RELIGIOUS STUDIES AT ESD
ESD requires the study of religion in Lower, Middle, and Upper School. Ethical Decision Making is our third Founding Tenet. We are committed to graduates who are capable of strong moral decisions and who have an educated conscience. Our religion classes are designed to draw out our students ability to reflect on and to responsibly articulate an understanding of sacred texts from across the global human experience with a clear emphasis on the writings of the Old and New Testaments.
Religion class is required by all 4th graders. This course is generally divided between fall and spring. During the autumn we explore personal ethics using Character Counts! as the backbone of our classes. The Daily Chapel Virtue of the Month is tied into to the case-studies used in class. During the spring, we explore the life of Christ, holy days and holidays taking thematic precedence. Holy Week and Easter serve as the thematic fulcrum for this part of the course.
Middle school religion classes meet two days a cycle for the entire year in 5th and 6th grades. The focus of the fifth grade class aligns with the students’ historical study of ancient history in their history class. While students learn about the world’s major religious traditions, the stories, history, and prophetic writings from Hebrew scripture/New Testament provide the main focus. The sixth grade class also aligns with this grade’s historical study of American history with a focus on the development and proliferation of Christianity during the Age of Discovery, the colonization of the New World, and the founding of the United States. New Testament writings about community, fellowship, and discipleship undergird this course as well as the development of sacred music and writing.
The Upper School curriculum is designed to introduce students to an academic study of religion and aims to develop a greater understanding of the Judeo-Christian faith as well as other major world religions. A variety of elective courses challenge students to reflect on morality and ethics in modern society, the meaning and purpose of life, and the significance and influence of the Bible in Western culture. Living in a world frequently impacted by religious intolerance, students are better equipped to respond intelligently when they are familiar with foundational beliefs and practices of a variety of religious traditions, including their own.