Developing Strengths

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Middle School: Grades 6–8

Welcome to Rowland Hall's independent private middle school. Our teachers recognize the years of growth and discovery that happen here. It's a unique transitional period from the creativity and imagination of childhood to the abstract thinking and global perspectives of young adulthood.

We provide an educational program that holistically supports early adolescent students in achieving academic success and positive personal growth. Rowland Hall's dedicated faculty create a supportive, caring environment that motivates and challenges students. The teachers are as knowledgeable in their subject matter as they are in understanding students’ unique needs, whether cognitive, emotional, or physical.

Our curriculum is relevant, challenging, and exploratory. Teachers use a variety of instructional and assessment methods grounded in research and best practices. We empower our students to be well-rounded, inspired, and compassionate individuals.

Sincerely, 

Pam Smith 
Middle School Principal

Middle school student smiles in class at Rowland Hall, an independent private school in Salt Lake City.
Middle School science student at Rowland Hall, an independent private school in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Middle school student with teacher in art class at Rowland Hall, an independent private school in Salt Lake City, Utah.
A group of Rowland Hall Middle School students sit on a rocky Utah mountainside during a hiking field trip.
Sixth-grade math and science teacher Molly Lewis leads her class down a hallway in Rowland Hall's Middle School.
Independent Private Middle School Principal - Pam Smith - Salt Lake City, Utah

Pam Smith
Middle School Principalget to know Pam

Contact the Middle School

970 East 800 South
Salt Lake City, Utah 84102
801-355-0272

Middle School Stories in Fine Print Magazine

Members of Rowland Hall's Middle School Upcycled Fashion club meet.

Eighth graders are the de facto leaders of the Middle School, as the most senior students in the division. But being real leaders requires more than embracing their position in the hierarchy. 

Beginning this year, eighth-grade faculty are more greatly emphasizing leadership at their grade level, finding new ways to work with students to help them understand what it means to be leaders as well as to develop the skills they need to lead and to put those skills to work for the benefit of themselves and others. It’s an initiative that will continue to be part of the grade-level curriculum moving forward.

True leaders understand that instilling a sense of belonging in a community helps people to work together towards a common goal.—Dr. Chandani Patel, director of equity and inclusion

“I am a firm believer that leadership is a skill that can be learned,” said Ryan Hoglund, director of ethical education. “Anyone is capable of developing leadership skills.” 

To kick off this year, faculty introduced the topic of leadership during three days of workshops in September. Students took part in several learning sessions focusing on the building blocks of leadership, including creating inclusive communities, identifying and developing club opportunities for the Middle School, and turning conflict into opportunities for connection and growth.

“True leaders understand that instilling a sense of belonging in a community helps people to work together towards a common goal,” said Dr. Chandani Patel, director of equity and inclusion. “Likewise, they see that working through difficult conversations can lead to greater understanding and strengthen group dynamics.”

Different types of leadership was also a topic of conversation in the workshops. While the concept of leadership may bring to mind someone being “in charge,” faculty wanted students to realize we all have a sphere of influence and impact on our community, and that there are many ways to lead: through helping to organize activities, communicate goals, create feelings of inclusion, or observe and record activities for later reference. “We want kids to recognize that leadership comes in a variety of forms,” said eighth-grade American studies teacher Mary Jo Marker

Eighth grader Sabina L. found the workshops to be a valuable experience, both when it comes to identifying personal leadership styles and to remind students that a variety of resources are available to them as they uncover their leadership abilities. “We have the resources so we can get help from trusted adults. But they also have taught us how to communicate, and how to guide people and listen to people,” she said.

Members of Rowland Hall's Middle School Intro to Dungeons & Dragons club gather for a meeting.

Members of the Middle School Dungeons & Dragons club gather for a meeting.


And the work is just beginning. The eighth graders will be putting their leadership skills into action throughout the year, first by leading several clubs available to students in sixth through eighth grades. During the September workshops, these students formed teams and came up with ideas for the clubs, then presented the options to their fellow middle schoolers. The clubs include Dungeons & Dragons, upcycled fashion, weightlifting, vegetarian cooking, and executive functioning. There is literally something for everyone, and by allowing eighth graders to focus on subjects they’re passionate about, the Middle School is getting them excited about practicing leadership.

Running the lacrosse club, I have developed skills to get people’s attention. I have also learned how to talk to them and give advice, when I used to be timid in doing that.—Halle P., class of 2027

“Running the lacrosse club, I have developed skills to get people’s attention,” said eighth grader Halle P. “I have also learned how to talk to them and give advice, when I used to be timid in doing that.”

Clubs will run through December, and while all groups are overseen by faculty, students will lead the activities at all times. Giving the students this opportunity not only builds leadership skills in them but is also directly aligned with the central vision of Rowland Hall: developing people the world needs. 

“We hope students lean into leadership roles, strengthening their communication, self, and peer-advocacy skills,” said Charlotte Larsen, Middle School assistant principal. “We hope this creates a deepening of student leadership opportunities in the Middle School, highlighting student voice and choice in creating the community they want to engage with each day.”


Banner: Members of the Upcycled Fashion Club give old clothing new life.

Authentic Learning

High school students wave to the camera on the first day of school

Rowland Hall is excited to welcome students back to our two campuses for the 2022–2023 school year.

The first days of school are always exciting, and this year was no exception. As students and families arrived on Wednesday, August 24, they were greeted by an enthusiastic team of faculty and staff, and had the chance to say hello to friends, old and new. Some of our youngest learners also got to meet Roary, our school mascot, who was ready to give high-fives and pose for pictures as students made their way to class. Students also had the chance to come together this week at events like the Lower School's first community gathering of the year and the all-school Convocation.

Below, please enjoy some of the images captured over the first few days of school.

Back to School

Community

2022 Rowland Hall valedictorian Charles Topoleski.

At this year's twelfth-, eighth-, and fifth-grade graduation ceremonies, student speakers shared reflective and inspiring stories about their experiences at Rowland Hall.

The group included senior speakers Samantha Lehman, student body president, and Charles Topoleski (pictured above), Bishop's Award recipient; Senior Celebration speaker Ella Houden; Senior Chapel speakers Sophie Ayers-Harris, Daniel McNally, and Irenka Saffarian; eighth-grade graduation speakers Noa Fukushima and Leo Pickron; and several fifth-grade graders.

We have posted their speeches for you to enjoy.

Student Voices

Rowland Hall Middle School dancers perform an original piece in the Platform dance concert.

The middle school years can be tough. Emotions can be sweeping and relationships can be tentative. It’s a time when students are feeling more grown up, but also are still firmly in childhood. Finding a place of refuge can be difficult. At Rowland Hall, many students are finding that island of confidence in the dance program.

“Middle schoolers are looking for a way to express themselves and to learn more about their own identities,” said Middle School Social-Emotional Counselor Leslie Czerwinski. “Dance is a space where you can show up, be yourself, and process thoughts through movement.” 

Students are not only learning how to move, but how to find their voice through movement.

Dance is the largest Arts & Ensembles class in the Middle School. Some students take more than one section of dance each semester because the program is unique and the community is so important to them. While most dance programs start with a foundation in ballet and other Eurocentric traditions, students coming into the Rowland Hall dance program begin with break dancing. Instead of focusing on a straight spine or the proper turnout, students learn how to use gravity and shift their weight. They are not only learning how to move, but how to find their voice through movement. And once students find their voice, explained Co-Director of Dance Sofia Gorder, training becomes fun.

“They are using rhythm and music. It’s a language they understand,” said Sofia. “Then, later, they can go on and learn ballet and other techniques so that they have their voice but also the training to support that voice.” 

Students take part in every aspect of creating dance pieces: they help in picking the music and costumes, they choreograph the movements, and they work together to compose the message and mood they want to convey. “Sofia gives us a lot of freedom with choreography,” said dance student Gabrielle H. “For Platform [the 2022 dance concert] we did an ocean dance as a group and we all got to contribute in some way.”

Rowland Hall Middle School dancers perform an ocean-inspired original dance.

 

Collaboration helps build a strong interpersonal community among the dancers. The studio becomes a place where they can express themselves without fear of judgment and know their ideas will be taken seriously.

That collaboration helps build a strong interpersonal community among the dancers. The studio becomes a place where they can express themselves without fear of judgment and know their ideas will be taken seriously. “It’s a time to not really worry about things and just do what I love,” said dancer Meg H. “I like how everyone has their own style and has different movements that they like to do depending on their personalities.”

Discovering these differences and how to make them work together is another important aspect of the program. Sofia explained that part of the process is discovering how the same movement looks different when done by different people, and that can change the meaning. “Dance is just the platform we use to do the important work of understanding ourselves and the people around us,” she said. 

While the artistic and personal discoveries are essential, some students enjoy the dance program simply for its physicality—and because it’s fun. It’s a time to move and share energy with others in a welcoming environment. “It’s a strong physical space to express yourself,” said dancer Jack G. “You feel amazing when you finally master something and when you finish a show you feel relief.” 

No matter what they are seeking, Middle School students appear to be finding it in dance. “Regardless of one’s background, everyone can find joy in moving to music,” said Middle School Principal Pam Smith. “Our program can help students find joy, build their self-confidence, and connect with other members of our community.”

Dance

You Belong at Rowland Hall