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Middle School

In middle school, our students mature as scholars, honing strong habits of learning and character. They act as junior historians, analyzing original documents to better understand the context of historical events. They dissect a brain alongside Columbia University neuroscientists so they can visualize the connection between its form and function. Our students work with professional poets and come to know (and love) Shakespeare’s plays. They spend three days on Rensselaer’s college campus, working alongside professors and students on applied math and engineering questions. 

The middle school is designed around subject-based specialists, challenging students to navigate a schedule, multiple environments, and different class structures. An extended day offers students an opportunity for quiet reading before classes begin. Students can also take advantage of after-school programming from 5:00 - 6:00 p.m. to work with teachers and volunteer tutors. Students may use this time for enrichment, additional support, or homework.

Curriculum Overview

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  MS Overview Fifth Grade Sixth Grade Seventh Grade Eighth Grade
Advisory + Community Meeting  


Electives Overview

Our middle school electives program allows students to delve into one elective per trimester during three long blocks each week. The program is an opportunity for students to connect with teachers and pursue personal interests in arts, athletics, and hobbies.

Service Elective 

Lower School Service: This elective is an opportunity for students (grades 7-8) to give back to their school and practice role-modeling, organization, and leadership. Students collaborate with their advisor to determine ways to help lower school students.

Athletic Electives

Running: This elective is for students interested in improving overall fitness and participating in races with thousands of other runners. Runners of all abilities will team up to improve their pacing for long and short distances, strength train, and challenge themselves in races of 1 to 4 miles.

Soccer: In practice, we focus on ball skills, passing, and tactics. Then, students compete against each other in weekly games and tournaments.

Sports Camp: Students participate in a variety of sports where they learn fundamentals and the common traits for success in any endeavor - teamwork, commitment, sacrifice, hard work, and discipline. Sports may include flag-football, basketball, and ultimate frisbee.

Yoga: Yoga builds confidence and clarity into who you are, and who you can become. Yoga helps us learn about the importance of health, nutrition, and staying physically and mentally active.

Performance Electives

Fall Play: Students learn lines, songs, stage directions, and perhaps even some choreography in preparation for a musical in December.

Shakespeare: Elective participants (grades 6-8) study Shakespeare’s Othello in depth, compete in the Shake Smack by performing scenes with students from all over NYC at the Classic Stage Company theater, and produce and perform an abridged version of the entire play. Harlem Academy teams have placed in the Shake Smack competition in 2013, 2014, and 2015.

Visual Arts & General Electives

Entrepreneur’s Club: Students learn about personal finance, invest in the stock market, interact with guest entrepreneurs, and create their own business models.

Technology Club: Students explore the creative and innovative world of robotics & computer programming using Scratch.

Game Club: Students experience a variety of games, including new and unusual board games and card games.

“Mosaic” Literary Magazine: Students join an editorial board that selects writing and artwork from different grade levels and create the finished magazine.

Pottery: Students learn several pottery techniques – pinch, coil, and slab – to create a variety of small vessels and figures. These projects are supplemented with trips to museums or local studios to learn from ancient and current artists in this wonderful medium.

Fiber Arts: Participants design and create homemade accessories and art. Students who have previous experience with knitting are taught more complex projects, such as new stitches and multicolor designs, while beginners start with the basic knit and purl stitches to make a hat.

Chess: In this special elective interested middle school students have the option to participate in two instructional periods each week as well as competitions at Harlem Academy and throughout the city.

Trips and Events Overview

Princeton Blairstown Center - Middle school students, teachers, and volunteer parent chaperones head to New Jersey for three days of team building exercises in the woods.

Fall Play - As part of our electives program, students put on a play. Previous productions have included The Wizard of Oz; Peter Pan; You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

ReExplore NYC Day - All middle school students spend a day off campus on self-designed trips around the city. Each class group works together to plan a trip to local landmarks and cultural destinations. 

Poetry Reading - Poets visit our sixth and eighth-grade classrooms for six weeks, leading students through the creative process of writing, revising, critiquing, and performing original works. This unit culminates with a poetry reading where students read along side professional poets.

Eighth Grade D.C. Trip - Spring trimester of eighth grade students and teachers head to Washington, D.C. to see what they have been learning in U.S. history in action.

Shakespeare Performance - Students who participate in the Shakespeare elective put on an abridged version of a Shakespeare play each spring. Previous productions have included The Tempest and Macbeth.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute - Each June the middle school travels to Troy, N.Y. to spend three days on a college campus working with professors and exploring STEM subject.

How do middle school students spend their time each week?

middle school weekly schedule

Secondary School Placement Process Overview

Harlem Academy works with each student and his or her family to facilitate a successful transition from Harlem Academy to the rigorous secondary school that best suits the individual student. 

  • Sixth grade: Parents attend an introductory meeting that clarifies the school's role and the family's role in the process, student evaluation criteria, various secondary school choices, and the finances of each model. Families also begin attending school fairs. 
  • Seventh grade: Families continue with independent research, attend school fairs, and complete a comprehensive school survey. The head of school and placement coordinator meet with parents and students to discuss questions related to the admissions process and a range of school choices. Collaborating with advisors and school administrators, families develop a personal plan and draft a target school list. Class time is devoted to formal test taking practice and students sit for a practice SSAT.
  • Eighth grade: Students practice interviewing with the help of experienced volunteers and continue test-taking practice for the SSAT, TACHS, and Specialized High School Admissions Test. They also work with teachers to hone multiple drafts of application essays.