Upper Elementary Signature Experience


A beloved tradition at WMS, the UE Shakespeare plays not only introduce young students to the literature of the Elizabethan era, but also bolster confidence, flexibility and collaboration. Every year, each UE class performs a Shakespeare play that is as close to the original text as possible. Translations — using a mix of original and modern text — allow the students to develop a better understanding for Shakespeare’s stories. Along with learning lines and staging, UE students get to experience how performing a Shakespearean play differs to that of a modern play.


The UE Overnight takes advantage of the increasingly self-reliant and capable nature of UE students. The UE Overnight is an annual one-night trip to White Memorial Conservation Center in Litchfield, where students take part in a range of education- and service-related activities. An opportunity to interact as a group outside of the classroom setting, this trip builds community, fosters independence and encourages responsibility. Students work together to plan and prepare two group meals, and are asked to take responsibility for packing and keeping track of their own things.

Residency & Cultural Fair

The UE curriculum includes a sustained and in-depth study of one of the world’s ancient cultures that begins with a week-long Residency and culminates in the Cultural Fair. This long-term project develops students’ ability to research and work independently, and refines their written and oral communication skills.  Working individually or in pairs, students choose a topic to further research outside of class.

Upper Elementary Cultural Thesis

The UE Cultural Thesis challenges 5th Years to synthesize knowledge from math, geography, culture, science, language and literature. Students are tasked with building an island with a self-sustaining civilization that encompasses all the “Needs of People” learned throughout their Montessori education. The physical characteristics are drawn from each student’s knowledge of geography and the study of world biomes in science.  The maps are calculated to scale relative to the longitude and latitude chosen, and the available area on the globe.  Written work reflects the geography, daily life, culture and government of the inhabitants along with a fictional “creation myth” or legend indicative of the culture/island.

Community Meetings

Community Meetings provide valuable practice for students to become responsible, respectful and resourceful members of a community. Taking place in classrooms Lower School and up, Community Meetings help students of all ages recognize and respect differing perspectives, develop the ability to work through problems, and to realize their own significance within a community. 

Partner Classes

Promoting fellowship and responsibility among a wider range of ages, the Partner Class Program is a long-standing tradition at WMS that enhances the benefits of mixed-age classrooms. The program pairs Lower School classes with Upper Elementary classes and Lower Elementary classes with Middle School classes. The Partner Class program helps establish a sense of community within the different ages of students.