Upper School

formative experiences | lifelong strengths

Our upper school (Grades 5 to 8) is a vibrant, energetic arena in which your child can take healthy risks, engage new experiences, and build ambitiously on his solid academic and ethical foundations. We encourage our older students to channel their disciplined, driven energies into even more challenging academic pursuits and even more creative explorations.

Already experienced makers and problem-solvers, Peck students move into upper school ready to translate more intricate theories into even bolder actions and to test trickier hypothesis with their own hands. Our upper schoolers also learn to work through greater complexity and disagreement to find the best answers to increasingly difficult questions—about literature and physics, but also citizenship, duty, and their own futures.
At the end of the process, Peck graduates carry intellectual dexterity, emotional maturity, and a genuine love of learning to excellent area high schools or prestigious boarding schools. From there, they go on to shine in their colleges-of-choice, stand out in their careers—and build consequential, ethical, and fulfilling lives.

Meet Ryan

List of 10 items.

  • Signature Experiences

    At the beginning of the year, students embark on bonding and team-building field trips around Morristown and Northern NJ.  Fifth graders visit their future service-learning friends at the PG Chambers School; sixth graders overnight at the YMCA, and the seventh and eighth grades each embark on wilderness adventures.  During the school year, fifth graders present student-written Greek Mythology plays.  In the sixth grade, they participate in an overnight class bonding trip in the fall and a visit to Sterling Mine. Seventh Grade brings a class trip to Washington DC, and in the Eighth grade students travel to Boston as a capstone for their studies of American History.

    The “8th Grade Speech” is  the culmination of years of emphasis on public speaking. Throughout their final year at Peck, 8th grade students compose a biographical speech that they deliver to the entire upper school during assemblies.
  • Activities and Enrichment

    During a Friday afternoon activity period, Upper School students choose to focus on self-selected activity or interest outside the regular curriculum. They might study 3D modeling or coding, a capella music or drama, community service, robotics, poetry, or golf, just to name just a few. Or, they might work on the yearbook, debate an issue in Student Council, or volunteer for a supervised community service project
  • Music

    Open to all students, the Upper School Chorus sings together at Peck’s annual concerts, and other times during the year. In 2005, 2008, and 2010 they earned a first-place trophy in the mixed choir division.

    For musical opportunities with a Carribean flair, the “Pantastic Kids Steel Band,” is a steel drum band open to Grades 5-8. Directed by Richard Reiter, an Emmy® Award-winning composer and nationally recognized jazz musician, the Pantastic Kids Steel Band performs at school and community events.
  • Schedule

    Our six-day rotating schedule allows for large teaching blocks and room for advisory, enrichment activities, assemblies, and community service—the kind of balance that facilitates growth and learning. Our English, history, and science classes are triple-sectioned. They are mixed to ensure a variety of social groupings. Recognizing that students learn at different paces, we use grouping in Math to meet each student’s developmental needs. Grouping is based on your child’s experience, classroom performance, and test results. Your child will not be locked into a group and may shift between groups throughout each school year.
  • A Rich Intellectual Life

    We recognize that all of our students have unique learning styles and interests. Our teachers strive to encourage and champion each student’s individual development. In the classroom, they’ll tackle real issues and ask thought-provoking questions to help your child strengthen their skills and broaden their understanding. Your child will take a wide variety of courses, integrated across the curriculum.
  • A Dynamic Environment

    Learning carries over from the classroom to the playing field, court, or rink at Peck. We know that active, resilient students on the field are active, resilient students in the classroom. Our athletic program emphasizes developing skills as well as sportsmanship. Our students learn to encourage and support one another—on the field and off. With Arts enrichment, your son or daughter will have many ways to enhance their learning.
  • Advisory Program

    Each student at Peck has an advisor to mentor, support, and advocate for them. They belong to an advisory group of eight to twelve students that meet formally three times per six-day cycle. The support they receive at Peck isn’t limited to just their advisor. Teachers are available for extra help during the early mornings and during recess. Beyond the formal Advisory times, students also meet as a group for Homeroom and Academic Support.
  • Service Learning and InDeCoRe

    Our guiding force for character education is our Individual Development and Community Responsibility (InDeCoRe) program. Every trimester, we focus on one of our six core values: Respect, Loyalty, Perseverance, Empathy, Responsibility, and Honesty.

    For our younger students, we place these values in the context of self, family, and school. What, for example, does respect look like at the lunch table? For our older students, we consider these values in the local and global communities. How is respect part of a heated political debate?

    In addition to teaching about values, we expect to see those values in action, in developmentally appropriate social behaviors. Report cards reflect a student’s progress on the “Consideration of Others” rubric. In all situations we encourage students to reflect upon and take responsibility for their actions and choices.

    Instilling and reinforcing a sense of social awareness in your son or daughter is a fundamental aspect of our educational experience. Beginning in Kindergarten and extending throughout their years at Peck, students devote time and energy to serving the local and global communities through meaningful—and fun—hands-on activities.
  • The Linden Yearbook

    The Linden is a bound yearbook produced by eighth grade students and led by an eighth grade editorial staff. The eighth graders are honored in the book with individual pictures and write-ups. Each homeroom has a class picture and each grade its own page. Other pictures in The Linden illustrate life at Peck.
  • Reach Across

    Upper School and Lower School students “Reach Across” several times annually with collaborative activities designed to spark conversation, creativity, friendships, and leadership.  Lower School students and their Upper School “buddies” forge bonds that last throughout their years at Peck.

Upper School Curriculum Overview

List of 4 items.

  • English

    GRADE 5 English

    In Grade 5 English, students strive to become comfortable and confident readers, writers, thinkers, and speakers. Reading closely and analytically, students learn strategies to examine, annotate, question, and respond personally to a text through discussion and writing.  Throughout the year, students collaborate to share ideas, expand their thinking, support each other’s learning, and create oral and theatrical presentations. Written responses to literature promote higher-level thinking often furthered during student-generated discussion. Creative prose and poetry encourage clear, thoughtful, and imaginative expression.

    Culturally diverse contemporary and classical literature selections include novels, drama, poetry, short stories, and mythology.  Literary themes connect to Peck’s InDeCoRe program to support individual character education. Students also select and read independent books throughout the year.  

    GRADE 6 English

    In Grade 6 English, students explore rich and diverse selection of readings to understand the larger world and to better discern their own identity. With guided discussions, students acquire foundational skills empowering them to engage in lively debate, to openly question, to support their opinions, and to develop sound reasoning. As they strengthen their skills in annotation and critical reading, they come to value personal responsibility and the contributions of others when taking part in open and respectful dialogue.
    Throughout the course, students acquire the language and communication skills essential to sharing ideas and engaging with literature. They try on different voices in their writing and write in a variety of forms.  Assignments include: poems, personal narratives, persuasive and analytical pieces, as well as their first five-paragraph essay. These experiences provides further opportunity to learn from yet another perspective — that of the writer.  Grammar and vocabulary underpin the year's studies in English.

    GRADE 7 English

    This course helps students recognize the power they wield and the importance of thoughtful and responsible language use. Students begin to make connections between literature and real life and extend the use of their skills to other disciplines.

    The seventh grade English curriculum focuses on the continued development of confident readers and writers.  Through literature and discussion, students strengthen their critical reading, writing, and thinking skills. In both collaborative and independent venues, they learn to take risks, to navigate challenges, and to enjoy their successes and processes of growth.  Special attention is given to forming claims, including textual evidence, selecting appropriate language, and editing their own work.
    Introduced to the Harkness method of discussion, students take a stand and then support, and perhaps revise, their position as they learn more about a topic, thus accepting greater ownership of the learning process. They learn to listen carefully to the views of others, to disagree respectfully, and to work together to deepen the collective understanding of the class. During this year, students encounter increasing expectations for the efficacy of their writing.

    GRADE 8 English

    In Grade 8 English, students hone their skills of reading, annotation, writing, and discussion. The literature drives a broad examination of social themes and allows students to connect academic learning to outside experiences and a broader perspective. Students’ observations, questions, and ideas are explored through guided Harkness discussions and serve as the basis for writing assignments of varying lengths.

    Within discussion and writing, students employ increasingly complex vocabulary, as well as properly selected textual evidence as support.  The curriculum prioritizes student ability to select and support a strong claim and compose clear and engaging written pieces, in which the technique, structure, and organization are appropriate to the audience and overall purpose.  Grammar and mechanics are reinforced and practiced within the context of narrative and expository writing. Assignments are designed to reveal and highlight one’s authorial voice, culminating in a year-end personal essay.
  • History

    GRADE 5 The Ancient World

    Fifth grade history focuses on the question: What makes a civilization, and how does geography play a role in its development?  The year begins with a brief unit on world geography. Students examine various landforms, learn how to locate latitude and longitude coordinates, and discover the art of map-making. Studies of human evolution and the Ice Age follow as the progress of mankind is explored. Students delve into civilization’s beginnings in ancient Mesopotamia.  Ancient Egypt comes next, followed by India, Greece, and Rome. An emphasis is placed on developing skills such as organization, time management, note taking, and critical reading and writing. The idea of primary sources is introduced, and students are guided through the research process as they complete their first formal research paper.

    GRADE 6 The Modern World

    Sixth grade history focuses on the question: How do my thoughts and actions impact others? Through the historical exploration of the modern world, students develop an appreciation for the ways civilization has evolved to the current day. Throughout the year, there is an emphasis on developing research and reasoning skills. Units of study include the Industrial Revolution, Imperialism, World Wars I and II, and the Great Depression.

    Sixth grade students also participate in the National History Day Competition, developing unique projects through extensive historical research.

    GRADE 7 China & The Middle East

    Seventh grade history focuses on the question: What can I do to understand the perspectives of others? In pursuit of this wider perspective, students examine non-Western experiences in greater depth. The focus of student exploration is the history of China and the Middle East, as they inform the development of the modern world.  Through careful analysis of both primary and secondary sources, students begin to construct their own understanding into the ways that ancient decisions and ideas impact not only China but the world. Topics typically encountered are Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Legalism, communism, and totalitarianism.  Students also delve more deeply into specific aspects of Chinese history and culture through a research paper. Following China, we look at the influence of the Abrahamic religions on the Middle East and ultimately on China through an interdisciplinary humanities look at the masterfully written Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang.

    Beyond the focus on China and the Middle East, the seventh grade program emphasizes student construction of knowledge through a collaborative Harkness discussion approach. Students are challenged to orally defend their ideas using specific evidence and to carefully consider the reliability of their sources.

    Finally, seventh grade students also participate in the National History Day Competition, developing unique projects through extensive historical research.

    GRADE 8 U.S. History

    Eighth grade history focuses on the questions: Who am I, and what does it mean to be an American? How do race, gender, socioeconomic status, and religion, affect this ever-evolving nation? The students pursue a themes-based United States history curriculum, focused on the following areas: Colonial America and perspectives on the American Revolution; the Constitution; slavery and the formation of social hierarchy; Civil Rights and the struggle for equality and justice; and U.S. foreign diplomacy.

    Study skills, including taking notes from lecture or discussion and compiling personalized study guides, are emphasized. Students write numerous short expository essays and one major research paper that allows for in-depth study of self-selected topics. Critical thinking and independent analysis are emphasized over memorization.  Students are introduced to middle school level document-based-questions (DBQs) as a method of evaluation.

    Eighth grade students also participate in the National History Day Competition, developing unique projects through extensive historical research.
  • Mathematics

    GRADE 5 Mathematics

    The Grade 5 curriculum builds on the strong mathematical foundations and number sense developed in the Lower School and provides students with opportunities to grow as independent learners and thinkers.  Students are encouraged to meet challenges, to take intellectual risks, to become better self-advocates, to ask questions, and most importantly, to see math as a problem-solving tool that is useful in many contexts within their lives.

    The curriculum includes: place value; operations with whole numbers and decimals; number theory and fractions; operations with fractions; geometry and measurement; ratios, proportions and percents; data handling; patterns variables and equations; and probability.   Once a concept has been fully understood, students may use calculators to grapple with more advanced scenarios.

    GRADE 6 Pre-Algebra

    The Sixth Grade Pre-Algebra Program features a student-centered approach to mathematics that emphasizes problem-solving strategies and uses a range of methodologies to develop and extend sound conceptual understanding.  The curriculum pushes students beyond an algorithmic understanding of math, into the how and why of mathematical theories.  Students develop an appreciation of mathematics as a system for solving problems and as a way of thinking.

    The curriculum investigates: algebraic expressions and integers; one-step equations and inequalities; factors, fractions and exponents; operations with fractions; ratio, proportions and percents, solving equations and inequalities, linear functions and graphing; spatial thinking; area and volume; data analysis; and probability.  

    GRADE 7 + 8 Course Sequences

    To meet the needs of all learners, students in seventh and eighth grade are grouped based on their facility with different mathematical concepts and their application.  

    The seventh and eighth grade curriculum provides students with an opportunity to extend their understanding and reasoning to more abstract contexts, while further cementing the strong numerical foundations established in earlier grades.  Classes employ a problem-based approach, wherein students use each other as vital resources to further enhance their understanding. Students must listen to and build on others’ ideas and also must share their own mathematical thinking with the group. In this way students recognize alternative approaches and become increasingly agile problem solvers.
    • ENRICHED TRACK (Grade 7 Algebra IA; Grade 8 Algebra IB) The Algebra IA and Algebra IB sequence is covered over the course of two years.  The Algebra I curriculum covers: equations and inequalities, proportions, polynomials and factoring, graphs and functions, exponents, geometry, simplification and factoring of expressions, systems of equations and inequalities, quadratic equations, and the application of radical and rational numbers.
    • ACCELERATED TRACK (Grade 7 Algebra I; Grade 8 Geometry)  The Algebra I curriculum is covered in a single year, leading to Geometry in Grade 8.  The Algebra I curriculum covers: equations and inequalities, proportions, polynomials and factoring, graphs and functions, exponents, geometry, simplification and factoring of expressions, systems of equations and inequalities, quadratic equations, and the application of radical and rational numbers.  The Geometry curriculum covers: tools of geometry; reasoning and proofs; characteristics and types of lines; triangles, their properties, and basic trigonometry; quadrilaterals; surface area and volume; circles and spheres; and transformations.
  • Science

    GRADE 5 Earth & Space Science

    The fifth grade science program emphasizes exploration and experimentation through the scientific method. Students are encouraged to develop laboratory, problem-solving, logical-thinking, and decision-making skills through the lens of Earth/space science.  Students learn about the moon, space exploration, stars, and constellations. The week-long Star Lab allows further investigation of constellations and stars in conjunction with Greek and Roman mythology. Students will examine the Earth’s atmosphere and the water cycle, learning how to read weather maps, collect and compare data, and make predictions. Students end the year examining populations, ecosystems, and biomes.

    GRADE 6 Physical Science

    The sixth grade science program continues to build critical thinking, collaboration, problem solving, inquiry, and laboratory skills. Students begin the year exploring properties of matter with an emphasis on mass, volume, and density. This unit of study is capped with the annual Penny Boat Challenge. During our chemistry unit, students focus on elements, compounds, and mixtures with an in-depth study of the Periodic Table.  Students learn how elements are classified and why chemical reactions occur. After chemistry, students investigate the chemical composition of minerals, the effects of mining, and the use of natural resources. To end the year, students extend their learning into the fields of plate tectonics and volcanology.

    GRADE 7 Biology

    Cells, genetics, human anatomy, and human physiology are investigated in seventh grade biology. Through collaboration, problem-solving, lab work, and extended inquiry, students explore what it means to be alive. Particular attention is paid to relationships between structure and function, as well as the interdependence of different body systems.  The physiology of exercise, biomechanics, and biochemistry are also explored. Students also study the function of several body systems through hands-on dissection. The year culminates in a large project that challenges students to design, carry out, and present an original investigation into a topic of their choice related to life science.

    GRADE 8 Physics & Chemistry

    Physics and chemistry concepts are the focus of eighth grade science. Topics include the study of forces and motion, energy, gravitation, simple machines, states of matter, atomic structure, chemical properties and bonding, organic compounds, and reactions.  A key focus of the class is the design, execution, analysis, and presentation of laboratory investigations to provide students with the skills needed to engage the world through the lens of science. In place of a final exam, students will execute an extended lab investigation into a topic of their choosing within the physical science.

List of 3 items.

  • World Languages

    GRADE 5 World Languages

    Language Exploration (Semester I)
    During first semester, students rotate through each of the languages offered in the upper school — French, Latin, and Spanish.   These experiences help faculty and families to make an informed decision about which language to study. The descriptions below present the curricula for each of the language classes in second semester.

    French (Semester II)
    The French program in grade five introduces students to the study of the language with a focus on practical communication, reinforced with grammatical understanding.  The skills of reading, writing, speaking, and listening are sharpened daily through immersive and interactive activities, along with the text, Discovering French, and the magazine, Allons-y.  Skills are reinforced through the use of technology and teacher-developed materials.  Students gain global perspective through the study of the Francophone countries.

    Latin (Semester II)
    The Latin program introduces students to the study of the language with a focus on reading and writing that is reinforced with grammatical understanding.  Comprehension and application skills are strengthened through immersive and interactive activities, along with the textbook Minimus.   Students immerse themselves in the language daily through the use of technological  and teacher-developed materials. Lastly, students gain an appreciation for the ancient world through cultural activities and lessons.

    Spanish (Semester II)
    The Spanish program builds on the knowledge acquired in kindergarten through fourth grade.  Students study the language through listening, speaking, reading, and writing. 80-90% of the class instruction is in Spanish, and a wide variety of technological resources are used to develop listening and speaking skills.  Reading and writing skills are introduced and reinforced the textbook Avancemos, and its supporting materials.  Grammar and spelling exercises familiarize students with the structure of the language, and a global perspective is gained through the study of Spanish-speaking countries.

    GRADE 6 World Languages

    The sixth grade French course builds on the knowledge acquired in fifth grade and employs a wide variety of technological resources to develop listening and speaking skills in conjunction with the textbook, Discovering French. Vocabulary is introduced in context and practiced nightly. Students listening to, create, and performing conversations in French that are relevant to their daily lives. 80-90% of class instruction is delivered in French. Global perspective is developed through the exploration of cultural diversity within the French-speaking world.

    The focus of 6th grade Latin course is to read simple prose in Latin within the context of classical Roman history and culture. Students build a comprehensive Latin vocabulary and strengthen their English vocabulary skills through the study of derivatives and word formation.  Knowledge of parts of speech and their various functions within sentences is deepened, which has benefit for both Latin and English. The basics of syntax are introduced progressively and systematically. Students learn all six tenses in the active voice of all four conjugations and some basic irregular verbs. Although the progressive ability to read Latin is emphasized, writing skills are not neglected. The exercises in the text and workbooks require students to translate passages. Utilizing the New Steps in Latin textbook series, as well as the Lingua Latina series, students gain an early command of grammatical structures and reading comprehension.

    The Spanish program in grade six continues to build on the skills of reading, writing, speaking, and listening through immersive and interactive activities. Contextual vocabulary is practiced nightly. 80-90% of the class instruction is in Spanish, and a wide variety of technological resources are used to develop listening and speaking skills in conjunction with the textbook Avancemos. Students gain a global perspective as they become more increasingly involved in the Spanish-speaking world around them.

    GRADE 7 World Languages

    The students continue the study of the language through listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The class is conducted nearly entirely in French, and students are encouraged to take risks and communicate in the target language. New vocabulary and grammar are brought to life through both oral and written activities. Technological tools continue to aid in the learning process. Students gain awareness of French culture, geography, and history by completing student-centered projects. All students are expected to be active participants in and outside of class, as they are asked to become more increasingly involved in the French-speaking world around them.

    This course is a continuation of sixth grade Latin, using the New Steps in Latin series.  Students resume a comprehensive study of Latin vocabulary and English derivatives while translating Latin prose into English. Students strengthen Latin skills using a systematic approach to the language. Concepts and grammatical constructs begin to become more complex with the introduction of genitive and dative cases, as well as more complex sentence structures. Noun and adjective agreement is mastered for all declensions of adjectives. The students also cover passive system of all four conjugations. Students continue to learn about the rich cultural history of the Roman Empire and its influence on today’s western civilization.

    The students continue the study of the language through listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The class is conducted nearly entirely in Spanish, and oral participation and technological tools continue to aid in the learning process. New vocabulary and grammar points are introduced in each lesson. Students will also read and discuss short stories to build reading comprehension and confidence in the target language. The integration of Latin American and Spanish culture is an essential component of the course, and students will complete various projects to help gain an awareness of the variety of cultures that make up the Spanish-speaking world.

    GRADE 8 World Languages

    In the culmination of Upper School French, students continue their focus on both language and culture. Pronunciation, fluency, oral comprehension, reading, and writing remain a focus of the course and are reinforced through interactive and immersive activities and projects. Students are expected to communicate in the target language daily and will also read and discuss French texts to strengthen comprehension and speaking skills. Geography, history, current events, and everyday life are discussed in class structured around themes within the French-speaking world.

    In this final step in Upper School Spanish, students continue their study of both language and culture. Pronunciation, fluency, oral comprehension, reading, writing, and conversation skills remain a focus of the course and are reinforced through interactive and immersive activities and projects. Students are expected to communicate in the target language daily and will also read and discuss several novellas to strengthen reading comprehension and speaking skills.
    Latin 8 culminates in the completion of the New Steps in Latin series, as students master the equivalent of high school Latin I.   The material approaches the systematic mastery of new Latin vocabulary and grammar through the reading of passages in progressively more complex prose.  Students continue the study of participles, infinitives, and other structures, such as indirect statements. By the end of their eighth grade year, students will have gained a comprehensive view of Ancient Roman history and culture.
  • Arts

    GRADE 5 Art Classes

    Visual Art
    In fifth grade, students explore the question: What is the role of the artist in our world?  They journey through a wealth of experiences that examine contemporary and historical art, while advancing their understanding and engagement with artist roles in society.   Themes include: The Artist as Designer, The Artist as Observer, The Artist as Architect, The Artist as Scientist, and many more. As explore the roles that artists play, they are challenged to create original works of art that enhance skill development, thinking processes, and creativity. Students work in 2D, 3D, and technology-based mediums.
    Fifth graders learn how to sight read notated rhythms and melodies using the solfeggio system of syllables. These skills are then applied to their work at the electronic keyboard. Students study classical composers such as Vivaldi, Handel, and Wagner, as well as each composer’s most significant musical contributions.  Students are also introduced to the world music of Mexico and Jamaica.
    Fifth graders are given more detailed instruction in the use of hand tools. Following a review of safety, children are presented with a mechanical drawing that helps them learn and understand scale, read dimensions, and recognize views. The scale drawing guides students in measuring, cutting, and assembling parts of a board game tied to their history studies of ancient cultures.

    GRADE 6 Art Classes

    Visual Art
    Sixth graders explores the theme Art and Identity and learn how to develop their own unique voices as an artists. Students dig deep into their ideas and hone their skills of observation, expression, craftsmanship, and creative thinking, as they embrace the possibilities of the traditional and technological media presented in class. A few of the intriguing prompts that students will explore during the semester include: “making the ordinary extraordinary”, “inside out self-portraits,” “a glimpse behind the curtain,” and “actions speak louder than words.”  The projects and learning experiences allow students to investigate who they are as artists, to understand their personal aesthetics, and to gain confidence as they consider the internal and external factors that contribute to their identity.
    Sixth graders further develop sight-reading and electronic keyboard skills using solfège. Students also learn the art of body percussion through discovery and performance, compose a piece of music as an entire class using online music software, and learn about various world instruments through an assignment called The Unusual Instrument Project.
    Sixth grade students are introduced to the use of power equipment in the manufacturing of a project. After a review of general shop rules, children learn safety procedures, parts, and the proper operation of specific power equipment in the woodshop. Each child demonstrates competency in operating a tool and must pass a written quiz before being permitted to use each one. More advanced joinery is required for sixth grade projects, and students are encouraged to work with a keener eye toward quality when developing and executing an original project theme.

    GRADE 7 Art Classes

    Visual Art
    Seventh-grade students explore the theme Art and Change. During the semester, students use their art as vehicles to examine concepts such as changing perspectives, contrast of the traditional versus the contemporary, and art as a vehicle for social progress. They will work with a wide variety of materials including ink brush painting, multi-media sculpture, and stop-motion animation. Through these projects, students develop their skills of observation, expression, creative thinking, and craftsmanship, as they recognize the power of art to foster change.
    Seventh graders are provided an introductory foundation to various forms of theatre through diverse units of study. A series of activities, games, improvisations, writing tools, Playback Theatre, Story Theatre, and Readers’ Theatre are used to introduce students to the basic tools of the dramatic arts. These include ensemble building, acting, improvisation, character development, public speaking, listening skills, heightened self-awareness, presence, confidence, and compassion.
    Seventh graders compose original music through the software program GarageBand. Students learn different music recording techniques, musical forms, and music genres.  Genres of music include electronic, Jazz, and Latin.
    Seventh-grade woodworkers build on skills developed in the sixth grade in the safe and proper use of power tools. A project requiring more advanced methods of manufacturing is selected as a means of improving fine motor skills and to further the students' understanding of equipment capabilities. A completed project, with intricate design, carved and shaped elements, and detailed finish can transcend utility to a work of art.

    GRADE 8 Art Electives

    In Grade 8 students select two semester-long electives from among the following choices.

    Pulling the Thread
    This elective challenges students to discover their own creative thread to explore and unravel throughout the course of the semester. Each thread represents a theme or a big question for a student to delve into as they enlist a variety of traditional and contemporary mediums to build their portfolio of work. In this class, students are encouraged to ask intriguing questions, to develop innovative solutions, and to experiment with new materials in order to weave their thread into a beautiful tapestry of artistic expressions.
    Digital Storytelling
    Students are given the unique opportunity to write, illustrate, and create original stories using a combination of traditional and technological tools. Stop-motion animation, digital animation, comic book layout, and children’s book design are just a few of the vehicles that students can use to bring their creative visions to life. From character design to storyboarding to finished product, students work through the process of storytelling in the digital age. Everyone has a story to tell, and Peck students are given the opportunity to make theirs a stunning reality.
    The Play
    Students are immersed in a creative, explorative process that culminates in a play performed at the end of the school year in front of the entire community. In addition to honing acting skills, each student contributes to the may roles inherent in a play production — including set, prop, lighting and sound design; costumes; playbill design; and advertising.  Each student actor experiences the joy of theatre while being part of a committed ensemble.
    School of Rock
    Students experienced in playing musical instruments and passionate about singing, come together in School of Rock to perform pop and rock songs. Performances take place throughout the semester.
    Each student is encouraged to choose a project to construct that challenges his or her capabilities. Sketches are first submitted for approval, then a scale drawing and a plan of procedures are made to serve as guides for manufacturing. Eighth graders review general shop rules and power tool safety and proper operation. More complex power equipment — such as the sliding compound miter saw, lathe, the table saw, and laser cutter — can be used to help create a baseball bat, bowl, jewelry box, cutting board, bookshelf, chess board, photo frame, storage chest, table, or other project.

    Break it. Shake it. Make it.
    During a semester in the Idea and Design Lab, students will develop proficiency with high-tech and low-tech tools, as well as various materials.  Students will learn how and why various products (e.g. electric guitars, sneakers, computers, toasters, etc.) are made and work. They will also develop ideas and rudimentary designs to improve these products. Moreover, students will learn how to observe a “client’s” environment and needs.
  • Special Programming

    GRADE 5-8 Themes

    In broad strokes, Themes is about opportunities. It dovetails neatly with Peck’s mission and the Upper School Advisory and Health and Wellness programming, presenting another opportunity for students to engage in meaningful conversations about learning and growth as they begin to develop a greater sense of who they are and why they think the way they think.  Its emphasis is upon building the skills — social, academic and emotional — critical to success at Peck and in life. There is a constant emphasis on character concurrent with what is happening across the campus in class, in Advisory, in the hallways.  We know that intellect and character can work together to produce powerfully positive behavior, and Themes serves as another way for the students to begin to take strong and intentional steps towards becoming the leaders they hope to be.

    A particular emphasis is placed on healthy communication, healthy habits, and healthy relationships, and topics of adolescence -- good nutrition, puberty, peer pressure, for example-- are handled on an age appropriate basis. Goals for personal success are set and action steps explored, and both are reexamined throughout the year to map the certain changes that occur. Healthy decision making is always at the fore, as students learn to determine the certain course between their choices and ultimate consequences. An emphasis is also placed on civil debate and respecting the diverse opinions of others.

    GRADE 6 Public Speaking

    The purpose of this course is for students to challenge themselves and develop the skills necessary to help them become not only more capable and eloquent public speakers but also more confident in their ability to clearly communicate their thoughts, opinions, and dreams.  To this end, students will study effective speeches from the past, examining the various components; write and deliver their own speeches; critique and analyze their classmates’ speeches; and work to help all members of the Peck community become better speakers.

    Everyone has a story to tell, and this is the class where we will all begin to spin our personal tales.

    GRADE 8 Capstone Lab  

    Capstone Lab provides eighth grade students an opportunity to develop and pursue a project of their own choosing and, in so doing, to cultivate skills of autonomy, initiative, and creative problem solving.  We began the year with a number of introductory exercises, including an in-depth exploration of the Design Thinking Process, as well as brainstorming and critique sessions that help students refine their ideas.  Once projects are established, class time shifts to accommodate students’ individual pursuits. Students set their own deadlines, managed their daily tasks and homework, and arranged any necessary logistics. Final presentations of the projects are scheduled throughout the month of May.