Each Wednesday morning we have two chapel services, the second one for 5th – 8th grade. This 30 minute gathering is not only our time of worship and prayer, but also our time to recognize birthdays with a birthday blessing from the priest and to celebrate our middle school students’ accomplishments.
One of the very special events in chapel is our Rite 13 ceremony, celebrating our students’ passage from childhood into adulthood, becoming a teenager. All parents and grandparents are invited to attend chapel with the students, and are especially encouraged to attend the special ceremonies for birthdays and awards. At the beginning of chapel each week, our students bring canned goods and snacks to support Holy Nativity Episcopal Church’s “Backpack Buddies” program, a program providing a backpack of food every Friday to an anonymous child facing a weekend without something to eat.
All middle school students at Holy Nativity Episcopal School have a required religion course one day per week, taught by our school chaplain, who is also the priest of Holy Nativity Episcopal Church. The classes are designed to strengthen the six traits of success: leadership, scholarship, citizenship, fellowship, character, and faith. Students have weekly prayer partners, discuss portions of the Bible, hold conversations on age appropriate topics like bullying, and being a good friend, and occasionally watch videos related to character development and decision-making.
Our newest --and now a must --tradition, in keeping with our Episcopalian traditions, is our Blessing of the Pets. Everyone at the school is invited to bring a pet, or a photo of a pet, and have it blessed by one of our two priests. The morning of the event sees approximately 500 children and adults --including neighbors of the school, past graduates and extended family—and a remarkable variety of pets, all getting along beautifully as each is blessed.
Spanish classes are required and included in each middle school student’s schedule. Spanish is taught to all Holy Nativity students beginning with 3 year olds enrolled in junior pre-kindergarten. It is a graded subject for middle school students; however, students who transfer into Holy Nativity without previous Spanish experience are not graded in this required Spanish course until it is determined to be appropriate.
Physical Education is required twice a week and supplemented by a variety of physically active electives. The PE department awards good sportsmanship ribbons monthly during chapel, organizes Field Day the last week of school, trains students for Presidential Physical Fitness testing and presents the awards annually at end of year ceremonies, and maintains the basketball, tennis and volleyball areas. The annual Fun Run in February has become a staple event in running circles and an excellent fund-raiser for the PE department. It is also good-time fun for HNES families.
SIXTH GRADE REQUIRED ELECTIVES
As new students in middle school, 6th graders are required to take a first semester Study Skills class. The purpose of this class is to provide support in the transition to middle school by providing strategies for: organizing lockers and notebooks, reading textbooks for information, developing skills in note taking, preparing for tests and semester exams and learning time management.
MIDDLE SCHOOL TECHNOLOGY
Holy Nativity became a wireless campus in 2011-2012. With this availability, the middle school adopted a BYOD (bring your own device) policy which supports our highly-valued, daily 15 minute silent reading time. All middle school students are issued locks for their lockers as a protected storage option for this technology. All of the 6th, 7th and 8th grade classes fully integrate meaningful technology into their curriculum. The 24 computer technology lab, equipped with a projector and screen, is available for middle school teachers’ use with their classes. The middle school also has a classroom set of Chromebooks and a classroom set of Alpha Smarts, available for checkout for use in the classroom. Each middle school classroom is equipped with a SmartBoard or a projector and a document camera.