Emphasis on LanguageThe language arts program at Wakefield Country Day School is taught in a reinforcing, incremental way. Each student receives two periods of instruction per day in an English curriculum that includes vocabulary, grammar, composition, and literature.
Foreign languages are also integral to the curriculum. It is not uncommon for a graduating Wakefield Country Day School student to have completed four or five years of a modern foreign language as well as four years of Latin and two years of Greek. Conversational Spanish begins in pre-school. This introduction to foreign language, along with such traditional annual festivities as International Day, Classical Day, and the Medieval Banquet, helps students focus on the history and culture of western civilization.
In the seventh grade, students begin formal foreign language study by taking Latin, and in the eighth grade, they begin their study of Spanish or French. The foreign language program at Wakefield Country Day School includes not only intense study of the written and spoken word but also immersion in literature and history.
Testimony by graduates attest to the fact that the rigorous program at Wakefield helps make the demands of college easier. Scores achieved by Wakefield Country Day School students on the verbal sections of the Scholastic Aptitude Tests are consistently high.
The study of literature begins in the early grades, and offers reading in great works of poetry, fiction, and drama. In addition, each student, beginning in grade 1, is required to read during the summer and to report on at least four books chosen to complement their literature course during the upcoming academic year. In eighth grade, students delight in concentrated study of the ideas, drama, poetry, and myths of ancient Greece and Rome. This is followed in ninth grade by a study of general literature and an introduction to philosophical thought. In the tenth grade, the students study American Literature and in eleventh grade, British Literature. Finally, an extensive survey of world literature is conducted in twelfth grade.
In the prep school, students spend about an hour each day reading and discussing the great literature of the western world. A rigorous study of grammar is combined with intense concentration on vocabulary, which includes a thorough knowledge of etymology.
Wakefield Country Day School offers a coherent composition curriculum in the prep school to further improve each student's writing skills. All Wakefield Country Day School prep school students participate in several challenging writing projects. Each year, Wakefield Country Day School students garner numerous awards in regional writing competitions such as the Samuel's Library Christmas Contest and the Virginia Latin Essay Contest, culminating in their senior year with a required 30-page thesis on topics of their choosing.
Seniors spend a year researching and defending and refining their work through the support and challenge of faculty and fellow classmates. They then present their findings before panels comprised of faculty members and others with expertise in their chosen subject areas.
Finally, the drama program is a dynamic supplement to literary studies. Most students participate in at least one of the several plays produced. Plays frequently involve the music and art departments and often reflect works studied in class, such as Sophocles's "Antigone," Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," and the delightfully successful "Hobbit."
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