Middle School

Middle School Program Overview

Teachers differentiate instruction by providing various levels of content, methods of delivery, and options for students to represent learning. Our small student to teacher ratio affords dedicated teachers the emotional space to create meaningful relationships with students, building an inclusive and accepting community. This safe and encouraging atmosphere allows students to build confidence and independence as they explore their interests and individuality. Cell phone-free school days create a culture of presence. Our graduates move to high school and beyond demonstrating strong ethical character, academic excellence, and service to others.

Our teachers are highly trained in their chosen fields, the majority with advanced degrees. Teachers often work alongside their colleagues to co-teach integrated units such as an archeological dig or comprehensive water study. The middle school faculty strives to ensure that graduates meet the high expectations of the Orchard diploma, which calls for “ethical character, academic excellence, and demonstration of service.”

Middle School Curriculum Guide

Middle School at Orchard starts in 5th grade and goes through 8th grade. The program is centered around the academic, social, and emotional needs of young adolescents. Read more about this program in the Middle School Curriculum Guide below.

Middle School Experience

List of 9 frequently asked questions.

  • Middle School Schedule

    Students rotate through eight 45-minutes classes daily without any bells sounding. They have a mid-morning snack break, an hour for recess and lunch every day, and a school-issued laptop. In addition to core academic subjects, students take classes in the fine arts (i.e., orchestra, choir, band, art), PE, health, and technology. Our two week schedule rotation allows for a dynamic period, team time, that takes the place of one academic period 8 out of 10 days. Team time occurs middle school wide and is a time when all middle school students are able to focus on grade-level and middle school wide pursuits as well as pursuing and exploring different interests.
  • Advisory

    The Orchard School believes students thrive and succeed when they feel a sense of connectedness, efficacy, safety, and independence. Orchard’s middle school advisory program provides each middle school student with a sense of connectedness. Each advisory has an advisor, a grade level teacher, and approximately 10 students. Advisories work through a variety of team building activities, such as initiatives on Orchard’s ropes course, canoeing, camping, and other challenge activities, to create a safe space where social-emotional learning and academic mentorship takes place. Advisories meet each morning and at various times throughout the week. Advisors are the main liaisons between home and school and play the role of information distributors, mentors, coaches, cheerleaders, and advocates.
  • Winterm

    Winterm is a two-week intensive class that meets in February where students study a topic of passion or strong curiosity. Rather than a superficial exploration, this model allows for great depth of study and understanding. This two-week intensive term is known as Winterm. During Winterm, students engage in one mixed-grade course which will go in-depth into a unit or field of study.

    One of the biggest benefits of an intensive class at a progressive school is students choose their Winterm course based on personal interest. This allows students the opportunity to run with an academic topic, which also fuels a personal passion. In this atmosphere, students are excited to pursue more information and dive deep into the curriculum. It is a pure celebration of learning within a group of students who share a similar interest. Examples of Winterm courses: a musical production; Cook Healthy, Eat Local; Business Leadership in the Next Generation; Marsville: Colonizing the Red Planet; Creative Writing and Illustrating; and Slot Car Racing.

    See pictures and read more about Orchard's Winterm.
  • Clubs

    Student-driven clubs meet weekly during the school day. Clubs offer students the chance to explore interests, build leadership skills, and work within a multi-group peer set. Each club has a faculty facilitator. There is always a wide variety of offering that change each trimester. Examples are: Debate Team, Yoga, Model UN, Student Leadership Council, No Place for Hate, Ultimate Frisbee, Songwriting and Podcast Club.  
  • Wellness Class

    Students attend wellness class as a part of their daily schedule. Wellness class consists of physical education classes as well as trimester rotations of DEI class facilitated by our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Coordinator; SEL class facilitated by our School Counselor; and OE class facilitated by our Outdoor Education Coordinators. 
  • Class Trips

    Each grade level takes an exciting out of town trip. The trips not only have strong curricular connections but offer a chance for students to exercise responsibility, self-control and independence while growing closer with one another. Fifth grade travels to Mammoth Cave, sixth grade tours St. Louis, seventh grade explores the Ohio River Valley, and eighth grade visits Washington, D.C.
  • Athletics

    The Orchard School athletics program offers a wide variety of extracurricular sports experiences for children in grades 5 through 8. Our no-cut policy gives each student athlete the chance to explore athletic interests and develop physically and socially while learning about commitment, dedication, and sportsmanship. Contact Orchard's athletic director, Justin Burris, if you have any questions.

    Fall, winter and spring sports seasons offer experiences in nine sports:
    • Soccer 
    • Cross Country
    • Volleyball
    • Tennis
    • Football
    • Basketball
    • Baseball
    • Softball
    • Track and Field
  • The Arts

    Orchard has long valued the arts. In middle school, students take a one trimester visual art class each year. Students participate in music classes each day. In fifth grade, students begin playing a musical instrument as well as sing in the fifth grade choir. In sixth through eighth grade, students are able to choose either band, orchestra, or choir. Students who are passionate about the arts are able to pursue their interests through Winterm and Club classes such as: Fiber Arts, a musical, book and paper arts, Japanese art, and 2D or Not 2D.
  • Leadership Opportunities

    Orchard graduates leaders by providing opportunities for students to exercise independence and take on responsibility. Adolescents have the ability to make independent decisions but must be given the chance to do so. There are a number of opportunities for our students such as: Student Ambassadors, 7th and 8th grade students represent our school and give tours to prospective families; teacher assistants, 5th-8th grade students volunteer to assist teachers in multi-age elementary classrooms; Student Leadership Council, middle school students brainstorm, plan and execute philanthropic and social events; Special Friends, each middle school student is paired with a younger student taking a leadership role in the relationship.  In this way, our students learn by doing while building the foundation for leadership skills.

Middle School Photos

Featured Videos

List of 1 frequently asked questions.

Visits & Tours

We would love to have you join us on campus for an admissions tour. Private tours give parents and guardians a more detailed look at our 43-acre wooded campus and can help you envision how your child can flourish at Orchard.

Reach out to for more information or to schedule a tour.

Enjoy this VIRTUAL TOUR of Orchard!
For the safety of our students, please bring your driver's license with you in order to check-in and tour the campus. Tours last approximately one hour. We look forward to seeing you!