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Palm Beach Day Academy offers more to its older students by extending lessons far beyond the walls of Upper Campus – literally around the world.
With extremely small class sizes, faculty members are able to individualize their instruction for each student.
As part of the fourth grade’s Florida Studies field experiences, students visit Grassy Waters Preserve, where they take a guided canoe trip to learn about the water supply. They develop a deeper perspective after 3-D mapping it in the classroom. A swamp tromp helps them learn how plants adapted to live in South Florida, and which species they could use for food, medicine and to build a shelter like native Floridians did.
Fourth graders visit Pan’s Garden, which is maintained by the Palm Beach Preservation Foundation, to learn more about how native people related to nature. The “Milkweed and Monarchs” program at Pan’s Garden focuses on environmental awareness, interrelationships, adaptations, biomonitoring and protection of species, and it leads into the renewal of our butterfly garden at school. The students also work on their own archaeological dig in Bradley Park.
In addition to strong academics, the fifth grade program focuses on three areas most important to the transition from elementary to middle school: study skills, organization, communication and presentation skills.
The fifth grade team teaches specific study skills and habits that allow academic success. Organization skills, frequently challenging to 10- and 11-year-olds, are encouraged and expected to create a systematic, steady increase in personal student responsibility for managing materials, sports commitments, assignments and free time.
The fifth grade year includes opportunities for students to experience public speaking at major events, on stage and in the classroom. Three signature events that leave a lasting impression are the Presidents’ Assembly, Banquet of the Gods and the Poetry Contest.
The math curriculum at PBDA is notable for the way students can get a head start on high school. In sixth grade, students take mathematics or pre-algebra. In seventh grade, students can begin to earn high school credits. Honors-level math students complete Algebra I, Algebra II and Geometry, thus earning three high school credits. Several students take double math so that these three credits are earned by eighth grade, allowing them to take pre-calculus or functions, statistics and trigonometry in ninth grade. Students in the regular sections will earn an Algebra I credit by the end of eighth or ninth grade.
Before students leave PBDA, they take a Spanish, French or Chinese credit test to determine if they have successfully mastered all skills for Level I and/or Level II content. Most students leave PBDA with at least one or two high school credits in a second language.
Ninth graders are encouraged to expand their listening, reading, writing and speaking abilities in a foreign language at their own pace. Among other activities, students watch news segments and short documentaries in the target language, give oral presentations, perform skits, read short stories, sing songs and write original stories to increase their fluency.Curriculum Overview
The ninth grade is the family within the PBDA family. The small class size allows students to know each other very well, and it’s common for students and advisors to walk into town for an off-campus lunch or attend a movie after a half-day of school. Ninth grade parents host casual get-togethers, and during the major holidays, students participate in gift exchanges and parties.
In anticipation of their role as the leaders on Upper Campus, ninth graders and their advisors go on an overnight retreat before the start of the school year. Activities include a ropes course and other team-building exercises designed to strengthen relationships in the class.
The typical student who graduates from PBDA will receive high-school credits in the following courses:
With the support and guidance of their advisor, students choose a topic about which they are passionate. Through self-guided research and community involvement, along with the help of faculty members, our students will understand how they learn and develop an experiential confidence that will provide them a solid foundation for their next academic step. At the end of the school year, each student presents his or her findings in the form of a TedTalk.
Group travel is a regular part of the Ninth Grade Experience. In recent years, students have traveled to the Island School in Eleuthera, Bahamas; Washington, D.C.; and New York City, where they toured the Museum of Modern Art, The New York Times and the Museum of Natural History, and attended a performance of Hamilton.
Building on the idea that the ninth grade is a family within a family, each fall the freshmen present a play, chosen specifically for their class by the drama teacher, in the Smith Family Theater.
Because our ninth graders are the “seniors” on campus, they have many more opportunities for leadership than in a traditional high school. They hold Student Leadership Council positions, serve as captains of their sports teams and act as a driving force in our campus-wide activities.
Ninth grade students provide sandwiches for homeless men and women at St. Ann’s Place in West Palm Beach, as well as raise money for St. Ann’s.
One of the most powerful traditions at PBDA is graduation. Prior to the ceremony, students choose a teacher they feel knows them best. At graduation, the teacher gives a speech about the student, then presents the student with his or her diploma. The moment is a powerful reminder of the strong relationships between students and faculty.
The mission of the school is to challenge our students academically in the most deliberate way…but it’s also about developing character.Dr. Edwin Gordon, Head of School
Our goal is simple but profound: prepare every student for admission and success at appropriate, excellent secondary schools.Learn More
At Palm Beach Day Academy, we value sportsmanship as much as scholarship, and athletes of every ability succeed here.Learn More
Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math – is widely recognized as a vital approach to education.Learn More