By nature, as the oldest students in the school, eighth graders enjoy reflecting on their childhood years while preparing to move on to secondary schools. The curriculum challenges students to increasingly think abstractly and to reason. Eighth graders interpret literature, predict chemical formulas and interactions, summarize a data set manipulated with a graphing calculator, and research, write and extemporaneously debate legislative bills at Model Congress. The year is marked by an increase in collaborative work in academic and non-academic subjects. Students also preside over all school assemblies. Eighth graders participate in several long-standing traditions that serve as signature experiences for the class. At the beginning of the year the class takes a day-long canoe trip in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. They also take part in a week-long trip to Heifer International Farms in Massachusetts, where they study global hunger and poverty. At Halloween, the class continues the over 75-year tradition of the “Ghost Walk”, turning the Upper School building into a haunted house. In May, as students prepare to graduate, they prepare class histories, participate in the Brick Ceremony and leave a handprint on the bell.
The academic program successfully prepares students to make a smooth transition to high school. Students graduating attend a wide range of excellent private, independent, parochial and public, day and boarding schools. Academic subjects include the study of language arts, math, social studies, science, art, music, foreign language, physical education, human development, health, religion and shop. Eighth grade students perform twice a year in front of an audience, during the Holiday Program and their class play.