The Student Experience
Upper School Advisory
Our advisory program serves as an area of support for students and as a program for social- emotional learning. Students meet in small grade- level groups with a faculty advisor once each week, covering a range of topics to help students navigate early adolescence in a way that fosters healthy identity development and a positive social climate.
Sixth graders focus on study skills and making the transition to middle school, while Seventh and Eighth graders’ advisory topics include stress management, values clarification, leadership training, friendship scenarios, and body image.
Grade level advisors meet together to plan based on the group’s needs. Each student is assigned an advisor for the school year who serves as the primary point of communication for the family, overseeing academic, social, and emotional growth and helping students to reflect on their work and set goals as well.
Black Pine Circle School After-School Clubs & Athletics
A rich offering of after-school clubs is held in three sessions across the school year, and headed by Black Pine Circle School faculty as well as teachers from other venues. Fees are set by the club leaders and are variable and generally include a nutritious snack. Club schedules are posted approximately two weeks before each session.
The following list represents a sampling of the clubs and sports Black Pine Circle School has offered in the past.
In addition to the weekly Physical Education curriculum, kids in the upper grades have the option to participate in school sponsored interscholastic competitions in soccer, basketball and volleyball. As part of the Middle School Sports League, Black Pine Circle is committed to offering equal programs for both sexes. These opportunities provide students with the chance to participate in a larger athletic world not generally accessible to people outside of professional sports. The soccer and basketball teams practice and play home games at James Kenney Recreation Center, located within walking distance of the school at 1720 Eighth Street. The volleyball team practices and plays at the upper school site. While participating in these interscholastic teams, Black Pine Circle School students have the opportunity to work with kids that they may not be with during the regular school day, and to meet kids from other local independent schools.
Black Pine Circle School’s “HOUSES”
Black Pine Circle School’s “House” system is based on the English system of cross grade groupings of children created to foster friendship and cooperative learning experiences. Black Pine Circle School has used the House system since its inception and has recently enjoyed renewed interest as a new generation of children learns about it through the Harry Potter series. Houses develop school spirit, yet do not focus on competition in the Lower Grades. Students feel a sense of camaraderie and loyalty to their House.
When a child enters the school, he/she is placed into one of 8 houses, either randomly or based on which house an older sibling has already joined. The six original houses were the
As the school grew, the Gray Wolves and the Turquoise Turtles were added. Each house has a house-color T-shirt decorated with its animal mascot and a House song, that can be sung alone or with the other Houses, as a round.
Lower School Houses
Each house has 2-3 students from each grade, Kindergarten through Fifth, adding up to about 16 students each house. Each House is led by a teacher or staff member. Houses meet every 4-6 weeks during the Friday morning assembly time.
During the last few years the House activities have centered around the school’s annual theme. Teachers plan the activities and projects together and then lead the students in the fun. Previous themes have led the students to explore various cultures around the world, learning about different genres of music, developing story-telling skills and most recently, playing cooperative games which complemented our “Take A Chance” theme.
Upper School Houses
Students coming up from the Lower School stay with the same House they have “grown up” in, while new students are added to fill out the houses at about 15 members per house. Each house includes students from 6th, 7th, and 8th grade.
Along with participating in some assembly games and activities together, Houses strive to meet trimester “House Point” goals, and ultimately vie for the coveted “House Cup” that is awarded to one winning house at the end of the school year. Students earn House Points by volunteering to help with school community projects (e.g, pizza days, campus beautification), zany House contests (e.g., obscure trivia, a silly miniature golf tournament), and participation in spirit days (e.g., Twins Day, Hallowe’en, Crazy Hair Day).
Houses allow students to interact and bond across grade levels, and they also provide a relaxed forum for school pride.
Lower & Upper School
At least twice a year all Houses, Upper and Lower are brought together for either a sing-a-long or, at the end of the year, for House Games Day. Students K-8 gather with their Housemates to play various games in a nearby park. Older students can be seen with younger children participating in Three Legged Races, Sack Races, Water Balloon Toss and other fun activities.
Lower School Buddy Program-
Each year, every child in the Lower School is matched with a “buddy.” The Buddy Program promotes a “sense of family” for all the students and allows them the opportunity to be a ‘big sister’ or ‘brother’ to a younger child. The buddies are chosen from specific grade pairings; Kindergarten with Third Grade, First with Fourth Grade, and Second with Fifth Grade. At the beginning of the year, the two Head Teachers from the grades to be paired sit down and match up students; their choices are often based on personality or similar interests. Throughout the school year, the buddy classes get together for a variety of activities that allow the children to bond and develop a friendship. Each year a student has a different buddy, but often those friendships continue for many years.
Buddies usually get together every 4-6 weeks. Activities include a student interview and get-to-know-you party, holiday events, walk to a local park or trips to a concert, special recess or PE time, and fun craft projects, as well as making appreciation cards for one another. Students have the opportunity during recess, lunch or aftercare to develop these friendships even further.