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Middle School Visual & Performing Arts

All Middle School students participate in a rotation of substantive, multi-week arts classes, exposing them to a rich variety of disciplines and forms, including dance, graphic design, photography, theater, studio art and music. The 8th-grade curriculum incorporates more choice and longer rotations.

  • 3D Studio Art

    Students in seventh-grade 3D Art provides an introduction to the Elements and Principles of Design and use varied techniques to create 3D art. They will work with fabric, clay, steel and copper to create several unique art pieces. Students will be taught basic metalworking techniques using the welder and torch. Each project will allow exposure to several different mediums and tools in this fifteen session, six-week course.
  • Classical Music Ensemble

    In this course we explore art music from a wide range of historical eras. Students learn about composition techniques used by the great composers of each era in music. We learn the language of music by studying different aspects of music including theory and the principles of sound and acoustics. Our rehearsals lead up to at least one performance at the end of the semester. All members will be required to participate.
  • Dance

    Dance is open to anyone who would like to learn proper contemporary dance technique, including aspects of jazz and hip hop. No previous experience is required. Students learn basic technical aspects of dance, including traditional foot, arm and body positions, fundamental locomotor and non-locomotor movements, rhythm and musicality, basic dance stretches and strengthening exercises, and dance performance. Students are introduced to improvisation and choreography, and begin choreographing their own combinations. Each class member is required to perform at one school event during the course.
  • Digital Media Arts: Graphic Design or Photography


    This course introduces students to the basics of visual communication through images and design. At the beginning of the course, students research printing, photography, and digital communication in the context of community; learn digital camera functions and features; gain an understanding of proper digital photo workflow using iMacs; and begin working with Photoshop for retouching and editing purposes. Students also gain familiarity with Illustrator and InDesign in order to construct their own graphics, photographic illustrations, and small publications such as newsletters and flyers. Written projects explore how young people have made a difference in the world through the use of photographs or publications. Design and photo skills are applied in a series of projects, both individual and collaborative. The Middle School curriculum and ethical questions guide our discussions and project choices, as the class takes on social issues and designs artwork that address them.
  • Eighth Grade Musical

    Students in this class will integrate acting, singing, and dance while rehearsing for a full-length musical production performed at the Avo Playhouse in May. Students will be required to complete an audition to place them in an appropriate role in the production. Students will benefit from coaching in acting, voice, and dance as well as learn about musical theater history, careers in musical theater, and the technical aspects of creating a musical theater production.

    Although most of the rehearsals take place during class time, there will be rehearsals required after school and on the weekends starting two weeks before the performance. Further details will be sent home to students and parents in the fall, at which time families will need to make a commitment to the attendance requirements.
  • Intermediate/Advanced Instrumental Ensemble

    Intermediate/Advanced Instrumental Ensemble is open to students who have been playing their instruments for at least one year and are somewhat proficient on their instruments already. This ensemble plays ALL styles of music, including (but not limited to) rock, pop, classical, and jazz. ALL instruments are welcome in this ensemble.

    We strongly encourage students who recently started an instrument to sign up for Beginning Instrumental Ensemble first trimester if they would like to be in Intermediate/Advanced Instrumental Ensemble second trimester. Beginning Instrumental Ensemble will help students improve their technical skills before joining Intermediate/Advanced Instrumental Ensemble second trimester. (7th and 8th grade)
  • Jazz Rock Ensemble

    In this course we study different genres of modern music including jazz, rock, blues, latin, and funk. Students will explore a variety of forms and chord progressions which are the building blocks of modern music. We will work on how to play solos over different forms and how to communicate with music to balance and blend. We will have at least one performance toward the end of the semester. All students will be required to participate.
  • Seventh Grade Music

    “Create, perform, respond, and connect” is the motto of this class. Students engage in musical activities that not only connect with each other but with skills and content students learn in many other disciplines. Singing, playing instruments, listening and responding to music, creating digital music, and moving to music are the primary activities in this class. This class is intended to help students discover that making music is not something that requires talent. Rather, it is an intuitive process that everyone can engage in and benefit from. Students with previous experience on instruments will have the opportunity to play their instruments in this class, as well as join our middle school ensemble that meets on Mondays from 11:15 am - 12:10 pm.
  • Studio Art

    Middle School 2D Art offers students a glimpse into the wonderland vast world of Visual Art. This course is designed to be a 2D studio-based/project driven class, focusing on the beginner level of drawing, painting, collage, and other mixed media. Students build technical skills while being introduced to artistic critique, and are engaged in the creative process on many levels in order to foster an appreciation for all forms of visual expression. We explore a range of media while researching and evaluating how these kinds of media have been used historically.
  • Theater

    In seventh grade, we lay the foundation of a technique for future Pacific Ridge performers. We immediately focus on the adage: Acting is NOT pretending, Acting is DOING. Consequently, we focus on the first 6 of the 'Ten Doings’, the basis of the Pacific Ridge acting program: observe; establish your relationship with the other(s) in the scene; explore the place; decide what you want; choose how you will get it; develop your character; create the moment before; use the events of the play; know the words of the play; know the world of the play. Each week, the daily warm-up, game, acting exercises and debriefs center around one of the Doings. We introduce pair work and the beginning of very simple scenes, culminating in excerpts from stage adaptations of literature that middle schoolers are reading in their English classes. Over the course of the trimester, we create a lively and professional playing space, develop our ability to invent through storytelling, experiment with the art of playing through improvisation, learn to critique one another’s work constructively, and examine the parts that compose a dramatic script. Our most important goal is to build ensemble while promoting individual self-confidence and personal growth.

    In eighth grade, we learn more advanced methods of acting and character portrayal through pantomime and improvisation. Student's started with a "Simple Task" pantomime and conclude with a  "Believable Entrances" pantomime. Both projects teach students how to discover the place, create believable circumstances, and discover the world of their character. Since drama is physical, the students are taught the proper way to warm up the Five Tools of the Actor (voice, body, imagination, face/emotion, and  teamwork). By the end of this course students will have learned the foundations of effectively portraying a character, how to successful prepare and master an audition, and how to execute an acting scene with two or more acting partners.
  • Vocal Ensemble

    In this course, we sing music in a wide variety of styles including classical, folk, rock, and Broadway songs. We also use music theory software to learn the essentials of reading and writing musical notation. Both fundamental techniques and ensemble performances are important components of the class. Students work on concepts such as intonation, balance, blend, interpretation, and rehearsal decorum. There is a final performance in this class, and all members are required to participate.
  • Alison Behr

    Digital Media Arts & Director of Service Learning
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  • Drew Burges

    Music
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  • Katy Cannata

    English
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  • Michelle Clark

    Dance
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  • Justine Hansen

    Vocal Music
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  • Brooke Hartley

    Studio Art
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  • Fredreka Irvine

    Theater
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  • Richard Masland

    STEAM & 9th-Grade Dean
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  • Raymond Oakes

    Digital Media Arts & Studio Art
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  • Hunter Pashkow

    Science & Arts
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