A PFS middle school education is stimulating and exciting, challenging and rigorous, yet also responsive in pace and assessment to individuals’ different learning needs and styles. PFS middle school students are immersed in language’s structure and conversational music; challenged on many levels to think out problems and interpretations on multiple levels and from many angles, whether in math, Problem of the Week, science, Central Study, or literature; and personally and individually invited to explore as deeply and broadly as each is able, through conversation with teachers, formal research, projects, experimentation, and independent study. Assessments of students’ work and performance, while present throughout the school, become increasingly visible as students gradually develop a deep and independent sense of themselves as learners. As oldest students in a thoroughly mixed-age environment, 6th through 8th graders are offered opportunities to be older partners of youngest children, to be class leaders and role models in every aspect of school life, to sit as Head of Meeting at Settling In, and to design and run activities for the whole school community, such as our Halloween festivities and Elf Week. In late fall, the whole group participates in a two-day leadership retreat, the aim of which is to generate a sense of community across grade levels and to develop leadership attitudes and skills.
Beyond the leadership opportunities offered to the entire group of 6th through 8th graders, we recognize that the 8th grade experience represents an important transition between Princeton Friends School and whatever high school a student chooses to attend. In light of this, a number of academic and extracurricular activities are scheduled into the 8th grader’s calendar year. Eighth graders spend the second half of the fall term preparing annotated portfolios of their work, including samples of their writing in various genres, reproductions of pieces of their art, and examples of their work in math, science, Central Study, and world language. These portfolios, designed to be shown at independent school admissions interviews, represent a wonderful culmination of students’ Princeton Friends School career, whether or not they are applying to independent high schools. These portfolios are showcased at an evening reception for parents and faculty in early December. Finally, 8th graders spend the final weeks of the school year preparing their departing remarks for their Moving On celebration in early June. Year after year, the entire community gathers on a Saturday afternoon to hear the individual voices of our graduating students as they reflect on who they have become and what they will take with them as a result of their Princeton Friends School education.
With this broad reach of social and intellectual paths for exploration and self-discovery, students make themselves ready to become successful high school students, leaders, and community members in a gentle, yet inspiring, way.