In the last two years of middle school and the last year of formal Sunday School education, the 7th- and 8th-grade classes are singled out to recognize their transition from childhood to adolescence on their way to becoming young adults. The class is a concentrated year of study and fun, helping the individuals examine and embrace their "Ethical Identity."
We expect lots of participation from parents in this year, as there are many portions of this course which emphasize the relationship between them and their child. We ask that both the parents and the children sign a contract stating that they will participate fully in this program in order to receive maximum benefits from the curriculum and activities planned.
For more information on the Coming of Age program, contact the Sunday School Director.
The group begins by discussing personal beliefs about issues such as the existence of God, the fact of death, and the reality of suffering. "Discovering Me" journals help the children explore the Sunday School Core Values in the context of personal reflection, group discussion, and art activities. Class time is also devoted to studying the history of humanism, Ethical Culture personalities, and personal heroes. Literature and movies are used to explore religious, ethical, and humanistic thought. By designing and painting a mural to be displayed in the hall outside their room, the class expresses their individual and group identities and provides inspiration for future Coming of Age classes.
The kids start the year with community building activities culminating with a trip to Greensfelder Park for a Tower/Ropes course. The purpose of this activity is to illustrate how important we are to one another and how much easier things are when we work together rather than against one another. This is an activity where the opposite sex parent will be expected to participate with their child unless physical reasons prohibit it.
In an effort to help both the parents and the children learn how to best deal with the changes happening in their lives a Parent/Teen negotiation workshop is held in the first half of the year. The goal of this workshop is to teach the parents how to allow their young teenager more freedom and to teach the students that with this freedom comes additional responsibilty. This is a four-week workshop – two weeks with just the parents, one with just the kids and one with everyone together.
There is also a three-week workshop with a representative from Planned Parenthood to discuss Dating Issues and Sexual Responsibility which serves to help the students understand their own values and approach to relationships as they move into this phase of their lives.
Discussions on major world religions and their Coming of Age ceremonies are also part of the curriculum. The significance of Coming of Age rituals in this and other religions is also a major part of this year.
The group will participate in several projects to further their understanding of community responsibility. Some activities will include service to the Ethical Society such as serving First Sunday Lunch, leading a Sunday Children’s Gathering or working in the nursery. They will also plan and implement projects to serve the wider community.
The year comes to an end with the each member of the class addressing the congregation during the Coming of Age Ceremony. This ceremony is a chance for parents to publicly acknowledge the growth of their children and for the congregation to celebrate the young members' passage into adulthood. Once this class is completed and the students reach the age of fourteen, they qualify for full membership in the Society.