5th-8th Grade Electives for 2019-2020

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Families are encouraged to read the letter below and following descriptions to understand how the music program and electives will be structured for fifth through eighth grades in the upcoming school year.

Dear Middle School Parents,

Now that the year is wrapping up, I wanted to share some reflections with you on the middle school elective program in its inaugural year. We have learned a lot and I have met with middle school elective teachers to agree on some changes for next year. If you are a current 4th or 5th grade parent, much of this may be new to you.

When we created the middle school elective program, we thought that organically the classes would be evenly divided with an equal number of students choosing music. Based on parent feedback, we intentionally hired two music teachers and increased music for the lower grades to two times per week. However, what we found was that most middle schoolers, when given the choice, elected into non-music options. We made some last-minute changes to increase the numbers in choir by requiring sixth-grade students to enroll in this class, and I apologize if this wasn’t communicated more clearly throughout the year. Fifth graders were also permitted to join the choir by rehearsing with them on Fridays.

I am grateful to Mrs. Beshara and Mr. Mabalot for their work this year building our music program. The hard work and progress were demonstrated both in the Christmas program and in the Variety Show at the end of the year. We want enough students to participate so that we are able to build a solid music program from an early age.

In order to do this, 5th and 6th-grade Music next year will be combined, and it will be offered twice per week. Students will choose for the full year to do Choir or Orchestra. 6th graders won’t have the option (as they had this year) to choose non-music electives until they are in 7th grade. Students in Orchestra will be required to rent their own instruments for approximately $15-$20 per month. For this upcoming year, it will be a Junior Strings class for students with minimal or no experience.

7th and 8th graders will also have the option to choose Concert Choir, but acceptance into music will be based on auditions and only four students may be selected from these grade levels. These four will rotate and be trained as the cantors for the school liturgies. Students in 7th and 8th will no longer have a regular music class one time per week as they had in the 2018-2019 school year. They will choose from art, drama, coding, Math Olympiad, and Advanced Spanish during their elective time if they don’t audition for Choir or Orchestra. All electives will meet twice per week.

(Please note that if students choose Math Olympiad (6th-8th graders only), they are required to be a part of the team and compete in mid-February in Blaine.)

Please look for the sign-up survey that will arrive on the first week of the school year, but beginning talking about this now. Students will have four days to make their selection and electives will begin the week of September 2nd.

Elective Descriptions…

All 5th and 6th graders are required to choose between Choir and Orchestra for the 2019-2020 school year. The classes will meet two times per week during “elective” time and will take the place of “5th Grade and 6th Grade Music.” Please read the descriptions carefully and notice the expectations for renting an instrument to be in the Junior Strings Orchestra.

Teachers: Liza Beshara and Frederick Mabalot

Concert Choir, for 5th and 6th graders Assumption School Choir will provide students with proper and healthy vocal technique for intermediate to advance choral ensemble singing. Taught in a nurturing environment, students will have a wonderful opportunity to develop confidence and courage in their singing and musical abilities, and enhance team building skills through ensemble singing. This choir will be the choir that sings for all school Masses held on Friday and occasionally, Thursday. An understanding and appreciation of the Roman Catholic sacred music and liturgy will be cultivated as each student develop their musical, artistic, and vocal abilities. In addition, the choir will also participate in the Christmas program and Spring Variety Show. This means that we will have opportunities to learn some secular music also. No prior choral experience required. A willingness to learn and share your individual gifts in music is the main requirement. If you love to sing and would like to serve God by using your singing voice, join the choir! It is going to be a fun and enjoyable year filled with music!

Junior Strings Orchestra, for 5th and 6th graders

Junior Strings Orchestra is open to students who want to learn to play the violin, viola or cello. Students will receive guidance in techniques for producing proper tone, pitch, rhythm, posture, dynamics, and performance. This is also a class designed to help build self-esteem (achievement), cooperation (playing in an ensemble), and life skills (practice, study, commitment) through the discipline in learning to play an instrument. Mrs. Beshara will provide all information on how to rent or purchase an instrument with all who sign-up for the class. A student commitment to at-home practice is required for individual and group success.

Note: An after-school class will also meet for students who already play an instrument: Advanced Chamber Orchestra, for any student in grades 4-8 who meet the requirements Advanced Chamber Orchestra is an after-school class for students who have at least 2 years of prior experience on their instrument. Through this class, we will explore all elements of reading music, proper playing techniques, proper practicing techniques, positive individual participation in a group focused class and actively serving our school community by playing music for Mass.

Advanced Spanish, for 7th and 8th grade, fluent speakers Teacher: Profesora Cristina I. Pavon Camargo Semester-long. Maximum 15 students Students will familiarize themselves with readings from famous authors. Students will also explore communicating in real-life situations and will learn a little bit more about writing and culture. It’s a good way to go deeper into the study of Spanish and explore while still having fun

in the language. Many of the techniques and lessons will be reinforced in an after-school program for all grades called Club de Lectura. Meeting days and times for this will be determined in the fall.

Drama Workshop, for 7th and 8th graders in first semester only. Maximum 20 students. Teacher: Marc Costanza Middle school students will have the opportunity to work as solo and collaborative artists. This program encourages each student to create a strong persona through introductory workshops and exercises which will then be used in performing short shows throughout the semester. No experience necessary, just a willingness to learn, to laugh, and to step outside one’s comfort zone.

Math Olympiad, for 6th to 8th graders. Maximum 20 students. Note: Students registered for the Math Olympiad must agree to attend the after-school sessions (times and days TBD) and they must agree to compete in the annual Whatcom County competition on a Saturday in mid- February. The state competition is in mid-March if students qualify. The cost for Math Olympiad is $75 for the term (to include the after-school sessions). Teacher: Samantha Ernest Students will practice and review problem solving skills pertaining to mathematics. We will practice as a team throughout the semester. There will be one competition at the end of the semester. Use and develop your math skills in a fun and competitive environment.

Visual Art, for 7th and 8th graders, new class each semester. Maximum 20 students. Teacher: Betsy Gottschalk First Semester: Students in the art elective will learn to draw three dimensionally on a two-dimensional surface. Other skills they will learn more about are various types of shading, realistic rendering, and portraiture. Second Semester: Art students will work in three dimensions with various sculpture materials.

Coding and Programming, for 7th and 8th graders, second semester only. Maximum 20 students. Teacher: Mr. Costanza In this class, the teacher will mostly use www.code.org to access resources around coding and programming with programs such as Javascript, Scratch, and Tynker. If time allows, students may also build a Makerbot robot and learn how to program it with its aligned software.