Shared Experiences

Upper School Life

In addition to a challenging academic program, students in the fifth through the eighth grade at St. John’s participate in a variety of events and experiences that support our school mission of academic excellence, character development, and a commitment to faith.

Success Traits:  Success Traits are a core component of the St. John’s community. Research has shown that success in life is determined by character and commitment as much as intellect and ability. Each month, the St. John’s community celebrates one of our traits of success: organization, attentiveness, courage, faith, persistence, positive attitude, flexibility, generosity, and responsibility. These traits are reinforced in all facets of Upper School Life, through assemblies, chapel services, community activities, and in the classroom. 

Shaking Hands:  Students and staff are greeted each morning with a welcoming handshake from the Head of School. This handshake is more than just a casual greeting; it is an important recognition of the personal connections we all share every day in our community.

Chapel:  As a part of the St. John’s focus of spiritual growth and development, students attend weekly chapel services. Chapel services follow an Episcopal worship model, but are designed to be welcoming to students of all faiths. 

Community Service:  Upper School students participate in community service projects. Serving others is an integral part of our mission and commitment to academics, character, and faith.  

Buddy Program:  Each student in the school is matched up with an older or younger Buddy in another grade. Buddy activities, including Community Building Day, offer opportunities for our Upper School students to serve as positive models for our Lower School students.

Student Council: Upper School students are elected by their peers to serve in leadership roles at St. John’s. Student council members design initiatives to enhance student life at the school. 

Declamation Day: Declamation Day is a longstanding tradition at St. John’s in which students memorize and stand in front of their peers to declaim, or recite a poem. Declamation Day promotes public speaking skills and instills confidence in students. All Upper School students must declaim a poem in front of the entire school at least once a year. 

Bees: Upper School students participate in both the National Geographic Geography Bee and the Scripps Spelling Bee. 

Fall Festival/Picnic: Students, parents, and teachers share an afternoon of community building fun, food and camaraderie.

Christmas Celebration: Students, parents, teachers and extended families share an evening of Christmas joy and celebration.

Caroling: Students, parents and teachers share in a family-like gathering to spread holiday cheer.

International Festival: Students study cultures from around the world. Each class presents a folk dance in which students demonstrate an understanding of teamwork, community respect, and cultural pride.

International Immersion Week: During the week preceding the International Festival, students are involved in an in-depth study of the grade level’s international festival country and participate in related activities.

Mid-Atlantic Episcopal Schools Association (MAESA) Fair: Students are selected to compete among area Episcopal schools in a variety of events to include a spelling bee, geography bee, technology-based activities, and art initiatives.

Science Fair: A comprehensive science activity that gives students an opportunity to select a topic of study, perform various experiments, and share the results with the school community.

Model United Nations: Seventh and eighth grade students have an opportunity to participate in St. John’s Model United Nations. MUN is a simulation of the United Nations General Assembly and other joint bodies. In MUN, students represent UN member states and debate current issues on the organization’s agenda. While playing their roles as ambassadors, student delegates make speeches, prepare draft resolutions, negotiate with allies and adversaries, resolve conflicts and navigate the MUN conference rules of procedure. MUN students travel to the Pan American Health Organization and State Department in Washington D.C for fall and spring conferences.

Festival of the Arts: Students showcase their skills in music, art, writing, and other forms of artistic expression. 

Field Day: Students participate in athletic challenges that foster teamwork, school spirit, and individual achievement.

Clubs: Art club, STEM, and homework club are just some of the clubs that may be offered at St. John’s each year. Club offerings vary based on student interest  

Baccalaureate Service: At the end of each school year, the community comes together to celebrate the accomplishments of all students as they move to the next grade. It also provides an opportunity for our younger students to say their heartfelt goodbyes to our graduating eighth grade students.

Graduation Service: This day is set aside to honor the eighth grade as they move on to attend some of the finest high schools in the area

Fifth Grade Highlights

Gettysburg Trip: During the spring, the class travels to Gettysburg to expand their studies of the Civil War. They visit the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitors Center, the Jennie Wade House, Seminary Ridge Museum, and take a guided battlefield tour. 

Sixth Grade Highlights

Ropes Course: This trip serves as a fall orientation experience for sixth graders. The class spends a day at a local ropes course engaging in team-building activities.

Seventh Grade Highlights

Study of Wallops Island: Students study the science and ecology of barrier islands prior to participating in a field study at the Wallops Island Marine Science Consortium. Students keep an extensive field journal including lecture notes on sections of the barrier island, barrier island movement, environmental issues, and organism identification.

Eighth Grade/Faculty Christmas Luncheon: The eighth grade/faculty luncheon occurs on the last day before the winter break. Seventh graders play an important role in this tradition by serving the meal.

Eighth Grade Highlights

Living Classroom Chesapeake Bay Sailing Trip: Eighth graders kick off the school year with a class trip sailing through the Chesapeake Bay. The purpose of the trip is to build class unity through teamwork and promote a study of local bay ecology.

High School Application Process: Eighth graders spend significant time in the fall preparing for high school admissions. Activities include class discussions about the high school selection process, personal reflection and goal setting, essay writing, standardized test taking, and participating in interviews.

HSPT/SSAT Prep Class: An 11-hour after-school HSPT/SSAT Prep Class is offered every fall for eighth graders, at an additional cost. The class focuses on analogies, common word roots, reading comprehension, essay writing, math skills, and test-taking tips. 

Eighth Grade/Faculty Luncheon: Faculty and eighth graders meet for a special luncheon after school on the day the school dismisses for Christmas break. Participants write poems and songs about one another.  

Washington DC / Holocaust Museum Trip: eighth grade students study World War II and the Holocaust in Social Studies and read a novel in English leading up to a trip to the Holocaust museum in Washington, D.C. The unit involves significant class discussion of moral issues and frequent personal reflection through journal writing.

Eighth Grade Play: All eighth graders participate in a full scale musical production presented to the entire school community in the spring.

End of the Year Trip: Eighth graders travel for a culminating class experience before graduation. The trip includes personal reflection on their years at St. John’s.