Friends' Central Middle School

Friends’ Central’s Middle School plays a critical role in transforming eager, enthusiastic, and motivated elementary school students into self-aware, critical thinking, and empathetic eighth graders. Students in grades 6-8 are at a unique point in their cognitive, social, and emotional development. They possess the foundational skills of reading, writing, and math, and they are ready to to apply these skills in new ways both individually and collaboratively. They are ready to think more abstractly, question more critically, and problem-solve more creatively. They are increasingly ready to look outside themselves and our community to consider a more global context. Our Middle School program and curriculum are designed to target and capitalize on this unique moment in our students’ lives.

The time and attention our Middle School teachers devote to encouraging, challenging, and supporting our students as individuals and members of the larger community sets our Middle School apart. Our teachers understand and delight in the opportunities and challenges that come with shepherding children into adolescence. It is because of the individual attention our teachers pay to our students’ intellectual, spiritual, and ethical selves that students thrive.

Our program includes a curriculum rich with academic, artistic, and athletic opportunities, as well as clubs, weekly community service, and Meeting for Worship. We provide students with an abundance of hands-on learning experiences in and out of the classroom. A strong emphasis on study skills and personal responsibility are catalysts for success in Upper School. The adoption of 1:1 technology in the fall of 2014 combines our long history of academic excellence together with our commitment to innovation and preparation for a rapidly changing world.

Grade 6

For students entering Grade 6, Middle School is a new realm. For most, the transition includes a change from self-contained classrooms with a single teacher, to navigating the demands of a changing schedule and increasing academic demands. Guiding students through this process is is an important aspect of every grade 6 teacher’s role.

Grade 6 is a year of tremendous academic growth. Students build upon strong elementary school foundations and begin to acquire new, more sophisticated skills essential to their success in Middle School and beyond. Some examples include reading for more than plot, inferring authors’ messages and noticing literary techniques; drawing on prior knowledge and making predictions; learning the difference between working in a group and active collaboration; and developing plans to manage long term assignments.

Grade 6 highlights include:

  • Weekly community Service
  • Clubs
  • Mini courses
  • Study of the Renaissance with a trip to the Renaissance Faire

Grade 7

Students entering Grade 7 are mastering the transition to Middle School and are working to understand and manage the responsibility that comes with increasing independence. They are beginning to ask more of themselves, taking on some leadership roles in Middle School, preparing to step into the many demands of Grade 8.

Grade 7 is an important year in our students’ academic development. They move from the important lessons of grade 6 to increasingly abstract and independent thinking, viewing their world and the greater world in a more analytical way. Some examples of this include working effectively within a group by helping the group to problem solve, supporting a point of view with textual evidence, using prior knowledge to ask good questions, and challenging assumptions thoughtfully and carefully. Increasingly, grade 7 students are understanding their own thought processes and the way they learn.

Grade 7 highlights include:

  • Weekly community service
  • Clubs
  • A week at Echo Hill Outdoor School

Grade 8

Grade 8 is a critical year in our students preparation for Upper School and beyond. Grade 8 students are the leaders of Middle School. Their leadership skills are mentored and they are encouraged to take leadership roles in activities. This often involves mentoring younger students. They are beginning to know themselves and to pursue their passions, using their gifts to achieve individual success and for the community.

With the help of teachers, Grade 8 students have learned about themselves as learners. They understand how to approach different aspects of their learning - how to study for tests, how to approach projects, how to choose group members who will complement them - to ensure future success. They know how to use the resources around them effectively – advisors, teachers, support staff, family and friends. They understand how to safely and appropriately take risks – whether intellectual or otherwise. Some examples include, creating and supporting an original argument, making increasingly sophisticated connections between and among their studies of different disciplines, being self-directed learners planning their own approaches to projects, and mapping out their timelines.

Grade 8 highlights include:

  • Weekly Community Service
  • Clubs
  • EarthForce projects
  • The 8th Grade Showcase



Alexa Dunnington Quinn '98

Alexa has been the principal of Friends’ Central’s Middle School since 2012. She graduated from Friends’ Central School in 1998, before attending Oberlin College, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Art History. Alexa rejoined Friends’ Central soon after college, and spent 10 years teaching Language Arts in the Middle School. During this time, she earned Master’s degrees in English from Middlebury College and School Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania. Her son, Connor, was born in May 2014.


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