Eighth grade students create clay busts of a figure of their choice. This is the culmination of their portraiture and figure drawing studies.

Eighth grade students create clay busts of a figure of their choice. This is the culmination of their portraiture and figure drawing studies.

Visual Arts Program

The study and practice of the visual arts function as a keystone for understanding and analyzing the content areas of science, math, history, and language at Thaddeus Stevens School. Humans have created visual art at least since they organized into groups. Whether by scratching hieroglyphics on stone, building temples, painting murals, telling stories, weaving tapestries, sculpting images or decorating the tools used in daily life, people have expressed their values, hopes, and fears through art.

Over the centuries art and artists have provided work that both affirms and questions the values of the society from which they come. Students examine the work and analyze it with regard to the time and events that produced it. Working with art in this way adds a rich layer of understanding of the political and social movements that shape nations. Students connect the visual image to the poetic image to the historical image and circle back again, broadening and deepening their perspective of the world around them.

The academic impact of deep art experiences is revealed in the study entitled Critical Evidence: How the Arts Benefit Student Achievement commissioned by the national Assembly of State Arts Agencies and the Arts Education Partnership. Joining art study with other core content areas allows for what cognitive psychologists identify as “transfer”: the notion that “learning in one context assists learning in a different context.” Our students have distinguished themselves in contests, in classrooms, and in community service. We believe that it is the systemic integration of art and art history that has developed their thoughtful response to school and society.

The sketch program asks students to create a drawing per week based on the classical principle of using light to create form, continuously developing and applying techniques passed down from the old masters.

Art is required as a core subject area at Thaddeus Stevens School, which means that each student in grades five through eight spends three periods per week, two hours and fifty minutes, engaged in the study and production of art.

The elementary grades study the fundamentals of art to acquire a foundation for the more comprehensive study and practice in the upper grades.

English ProgramIMG_0324

The language arts encompass all aspects of the English language with emphasis on their application across the curriculum. Instruction focuses on enhancing the use of language in the four recognized strands of reading, writing, speaking, and listening. These strands are structured to enable students to:
1) acquire information, understand relationships, and analyze through critical reading, listening and viewing;
2) use language for creative thinking, speaking, writing, and problem solving;
3) use language to communicate ideas, emotions, opinions, experiences, and information;
4) use language to engage with literature as a way to understand universal human experiences, finding power and beauty within language.

IMG_9913The Writing Component of the English Program
The Thaddeus Stevens School offers a strong writing program based on the idea that good writing develops over time. Students learn that drafting and revising are essential to written work. They are immersed in a language-rich environment and given the time and the instruction to prepare written work that meets a variety of purposes and represents quality of thought. Students practice this process in all areas of curricular work and understand that good writing is necessary in all areas of communication, not just for English classes.

Each writing assignment, long or short, informative or entertaining, is accompanied by a list of core elements that define it as a certain type of writing. Creating a finished product of writing involves several steps and revisions.

Students are gradually moved from the textbook to the use of primary documents to write document based essays explaining historical events, evaluating arguments, and analyzing texts They learn to use the text, whether fiction or non-fiction, as evidence to support their interpretations and points of view.

The School wants to develop in its writers the notion that writing takes time and practice. Ideas must be filled out with substance and reduced of excess; a balance between the idea and the writing is best established through drafting and revising and talking about the work with others involved in the same process.

Finally, the writing program assists students in acquiring the awareness to “read as writers,” enhancing their analytical approach to the text.

IMG_4420Math Program

The math program is grounded in the belief that math is a language which is purposeful, meaningful, and perpetual. Students’ ability to communicate successfully in this language stems from an understanding of math’s basic operations. Thus, our program places a strong emphasis early in developing proficiency with the “math facts.” These include addition and subtraction of compatible numbers as well as the multiplication tables. Emphasis is also placed on the ability to express thoughts in an organized, coherent manner. Proficiency in the fundamentals of mathematics enables a student to move toward exploration into higher levels of independent mathematical thinking. Math ultimately gives a student the ability to describe and predict change in order to make informed decisions about our world.

A Pre-Algebra course begins in seventh grade followed by an Algebra 1 course aligned with high school math programs.

The students compete in the annual MathCounts program and the teams have won first place in the region for several years.

Science ProgramIMG_5453

The science program is built around hands-on, field-based science in the fall and spring dovetailed with more traditional project-based science topics in the winter.  Spending entire days on Burke Mountain, students learn to use the scientific method to create and test a hypothesis and to analyze what they have learned by writing meaningful conclusions. In all grades students are challenged to become ecologically literate observers, learning the names of the flora and fauna and delineating the interrelationships among streams and soils.

Students engage with the natural habitat and ecological systems found in the Northeast Kingdom.  The program cultivates a sense of stewardship for the natural environment through seminar discussions that focus on climate change, invasive species, erosion, sustainability, and biological cycles.

IMG_0705Language Program

The School is one of thirty schools in Vermont participating in the Middlebury Language Initiative.  Partnering with Middlebury Language Schools, the online initiative offers Chinese, French, German, Latin, and Spanish.  Students learn the 21st Century skill of online learning, and have access to a wide range of activities and practice drills.  They are able to record and listen to their responses and to receive assistance as they progress through the language.  There are two teachers on site at the School, one of whom speaks Spanish and the other French.

Music Program

Elementary Grades:  Students begin by learning to read music, sing together, and to make musical instruments.  In fourth grade students learn to play the recorder.  In fifth through eighth grades, the School offers individual instrumental instruction to all interested students.  The students perform as soloists, duets, quartets, and ensemble two times per year.  Several students participate in the annual statewide music festival.

Physical Education ProgramIMG_9880

This course is offered to students in grades K-8 and focuses on personal health with emphasis on health-related fitness. Students will work on exercise, cardiovascular, body composition, endurance, flexibility, and strength. Students engage in fitness activities based on their fitness level. A variety of fitness, skills, individual, team, and field activities will promote the development of lifetime fitness leisure skills.

Technology Program

Technological literacy is valued across the curriculum at The Thaddeus Stevens School and is used for research, communication, and creative expression.

Life Skills

The course is offered to students in grades five through eight.  Classes are single-sex and designed to discuss current issues youths are facing and history of cultural views of men and women.  Issues such as bullying, cyber-bullying, and peer pressure are reviewed.  The course also includes social manners and appropriate public behavior.

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