Our students thrive in the midst of living ideas from renowned authors, learning how to speak about what they see and hear in their own words. Our K4 through 7th grade students are trained in 17 different subjects — not limiting interests but providing exposure to a world outside of their own. The broad foundation for intellectual life and disciplined character established in these students prepares them for the critical thinking skills, growing independence and vocational groundwork that our traditional high school programs develop. Our culture of kindness frees children from the bonds of fear and liberates them to open their minds and hearts to a world rich with relationships, ideas and beauty.
Calvary’s middle school is designed to function as a cohesive unit within the K-7 campus. Middle school students have their own wing, but unity, kindness and care for others is encouraged in place of the isolation and separation that can accompany a totally self-contained middle school unit. Middle school assembly, breaks, lunch, field trips and activities provide many opportunities for variety and togetherness. At the same time, middle school students form relationships with younger elementary students through morning assembly, service relationships, chapel and reading buddies, lunch dates, and even overlapping break times. Service is a major component in our middle school. Students spend their middle school years learning how to care for their immediate surroundings, neighbors and those more vulnerable than they.
The junior kindergarten classroom resembles formal and informal times at home. It offers opportunities for independent and group play, practical life applications, and seasonal art and readings. Teachers provide formal instruction in Bible, number sense, writing, painting and drawing. Students are guided through times of active play and quiet rest, and the classroom environment provides places for children to sprawl out with blocks and playthings.
Young children are nurtured through relationships with their teacher, learning texts and classmates. There are many “firsts” for them, and it is our unique privilege to lead, direct and guide them in healthy relationships with all of life. Teachers introduce text, number, nature, letter, poem, paint and pencil, taking into account that children can flourish as they use these distinct mediums to communicate ideas and expressions in an atmosphere of focused attention, clear instruction and joy.
Most people recall kindergarten with fondness. When you see the bright faces of the kindergarten students as they arrive for the first day of school, full of eager anticipation and excitement, it is easy to understand why. In kindergarten, realms of opportunity and knowledge open before children, and the delight and joy they find in this new world is evident each day on their bright faces.
The trajectory of each child’s schooling begins here, and his or her affections toward learning are formed in our classroom. An atmosphere of love, affection, support, safety, learning, growth, well-formed habits and an appetite for ideas will bless the child for his or her whole life. Teachers introduce text, number, nature, letter, poem, paint and pencil, taking into account that children can flourish as they use these distinct mediums to communicate ideas and expressions in an atmosphere of focused attention, clear instruction and joy. Subjects include Bible, literature, mathematics, phonics, reading, spelling, nature study, composition and many more!
First grade is a delightful and enriching year for both teacher and student. Students continue to strengthen their reading, writing and arithmetic skills. They will delight in Andersen’s fairy tales and the fables of Aesop, laugh with (and at) Pinocchio, celebrate Aslan’s triumph, learn to love flowers with Monet, put on a puppet show for their schoolmates, and much more.
Second grade strengthens the beginning skills of listening, reading, writing and arithmetic. Student and teacher will enjoy tales by Beatrix Potter and the Grimm brothers, and read about William Bradford and Abigail Adams. The courage and selflessness of these Americans, the greed of the Selfish Giant, and the mischief of Peter Rabbit will provoke lively discussion. These are years of first encounters and new pathways for the mind and brain—what a privilege to play a part in that important formation!
This year, students encounter formal readings in history and science. They discover ancient Egypt in history while exploring paleontology and mammalogy in science. Their curiosity is piqued by lively, vivid history texts. Their capacity to give attention grows as they observe and experiment in science. They begin to write narrations and build history and science journals. Students are ready to learn the worthiness of work and the meaning that comes from working soli Deo gloria (Latin for “glory to God alone”).
Third grade is a transition year for many reasons: students read from their own texts and respond to text by incorporating more written work. In an atmosphere of joy and with instruction in habit, they grow, rising to the challenges before them. Subjects include Bible, composer study, literature, history, science, nature study, mathematics, handwriting and much more!
This year, students read of the idea of citizenship and begin formal instruction in composition, all while they continue to feast on ideas from previous years. Grammar and composition syllabi keep you abreast of skill development in these subjects. They investigate the Greek world and the American colonies, take up ornithology and meteorology, travel through Spain with I, Juan de Pareja, and explore the Swiss Alps with Heidi.
Fourth grade continues to be a growing-up time, where the children hone in on their skills of relationships with one another. Conversations in science, history, literature, citizenship and Bible continue in class discussions. They desire to bring cohesiveness of the past and the present through their questions of how and why. The importance of inclusive relationships is equally on the forefront as children begin to be attracted to others who are “more like me,” whether athletically, intellectually or in personality. Relationships are optimal when they are inclusive rather than exclusive, and this atmosphere is overseen by the teachers as they model love and care for others and quietly and gently provide instruction to do likewise.
In fifth grade, students solidify elementary skills, gaining fluency in arithmetic, grammar, composition and geography. They learn to approach work not as data to be memorized or assignments to be finished, but as opportunities to build subject knowledge, that they might gain skill and mastery in its use. They learn to ask, “What do I need to know about grammar so that I can correctly and clearly communicate in speaking and writing all that I know and think? What do I need to know about geography to understand the features of the world, and the relationships of the features on a continent and in parts of the world? Am I fluent with numbers? Can I manipulate whole numbers, fractions, decimals and percents? Can I use algorithms to describe and solve problems in the physical world?”
Sixth grade continues to offer a feast of knowledge as students read the lives of Moses to David, the miracles of Jesus, the Sermon on the Mount, and letters to the Church. They also find inspiration in histories of the British empire, ancient seafarers, westward expansion, and Michigan history. They delight in studies of astronomy and botany, the adventures found in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, and a year in the life of a boy in The Yearling. They discover what it means to be a person who is defined by virtue and consistent character as they study Ben Franklin and men and women of the Titanic. This content feeds the minds of teachers and students alike with inspiration and aspiration that permeates heart and mind long after the books are closed.
Students are offered many opportunities to solidify elementary skills that will serve them well throughout their school years. During the year, they build on an earlier foundation of skills and fluency in arithmetic, grammar composition and geography. Students approach these subjects not as data to memorize or another assignment to complete, but with the aim of gaining knowledge about the subject, that they might grow in skill and master its use. They learn to ask, “What do I need to know about grammar so that I can correctly and clearly communicate in writing and speaking all that I know and think? What do I need to know about geography to understand the features of the world, and relationships of features on a continent and in parts of the world? Am I fluent with numbers? Can I manipulate whole numbers, fractions, decimals and percents? Can I use algorithms to describe and solve problems in the physical world?”
In seventh grade, teachers and students will travel a road together meeting many inspiring souls. These are people, real and fictional, who purposefully pursued joy and hope, peace and forgiveness in their time, when the evidence before them offered only darkness and despair. They have journeyed before us facing some of life’s greatest challenges and difficulties, from the abolition of slavery to the holocaust. The texts are so rich that students will almost experience the longing for liberty and justice of Frederick Douglass, the determination and perseverance of Helen Keller, and the isolation and despair of Robinson Crusoe, to name a few. Students follow Solomon to Jeremiah, the parables of Jesus, Paul’s letters, and selections from Psalms and Proverbs.
Students continue to solidify elementary skills, gaining fluency in arithmetic, grammar, composition and geography. They delve into entomology and energy. They have developed the good habit of approaching work not only as assignments to be completed or data to be memorized, but also as opportunities to deepen their understanding and mastery of the subjects they study. They continue to practice a habit of asking probing questions: What do I need to know about grammar, so that I can clearly and correctly communicate what I know and think? What do I need to know about geography to understand the features of the world, and the relationships of the features on a continent and in parts of the world? Am I fluent in numbers? Can I manipulate whole numbers, fractions, decimals, and percents? Am I familiar with the algorithms that describe and solve problems in the physical world?