Course Descriptions

We are proud to offer a number of courses as part of our curriculum. Please be aware that courses may change periodically.

6th Grade Course Description

Academic Literacy: The purpose of this course is to ensure that students possess the academic skills required to succeed not only at SJBMS, but also in their future academic careers. This requires a student to practice the many skills that are presented and maintain an open mind to exploring new methods of learning material.  Topics covered will include note taking, listening, thinking, test taking, memory, and study skills. Students will learn how to recognize various features and structures of informational text as well as comprehend, interpret and analyze informational grade-level text.   This is a required semester course.

6th Grade Science (Biology):  The 6th grade curriculum will focus on life sciences. The curriculum includes cell biology, heredity, evolution, and ecosystems.   Students will start the year with STEM activities to give them the background knowledge of the scientific method process, which they will use to create a major project.  Each 6th grade student will use this project and participate in the school science and engineering fair held in January. Throughout the year, the students will be involved in labs/experiments, projects, daily starters, critical thinking tasks, STEM activities, memorization, reading informational texts, taking notes, and writing activities.  Technology will be incorporated throughout the year as well.

Exploratory:  Students will explore a variety of courses that reinforce the content of core classes.  They will experience 5 units throughout the year:

  • Academy Awards of Books:  Lights! Cameras! Action!  Have you ever wanted to develop your own movie script and win an award?  Students will read a book and discuss it in a literature circle format.  After completing the book, students will write a script based on the book, rehearse it, film it, and premiere it during Academy Awards of Books.  This class will help students with comprehension, writing skills, and speaking skills. 
  • Current Events:  In this course, students will be looking at events and trends in the news, and evaluating ourselves as responsible consumers of media and active citizens. Some general themes we may be examining are the environment and global change, politics and immigration, and Catholic Social Teaching in action, as well as connecting what is happening today to trends we are studying in sixth grade social studies. Students will engage with various forms of media, including CNN 10, newspapers, internet content, and other informational media. Through this course, students will form an educated opinion about what is happening in the world, and critically examine the perspective from which they view the world.
  • Robotics:  In this course, students will utilize the LEGO® MINDSTORMS® robot set to resolve a problem related to space science.  Students will be part of a team that will use STEM to find a solution for their scientific problem. Teams will build LEGO® missions, design their own mat, and learn to program their robots to perform a series of tasks using the robot software program.   Critical thinking skills, as well as creativity, will be used as students work together to solve their problem.
  • Health:  This course will provide students the opportunity to learn about a variety of health issues which include the following: developing strategies for appropriately and safely expressing emotions, practicing ways of showing respect for self and others, reinforcing the importance of healthy behaviors by learning about nutrition, disease prevention, and consequences of substance abuse.

Language Arts: In sixth grade Language arts, students are encouraged to explore new books and given the opportunity to choose their own reading that they are expected to complete outside and inside of class. Multiple cross-curricular activities such as science research papers and a novel with emphasis on neurology and perception engage all types of learners. A heavy emphasis is placed on correct grammar in both the spoken and written language. Students will interact with a wide variety of technology and media in order to deepen their understanding of vocabulary (Membean), empathy, writing, and the world beyond them.

6th Grade Math: Students will be reviewing and expanding their knowledge of math vocabulary, perform operations with integers, fractions, decimals, percentages, solve equations, use geometry, measurement, data analysis, problem solving, and graphing.  Students will represent and solve mathematical situations with algebraic symbols.  Students will be using Saxton Course 1 text.  However, this course is designed for students who are below grade level expectations and the textbook will not be completed.

Math Course 1: Students will be reviewing and expanding their knowledge of math vocabulary, perform operations with integers, fractions, decimals, percentages, solve equations, use geometry, measurement, data analysis, problem solving, and graphing.  Students will represent and solve mathematical situations with algebraic symbols.  (Saxon Math Course 1)

Math Course 2: This course is meant for students who have a solid understanding of basic math facts and can grasp new concepts very quickly.  There is a placement test score that must be met to be enrolled in this class.  (Saxon Math Course 2)

Math Course 3:  This course is a preparatory course for Algebra.  It includes review of basic operations with integers, decimals and fractions, solving multi-step equations and inequalities, use of square roots and exponents, basic graphing concepts on the coordinate plane and an introduction to geometry, including perimeter area, surface area and volume.  (Saxon Math Course 3)

 Religion:  Students will explore the history of salvation, focusing on the Old Testament while also exploring its fulfillment in the New Testament. They will follow the stories of the Chosen People while reading, studying and reflecting on excerpts from the Pentateuch, Historical, Prophetic and Wisdom Literature.  Students will gain a deeper understanding of the sacraments, the liturgical year, moral life, family life topics and the lives of the saints.  Finally, they will grow in their experience of different forms of prayer, including the devotion of the Holy Rosary.

Social Studies: In this course, students will be studying World History, with a focus on ancient civilizations. It is designed to give students a broad understanding of significant cultures, ideas and events that have shaped the course of human history up until this point. The course progresses chronologically, starting with prehistoric human life and ending with the Explorers of the 1500s. Throughout the year, the students will be developing their skills in reading, writing, geographic literacy, cultural awareness and critical thinking. Students will start thinking like historians, by critically examining sources of information, identifying claims and evidence, and crafting arguments. Students will be asked to form their own opinions on the difficult questions that often arise from studying history while also listening to and respecting the opinions of others. Through the study of history, students will learn to make moral judgments guided by the foundational Catholic values from which the educational philosophy at Saint John the Baptist is derived and grow toward becoming lifelong learners and responsible citizens.

Electives:

Art: This is a beginning course to introduce students to the many different types and styles of art. The class focuses on the five elements of art, which serve as the foundation, or building blocks, of creating artwork. After learning basic vocabulary and art history, as well as different mediums and styles, students will then create their own masterpiece; providing an overview of Visual Arts while studying a broad variety of art tools and materials. The class will learn how to understand and create meaning in art, as well as learn to discuss and critique art constructively and with confidence.

Computer Technology: This semester elective course is an introduction to computer technology that will help 6th grade students acquire basic computer skills that will benefit them throughout their personal and professional lives. Students will learn and have a basic understanding of word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and improvements in keyboarding skills. This is a project-based elective that strives to reinforce and incorporate core curriculum standards into a technology-based course of study. Expect to learn a lot and have fun doing it!

Dance I:  This course is designed to introduce students to the world of Dance as an art form. Students will investigate many styles of dance including jazz, ballet, hip-hop, modern, and contemporary.  Students will develop their cardiovascular endurance, technique, flexibility, and coordination. Students will learn the tools of choreography and     compose their own dance with a group of their peers. Students will learn performance techniques and have the opportunity to perform in a concert at the end of the semester. This is a semester course.

Dance II: This course is designed for dancers who have had previous training in dance. Students will investigate many styles of dance including jazz, ballet, modern, hip-hop, and contemporary.  Students will continue to develop their technique, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility and coordination. Students will learn the tools of choreography and compose their own dance with a group of their peers. Students will learn performance techniques and have the opportunity to perform in a concert at the end of the semester. This is a semester course. Placement class required.

Music: Is organized into different musical areas:

  • Band (Beginning):  Students in Beginning Band will choose from either a woodwind or a brass instrument. No experience is required. Students will learn the fundamentals of music, sight reading of notes and rhythms, and the basics of ensemble playing. They will be exposed to a variety of styles of music and will perform at least once per semester at a concert.  This is a yearlong course.
  • Band (Intermediate): The SJBMS Intermediate Band is for students with at least one year of experience on their instrument. Students that have completed a year of beginning band in either 5th or 6th grade are welcome to sign up. Students with less than one-year experience or outside experience through private instruction can audition to join the group with instructor permission. We will continue to refine musicianship and explore more complex literature in this course. We will also perform in Jr. High School festivals in our area.  This is a yearlong course.
  • Choir: The Middle School Choir is an ensemble of 6th, 7th and 8th graders who present concerts and public performances in addition to leading music at school and parish Masses.  Students will learn to read a vocal score, learn basic music theory lessons in note-reading and rhythm, and will exercise proper vocal production and breathing techniques.  With exposure to a broad range of musical genres and frequent performance opportunities, students will deepen musical appreciation and develop skills necessary for public presentation.  Students will also work on pieces to present for a festival competition during spring semester.  This is a yearlong course.
  • Orchestra I – Offers instruction on violin, viola, cello, or double bass. This class is designed primarily for SJBMS students who are new to their instrument, but this class may also be suitable for those with some previous experience who may need a review or reinforcement. Correct posture and tone production are taught along with reading notes and rhythms using a variety of fun tunes. Students will learn to play as a group, but will also be given the opportunity to play in small groups (or duets) as well. By the end of the course, students will be prepared to further expand their skills in Orchestra II. Orchestra I students will perform in 3 – 4 concerts per year. This is a yearlong course.
  • Orchestra II:   Provides opportunities for SJBMS intermediate-level students to further refine tone production, bow techniques, music literacy, and ensemble skills, on the violin, viola, cello, or double bass. Students will also learn new techniques to expand their musical abilities including new bow techniques, shifting, and vibrato through well-known classical pieces to pop and movie music as well as fun original compositions. Students will learn to play in both a large ensemble and in small ensembles (such as in a trio or duet). Some may even elect to learn a solo. Orchestra II students will perform in 3 – 4 concerts per year and may play in special events. This is a full year course.
  • Percussion I (Beginning): This class is designed to introduce students to the world of percussion. Students will learn proper snare drum technique and will be introduced to a variety of concert and ethnic percussion instruments such as marimba, xylophone, crash cymbals, djembe, congas, cajon and more. Students will also be introduced to the music of Cuba, Brazil and Africa as they explore the instruments of these countries. This is a yearlong class that does require the purchase of some materials.

Physical Education (PE): This course presents physical education as a lifetime commitment.  It is designed to be a wide variety of lifetime sports and games experienced by the students.  All students will understand in greater detail the function of the body, understand the nutrition required by a healthy body, understand the difference between anaerobic and aerobic training, apply movement concepts and principles to enhance motor skill development and develop knowledge of the rules and strategies of various games and sports.  This is a semester course.

Spanish: Students will begin their exploration of Spanish through speaking, reading, writing and listening in the present tense. Activities include dialogues, skits, visual displays, memorization games, weekly quizzes, monthly exams, films and more. By the completion of the course students will have completed the equivalent of the first half of first year high school Spanish. This is a yearlong course.

7th and 8th Grade Course Descriptions

7th Grade Core Subjects:

Language Arts: Short stories, poetry, and novels will be analyzed for the author’s purpose, themes, use of literary techniques and figurative language.  Class novels we will study include Anything but Typical (as well as another summer book), The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, The Outsiders, Gregor the Overlander, one independent reading book that is student choice, as well as excerpts from our textbook. In response to both literature and nonfiction articles, students will journal, use critical thinking skills to answer both short and long form essay questions, and write argumentative paragraphs and essays. There will be a yearlong focus on expansion and improvement of students’ vocabulary using Membean.  Grammar will also be emphasized as part of the vocabulary program. Students will be encouraged to be active participants in class discussion and to make presentations to the class on both personal and class novels. This course is intended to teach students the concepts set forth by the Utah Common Core Standards in 7th grade Language Arts. This class is intended to not only help the student read more fluently but also to help them to better comprehend the material and make their own conclusions from their interpretations. From those interpretations, they will also be developing their oral and writing skills focusing on Argumentative, Explanatory, and Narrative writing.

Literature and Composition: Enrollment in this course is based on student grades, class performance, and the completion of a summer project.  Short stories, poetry, and novels will be analyzed for the author’s purpose, themes, use of literary techniques and figurative language.  Class novels we will study include Anything but Typical (as well as two other summer books), The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, The Outsiders, To Kill a Mockingbird, excerpts from our textbook, as well as one independent reading book that is student choice. Students will also be asked to read more challenging personal novels in the non-fiction, realistic fiction, and historical fiction genres.  In response to both literature and nonfiction articles, students will journal, use critical thinking skills to answer both short and long form essay questions, and write argumentative paragraphs and essays. There will be a yearlong focus on expansion and improvement of students’ vocabulary using Membean.  Grammar will also be emphasized as part of the vocabulary program. Students will be encouraged to be active participants in class discussion and to make presentations to the class on both personal and class novels. This course is intended to teach students the concepts set forth by the Utah Common Core Standards in 7th grade Language Arts at an accelerated level. Instruction will be focused on developing quantitative reading, and qualitative reading. This is intended to not only help the student read more fluently but also to help them to better comprehend the material and make their own conclusions from their interpretations. From those interpretations, they will also be developing their oral and writing skills focusing on Argumentative, Explanatory, and Narrative writing.

Religion: The four Gospels are at the heart of all Scripture and present God’s saving action in the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Students will learn from these Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, the Letters and the Book of Revelation.  The New Testament is the focus of 7th Grade.  In Family Life, students will learn about God’s gift of family, self, life and community.  Students will participate in Catholic Connection; a project designed to gain an appreciation and respect for people of all ages, backgrounds, and cultures.

7th Grade Science (Chemistry): This course introduces students to foundational chemistry principles including the structure and behavior of matter. Students will investigate elements, chemical compounds and chemical reactions. The curriculum for this course also includes Earth science. Students will participate in a variety of STEM activities that help them to build investigative and problem-solving skills. Students will plan and investigate their own experiments using the principles of the scientific method.

7th Grade Accelerated Science (Accelerated Chemistry): Accelerated Chemistry is a class for highly motivated students who have demonstrated excellent study skills and high aptitude in science, and who have committed to pursuing the study of science at greater depth and complexity than a typical 7th grade chemistry class. The curriculum introduces students to the foundational chemistry concepts including the structure and behavior of matter. Students will investigate elements, chemical compounds and chemical reactions. The course also includes Earth science curriculum. Students in accelerated chemistry explore these subjects in greater depth and at a greater pace than the standard 7th grade chemistry class. Since the accelerated curriculum is challenging, only students who have considerable aptitude and interest in science will be best served by the accelerated class.

Independent research and scientific inquiry are important components of accelerated chemistry. All students must attend the diocesan science fair, which is typically held on the last Saturday in February. Students are required to complete an original science project of a difficulty and involvement consistent with being in an advanced class. Students identify an original project during the summer, and, during the first quarter of the year, independently research the science relating to their project until they achieve mastery of the relevant topics.

Projects, examinations, and other assignments are challenging and will require more critical thinking than regular 7th grade chemistry. This course also focuses on scientific investigation through experimental design while incorporating data interpretation/analysis, advanced math and reading skills to solve problems.

Social Studies: Seventh grade social studies students are given an exclusive opportunity to study both the state of Utah and World Geography over the course of the year.

World Geography:  Geography gives students a global perspective through a detailed study of the world’s continents. World Geography uses maps and other geographic tools to identify and understand the relationships between our physical and cultural worlds. These studies will utilize the Five Themes of Geography: Location, Place, Movement, Regions, and Human-Environmental Interaction. 

Utah History:  Utah is a very unique and diverse state. This course is designed to help students understand the state of Utah at a deeper level by reviewing Utah’s early history, with emphasis on Utah from statehood to the present. Students will understand the interaction between Utah’s geography and its inhabitants. The Utah Studies Core is designed to meet the Utah State Curriculum standards and objectives. Finally, students will study how Catholicism impacted the history of Utah. 

Accelerated Social Studies:

Accelerated seventh grade social studies students are given an exclusive opportunity to study both World Geography and United States history over the course of the year. Honors Social Studies is a rigorous course designed for students with an interest in pursuing an in-depth study of United States history and Geography in order to move on to advanced and St. John’s Academy classes. Students can expect to engage in higher levels of critical and analytical thinking. Students will progress quickly through content information, which will involve extensive note taking during class lectures. Lastly, there will be multiple writing and reading assignments, which will deepen a student’s knowledge in regards to the historical writing process.

World Geography: Geography gives students a global perspective through a detailed study of the world’s continents. World Geography uses maps and other geographic tools to identify and understand the relationships between our physical and cultural worlds. These studies will utilize the Five Themes of Geography: Location, Place, Movement, Regions, and Human-Environmental Interaction.

8th Grade Core Subjects:

Language Arts: In eighth grade Language Arts, students continue to develop an appreciation of written and spoken language.   This yearlong course focuses on developing reading, writing, speaking, and communication skills. Students will be introduced to the various genres of classical and contemporary narrative and informational text.  Through guided reading, the students will enhance their critical thinking skills and increase their vocabulary.  Special attention will be given to making predictions, comparing and contrasting narratives, recognizing an author’s purpose, making inferences and using context clues in depth. Students will use the stages of the writing process to write clear, coherent drafts and compositions throughout the course.  Grammar and vocabulary (Membean) will also be studied.

Advanced English Honors: Placement: Testing and departmental approval.  This course follows the College Board’s Pre-AP English 1 framework. Advanced English Honors develops students’ abilities to think critically and creatively, to research and explore, to pose solutions and develop arguments, and to collaborate and communicate using a range of media. Real-world issues are seen through a cross-curricular lens from multiple points of view, for the understanding of complex issues and the students’ place in them. The course will focus on reading, and written and spoken communication. Students study foundational texts of philosophy and literature, contemporary research and articles; listen to and watch speeches, broadcasts, and personal accounts; view and understand art.

Religion: Faith formation in 8th grade focuses on the Church and what it means to be God’s Church. Through the study of Church history from Pentecost to the present, students will understand the growth of, and God’s plan for, His Church.  Students will be challenged to know their faith, in full and authentic teachings of the Catholic Church; to grow in faith, through experience and prayer (rooted in Ignatian Spirituality); and to go in faith, through a call to action of discipleship.  These challenges will prepare students for the Sacrament of Confirmation and the presentation of the Living Stations of the Cross during the Lenten season.

8th Grade Science (Physics):  Eighth grade Science is a Physics course. Students will learn information and skills to 1) understand how the universe around them works and 2) pose questions and conduct experiments to answer those questions. In Physics, attention will be given to how objects interact with one another and how energy is conserved, converted, and transferred. Topics include motion, forces, momentum, work, energy, fields, waves and their applications, and optics. Common scientific and engineering practices will be integrated throughout discussion of these topics. The building of algebra skills will be closely integrated throughout every topic in this course. Opportunities outside of class to apply science skills include the school and diocese science fairs in January and February as well as a September trip to the Teton Science School in Jackson, Wyoming.

Earth Science Honors:  Placement: Testing and departmental approval.  This science course will introduce students to topics in many different disciplines of earth science including the composition of the earth, surface processes on earth, the atmosphere and the oceans, geologic time, resources and the environment, and the solar system. Fundamental knowledge such as the use of the scientific method and critical thinking skills will be emphasized. Students will be introduced to laboratory activities in this course, which will include in-depth written laboratory reports. Honors Earth Science is distinct from Academic Earth Science in terms of a faster pace of study and a more rigorous approach to the material.

Social Studies: This course is the study of United States history from the Age of Exploration (1500’s) through Reconstruction (1870’s).  Students focus on political, economic, geographic, social events and issues related to the colonial and revolutionary eras, the creation and ratification of the U.S. Constitution, challenges of the early republic, westward expansion, sectionalism, Civil War, and Reconstruction. Primary and secondary sources are utilized, and current events are studied in a historical context to give students a better understanding of U.S. history and how it relates to their lives and the world today.

Geography/Ancient Civilizations Honors: Placement: Testing and departmental approval. This class will follow the Pre-AP World History and Geography curriculum. This is a year-long course that analyzes global geography and history spanning approximately 8,000 BCE to 1200 CE. Course content includes major emphasis on religious, cultural, environmental, and political aspects of Afro-Eurasia, Oceania, and the Americas. Students will reason, analyze evidence, and develop arguments. This course utilizes diverse primary documents as well as multiple secondary sources. The utilization of a variety of secondary sources allows students multiple perspectives to better interpret the past. Emphasis is placed on strengthening historical thinking skills such as chronological reasoning, comparison, contextualization, argumentation, interpretation, and synthesis, all of which better prepare students for success in future AP courses.

Math

Math Foundations: Students will be reviewing and expanding their knowledge of math vocabulary, perform operations with integers, fractions, decimals, percentages, solve equations, problem solving, and graphing. This course is designed for 7th and 8th grade students who are below grade level expectations. There is a placement test score required to be enrolled in this class.

Math Course 2: This course is a transitional math class designed to prepare students for Pre-Algebra. Students will build on skills acquired in Course 1 and introduce new algebraic concepts to prepare students for Pre-Algebra. There is a placement test score required to be enrolled in this class.  (Saxon Math Course 2)

Math Course 3: This course is a preparatory course for Algebra. It includes review of basic operations with integers, decimals and fractions, solving multi-step equations and inequalities, use of square roots and exponents, basic graphing concepts on the coordinate plane and an introduction to geometry, including perimeter area, surface area and volume.  There is a placement test score required to be enrolled in this class.  (Saxon Math Course 3)

Accelerated Math Course 3:  This course is an accelerated course in Pre-Algebra. It is intended for students who are proficient in basic math concepts and possess the skills necessary to learn quickly. There is a placement test score required to be enrolled in this class. (Saxon Math Course 3)

Algebra: This course is a high school entry course. It is a prerequisite for Geometry. It includes solving quadratic equations and systems of equations, operations with polynomials, operations with exponential, radical and rational expressions along with review of operations with all number sets. There is a placement test score required to be enrolled in this class. (Saxon Algebra)

Enriched Algebra Honors:  Prerequisites: Departmental approval.  This course follows the College Board’s Pre-AP Algebra I framework. Topics include properties of the real number system, linear and quadratic equations and inequalities, functions, systems of linear equations and inequalities, properties of exponents, and exponential growth and decay. Emphasis is on developing conceptual understanding and interpreting solutions in the context of a problem situation.

Geometry Honors:  Prerequisite: Algebra I (Honors) This course follows the College Board’s Pre-AP Geometry/Statistics framework. This course is designed for the above-average math student who can handle a faster-paced course as well as an in-depth study of the topics. This is a student who has mastered Algebra I and who is interested in the Calculus track in high school. The course will cover standard geometry topics in 2 and 3 dimensions. Students will also make extensive use of deductive and inductive reasoning in discovering and proving geometric theorems, as well as in problem-solving. The course will also include a more thorough introduction to analytic geometry and plane trigonometry than is covered in the academic geometry course. Since proficiency with signed numbers, fractions, decimals, and percent are fundamental to success in high school mathematics classes, students are regularly assessed on these skills as well as on the course material.

Electives:

American Sign Language (ASL):  This fun and interactive course introduces students to the process and structure of American Sign Language (ASL) and provides basic skills necessary to use the language. Students’ expressive (signing) and receptive (comprehension) skills are enhanced by an understanding of Deaf Culture.  This is a semester course.

 Anatomy and Physiology:  Have you ever wondered what makes up you body or how it even works? This course will introduce you to the structure and workings of God’s most amazing creation, the human body. Topics of this course will include skin, bones, muscles, cardiovascular system, respiratory system, digestive system, nervous system, and immune system. Along the way you will also learn about common injuries and illnesses that affect each of these systems. You may not be ready to scrub in on a surgery at the end of the semester, but you will definitely be smarter. This is a semester course.

Art: Is organized into five areas:

  • Commercial: This course is an introductory class for students who are new to art. Commercial Art introduces students to the skills required to design real-world commercial products, such as packaging, advertising, and layout. Students will create projects that organize the art elements and stress good composition. With an emphasis on the principles of design, students will build basic art skills and exercise creativity. Students will also learn to discuss and critique art constructively and with confidence. This is a semester course.
  • Drawing: This course is an introductory class for students who are new to art. With an emphasis on drawing from life, this is a skill building class where students will learn basic drawing skills and principles, as well as different ways to “see” and go about the drawing process while experimenting with different styles and drawing mediums. The class will learn how to understand and create meaning in art, and be exposed to some of the great masterpieces of art history. Students will learn to discuss and critique art constructively and with confidence. This is a semester course.
  • Illustration:  This course is an introductory class for students who are new to art. Illustration introduces students to the concept of using art as a means of story telling. From creating characters to illustrating narratives and text, students will learn skills to become creative problem solvers while studying a broad variety of art tools and materials. The class will learn how to understand and create meaning in art, and be exposed to some of the great illustrations of the past and present. Students will also learn to discuss and critique art constructively and with confidence. This is a semester course. 
  • Painting: This course is an introductory class for students who are new to art. With an emphasis on wet media and color, this is a skill building class where students will learn basic painting skills. Students will have the opportunity to create artwork using many different mediums and in many different styles. The class will learn how to understand and create meaning in art, and be exposed to some of the great masterpieces of art history. Students will also learn to discuss and critique art constructively and with confidence. This is a semester course.
  • Art II: Art II is an advanced course for students who want to expand their knowledge of art by continuing to develop their drawing and painting skills, as well as work with new and different mediums of art.  With an emphasis in studio production, students will be using the principles and elements of art and design, different styles, and new processes to create art with meaning, perspective, and good composition. Students will further their knowledge of aesthetics, art history, and constructive art criticism. Drawing, Painting, or Commercial Art is a prerequisite.  There is a $25 class fee.  This is a yearlong course.

Computer Coding:  Middle School Computer Coding is a course that introduces early secondary students to programming through games and art.  The course is designed to be attractive to a diverse range of students, from those with a coding background to those that have never considered programming. Students learn how to code by working in real software environments such as Code.org and MIT’s Scratch. We also use block code to program Sphero Robots. Student will discover how to create amazing programs that can lead to them having a significant impact on their world & community.  This is a semester course.

Computer Design, Creation and Coding:  Computer Design, Creation, and Coding is a course that takes early secondary students on a deeper dive into how computers work and how to program them. Students should have successfully completed the Computer Coding- MS course before taking this course. During this course we will use a kit to build a computer, then use code to make the computer accomplish tasks in a “Minecraft-like” environment. We will explore computer hardware like the CPU and memory. We will learn the binary number system and how computers use it. We will also go more in depth with coding using functions, parameters, and files. Lastly, we will program the robots to interpret sensory data to accomplish specific tasks.  Computer Coding is a prerequisite.

Consumer Studies:  Do you want to learn how to be more confident and independent? This elective is designed to give you knowledge and skills to prepare you for everyday life as an adult.  The elective includes etiquette and manners, social relationships, sewing, nutrition, cooking, and household management.  The course has numerous lab activities that teach these practical skills in fun and creative ways.  The course requires the purchase of a sewing kit and some additional items used in the lab activities.

Creative Writing:  Creative Writing is an elective course designed to supplement the 7th and 8th grade Language Arts core classes and motivate students to write. In this class, students will write every day and discover that writing can be fun, imaginative, and meaningful in a classroom environment that is conducive to sharing and supporting one another. With an emphasis on the 6+1 Writing Trait standards, students will become better writers using strategies of the writing process including pre-writing, composition, editing, revision, and presentation.  In addition, students will develop the understanding that effective writers are reflective, rhetorically aware, and have a sense of community.

Dance: Is organized into three areas:

  • Dance I:  This course is designed to introduce students to the world of Dance as an art form. Students will investigate many styles of dance including jazz, ballet, hip-hop, modern, and contemporary.  Students will develop their cardiovascular endurance, technique, flexibility, and coordination. Students will learn the tools of choreography and     compose their own dance with a group of their peers. Students will learn performance techniques and have the opportunity to perform in a concert at the end of the semester. This is a semester course.
  • Dance II: This course is designed for dancers who have had previous training in dance. Students will investigate many styles of dance including jazz, ballet, modern, hip-hop, and contemporary.  Students will continue to develop their technique, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility and coordination. Students will learn the tools of choreography and compose their own dance with a group of their peers. Students will learn performance techniques and have the opportunity to perform in a concert at the end of the semester. This is a semester course. Placement class required.
  • Hip Hop: Do you find yourself bobbing your head or tapping your toe when you hear music? If so, this semester elective course is right up your alley. We will explore this amazing street style of dance, both it’s culture and basic movements. You will also have the opportunity to contribute some of your own choreography into one of the group routines. The semester will end with a school assembly performance as well as a 2-night dance concert for your friends and family. This is a performance-based elective and daily active participation and dance concert participation is required. No previous dance experience is needed ~ both girls and boys are welcome. The more the merrier! Just Dance! (A nominal costuming fee may be required.)

Economic Survival: Are you curious about money? Are you interested in what kinds of decisions adults make regarding finances? This is a financial literacy course where students will learn basic economic principles along with real world financial concepts. We will discuss careers, the cost of college, budgets, the stock market, checkbooks, debit cards, credit cards, retirement, mortgages, rent, utilities, insurance, and more. This is a semester course.

Fashion and Interior Design:  This course is designed for students to receive a basic review of design principles. During the first half of the semester students will study Interior Design.  They will learn about color, textiles, and the basic elements of design.  Students will explore basic area planning and the functionality of space, lighting, furniture design, and home accessories.  Lastly, students will examine educational and career options involved in these fields.  During the second half of the semester students will study Fashion Design.  Students will receive a survey in the history of fashion design and will research influential fashion designers.  Students will study fashion fundamentals and fashion design principles.  Student’s will examine and use various textiles as well.  Each student will create his/her own fashion line and personal portfolios.  Lastly, students will investigate fashion education and related careers.  Projects are an integral part of the learning process within this course, and will be heavily integrated throughout the semester.  The course requires the purchase of various assigned supplies.  This is a semester course.

Forensics:  The Forensics elective offers a fun chance to survey many different scientific fields within the context of crime. We will dabble in the fields of biology, medicine, anatomy, chemistry, physics, earth science, and math in the crosshairs of problem solving, critical thinking, and basic logic skills. Material will consist of hands-on activities, logic exercises, real, current or historical crimes, and multimedia such as murder mystery games. Many times, crimes will relate to mature subjects. Caution will be taken to keep the discussions of these events age-appropriate. This is a semester course.

Great Books and Movies: Did the movie come first, or did the book come first? As a class, we will select books, both classic and contemporary that were made into movies and discuss the differences between the two. This elective will be a great opportunity for students to read a book, then watch the movie, and subsequently discuss how and why scenes are altered when translating a book to film. Students will be encouraged to suggest titles.  This is a semester course.

Marine Science: This course will delve into the marine world. Did you know that Utah has a marine past? We will explore it! Students will learn about various marine ecosystems that make up our oceans and the creatures that call them home. We will also explore human interactions with marine ecosystems and the communities that rely on them.  This is a semester long course.

Mass Media:  In Mass Media we will explore various media used to communicate to large populations throughout history and modern day.  Students will learn about the development, use, and significance of newspapers, radio, television, movies, podcasts, and now social media. Students will work on fun creative projects related to each media source including, but not limited to, creating their own radio show, commercials, and writing news articles. This is a semester long course.

Mind Benders:  Do you enjoy brain teasers, solving puzzles, and challenging yourself? Students will have many opportunities to “bend” their minds. Students will complete logic puzzles, learn number tricks, play a variety of games, and participate in hands-on activities including tangrams and Rubik’s cubes. Come challenge yourself and have some fun too! This is a semester course.

Mindful in the Middle:  Come unplug with us!  This class explores how to become more Mindful in Middle School.  Students will be given a chance to unplug from technology and enhance their social-emotional learning.  Students will utilize guided meditation as well as engaging mindful exercises to become more present.  Being mindful can help students reduce stress, be present, and cultivate a curiosity towards their thoughts and emotions.  This is a semester course.

Mock Trial: (Introduction to Mock Trial) This Fall Semester introductory course will give students the opportunity to learn about the Judicial Branch of the United States government.  Students will discover how this branch operates in order to interpret our laws.  This will include topics such as the court system, the appeals process, and trials.  The main focus of this course will be learning how to prepare for and participate in a criminal or civil trial. During a Mock Trial, students perform all the parts of a trial, including attorneys, witnesses, and the bailiff. This course is designed to build and develop public speaking skills in an authentic and fun environment.   This is a semester course.

Mock Trial 2: (Mock Trial Competition Course) This Spring Semester course is specifically designed for students to compete in the Utah Bar Association’s Mock Trial Competition. Students will prepare both sides of a trial (Plaintiff/Defense) and compete against other schools around the state. Mock Trial 1 is a prerequisite for this course, and preference will be given to 8th grade students.

Music: Is organized into different musical areas:

  • Band I (Beginning):  Students in Beginning Band will choose from either a woodwind or a brass instrument. No experience is required. Students will learn the fundamentals of music, sight reading of notes and rhythms, and the basics of ensemble playing. They will be exposed to a variety of styles of music and will perform at least once per semester at a concert.  This is a yearlong course.
  • Band II (Intermediate): The SJBMS Intermediate Band is for students with at least one year of experience on their instrument.  Students with less than one-year experience or outside experience through private instruction can audition to join the group with instructor permission. We will continue to refine musicianship and explore more complex literature in this course. We will also perform in Jr. High School festivals in our area.  This is a yearlong course.
  • Choir: The Middle School Choir is comprised of committed 6th, 7th, and 8th graders who love to sing and sound the best that they can. The choir presents concerts at our school and in our community including leading music at school and parish Masses. Students will learn to sing with proper vocal technique, sight-reading notes and rhythms, and perform a wide variety of music (from the Renaissance to Modern day pop tunes). Students will be challenged to give up their egos for the betterment of the group by being held to a high standard of maturity. The choir helps to develop healthy social skills and effective communication skills. This is a yearlong course.
  • Guitar:  This semester course is designed for students of all playing abilities, especially those with no previous musical experience. Areas of concentration include: correct posture, learning chords, note and rhythm reading, and strumming patterns. Within the first week students will be playing along with modern-day songs. By the end of the semester, students will know how to play several chords which will be the basis for them to learn how to write their own songs or play more advanced music afterwards. To participate in this course, each student will need to provide their own instrument. Recommendations and guidance regarding the purchase of a guitar will be given during the first week of class.
  • Jazz Band:  This is an advanced music ensemble open to auditioned students on rhythm section (piano, bass, percussion and guitar) and wind (woodwind and brass) instruments. Students will study various jazz forms such as swing, Latin, rock, and more! This ensemble requires musicians to already have an intermediate degree of proficiency in reading rhythms, producing good tone and maintaining fundamental musicianship. Students will perform outside of school hours at concerts and other community events throughout the year. The ensemble meets in the morning during 0 period at 7:00 AM on A/C days. This is a yearlong course.
  • Orchestra I – Offers instruction on violin, viola, cello, or double bass. This class is designed primarily for SJBMS students who are new to their instrument, but this class may also be suitable for those with some previous experience who may need a review or reinforcement. Correct posture and tone production are taught along with reading notes and rhythms using a variety of fun tunes. Students will learn to play as a group, but will also be given the opportunity to play in small groups (or duets) as well. By the end of the course, students will be prepared to further expand their skills in Orchestra II. Orchestra I students will perform in 3 – 4 concerts per year. This is a yearlong course.
  • Orchestra II:   Provides opportunities for SJBMS intermediate-level students to further refine tone production, bow techniques, music literacy, and ensemble skills, on the violin, viola, cello, or double bass. Students will also learn new techniques to expand their musical abilities including new bow techniques, shifting, and vibrato through well-known classical pieces to pop and movie music as well as fun original compositions. Students will learn to play in both a large ensemble and in small ensembles (such as in a trio or duet). Some may even elect to learn a solo. Orchestra II students will perform in 3 – 4 concerts per year and may play in special events. This is a full year course.
  • Percussion I (Beginning): This class is designed to introduce students to the world of percussion. Students will learn proper snare drum technique and will be introduced to a variety of concert and ethnic percussion instruments such as marimba, xylophone, crash cymbals, djembe, congas, cajon and more. Students will also be introduced to the music of Cuba, Brazil and Africa as they explore the instruments of these countries. This is a yearlong class that does require the purchase of some materials.
  • Percussion II (Intermediate): This class is a continuation of the beginning percussion ensemble. This is a performing ensemble that requires hard work and dedication from its members. Students must have at least one year of prior percussion instruction or director approval. Students are expected to provide their own sticks/mallets and must be willing to practice outside of class. This is a yearlong course.

Myths & Legends:  Ever wonder about Greek and Roman culture of old?  Where did all those legends and myths come from?  How do they affect American culture?  Myths & Legends is a semester course that will examine ancient mythologies, as well as Roman life and culture.  Students will also learn some basic Latin and its relationship to English.  The course will include a brief historical study of key points in Greek and Roman society and how they have affected American culture.  This is a semester course.

Peer Ministry:  Peer Ministry is an elective course designed to focus on developing leadership skills, appreciating the value of service to others, building community within our school, and participating in school liturgies. The goal is for Peer Ministers to grow as a caring community of students who lead by example. Peer Ministry activities include planning and carrying out school-wide service projects, seasonal projects and festivities, pep rallies, an on-going student recognition plan, and more. Peer Ministers act as ushers at Middle School Masses and on occasion, plan and participate in the liturgy. This is a semester class.

Photography:  Photographs play an important role in our world today. We photograph to preserve memories, document events, and create artistic works. This course introduces students to the basics of photography, including camera functions and photo composition. Students will learn what it takes to create a good photograph and how to improve photographs of animals, people, and vacations. They will also begin working with their photographs using photo-editing software. Through a variety of assigned projects, students will engage their creativity by photographing a range of subjects and learning to see the world through the lens of their cameras. This is a semester course.

Physical Education: Is organized into two areas:

  • Intro to Athletics: This class is designed to give students an introduction to the principles and activities associated with athletic performance and fitness. Through lecture, demonstration and participation, students will be introduced to the strength and speed program used by Juan Diego athletes in a developmentally and age appropriate manner. The course will focus on: core strength, strength training, speed training, plyomentric training (jumping exercises for speed and explosiveness), diet, flexibility, fitness and general health. This is a semester course.
  • Physical Education: This course presents physical education as a lifetime commitment.  It is designed to be a wide variety of lifetime sports and games experienced by the students.  All students will understand in greater detail the function of the body, understand the nutrition required by a healthy body, understand the difference between anaerobic and aerobic training, apply movement concepts and principles to enhance motor skill development and develop knowledge of the rules and strategies of various games and sports.  This is a semester course.

Spanish I: After successful completion of this course, students will have completed the equivalent of the first half of first year high school Spanish. In this course students will begin their exploration of Spanish through speaking, reading, writing and listening in the present tense. Activities include dialogues, skits, visual displays, memorization games, weekly quizzes, monthly exams, films and more. By the completion of the course students will have completed the equivalent of the first half of first year high school Spanish. This is a yearlong course.

Spanish II:  After successful completion of this course, students will have completed the equivalent of the second half of first year high school Spanish. This course is a continuation of Spanish I. In addition to improving their ability to speak, read, write and listen in the present tense, students will begin to learn to communicate in the preterit (the past tense). There will be a greater emphasis on culture, history, literature and geography. Students must have completed Spanish 1 and pass a placement exam in order to be admitted into Spanish 2. Prior knowledge for native speakers will be considered, though they will be tested before admittance is allowed. This is a yearlong course.

Spanish III: After successful completion of this course, students will have completed the equivalent of the first half of second year high school Spanish. This course is a continuation of Spanish II. While reviewing prior knowledge, students learn to incorporate more advanced vocabulary into their communication. The past, future, and reflexive tenses are used to discuss when and how different actions occur. At an 8th grade level, this course is able to move more quickly and requires more from the students than the previous two Spanish classes.  This course is only available to students who pass a placement exam at the end of Spanish II. Students with prior knowledge may be admitted after passing the exam and receiving teacher permission. This is a yearlong course.

Speech and Debate:  Speech and Debate is an elective course for 7th and 8th graders who have an interest in public speaking and formal debate. In this introductory course, students can expect to improve their listening, critical thinking and communication skills. Students will learn about the power of verbal and nonverbal communication. Debate will give students an understanding of the proper techniques, rules and regulations associated with public speaking. Finally, students will formulate, research, and participate in multiple classroom debates. This is a semester course.

Sustainability:  Sustainability is the idea that humans must interact with the environment in a way that not only meets the needs of the present, but also ensures that there will be enough resources left for future generations. Environmental sustainability is one of the most important issues for youth and teenagers today, and our world needs young people’s engagement! Guided by the UN Sustainable Development Goals, students will learn about topics of clean energy, food waste, air and water pollution, population, manufacturing, economics, political engagement, cultural history, conservation, sustainable agriculture, and local initiatives. Throughout the semester, students will complete creative hands-on projects involving Sister Celine’s school garden, reduce-reuse-recycling, saving energy, and solutions for a sustainable future. This is a semester course 

Technical Design:  This course provides students with a hands-on practical backstage experience of the complex workings of theatre production. Basic learning of the essentials of theatre: sound, lighting, stage managing, and scenery construction. Technical Design students will learn basic concepts relating to set, costume and lighting design. Students will learn to run all aspects of the Juan Diego Auditorium. This is a semester course.

Theater:  Theatre is a performance course. The primary goal of this class is to instill in each student an interest in the theatre arts. Students will participate in a wide variety of theatre games and exercises designed to awaken their minds and imaginations to the experience of theatre. There will be an emphasis on developing communication skills through improvisation, puppetry, monologues and scene work. The history of theatre will be discussed along with various acting techniques involving memory, articulation, projection, character creation, physicality and motivation. The class will include an end-of-semester production that requires occasional after-school rehearsals. Students who wish to take this class need to express creativity, exemplify organization, be self-motivated, and show a great deal of responsibility.  This is a semester course.

Yearbook: The main purpose and goal of Yearbook class is to develop and produce a high-quality yearbook highlighting the greatest moments and events throughout the year. Students will learn and practice skills for generating ideas, developing content, reporting, page layout and design, typography, and photography. This is a yearlong course. Being a member of the yearbook staff requires a great deal of responsibility. Students are expected to follow all school rules and policies at all times, inside and outside of the classroom.  This is a yearlong course.

Zoology:  Animals, animals and nothing but animals! If you’ve always had an interest in the Animal Kingdom, this is the elective for you. We will first discuss the classification of all living organisms and then dive headfirst into the majesty that is the Animal Kingdom. You will learn about the most primitive animals all the way to the modern humans (you!).  Get ready to be hands-on. This is a project-based semester elective that will culminate in a field trip.