For almost all day-to-day uses, Middle School girls use iPads rather than laptops at school. During the first few weeks of school, the 5th graders learn the differences between public and private information. They practice thinking critically about their own decisions and the habits of responsible digital citizens before they are allowed to take their iPads home. The iPad is required because we rely on a set of applications that allow us to share documents, take notes, complete assignments and use interactive textbooks. We also use iPads for creative projects with apps like iMovie and BookCreator. Dana Hall uses Schoology as its learning management system that is loaded on all of our iPads. Teachers post their resources and assignments in Schoology, and some work is submitted through Schoology. Dana Hall has laptops available for students to use at school. Some students may choose to use computers at home in addition to their iPads.
You got in — Dana Hall believes in you! Your classmates and teachers will challenge you in a good way, and though you will work hard at Dana, it won’t always feel like hard work. Learning at Dana is fun and collaborative. You will quickly see that asking for help is a strength and the academic support is for all students, not just students who might be struggling. This built-in support gives you the opportunity to meet with your teachers regularly and to ask questions and review material proactively. Conference Period and the Labs are not places you go to fix a bad test grade, but instead, places you go in advance to reinforce your understanding. Teachers at Dana Hall are super supportive and available. They want to see you succeed, and best of all, want you to be your best.
Dana Hall teachers are passionate, creative, approachable, committed and knowledgeable! They love teaching girls and know how to bring out the best in us. They challenge us — expecting us to dive deeply, think critically and creatively, and seek out inspiring challenges. When a student takes initiative and seeks help, Dana teachers respond and offer their support. They see us for the individuals that we are and they make us feel like our opinions matters.
Homework at Dana Hall is not just busy work. We definitely have a good amount of homework (in 5th and 6th grade, an hour or more of work outside of school, and in 7th and 8th grade, approximately two hours). Our homework really helps us practice new skills, read at our own pace, respond thoughtfully to questions and prepare projects. At Dana, we also have pockets of time during the day — planning and conference periods as well as study halls — when we can get started on our homework and ask our teachers questions before heading home for the night.
Dana Hall has a 5-day schedule, but each individual day is a little different. As you progress through the Middle School, your day will have more and more variety. Starting in 5th grade, you have most of of your core academic classes with your lead teacher Mrs. Nick. You have Math with a member of the Math Department, and you leave the 5th grade classroom for recess, lunch and co-curricular classes like Technology, Art and Classical Language. In 6th grade, you have two lead classroom teachers, and you leave the 6th grade classrooms for language, Music, Art and Technology. Your day becomes more specialized when you move to 7th and 8th grade. You will have a different teacher for every subject, and your science classes will take place in the Upper School Building (hello, amazing new lab experiments!).
We are lucky to be surrounded by so much cool stuff in the Boston area. Here are just a few examples of recent field trips in the Middle School: 5th graders participated in a docent-led tour of the Museum of Fine Arts’ Egyptian collection. (In case you are wondering, a docent is a fancy name for a museum tour guide.) The 6th grade visited Plimoth Plantation as part of their Social Studies unit on early America — they learned how to chop wood! The 7th graders visited Drumlin Farm and learned about the science of farming and participated in farm chores. At Career Day, the 8th grade visited a Beth Israel breast cancer research lab, the WBZ News studios, and Yahoo!/Verizon Media.
In 5th grade, we learn the Greek alphabet, read Greek and Latin stories, and speak ancient Greek and Latin. In 6th grade, we focus on one world language per trimester: Latin, French, and Spanish. We learn about the culture, history and geography of the Romans, people of French-speaking countries, and people of Spanish-speaking countries. We choose one of these languages to study in-depth in 7th and 8th grade and get ready to enter the Upper School at Level II of the language we studied in Middle School.
One of the best parts of Dana is the friendly and inclusive community. The teachers and students at Dana ease the stress of being new by welcoming you with a smile and offering you lots of support. We have many activities and class retreats in the opening week of school that help you meet new people and make connections. We also start the year with Harbor Cruise! The whole school cruises around Boston Harbor on a big boat with music, dancing and food. It does not matter what grade you enter Dana: the community makes you feel like you belong. Your Dana friends will always have your back. Of course, the more you reach out and invest in the community, the more connected you will feel.
It seems like it would feel strange and different, but what’s different is how comfortable and natural you feel — you can talk about anything with peers and teachers in an all-girls environment. Going to an all-girls school gives you a sense of freedom and relief that you can be yourself and be proud of who you are. At an all-girls school, it is easier to get to know your classmates and girls from other grades; the whole school feels like a family. It is so much easier to speak up in class. You can just focus on learning. Your self-esteem and confidence will skyrocket and you can use this confidence when you find yourself in co-ed spaces. Dana teachers celebrate girls; they believe girls are smart and that girls will play a critical role in our world’s future — and that’s pretty cool. Not only do you feel support from your teachers, but also from all of the students. The girls at Dana want you to succeed, and everyone is willing to help. It is truly an environment that cultivates positive thinking, hard work and passion. We challenge one another in a good way. And as cliche as it sounds, there is a real sisterhood here, which means less drama and more opportunity to fully focus on yourself and your schoolwork.
Nearly every girl who applies to Dana wonders what it will feel like to go to a single-sex school. In your day-to-day school life, you honestly won’t see many boys, but that’s the point, right? While Dana students find a way to meet boys on their own just fine, the School has great relationships with other independent schools in the Boston area. It’s common for Dana students to get invited to a dance or a skating party or a service project at another school, in which case, the dance gets posted in the Middle School. Dana also hosts these kinds of events, too.
Middle and Upper School students have access to all the same resources, so we cross paths in the library, the science labs, the School of Music, the Equestrian Center, the Student Center (and Dining Hall) and the Shipley Center for Health and Wellness. The girls in grades 5-8 have the benefit of everyday contact with 350 mentors and role models in grades 9-12 — girls who come from across the country and around the world. There are also specific, intentional opportunities for interaction, like the Seniors/5th and 6th grade play date to kick off the year, and Upper School Peer Educators teaching life skills in Middle School Forum classes.
The best athletes at Dana are girls! It’s pretty powerful to play sports at an all-girls school and know that all of the first-class facilities and resources (athletic trainers, weight room, uniforms) go to our female athletes. Our teams don’t have to compete with the boys teams for practice times or access to the weight room. We are the athletes; we are the priority!
We are: Loud. Proud. Fierce. Formidable. Caring. Clever. Kind. Loyal. Fun. And there’s 465 of us on this campus, so when you add that all up, the school spirit can be pretty amazing. (Did we say loud?) We like to support each other and celebrate the important moments and victories big and small, so there’s a lot of cheering, yelling, clapping, high fives and hugs at games, performances, presentations and awards ceremonies. Of course we also know when it’s time to be serious and focus on the main reason we are here — learning.
We love that you love to perform, and our theater, music and dance classes are a great place to express yourself on stage. Everyone in the Middle School will get a chance to compose music, learn and practice dance moves, and act. Our music ensembles include chorus, ukulele and keyboard. Everyone has a chance to learn and perform vocal and instrumental music for Family Weekend, a Winter Tea for local elders and alumnae, and a major concert in the spring. We have a fall play, a winter musical and and 8th grade play, and any girl in the Middle School can take on all the roles and all the jobs on- and off-stage. Our plays are open to everyone, even girls on our athletics teams. Last but not least, we have a full dance studio program, and girls can take dance during athletics times. They share their work at showings for friends and faculty and for the Winter Tea.
Every day starts at 8 a.m., except for Thursdays when we start our day at 8:50 a.m. On Thursdays you can sleep a bit longer, or come to school at the same time and use the extra time to work on homework or have breakfast with your friends. Dismissal is at 3:30 p.m. every day, but you may choose to stay later. If you stay on campus after 3:45 p.m. you go to a supervised study hall. On Mondays and Thursdays, Math Lab and English Labs are open during the Study Hall hour.
Dana Hall offers breakfast, lunch and dinner every day for the whole community — Middle School, Upper School, boarding and day students. The Dining Hall is all-inclusive, which means you don’t need to bring in lunch money and you can go up for seconds if you’re still hungry. The Dining Hall staff is very sensitive to students with allergies. They label everything, provide gluten-free options, and will work with individual students who have dietary restrictions. Snack is available in the Student Center all day, including yogurt, goldfish, cheese sticks, fruit, pretzels, milk and juice.
The specific dress guidelines are outlined in the Parent and Student Handbook, but generally we wear clothes that make us feel comfortable and confident. There are no uniforms. However, we are encouraged to think about dressing for the “business” of school. On special days, we will dress up or wear costumes to show school spirit or celebrate a school tradition.
The list of clubs gets longer or shorter (usually longer) depending on student interest, which means that if you can’t find a club that interests you, you can work with your teachers and classmates to start a new one. Recent options have included Art Club, BookLove, Garden Club, Jr. STEMinist Club, Cooking Club, Public Speaking Club and Community Service Club.
Cell phones are not permitted in the Middle School from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. To help manage the temptation, all cell phones brought to campus will be stored in the Cell Phone Station, located in the front hall. If families need to reach students during the day, they can call the Middle School office. It might seem like an old fashioned system, but it works!
The Dragon's Den offers a full array of Dana Hall apparel and gifts. When school is in session, you may visit the Dragon's Den on Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The ‘Den’ is located in the Upper School Building between Waldo Auditorium and the Library Science Wing.
"In my Literature Composition I class we did a poetry unit before winter break. Our poetry project was in collaboration with a school in Turkey. We created our own websites to display our works of poetry. The last day of school before winter break we were able to Skype with the kids from the school in Turkey, and it was so much fun to interact with students who were so far away. We were able to learn what their school was like, and how their classes worked."