As a Catholic school in the Ignatian tradition, St. Joseph School is philosophically committed to the holistic development of each unique child. St. Joseph School believes that in order to prepare our students for the 21st century, they need to develop the ability to synthesize, evaluate, and reason; abilities which are attained by studying a rich curriculum in math, literature, science, history, geography, music and art.

We provide a middle level curriculum that is challenging, exploratory, integrative, and relevant. Our Exploratory program, offered to students in grades seven and eight compliments the academic program and allows our students to more deeply explore a topic or subject.

We are excited to offer our students the following choices to our middle school students. Classes are scheduled Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 2:10 – 3:00 p.m.

At the end of each trimester, students’ work will be showcased at an evening “Celebration of Learning" (COL).



Instructor: Molly Crocker
8th grade only

Art is a trimester long course focused on refining art skills and preparing students for art courses, which are offered in high school. Students will go into depth in their study of the elements and principles of design. The 10-week course will focus on drawing (still life, scratch board and urban sketching) and painting (watercolor and acrylic). Students will also be responsible for working collaboratively on their 8th grade project (gift for the school). Note: there will be at home sketching projects and due dates on all projects.

"Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time."
-Thomas Merton


Instructor: Collin Whitfield
7th and 8th grade

Do you love listening to music? Do you enjoy singing along to the radio in the car or on your iPod? Ever wanted to learn more about music and experience the joy of singing in a group? Even if you have never sung in a choir before, there is so much you will gain from the experience if you just give it a try. In Exploratory Choir, you will sing only music that you, the students, want to sing. The class will be in charge of brainstorming and selecting songs that Mr. Whitfield will arrange for our performances. You will learn the basics of healthy singing, including breath support, posture, alignment, and how to approach those really high notes you never thought you could sing. And you will learn the value of working hard as a team, which is fundamentally what singing in a choir is all about. This is a class about having fun making music and discovering the joy of singing with your friends. *Students may take one trimester or more and are encouraged to take more than one trimester.


Instructor: Ciara McCormack
7th & 8th grade

Dance is an outlet for creativity and expression, and a fun way to develop healthy habits you can carry with you throughout your life. Dancing can create a sense of self and a sense of community, strengthening and supporting your body, mind, heart, and spirit. Dance is for everyone who wants to be stronger, smarter, and more self-assured. The focus of this class is to develop your confidence, voice, creativity, and strength through dance. You will be introduced to foundational dance concepts and techniques including dance history, functional anatomy, choreography, and performance. Students with and without dance experience are encouraged to participate. Let’s dance!

Trimester 1: Contemporary Ballet
Students will learn the basic foundations of Ballet, with a twist. This is the perfect way to learn something new or improve your dance technique and have fun making an old dance form new again!

Trimester 2: Modern and Jazz
Students will learn uniquely American dance forms like Modern and Jazz. These freeing and upbeat techniques carry a strong sense of culture that help us better understand our own and others’ identities.

Trimester 3: Performance and Choreography Group- by Audition
Students in Tri 3 will audition during the first week of the trimester. Dancers who are selected for this group will hone their technique, expand their choreography skills and have multiple opportunities to perform. Those who are interested are encouraged to dance in Tri 1 or 2 as well.

Drama 1 - Drama Performance

Instructor: Darcy Carlsen
Two-Trimester Class (T1 and T2)
7th & 8th grade

Drama Performance is a two-trimester course for 7th and 8th graders, beginning in mid September and ending in the middle of March. Following script selection, students will participate in a tryout process before rehearsals begin. Through rehearsals, students will develop and refine dramatic skills, memorize lines, understand and follow stage directions and use proper techniques for voice and body control. Students will also learn to command audience attention by developing a stage presence and adopting and maintaining character. Students are expected to aid and participate in the choreography of dances and support set design, costume creation and the gathering and placement of stage props. Students will come to understand and operate all aspects of production during the performances, including lighting, sound effects, music, pyrotechnics, and curtains. Students will advertise their production to encourage community attendance and will create programs, sell tickets and collect donations during each performance.

Drama 2 - Evening of Entertainment

Instructor: Darcy Carlsen
Trimester 3
7th grade only

Evening of Entertainment is a one-trimester course for 7th graders only, offered in the third trimester of the school year. One of the main goals of this course is to improve public speaking and presentation skills and to encourage the development of critical skills for students to evaluate their own work and the work of others. 7th graders who wish to join Drama 1/Drama Performance the following school year are encouraged to first participate in Drama 2/Evening of Entertainment. Students will begin by selecting, rehearsing and performing monologues and, from there, will move on to more complex and focused exercises to develop the acting skills necessary for putting on a creative dramatic performance. As a culminating project, each student is expected to perform in the Evening of Entertainment skits in June. It's a ton of fun and a nice way to get your feet wet while feeling the thrill of performing before a large live audience without having to memorize many lines.

Life Skills New!

Instructor: Kelsey Wong
7th grade only

We’re often told as adolescents that after completing school we are thrust into the real world. Although parents prepare us well for that big world that lies ahead, there are many skills not taught in a traditional classroom setting. Skills such as laundry, cooking delicious meals, and caring for infants. Tackling questions such as How do you cook a healthy meal on a budget? What is an easy dinner to make for a large family gathering? How often do infants need to be fed and how often do they wake at night? These questions are just the beginning of what we will cover in the course!

Students will also gain confidence in public speaking and what to expect when transitioning to high school. St. Joe’s alumni will visit and answer these questions about the anxieties of such a big change. How do you stay organized with so many classes and activities? Do you stay keep in touch with your friends who went to other high schools?

The last component of the course covers emotional and social skills such as tough situations and conflicts with friends to the peer pressures that come with high school. The trimester course will be useful for the near future as well as where your path leads you years down the road. I look forward to a fun and fulfilling 3 month ahead and hope you all consider taking Life Skillz!

MakerSpace New!

Instructor: Scott Hess
Trimesters 2 & 3
7th & 8th grade

Do you like taking things apart to figure out how they work? How about making your ideas come to life? Makerspace is a self-directed opportunity to do both and more! During the second and third term you will have the opportunity to solve a problem of your choosing. You will be tasked with creating a working model of your solution along with a presentation for the celebration of learning at the end of the marking period.

* Students may take one trimester or more and are encouraged to take more than one trimester.

Music Production

Instructor: Jake Crocker
7th & 8th grade

Intro to Music Production is a trimester-long class that will provide a platform for students to begin exploration within today’s music industry. The main goal of the course is to establish an understanding of computer music production through software (Ableton). Computer music production consists of combining virtual/acoustic instruments to create full-length songs. No prior musical experience needed for this course, the only requirement is a desire for creation!

Running New!

Instructor: Kelsey Wong
7th & 8th grade

Do you love being outside and getting a great workout? This elective will provide both as we will be running around the beautiful neighborhoods surrounding St. Joseph. You will learn how to improve your endurance, speed, and strength. The class will be divided into three categories- speed/ track-work, long runs and strength training. With these three areas of focus, all students will learn the essentials of becoming great runners. Runners will also keep training journals tracking their progress and key vocabulary related to running rules/terms and fun facts. Students will work together to push and encourage one another while having lots of fun along the way. There will be a 5k fun run as well as a scavenger hunt toward end of the trimester. These events will celebrate hard work put in over the three-month course.

“Going for a run can have the power to transform a bad day into a good day, frustration into speed and self doubt into confidence.” -Mo Farah

Rock Band

Instructor: Robert Carroll, Ph.D.
7th & 8th grade

Have you ever wanted to play in a rock band? This is your chance to get onstage and rock out! In exploratory rock band, students will learn the basics of playing rock band instruments, culminating in a performance at the end of each trimester. Beginners are welcome as are those who have prior experience on guitar, bass, drums, winds, keyboard, or any other instruments. We arrange our repertoire based on the interests and abilities of the students. Some instruments and amplifiers are available, and students may use their own instruments. All students will learn some basics of the main instruments like guitar and drums. The goals of this class are to take advantage of the talents that students bring, expand on every student’s musicianship, and learn to work together to rock out on stage.

* Students may take one trimester or more and are encouraged to take more than one trimester.

STEAM in Action

Instructor: Laura Laun
7th & 8th grade

Trimester 1:
This course will make STEAM (science, technology, art, engineering and mathematics) exciting though hands-on activities, demonstrations and project-based learning. Students will work in teams to brainstorm new ideas and solutions to challenges facing God’s creations today. Students will create solutions for the future and learn about existing and new emerging technologies such as drones, 3d printers, 2d materials, and nanosensors. Teams will submit their ideas to the largest National STEM competition, Exploravision, with a chance to win a $10,000 savings bond per student and a trip to Washington DC for the finals.

*Last year, St. Joseph’s STEAM Exploratory won an honorable mention at the National level in the Exploravision Largest National STEM Competition! Students were recognized for their conceptual design of a new Police Assistance Device using terahertz light energy, metamaterials and artificial intelligence. A second project submission designed a new battery using 2d material, graphene, and aluminum to replace the lithium ion battery.

Trimester 2:
Students will work with a local business, Hello Robin, to understand current challenges and opportunities. They will apply science, technology, art, engineering and mathematics to recommend solutions. Students will learn how to think critically, effectively, creatively, collaboratively and logically. In addition, they will learn how to apply their learnings in a team environment and work collaboratively to present their ideas to Hello Robin. You just might see your idea being implemented at the cookie and ice cream business across the street.

Trimester 3:
Students will work with a local business, Amazon, to solve a current challenge or opportunity. They will apply science, technology, art, engineering and mathematics to recommend new solutions. Students will take a field trip to Amazon's fulfillment center to understand the scale, speed and efficiency of their operations. In addition, they will learn how to apply their learnings in a team environment and work collaboratively to present their ideas to Amazon. You just might see your idea being implemented at Amazon.

Street Law and Justice

Instructor: Julie Johnson
Offered Trimester 1 and 3
7th & 8th grade

How does the law affect you in daily life? What about a students' right to free speech? What are your rights and responsibilities as a citizen? How do the courts work? Do I have a right to a Lawyer as a juvenile? Is the pledge of allegiance constitutional? What about the death penalty? Should Drug testing be allowed in schools? Do I have a right to privacy in my locker? On my phone? Would Rumpelstiltskin win a Court case against the Queen for her first born? What do lawyers really do? What are judges really like? Would I make a good juror?

These are some of the questions we will attempt to answer in this class through lively debate, dueling opinions, games, contests, guest speakers, and a field trip to the King County Courthouse, and yes maybe even with the help of the Simpsons.


Instructor: Jamie Read
7th & 8th grade

In Tech Exploratory this year, each trimester will have a different focus:

Trimester 1: Lego Mindstorm Robotics
Students will build and program robots to solve a variety of challenges. Students participating will be planning and presenting technology-based solutions to actual problems related to this year’s theme which is Hydrodynamics. They will also be in the First Lego League competitions.

Trimester 2: Pi-Top Computers Based on the Raspberry Pi
tudents will work with Pi-Top computers, based on the Raspberry Pi. We will focus on building, customizing, and programming these computers. Students will have the opportunity to add accessories like speakers and lights. They can also interface with circuits they build, and learn coding online while solving puzzles at CEEDUniverse.

Third trimester: Lego Mindstorm Programming
Students will use their programming and building skills to showcase original ideas at the Robotics Extravaganza held at Seattle Prep.

Exploratory Teacher Bios

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Darcy Carlsen

Titles: Exploratory Director, Drama, Exploratory Teacher

Robert Carroll, Ph.D

Titles: Rock Band, Exploratory Teacher

Jake Crocker

Titles: Music Production, Exploratory Teacher
Molly Crocker

Molly Crocker

Job Title: Art


In the first week of the school year, 7th and 8th grade students and their teachers will attend an Exploratory assembly put on by the Exploratory teachers. Each teacher will describe his/her class offering(s) for the year. Students will also receive an updated Exploratory brochure the first week and should review the offerings with their parents. The day after the assembly, students will list their choices, 1-10. We will make every effort to place students in their top choices, with 8th grade students getting priority each year.

If you have any questions please email Darcy Carlsen.


The grading policy for exploratory classes is based on the following 4 skills:

Work completion
Working in groups

Students will receive a grade of "O" (outstanding), "S" (satisfactory), or "N" (needs improvement). Teachers will go over the grading rubric with students the first week of classes.

If you have any questions please email Mary Helen Bever, Middle School Director.