The Carpe Diem Spirit
Being willing to Carpe Diem, or "seize the day", may be as simple as taking a challenging bike ride or as complex as pursuing a particularly interesting topic of research. We believe it is not enough simply to do what is expected; an ideal student seeks greater opportunities and adds a positive spirit to the school on a daily basis. Stretching yourself is the rule, not the exception. Real growth involves taking risks-- trying something that's outside your comfort zone and taking on a challenge even if you're not quite sure you'll succeed. To help our students reach their highest potential, we teach the growth mindset. So, whether it's learning to balance equations or sink jump shots, compose poetry or scale a rock face, student here know it just a matter of time and practice to reach any goal.
"Hands-on classes and experiential learning at Dunn Middle School were game changers for my classmates and me. We're in dream jobs or in graduate schools and we give a lot of credit to DMS." - Billy Csete, Middle School '02, Upper School '06, Web Developer at Apple
Take a moment to browse through some of the signature Dunn Middle School experiences below, all of which are designed to challenge, inspire, connect, and support our students as they learn and grow.
Each full-time faculty member at the middle school acts as an advisor to a "family" of students. These advisors serves as a mentors, supervisors, and role models for their advisees, helping them successfully meet the challenges of adolescence and the daily and yearly expectations at Dunn School. Advisors are advocates for their advisees. Middle School "Families" support one another and serve as cheerleaders when one of their members meets with success. Students check in with their advisors every day.
Middle school students, faculty and staff members also enjoy several fun activities during several school day and evenings throughout the year. We start things off with a Middle School Pool Party on campus in August to welcome the students to school.
Popular events in the past have included the Middle School Revue (where students shared their hidden and not-so-hidden talents), Pancakes 'n Pajamas Day, themed dances, Fun Nite (organized and run by student government), Serendipity Day, a Spring Formal and more!
Our 8th graders enjoy a year that is designed to cultivate a growing sense of independence and ease the transition between middle and high school. In the first semester they head to San Francisco and in the second semester they spend time in Joshua Tree National Park. As a class, they also spend time on several projects and events, including Capstone, the Ride of Passage, and Graduation Speeches.
Capstone Project: The 8th graders carve out space and time within the heart of San Francisco to delve deeper into their strengths and areas of wonder. They start big, then whittle down to issues and values that matter most. They embark upon a multi-month journey exploring a relevant problem or issue. In the spring, they present their problem-question-action process to their peers, research coaches, research mentors, and the larger community. This model binds cross-curricular strands from previous years into a fresh, student-driven course of research and action.
Ride of Passage: At the end of May, the 8th graders complete the Ride of Passage. This 80+ mile bike trip includes a night of bonding and camping on the beach.
Graduation Speeches: Every 8th grader prepares and delivers a three to five minute speech at graduation. These speeches span a variety of topics, but a common theme is personal growth.