WHY A K–8 SCHOOL?
The Benefits of a K–8 School
Imagine a place where…
• making mistakes is looked upon as a core element in learning,
• teachers understand the developmental benchmarks of each student’s age,
• children work in concert as they read books, create art projects, sing and laugh with mentors from grades above them.
Research and common sense remind us consistently that the elementary and middle school years are about identity development and the sharpening of essential learning habits and practices. In a K–8 school, students and teachers can see the scope and sequence of learning patterns in each subject. Children can emulate older students and empathize with their younger peers. At Black Pine Circle School, we harness the best aspects of our lower and upper school programs and unite them in the authentic community that is our K–8 Program.
We meet regularly as a whole school to celebrate each other, edify each other, and further understand the path of true understanding. Students cooperate in mixed-age, mixed-gender K–8 houses (Blue Dragons, Yellow Lions, etc.), where they play games, solve schoolwide problems, perform, and serve others. We also bring our upper and lower school faculties together frequently to share professional development resources, opportunities, and ideas.
The relatively small population of Black Pine Circle School faculty and students and our low student to teacher ratio allow us to nurture a relationship between students and adults in a school setting, which is increasingly unusual. We believe that as a K–8 school we have insight into each student that allows us to partner with families in a remarkably powerful manner.
At 8th grade graduation ceremonies, students often reflect back on their experiences of beginning Kindergarten at Black Pine Circle School. They remember how big the world was and yet how safe they felt in the intimate, warm environment of their school. They recall their buddies each year who played with them, helped them through difficult times, and acted as a big brother or sister during their time in the lower school.
Enrolling in a K–8 school provides wonderful opportunities for students to expand their sense of family and feel connected to a variety of students with different ages, races, cultures, family structures, and personalities. It provides a sense of continuity as they progress through the grades and enables students to connect on a regular basis with the teachers and classes they had in the past.
Allowing your child the experience of nine years in a school that respects his/her unique qualities and watches with care and delight at the progression and success they find through the grades is a unique opportunity. This opportunity will enable your child to develop lifelong friendships, both with fellow students and their teachers. It will provide the continuity and security that will allow students to fully develop their potential and become lifelong learners.
At Black Pine Circle School, we value the intimate setting we can provide with small class sizes and an excellent student-teacher ratio. This enables students to develop deep friendships and to learn the necessary skills for resolving conflicts as they occur. Once students reach the middle school years, we realize the necessity of expanding their social pool for further social-emotional development. At sixth grade we add two classes, approximately 40 new students from local public and private elementary schools and combine this group with our incoming 5th grade graduates. There is always much excitement and anticipation for this new group of students; our graduates from Lower School eagerly await the opportunity to make new friends. We provide many social opportunities for both students and their parents to get to know each other in those first few months. This influx of students gives us the chance to expand our sports teams, our academic teams such as our math teams, and our ensembles such as advanced orchestra and band. With three groups for each grade, we can still provide students with the small class size of about 20 students, as they are mixed and split for various subjects. Thus, in the Upper School we retain that intimacy, but acknowledge the importance of broadening social horizons, and preparing students for the wider world of high school beyond Black Pine Circle.