Middle School is the time when hidden talents emerge, undiscovered passions surface, and creative exploration is endless. It’s also a time when children gain more social confidence and the arts can provide a successful platform for them to find their voice, and hear others.
The arts bridge thoughts with feelings, helping students in this age group understand emotions and develop empathy for others. They provide an important avenue for personal expression and growth as they refine their one-of-a-kind talents. In sixth and seventh grade, students participate in all three disciplines of music, drama, and visual art, taking the equivalent of 80 minutes of arts instruction a day. In eighth grade, they choose the exact disciplines they would like to specialize in, and continue to develop their creative thinking and aesthetic sensibility throughout the specific courses that fit them best.
In our Middle School visual arts program, students learn to express themselves confidently as they study the core elements and principles of art and design. Beginning in sixth grade, students get introduced to perspective drawing, figure drawing, glass fusing, and clay building. As they progress through the curriculum, students learn about art in the context of history and culture while developing more advanced techniques. This allows students to enjoy their interest while learning to appreciate and understand historical periods, people, and ways of thinking. Ultimately, students get all the tools they need to experiment and focus on the creative process and the space to try something new.
With a focus on communication, collaboration, and self expression, our Middle School drama program encourages students to adapt quickly, take risks, and problem solve creatively. Students learn through theater games and improvisational exercises that translate to any endeavor they may take, on or off the stage. As they progress through the drama program, students go beyond traditional concepts such as voice and movement and advancing into exploring the creative process through the eyes of writer, director, designer, and actor. Drama is an excellent way to build self-confidence and speaking skills, and see large works come to life through teamwork.
Our instrumental, choral, and general music courses give our musicians and singers ample opportunity to practice their craft and perform with others. For our instrumental students, a majority of their time is spent learning rhythm and following the director. As they become technically proficient, they learn more complex music and participate in ensemble experiences. Our music curriculum gives students the opportunity to understand the cultural impact of music. They use digital technology to compose, edit, and arrange their own music as they become more familiar with elements such as melody, tempo, and rhythm. In our choral classes, students start by learning basic vocal techniques before furthering their range and balance. As they learn to read more complex music and master ear training exercises, students become independent musicians, learning their strengths and weaknesses and improving on them.
The arts are vital to a Seven Hills education, and all our students in our Middle School participate in arts programs as part of the curriculum. Many go beyond the classroom and develop their passions further, taking a particular interest in an instrument, musical theater, chorus, or some aspect of visual arts. Below, our student artists share how the arts have helped shape their Seven Hills’ experience.
Seventh-grader Allie not only plays violin, she also draws and paints. She says the arts have had an important impact on her time at Seven Hills. “Arts are a big part of my life,” she said. “They have allowed me to express myself in so many ways, and I can be myself when I participate in the arts.” Allie has great teachers who have helped her develop as an artist. “My art teacher, Mrs. Elissa Donovan, helped me understand the color circle by teaching us how to create an exact color by combining others. Music teacher Mr. John Rising has also helped me develop my understanding of music by letting us know how pieces form and if their tempos are steady.”
Grace, an eighth-grader, has a love for painting, ceramics, and acting. Although it’s hard to choose, her favorite visual arts projects have been reverse glass paintings and landscape paintings. She credits her Lower and Middle School art teachers for helping her create based on her interests. “My teachers have helped me make pieces that really express who I am. Art at Seven Hills has shown me a new way to express myself.”
Will is an accomplished performer who has several Seven Hills Middle School productions under his belt. The eighth-grader has starred in several plays and musicals, including 10 Ways to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse, 13, Twisted Tales of Terror, and Elf the Musical. Will said the arts have made his Seven Hills experience even more enjoyable. “The arts have taught me not to be nervous and try as hard as possible, as well as to get out of my comfort zone and be creative!”