Fifth Grade Brings New Energy and Enthusiasm to PCD

For the first time in over a decade, there is a fifth grade class on the PCD campus.
While PCD had a fifth grade class for many years, the program ended after the 2009-2010 school year. At that time, the middle school was restructured to better align with other area schools. But in 2020, when the school announced a tuition reset for the 2021-2022 school year, there was an immediate spike in interest for the middle school, including families who had rising fifth graders.

“After discussions with our Board of Trustees, we were in agreement that since the fifth grade was an important part of our history, bringing it back would honor both our past and future,” said PCD Head of School Kevin Folan.

The 14 fifth graders in this year’s class learn in a renovated classroom on the lower level of Chace Hall, but have access to the rest of PCD’s facilities, including the art room, music rooms and athletic facilities. Fifth Grade teacher Stefanie Riccio said the flexibility of PCD’s curriculum allows her to teach in a way that engages and works best for her students. “I can organize things in a way that fits the class best,” she said. “I’ve been allowed to get the feel for how the class is because each class has its own personality and I’m allowed to fit things to go with that personality of the class.”

“Ms. Riccio is a great teacher, “ said fifth grader Seamus L. “If we’re learning something and one strategy doesn’t work, she teaches us other ways to learn, until we find what works for us.”

The students’ enthusiasm shows up each day in class. “They still have that love of learning and they're up for anything,” Riccio said. “They want to deep dive into topics and they’re very inquisitive. They’re willing to take risks, as long as they feel safe in the environment and that’s my first step, making the environment feel welcoming and safe.”

The students also like being part of the greater PCD community. “I like that we’re part of the middle school and get to work with other students in sports,” said fifth grader Charlotte (Charlie) R. “I like being part of the Student Council and how we can work together with other grades.”

It’s a sentiment shared by the rest of the PCD community. “Expanding the Middle School to once again include the fifth grade allows a wonderful sense of tradition to continue at PCD,” said Head of Middle School Jennifer Caletri. “The fifth graders bring a terrific energy and enthusiasm to the Middle School and allow the entire community to make greater connections.”