Middle School

Middle School offers increased academic challenges that correspond to developmental changes. Our expert teachers balance nurture and rigor for our middle school students.

As students mature and begin to navigate more complex social interactions with their peers, they face increased expectations from teachers and parents. It’s a time when many things are shifting and changing for them, and at Keystone we seek to support and guide them as they grow. Through challenge and with support, students begin to develop increasing independence and responsibility, growing into sophisticated thinkers and leaders who are ready for the demands and freedom of high school, college, and beyond.

Our expert teachers provide an environment for students who eagerly anticipate the challenges in a class, activated in a way that has them truly excited to learn. Students emerge with a deep understanding of concepts as well as the ability to transfer these understanding and map patterns on new information. Small class sizes allow for a culture of collaboration and creativity; learning to think critically is a vital part of the excitement about learning.

Outdoor Education

Our Outdoor Education program begins in fifth grade, with a one night overnight trip to a nearby camp where students participate in team building and orienteering activities; the program expands each year in duration and intensity, with students traveling to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming for a four night tent-camping trip in their eighth grade year. Trips in sixth and seventh grade include low and high rope element challenges and study of ecology and geography, alongside activities that promote teamwork, leadership, and camaraderie. Outdoor Education programming for each grade includes trips to Yellowstone National Park, Camp Allen, Nature’s Classroom Institute, and T-Bar M.

Athletics and PE

Our athletic program allows for team sports to have their practices during the school day in PE classes; students can choose to be a part of volleyball, soccer, basketball, softball and track teams depending on their grade.

Our PE department’s focus is to promote daily movement, healthy choices, and sportsmanship, with lifelong fitness as a goal.

Advisory & Clubs

Students foster their social and emotional learning through an advisory program that provides time for our students to develop supportive and caring relationships with our teachers, and bond with a constructive group of friends. Advisory works in concert with Keystone’s academic purposes, as it provides a time and place where our students’ non-academic needs can be met.

Clubs include MathCounts, Model UN, Robotics, Science Bowl, and Hiking Club. Students can participate in inclusive Grades 5/6 and Grades 7/8 Theater performances each year.

Middle School is a special time, and although adolescence is routinely understood in adult memory and popular culture as a difficult and demanding time, it can also be understood as a journey that has wonderful and mysterious gifts.  

Keystone Middle School seeks to create a community and promote a culture that implements our mission in terms of being an inclusive environment where students grow as they face both academic and social challenges. We care deeply about our students, and it is our hope to equip them with tools to be academically successful, but also to provide them with the knowledge, understanding, and skills they need to make thoughtful and healthy choices. 

Students develop a sense of themselves as students.

We want students to come to know their strengths and areas for improvement as learners, and this comes from being exposed to a variety of instructional methods and different learning tasks. Students are exposed to different approaches to note-taking, to styles of writing, to ways to organize their workflow, all with the idea that they can discern what works best for them. This can in some cases be evident immediately, but in other cases can take a lot of trial and error. It takes practice to develop habits, and we devote time to this daily in fifth and sixth grade by having a study hall at the end of the day where students can get started on homework, visit with teachers, and work on organization.

Seventh and eighth graders have at least two study halls a week. Mindsets are important as students work to develop a sense of themselves as students, and we work to support students to take risks, and to make mistakes as they learn.  However, taking risks and making mistakes can be hard for adolescents; in order to support our students, we have high standards that we hope they reach, and then nurture them to persevere and be resilient with what we know will sometimes be unavoidable setbacks.

How we treat each other is important.

Our mission calls us not only to academic excellence but also to ethical growth, community involvement and responsible leadership.  The adolescent years are truly a time of explosive growth, and navigating friendship changes and social challenges takes a lot of energy for middle schoolers.  We work to have them understand how their brains are working at this stage of development, and programs like Advisory and Town Hall allow us to set and practice behavioral and social norms.  Advisory is designed with the goal of developing social and emotional skills, including emotion management, self-regulation, empathy, communication, and goal-setting.

Through circle discussions, team-building games, and creative activities, students interact with a small group of students to form closer bonds with each other, providing a social network of support and friendship while connecting to their advisory teacher. Monthly Town Halls allow for student presentations, group discussions, and celebrations of learning.  Middle School students participate in community service each year as middle school families donate funds for shopping expedition to help stock Inner City Development’s Holiday store each December, and Leadership class students design a school-wide Halloween program as well as school dances.

While these events are beneficial in themselves, they also provide opportunities for students to work together on teams and as leaders, and to interact with the greater community. Teachers and administrators also model the types of behaviors that we want students to practice, as getting along doesn’t always just happen in a community – it takes take an intentional focus to create and maintain.

By middle school, students are excelling by all measures. Some examples:

  • Keystone Middle School student science fair projects routinely take top honors at the Alamo Regional Science and Engineering Fair and the Junior Academy of Science, with students advancing to the Exxon Mobil State Science and Engineering Fair and the Broadcom Masters Invitational competition.  
  • Keystone’s entire seventh grade class participates in the Duke University Talent Identification Program, which allows seventh graders to take either the SAT or ACT, with many students earning State or Grand Recognition for their scores.
  • Keystone middle school students routinely perform at the highest level of all independent school in the US on the ERB CPT4, the standardized test recommended for accreditation by the National Association of Schools.
  • All middle school students participate in Math Olympiads, a national math contest open to schools and institutions, with several Keystone students routinely taking top honors.
  • Each year, several Keystone student writers are Pegasus Poetry Competition, Dana Kay Barber Student Writing Contest, and Scholastic Gold Key prize winners.
  • Our eighth grade Spanish and French students take top honors each year in the National French and Spanish Exams.

Curriculum

In fifth and sixth grade, students receive a measure of independence with consistency in routine. Students have the same core academic teachers departmentally through both the fifth and the sixth grade, and are taught organizational and study skills within the classes themselves. Students receive an iPad in fifth grade as part of our 1:1 technology implementation. Fifth and sixth graders have the same core academic teachers for two years; study hall is held at the end of each day to work on homework, organization, and time-management.

In seventh and eighth grade, academic expectations continue to increase. In addition to the core classes of English, history, math, and science, students are able to choose from semester-long electives including visual art, debate, theater, photography, musical performance, and a Leadership class. Seventh grade students take a semester of French in preparation for choosing between French 1 and Spanish 1 as their eighth grade language. Eighth graders participate in advanced mathematics testing by taking the AMC8 and AMC10.

Course Offerings

Fifth Grade:

  • Math
  • Science
  • English
  • History
  • PE
  • Visual Art
  • Theater
  • Music
  • Computer
  • Spanish

Sixth Grade:

  • Pre-Algebra
  • Science
  • English
  • Geography
  • PE
  • Visual Art
  • Theater
  • Music
  • Computer
  • Spanish

Seventh Grade:

  • Algebra 1
  • Science
  • English
  • History
  • PE
  • French
  • Theater
  • Music
  • Public Speaking
  • Digital Design

Eighth Grade:

  • Geometry
  • Science
  • English
  • History
  • Spanish 1 or French 1
  • PE

Choice of Electives in 7th and 8th grades:

Leadership, Visual Arts, Debate, Encore (Music Ensemble), KEYs (Theater Ensemble), Robotics and Coding

FINE ARTS

Keystone’s Middle School Fine Arts program provides a foundation that builds a life-long appreciation for music, visual arts, and theater arts.  Students are inspired to develop a passion for the arts, and as they develop their critical thinking skills, they are supported to take creative risks and express themselves.  Fine Arts faculty are expert teachers and practitioners, and they provide a challenging yet nurturing environment.

ATHLETICS AND PE

Keystone’s PE Department helps students develop gross motor skills and coordination while maintaining physical fitness for a healthy life.  The learning environment supports growth, enjoyment and success for all students, while students develop responsibility and respect for themselves and others.  Students participate in both team and individual fitness activities; the schedule allows for Keystone team athletic practices to be held during the school day.

Overview

Outdoor Education

Our Outdoor Education program begins in fifth grade, with a one night overnight trip to a nearby camp where students participate in team building and orienteering activities; the program expands each year in duration and intensity, with students traveling to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming for a four night tent-camping trip in their eighth grade year. Trips in sixth and seventh grade include low and high rope element challenges and study of ecology and geography, alongside activities that promote teamwork, leadership, and camaraderie. Outdoor Education programming for each grade includes trips to Yellowstone National Park, Camp Allen, Nature’s Classroom Institute, and T-Bar M.

Athletics and PE

Our athletic program allows for team sports to have their practices during the school day in PE classes; students can choose to be a part of volleyball, soccer, basketball, softball and track teams depending on their grade.

Our PE department’s focus is to promote daily movement, healthy choices, and sportsmanship, with lifelong fitness as a goal.

Advisory & Clubs

Students foster their social and emotional learning through an advisory program that provides time for our students to develop supportive and caring relationships with our teachers, and bond with a constructive group of friends. Advisory works in concert with Keystone’s academic purposes, as it provides a time and place where our students’ non-academic needs can be met.

Clubs include MathCounts, Model UN, Robotics, Science Bowl, and Hiking Club. Students can participate in inclusive Grades 5/6 and Grades 7/8 Theater performances each year.

Culture & Community

Middle School is a special time, and although adolescence is routinely understood in adult memory and popular culture as a difficult and demanding time, it can also be understood as a journey that has wonderful and mysterious gifts.  

Keystone Middle School seeks to create a community and promote a culture that implements our mission in terms of being an inclusive environment where students grow as they face both academic and social challenges. We care deeply about our students, and it is our hope to equip them with tools to be academically successful, but also to provide them with the knowledge, understanding, and skills they need to make thoughtful and healthy choices. 

Students develop a sense of themselves as students.

We want students to come to know their strengths and areas for improvement as learners, and this comes from being exposed to a variety of instructional methods and different learning tasks. Students are exposed to different approaches to note-taking, to styles of writing, to ways to organize their workflow, all with the idea that they can discern what works best for them. This can in some cases be evident immediately, but in other cases can take a lot of trial and error. It takes practice to develop habits, and we devote time to this daily in fifth and sixth grade by having a study hall at the end of the day where students can get started on homework, visit with teachers, and work on organization.

Seventh and eighth graders have at least two study halls a week. Mindsets are important as students work to develop a sense of themselves as students, and we work to support students to take risks, and to make mistakes as they learn.  However, taking risks and making mistakes can be hard for adolescents; in order to support our students, we have high standards that we hope they reach, and then nurture them to persevere and be resilient with what we know will sometimes be unavoidable setbacks.

How we treat each other is important.

Our mission calls us not only to academic excellence but also to ethical growth, community involvement and responsible leadership.  The adolescent years are truly a time of explosive growth, and navigating friendship changes and social challenges takes a lot of energy for middle schoolers.  We work to have them understand how their brains are working at this stage of development, and programs like Advisory and Town Hall allow us to set and practice behavioral and social norms.  Advisory is designed with the goal of developing social and emotional skills, including emotion management, self-regulation, empathy, communication, and goal-setting.

Through circle discussions, team-building games, and creative activities, students interact with a small group of students to form closer bonds with each other, providing a social network of support and friendship while connecting to their advisory teacher. Monthly Town Halls allow for student presentations, group discussions, and celebrations of learning.  Middle School students participate in community service each year as middle school families donate funds for shopping expedition to help stock Inner City Development’s Holiday store each December, and Leadership class students design a school-wide Halloween program as well as school dances.

While these events are beneficial in themselves, they also provide opportunities for students to work together on teams and as leaders, and to interact with the greater community. Teachers and administrators also model the types of behaviors that we want students to practice, as getting along doesn’t always just happen in a community – it takes take an intentional focus to create and maintain.

Academic Excellence

By middle school, students are excelling by all measures. Some examples:

  • Keystone Middle School student science fair projects routinely take top honors at the Alamo Regional Science and Engineering Fair and the Junior Academy of Science, with students advancing to the Exxon Mobil State Science and Engineering Fair and the Broadcom Masters Invitational competition.  
  • Keystone’s entire seventh grade class participates in the Duke University Talent Identification Program, which allows seventh graders to take either the SAT or ACT, with many students earning State or Grand Recognition for their scores.
  • Keystone middle school students routinely perform at the highest level of all independent school in the US on the ERB CPT4, the standardized test recommended for accreditation by the National Association of Schools.
  • All middle school students participate in Math Olympiads, a national math contest open to schools and institutions, with several Keystone students routinely taking top honors.
  • Each year, several Keystone student writers are Pegasus Poetry Competition, Dana Kay Barber Student Writing Contest, and Scholastic Gold Key prize winners.
  • Our eighth grade Spanish and French students take top honors each year in the National French and Spanish Exams.

Curriculum

In fifth and sixth grade, students receive a measure of independence with consistency in routine. Students have the same core academic teachers departmentally through both the fifth and the sixth grade, and are taught organizational and study skills within the classes themselves. Students receive an iPad in fifth grade as part of our 1:1 technology implementation. Fifth and sixth graders have the same core academic teachers for two years; study hall is held at the end of each day to work on homework, organization, and time-management.

In seventh and eighth grade, academic expectations continue to increase. In addition to the core classes of English, history, math, and science, students are able to choose from semester-long electives including visual art, debate, theater, photography, musical performance, and a Leadership class. Seventh grade students take a semester of French in preparation for choosing between French 1 and Spanish 1 as their eighth grade language. Eighth graders participate in advanced mathematics testing by taking the AMC8 and AMC10.

Course Offerings

Fifth Grade:

  • Math
  • Science
  • English
  • History
  • PE
  • Visual Art
  • Theater
  • Music
  • Computer
  • Spanish

Sixth Grade:

  • Pre-Algebra
  • Science
  • English
  • Geography
  • PE
  • Visual Art
  • Theater
  • Music
  • Computer
  • Spanish

Seventh Grade:

  • Algebra 1
  • Science
  • English
  • History
  • PE
  • French
  • Theater
  • Music
  • Public Speaking
  • Digital Design

Eighth Grade:

  • Geometry
  • Science
  • English
  • History
  • Spanish 1 or French 1
  • PE

Choice of Electives in 7th and 8th grades:

Leadership, Visual Arts, Debate, Encore (Music Ensemble), KEYs (Theater Ensemble), Robotics and Coding

Arts & Athletics

FINE ARTS

Keystone’s Middle School Fine Arts program provides a foundation that builds a life-long appreciation for music, visual arts, and theater arts.  Students are inspired to develop a passion for the arts, and as they develop their critical thinking skills, they are supported to take creative risks and express themselves.  Fine Arts faculty are expert teachers and practitioners, and they provide a challenging yet nurturing environment.

ATHLETICS AND PE

Keystone’s PE Department helps students develop gross motor skills and coordination while maintaining physical fitness for a healthy life.  The learning environment supports growth, enjoyment and success for all students, while students develop responsibility and respect for themselves and others.  Students participate in both team and individual fitness activities; the schedule allows for Keystone team athletic practices to be held during the school day.