Relax, you’ll be fine.”
— Advice on surviving transition, at any age.
This weekend parents from around the county will live Tevye’s anthem from “Fiddler on the Roof,” wondering, “Is this the little girl I carried? Is this the little boy at play? I don’t remember growing older. When did they?” Just thinking about how quickly kids transform during high school makes most parents just a wee bit verklempt, and there likely will be a tear or two shed as the diplomas are collected. The community wishes all the graduating seniors well on their respective journeys. The font of wisdom will no doubt run deep at graduation. Glean what you will from those that have gone before you, knowing that the future will be exactly what you choose to make of it.
Waiting in the wings is a younger group of kids, incoming freshmen equally excited and nervous about how their high school years will unfold. Our family has a student in the latter boat, and I find myself wondering what high school will bring, knowing all too well the commencement stage will be here before we can turnaround.
Almost exactly two years ago, facing similar jitters about middle school, I sought out advice from a couple of surviving eighth-graders. Recently I ran into one of the students, now well into his high school career, and enlisted him to again share his insight on the school transition. Riley Beck recalled his eighth-grade advice and ventured a guess that going to high school might seem even more intimidating than middle school. No kidding. He seemed certain, however, that it shouldn’t be. Riley polled a few eighth-graders “as to their fears” and provided the insight below to help quell them.
• Will the upperclassmen be nice to me? This will be the first time that you will have to truly mingle and spend time with the upperclassmen. Grades, and even sports, are pretty separate in middle school, but not so in high school. You will get to make new friends with people of all ages. You will work alongside upperclassmen on teams and in classes, both academic and electives. Most upperclassmen remember what it was like to be a freshman.
• Are the classes hard? And is there a lot of homework? You get to choose how hard they are. You can choose a very rigorous path or one that is not so much. Homework generally follows suit. You do need to study for tests. Your grades count right away, so take your studies seriously right away as each grade will contribute toward your grade point average.
• Will my friends stay the same? Maybe, maybe not. Pick your friends wisely. Hang out with friends that will help you accomplish your dreams and goals. Get involved in at least one extracurricular activity at the high school. That is a great way to make friends and spend time with people that share the same interests as you have.
• Is it hard to find my way around in the high school? As freshmen, you will get to go a day early and have the run of the school. Find your locker and all of your classes. Pay attention! No, it is not hard to find you way around. If you get lost you can always stop and ask someone (again, most of them remember what it was like to be a freshman).
• Really, what about the food at the high school? There are a lot of choices. Personally, I’d pick the pizza and the cookies! There are fruit smoothies on Fridays. There are two sessions for lunch. Find out which friends have the same lunch that you have and look for them in the cafeteria.
• What are some of the extracurricular activities? Homecoming Week is fun, with special events each day. Airband, a sort of comical talent show, is on Friday night after the football game, and then the dance is the next night. The Dodgeball Tournament in the spring is my favorite. Be sure and get your team together and sign up.
• Any final advice for us eighth-graders? Everything counts, grades, behavior, leadership activities. Everything is going toward building your resume for your post-secondary education, whether it be college or vocational school.
It seems parents are not the only ones to realize this time is short. Riley concluded, “The time goes by very quickly so make the most of each year. We have all survived and you will, too. The staff is terrific and you will have a lot more freedom in high school than you had in middle school. Relax, you will be fine!” Thanks Riley, I’m sure the kids will be fine. I plan to work on it, too.
Cindy Bargell is an attorney and mom who lives near Silverthorne with her husband and two daughters, one soon to enter Summit High.