At ACDS, we nurture a balanced approach to learning and to life, providing an exceptional academic program that is infused with ample time for play, artistic expression, and physical fitness.


ca8a9134-webAs afternoon recess begins, Astrid quickly scrambles to the top of the spacenet on the front lawn.  From her high perch, she sees her schoolmates swinging in the basket swings, playing ball on the Sport Court, and chess on the outdoor chess board.  For morning recess, she chose to join a high-energy soccer game over on the field.  Tomorrow, she may choose to head to the back playground.  She loves having a variety of spaces to pick from for her twice-daily recess periods.

Play and learning are intimately intertwined at our students’ ages (at any age really, but especially in Kindergarten through 8th grade).  Children use play for physical development, but also for cognitive and social development.  Negotiating rules, resolving conflict, exerting judgment, testing limits, and solving problems are all exercised when children engage in unstructured play with their peers.  Additionally there is a direct link between physical activity and cognitive function.  Our recent campus improvements and those still to come were designed specifically to enhance opportunities for both play and learning for our students.

Play at ACDS is not simply limited to twice-daily recess.  Play encompasses and encourages curiosity, open-ended and flexible thinking, problem solving, creativity, adventurous exploration, and the discovery and development of passion.  It has become synonymous with innovation and the creativity that fuels research and development in the professional world.  Our curriculum allows our students to engage in playful inquiry, where they have opportunities to be curious, take risks, discover and take pleasure in surprises, acquire new understanding, and feel empowered by this constructive experience.  Learning, and the pursuit of understanding, can happen in joyful inquiry that looks a lot like play.  And, problem-solving requires lots of “playing” around.



img_1569-webTo thunderous applause, Timothy and his castmates take their curtain call after a performance of “The Little Prince”.  His hard work in Drama class and after-school rehearsals showed in his fantastic portrayal of the title character.  As a fifth grader, Timothy took advantage of every opportunity in the arts and athletics, joining the basketball team, and performing a rousing xylophone solo during the 5th & 6th grade band concert.

All students, K-8, receive regular instruction in art, music, drama, and P.E. Lower School students have twice-daily “specials” classes that rotate among art, music, drama, P.E., Library, and Spanish.

In Middle School, students study either art, music or drama four days per week for an entire trimester. Additionally, students may choose to complete an independent study in the arts during the final trimester of their 8th grade year.  Fifth and sixth graders perform in the band the trimester they take music and have the opportunity to be a member of the cast of the 5th/6th play.  In seventh and eighth grades, students may perform in a play, a musical, and with the 7th/8th band.

Middle School students have P.E. class four times per week and are invited to participate in our interscholastic athletic program.  Fifth through eighth graders have the opportunity to participate in soccer, basketball, softball, and Ultimate Frisbee. Cross country, swimming, and tennis are open to students in grades four to eight.  Our no-cut policy promotes physical fitness through participation, and student-athletes gain experience in leadership and sportsmanship.