Last night was the back to school picnic at Carolina Friends school. Samantha instantly made friends with another new rising 4th year student. Aidan and Sam were, of course, inseparable 🙂
This morning Samantha had new student orientation at 9am. She and her new buddy explored the Lower School while Aidan chatted with his former teachers. I loved seeing him interacting with his former teachers in such a mature way!
Next we ventured to the new middle school building for Aidan’s orientation. Never in a million years would I have guessed that I would be excited about middle school for my children, but I really am! Middle school for me meant school cliques, glasses, acne, and a retainer. I was so unsure of myself and insecure! To know that neither of my children will have that experience is such a relief. I have a lot to share about middle school because it is new…. here we go.
1) The student panel. Parents got to do a Q&A with a panel of 4th year middle school students (also known as 8th graders). They were given challenging questions and answered them so thoughtfully and eloquently. One parent asked if they could change one thing about middle school what would it be. The only thing that was mentioned was a longer break time….everything else they would not change at all. Wow.
2) Electives. So, the 1st years (also known as 5th graders) have their core classes in the morning. Think Language Arts, Social Studies, Math, Cultural Expressions, and How Things Work – A Bilingual Approach (Science and Spanish combined…neat, huh?) Then for the last 3 periods of the day students rank 4 electives that they want to take. And these electives are so much more than just band and foreign language. There is dance, woodworking, music history, math for a cause….and so much more. I had fun going through the electives this afternoon with Aidan and helping him decide on his rankings.
3) Advisors and mentors. Aidan will have a teacher advisor that he meets with twice a week to make sure he is on top of work, homework, etc. In addition to that, he will have a 4th year student mentor to meet with to help navigate the new school environment. This relationship totally changes the dynamics between older and younger students. Instead of feeling superior to the younger students, the older students serve as positive role models and supporters of the younger students.
4) More on electives (thinking in the future for Samantha). Students can opt to take year round Spanish electives that build in difficulty level. She loved Spanish at her former school, so it is comforting to know that she can continue more intense learning in middle school.
So, to say my heart is happy when I think about the upcoming school year would be a gross understatement!
PS – Samantha was totally up for a school pic, but I was respectful of Aidan and the lack of coolness in having your mom take a pic of you in front of the new middle school building 😉