As we continue to explore Middle School at BIM, I met with Riya ’27 to spend a day in her shoes and talk about transitioning to middle school at BIM! Riya and her twin brother, Ronit, came to BIM in grade 6 and quickly joined the Student Ambassador Program. Riya enjoys the freedom to look more deeply into topics that peek her interest – both inside and outside of the classroom. She particularly likes that BIM encourages students to start new clubs and enjoys being involved on campus.

Here Riya shared a typical school day in grade 7 and more details about the support that students receive as they transition to BIM.

MicrosoftTeams-image (16)-4As I met up with Riya, she was excited to begin her school day. Her day is divided into eight 50-minute periods with one period being lunch. There are five-minute passing periods in between each period, giving plenty of time to navigate our building and comfortably get to the next class.

Riya begins each school day with Algebra II & Geometry. While the minimum math level in grade 7 is Algebra I & Geometry, students can place into advanced math courses if they have mastered the previous content. This ensures that our students are receiving the appropriate level of challenge each year. Right now, Riya’s class is working on logarithmic functions.

Following math, Riya has Logic, a class offered twice a week in grade 7. In Logic, students learn the power of reasoning - how to structure an argument, listen to others, and practice civil discourse in debates and in seminar-style classrooms. Plus, it is just fun! They are currently studying fallacies, and Riya shared that she loves learning more about how our brains work!

inline_images_1650572934514-IMG_5802Next up is Spanish. In grade 7, students select a foreign language from French, Latin, Mandarin, and Spanish, which they take three days a week. Riya selected Spanish, and she loves Ms. Gospodinoff’s class, where they are currently working on verb conjugation and learning about food, clothing, and transportation. Today, Riya played the role of a waitress in a restaurant, where classmates ordered a variety of traditional dishes, and the class celebrated afterward with a meal.

Period 4 is always English 7. In Ms. Vander Wall’s class, Riya is currently reading To Kill a Mockingbird and working on adverbial, adjective, and noun clauses. Ms. Vander Wall shared that grades 7 and 8 prepare students for high school by learning advanced vocabulary, analyzing and thinking critically about readings, and focusing on proper syntax and grammar rules.

MicrosoftTeams-image (8)-1Next is advisory and lunch. Advisory provides a space for coaching on executive functioning skills, behavioral-based learning in the social-emotional space, or just some extra time to study or get a bit of homework done.

Riya loves our focus on community and being a good friend. Lunch is a great time to eat, hang out, and create fun games to play. This break from academics allows students to socialize and recharge for an afternoon packed with learning.

The elective period follows lunch for students in grades 7 and 8. From PE to Drama and Photography to Computer Science, our students use the elective window to explore their areas of interest and develop new talents and skills. Riya selected Intro to Computer Science & Robotics, where they are starting a unit on programming robots. Today, they learned the components of their robots and tested some preprogrammed features. Riya and her friends are excited to start programming their robots next week.

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Riya next moves to World History & Geography II. In history, Mr. Predebon covers the discovery of the Americas to post-World War II. They are currently finishing up the Cold War and moving into the study of decolonization. At Riya likes focusing on the reasons why something happens and the effects that it has on things to come instead of just working from a standard textbook. Riya finds this to be a much more interesting and diverse way to study history.

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Today, Riya has biology last period, but she takes three science classes (biology, chemistry, and physics) over the course of the week. Each class meets three times a week for 50 minutes. This allows students to enter high school with a solid foundation and mastery of all three disciplines. In Biology, Ms. May is teaching about the kingdoms of life, which includes many labs and dissections. Today, they dissected a crawfish.

Riya loves the large number of labs and interactive projects that take place in all of the sciences. This hands-on learning helps her really understand the advanced concepts.

As Riya and I wrapped up our day together, I asked her a few additional questions about life at BIM.

What do you love about BIM?

I love the dedicated teachers. Here, students have the freedom to dive deep into a topic if we want to learn more, and the teachers support that. Each teacher has weekly student hours, where you can go for help or to expand on something of interest.

I also love the student-run clubs. There are so many options, and it is easy and fun to start your own club!

Also, there are a lot of nice people here. When you come to BIM, you will meet new people and teachers. They are always helpful, and I love that culture!

What is your favorite class and why?                              

Biology – I love learning about the diversity of humans and right now different plants or kingdoms. It is so interesting to learn how things work.

Tell me about your transition to BIM.

I was a little bit nervous. I knew a few people here from my old school, which helped. Even though I didn’t have to start completely new, BIM is a bigger school. I was worried about the classes being harder, but it was a lot better than I expected.

The teachers understand that there are new students. They start with a review and support you with student hours if you need additional help. Go to student hours. They are so helpful!

Also, know that everyone is welcomed here. You are not going to feel left out. You are going to feel welcomed!

How do you balance school with extra-curriculars?

I do Quiz Bowl, Student Ambassadors, and Indian dance. I also have done Science Olympiad.

I have time to do other things. Time management is very important. I live pretty far from campus, so it takes me a while to get home. You just have to use your time wisely.

What is your top tip for a new student?

Manage your time wisely. It is important.

Have fun! A lot of new people worry about grades. They will come.

Talk to your teachers. They are really nice people, and they care about you and your learning.

Try something new. I was never good at coding, but I wanted to get better. Through my elective, I understand more about it and enjoy it!

A big thank you to Riya and her brother, friends, and teachers for letting me tag along for a day. I truly enjoyed experiencing the learning and fun that happen every day in grade 7 (without having to take the math quiz)!

If you are interested in learning more about the Middle SchoolProgram at BIM, please contact me at stephanie.cancienne@basisindependent.com or 703.854.1253. We are still accepting applications for 2022-23 on a rolling and space-available bases.

Begin and submit your child’s application today!