A Look Inside Middle School Elective Classes


Seventh and eighth grade students experience their first semester length courses through afternoon electives. During two periods each semester, students experience courses that prepare them for subject areas they will be required to take in high school (Health/PE and World Languages) or among those they will have the option to take in high school (Art, Band, Marketing). Along with course content, the students gain skills in navigating a shorter span of academic pacing that helps them be ready to transition to the high school 4×4 block schedule of semester long courses.

Seventh graders have French and Marketing (or Band) in the fall semester and Art (or Band) and PE in the spring semester. Eighth graders have Art (or Band) and PE in the fall semester and French and Marketing (or Band) in the spring semester.

Note: Some of the descriptions below have been impacted by last year’s pandemic remote instruction when students were not able to have the normal elective schedule in the fall semester.


Both seventh and eighth grade art courses have painting, drawing, sculpture, fiber arts, and printmaking units, each with multiple projects. Art history is woven into each unit of study. The seventh grade course concentrates on elements of art and principles of design including shading, proportion, color theory, and form. The eighth grade course delves deeper into developing individual skill levels of the artists.

Eighth graders normally have a clay art show at the end of the semester to highlight a themed project each student created. Students, staff, families, and the general public are invited to attend the daytime and evening showcases. 


Seventh and eighth graders who want to study band at Chatham Charter have the course for the entire school year as one of their two elective courses. During the school year they have physical education and French as their other two semester-long electives. Following a year of beginning band in sixth grade, there is a combined seventh/eighth grade band for the other middle school years. Developing strong technical skills on the instrument of choice as well as solid musical skills with music reading is crucial. Along with classroom instruction, the band performs at on campus events, participants in school concerts, and represents the school by playing in the community as well. Students need to have taken band in sixth grade to be in this intermediate level class.


Seventh graders are often beginning a world language study for the first time. One of the important aspects of the course is to help students develop a comfort level with speaking a second language. As an example of an activity last fall, the students enjoyed using photographs of their families and pets to describe them with French adjectives.

The eighth grade course builds on vocabulary from seventh grade and broadens the students’ mastery of basic grammar and sentence structure. The goal is to empower students with a foundational understanding of language structure so students can continue with French or choose to confidently enroll in other language courses as high school students. A typical semester includes units that have fun exploration of foods, creating a neighborhood project with a map, and a dream house project that also contains European cultural tidbits.


Seventh graders are introduced to principles of business and entrepreneurship in their Marketing course. They discuss basic economics as pertained to business as well as what goes into running a business and characteristics and strengths of entrepreneurs. Favorite projects include learning their entrepreneurship personality type; creating their own economy; and exploring different career paths in business.

The eighth grade Marketing course expands on fundamentals from the seventh grade curriculum with an emphasis on marketing and an introduction DECA (an organization of marketing students that they can join as high school marketing students). Among the units of study are branding, the marketing mix/the 4 P’s (product, price, place, and promotion), developing and marketing their own product, and setting future career goals. The eighth grade course also focuses on personal brand and how students can best market themselves for scholarships, college career, jobs, etc.


Seventh and eighth grade Physical Education expands on concepts taught in K-6 PE classes. Students develop conditioning (like running) and strength (building core) skills, while learning rules and other basic elements of physical activities they will encounter throughout their lives. Units of study in the seventh and eighth grade physical education classes are basketball, volleyball, tennis, pickleball, archery, soccer, softball/baseball, football, and flying disc. The seventh grade class focuses on fundamentals. The eighth grade year increases expectations to include strategies, a deeper understanding of sports studied, and lessons that emphasize collaboration and teamwork. PE instruction also helps students learn more about sports they can choose to participate in through Knights Athletics and/or the school Archery Team.