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Eighth Grade

Our curriculum is driven by the Diocesan Standards which align with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).


The focus is on the preparation for the Sacrament of Confirmation which occurs in the spring. As servant-leaders, students are expected to complete a minimum of 21 service hours to the school and the greater community. In addition, students participate in weekly school Masses, Liturgical events such as the Christmas Pageant, Lenten Passion Play and May Crowning, retreats, reflective prayer services, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

English - Language Arts

Eighth Grade utilizes a vocabulary and spelling program designed to prepare students for the SAT and ACT exams in high school.

The Literature program’s focus is exposing students to various writing genres including fiction, non-fiction/primary source documents, plays, short stories, the novel, mysteries, poetry, autobiographies, and historical fiction. Authors include: William Shakespeare, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Julius Lester, William Faulkner, Edgar Allen Poe, Ann Rinaldi, and Robert Fisher among others.

In addition, students practice various ways to respond to text, identify literary themes and terminology, participate in class and small group discussions and projects, and perfect presentation skills.

The goal of the Eighth Grade Writing and Grammar curriculum is preparation for high school success. Students continue to develop and expand language mechanics and conventions of language skills by writing in a variety of styles. Writing styles include persuasive arguments with counter-arguments, research, and proper citations; multiple page essays with Modern Language Association formatting; research reports and formal bibliographies on the Holocaust; story narratives utilizing plot diagrams, character development, dialogue, themes, and descriptive imagery; personal narrative modeling NPR’s “This I Believe” style, and poetry forms and analysis.

Students continue to practice and personalize note-taking strategies, study and organizational skills, and ways to respond to text. Oral speaking and presentation skills are perfected. Formal grammar instruction continues with an emphasis on complexity, depth, and integration into writing.


Our Junior High Math program (Grades 6-8) teaches the California Common Core Math Standards. The standards for these Grades focus on five main areas and progress in complexity and depth each year. Through this three- year process, which spirals material from concrete to abstract concepts, students gain greater in-depth knowledge and are better able to apply Mathematical understanding to real-world situations. Specifically, for Grade 8 Math, the five main areas are:

  1. The Number System—Know that there are numbers that are not rational, and approximate them by rational numbers.
  2. Expressions and Equations—Work with radicals and integer exponents. Understand the connection between proportional relationships, lines and linear equations. Analyze and solve linear equations and pairs of simultaneous linear equations.
  3. Functions—Define, evaluate, and compare functions. Use functions to model relationships between quantities.
  4. Geometry—Understand congruence and similarity using physical models, transparencies, or geometry software. Understand and apply the Pythagorean Theorem. Solve real-world and mathematical problems involving volume of cylinders, cones and spheres.
  5. Statistics and Probability—Investigate patterns of association involving two variables.

In addition, St. James School follows the California Common Core Math Practices (make sense of problems and persevere in solving them, reason abstractly and quantitatively; construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others; model with mathematics; use appropriate tools strategically; attend to precision; look for and make use of structure; look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning). These are fundamental learning skills needed to be able to be successful in any Math class.


The focus this year is to recognize the common threads that tie together the facts of American History: Multicultural Nation, Spirit of Democracy, Changing Economy, Environment, and Global Interdependence. Our study encompasses the creation of a new republic, an expanding nation, the Civil War and Reconstruction.


Classes are held in the school’s 1600 square foot science lab and are taught by the full-time science teacher. Our Science Curriculum follows the Next Generation Science Standards. St. James School uses the Integrated Learning Progression Course. The five units covered in 8th Grade are:

  1. Forces, motion and energy
  2. Modeling motions of objects in space
  3. History of Earth and life on Earth
  4. Population changes and human impacts
  5. Light/Sound/Waves

In addition, computer coding is learned using dedicated Science Chromebooks and using computer science student volunteers from UC Davis.

St. James School educates the whole child. Therefore, Eighth Graders also attend classes in Music, PE, Spanish, and Art.