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Middle School Electives

Middle School is the perfect time for trying a new skill, for seeing if theater is your "thing," for improvising on a musical instrument, and for learning to fly...literally!

Sixth graders, in their Foundations Courses, gain a depth of understanding for the basics of art, music, debate, theater, wellness, and technology. Upon this solid platform, they will build and explore and develop passions in their seventh- and eighth-grade years.

Seventh and eighth graders have a wide range of Extension Courses in the Fine Arts and a variety of other interests from which to choose.

These categories of elective courses along with other fine arts and athletic offerings make Middle School a fun and active time for adolescent learners.

Arts and Ensembles Electives for All Grades

The Middle School Arts and Ensembles electives occur outside of the seven-period rotation, meeting three times per week for 40 minutes during Lion Time on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. This is intended to be an immersive, in-depth study on an art form and/or collaborative experience and students participate in this class for the entire year. Arts & Ensemble courses do not have traditional homework or assessments, but students should expect to practice or rehearse occasionally outside of class time. Arts and Ensemble courses offer students an opportunity to meaningfully collaborate with students from all three Middle School grades and represent themselves and their school through their chosen medium.

  • Arts and Ensembles courses are for all Middle School students, grades six through eight.
  • Seventh graders may choose Band, Choir, Orchestra, Dance, Theater, 2-D Art, 3-D Art, or Mixed Media Art.
  • Eighth graders may choose Publications in addition to seventh-grade choices.

Middle School Band
Open to Middle School students by audition during first weeks of school
This ensemble is for brass, woodwind, and percussionists with at least one year of private study on their instrument. Although the ensemble will study and perform a variety of styles and genres, jazz music will be at the core of the curriculum. A limited number of rhythm-section instruments (piano, bass, drums, and guitar) will be admitted after being selected through an audition process. Auditions will occur during the first weeks of school. All interested musicians will be placed in MS Band or Beginning Band.

Beginning Band
Open to all Middle School students
The Beginning Band is for students interested in learning to play a woodwind or brass instrument: flute, clarinet, trumpet, or trombone. (Saxophone will be offered to students who master beginner clarinet skills in the beginning band) Although no musical experience is required, getting set up on an instrument and taking a few private lessons the summer prior to the start of the school year or planning to take private lessons during the school year is strongly recommended.

Middle School String Orchestra
Open to all Middle School students
This is the Middle School’s central strings ensemble—sometimes known as the “Stringed Lions.” Violinists, violists, cellists, and bassists of any level are welcome. We learn and build on fundamental string skills of bowing, intonation, technique, and musical literacy. The orchestra performs a variety of pop and classical repertoire throughout the year at concerts and assemblies. Many of our pieces are collaborations with the upper and lower school orchestras and choirs. Students with no string experience are welcome but strongly encouraged to take private lessons during the summer prior to joining the orchestra.

Advanced Orchestra
Open to Middle School students by audition during first weeks of school
This course is for students at an intermediate or advanced level of skill on a string instrument. This group rehearses and performs with the Middle School Orchestra, but spends a good deal of their time in small chamber ensembles (duets, trios, and quartets). Through this chamber repertoire, students learn and develop music independence, impeccable intonation, strong reading skills, advanced technique, leadership, and collaboration. In addition to performances with the middle school orchestra, this group will perform as chamber ensembles at many Rowland Hall events as as well as in the local community.

Middle School Choir
Open to all Middle School students
This class is for the beginning, squeaking, or advanced singer! Students in choir will learn the basics of reading music and proper solo and choral singing technique, as we learn and perform songs from a variety of styles cultures, including current music. Students will have the opportunity to perform in-class solos and as a group in assemblies and after-school performances.

Dance Ensemble I
Open to all Middle School students
This ensemble course is intended to develop introductory dance and physical movement skills; no previous experience is required. Students in this course may work toward efficiency in movement through classical training methods such as ballet, jazz, and modern dance as well as parkour, break dance, hip hop, martial arts, improvisation and composition. The goal is to develop the following: the body as a tool for physicality; individual voice; technical skill for dance as an art form; the ability to work collaboratively; the ability to negotiate the creative process; and to build tools for optimal performance. Balance, flexibility, strength, rhythm, coordination, and endurance will be key physical skills that are built to support confidence in moving and performing. This class builds a strong foundation for students who plan to pursue a more serious career in dance as well as other physical and athletic pursuits. This course is a large ensemble with two teachers who may frequently split up the ensemble based on specific techniques and styles being taught.

Dance Ensemble II
Open to Middle School students by audition during first weeks of school
This class focuses on ballet, jazz, and modern dance technique as well as improvisation and choreography. Some previous dance experience is required. Goals are to further develop balance, flexibility, strength, rhythm, coordination, and endurance. Confidence in performing, creativity, and choreographic development is also emphasized. Students will be expected to learn and further their understanding of the body as a tool for physicality, individual voice, technical skill for dance as an art form, the ability to work collaboratively, the ability to negotiate the creative process, and to build tools for optimal performance. Auditions for new students will occur during the first weeks of school and all interested dancers will be placed in Dance Ensemble I or II depending on the ensemble that will best meet individual learning needs. This ensemble has two lead instructors and will frequently split based on specific skills and/or pieces.

Rag and Bone Theater Ensemble
Open to seventh and eighth graders with prior theater experience or teacher approval
Rag and Bone Theater is stage acting for those passionate about theater and acting, who already have experience and more than a beginning level of ability, who are ready to commit a full year to a deeper understanding and practice, honing their craft as actors, while working to perform a major theater production. Our play, “The Outsiders” will occur early in the school year as an evening performance, followed by working with visiting artist and choreographers to create an exciting new SALT physical theater piece.

Two-Dimensional (2-D) Studio Art
Open to seventh and eighth graders
Students will explore a variety of mediums to promote creative expression with an emphasis on 2-D design, drawing, painting, and printmaking. These young artists will gain new project-based skills to strengthen understanding of the elements of art and principles of design. Ideas and projects will be supported as students are exposed to both traditional and contemporary artists.

Three-Dimensional (3-D) Studio Art
Open to seventh and eighth graders
This Studio Art Ensemble provides young artists with a wide range of opportunity to explore the foundational elements and techniques of 3-D art. Students will design, sculpt, assemble, and configure different materials in processes brought to life by a practicing artist. With the skills acquired in this class, students will gain the confidence to use their imaginations, problem solve, express their creativity, and develop their artistic literacy.

Mixed-Media Studio Art
Open to seventh and eighth graders
This Studio Art Ensemble is a creative lab that investigates art making through alternate media, technology, group projects, and installation. Students will incorporate larger concepts such as cultural, sociological, environmental issues into the curriculum allowing them to tie their art making to a greater purpose. This class also allows for an artist’s personal creativity through atypical studio craft, which may include book making, assemblage, basic electronics, film editing, fiber arts, and/or functional pieces.

Middle School Publications
Open to eighth graders (two seventh graders may be admitted with teacher approval)
In the Publications course, students will plan the 60-page Rowland Hall Middle School yearbook from cover to cover, as well as learn correct photo techniques while documenting the entire school year through photographs. Students will work on layout, take digital photos, write captions, and edit finished work. Students will work with new technologies to integrate interactive elements into the yearbook as well as more traditional print layout work.

Foundations Electives in Sixth Grade

In addition to the core curriculum, sixth graders take a year-long course called Foundations. The year of Foundations is separated into six half-trimester (approximately six weeks) sections focusing on a specific area of curricular extension or interest. These courses are taken in an assigned rotation.

Foundations of Studio Art
A focus on 2-D painting, drawing, perspective.

Foundations of Music
Instrument instruction with focus on creation of music and ensemble play.

Foundations of Computer Science
A project-based course with a culminating project of a game or interactive story designed by a team of students focused on learning the fundamentals of computer science including computational thinking, conditionals, functions, abstraction, networking, encryption, and programming languages (Javascript and Scratch). Much of the time in class will utilize unplugged activities to help students understand these principles prior to using the computers.

Foundations of Health and Wellness
The sixth-grade health and wellness curriculum is taught in a single gender six-week course during one of the three trimesters. The goal of teaching health and wellness is to provide students with accurate information and lifelong skills needed to develop a healthy social, physical, and emotional self. Age appropriate conversation, activities, and projects will center around the following content areas: understanding one self, healthy relationships with others, emotions, bullying, digital citizenship, human sexuality, and nutrition.

Foundations of Debate
After completing this course, sixth-grade students will have a set of communication skills that they can use in a variety of experiences throughout the curriculum at Rowland Hall. The class will start by playing games and learning tips that will reduce or eliminate communication apprehension (the fears associated with public speaking). Students will then learn about and practice structured impromptu and extemporaneous speeches with emphasis on verbal and nonverbal delivery skills (organization, projection, inflection, eye-contact, hand gestures, and more). Finally, students will build a foundation for effective argumentation and advocacy (claims/warrant/evidence) by developing one research-based persuasive speech on a class-wide controversy. Because public speaking functions in a larger democratic context, the class will also consistently stress critical listening skills and an attitude of appreciative inquiry toward diverse perspectives. While this class is intentionally non-competitive, it can ultimately serve as a platform for participating on the official debate team. Read more about Debate.

Foundations of Theater
Students will be engaged in the theater process called play building—a process in which structured, imaginative play, grounded in source material, results in scenes, characters, and devised dialog (a sort of bricolage). The course introduces some of the foundational skills and practices used in theater, in a workshop setting, and is not designed to be full theater experience. This course is not production driven and there are no staged or shared audience performances.

Extension Courses in Seventh and Eighth Grades

The Middle School extension courses are electives for seventh and eighth graders designed to expand our curriculum into other areas that develop new skills and deepen the learning experience. Most extension courses fall into one of these categories: music, art, debate, computer science, or theater. Extensions are hands-on, experiential, and exploratory and give students opportunities to take risks by trying new areas of interest. Extension courses do not have traditional homework or assessments, but students will be “tested” throughout the courses with their own contributions and students do frequently collaborate to complete projects or work on skill development outside of class time. Extension courses also offer students and teachers alike the opportunity to interact with students from other grades.

Extension Course Notes

  • Please note that students may change extension courses during the first week of each trimester. There is an option on the registration form for parents to select if they wish to be contacted before their student is allowed to change Extension courses.
  • Priority for enrollment in extension courses will be given to students who have not previously participated in these courses.
  • There are some after school athletic teams (seventh/eighth volleyball, seventh/eighth basketball, seventh/eighth soccer, seventh/eighth softball) that hold practice during the extensions period to maximize the use of our Lincoln Street Campus gymnasium and field space. Students on these teams will be placed in this “class” and will not take an extension course during that half-trimester or trimester.
  • All seventh and eighth graders are placed into one half-trimester class of wellness each year during the extensions period.

Six-week half-trimester
In this class, students will take action! Students will discuss and put into practice what it means to live sustainably on the planet. They will support their community in sustainable decision making and develop skills and projects necessary to improve the world around them. "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."—Margaret Mead.

Twelve-Week Theater
Twelve-week full-trimester
Theater in a smaller bite. The student composition of the class and their experience and ability level will in a large way drive what we do. Students can expect an exploration of both traditional and physical theater. Students will have opportunities to work with visiting artists. Any work developed for a performance will be shared in a lunch time “Food For Thought” performance.

Six-Week Theater
Six-week half-trimester
Theater in an even smaller bite. The student composition of the class and their experience and ability level will in a large way drive what we do. Students can expect an exploration of both traditional and physical theater. Students will have opportunities to work with visiting artists. Any work developed for a performance will be shared in a lunch time “Food For Thought” performance.

Advanced Flight School
Twelve-week full-trimester
This elective is tailored for the student who has a true interest in the field of aviation. This course will focus on the procedures and knowledge that aviation professionals routinely use to operate private and commercial aircraft. Students will look at life in the cockpit, being introduced to flight planning to include weather briefing, mission pre-brief, weight and balance calculations, and building and filing an actual aircraft flight plan. Students will also, have access to our flight simulator systems running X-Plane 10. Using approved Westminster College aircraft checklists and standardization procedures, students will receive four simulator familiarization sorties focused on preparing students for an actual flight event. The class concludes with a capstone activity of an actual flight in a Piper aircraft with Westminster College certified flight instructors. Students will take part in several aviation centric field trips over the course of the trimester, including Rockwell Collins aviation simulation center and Westminster Flight Operations Center. Again, this elective is intended for the serious aviation flight candidate. Additionally, students will need to take the Primary Flight School elective prior to enrollment in this offering.

Art (and Video) for iPhones (and iPads)
Six-week half-trimester
The best camera is the one you have with you! This is becoming a true catch-phrase as smartphone cameras are becoming more popular. In this class, students will explore advantages and limitations to using smartphones/iPads and go over techniques to improve photos. We will also explore a number of popular apps that will help the student customize photos and help make them more professional looking. From here, students will move into learning about the video function of the camera app and exploring apps to help them share stories. It’s all about telling a story and making it look professional while doing it!

Art with Code
Six-week half-trimester
In this class, students will use coding in Scratch and Processing languages to explore storytelling, animation, and interactive computer art and design. The class will be centered around using creativity, collaboration, and computational thinking to solve problems and make interesting projects. No coding experience required, all students of all levels encouraged to join!

Aviation Flight Design
Six-week half-trimester
NASA is asking for your help to design a new aircraft. Crowded roads make it difficult to get to the airport. At the airport, flights are often delayed. Current runways and air systems can't handle the growing number of people and goods that need to travel by air. Changing the current system and airports may help with this problem, but NASA is also interested in what kind of aircraft might also help. Your mission, should you accept it, is to use the NASA Future Flight Design Center labs to design a new aircraft that will be tested to meet specific criteria. Once students complete their NASA objectives, students will put their newly developed design skills to use as they build their our own developmental aircraft made from a specific materials supply list. Through the test and evaluation process student groups will refine their aircraft designs in a class-wide competition. Are you ready for the challenge? Join the Rowland Hall Middle School Aviation Flight Design elective and prove it!

Beginning Guitar/Ukulele
Six-week half-trimester
This course is for students who have never played guitar before. In fact, no previous musical training at all is needed. In addition to learning basic chords, beginning guitar students will learn fundamental strumming and picking techniques. The curriculum also includes instruction on reading guitar tabs as well as some basic theory and music literacy skills. This is a class that can only be taken once in Middle School.

Twelve-week full-trimester
The goal of this class is to allow students to participate in and enjoy a wide range of hand-built and wheel-thrown pottery techniques. Projects will introduce students to the fundamental building methods of clay, including slab, coil, pinch, and wheel turning.

Competition Debate
Twelve-week full-trimester
After completing this course, students will be comfortable with all dimensions of competitive debate. Building on the foundation built in other Middle School debate courses, this class will emphasize participation in formal debates (one-on-one or with a partner) and will require attendance in at least one team tournament (there are four to five tournament opportunities during the season). This course will review the basics and introduce advanced forms of argumentation including topicality, counterplans, disadvantages, weighing mechanisms and frameworks. Students will primarily research both sides of the official Utah debate resolution, but will have opportunities near the end of the term to conduct in-class debates on a topic of their choice. In addition to practicing constructive, rebuttal, and cross-examination strategies, students will develop a variety of tactical skills including evidence comparison, cost-benefit analysis, note-taking, audience adaptation and more. While debate is competitive in nature, students will never be graded on wins or losses and the class works collaboratively to create and prepare cases against other schools. Finally, this class satisfies the prerequisite requirement of taking Intro to Debate before competing for the Upper School team. Read more about Debate.

Digital Sculptures
Six-week half-trimester
Students in this class will explore physical computing and design. Students will learn basic electronics and use microprocessors to build a device which can sense information in the environment and respond to it by performing a function. To help prepare them for this task, students will be exposed to a deeper exploration of more advanced technologies including 3D printing, lego robotics equipment, Arduino microprocessors, and coding languages. Students will create final projects using the technology of their choice.

Introduction to Debate
Six-week half-trimester
After completing this course, students will have a set of portable argumentation and advocacy skills that they can use in a variety of experiences throughout the curriculum at Rowland Hall. Students will initially learn about and practice structured extemporaneous speeches with emphasis on verbal and nonverbal delivery skills (organization, projection, inflection, eye-contact, hand gestures, and more). Students will then build a foundation for effective argumentation and advocacy (claim/warrant/evidence) by participating in “SPAR” debates and ultimately presenting one research-based persuasive speech on the official Utah debate resolution. Special emphasis will be placed on critical thinking and listening skills as well as argument resolution. This class is ultimately for students who want to explore debate in a non-competitive environment but may choose to participate in the debate team during the third trimester or later in their high school experience. Read more about Debate.

Jewelry Making
Six-week half-trimester
In this class, students will learn and practice jewelry-making skills including wire wrapping, weaving, knotting, whittling, and other craft methods. You will experiment with color, balance, space, and design to bring your ideas to life using new, vintage and repurposed materials alike. Old leather belts may be turned into bracelets that snap and tarnished silverware may be refurbished into a stylish ring or pendant. Not only will we create jewelry from leather, wood, and metal but we will also explore ceramic jewelry making. Bring in your own treasures to be manipulated into wearable art as well. The projects created will reflect each student's personal sense of style and each designer will enjoy the flexibility to focus on what he or she prefers.

Make Club
Six-week half-trimester
A project-based course in which students will learn and then use a variety of technology processes to craft a solution to a problem. Past projects have included designing solutions to refugee problems, designing a musical instrument, building arcade games, and making a miniature golf course. Students will be given tools, equipment, space, and guidance to construct a project including the use of high-tech solutions like Arduinos, 3D printers, lego robots, and computers as well as low-tech solutions such as hammer and nails, duct tape and cardboard.

Primary Flight School
Six-week half-trimester
This aviation elective provides students with an engaging overview of this dynamic profession. The elective will include an overview of aviation history, an introduction to the principles of flight, basic aerodynamics, flight procedures, aviation meteorology, and aircraft systems discussions. You will get your own "call sign," design your own "squadron patch," build, decorate, and fly your own balsa wood airplane. This offering will include two field trips: one to the Westminster Flight Center at Salt Lake International Airport and the other to the Westminster campus where students will be able to preflight an Archer aircraft and fly two complex flight simulators. Students will present two different aviation presentations over the course of the half-trimester, focused on student-centric aviation topics. Time permitting, students will be introduced to our flight simulator systems, providing base level cockpit procedures training and an introduction to Archer aircraft normal and emergency procedures checklists in a hands-on, fully functional training environment.

Twelve-Week Studio Art
Twelve-week full-trimester
Students in Studio Art become fully immersed in a variety art media. They are challenged to find individual solutions to projects that require a growing level of creativity, and confidence. The goal of this class is to allow students to participate in and enjoy a wide range of visual art experiences. They will find the art studio to be a vibrant and exciting place of learning and experimentation where the emphasis is placed on making art. They will encounter opportunities for exploration, experimentation, skill development, and expression through a variety of art media, tools, materials, and techniques.

Six-Week Studio Art
Six-week half-trimester
The goal of this class is to give students the opportunity to participate in and enjoy a wide range of visual art experiences. The emphasis is placed on making art as students tap into their creativity while learning the fundamentals of drawing, painting, and printmaking.

Survival Skills
Six-week half-trimester
In this class we will explore the contrast of modern life versus ancient survival. While we explore our ancestors, we will gain a better understanding of who we are, how we are, and why we are. As we glimpse into our past we will also learn and practice the skills needed to survive like our ancestors. Tool making, bow and drill fire-making, shelter studies, and knots and craft construction will be an intensive focal point of this elective. Not only will we study how to survive in the wilderness, but we will also learn how to survive in modern society. From the study of our reptilian brain to busting flames, this course will put life in perspective and enhance your mental map.

The Vocal Workshop
Six-week half-trimester
Sing with confidence and style! This is a six-week intensive singing course meant to build your singing skills, whether you are an experienced or beginning singer. We'll focus on popular and Broadway music while developing good vocal tone, accuracy, and expression. Open to all. Highly recommended for students who will be in the musical theater production.

Musical Theater
Musical Theater is returning to the fall trimester and is a combined sixth- through twelfth-grade course. This year’s show will be The Music Man.
Involvement in the musical is a big commitment—every day after school (3:15 to 4:45 or 5 pm) to learn to sing, act, and dance your role. Because all of our work is teamwork, and you are a valued member of the team, we ask that you set aside or rearrange other commitments or interest during your involvement in the musical. All leads can expect a larger portion of responsibilities.

You Belong at Rowland Hall


720 South Guardsman Way
Salt Lake City, Utah 84108
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