Academics: Ninth Grade at Bement

Ninth grade at Bement is a special year filled with much loved school traditions, student milestones, and one-of-a-kind experiences. Parents and students alike appreciate the many advantages of being the oldest students in the school. Upon returning to Bement, many alumni comment on the importance of their ninth grade year for helping them mature in a small setting, free from many of the pressures of larger secondary schools. Students appreciate the availability of teachers as mentors and friends in a smaller and more intimate class setting. There are several significant components that help shape the ninth grade experience at Bement:

Academic Life

By design, often the student: teacher ratio is lowest in our ninth grade. We want our students to strengthen their participation and refine their discussion skills in every setting. It's impossible not to be noticed and in turn, stretched and challenged within the comfort of a small class where each student plays an important role. In ninth grade, the curriculum often offers 2-3 math courses, ranging from pre-algebra, algebra, or geometry. A third year of a world language is completed, and history focuses on Western Civilization.
We have a rigorous English curriculum that focuses on writing skills, as well as studying  a wide range of literature, we read essays to short stories, The Odyssey to modern novels, the English curriculum both challenges and enhances the ninth grade experience. Faculty, students, and parents acknowledge the capacity for profound growth in this year. Faculty, students, and parents acknowledge the capacity for profound growth represented by the ninth grade curriculum.

Full Participation in the Arts

In the ninth grade, the collaborative efforts of the visual art, drama, and English faculty focus on the ninth grade projects, reflecting their dedication to creating an enriching and unique experience.  The ninth grade fine arts curriculum builds self-confidence by focusing on a student's individual strengths.  The visual arts program culminates with a symbolic self-portrait piece, created during the fall and winter terms, which challenges students to use personal symbols, as they create their pieces in a medium of their choice.  Students learn about contemporary art, write about each of their symbols, and develop a written artist statement as a reflection of their work.  This statement is also a component of the English composition assignment.  Each student formally presents their piece in a final class critique, and later to the upper school during a morning meeting.  This project aligns with a personally reflective monologue written in drama class, and performed during the winter term for the upper school, as well as reflective essays written in English class, which can be pivotal in preparing secondary school applications.

Leadership

Ninth grade students have a variety of opportunities to learn, practice, and refine their leadership skills. In a given year, ninth graders serve the Bement community in the following capacities:

Plan student activities and propose policies that impact student life
Mentor younger students
Serve as ambassadors and guides for new students
Design and give presentations on school rules and community standards during morning and all school meetings
Daily leadership in formal and informal athletic and academic settings
Provide presentations at trustee meetings

In past years, our ninth grade students have been engaged in a variety of community outreach and service experiences. Students have had opportunities to design and implement various projects that directly impact the Bement, local, and global community. From food drives that benefit the community Food Bank, to making crafts for the residents of neighborhood nursing homes, to clothing drives that benefit needy children in the Dominican Republic, ninth grade students learn the importance of being a good citizen and social responsibility through an ethic of service to others.

Global Perspectives

Through an international relationship with Hogar de Niño's, Bement ninth grade students spend a week living and working in a boys orphanage in the Dominican Republic. While in the Dominican Republic, our students learn invaluable 21st century skills such as intercultural communication, citizen diplomacy, and second language development. The international perspectives and insights that Bement students gain from their experience abroad are enhanced by the leadership, mentoring, and guidance of their ninth grade faculty advisors. While at La Suiza orphanage, our students teach basic literacy and math skills, engage in physically demanding work projects to improve the living conditions of the orphans, and spend time developing lasting relationships as “brothers” and “sisters” to the children of the orphanage.

Secondary School Consultation

Each year, we greet 20 – 40 secondary school admission representatives who come to meet our ninth grade students and hold information sessions, which turn into group interview sessions. We support the admission process for our students and families with both group and individual consultations by guiding them through each step of the school selection and application process.

CLOSURE

There is, perhaps, no greater testimony to how much our ninth graders mean to us than the multiple ways in which we celebrate their graduation from the Bement community. Our time-honored traditions such as Baccalaureate and Commencement are special moments for families as the entire school community takes time to recognize the impact each of our ninth graders has made on Bement. These ceremonies are complemented by a much anticipated event that is truly unique to Bement, Farewell Evening. During this gathering, individual teachers celebrate each one of our graduates with song, skits, roasts, and toasts. Time and time again, graduates and their parents tell us, “no one should miss this.”

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