Private Quaker Middle School Education in Virginia Beach
Grades 5 to 8
Middle School is an exciting yet challenging time for young people as they navigate the transition from childhood to adolescence. Here at Friends, we provide a small and nurturing environment for students to grow, without the typical pressures found in Middle School. Students in fifth through eighth-grade experience a diversified, challenging academic program seen through the lense of the Quaker testimonies.
Students productively explore this unique stage of life in an emotionally and physically safe environment. During this time, up and above preparing our students academically for high school, we emphasize organization skills, independence, responsibility, and decision-making - stressing the importance of participation and involvement in the learning process. At the simplest and most profound level, we teach respect for self, for others, for school, and for the community.
The Language Arts Department at VBFS reflects our belief that community is created and maintained through language, whether spoken, written, or visual, regardless of media. We believe that students learn best when taught through a whole language approach - integrating reading, writing, speaking, and listening--within a cultural, geographical, and historical context. The language arts curriculum is thus designed to develop the language abilities students need to communicate effectively as individuals and as contributing members of their communities. Our curriculum is recursive; oral, written, and digital communication skills are introduced at developmentally appropriate levels and then are practiced and refined as our students progress from the Cottage through Middle School graduation. Teachers employ a wide variety of methods, activities, and technologies to instruct and involve students in reading, discussion, small and large group work, oral and written reports/presentations, and research across subject areas. Although the essential skills remain the same—reading, writing, listening, speaking, and researching--the expectation levels for mastery increase from division to division.
The Virginia Beach Friends School Mathematics Department promotes computational, procedural, and problem-solving skills at each developmental level which provide the foundations for further mathematical study within and across divisions. The math curriculum is designed to develop mathematical competencies that students need to transition from concrete thinking to abstract thinking which is required for advanced mathematics.
Our curriculum spirals in that skills are introduced at developmentally appropriate levels, practiced, assessed, and re-taught as necessary. Mastery of concepts and terminology is critical to succeeding and is required. We use an inquiry model with a hands-on approach that challenges students to become responsible to work with manipulatives, practice mental math, solve problems with paper and pencil and calculators, and work independently and cooperatively. Instruction is differentiated to provide support for those students who need additional scaffolding to achieve success and challenge those who have advanced mathematical aptitude. A compendium of techniques is employed to ensure effective teaching for all students.
The Social Studies Department at VBFS promotes an appreciation of cultural diversity and helps students understand how a variety of cultural traditions affect their lives. Additionally, students develop knowledge of the geographical, political, economic, and social history of the United States and the world. Social Studies classes challenge students to think critically and creatively. Students learn to recognize and make connections between our cultural environment and others across time and space. Discussion of current events is an important part of every course. Students are encouraged to develop a sense of consciousness about their responsibilities as citizens of our family, community, country and globe. In this respect, our social studies curriculum supports the values of community, integrity, simplicity, peace, stewardship, and equality on which our school is based.
The Middle School Social Studies program is designed to focus on factual history while emphasizing the student's reflection on his or her role in today's society. It is our goal to enable students to develop the knowledge and skills that encourage them to place people, ideas, and events that have shaped our world in perspective. The students engage in various projects and group research. As appropriate, they will use textbooks for research as well as the Internet and library resources. There are field trips that enhance the units and give students a hands-on personal glimpse of the areas we are studying. A variety of other resources are used to teach social studies, including art, special projects, guest speakers, daily newspapers, and current events magazines. It is our intention that social studies will lead the students to explore differences in cultures and to understand conflict and how to address it in peaceful respectful ways.
Grade 5 science takes a deeper dive into the activity-based inquiry course in which students study the concepts in physical science, life sciences, and earth science. Grade 5 standards continue to deepen scientific skills with an increased emphasis on the scientific method process for studying the formation and application of predictions and drawing conclusions. Scientific methodology, focusing on precision in stating the hypothesis, defining variables, and observing and recording accurate data is reinforced.
6th-grade students are introduced to the Life Science course, which provides students with a general understanding of the concepts of life science. Students investigate the structure, function, and processes of living things. Students learn how cells divide, grow and convert matter and energy to sustain life. They learn how organisms reproduce and pass hereditary characteristics from one generation to another. Students investigate similarities and differences in living organisms and how living things have evolved. Students learn about the human body systems and research different disorders. Students learn to conduct scientific experiments, think scientifically and use scientific equipment and technology. Students learn to communicate scientific information and processes and understand how developments in science and technology affect society and the environment.
Our 7th-grade students use a hands-on activity-based approach to involving students in scientific exploration. Our overall goal is to assist students in becoming observers, independent thinkers, and problem solvers for the community of our future. We strive to foster an appreciation for the interrelationships between the chemical world and the physics world. Physical Science is designed to develop the qualities of student understanding rather than information processing. Practical concepts and skills are chosen that will serve as a foundation for which to build more knowledge through academic years and over a lifetime. Investigations are carried out using the scientific method. Students become proficient in acquiring the science process skills of hypothesizing, predicting, classifying, measuring, observing, analyzing, and making conclusions.
8th-grade students will be introduced to high-school biology during their final year at Friends. Biology is designed to develop the qualities of student mastery rather than information processing. Concepts and skills are chosen that will serve as a foundation for which to build more knowledge through academic years and over a lifetime. Investigations are carried out using the scientific method. Students become proficient in acquiring the science process skills of hypothesizing, predicting, classifying, measuring, observing, analyzing, and making conclusions. Students will further explore how science is used by government agencies (NIH) for policy and planning.
The Music and Performing Arts department offers students many opportunities for self-expression in the disciplines of instrumental and vocal music, theater, dance, and other performing arts. The primary purpose of the Music and Performing Arts department is to recognize and nurture the creative self within each individual by expanding their horizons with the world community. We use music and performing arts as teaching tools to foster our Quaker values of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and stewardship. Together, independent growth and collaborative achievements produce student creations which are shared with the larger community.”
VBFS offers general music programs as well as performance classes for MS students. All classes are designed to accommodate various skill levels. The goal of the music program is to awaken and nurture a sense of creativity and self-worth in each individual and to respect and honor the collaborations of the entire group.
All classes provide enrichment in understanding music and how it connects us to history and other cultures. It deepens the understanding of how life relates to music from basic concepts such as beat and meter to dynamics and expression. Performance and non-performance classes are participatory and motivating which helps students in their understanding of music and theater.
Students will write and perform their own comedy sketches, and showcase their skits to the community. 7th and 8th-grade students will perform an original stand-up comedy in the spring.
This introductory course for 5th and 6th-grade students, will provide students with information on the origins of Quakerism with a goal of providing them with a general understanding of the history, beliefs, and practices of Quakerism.
Our 7th and 8th-grade students will feel empowered and gain an understanding of possible short- and long-term effects of social media use. Students will gauge their use and gain insight on how to ensure they interact on social media platforms from a place of understanding and control.
The Friends Health curriculum is introduced to students in grades 6 to 8. Students learn about anatomy, reproduction, puberty, abstinence, decision-making and values, media literacy, sexuality, sexual identity, gender, STD's, protection methods, healthy and unhealthy relationships, and refusal skills through the GET REAL curriculum.
In this real-world course, 8th-grade students will learn personal finance concepts such as budgeting, income, and savings. By the end of the course, students will develop and evaluate a plan to manage their money to achieve personal goals and have fun dreaming of the future! Students will be introduced to units relating to personal growth and development, management skills, goal setting, decision-making, and leadership development.
Virginia Beach Friends School prepares our middle school students for entry into local independent and public high schools in the Hampton Roads area. Our 8th-grade students leave VBFS prepared for the academic and personal challenges of high school; where they distinguish themselves as students and people of character.
Our personalized process begins in the spring of seventh grade, where parents receive ongoing guidance from Mike Barclay, Head of School, and Dee Talbert, Guidance Counselor. Each 8th-grader will have an individualized secondary school plan that is led by meeting with the student, family, and connecting them with local schools in the area. Important questions will be answered along the way, such as: What are the different school choices in the area and the advantages of each one? How do I apply? What are schools looking for in a candidate? Which schools are realistic choices? What are the costs?
We help our students navigate the application, financial aid, testing, essay writing, and interview processes. In addition, our 8th-grade students are provided with opportunities to visit local independent schools. During the fall of the 8th-grade year, admissions counselors from various independent schools from around Hampton Roads visit the VBFS campus to speak with 8th-graders. These meetings help Friends students learn about independent high school options beyond their local public high school.
In the past years, Friends School students have matriculated to both Cape Henry and Norfolk Collegiate, along with a number of the various Virginia Beach Academies and Advanced Academic Programs. Ultimately, it is the job of Virginia Beach Friends School to work with all its graduating 8th-grade students and their families to help them find the next best-fit school to continue their academic careers.
The Secondary School Placement Program is included as part of the middle school tuition.
Below is a list of some of the schools where our middle school students attend high school and that VBFS partners with for the Secondary School Placements Program:
- Norfolk Christian School
- Norfolk Academy
- Norfolk Collegiate
- The Hague School
- Cape Henry Collegiate
- Catholic High School
- Entrepreneurship and Business Academy-Kempsville High School
- Global Studies and World Languages Academy-Tallwood High School
- Governor’s STEM & Technology Academy-Landstown High School
- Health Sciences Academy-Bayside HighSchool
- Legal Studies Academy-First ColonialHigh School
- Mathematics and ScienceAcademy-Ocean Lakes High School
- Visual and Performing Arts Academy-Salem High School