Upper School (Grades 6-8)
Daily ScheduleStandardized TestingLanguage ArtsMathematicsScienceHistory/Social StudiesSpanishField Trips & 8th Grade Trip
Overview: Old Orchard Upper School is located in the Campbell Community Center at 1 W. Campbell Ave., across the street from the Lower School (Pre-K-Grade 5) campus. Each Upper School grade can accommodate as many as 30 students, but academic classes and electives remain small, averaging 10 to 15 students. Academic classes are organized on a semester schedule, with each semester having two quarters. Enrichment courses are on a quarterly schedule, changing at the end of every quarter. Students have all academic subjects daily (two periods of Language Arts; one period each of Math, Science, History, and Spanish). Students also take P.E. daily throughout the year.
Students start each day with a short homeroom meeting with the homeroom teacher for their grade. They have different teachers for each subject and move from classroom to classroom throughout the day. All grades have lunch and recess at the same time, to allow them to socialize with students in all grades, and students are mixed across grades for enrichment classes.
Students also have a daily activity period which is typically used as a study hall. They may work on homework or see teachers for additional help. On some days, the activity period is used for school assemblies and as a time students can work on special events, such as Spirit Week.
School Hours & Extended-Day Care: The Upper School schedule is 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily. Students may be dropped off starting at 7:45 a.m. at no extra charge. Extended day-care is available from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Students who need to be dropped off at 7:30 must make arrangements in advance with the Upper School Office. Students not picked up by 3:40 p.m. will be escorted to after-school care at the Lower School Campus and should be picked up there.
Lunch: Students may bring their lunch or order through Subway daily. On Wednesdays, the Old Orchard Service League serves hot lunch as a fundraiser. Students should bring a daily snack for morning recess and for after-school.
Every spring, Old Orchard administers the standardized Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) in grades 3-8. The school does not interrupt regular instruction to “teach to the test" and largely views the ITBS as a diagnostic tool that helps the school to fine-tune its programs. All grades tested routinely test in the 95th percentile or better compared to the same grades nationwide. For more information visit the ITBS website.
Middle School students have two periods of Language Arts daily, encompassing literature, composition, vocabulary, grammar, spelling, reading comprehension, and presentation. Students learn how to read with insight, drawing inferences from the text and looking for clues that indicate where a story is heading. They examine narrative structure, different writing styles, character, and plot development, as well as how the author's voice influences the reader's reaction to the text. As they progress, students work with different forms of writing - creative, narrative, persuasive, and expository – and explore the expressive possibilities of each. They also work to develop their own writing voice and style, and learn to self-edit their work and constructively critique the work of peers. Students engage in a variety of “hands on" projects to reinforce their understanding of literature, and publish their writing on the internet.
The core mathematics curriculum for Grades 6-8 is the McDougal Littell series. Teachers enhance instruction with supplemental materials, including lessons on the history of mathematics and famous mathematicians. Sixth Grade students begin the year with a comprehensive review of basic mathematical concepts and operations, including fractions, percentages, decimals, and conversions, before moving on to pre-algebra concepts. Seventh Grade students continue with pre-algebra and then move on to algebra. In pre-algebra, students learn to solve multi-step equations and inequalities, calculate surface area and volume of solids, graph linear equations, and are introduced to both probability and trigonometry. Eighth Grade students continue with algebra and, upon completion of the algebra book, move on to geometry. In algebra, students work on concepts such as factoring polynomials, perform all operations with algebraic fractions, graph linear and quadratic functions, solve systems of equations, and study equations and inequalities containing absolute value. Students learn to solve a wide variety of word problems that are directly related to new concepts learned in class. A course of independent study is available for advanced math students.
Science is a hands-on program with frequent labs, student projects, and related field trips. Sixth Grade students study earth and environmental sciences, beginning with an introduction to scientific methods and moving on to study the earth, its atmosphere, oceans, and the weather. Seventh Grade students study life science, beginning with cells, photosynthesis, and respiration, and moving on to the different kingdoms of life and human biology and anatomy. Eighth Grade students study physical sciences, including matter, the periodic table, energy, force and motion, electricity, and light.
All grades participate in the annual school science fair. Students often choose to work on projects eligible for county-wide Synopsys Science Competition. Old Orchard is very proud of its entrants -- in 2014 our small school won three first place awards and multiple special prizes and acknowledgements. These included two students who won first place at the 2014 California State Science Fair, one of whom went on to win the prestigious Samueli Foundation Prize at Broadcom MASTERS in Washington, D.C.
All grades attend a science camp during the year. Grades 6 and 7 typically go to the Headlands Institute in Marin. Eighth Grade goes to Crow Canyon Archaeological Center in Colorado.
In all grades, students are trained to think critically as historians. They consider the source of historical “facts," from artifacts to primary documents, and the methods historians use to reconstruct, document, and interpret the past. In every grade, students write a research paper progressing from a personal inquiry on a subject of interest, to a formal paper with citations of high school caliber. Among other activities, history students often create historical dramas, have discussions on important concepts, and interpret historical methods. Teachers routinely look for and make connections to current events allowing students to make connections to people of the past. Sixth Grade begins with the Stone Age and moves forward in time to Ancient Rome. The program is reinforced by students' study of mythology in Language Arts in Sixth Grade. Seventh Grade continues the progression with World History, including the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Eighth Grade concentrates on U.S. History, beginning with the colonial era.
Old Orchard teaches Spanish daily in grades K-8. At all grade levels, Spanish is taught almost exclusively in the Spanish language. The program stresses language acquisition through conversation, study of the language's structure and grammar, and study of Spanish-speaking cultures. Every opportunity is made to bring the language to life for students, with cultural activities, class feasts, and field trips. Upper School students use a core text, but teachers routinely introduce a wide variety of hands-on activities, projects, and outside reading materials to reinforce the students' more formal study of the language. The majority of our students continue in High School in Spanish 1 honors or Spanish 2.
Field Trips & 8th Grade Trip
Students go on many field trips throughout the year; some are specific to certain subjects, others cut across multiple disciplines. Every grade goes away to science camp. Grades 6 and 7 go to the Headlands Institute in Marin; Grade 8 goes to the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center in Colorado. Students also take trips to Bay Area museums, and tech and science centers, see plays at the San Jose Repertory Theater, and go on outings like whale watching or to see the Elephant Seals at Año Nuevo.
Students choose a different elective each quarter from among a variety of visual arts, performing arts and computer arts courses. The Upper School frequently updates its offerings to keep up with new technological developments and student interests. For more details, please visit our arts and technology pages.
P.E. is taught daily in Grades 6-8. The program is a mix of basic athletic skills and overall fitness, and individual and team sports. Emphasis is placed on the student's attitude, effort, and overall sportsmanship. For more detailed information on our P.E. programs and after-school sports offerings, please visit our athletics pages.
High School Matriculation
The great majority of Old Orchard graduates choose to continue their education at one of the Bay Area's private college preparatory high schools, such as Bellarmine, Notre Dame, Presentation, Archbishop Mitty, St. Francis, Harker and others. In the fall, Old Orchard conducts a high school advisory program with 8th Graders to help them prepare for and navigate the demanding application process.