In the fall of 8th grade, students begin working on a project that ties together their leadership abilities, core knowledge, and communication skills. Choosing a topic of personal significance, students conduct research, write an essay, develop a presentation using a variety of sources, and present their work to the entire middle school community.


8th graders work closely with an advisor and their Language Arts teacher during this capstone experience. They grow over the course of these months and emerge as confident presenters and passionate defenders of their own ideas. TDS alumni will tell you that this guided introduction into the world of scholarly research and writing helped them to feel more comfortable in high school when called upon to do such assignments.

 The 8th Grade Project is not merely a requirement to graduate from TDS; it also provides students the opportunity to sharpen their research and public speaking skills. Additionally, this experience challenges students to take a stance on a controversial topic, and requires them to defend their position through careful examination. The previous year’s 8th grade class chose topics such as the ethical implications of self-driving cars, the debate over whether or not NCAA athletes should be paid, the issues facing the foster-care system, school choice, and alternatives to the traditional grading system.

A particular student’s 8th grade project can be a source of stimulating conversation between the student and teachers, student and peers, and student and his/her family. Engaging in discussions about his or her topic sparks powerful debate, communication, and understanding for all involved.

Click HERE to see an example of an 8th grade project presentation!