Upper School

Empowering students to take command of their learning and to become independent learners is a focus of the Upper School experience. Ricks Center wants to excite, encourage, and strengthen each young person's passion for learning and teach him/her to take responsibility for their academic progress.

Upper School consists of two levels: Self-Contained (fifth and sixth grade) classrooms and Team, a larger grouping of seventh and eighth grade students. Self-Contained students stay with their classroom teachers throughout the day. The integrated curriculum model is continued with content designed to build on the language arts, science, math, social studies, problem solving and community awareness developed in the Primary classes. Team students are taught by content specialists in language arts, science, and social studies. These teachers work closely together to create, integrate, and plan the units of study for the year. The students have small group and whole class instructional periods with each teacher, allowing for intense discussion, high level thinking, and in-depth studies of each discipline. Team students are broken into smaller groups that change three to four times throughout the year.

In order to address the developmental and academic needs of the students, mathematics instruction occurs in small groups with the Self-Contained and Team students grouped separately.

Upper School Electives

The Electives for Upper School have been designed to appeal to a variety of interests and passions. Classes are multi-aged with fifth through eighth grade students as appropriate and leveled as needed.
 
While the Elective Model provides opportunities to focus on passion areas, students also have requirements that they need to fulfill. There are required courses for students at each grade level as well as an extensive selection of Electives. Requirements are set up on a two-year basis. Because many students take multiple languages, thus limiting the opportunities to try new classes within one year, the two-year requirements provide students flexibility to meet the requirements as well as make choices based on personal interest.

Grade 5-6 Self-Contained Requirements

  • 1 full year of a spoken language (French or Spanish)
  • 1 art class
  • 1 music class
  • 1 science class
  • 1 technology class
  • 1 drama, speech or debate class

Grades 7-8 Team Requirements

  • 2 full years of a spoken language (French or Spanish)
  • 1 art class
  • 1 music class
  • 1 science class
  • 1 technology class
  • 1 speech or debate class

Students are provided a wealth of choices for classes in order to meet the requirements and select classes for personal passion growth.

Upper School Intersession

For two weeks each spring, faculty members create an Intersession period. Students are given the gift of time to explore, create and learn through trips and intensive classes.  These address specific topics in the sciences, arts, foreign languages, social studies, physical challenges, math, and community service. Intersession corresponds to the learning needs of gifted people by providing long periods of time to explore ideas and information in great depth; opportunities to understand how learning connects to the real world and to other knowledge; complex, stimulating curriculum; and time to specialize in areas of passionate interest. During Intersession, students also have time to make new friends and build upon existing relationships with other students and teachers. These classes are designed by classroom and specialist teachers in areas of passion and interest to teachers and students.  Small groups of students participate in intense one- or two-week long studies in a particular topic.  Students may stay on campus or take short or long field excursions.  Classes may even include overnight trips.