Explore Our Middle School Program

CULTURAL AND AMERICAN STUDIES (ENGLISH AND HISTORY)

Seventh graders presenting a cultural studies project

The 7th Grade Cultural Studies program encourages girls to examine and to make connections between history and the choices they make in their own lives. Girls explore the literature, geography, anthropology, and history of various global communities. Utilizing technology and design-based thinking, girls pursue essential questions through Socratic discussion, research, hands-on projects, and writing. Working independently, collaborating, and reflecting, students consider how their decisions can carry both global and local implications and how their own actions can make a difference.

The 8th Grade American Studies program examines the political, economic, and social history of the United States, exploring issues of equity, social justice, and citizenship through interdisciplinary study of key time periods and literary texts. By using innovative learning approaches such as portfolios, video writing, conferencing, and performance-based assessments, students hone their critical thinking and creative problem solving skills while becoming thoughtful collaborators and confident risk takers.

MATH

Girls engaged in a math class

The 7th Grade Pre-Algebra course supports and solidifies the foundational knowledge needed to be successful in Algebra 1. With an emphasis on mathematical reasoning, students build skills through analytical problem solving, conceptually relevant projects, and real-world inquiries. There are substantial opportunities for reinforcing skills and providing extension.

In 8th Grade Algebra 1, students continue building upon skills necessary for success in higher-level math curricula. This course enriches girls’ understanding of mathematical processes and operations and offers a range of differentiated teaching techniques in order to best meet individuals’ needs.

In addition, we offer Accelerated Algebra classes for students who have demonstrated the ability to grapple with challenging content independently and who can persevere when it comes to applying theoretical concepts in order to solve complex problems. Accelerated Algebra courses are available to both 7th and 8th Grade students.

SCIENCE

Middle School students working in science lab

In the 7th Grade Life Science course, students explore our natural world, from the inner life of the cell to the complex relationships that make up the biosphere. We place emphasis on developing investigative skills through frequent hands-on labs, experimental design projects, and creative expressions of scientific ideas.

In the 8th Grade Concepts in Earth and Physical Science (CEPS) course, students discover the principles behind the geologic and astrophysical forces in our universe through a variety of labs and technology-based investigations. Students will marvel at observing the heavens with our telescopes, and will find the intersection of physics and biology through a bovine eye dissection.

Students in the 8th Grade also have the opportunity to take the STEAM Projects elective, in which they delve into the science of photography, explore the world of sound and musical instruments through mathematics and physics, and develop a fundamental understanding of electricity. Students utilize our STEAMWork Design Studio to build and test a variety of machines they create to explore the concepts of aerodynamics, forces, and energy.

MODERN AND CLASSICAL LANGUAGES

Preparing a project in Spanish class

Seventh grade students choose Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, or Latin to study for their two years of Middle School. In each course, girls learn the foundation of the target language and the associated culture. In the modern spoken languages, students practice listening, speaking, reading, and writing, while for Latin, girls focus on reading comprehension. For all the languages, we focus on developing analytical skills. 

INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDY

Seventh graders collecting soil samples

Middle School girls engage in three separate interdisciplinary units on water, soil, and climate change. During these units, the girls experience firsthand how they as life-long learners can use their subject-area knowledge and skills in an interconnected way to explore real-world topics. Our English, history, math, science, and service learning faculty have created units that allow the girls to discover the ways that different disciplines can join together to address problems that single disciplines cannot.

WATER UNIT
The Water Unit focuses on the global issue of access to safe drinking water.  Students research the factors that contribute to water scarcity, record and analyze water usage, understand dehydration and water-borne microorganisms, read fiction and poetry about the absence of water and a journey to a water source, explore how communities can work together to ensure sufficient access to clear water, and identify potential solutions to critical problems. A student-created club, the Water Warriors, helps students deepen their impact by raising awareness and supporting the building of wells and sanitation systems for schools in the developing world.  

SOIL UNIT
The Soil Unit focuses on the importance of the soil under our feet. Students take soil samples to study the soil ecosystem, explore decomposition and nutrient cycling, write poetry and nonfiction about the life cycle, study Victory gardens, understand the golden ratio, and explore how communities can work together to keep our soils and food supplies healthy. They help restore habitat in local canyons, install and maintain drought tolerant gardens on our campus with a master gardener, and create a soil e-zine that captures what they’ve learned and what they advocate.

CLIMATE CHANGE
The Climate Change unit focuses on exploring the causes of our rapidly warming world and ways to take action to create a more sustainable future. Students study the impact of climate change on  food, water and animals in these areas, calculate personal carbon footprints, write persuasive letters to share ideas for solutions, debate the Key Stone Pipeline, analyze data about energy sources and their use, and discover existing and proposed legislation at the local, state and national level.  They explore climate change at the California Science Museum, tour a local power plant, and create videos to propose positive change. 

MORE INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDY
In addition to our interdisciplinary science units, we offer a unique Interdisciplinary Arts program that emphasizes the natural overlap between various arts disciplines - including music, visual art, theatre, and digital media. Find out more in the Performing and Visual Arts section below.

PERFORMING AND VISUAL ARTS

Student musicians rehearsing outside

Our unique Interdisciplinary Arts program emphasizes the natural overlap between various arts disciplines - including music, visual art, theatre, and digital media.

In 7th Grade, students explore concepts and techniques from music and theatre, learning new skills and building upon existing strengths in each discipline. Through dynamic ensemble work, students build important collaboration skills; they are also encouraged to pursue individual passions and develop their personal voice through through imagination, improvisation, and creative expression in a supportive environment. 

In 8th Grade, students immerse themselves in three specific disciplines: music, visual art, and digital media. Students exercise their creativity, confidence, and expressive abilities by paying closer attention to, connecting, and manipulating the unique attributes of these three mediums. Students also explore commonality and differences between the three disciplines by engaging in activities that transfer from one discipline to another. As the students develop the ability to express themselves in each of the disciplines, they are empowered to pursue independent discovery through self-directed projects. An additional Theatre course is offered as an 8th Grade elective (see more details below).

PHYSICAL EDUCATION

A physical education class

Middle School actively engages girls in a comprehensive program which includes team sports, fitness and recreational activities, dance, and yoga. Building on a solid Lower School program, girls hone motor and movement skills with a thematic emphasis placed on the importance of cardiovascular fitness. The program works to instill enthusiasm and motivation for lifelong participation in physical activity as well as to prepare students for interscholastic competition in Middle and Upper School.

SERVICE LEARNING

Seventh graders working at a local charity

Service Learning encourages Middle School students to understand and embrace their responsibilities of global citizenship. Through the service learning program, girls discuss issues of community concern and participate in service learning projects at the school, in the Pasadena area, and across the globe.

The 7th Grade course connects students with environmental responsibility on a personal level. They’re exposed to a range of environmental issues and projects through field trips, guest speakers, and hands-on experience, and provided with tools to lead more eco-friendly lives. 

In the 8th Grade program, students broaden their understanding of social issues at local and global levels. It addresses issues such as domestic and international poverty, animal rights, children’s welfare, and environmentalism, and culminates in small-group student service projects exploring selected issues. 

ELECTIVES

Students test out boats they designed and 3D printed in the STEAMWorks Design Studio

We offer a diverse selection of Middle School electives designed to help build students' skills in communication, research, design, and more:

SPEECH & DEBATE
This course for 7th and 8th graders introduces students to the world of competitive speech and debate, teaching students the skills of basic communication and persuasion. Students also learn how to conduct research using databases and think tanks from around the globe, how to organize and formulate arguments, and how to argue effectively for any ideas which they are given to defend. Additionally, debaters travel to tournaments throughout the year to compete against fellow debaters from around the nation; Westridge Debate boasts several State Championships and our Middle School team ranks in the top 15 in the nation. 

THEATRE
This year-long course is offered for 8th graders to deepen their study of theatre arts. Acting studies include improvisation, scene study, and monologue work as students devise their own comedic sketches and other short performance pieces. Our hands-on theatrical production curriculum also exposes students to stage management and scenic, properties, and costume design. The course ends with a public sharing of the students’ best work from the year.

CODING & GAME DESIGN
Our Coding & Game Design course for 8th graders empowers students to become creators and not just consumers of technology. With a focus on core programming concepts, the design process, and common game mechanics, students learn to design games, apps, and art projects using graphical and text-based programming language and robotics kits.

STEAM PROJECTS
In our STEAM Projects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) elective for 8th graders, students delve into the science of photography, explore the world of sound and musical instruments through mathematics and physics, and develop a fundamental understanding of electricity. Students utilize our STEAMWork Design Studio to build and test a variety of machines they create to explore the concepts of aerodynamics, forces, and energy.

HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

Practicing stillness 

Human Development gives girls at both grade levels the opportunity to learn about issues that impact their social, emotional, and physical lives, in and out of school. Through conversations and activities, girls are empowered with accurate information while exploring their own values and beliefs. Parents are encouraged to participate in these conversations by engaging their daughters in discussions about their own family values, a focus that is continually emphasized.

In 7th Grade, students explore the transition to Middle School, personal respect, the importance and complexity of friendships, and emotional and physical well-being, as well as comprehensive information about the developing bodies of adolescents and an introduction to human sexuality.

In 8th Grade, students discuss effective communication and decision making, health and wellness, media literacy, assertiveness and personal safety, cultural identity, reproduction and sexuality, stress relievers, and identifying and coping with pressures typically associated with adolescence.

CLASS TRIPS

Seventh graders kayaking along the California coastline

Our Middle School curriculum gives students the opportunity to explore topics outside the classroom setting, with various class trips providing an emphasis on outdoor education. The program is designed to have students act as stewards of the natural world, explore their creative expression and artistic intelligence, develop global awareness, and grow intellectually and emotionally as they pursue new interests and passions. 

Preceding spring break, 7th and 8th graders take part in Discovery Week - a transformative, week-long program that takes experiential learning to the next level. Recent offerings include learning about ecology and geology at Yosemite National Park, exploring U.S. history in Washington D.C., whitewater rafting on the Kern River, rock climbing in Joshua Tree National Park, exploring the California coastline, and more.

ATHLETICS

Westridge Tigers' softball victory

Participating in Middle School Athletics is fun! Because we believe in the educational value of athletics, Westridge strives to be a "no cut" school; every girl who wishes to try a sport will be on a team, which means any girl can play any sport. The Tigers have competitive A Teams for 8th graders with previous experience, as well as B Teams and tournament teams for 7th graders who are developing fundamental skills and looking to participate in interscholastic competition.

Westridge competes in the Middle School Independent League in basketball, flag football, golf, soccer, track & field, softball, swimming & diving, tennis, and volleyball. Middle School girls also compete on the high school equestrian team. For more details about our program, please visit the Athletics section.

STUDENT SUPPORT AND AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAM


Childcare for the After School Program during the 2017-18 school year is supervised by the CEC (Child Educational Center).  This program is for students in grades 4-8 and runs from dismissal until 6:00 p.m.  Students are able to stay on campus and play with friends, do school work (supervised program for both the Lower and Middle School), collaborate on projects, and participate in activities and clubs facilitated by the CEC.  This extra time helps create a sense of belonging for the girls, an awareness that this campus is a special place just for them. 

Students may stay as long or as little as they like until 6:00 p.m., and they may stay however many days Monday – Friday that they like.  The cost of the program for the 2017-18 school year is $1000, which may be paid by the semester - $500 by June 30 and then $500 by November 15th. 

If you would like to enroll your child, please pay online.  Should you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.

CATALOGUE OF COURSES

View the 2017-2018 Catalogue of Courses.

An independent, forward-thinking
day school for girls, grades 4–12

324 Madeline Drive
Pasadena, California 91105
Phone: 626-799-1153
Fax: 626-799-9236
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