6th Grade Experience
The 6th Grade Experience at RPDS is a year of great opportunities. Opportunity can be defined as “a favorable or advantageous combination of circumstances” and that is how our 6th grade has been designed. A culmination of the unique RPDS education, the 6th grade year is a final set of circumstances, multi-faceted and uniquely balanced, to mold and polish our students and ready them for the next step in middle school.
Washington D.C. Trip
Each year in late February, the sixth grade class along with parent and faculty chaperones depart for a five day adventure in the nation’s capital. After an early flight out, the group will hit the ground running with tours of the National Archives, the Smithsonian Natural History Museum and American History Museum before even checking into the hotel. Future days include visits to the Capital, Mount Vernon, the National Cathedral, the Air and Space Museum and the White House. Each group enjoys the beautiful night time tours of the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, Korean Memorial, WWII Memorial, MLK Memorial, FDR Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial. In addition to sightseeing around Washington D.C., our trip includes visits to Annapolis, Baltimore and the Gettysburg National Battlefield. This trip builds long-lasting memories for the students as well as the chaperones.
Servant Leadership in 6th Grade
Servant Leadership is at the very center of the Riverside Way and culminates in the 6th Grade Experience. The year is carefully designed to offer each student the opportunity to lead and serve both on and off campus.
Early in the school year, our sixth grade students and many of our faculty and administration travel to Southwind YoungLife Camp in Ocklawaha, Florida to embark on an overnight trip designed to set the stage for their upcoming year of service. The camp is uniquely designed with a space for group gatherings, an outdoor challenge area, two pools and a waterslide as well as dorm rooms and a cafeteria. This venue provides a refreshing space for the class to reflect on God’s love for us, understand that we are called by God to be his hands and feet in this world and then to brainstorm how we can show God’s love to others. Each year there is a theme that permeates the trip and provides a continuous thread through their service work in school and through Project Leads and finally into their Flying Chapel skits. Past themes include - #Be, By our Love, Lean on Me, Be the Ripple, Me-We-They, Cross the Road, … We look forward each year to what God allows us to accomplish with our 6th grade students!
Project LEADS is our 6th grade servant leadership program designed to build in our students a desire to serve and a belief that anyone can serve. Over two and half days in October our students are given a chance during the school day to serve at 3-4 community organizations. These organizations include the Sulzbacher Center, UCOM, the Sanctuary on 8th Street, MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation, City Rescue Mission, Family Promise, Angelwood, The Well Church of Jacksonville. To continue this service and to continue to grow that desire in our students there are optional service opportunities from January to May to return to many of these same organizations after school and again serve them.
6th Grade students also take part and lead our successful partnerships with the Downtown Ecumenical Services Council (Thanksgiving Food Drive), Lutheran Social Services (our Christmas Caring Tree), the Leukemia Lymphoma Society collection, as well as other fundraising events that the students decide to sponsor throughout the year.
In addition to serving around the community, our 6th graders also serve the school in various capacities. Each student has the opportunity to serve in each of the following ways: Chapel Guides (reading scripture, leading the prayer, carrying the flags), Kindergarten Aides (helping the teachers in our Early Learning Program prepare for their students each morning), Safety Patrols (opening car doors each morning and helping our younger students to their classrooms), Recyclers (collecting recycling across the campus), and Library Aides (sorting and shelving books each morning). These opportunities around the campus help to build strong connections throughout the campus.
Our Graduate Traits
At Riverside Presbyterian Day School we believe that all children are complex and multidimensional, that each child has specific gifts to be nurtured and that it is our responsibility to provide an enriched, nurturing educational experience that develops the whole child.
Health & Wellness in 6th Grade
In an intentional effort to provide our 6th graders with the knowledge and skills we feel are important as they transition to middle school, RPDS includes several programs and presentations in their 6th-grade curriculum aimed to educate the students and influence and encourage them to make healthy and morally sound decisions as they encounter new people and new situations in life outside of RPDS.
Several presenters are invited onto our campus to meet with our students and parents and discuss current topics. In past years we have hosted the following speakers:
- Julie Collins from Tobacco Free Jacksonville, spoke to parents and then students about JUULS and the dangers associated with vaping and e-cigarettes. With the incredibly high number of youth that have chosen to use these e-cigarettes, this is an important topic for all to understand.
- Detective Brett Bolton from the Internet Crimes Against Children’s Unit of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office spoke to parents and students about the dangers of the internet and how to maintain a healthy digital footprint. He offered several tips on keeping information such as your location hidden and the dangers of posting pictures in general.
- As part of the Human Sexuality Unit, Dr. Kim Dal Porto and Dr. Thomas Connally from Carithers Pediatrics come and speak with the girls and boys separately. This unit includes the topics of puberty, anatomy, reproduction, relationships, values and decision-making.
In addition to our speakers, students embark on a cross-curricular project addressing health and wellness. Educational, financial, intellectual, spiritual, physical, emotional, social and environmental are the subtopics that the 6th graders immerse themselves in during a large part of their last year here. In place of the conventional research paper about historical figures that the 6th grade students were required to complete in the past, the 6th grade teachers have decided to teach theses same fundamental research skills via different means in order to stimulate curiosity and creativity. After an in inspirational visit from Harvard Project Zero expert Jim Reese, our 6th-grade teachers developed a series of activities that broke through the traditional classroom walls to deepen our students’ thinking, guide them to develop their own understandings, and teach them that their words and actions can and will affect change.
Instrumental to the success of the culminating Health and Wellness Fair, the students are brought together during various times in the rotation providing them with opportunities to collaborate on the creation of their informative and interactives spaces that are designed to elicit passionate responses in the visitors. Through this project, the 6th -grade students not only gain basic research competence, they also cultivate the essential 21st Century learning skills of collaboration, reflection, and perseverance.