The Middle School History program introduces students to problem-solving techniques, research skills, and critical thinking skills, as well as map reading, statistics, and graph and chart interpretation. Students distinguish between primary and secondary sources and assessed by a variety of methods. They develop time-management skills and effective study methods and learn the proper form for research papers. Geography is the primary focus of sixth grade, followed by American Studies and Washington State History in seventh grade. In eighth grade, students explore the development of belief systems and ethics by looking at world religions in the past and today.

Semester Courses


Required, sixth grade
Full year

This course surveys the world from the perspectives of physical, cultural, and economic geography, providing a foundation for further regional studies and Washington State history in seventh grade. Physical geography is the focus of first semester and human geography the focus of second. Particular attention is given to human interaction with the planet, forces shaping landforms (weather, climate zones, and ecosystems), demography, and resource distribution and utilization. Students learn about the influence of geography upon local and regional history as they improve their geographical literacy and apply concepts from the aforementioned areas of study. Students learn to create and interpret maps and charts to express data, and begin building their skills in independent research and presentation

American Studies

Required, seventh grade
First semester

Students learn the analytical skills and factual knowledge necessary to deal critically with major historical and contemporary issues faced by the United States. Students develop skills for historical analysis and responsible citizenship through discussion, debate, persuasive writing, and the analysis of both primary and secondary source documents. The class prepares students to actively engage in their local, state, national, and global communities. This semester class focuses on American history and government.

Religions and Philosophical Traditions of the Ancient World

Required, eighth grade
Full year

This course focuses on the religious and ethical traditions of ancient and pre-industrial cultures around the world. Our goals are to understand the key concepts and values that underlie these traditions and to consider the importance of religious and ethical thinking to the human experience. We examine the continued influence of these traditions on the modern world and, where possible, meet practitioners of contemporary forms of these traditions. We consider Mesopotamia and Egypt, Classical Antiquity, the Abrahamic Traditions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), as well as West African, Mesoamerican, and East and South Asian traditions.

Introduction to Economics

Elective, seventh and eighth grades
Second semester

George Stigler, Nobel Laureate in economics, stated it best almost three decades ago: “The public has chosen to speak and vote on economic problems, so the only open question is how intelligently it speaks and votes." Economists recognize that developing basic economic and financial knowledge is an important goal for a democratic society that relies heavily on informed citizens and personal economic decision-making. This provides a foundation for students to build upon later in Upper School Macro and Microeconomics, and ultimately have a better understanding of what they are voting for as citizens. The class focuses on how basic economic decisions are made in the United States. Students will be able to understand the perspectives of the producer, consumer, and the government’s role throughout the process.

The African American Freedom Struggle

Elective, seventh and eighth grades
First semester

This course explores the social worlds, protest methods, cultural expressions, and conflicting political ideologies of African Americans from the period of Reconstruction to the early 21st century. As students explore this rich history, significant time is also devoted to understanding and celebrating African American art, poetry, music, and literature. Driven by analyses of sources from a diverse range of perspectives and experiences, the course challenges students to reconsider some of their underlying assumptions about African Americans’ centuries-long struggle for freedom in this country. Key periods and concepts considered will include Reconstruction, the origin and impact of Jim Crow laws, the Great Migration, the Civil Rights Movement, Black Power, and Black Lives Matter.

Intensive Courses

Washington State History

Required, seventh grade
Second intensive

This experiential, three-week course includes day trips within the greater Seattle area, a trip to Olympia to gain a better understanding of the three branches of government, and overnight trips in one of four regions: Cascade Mountains (Central), Columbia Plateau (Southeast), Okanogan Highlands (Northeast), or Olympic Peninsula (West). Students explore connections between the land and the people of Washington, develop a better understanding of how Washington’s diverse geography impacts culture, political views, and economies of its regions, and consider the ways in which Washington’s history has shaped its present. In a culminating project, students present on contemporary issues facing one of Washington’s regions based on their experiences and research.