The pre-adolescent years are a time of dynamic transition and discovery for students. With that in mind, we designed our middle grades (6-8) program to develop foundational skills, nurture independence, and provide plentiful opportunities for the discovery of passions and strengths. Students benefit from a combination of rigorous academics, individualized social-emotional support and a robust menu of co- and extracurricular activities, which build their confidence and prepare them for even greater agency in their high school years. True to the Avenues mission, students in the middle grades develop into well-rounded, empathetic global citizens, while finding deep joy in their learning along the way.
Our research-backed academic program ensures that students are–in the words of our mission statement–“accomplished in the academic skills you would expect.” Through a combination of rigorous disciplinary and interdisciplinary study, students develop both strong subject-based knowledge and the ability to apply that knowledge to larger projects with real-world purposes and audiences. The Avenues World Elements define both the learning experiences and the learning outcomes that our students work towards across all their classes. In addition, students pursue their interests in electives and benefit from signature programs such as High Intensity Practice and J-Term.
Our English program is designed to help students become skillful, passionate readers and graceful, compelling writers. Throughout the middle grades students read and write across a wide variety of genres, including poetry, prose fiction and nonfiction. They learn through a range of experiences, including studying whole-class texts, joining authentic book groups, and pursuing independent reading projects. Students read not just to sharpen their skills of comprehension, analysis and appreciation, but also to borrow and master increasingly sophisticated techniques of craft, grammar and voice as they become both curators and creators of powerful stories.
Grade 6 texts have included I Am Malala, The Circuit, Romeo and Juliet, Before the Ever After, and selections from verse novels, poetry, and nonfiction. Projects have focused on the analytical essay, personal narrative, short story collections, and adaptations from text to stage.
Grade 7 texts have included Other Words for Home, Fahrenheit 451, The Giver, Zane and the Hurricane, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Born a Crime, and selections from dystopian novels, poetry, and works of nonfiction. Projects have focused on the analytical essay, memoir, journalism, graphic novel, and more.
Grade 8 texts have included The Song of Achilles, To Kill a Mockingbird, selected stories from The Moth, and a wide range of short stories from different authors, genres, and time periods. Projects have included the critical essay, personal narrative performed aloud, short stories, and original podcasts.
In our inquiry-based, hands-on science program, middle grades students learn to think like a scientist. Instead of splitting science into its traditional siloes, our integrated approach mirrors the process of scientific inquiry in the real world. Across each year and unit of study, we support students to develop and apply their learning across earth science, biology, chemistry, and physics, and demonstrate it through labs and real-world case studies. Students gain a strong foundation in the scientific method, data analysis, modeling, research, and scientific literacy.
In grade 6 students explore how climate change is affecting life in urban environments around the world. They study the scientific processes driving climate change and investigate possible solutions to the problems caused by a heating planet. Students focus on the concepts of earth and life while developing the skills of data analysis, reading, writing, and modeling.
In grade 7 students investigate what it means to be a scientist with two goals in mind: first, to acquire the skills necessary to explore the wonders of the physical world; and second, to understand how science can be both applied for good and misused within a social context. Students focus closely on the concepts of ecosystems, evolution, scientific method, and energy, while developing the skills of data analysis, pattern detection, reading, writing, and modeling.
In grade 8 students are challenged to uncover and pursue key questions about the world around them. The year is divided into four units: thermal energy transfer and efficiency; chemical reactions; food and digestion; and balanced and unbalanced forces. Students engage in scientific theory as well as hands-on projects and investigations, developing a deeper understanding of concepts such as system dynamics, the structure and function of the body, and chemical reactions. Across the year they develop skills of data analysis and representation, pattern detection, reading, writing, and modeling.
In middle grades math students develop skills and understandings across a range of areas, including number sense and theory, data and statistical reasoning, algebraic thinking, and geometric and spatial representations. We use multiple modes of instruction and learning, including an inquiry-based approach that cultivates students’ ability to articulate mathematical concepts to their peers and teachers. In addition to solving problems by themselves, students work in groups to develop their skills of collaboration and communication. During 8th grade, students transition gradually from inquiry-based math to the discussion-based format that is the cornerstone of our upper grades program.
In grade 6 students begin with a study of the real number system, examining how numbers relate to each other with prime factorization, least common multiples and greatest common factors. After mastering operations on rational and irrational numbers, students look at ratio and proportion through the lens of equivalent fractions and then tackle the concept of percentage. They explore the foundations of data and statistical reasoning, algebraic thinking, and geometric and spatial representations.
Grade 7 begins with a deeper dive into number theory and the concepts of ratio and proportion, enabling students to begin graphing and solving direct proportion problems. This leads to more study of algebraic manipulation and investigations into other linear relationships. Students learn to solve one- and two-step equations in preparation for more rigorous coursework in 8th grade. The year finishes with a study of two- and three-dimensional geometric shapes and representations.
In grade 8 students take Integrated Math 1, the prerequisite of which is completion of 7th grade mathematics (pre-algebra or the equivalent for incoming students). The year begins with an investigation into the distance between two points on a number line, leading to an understanding of absolute value and then the study of its symmetry and transformations. Students learn about operations with radicals and exponents, which leads naturally into a study of quadratic equations and their applications. They solve second-degree equations using methods including quadratic formula, completing the square and solutions as roots, and use the symmetry of the parabola to model and solve min-max problems. Through a study of Pythagorean theorem and its applications, students develop an understanding of the distance between two points on a coordinate plane. Throughout the year students are asked to present their ideas to the class and develop their mathematical communication skills.
We offer three arts options for students in grades 6–8: visual arts, instrumental, and singing.
Students explore a wide range of 2D and 3D materials and practices, including drawing, painting, ceramics, sculpture and digital art and design. With each project, students learn new techniques while exploring their unique ways of seeing and representing the world. Students gain a deep understanding of the artist’s process and the critical role that art plays in contemporary culture and has played throughout history. Through interdisciplinary project work, students become confident makers both in the studio and in other academic subject areas.
Performing Arts: Instrumental
This class is designed for students who play an instrument and want to be part of an ensemble. Students play music in a variety of styles, including rock, jazz, world music, classical and folk. They engage with music theory and practice reading music, while also learning to improvise and compose their own original music. This class is open to all instruments, including piano and guitar.
Performing Arts: Singing
Vocal students explore a variety of styles, including popular music, musical theater, a cappella, jazz and rock. Students sing together in small groups and solo. A portion of the songs we sing in class relate to themes, cultures, and historical periods students are studying in other subject areas, such as World Course and modern languages. This interdisciplinary approach helps students make connections between music and other disciplines, making their experience even more meaningful. This is a performance-based class. Audition is not required, but students must demonstrate a strong commitment to performing.
In World Course, students deepen their understanding of the world around them through the study of history, geography, and humanity. In a series of case studies, students develop their critical thinking and historical research skills while engaging with a range of primary and secondary sources. As part of our project-based approach to learning and assessment, students also advance their communication and collaboration skills, becoming confident and competent writers, presenters, and collaborators.
In grade 6, students explore peoples and cultures in a focused study of New York City. Engaging with a range of sources including books, articles, maps, and data sets, they hone their reading, research, writing, and presentation skills. In past projects, students have created a guide book to New York telling the stories of its neighborhoods and cultures, and have designed and advanced initiatives to strengthen the campus community based on historical and ethnographic research.
In grade 7 students examine civilizations and their fundamental guiding structures. They examine how global trends and transformative events have shaped our present and may help us address challenges of the future. Students engage with books, articles, maps, and data sets in order to hone their reading, research, writing, and presentation skills. In past projects, students have simulated the Industrial Revolution in order to study the costs and benefits of rapid urbanization, and analyzed the social, economic and environmental impact of new inventions and policies.
In grade 8 students investigate the social, cultural and political forces that shaped the founding of the United States, and examine how those forces continue to resonate today. Students engage with books, articles, maps, and data sets in order to hone their reading, research, writing, and presentation skills. In past projects, students have reimagined the Constitutional Convention to include a broader and more equitable set of constituents and founding documents, and designed and presented a community outreach project to advocate for a cause.
Middle grades students take either Spanish or Mandarin Chinese in sections based on their proficiency levels.
Students whose current proficiency aligns to the "Novice Low” to “Novice High" levels of the Avenues Language Scale are enrolled in courses for beginning and emergent language learners. These courses focus on building foundational skills and developing written and oral expression, with an ultimate goal of preparing students to engage in challenging academic tasks in the upper grades (9-12).
Students whose current language proficiency aligns to the "Intermediate Low” to “Advanced" levels of the Avenues Language Scale are enrolled in courses that challenge them to take on increasingly sophisticated tasks in their target language–writing a research paper, translating poetry, or addressing a real-world problem in a project–while also continuing to shore up their command of high-level grammar and conventions.
High Intensity Practice (HIP)
High-intensity practice was developed by the Avenues R&D team and faculty as a means of fostering in students the cognitive flexibility that underlies advanced problem-solving, creativity and critical thinking. In HIP Thinking classes students use the HIP methodology to tackle a range of math, writing and coding challenges. Lessons are built around a 45-minute period of focused and deliberate practice and aim to develop one or more of the eight Avenues World Elements in the “thinking” category: empathy, creativity, critical thinking, metacognition, reasoning, mental agility, abstraction and planning. As students progress through the middle grades, they gain a strong sense of their strengths and areas for growth, and a better overall understanding of themselves as learners across the disciplines. Middle Grades students in grades 6-8 have the opportunity to practice the HIP methodology in English, Spanish, or Mandarin Chinese.
Wellness and Movement
Spanning grades K–12, Wellness and Movement (WAM) is our signature health and physical education program, rooted in positive psychology and dynamic play. The purpose of WAM is to foster in students the knowledge, skills, and values that will enable them to live healthy, active and meaningful lives.
WAM supports students to establish a regular pattern of physical exercise and attend to their own personal well-being. Students practice fundamental movement skills and a range of team activities and games while learning how to set and pursue goals, plan for the future, and monitor their own thoughts, feelings and behaviors. In Wellness classes, students explore questions of personal identity and social responsibility, and deepen their understanding of healthy decision-making around relationships, sexual health, substance use, sleep, and nutrition. Movement activities include track and field challenges, pickleball, volleyball, flag football, kickboxing, yoga and pilates.
Middle grades by numbers
Students in grades 6–8 (2022-23)
Average class size
Electives offered in 2022-23
Student clubs and affinity groups
Global destinations for study abroad
The Deans Program
The deans at Avenues are full-time mentors whose primary responsibility is the social-emotional well-being and academic success of their students. Working closely with faculty and acting as a point of contact for parents, deans ensure that students are fully supported and appropriately challenged at school. In 6th grade, students are assigned a dean who will work with them through 9th grade. In 10th grade, students are assigned a dean with expertise in college counseling, who will guide them through the college process.
Amy Young was the founding director of college counseling at Avenues with over a decade of college guidance expertise.
The middle grades athletics program provides opportunities for students to enjoy the benefits of being physically active while experiencing the fulfilment of being on a team or in a program. We welcome all types of student athletes: those excited to be starting out in their sport; those who want to be part of a team; and those who wish to take their athletic abilities to a higher level and master their sport.
Beyond the court or pitch, athletics at Avenues develops important life skills and qualities like time management, leadership, goal-setting and dedication. The department is guided by the school’s values of Welcome, Safety and Respect, as well as our own four core values: character, commitment, culture and connection. Our staff strive to help student athletes reach their maximum potential, and then to be humble in victory and steadfast in defeat.
From 7th grade on, students can participate in our interscholastic athletics program by joining one of many teams.
Dance Now Avenues
Dance Now Avenues
Outdoor track and field
Dance Now Avenues
Each year middle grades students can choose from more than 20 clubs and affinity groups designed to extend academic work, foster belonging, and facilitate the pursuit of passions. Students are encouraged and supported to propose their own clubs in partnership with faculty advisors–an opportunity for them to develop their leadership and community-building skills. Current and past club offerings include:
- Adventure Stories
- Asian and Pacific Islander Affinity Group
- Black Student Union
- Book Club
- Coding Club
- Drama Club
- Girls Who Code
- Jewish Culture Club
- Knit & Crochet Club
- Lego League
- Model United Nations
- Queer Straight Alliance
- Robotics: First Lego League
- Ultimate Frisbee
We’re grateful for your interest and want you to have all the information you need to consider Avenues for your child. Click the links to navigate to the admissions section of the site, where you can find out more about the process, meet the admissions team, and begin an application.