The CDS Upper School is, in some ways, about learning irregular verbs in Spanish, the periodic table of elements in Chemistry, and the wit and brilliance of Shakespearean theater.  But it is also about designing spaces and places for students to ask, individually and collectively, important questions about their developing identities as scholars, leaders, and citizens.

Our vibrant, close-knit, and diverse student body in grades six, seven, and eight is comprised of passionate and hard-working adolescents who care a great deal about their community and about each other. Their daily environment is one in which it is “cool” to learn, to be kind, and to treat others respectfully and ethically. At an age when bullying and cliques sadly seem to be an expected norm, CDS upper school students are an exception, and they actively support one another in and out of the classroom and cultivate healthy, lifelong friendships. In a safe and warm setting, true learning and meaningful personal reflection can happen.
The academically ambitious program of the CDS Upper School, coupled with our small class sizes, guarantee that each student’s work will receive individual attention and that our dedicated faculty will be able to “stretch” and support every mind appropriately.  Students pursue six “core” subjects (Mathematics, Science, History, Spanish, English, and a Fine & Performing Arts semester-based elective).  Ours is a writing-intensive program in which analytical thinking skills and cross-curricular connections are emphasized regularly.  Discussion-based classes, inquiry-based projects, hands-on lab experiments, and creative assessments that allow students to demonstrate content mastery while also venturing in new directions keep students actively engaged in all aspects of their academic pursuits. Experienced teachers with an appreciation for this unique period of adolescence encourage students to take risks, to make connections, and to participate meaningfully in the classroom.
CDS Upper Schoolers take five academic courses in rotating 45 and 80-minute blocks: English, History, Mathematics, Science, and Spanish. Ours is a writing-intensive program in which analytical thinking skills and cross-curricular connections are emphasized regularly. Organizational, study, and time management skills are developed in all content areas, with teachers guiding students on a daily basis in critical areas such as note-taking, asking questions, and preparing for long-term assignments. To build their emerging habits of scholarship, advisors facilitate Extensions of Learning class twice each week.  EOL provides students the opportunity to work with teachers one-on-one or in small groups to review concepts or further their understanding.  This critical component of the students’ Upper School experiences paves the way for students to move gradually from dependence to independence as they learn to self-advocate and take increased responsibility for their learning.  

Supplementing the core curriculum is our 21st Century Learning series: a dynamic, co-curricular course of study that fosters curiosity, creativity, confidence, collaboration, and critical thinking skills.  In 2017-18, we will welcome newly designed or revamped courses in areas such as:
  • Journalism (Grade 6)
  • Media & Film Studies (Grade 7)
  • Communication (Grades 6 & 7)
  • Study Skill & Information Literacy (Grades 6 & 7)
  • Health (Grades 6 & 8)
  • Yoga (Single Sex / Grades 6-8)
  • i3 Lab / Design Thinking (Grades 6 & 7)
  • Capstone Class (Grade 8)
It is a breathtaking list in so many ways: one that reflects the far-ranging talents and passions of our faculty while enriching the lives and minds of our amazing students.
Upper School students enjoy weekly Morning Meeting, daily advisory, daily Physical Education, daily recess, and a variety of inspiring overnight and day field trips.  

Additional signature programs at the Upper School level include Leadership Council and Grade 8 Capstone Projects.
Who am I? Who do I want to be? How am I going to make this world a better place?