Dance - Grades 7 and 8

    The seventh and eighth graders explore movement and the creative and technical levels of ballet, jazz, modern dance and dance conditioning. Videos, study of technique, written assignments and projects create the total dance experience. Both beginning and advanced students benefit from these classes. 

    Photo Arts - Grade 8
    Photo Arts introduces students to the fundamentals of photography through hands-on darkroom and camera work, including photograms and 35mm black-and-white film development. A long-term photo flip book project integrates storyboarding; teamwork; pre-visualization; and basic camera, printing, and graphic design skills. 

    Music Appreciation: Sight Singing and Piano Lab - Grades 7 and 8
    Sight Singing is a two-year program which introduces the student to sight singing without the aid of an instrument. The students also receive group piano lessons in a lab environment, stressing the written and oral language of music theory. Students are able to recognize musical signs and terms found in the score and demonstrate reading of basic rhythmic patterns and melodies. There is also an emphasis on rehearsal etiquette and vocal technique. 

    Junior Concert Choir - Grades 7 and 8
    The aim of this class is the development of the voice and musical talent of the student. Although much of the emphasis is on learning to sing two-part and three-part harmony, the program also encourages the development of good choral habits. During the course of the year, the choir prepares for and performs in the Christmas Concert, the Spring Concert, and other events, such as Masses and special assemblies. All seventh graders are part of this choral group. Eighth graders elect participation. In addition, students will meet in separate sectional by grade level. 
    General Art - Grades 7 and 8
    This course familiarizes students with fundamental skills and techniques in a wide range of both fine art and applied-art forms. The seventh-grade program focuses on two-dimensional projects (drawing, painting, collage, and printmaking) and the eighth-grade program centers on three-dimensional projects. The usual format for each unit includes introduction to various art forms and concepts, activities in individual techniques and processes and a final project allowing students to synthesize knowledge and skills.

    While the General Art program provides different learning experiences for the seventh and eighth grades, it is a continuing program that builds upon information and skills gained each year. 
  • Introduction to Computer Science - Grade 7

    This course provides students with the skills needed to integrate computers into other courses. Proficiency in word processing, presentation and digital media software is emphasized with additional lessons, as time permits, on Web design, movie-making, Internet and desktop publishing skills. Additionally, instructors work with individual students who need reinforcement in skill areas. 
  • Physical Education

    The seventh- and eighth-grade physical education program follows the national standards set forth by the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE). This program offers a wide variety of experiences which support the development of motor skills, lifetime health fitness, critical thinking and responsible social behavior. Providing opportunities for enjoyment, challenge, self-expression, and social interaction, the activities rotate each year and may include soccer, volleyball, team handball, muggle quidditch, Ultimate Frisbee, fitness assessment, basketball, and whiffle ball. Individual and dual experiences may include tennis, badminton, paddle ball, project adventure activities, track, and orienteering. 
  • Health

    The seventh- and eighth-grade health curriculum centers on the young adolescent woman and current health issues. Topics include health promotion and disease prevention, health-enhancing life skills and growth and development. Content examines substance abuse, nutrition and eating disorders, teen sex issues, stress, decision-making, and health fitness. Students reinforce their critical-thinking skills as they learn to interpret health data and information, evaluate the impact of health behaviors and choices, and examine teen fads. 
  • Campus Ministry

    All seventh and eighth graders participate in the Campus Ministry program throughout the school year. Many aspects of Campus Ministry activities are integrated into religion classes especially during Advent.

    As opportunities arise, the girls serve as ministers of hospitality and readers during liturgical celebrations. Class time is provided to prepare for and participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation during the Lenten Season.

    Seventh graders design flyers for the Oak Knoll community, with reminders and suggestions about the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. They also lead prayers at General Homeroom during Lent.

    Eighth graders select or write original Marian prayers in religion class. They lead the school community in prayer and reflection at General Homeroom during May, the month of Mary.

    Seventh and eighth graders also participate in the various outreach programs sponsored by the Campus Ministry Council, in order to introduce and prepare them for the high school programs. Service projects include the school-wide service day, clowning ministry, and participation with Bridges Outreach to the Homeless. Students are given time in class to write reflections about their experiences which are included in their service folders. 
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

© Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child 2014