This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing to use this website, you consent to our use of these cookies.
8th grade is a crucial time of transition and growth.

Students desire more choice and independence as high school approaches, yet still need the joys and supports of a middle school environment. 8th grade builds to two significant events: a four-day Civil Rights trip to Alabama and Moving Up, the student-led, ceremonial transition to 9th grade.

As a 6th-12th grade school, Burke can start welcoming 8th graders into the high school and enabling connections with future classmates.

8th graders can join some high school athletic teams (including baseball, softball, and volleyball) and take part in the high school musical and community programs. They have more autonomy in the after school hours and even "practice" open campus privileges during the day – with significant guidance, of course.

Curriculum Overview

Delving into the American Civil Rights Movement.

Complementary 8th grade English and History courses tie into the capstone trip to Alabama. In American Voices, students examine the immigrant experience, southern literature, and the American dream in different literary forms – writing both analytical essays and short stories. In Topics in US History, they investigate civics, westward expansion, slavery and abolitionism, reconstruction and Jim Crow, and mid-century protest movements.

For Math, students may place into Advanced Algebra 1, Algebra 1, or Introduction to Algebra, which vary in pace and material covered. In Physical Science, students study properties of matter, chemical reactions, and forces and motion – including building a roller coaster with recycled materials and holding an egg drop challenge.

Students continue to study French or Spanish, with the option for more proficient speakers to join a faster-paced Spanish course. In high school, students generally move to French 2, Spanish 2, or Spanish 3.

In performing and visual arts, 8th graders enjoy a dozen elective choices, including Band, Chorus, Comedy, Directing & Design, Digital Illustration, Filmmaking, and Studio Art. All 8th graders have PE every other day.

List of 2 items.

  • 8th Grade Trip

    Birmingham, Montgomery & Selma
    Across three cities, students experience a four-day immersion in the Civil Rights Movement in the American South. They visit historical sites and museums, including the 16th St. Baptist Church, Edmund Pettus Bridge, National Voting Rights Museum, Montgomery Interpretive Center at Alabama State, and The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration at Equal Justice Initiative.
  • 8th Grade Leadership

    Moving Up
    8th graders take a year-long leadership class, preparing for the Alabama trip, designing the Amazing Race (our welcome for students entering Burke in 9th grade), and producing their own Moving Up Ceremony – where they celebrate the transition to high school. They also refine planning and communication (written and oral) skills and discuss the importance of kindness and "tank filling."

Middle School FAQs

List of 8 items.

  • How big are 6th-8th grades?

    6th Grade

    We cap this grade at 24-26 students. Students divide into two sections of 12-13 for most classes, but all share one homeroom. By keeping the class small, every student will know their peers and their teachers very well – which, in turns, helps them became strong self-advocates.

    7th Grade
    In recent years, we have welcomed an average of 7-8 new students annually in 7th grade, expanding social opportunities, while maintaining a close-knit group.

    8th Grade
    While not a typical entry year, we frequently have several new students join for 8th grade as well. Our most recent 8th grade (Class of 2027) was 33 students.
  • Do students come from specific elementary schools?

    On average, 70% come from public and charter elementary schools and 30% from private, parochial, international schools and homeschooling.

    In the last three years, incoming 6th graders have come from 53 different elementary schools. Incoming 7th and 8th graders have come from 32 different middle schools.
  • Do students receive letter grades?

    6th-8th grade receive numerical (0-100 scale) grades on assignments, including tests, essays, and projects.

    Report Cards
    6th grade report cards are narrative and do not include formal letter grades – giving students more time to build intrinsic motivation and to explore academically on their own terms. 7th graders receive narrative comments and Pass/Fail grades only, while 8th graders begin the transition to letter grades along with narratives.
  • Does the middle school have advanced coursework?

    Throughout Burke, and certainly in middle school, many classes are project-based – so students have the freedom to read, write, and create in ways that challenge them personally and that tie into their own interests.

    In 6th grade, all students take the same Humanities, Math, and Science courses and either French or Spanish. We introduce different pathways for Math and World Language in 7th grade, so students who are ready for a fast-paced class can have that opportunity.
  • Does middle school have electives?

    In 7th and 8th grade, students have significant choice among visual and performing arts electives. 6th graders sample a broad range of arts courses to help inform their future selections.
  • Can students have phones?

    The middle school is a 100% phone-free space. Students who bring a phone to school must leave it in the Head of Middle School's office.

    All middle schoolers are all issued an iPad through our 1:1 program, but iPads "sleep" at school overnight and students only use them in a guided classroom context.
  • Does middle school have recess?

    Students have a mid-morning "break" when they have access to common spaces and the 4th floor terrace, which also has a climbing wall. During lunch period, they have access to the Gym when they've finished eating.

    6th-8th graders have PE on five days out of the 8-day "cycle," including one 90-minute class.
  • Where do students gather?

    6th grade has two large, dedicated classrooms on the 4th floor, which include open lockers and are home to our 6th Grade Dean. Students have most "Core" (English and History), Math, and World Language classes in a cluster of 4th floor classrooms, while moving to other areas in the middle school for Math and Performing & Visual Arts and to the Gym for PE.

    In 7th and 8th grade, students meet both with their grade as a whole and with their advisory groups (5-7 students and one faculty advisor) at set times during the week. The 7th grade has lockers and gathering space on the 4th floor, while the 3rd floor lockers and Commons are the domain of the 8th grade.
Co-ed, progressive, college prep school in Washington, DC featuring a challenging curriculum in an inclusive environment for grades 6-12.