Middle School


Our Middle School educators are specialists in their content areas and advocate for every student to ensure success. Departmentalized instruction, student accountability and project-based group work are all part of a learning process which fosters confidence and self-assurance.

Middle school mathematicians move through transitional math to pre-algebra, algebra and geometry. Science highlights include a fascinating investigation of forensics and an annual trip tot he Concordia University Science Olympics. Writers’ Workshops and novel-based reading units highlight the integration of reading and writing for lovers of great literature. Social studies includes the study of field trips including three days in the woods at Walcamp, a visit to Springfield and a trip to Washington, DC provide opportunities to apply their learning in practical ways.

The end result of our Middle School Program is responsible students who are able to organize and interpret information, make difficult and important decisions and confidently continue their learning process in Chicago’s premier high schools.

High School Matriculation

St. James graduates go on to succeed in Chicago’s premiere high schools.

Curricular Areas

English Language Arts

At the middle school level, English Language Arts integrates literature and writing. Students are guided to read, write and think in a critical and creative manner. In literature, novel based units and informational reading strategies are focused on developing critical thinking and text analysis. Students are exposed to classic and modern literature in a variety of genres.

Middle School English Language Arts also emphasizes interdisciplinary writing, incorporating the Six Traits of Writing, to build students’ abilities to effectively articulate ideas.


Mathematics at the middle school level is an extension of our elementary program with its emphasis on problem solving skills and strategies. Instruction is increasingly differentiated, both to address individual needs and to better prepare students for advanced placement in high school algebra and geometry. Key topics include computation with fractions-decimals-percents, ratios + proportions, perimeter-area-volume, pre-algebra, algebra and geometry. From hands-on activities to everyday problem-solving situations, students learn to employ their math skills as tools for real-world learning in the 21st century.


The science curriculum is designed around the belief that God created the universe. Through inquiry, technology, process application and practice, students will discover the natural laws by which God preserves His creations. Students understand and use the scientific method to conduct experiments, which results in well-written lab reports. They also gain historical knowledge of scientists and scientific discoveries. Middle school science covers biology, chemistry, physics and earth space science.

Social Studies

In middle school, students progress from examining neighborhoods, communities and states to an in-depth study of our country, world geography and cultures. Basic skills are refined (map and globe reading, timelines, etc.) as students begin to better understand U.S. history and our place as global citizens. The study of current events and government are key components in making social studies a fresh and vibrant course. Middle School highlights include overnight trips to Springfield and Washington, D.C.

Religious Studies

The fifth and sixth grade classes construct God’s story through Jesus Christ in the perspective of their stewardship to care for God’s things.

The seventh and eighth grade class explores the Christian faith and our unique worldview through four seminars discussing a survey of the Bible’s big picture, a comparison of other religions and world views, and an exploration of current events to apply their learning toward critical thinking about their world.


Our middle school participates in Mandarin class. With more than one billion speakers worldwide, China’s most popular dialect is a fast growing class. Our Mandarin teachers come from mainland China and Taiwan and enjoy sharing their heritage and language. Students learn to read, write and speak Mandarin. Additionally, they will gain the cultural relevance that those countries posses.

Physical Education & Health

Students are engaged on a daily basis in exercise and team-building activities. In addition, they continue to examine the elements of a healthy life-style through their study of nutrition, hygiene, safety, sociology, and psychology. Students are prepared for making healthy and God-pleasing decisions as adolescents and future adults.


Students explore the elements of music in greater depth and refine their ability to recognize and analyze a variety of musical forms. Students also continue their study of music history and relate its development to historical and cultural events. Student opportunities for the development of performance skills include a band program, Honors Choir and the annual operetta.


Students refine their artistic skills through the continued study of the elements of art. They also develop a greater understanding and appreciation of art as master artists and their works are related to historical and cultural developments. As a result, students recognize art as a form of self-expression and gain confidence in exercising their own creativity.

Program Highlights

Outdoor Education

Every other year students head to Walcamp and participate in learning through experiences.  Students learn through hands-on activities, group projects, and times of personal observation in a natural setting.  They discover for themselves how organisms live in a community, how factors like weather or human decisions affect the natural world, and develop skills and habits that strengthen them physically and mentally as they apply this knowledge in their own communities.  

Civics Trips

Each year, the seventh and eighth graders embark on a civics trip: one year to Springfield, IL, the other year to Washington, DC, therefore ensuring the students experience both capitals before graduating. These trips provide students with opportunities to connect with and engage in the history and current governments of our state and country. The trip to Washington, DC, ties in with our US Constitution unit; the trip to Springfield ties in with our IL Constitution unit.


Each spring students in fifth through eighth grade prepare and present a musical for the enjoyment of the community. Students have the opportunity to apply their skills in acting, singing, dancing, memorization and public speaking before a live audience.

Rube Goldberg Competition

Each spring our students have the opportunity to work collaboratively to design and build an engineering invention in the spirit of the famed cartoonist Rube Goldberg. They are given a problem to solve and rubrics for the invention and then are on their own. The resulting machine is entered in a city contest. St. James has won each of the past two years.

Middle School Teachers

Pastor David Keating
Associate Pastor
Warren Gast
Principal Emeritus

Warren Gast has been an integral part of the St. James community since 1975. Mr. Gast serves St. James as Principal Emeritus. He also sings in the church choir and plays guitar with ”St. Jams.”

Mr. Gast earned his bachelor’s degree in Education from Concordia University, Ann Arbor and master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Concordia University, Chicago.

Email wgast@stjames-lutheran.org

Becky Gorcyca
Middle School Teacher

Becky Gorcyca is our fifth and sixth grade homeroom teacher. In our departmentalized approach to middle school, Mrs. Gorcyca focuses on the science curriculum. Her enthusiasm of subject matter is contagious and she captures the mindset of students at age level while anticipating their needs. Mrs. Gorcyca earned her bachelor’s degree from Concordia University Chicago.

Email bgorcyca@stjames-lutheran.org

Kim May
Middle School Teacher

Kim May is our seventh and eighth grade homeroom teacher and specializes in English Language Arts. Coming from a broad range of experience, from jr. high – graduate level, Mrs. May exposes students to a rich variety of genres of literature to kindle their love of reading, thinking and discovery. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education- English from Concordia University and her master’s degree in Linguistics from Northeastern Illinois University.

Email kmay@stjames-lutheran.org

Mitch DeBoer
Middle School Teacher
Matthew Runge
Physical Education and Health

Matt Runge teaches Physical Education and Health and serves as our Athletic Director. Whether in the classroom, gym or playing field, Mr. Runge’s focus is on the total wellness of the child including nutrition, exercise and human relationships. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Physical Education from Saint Ambrose University.

Email mrunge@stjames-lutheran.org

Karen Gast
Music Teacher

Karen Gast teaches music in early childhood through fourth grade and directs the middle school Honor’s Choir.  She focuses on the Orff method for music education that engages the whole child in learning music as it incorporates the natural rhythm of speech and language and builds in the movement that young children love.   Now retired from the classroom where she enjoyed integrating music within all subject areas, Mrs. Gast focuses on her love of music education.  She worked toward her Orff certification at DePaul University and continues her involvement in the GCAOSA, the greater Chicago Orff Association.

Email kgast@stjames-lutheran.org

Katie Wenzel
School Counselor

Ms. Wenzel is the school counselor.

Email kwenzel@stjames-lutheran.org


Have questions or want to learn more about St. James?

We look forward to meeting you and showing you all that St. James has to offer your family.

Funding a quality education requires more than just tuition; it requires the support and generosity of the whole community.

St. James Lutheran School

2101 N Fremont St Chicago, IL 60614   |   Phone : 773-525-4990     Fax : 773-326-3645

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