In many schools, classes like art and music are called “specials” because they are taught by educational specialists—teachers who have specific training in these fields. The classes are typically treated separately from math, science, social studies, and language arts classes and are often seen as having lesser value to a child’s long-term education than traditional academics. When there are school budget cuts, and because of an ever-increasing focus on test scores, classes in the arts are commonly the first to be minimized or completely eliminated.
This is not the case at Baden Academy. In fact, the arts are a focus of our charter.
For us, music, art, theater, and movement aren’t just extras added on to classes—they actually provide the foundation for our students’ education. For this reason, we refer to these weekly classes not as “specials” but as Elements, a word that comes from the Latin elementum, meaning “a basic principle” or “an essential part.”
At BACS, 5th and 6th grade students can choose from a variety of electives in each of the elements categories. Elective options are listed below.
When Baden Academy students go to their weekly Calliope class, they don’t do typical arts and crafts projects. Instead, the Calliope program (pronounced ka-LIE-oh-pee) is combination of literary arts and visual arts and has been thoughtfully designed to support our mission of arts integration and our approach to a classical education. The name itself comes from the Greek goddess Calliope, one of the nine mythological Muses who were thought to inspire humans to learn, create, and share ideas. And our Calliope program inspires our students to do the same.
This interdisciplinary approach trains students to look for important connections between art and other subjects, and helps them gain a broader and deeper understanding of concepts.
5th & 6th Grade Electives: Drawing & Painting/Textiles & Weaving/Sculpting/ Digital Art
Baden Academy embraces all of the benefits of music education—academic growth, personal development, physical challenge, and experiencing the joy of being part of something greater than ourselves.
We have two teachers who collaborate to offer both choral and instrument instruction, and there are multiple opportunities each year for our students to perform for an audience. Students come to see the dynamic nature of music—its role of in history and world cultures, its connection to mathematical skills, its ability to capture emotion—and realize music is truly a language of its own.
5th & 6th Grade Electives: Choir/Band/Strings
Many American high schools and some middle schools have theater opportunities for students. But according to the National Center for Education Statistics, only about 5% of elementary schools have any kind of formal theater program. At Baden Academy, not only do we offer after-school opportunities for students to perform, but theater class is a part of our weekly Elements program for all students in grades K-6. That means our students are in an extremely small percentage of elementary schoolers in the country who have the opportunity to learn in this powerful, unique way.
In addition to enhancing academics, studying theater provides unparalleled opportunities for students to develop social and emotional skills. The complex processes in theater promotes patience, self-discipline, and self-confidence. Learning to explore a character within a story gives students the opportunity to develop empathy, compassion, and—quite often—a sense of humor!
5th & 6th Grade Electives: Acting & Directing/Playwriting/Theater History & Literature/Journalism
Baden Academy sees learning a second language as a real opportunity. Starting in Kindergarten, all our students are exposed to world cultures in weekly classes, with an emphasis on the Spanish language. The program provides students with the practical skills of learning a second language, the intellectual challenge of thinking and speaking in a new way, and the chance to develop empathy and understanding about cultures that are different than their own.
We offer both conversational and written components of our Spanish instruction, and there are many opportunities for crossover lessons between English language arts and Spanish. Many of our graduating sixth graders have been able to pass out of their school districts lower level language courses and pick up with higher level courses.
¡Estamos orgullosos de nuestros estudiantes por aprender a hablar español!
That means we are proud of our students for learning to speak Spanish!
5th & 6th Grade Electives: Spanish/World Cultures & Geography/Language Lab
The first goal of Baden Academy weekly physical education classes, often called "PE," is to make students aware of the many benefits of good health and leading an active lifestyle, and to encourage them to appreciate all the amazing things their bodies are capable of doing.
As students grow through the PE program, they learn to understand basic needs such as good nutrition and proper hygiene and the basics of how their muscles, bones, and organs work together. They are pushed to develop new skills and learn new activities, but they are also expected to be reliable, empathetic team players and see the importance of camaraderie and good sportsmanship.
Through our PE programming, students also have the opportunity to participate in the Pittsburgh's unique "Kids of Steel" running program, which culminates in taking part in the city's Great Race Family Event.
5th & 6th Grade Electives: Sports-Focused PE/Life Sports PE/Dance
BACS students get Creative Writing instruction and experience in Kindergarten Calliope classes. This early exposure helps students learn to move seamlessly between visual and literary arts using an inquiry-based approach to learn more about the people, places, and concepts they’re exploring in their first few years at Baden Academy.
We expand our emphasis on Creative Writing with students in third and fourth grade. During these years, arts teachers work with classroom teachers to integrate writing into all content areas. Third grade students work on friendly letters and how to properly write in cursive, while fourth graders learn about Greek mythology which ties nicely in with their ELA classes.
In fifth and sixth grade, students begin the year with a review of book genres, which folds in nicely with their English and Language Arts reading goals. In these grade levels, students complete a novel study and focus on the fascinating pattern called the Hero’s Journey. The culmination of our Creative Writing program comes in sixth grade when students write their own Hero’s Journey narrative.