Academic Program Overview

Academic rigor is one component of a multi-dimensional education that also emphasizes physical, artistic, musical, and linguistic development. Our enrichment program has been enhanced through the development of Pursuits, a daily period that provides students with more opportunities to explore passions and receive support.

General Information


In the MS Advisory program, a small group of 10-13 students meet daily with an advisory teacher from their grade level. These small, supportive groups help students check in with one another, gain information, get organized, and successfully start their days.

Teachers use many resources in their program preparation, but the day to day interactions with students are guided by the Advisory Handbook (Linda Crawford, Origins Press, 2012).


Elective courses are designed to expose middle school students to visual, performance, dance, music, and design and innovation courses. These courses promote student creativity and develop a deeper understanding of artistic and/or design concepts. In Grade 6, all students are introduced to basic courses in art, drama, design, and music. In Grade 7 and 8, these elective courses build on the foundational experience of Grade 6 and develop more sophisticated skills and concepts. Students are required to select an equivalent of two full-year creative arts and design courses in Grade 7 and 8.

Core Courses

Core courses are the foundational learning program of the Middle School experience. Each student in the Middle School will learn in full-year core courses in Math, English Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, Physical Education, and World Languages.


In response to ASD's mission statement, ‘We challenge and inspire each student to achieve their dreams and to become a passionate learner prepared to contribute and adapt in a rapidly changing world’, we have sought ways within our schedule to provide students with opportunities to pursue their passions and to find support for their challenges.

Pursuits offers both support for and extension of learning. This 45-minute period runs three days a week and provides:

  • Short courses designed to provide ample choice for pursuing personal interests guided by a teacher.
  • Support courses in various subject areas which students may enroll in, or be encouraged to attend by teachers or parents.
  • Regular reassessment of their needs and their interests.
  • Toward the end of each 6 week period, with the support of their Advisory teacher, students register for the next 6-week block.


    Early adolescence is a unique time in a child’s life when physical and emotional characteristics are rapidly changing. Societal expectations for these emerging young adults increase. The middle school years are clearly a period of transition.

    • We believe that students’ intellectual growth must be stimulated with a pursuit of academic excellence.
    • We provide a challenging program based on the unique and diverse needs of our students.
    • We encourage the development of the aesthetic, social, physical, ethical, creative and emotional aspects of each individual.
    • We are caring and attentive role models.
    • We guide students in character development and personal growth.
    • We prepare students for future academic and emotional challenges.
    • Striving for excellence is critical to our success.
    • Every person has equal inherent value.
    • Embracing our diversity strengthens our community.
    • Integrity and honesty are essential to a safe and trusting community.
    • It is our responsibility to give help where needed.
    • Each person is responsible for his or her choices.

    Mastery: To provide an academic program through which students master skills that will serve as a foundation for continued growth and intellectual development.

    Self-concept: To assist students in the development of individuality, self-esteem, and interpersonal relationships so that they may regard themselves as contributing members of a global society.

    Multi-cultural awareness: To provide a supportive environment where cultural diversity and international awareness is respected and appreciated. Students should view themselves as global citizens.

    Exploration: To offer choices that allow students to explore a variety of relevant and meaningful educational experiences and interests that encourage creative thinking, decision making, use of technology and problem-solving skills.

    Responsibility: To develop individual responsibility and accountability for personal choices and actions.