What Do Middle School Kids Like About Middle School?
"I like P.E. We get to wear uniforms and you feel really professional." --Evan, grade 5
"I was new this year and everyone made me feel so welcome." --Grace, grade 6
"There's lots of freedom. You don't always have to be in a line." --Jack, grade 5
"I really like Animal Club, because we get to hold the snakes." --Elisabeth, grade 4
A uniform is required in Potomac's Middle and Intermediate Schools. We feel this long-standing policy helps equalize the learning environment. Several of the Middle School uniform items must be purchased through the Lands' End Uniform Company. Other items, such as polo shirts and shoes, may be purchased elsewhere. The Middle School also operates a “gently used” uniform store called the Trading Post, where parents may purchase uniform items at significantly reduced prices.
Assemblies and Class Plays
Gathering together as a community is a hallmark of The Potomac School, and the Middle School wholeheartedly embraces this ideal. Over the years, our Middle School students have gathered together on Tuesdays and/or Fridays to share songs or poems, welcome visiting authors and performers, and discuss important character education issues. We cherish these opportunities to come together as a community.
At many of our Friday assemblies, we are treated to a class play. Examples of recent favorites include A Midsummer’s Night Dream, Wizard of Oz, The Phantom Tollbooth, Jack and the Beanstalk and many others. Our students enjoy these opportunities to share their talents while building their confidence performing in front of an audience.
The Potomac School contracts with SAGE Dining Services for a hot lunch option in the Lower and Middle Schools. Parents may sign up by semester or for the full year. SAGE works closely with school officials to provide a healthy, nutritious, and flavorful lunch for students, including a salad and sandwich bar, and is responsive to student suggestions for change as well. Milk and water are provided by the school.
Each Middle School student has a laptop for individual use during the school day, as well as a host of other technology devices. These laptops remain on campus. Fifth and sixth graders are given a Potomac School email address to facilitate dialogue with teachers and other school community members. The Middle School embeds technology instruction in each subject area. Topics covered include Internet safety, appropriate and ethical use of technology, PowerPoint presentations, digital photography, video editing, use of Web 2.0 tools, and information literacy. Each classroom contains an LCD projector and audio system for instruction and presentations. There are also iPods for loan in the Arundel Family Library, primarily to facilitate research projects.
All Middle School classes have one scheduled library session per week. Students have the opportunity to check out books during scheduled classes and may also visit the library with the classroom teacher’s permission during other times. The library loans out audiobooks, MP3 players, and DVDs as well as books. Parents are encouraged to open an account and check out materials. The library also has several Internet services that may be of interest to families. Its extensive collection of databases can be accessed at home.
Middle School students are strongly motivated to help others, and they do so through a combination of volunteer and fundraising efforts. Sixth graders have the opportunity to serve on the Service Learning Committee, which designs ways for Middle School students to get involved in helping their community. Each month, students make sandwiches at school and bring food from home to be donated to Martha's Table in Washington, DC.
Extended Day/After School Programs
The Potomac School is licensed through Fairfax County to provide an extended day program to students who need to remain on campus after the regular school hours. For a fee, parents may use this service every day or a few days a week depending on their need. A dedicated staff plans activities and allows time for homework.
In addition to the extended day program, Potomac offers an enrichment program called ETC (Education That Continues), which includes a variety of classes such as cooking, dance, robotics, Chinese, and more. Parents may also sign up their children for instrumental or voice lessons after school. And Middle School teachers continue to institute the popular Girls on the Run program.
Events and Traditions
The Potomac School is steeped in tradition, and Middle School is a time when those traditions are especially meaningful. Some highlights:
All-School Assemblies provide a valuable reminder of the interdivisional nature of our learning community. The Potomac School gathers together as a whole several times throughout the year. Special traditions include: seniors escorting kindergartners to Opening Day Assembly, Lower School students leading the Turkey Tango during the Thanksgiving Assembly, and division choirs leading the entire community in the Alma Mater during the Closing Assembly. The Halloween Assembly in October and Winter Assembly in December are much anticipated events in the Middle School.
The P.E. Department works with Middle School parents and students on two fun activities: Jump Rope/Hoops for Heart and our Middle School Field Day. Students practice their jump roping and basketball skills during the month of January in preparation for our annual fundraiser for the American Heart Association. On Field Day, parents join their children for an afternoon of fun activities, including an obstacle course, a variety of silly relay races, and the limbo.
On Earth Day Middle School students join the entire student body on such campus projects as stream cleaning and planting. The Earth Day celebration follows a month-long "Green Challenge," where our community works to reduce, reuse, and recycle.
May Day is the most treasured event in the Middle School. This tradition began in the earliest days of Potomac, and visiting alumni speak in fond detail about their memories of the event. Middle School students treat the entire school community to traditional songs and dances that have been performed by Potomac students for generations.
Red Blue is a long-established Potomac tradition. Beginning in the Lower School, all students are assigned a team color: red or blue. As students progress through their years at Potomac, their team color grows in significance. In the Middle School, students dress for P.E. in their team color. In the upper grades, additional competitive activities are organized between the two teams. Family members are assigned the same color.