Eighth Grade Curriculum


Eighth grade English focuses on multiple literary genres from poetry and plays to autobiographies and novels in order to help cultivate a lifelong love of literature. Students increase their reading comprehension and develop skills in literary analysis and critical thinking through the study of diverse selections including Romeo and Juliet; Lord of the Flies; Black Boy; and To Kill a Mockingbird. By also incorporating grammar application and vocabulary development in conjunction with writing papers, students learn to organize their thoughts and transfer ideas to the page in a fluid writing style that will serve them well in high school and beyond.


Eighth grade history explores the story of the United States – its land and people – through readings, class discussions, examination of primary sources, and creative hands-on research. The study spans from prehistory to the near future featuring major events including the first contract between Native Americans and Europeans, the Revolutionary War, writing of the U.S. Constitution, the Civil War, the Great Depression, and the Civil Rights Movement. Students are encouraged to develop better reading, study, and thinking skills; critical thinking, document analysis, and effective writing are emphasized throughout the year. This course serves as both a broad overview and in-depth critical analysis of the United States and its relationship to the world through history.


In eighth grade science we explore the nature of our physical world in a conceptual and hands-on course. Students study Newton’s laws, kinematics, energy, light, relativity, the atom, chemical bonds, and chaos and complexity theory. Our conceptual work is supported by our building and programming of robots, so that the students have the opportunity to read about the concepts, discuss the ideas, solve problems, and physically explore each of the ideas we study. The laboratory work with robots not only ignites the students’ interest, but also allows students to work at various paces, with the more advanced students delving deeply into programming and design challenges while all learn how to trouble-shoot using the scientific method. The course dovetails with the work done in the algebra course, providing hands-on experiences through which the students can discover for themselves the essential and important mathematical relationships of our physical world.


Eighth grade Algebra I focuses on four math themes: simplifying expressions, solving equations, graphing functions, and applying concepts to real-world problems. Important problem solving and reasoning strategies are developed through weekly “mathlete” assignments. Experiential learning activities and communicating the language of mathematics through reading and writing exercises are key components of the Algebra I curriculum. This course is the foundation for future math and science courses in both the Upper School and college courses and beyond. Successful completion of Algebra I in eighth grade will count towards the graduation requirement in the Upper School.

Eighth Grade Spanish

Level I (Part B) Spanish students work on expressing their thoughts and opinions on familiar topics in written and verbal activities. They begin their year with review, followed by an expansion of vocabulary and grammatical concepts.  While emphasis was placed on the present tense in seventh grade Spanish 1A, students in 1B will begin to explore the preterite in 1B.  Following a successful completion of 1B, students will begin their upper school courseof study in Spanish II.  Students continue to learn meaningful skills that improve listening, reading, and writing abilities. By the end of this course, students write in organized, descriptive paragraphs, initiate and engage in conversation, interpret meaning from written and auditory material, and understand the diversity in Spanish-speaking countries



The eighth grade French course, French 1B, begins with review, followed by and expansion of vocabulary and grammatical concepts.  While emphasis was placed on the present and future tenses in 1A, students i 1B will begin to explore different past tenses as well.  Following successful completion of 1B, students will begin their upper school course of study in French II.

Eighth Grade Latin

The second year study of Latin continues the emphasis on pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar, and English vocabulary derived from Latin. Translation skills are developed by reading Latin stories about Britain and Egypt. Students study the culture and geography of the ancient world through the stories they read and translate.

Mandarin II

Mandarin II continues the focus on the introduction to the Chinese language grammatical system as well as the functional use of the language. This course develops students’ communicative competence from general description of events to specific descriptions, from sentences to discourses with contexts, from simple expressions to complex structures. The learning activities encourage cooperative learning, use of information technology, and creative thinking.

Eighth Grade Drama

Students build upon the acting techniques and methods learned in seventh grade drama.  Through the rehearsal and performance of monologues, scenes and short plays, students develop skills examining text, creating characters, and motivation movement.  Students also become familiar with the creation of theatre from the blank page to the stage performance through the writing and direction of scenes and short plays.  Eighth grade drama instills confidence in performance and a deeper understanding and enjoyment of the theatre arts in general.


Eighth grade choir introduces students to more demanding choral literature in two, three, and four parts. The ability to sing four-part literature at this age is a direct result of the experience in seventh grade choir. Students continue to develop sight-reading and performance skills at a more advanced level. A major challenge for this age is the voice change in both boys and girls. Working through these changes is generally the focus of vocal production. Each semester the choir performs in concert as well as at selected chapel services and special programs. This choir also prepares for formal adjudication at district and state festivals.

Eighth Grade Band

Eighth grade students are challenged to attain an advanced level of technique and musical understanding. All students are members of the Upper School Band and practice and perform as a part of that group on a regular basis. Eighth grade students are eligible to participate in various region and state clinics/competitions. As members of the Upper School Band, students perform each year in the State Band Festival and in two evening concerts during the school year. Selected students also perform in the Middle School Chapel services.

Beginning Wind Instruments

Students in grades 7-10 are eligible to learn to play a band instrument in the Beginning Winds class. No prior musical of band experience is necessary. All students are placed on an instrument (flute, clarinet, trumpet, horn, trombone, baritone, or tuba), balancing their interests, their physical predispositions, and the needs of the program. Students are taught basic tone production and technique on that instrument. Counting, reading, playing, and listening are all elements of the program method. Students make accelerated progress due to the small class size and one-to-one instruction. The Beginning Winds students are incorporated into the intermediate or Upper School Band for the concert at the end of the year.


Eighth grade students continue to strengthen their skills in the Elements of Art and Principles of Design, are given more independence and self-expression with their art making, and enhance their critical thinking and communication skills. They will maintain a sketchbook for specific assignments. Throughout the year art making projects collaborate with the core curriculum and students will work with but not be limited to drawing, painting, sculpture, assemblages, collages, mixed media, mosaics, and recycled materials.

Speech and Debate

Students develop an understanding of movement and method, as well as the analysis of a manuscript, the subtext of or implications of a written work, and the ultimate effectiveness and impact of word economy and word choice. The course introduces concepts in the argumentation and analysis associated with changes to philosophy, policy, and legislation.

South Campus • Pre-K3 to 4th grade • 4120 Old Canton Road • Jackson, MS 39216 • 601-987-9300
North Campus • Grades 5 to 12 • 370 Old Agency Road • Ridgeland, MS 39157 • 601-853-6000

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