Middle School Creative Arts

Menlo School Dance Concert. Photo by Pete Zivkov.

Sing. Act. Dance. Paint. Play.

In the Creative Arts at Menlo, students develop confidence, self-awareness, the creative-thinking skill set and the ability to articulate their ideas.

In the Middle School, we offer students opportunities to try a variety of arts disciplines, including studio art, dance, public speaking, drama, and music—and we provide opportunities to enjoy the creative process and shine as artists. At the end of each quarter, students present their work to the community in assembly. Performance opportunities also include concerts, dance performances, dramatic productions and a musical. 

All Middle School students take Creative Arts courses and have the opportunity to enjoy the creative process and shine as artists.

6th Grade
Students take one quarter of each of the following art classes:

  • Visual Art
  • Chorus
  • Dance
  • Drama

7th and 8th Grade
Students take two semesters each year of creative arts, choosing from semester-long electives such as:

  • Music: Mixed Chorus, Percussion
  • Visual Art: Drawing, Mixed Media, Digital Arts
  • Drama: Scenes, Improv
  • Dance: Choreography and Performance, Style and Performance
  • Other Art Electives: (Boys’ Noise), Yearbook, and Yoga

Additional Opportunities
The Chamber Ensemble meets several times per week. Drama presents two plays and a musical each year, and there are two dance performing groups, IgKnight (6th grade) and Knight Lights (7th/8th grade). Club offerings include girls’ chorus (Girls’ Glee) and boys’ chorus (Boys’ Noise).

Get the latest information on the Middle School Drama Program.

Course Catalog

  • Art 6

    Students develop a broad foundation that will support their individual journey in studio art. They make their own artistic choices, are encouraged to take technical risks and deal with artistic dilemmas. Students learn to “draw” on the computer. They improve their skills of web research and increase their understanding of art history. The ultimate goal of this course is to increase each student’s ability to shine as an artist and their enjoyment of the creative process.

    The course content of sixth grade art is based on the elements and principles of art. Through a series of projects, students improve their handling of media and ability to draw. They complete additional assignments, which fine-tune their sketching skills. Several days are designated during the quarter to learn to “draw” on the computer. Students participate in several web research projects based on art history topics.

  • Dance 6

    6th Grade Dance focuses on the basic technique and terminology of dance while maintaining the fundamental philosophy that everyone can dance. Dance class meets for 70 minutes 5 days a week. Students will learn to isolate, perform a variety of steps and combos, and the basic elements of choreography. The dancers perform what they have learned in the Middle School Creative Arts Assemblies and in the Upper School Dance Concert in March.

  • Drama 6

    In this quarter-long course students learn the fundamental skills of creative drama.  Through story-telling techniques and introductory improvisational games, students develop a greater sense of confidence, self-awareness, and self-expression.  Students strengthen their creative thinking and public speaking skills by presenting their work to one another within group settings. The skills taught during the quarter allow for integration across the curriculum spectrum as students are able to apply their learned dramatic techniques to other class assignments, such as oral presentations, creative thinking and problem solving.

    Classes begin with physical body, mind and vocal warm-up exercises that encourage spontaneous reactions and stimulate freedom of thought.  Each period focuses on different dramatic exercises that introduce various story-telling and improvisational techniques.  Students learn the power of cooperative role-playing, the importance of story content and the physical creation of dramatic characters.  The improvisational games are grouped together in an “Improv Olympics” where students challenge one another to competitive rounds of improvisation. The course culminates with a Creative Arts Assembly where the students showcase highlights from their semester.

  • Music 6

    The sixth graders will spend a quarter singing and composing music. As they rotate through four stations, students will compose a rock band song, learn the ukulele, create an art piece while listening to music, and write songs using GarageBand. Students will have the opportunity to explore new instruments or play ones that they know. There are chances for students to sing solos, create lyrics, and perform for the class. After spending three class periods working on their songs, students will present their compositions. As a culminating activity, the class will choose their favorite pieces and these will be featured on a “demo day” for all sixth grade Creative Arts classes.

  • Drama 7/8: SNL - Stage (K)Night Live - Scene Study Performance

    Grab your scripts and get onstage! This semester-long course offers students a deep dive into scripts to learn the fundamental skills for bringing them to life, including material from plays, musicals, movies, and comedy sketches. The class is designed to support the students’ pursuits of creating extraordinary characters through physical expression, vocal skills, comedic styles, and more. The ensemble will learn techniques to break down a scene into specific beats, how to make powerful choices, and how to unearth the most comic and dramatic elements. Together we’ll build a performance for a Creative Arts assembly at the end of the semester to feature our successes for an audience.

  • Drama 7/8: Whose Line Is It Anyway? - Improvisational Performance

    In this semester-long course, we welcome everyone to the stage to play and perform! Students build upon the fundamental skills gained in 6th Grade Drama by learning sophisticated acting techniques to explore full and focused unscripted performance. Through a wide variety of improv games, short and long-form storytelling pieces, improvised singing/dancing, and quick-thinking challenges, the class celebrates fun in risk-taking to enhance our confidence and teamwork. The course culminates with a chance to entertain an audience with its spontaneity skills at a Creative Arts assembly at the end of the semester.

  • Mixed Chorus 7/8: Sing Your Heart Out

    Do you love to sing? Do you want to improve your singing skills? Do you want to sing with your friends and create amazing harmonies? Well then, come Sing Your Heart Out! in this Chorus elective. We will sing a variety of songs including Disney, Pop, Broadway, Jazz, and songs that you are interested in. You will learn how to read choral music, understand music theory, and have fun harmonizing using two, three, and four-part harmonies. Songwriting projects and musical activities will also be included in this course for you to explore and develop your creative, musical side! No prior experience necessary! We will perform for various events on campus and off, as well as a Holiday and Spring Concert!

  • Music 7/8: Jam! Steel Pan and Percussion

    Have you ever wanted to learn how to play a steel pan? This is the perfect instrument for a beginner and can challenge a more advanced student. Come Jam! with your friends and play Rock, Reggae, Pop and Holiday music. Train your ear to listen to the ensemble whether you are playing the drum-set, vibraphone, or steel pans. Do you have experience playing the electric guitar or bass? We can easily add that to our group. If you currently play an instrument, come perfect your rhythm-reading skills and understand challenging rhythmic passages. Individual music projects and activities that are of interest to you will also be included in this class. No prior experience necessary! This is a performance elective and we will perform for the community and other special events throughout the semester. Come Jam!

  • Music Exploration 7/8

    Come explore this NEW music class where YOU get to decide on music composition and creation projects that excite you! Do you love writing music or using GarageBand? Compose your favorite style of music and have the dance class choreograph it! Already play an instrument, let’s figure out how we can work that into a musical project for you; perhaps, performing in a rock band with other musicians from our class! Do you love a certain artist? Dive into their music and history and create a slideshow! Create an art project as you listen to your favorite song! Are you interested in becoming better at reading music or understanding rhythms? This may be the class for you. How about learning a cover song on the ukulele or writing songs to your favorite children’s book? Learn a drum-set solo, or try playing the electric guitar! The possibilities are endless. Let’s explore music together! Each project will be presented to our classmates on an agreed performance day.

  • Art 7/8: Mixed Media

    Ever want to let loose in Art class? In Mixed Media we will work with such mediums as watercolor, acrylic paint, chalk pastel, and oil pastel to harness our individual creativity. Each project will reference a certain art movement, yet provide enough individual freedom to have each student’s artistic voice stand out. Come join Mixed Media! Don’t “brush” it off!

  • Art 7/8: Digital Arts

    This class is designed to be an all-encompassing introduction to the digital arts. We will learn the foundational elements of design, color harmony, and composition while working with digital and traditional mediums. The class will dive into each project while being introduced to key design software such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. We will also have fun taking and editing digital photos (and maybe create a meme or two). If you love art and computers, this class was designed for you!

  • Art 7/8: Drawing

    This class provides an exciting opportunity to hone your drawing abilities and gain new insight into multiple drawing mediums including graphite, charcoal, pen & ink, and colored pencil. Potential projects include portraiture/figure drawing, still life, photo rendering, perspective, and on-location sketching. All abilities are welcome! I hope I can “draw” you all in!

  • Dance 7/8: Create Choreo & Perform!

    Are you often creating your own dance pieces? Do you love a specific style of dance? Then Create Choreo & Perform is for you! This class is for those wanting to learn the tools to create, stage, and perform their own choreography in a collaborative group setting. We will have a main focus on two contrasting styles depending on what you are excited about (Musical Theater and Hip Hop/Contemporary) and we will experiment with choreographing dances for different platforms: Music videos, TV commercials, movie musicals, live performances etc. The class will include warm-ups and stretches, across-the-floor progressions, and choreographed phrases that will be modified by you and explored with tools learned in class! Students will perform at the Holiday concert and Creative Arts Assembly.

  • Dance 7/8: Style Zone

    Who’s ready to dance? In this class, we will dive into multiple styles of dance. From Hip Hop to Lyrical, Contemporary to Jazz, K-Pop to Musical Theater, this class depends on what YOU are excited about. The class will include warm-ups and stretches to work on technique and improve strength and flexibility, across the floor progressions, dance videos, and visuals, and learning a choreography combination created in a different style. You will also have the opportunity to choreograph your own piece in a style of your choice and perform it! Students will perform at the Holiday concert and Creative Arts Assembly.