We believe the Kindergarten through Eighth-grade structure provides the following advantages:
• Being “top dog” in a K-8 environment has been shown to build confidence, empathy, and self-awareness at this delicate and vital time in a child’s development. Middle Schoolers are the leaders of our school community and serve as Student Council Officers, Service Learning Coordinators, Admissions Tour Guides, and Mentors (buddies) to younger students. ACDS graduates take these experiences with them as they move on to high school and quickly assume leadership roles in their high school community.
• All of our resources are devoted to kindergarten through eighth grade, which allows for opportunities at earlier ages. For example, our fourth graders are able to participate in interscholastic sports and kindergartners use 3D design and printing to reinforce their knowledge of 3D shapes, foster creativity, and build spatial awareness.
• Our academic program and schedule are tuned to the needs of this age group and are designed to produce balanced students who have time to participate and find success in extracurricular sports, the arts, and other activities.
• Students are able to be younger longer, and the vital importance of play is still valued. Students have three outdoor play spaces to choose from during recess. K-4th grades go outside twice a day for 30 minutes. 5th-8th grades have an indoor morning break/snack and then go outside for a 30-minute recess at lunchtime.
• Older students share our school with younger students and are expected to be role models. Our buddy program, which pairs lower and middle school students together, strengthens our school community and fosters a connection between older and younger students.
• Our eighth graders have developed the self-awareness and confidence to determine, with their parents, the high school that will best serve their academic and extracurricular strengths and interests. Being full participants in the high school application process – touring schools, writing essays, sitting for interviews, understanding what type of school is the right fit for them as a learner and person, provides our students with an experience that makes the college application process feel less daunting.