The Junior High experience at the Dominican Community of Schools is unlike anything you will find at any single-gender school in the region. What makes us unique is that the students of St. Agnes Academy and St. Dominic School have the opportunity to experience a co-ed learning environment in grades seven and eight. During this time, students craft their own informed and inspired worldviews while building their self-confidence and understanding of diverse perspectives. Our students rave about this two-year experience as one of the most transformative and memorable times in their education.
In addition to our outstanding academic curriculum, SAA-SDS offers numerous opportunities outside the classroom for our Junior High students to explore their individual talents. Through our robust athletic program, participation in local engineering, math, history, writing and art contests, service projects, student leadership, drama productions, and vocal performance our students develop their individual interests.
The World as Our Classroom
In seventh grade, students travel to Lone Oaks where they participate in a global learning program. During this trip, students gain a deeper understanding of the challenges billions of people worldwide struggle with each day, and they learn to think critically about their roles and responsibilities as global citizens. The eighth grade trip to Washington, D.C. provides students with an in-depth study of our nation’s capital while enhancing their understanding of their role as citizens. Each year Jr. High families have the opportunity to host students from Guatemala, and our students have the opportunity to travel to Guatemala. These experiences contribute to the development of skills that will enable our students to be successful not only in school but also in life.
After completing the rigorous and well-balanced curriculum in our Junior High, students are well equipped for the challenges of their high school years. Our graduates excel in all areas of high school including academics, servant leadership, and athletics.
"At the Dominican Community of Schools our Jr. High students are given the freedom to explore their own learning style and become independent learners. Students work in teams, negotiate conflict, monitor and take responsibility for their grades. The teachers in the Jr. High encourage them to make connections across material from different classes, and to build, write, invent and explore."
The English Department is dedicated to developing our students ability to express their thoughts and ideas in both written and oral communication, therefore, the curriculum provides a strong emphasis in the areas of reading, literature, grammar, vocabulary, spelling, composition, research, listening, speaking and discussion skills. Students use the Lucy Caulkins writers workshop approach developed at Columbia University for writing. Literature, comprehension, listening, and discussion skills are taught using the Great Books Foundation process of shared inquiry and active reading. In addition, students study a range of novels and nonfiction both in their language arts classes and across content areas. Vocabulary requirements are drawn from literature, Pre-ACT prep resources, and our Membean online Vocabulary Program.
Our teachers recognize the ever-changing role of facilitating mathematics education and are committed to developing a strong foundation in computational, analytical and reasoning skills for each student. Mathematics is presented in an integrated, holistic manner that develops the skills of systematic and abstract reasoning in each student. Through our Go Math program, students have the opportunity to pursue a track that completes the concepts and skills of algebra in eighth grade so that they will be prepared to begin high school with geometry.
Our science curriculum is grounded in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) reflecting the key advances in science education research and calling for students to learn science by doing science. The curriculum awakens in each student a curiosity and a sense of wonder about the world and how it works.
Students study the specific disciplines of Life Science in grade 7 and Physical Science in grade 8 both of which incorporate STEM activities in the curriculum. As students begin these specific studies, they will continue to develop and apply the fundamental skills of scientific thinking and problem solving to each discipline. Both courses are designed to prepare students for advanced study of science in high school. Students are exposed to inquiry based lessons where they develop a testable scientific question, make a valid prediction/hypothesis, contuct a student-created experiment, evaluate outcomes based on data collection and analysis, and create an evidence based conclusion. Students are required to develop a written scientific based argument where they defend a claim with evidence and scientific reasoning. Laboratory procedures include work with microscopes, chemicals, drawings, and written observations, data collection, mathematical analysis of data, as well as, learning how to create and manipulate data using a variety of graphing techniques. Through hands-on lab activities students learn proper usage of Bunsen burners, balances, thermometers, pipette usage, beaker tongs, crucible tongs, and proper handling of dangerous chemicals. Through their rigorous study of science and STEM opportunities, our Junior High students consistently qualify for honors and AP courses in high school.
The Junior High Social Studies program challenges our students to discover themselves and their places in the world today and in history by studying geography, United States civics and government, and the Facing HIstory and Ourselves courses of Examining the Holocaust and Human Behavior and Exploring American Civil Rights and Migration.
Seventh graders begin their social studies journey in world geography which exposes them to an all-encompassing discipline that seeks an understanding of the Earth and its human and natural complexities—not merely the locations of geographical places, but to develop an appreciation that all of humanity are complex global citizens who have a responsibility to care for God’s creation and the stewardship of the Earth.
During the next two semesters, students study events in world and American history as they examine the choices of the past and their legacies to inform the choices people have today. As part of Facing History’s Partner School Network, SAA-SDS is committed to fostering dialogue, empathy, and civic participation as students develop their own voices and agency.
In their final semester of social studies, studies will take a deep dive into United States civics and government. Students will study how our democracy is structured, its strengths and vulnerabilities, and how they can use their voices to support a system that is fragile and dependent on all members of society to ensure that it functions to the best of its ability.
As they prepare to head to high school, SAA-SDS students will be prepared to be actively engaged, informed members of our country’s citizenry and to understand the rights and responsibilities that are inherent with that construct.
Students study Latin in grade 8, giving them the opportunity to do advanced study in several subject areas simultaneously. This course increases vocabulary and understanding of grammar enabling students to write and read with greater ease and clarity. Our Latin curriculum prepares students for learning and becoming fluent in the Romance languages, and our Junior High students are well prepared to study Latin in high school which connects them to several important professions that are steeped in Latin or English words derived from Latin. These include law, medicine, science, music, theology, philosophy, art, and literature.
Religious studies and faith formation are an integral part of our school’s curriculum and culture. The goal of the Junior High religion program is to cultivate an environment in which children can develop a close relationship with God and a love for each other. The teachings of the church are integrated across content areas. In grade 8, there is an emphasis on the Sacraments of Confirmation, which enhances the sacramental preparation that they receive in their individual parishes.
Each day begins and ends with prayer and students are encouraged to form habits of virtue throughout the school day as well as at home. Junior High students engage in an age appropriate service learning initiatives centered on the Social Justice teachings of the Catholic Church, global competencies and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Our student body is comprised of children from a range of religious denominations, and respect for the religious preferences of all students is fostered and encouraged.
Our Junior High PE Program places emphasis on the value of living a physically active and healthy lifestyle—in school and beyond. Students receive instruction in areas such as health, yoga, golf, soccer, basketball, volleyball, badminton, aerobics, and track. In addition, our JH students receive fitness training in our well-equipped fitness area. The PE program aims to develop agility, coordination, and endurance, as well as to instill general health knowledge. At the end of each year, students participate in the Presidential Youth Fitness Program.
Through our robust extra-curricular athletics program, students have the opportunity to participate in soccer, golf, basketball, volleyball, track, cross country, swimming, cheerleading, and baseball/softball.
Education in the Arts at St. Agnes Academy and St. Dominic School is an invaluable tool in building creativity in young people .Using the National Core Arts Standards as a foundation for our Fine Arts curriculum, we offer students a comprehensive, balanced, and sequential Arts education in an environment that includes a well-equipped and spacious art studio, two music rooms and a large theater.
Through the Visual Arts experiences of drawing, painting, printmaking, and graphic design, students develop an appreciation for and instruction in the basics of color, line, shape, space, texture and form. The study of great works of art is incorporated into the curriculum as is the inclusion of art in interdisciplinary studies.
The goals of our Performing Arts program are to provide students with an opportunity to participate in theatrical productions and to develop musical concepts and skills both vocal and instrumental. The curriculum includes Orff Music instruction and instruction in playing hand bells.
As extra-curricular activities, a full-production theater performance is offered each year along with middle school Chorus, and string ensemble. Students also have numerous opportunities to share their musical gifts at Mass, school performances, in the community, and in All West Tennessee Vocal and Instrumental Competitions.
Our Junior High program provides a range of opportunities for students to exercise their leadership skills through elected, selected, academic, athletic, and service opportunities. Our students serve as Admissions Ambassadors, mentors to the children at the Madonna Learning Center, officers in our Student Government Association, and service project coordinators to name a few.
Technology is incorporated into our environment as a teaching and learning tool. Our school is a leader in the use of technology in an educational setting and has been designated as an Apple Distinguished School.
Using the student standards outlined by the International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE), our students are using technology to transform their learning. They leverage technology to become empowered learners, innovative designers, creative communicators, digital citizens, and global collaborators. With the world of technology opening before them, our students are preparing to take their place in this field.
The objectives of our Student Services Department and our Guidance program are based on the five core competencies set forth by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) and are as follows: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. These five core competencies provide our students with a strong foundation for social relationships and academic achievement and are taught through our Junior High Mentor and Student-Led Conference programs in addition to assemblies focused on SEL topics. This growth and development process not only prepares our Junior High students for the challenges of their continuing education but also for life.