In Middle School, we give students increasing independence over their studies to help them become confident, self-driven learners, ready for the opportunities of Upper School.”
—Glenn Chickering, Middle School principal
Grade by grade, our Middle School classes promote a growing independence and academic sophistication, with the Upper School particularly in mind. Regardless of topic, our approach emphasizes life-long skills such as critical thinking; strong writing and presentation; independent research and problem-solving; and group collaboration. Middle School students take seven classes per semester, with freedom to choose their art and modern language, plus their enrichment offerings. We offer a multitude of place-based signature programs that take in the cultural and ecological richness of our island. We nurture sustainability leadership—today and in the future—through our commitment to mālama kaiāulu (care for our community of spirit, land, and people.) Throughout all these dynamic opportunities, we ensure that each student receives challenge and support, according to their needs. By eighth grade, students are ready to conceive and execute a required capstone project, under the guidance of a faculty mentor. Each year, these projects display the skill, creativity, and sense-of-purpose within our eighth-grade class. We celebrate them across campus!
Sixth graders participate in one semester of performing art and one semester of visual art. This introduction provides a solid foundation for elective choices during seventh and eighth grades. In addition, seventh graders complete one required semester of art fundamentals that is divided between visual arts and performing arts.
Performing art electives typically include musical theater; acting; ‘ukelele ensemble; handbells; music technology; podcasts and public speaking; and debate and student news. Visual art typically include ceramics; batik and silk painting; art exploration with photo and video; and drawing and painting.
Through diverse genres (short stories, novels, poetry, and plays), we examine a wide range of literary themes and techniques that spark conversation and critical thinking in each grade. Students develop foundational skills, including grammar, vocabulary, paragraph development, and analytical and creative writing. Unique projects often integrate different academic disciplines and include a range of creative presentation approaches, including the use of technology.
Physical Education and Health
Through this course, we strive to inspire students with healthy goals and habits that will last well beyond their time in Middle School. We spend our classes being active; trying new, challenging things; and encouraging and uplifting each other. The curriculum supports students who want to prepare for Upper School sports as well as those who are more interested in fun, recreational activity. Topics include goal setting; creating fitness and nutrition plans; and practicing different training and strengthening movements. Health education is included as part of the physical education curriculum. The majority of health instruction is delivered in class, with supporting content delivered through the advisory program and subject classes where appropriate.
We believe math is worthy of study because of its direct applications and also as a mindset for solving problems throughout life. The sequence begins with basic foundations of traditional mathematical skills and algorithms taught in sixth grade. Here, students become comfortable and confident in the use and discussion of numbers and concepts. In seventh grade, a full year of pre-algebra creates a strong foundation, covering variables, expressions, solving equations, fractions, exponents, rational numbers, and many other concepts. The program culminates in eighth grade with a full year of algebra. Throughout their math experience, students use real-life applications, projects, games, reflections, and daily interactive SMART board lessons. Our goal is to help students better understand their personal strengths and preferences for processing and examining mathematical situations, and thereby to prepare them for success in high school, whether they consider themselves to be artists, athletes, writers, or budding mathematicians.
Classes maximize the unique opportunities found on Hawai‘i Island including volcano study, snorkeling to analyze reef ecology, and collaborative sea turtle research with NOAA. Through laboratory inquiry, demonstrations, and discussions, students learn the scientific practices. All of these activities are designed to foster critical thinking, mathematical analysis, communication, presentation, and other key skills that will serve students throughout their academic careers in the sciences, as well as other subjects. Sixth grade students focus on the physical sciences, with emphasis on waves and energy. In seventh grade, a life science focus introduces students to the patterns, processes and relationships found in the living world. Eighth graders explore the geological history of the earth as it relates to their own home in Hawai‘i, with a specific emphasis on volcanology. They are also introduced to chemical reactions, thermal energy, and the writing of scientific papers.
In Geography and World Cultures, sixth-grade students learn about the individuals, ethnic groups, and events that have shaped today’s modern cultures. Throughout the year, sixth graders enhance skills associated with maps and globes, reading, language arts (writing and reference skills), and reasoning, with a consistent focus on human relations, citizenship, and values.
In seventh grade, students take United States History, examining events that have shaped our country. First semester focuses on America pre-contact and continues with in-depth study of colonization, revolution, and expansion. Second semester includes slavery, the Civil War, industrialization, the World Wars, and beyond. Seventh graders build skills in critical analysis and the presentation of arguments and ideas.
During eighth grade, students enroll in Hawaiian History and Leadership. Through Hawaiian ways of learning, students study how Hawaiian cosmology, migration stories, geography, and stories of place can teach the qualities of good leadership. The class includes language, chant, and hula, preparing students for a cumulative performance at their eighth-grade transition ceremony.
Middle School students study three years of language. In sixth grade, students take a semester-long introduction to Mandarin Chinese and also to Spanish, after which they choose to concentrate on one language for the next two years. The language classroom is a dynamic place where students are given maximum exposure to the target language through not only instruction but also readings, games, cultural videos, songs, music, and other activities. Spanish and Chinese culture and history are woven throughout the curriculum. By eighth grade, instructors and students use the target language as the primary medium of communication.
Our enrichment program ensures that students have time to pursue their favorite disciplines and activities with more independence, or to branch out and try something new. Typical offerings include yearbook, Math Counts competition, computer science, marine science, Ulumau Garden care, ‘ukelele lessons, horseback riding, Chinese culture club, and Author Hour (a book club). Students can also seek extra academic support if they desire during this period.
We offer after-school activities and a supervised study hall at the Village Campus for families who would like to extend the school day. The program runs Monday through Friday, from 3:30 to 5 p.m., and students may enroll on trimester basis. Classes, activities, and sports are led by qualified teachers and coaches; offerings vary throughout the year and have included LEGO League, creative writing, woodworking, volleyball, and many others.
In addition, students may enroll in HPA’s after-school horse program or tennis program, both based at the Upper School.
Eighth Grade Transition Program
During the fourth quarter of their final semester, eighth-graders participate in a comprehensive transition program to prepare them for the Upper School. They also plan their major year-end community activities and celebrations, including the eighth-grade transition ceremony. This program has several important components—visiting the Upper School to learn about academic classes and the athletics program; health and wellness topics presented by the counselors; and small group workshops led by the eighth-grade advisors. The program culminates in the eighth grade transition ceremony, which is made especially meaningful through our Hawaiian studies program as students honor their teachers, families, and each other with thoughtful words, beautiful chants, and warm aloha.