Center For Integrated Studies

Maximizing Student Engagement

Hargrave’s Center for Integrated Studies, grades 7-9, is structured around a philosophy that the younger student is best served by an integrated approach to development. Whether the learning, evaluation and mentoring occurs in the classroom, in the dorms or halls or on the athletic arena, today’s young man is preparing for an ever-increasingly complex world in high school, college and beyond.

Despite the concerns about so-called 21st century skills and next generation standards, our century-long experience tells us that focusing on the core attributes of a young man will prepare him, regardless of what new revolution lies around the corner.

The environment and teaching philosophies in the CIS are first and foremost age-appropriate for young men in seventh through ninth grades. The Academy’s CIS faculty and staff join students in the learning process, both modeling and building skills in an intentional, developmental and deliberate manner. The end goal is to build academic aptitude, self-confidence and most importantly, instilling a love for self-improvement. The formal academic curriculum of the CIS is “integrated” in multiple dimensions.

Part of a Community

A selected central “life” question is posed to CIS Cadets. The Cadet is guided to develop answers to that question by drawing on lessons and examples in their Core Courses (cultural studies, science, and language arts). Rather than seeing each course as a separate entity, Cadets experience the interdisciplinary learning model.

Cadets are not expected to be their own island, but understand the power and expectations of being contributing members of a community. While addressing the foundational academic requirements for college-bound students, Cadets learn to effectively work in teams and live under the advantages and structure of a college-like schedule (three courses per day, alternating courses by day) to include utilizing tutorial periods. The classroom environment provides experience with a variety of methodologies, including traditional lectures, hands-on projects, reaching into practical applications and advanced educational technology.

Core Learning

Students are placed in a "Core" or cohort based on demonstrated abilities. Students within the same core remain together through classes in language arts, cultural studies, and science. In some cases, the material taught to a Core does not correspond to the traditional definition of a particular grade. For example, a student traditionally placed into the seventh grade may be placed into a Core with other students that may traditionally have been placed in the eighth or ninth grades.

Required math instruction is individualized and includes options up through Honors Geometry or Honors Algebra 2. Elective courses are available in foreign languages, art, music and character development. Ninth grade students earn credits towards graduation.

Since cadets are placed within a Core, major academic projects are addressed by multiple courses. For example, a summative project on World War II may involve a debate of the ethics of utilizing atomic weapons. The cultural studies (history), language arts, and science courses take an integrated, cooperative approach to the required knowledge to successfully complete the project: understanding the historical context, research skills, personal accounts, communication skills (rhetoric) and scientific context.

CIS Cadets live together in Delta Company. Ninth graders are expected to help lead their younger brothers and peers under a small cadre of upper school Cadet Officers and the adult professional TAC officers. The opportunity and power of positive peer mentoring cannot be over-emphasized, nurtured and rewarded in their environment. During the structured evening study hall, in addition to a faculty member, Cadets have a mechanism to help each other as well as do appropriate group work and study