Eighth grade is the final year at Gordon, full of new beginnings, grand finales, and culminations of conversations that began, in some cases, eleven years before.
Eighth graders take hold of leadership roles throughout the year. The eighth grade student body presidents lead off each school year by opening the first all-school assembly, and the eighth grade's Commencement provides the moving end of the year each June. In between, they compete against the faculty in soccer and basketball games, sing lead in the a cappella group, and mentor younger students in theater tech. These opportunities are intentional; advisors work to ensure that every eighth grader speaks in front of a group during the year, and every student participate in weekly student leadership councils that run the athletics assemblies, the yearbook process, the Middle School open mics and more.
Gordon does not have a high school, and that has a tremendous impact on the social and emotional pressures Gordon eighth graders experience. They are the senior students in the halls, and younger students look to them with an undeniable and earnest admiration. At the same time, the absence of high-school-age peers mean that phenomena like cell phones, SATs, college applications and driver's ed are simply not present in the building, freeing them from distractions that might prevent them from being their true best selves during their last year at Gordon.
By ending in eighth grade, Gordon can offer each student an extended, thoughtful process around choosing a high school. Some decisions come quickly, others are more involved, but the consensus from alumni parents is that Gordon's high school selection process is an excellent practice run for the college application process.
During the winter, students take the long-running Civil Rights Trip to Georgia and Alabama as the culmination of their study of the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Alumni, parents and faculty all recognize this experience as an enduring highlight of the Gordon experience that draws together themes that extend throughout Gordon's curriculum.
After the trip, students embark on extended research papers in topics of their own design, then spend May working full days at local nonprofits and service agencies. Students draw on this immersive service learning experience for the June CJ Buckley Experiential Learning Night, when they give formal presentations on the issues that are addressed by the agencies where they worked.